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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 8, Number 3 March 2009 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

Fannie Smith
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533145850, $8.95,

Award winning and accomplished poet Fannie Smith returns with "Horizons". Aiming to lighten the weight of the world, she comes at readers with quick and cheery verse meant to brighten the reader's day. "Horizons" targets a concept and executes it perfectly, leading to a highly recommended work. "Music": Was made/by MAN/to talk to/GOD;/whispers melodies/upon his heart;/Tells the story/of the Beauty;/of Glory;/In animals and/in trees/Music speaks/to Nature.

The Magic of Divine Love
Mina Grace Sam
Good Magic Works
PO Box 173, Clayton, NC 27528
9780615227634, $19.95,

Love is like an unbreakable spell; it can't be explained by the logic of the world. "The Magic of Divine Love: A Light Book to Enlightenment" uses a fictional story to explore the very magic of Love, a land that is always blissful and without discomfort. Likening the power of Love to divine magic, author Mina Grace Sam paints a picture of where we all wish we could be all of the time. A feel-good composition, "The Magic of Divine Love" is a warm and inviting read cover to cover.

I Promise to Keep Quiet (After I'm Dead)
Lea Hope Becker
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
Spotlight Publicity (publicity)
9781438919492, $13.90,

Silence is time wasted. "I Promise to Keep Quiet (After I'm Dead)" are the rants and raves of Lea Hope Becker, a woman of many careers who hopes to inspire other women to search tirelessly for a profession they will be happy with. Practical, witty, and knowledgeable, Becker stays true to the book's title and keeps her motormouth running, but does so in a way that readers will enjoy. "I Promise to Keep Quiet (After I'm Dead)" is encouraging and recommended reading.

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

The Red Manor
Rene Natan
Publish America
P.O. Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705
Attainment Company (publicity)
504 Commerce Parkway, PO Box 930160, Verona, WI 53593-0160
1606723251, $24.95,

How seriously should a prophecy be taken in the grand scheme of things? "The Red Manor" is the story of Lord de'Vigentini and the curse upon his family, which he fears is finally catching up to him and his family's Red Manor. When he loses one of his sons to tragedy, and his other son undergoes a divorce, his curse grows stronger. Hoping to combat it, he pleads with his remaining son to return to him, but de'Vigentini's troubles are never in short supply. "The Red Manor" is a saga of decline and ghosts of the past, a fine read indeed.

Modern Day Gettysburg
Lisa C. Phillips
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432710286, $44.95,

Almost everyone knows of Gettysburg from the pivotal Civil War battle set there, followed by the famous Gettysburg Address that President Abraham Lincoln delivered. "Modern Day Gettysburg: A Portrait of the Most Famous Little Town in America" is a snapshot of the Gettysburg of today. Gettysburg has never been big, and retains its quaint small town charm even today, in spite of the tourism by Civil War enthusiasts. With full color photos outlining the town's attractions and what it holds dear, "Modern Day Gettysburg" is a must read for those who want to see what small town America is really like.

Christopher Blunt
Pelican Crossing Press
1574 W. Fitchburg Road, Leslie, MI 49251
9780976659662, $14.95

A passport is what's needed to pass into new lands freely, and they are not always easy to get. "Passport" is the story of Stan Eigenbauer and his search for happiness. He thinks he finally has it, but fate has it in for him, and he soon faces a decision which could either make or ruin his life. Using the passport as a symbol, "Passport" is a tale of choices, love, and doing what's best for others and oneself. Highly recommended reading.

Life at a Glimpse
Sean St. Clair Fields
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113
9781436345163, $15.99,

Life's a complicated thing. "Life at a Glimpse" is Sean St. Clair Fields guide to attempting to understand the vast enigma of life, presented in a simple and straightforward manner. The result is packed cover to cover with wisdom and a healthy dose of wit. A solid dose of philosophy and knowledge, "Life at a Glimpse" is worth the read.

I Was Trained To Be a Spy
Helias Doundoulakis
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113
Kirkus Discoveries (publicity)
770 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
9781425753795, $22.99,

Not every hero of World War II was forcing their way forward on the front lines. "I Was Trained To Be a Spy" is the true life story of Helias Doundoulakis, who served as a spy during the thick of World War II. Witnessing the early days as a citizen, he came back to America and was trained as a spy, then found himself blending among the Greek people, whom he lived with during much of his life. Telling his full story from his early life to his life after, "I Was Trained To Be a Spy" is the exciting story of a real life spy.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Beneath a Dark Moon
Lanny Green
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533158874, $11.95,

Family ties can make one go through anything. "Beneath a Dark Moon" follows Warrior Jodell as he embarks on a search for his abducted daughter. Hoping his daughter has enough skill to survive until he reaches her, Jodell must survive immense hardship in order to save his daughter from the menace of a brutally harsh world. Set in a mysterious future world where trolls, ogres, and sorcery are all too real, "Beneath a Dark Moon" is a fine fantasy tale that will keep genre readers happy.

Being the Difference
Darius Graham
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781419673405, $10.99,

Changing the world isn't a task exclusively for the extraordinary. "Being the Difference: True Stories of Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things to Change the World" is a collection of true-life stories of common, everyday people who have made a massive impact on the world as we know it. Hoping to inspire thousands of readers to make their own difference, "Being the Difference" is a singularly motivational read.

The Vampires: Minotaur
Levant DuPrae
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432727178, $9.95,

Long ago, strange creatures roamed the earth and they weren't dinosaurs. "The Vampires: Minotaur" is a fantasy exploring common folklore and placing a new twist upon it. Following Naamah as she finds herself in a whirlwind plot with vampires, minotaurs and other ancient creatures, "The Vampires: Minotaur" is a delightful romp through mythology.

Snow Snakes
Gary Schaffer
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432733629, $12.95,

The process of grieving a loved one is long; it can take years. "Snow Snakes" is a novel of loss and how families slowly come to terms with it. John Matthews died from cancer one year ago, and his family has still has difficulty coping. His son finds himself leaving home for the first time and it seems he may finally find the strength he needs from an unlikely source. "Snow Snakes" is a moving work, sure to inspire.

Eagle on Ice
Patricia Potter Wilson & Roger Leslie
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533159550, $23.95,

It's not every day one gets to live the dream with their hero. "Eagle on Ice: Eagle Scout Paul Siple's Antarctic Adventures with Commander Byrd" tells of the true story of Commander Byrd, the first man to fly over the South Pole and known for his historical expeditions northward as well. An excited young man and eagle scout by the name of Paul Siple earned the chance to join Richard Byrd, making his dreams come true. Outlining the adventure of early Antarctic exploration as well as working with one's hero, "Eagle on Ice" is an enthralling story of true adventure, recommended.

I Can't Believe I Did That!
David L. Carlson
Xlibris Corporation
2 International Plaza, Suite 410, Philadelphia, PA 19113
9781425787462, $15.99,

We have all of us, as some point in our lives, exhibited behavior that was as unpremeditated as it was seemingly inexplicable. That commonly experienced aspect of our lives is now the thoughtfully addressed subject of David L. Carlson's "I Can't Believe I Did That!: Instinctive Behavior In Humans", a 103-page examination and explanation of the biological premise for common behaviors engaged in by all we humans at one time or another. Carlson deftly addresses such issues of human behavior and conduct as dominance and submission, aggression, territoriality, altruism, familial loyalty and group bonding, distrust of strangers, the sex drive, as well as the automatic bodily functions ranging from heartbeat to respiration. Of special interest is Carlson's application of his insights to the role of our 'primitive brain stem' with respect to issues of war and peace, violence and cooperation, bigotry and reason. "I Can't Believe I Did That" offers exceptional insights and is especially recommended for Self-Help and Popular Psychology reading lists.

Donald Goulet & Fred Moore
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781434393982, $15.95,

Sometimes biographies of ordinary people in extraordinary times is the stuff of which Hollywood movies are made. Case examples of real life transcending any work of fiction. "Chesuncook: From Marine Combat to the FBI, From emotional Breakdown to the Greater Glory of God", co-authored by Donald Goulet and Fred Moore, is just such a personal memoir. Goulet was an FBI agent. Moore as the Passamaquoddy Indian Reservation Police Chief. Together they joined forces to take down the smuggling operation of Mohawk War Chief Francis Boots in the 1990s. Combining the gripping true-live suspense and hard work of a criminal investigation with Gulet's history as a Marine combatant in Vietname, his career with the FBI, his psychological collapse, his epiphany that led to a renewed Catholic faith, "Chesuncook" is one of those memoirs that are as informative as they are engaging. From first page to last, "Chesuncook" is a highly recommended read and would make a popular addition to any community library American Biography collection.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Cat Tales
J and S Dupree
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432732431, $10.95,

What goes on in the minds of cats? "Cat Tales: The Travel Adventures of Blue Boo and Sambootoo" tells the story of two cats as they accompany their masters across the countryside on motorcycle carriages across America. A cute story that will delight cat owners, "Cat Tales" is worthy piece of amusement indeed.

Eight Stars of Gold
Dorothy Pollard Price
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533159147, $14.95,

There was a time where Alaska was a harsh icy wasteland, nearly devoid of civilization. "Eight Stars of Gold: Notes from a Mid-Century Alaska Homestead Journal" is a collection of poems from Dorothy Pollard Price touching on her time growing up in a homestead in Alaska before it had achieved statehood. Her poems paint a picture of life in a vastly different time, and "Eight Stars of Gold" is a solid choice for poetry fans or those studying Alaska. "December 26": Anyone for ice skating/Down on the pond?/All said, "Yea!" so/Away we went/Gliding along/The greatest of ease//Four happy spirits./Heidi raced after us on tiny hooves/Skidding, sliding, never falling/I could have named her Joy/For that is what she is.//MERRY CHRISTMAS/and a/HAPPY NEW YEAR/to all.

Video Game Play and Addiction
Kourosh Dini, MD
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595454709, $15.95

Gamer and expert psychologist Kourosh Dini presents Video Game Play and Addiction: A Guide for Parents, a no-nonsense primer accessible to readers everywhere who may or may not be familiar with the diversity of video games, their allure, and the positive benefits of playing them as well as the negative consequences of obsessive addiction or problematic play. Chapters discuss how video games can further a child's education (one example is Dance Dance Revolution, a physical activity game that has actually been used in school Phy. Ed. programs), and how to discern problematic or addictive play from normal gaming (there isn't any one magic litmus test - one must consider a vast host of questions such as "Does your child feel preoccupied while gaming to the point that she cannot concentrate on other tasks?"). Perhaps most intriguing is an unbiased discussion of violence in video games that presents the results of multiple studies made about the phenomenon. "The general consensus is that most players game without an increase in violent acts. The literature suggests that, in the case of pathology, a player brings some problems to the game while the game may influence the shape of the problems that arise... In my own clinical experience, those who have the most difficulty with games causing either violent or addictive behavior, tend to have many of the same problems that set the stage for other addictions: family troubles, difficulties in regulating emotions, poor self-esteem, etc. More often, the detriment I find with patients has not been violence but rather the decreased time spent with school, friends, or family as a result of playing games." An absolute must-have not only for parents but also public library collections, in today's video game saturated culture.

Sensual Massage Made Simple
Gordon Inkeles
Arcata Arts
PO Box 800, Bayside, CA 95524
0974853569, $14.95,

For adult readers only, Gordon Inkeles' "Sensual Massage Made Simple" is a deftly presented instructional manual for men and woman utilizing full body massage to enhance physical well-being and emotional bonding. Superbly illustrated, "Sensual Massage Made Simple" provides the reader with step-by-step presentations for a comprehensive full body massage program that includes massage techniques for every part of the body from the scalp to the feet. Of special value are the techniques for a drugless stress control, relaxation promotion, physical stimulation and erotic foreplay. Also of note are the health tips and special techniques relevant to relieving aches and pains through the application of massage. "Sensual Massage Made Simple" is a thoroughly 'user friendly', illustrated how-to manual that is especially appropriate for men and women seeking to enhance their relationship or their marriage.

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

Double Minds
Terri Blackstock
Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310250630, $16.99,

In Nashville, Christian songwriter Parker James is highly regarded for her inspiring lyrics, but wants the chance to sing her songs. She knows pride is one of the seven deadly sins, but still hopes to have a chance. Still she does her best writing and working as a receptionist at Colgate Studios.

Parker is stunned when her brother Homicide Detective Gibson James text messages her to come to the studio. She learns that Belmont University student and an intern Brenna Evans was shot to death. Assisting her brother with his investigation, Parker wonders if she was the intended target as her work area as the studio receptionist is where the victim was killed; though she cannot fathom why someone would want her dead.

The superb whodunit adds deep excitement to a strong thought provoking Christian thriller with an apt title. Terri Blackstock provides an intriguing look at modern American Christian thought with dedicated believers struggling to adhere to scripture while also trying to make it in the wider world. Parker's BFF Serene has a chance to break out beyond the relatively small pond of Christian music to that of the oceanic sized pop scene, but would need Parker to modify lyrics that would still remain inspiring yet take them outside scripture. This is Christian suspense at its best as Ms. Blackstock takes her readers outside their pious comfort zone.

Zombie Queen of Newbury High
Amanda Ashby
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780142412565, $7.99,

At Newberry High School, Mia Everett was on cloud nine as football star Rob Ziggerman had taken her out on a real date several times and asked her to go to the prom with him. However, lately she notices his attention has swung towards cheerleader Samantha Griffin who has made a play for her Rob. Samantha wants to be the Homecoming Queen and believes Rob is a sure shot as the King; thus he must be her date.

Mia panics that she is losing Rob so she turns to her hypochondriac best friend Candice Bailey who claims she has suffered from every disease no one heard of even leprosy from some remote part of the Amazonian Rainforest; she also knows where to find cures in Massachusetts. Candice takes Mia to her special "medical elixir store in a dark alley where they buy a love spell from five century old witch Algeria. Mia casts the spell and turns the student body into zombies who seem to worship her. However, Chase "New boy" Miller informs her that he works for the Department of Paranormal Containment and explains the student-zombies cherish her not to serve her but to serve her (nod to the Twilight Zone) as their first meal unless they can reverse her love spell.

ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH is an engaging humorous middle school fantasy in which the story line never takes itself seriously to the delight of the young audience. The pre-zombie support cast is purposely hyperbole to exaggerate their personalities similar to the film Never Been Kissed. The heroic trio is fully developed with Mia as the affable unconfident teenager; Candice as the likable nutty sidekick; and Chase as the professional by the book zombie hunter. With a nod towards Buffy, fans will appreciate their breezy amusing tale of zombie homecoming king and queen.

Bahama Burnout
Don Bruns
Oceanview Publishing
61 Paradise Rd., Ipswich, MA 01938
9781933515205, $24.95,

Internationally famous and highly regarded rock critic and music journalist Mick Sever travels to the Bahamas where he will cover the story of the return of renowned Highland Studio in Nassau. The studio, known for mega-hits, burned down last year with an unknown corpse found amid the ashes. Although the arson and potential homicide remain unsolved, owners Jonah and Rita Britt have rebuilt it and are ready to launch their label again.

However, the renaissance is not going smooth as someone is sabotaging the effort. Rita believes the ghost of the victim who died in the fire is the current troublemaking culprit as a Sheryl Crow guitar has been smashed for who knows why and tracks are being erased. Following a murder of a band manager, Mick believes the saboteur-killer is human and begins to investigate before Highland Studio is sent to rock and roll heaven forever.

The fifth Bruns Caribbean music mystery (see JAMAICA BLUE, BARBADOS HEAT and ST. BART'S BREAKDOWN ) is an entertaining whodunit filled with more spins than a 45 contains (no comment on age please). The story line is fast-paced from the moment Mick arrives on the Bahamas and never slows down as he seeks a motive for last year's incident and the current events in the past of the studio and its owners. Fans will enjoy sleuthing with Sever as he tours the Bahamas.

Scott Pearson
Oceanview Publishing
9781933515236, $24.95

In Memphis, surgeon Dr. Eli Branch is excited to join the staff of Gates Memorial Hospital where he has been promised he can continue his research. However, when surgery is bungled, the chief of vascular surgery leads the finger pointing at Eli.

Stunned he begins his own inquiry, which leads him to one revelation after another with no end in sight. Instead Eli uncovers an incredible deception by his late father, who was a highly regard anatomy professor at nearby Mid-South Medical College. As others die when he contacts them, the cops believe Eli is a deranged serial killer while several medical professionals need him silenced before he destroy their world with revealing facts. His only ally is forensic pathologist Meg Daily who doubts his innocence but wants to find the link to the killings; her only tie is Eli.

This is an exciting medical thriller due to the harassed hero and an incredible easy understanding of current health issues without dumbing them down. Although the medical conspiracy plot has been done before and is a bit slim fans will enjoy A. Scott Pearson's profound look of medicine in America through the eyes of a likable careworn champion whose world has collapsed.

Believe Me
Nina Killham
c/o Penguin Group, USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780452289765, $15.00,

While her husband the professor lives and works in Williamsburg as he has for the last two years, University of Maryland astrophysicist Lucy Delano raises their thirteen year old son Nicolaus Copernicus "Nic" Delano though dad sees him frequently. Lucy the atheist encourages Nic to ask questions on any topic as she insists none are stupid. However she has reconsidered her curiosity concept as lately Nic's interests veer towards two taboo topics: girls and religion; not that he asks mom much on either.

Nic finds suburban Christianity comforting when he ponders the free will of selecting a brand of crunchy peanut butter from eight choices while at the same time a kid his age in Pakistan has his house fall on his head. The Christians may not be able to answer his five whys except in some mystical mumbo jumbo (which is not that different than mom's naturist big bang theory), but Mrs. Porter bakes good cookies that provide comfort while mom buys cookies. Lucy is concerned about Nic not so much that he admires the long legs of his babysitter, but because his teen rebellion is heretical as he studies God forbid the Bible. Mom knows she cannot excommunicate her son, but the Bible in her mind was written by the first fantasists. However both reconsider their beliefs when illness strikes.

The key to this debate over whether there is a god is the low-keyed family approach to the question rather than the extremes pounding theories as scientific proof or gospel. Nic makes the tale from the onset starting with his simple peanut butter question and his continual search for the truth. Although the support cast is to religiously "correct", readers will appreciate Nic's quest especially why would God turn his back on an ailing child of his as his mom and dad would never do that to him.

Haven Kimell
The Free Press
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
1416572848, $24.00,

In Indiana, college senior Trace Pennington earns a "living" working at a farmhouse while attending school under the name of Ianthe Covington. She excels at school, but is a life drop out. She may have run away from home but the abuse of her home and her mom's church never left her in spite of an exorcism. Her only contact at home is Candy who insists both of them have had encounters of the first kind with aliens.

When Trace meets older sophisticated Dr. Jacob Matthias, she begins to have dark sexual dreams about having sex with him as a father substitute for her broken angelic dad. Trace intellectually knows this would be a mistake, but her increasing madness drives her to be what her dream lover wants her to be until she marries her professor who shapes her into his second faculty wife. As the insanity supersedes the increasingly rare intelligent clear moments, Trace whenever she lucidly remembers who she is also wonders what to do when he ever rejects her like he must have with his vanished first spouse.

This is not an easy book to read as Haven Kimell gets deep inside the head of a very disturbed female who opens the novel with a stunning "confession" and continues to dig deeper into the battered darkened psyche of the probably insane lead protagonist. Although this disturbing well written character study can turn overly melodramatic, readers who appreciate something radically different will want to read IODINE, the psychological story of an abused child who has become a mentally ill adult.

Choices Meant for Kings
Sandy Lender
ArcheBooks Publishing
6081 Silver King Blvd. Suite 903, Cape Coral, FL 33914
9781595072191, $29.99,

Evil sorcerer Jamieson Drake has hunted geasa mage Amanda Chariss since she was a little girl; his intention is to possess her. The Wizard Hrazon has helped keep Amanda relatively safe, but she knows that someday soon she must either kill Drake or he will succeed; if he wins her people the Onweald are in danger.

Drake procures the service of a Dragon who is also the human Juliette. She has her own agenda in which she needs Drake's help for now. However, she plans to eliminate him when he no longer is useful. Juliette travels to Lorendell to visit with King Vrel Wendan to foster her scheme to conquer the north; she wants his armies to join that of the Dreorfahn forces that support her. She also pushes the marriage between Jake Taiman and Tiaha Wold so her powers grow to the point of destroying Drake. Chariss as the Master Protector learns of Juliette's quest so she knows she must prevent the dragon-Goddess from conquering Onweald.

The sequel to CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS is an exciting Machiavellian epic fantasy as everyone seems to have secret agendas in order to gain power. The story line stands alone as this reviewer did not read the previous tale, but had no problems diving into CHOICES MEANT FOR KINGS though this is apparently the middle book of a trilogy. Fans who relish complex action-packed fantasy thrillers in which no one is quite like they first appear will appreciate Sandy Lender's superb tale.

Deadly Secrets
Leeann Burke
Lachesis Publishing
1787 Cartier Court, RR 1, Kingston, Nova Scotia, Canada, B0P 1R0
1897370695, $14.95,

On the same day of the funeral of George Lafrance, the police inform his ward Roxanne St-Claire that someone murdered him. As Father Joe conducts the ceremony, Roxanne notices a young man at the funeral whose looks makes him most likely her beloved late foster father's grandson whom she never met.

Renowned reclusive author Philippe Lafrance is in shock not so much from the death of his grandfather, but from never knowing he had been alive. He understands why his matriarchal family hid his grandfather and other secrets he has recently learned from him in order to keep him safe. Philippe knows someone murdered his father and his grandfather; he is probably next on the list having shown up at the funeral announcing his heritage to this unknown predator. When he and Roxanne meet at the funeral, each is stunned by their attraction for the other. However, both recognize the need to ignore their desire as catching a killer comes first; for him it is a matter of preservation while for her it is in honor of her cherished mentoring foster parent.

The key to this excellent romantic amateur sleuth novel is that the fully developed lead characters never lose sight of what is critical: finding the culprit before he or she makes their attempt to kill Philippe; the romance takes a necessary back seat to the suspense. The support cast is solid as Philippe and Roxanne investigate each suspect to fathom who the killer is. Fans will appreciate Leann Burke strong thriller as the identity of the killer is in plain sight yet almost impossible to pick out of the usual suspects.

Kaitlyn Wolfe Crown Attorney
Jacqui Morrison
Lachesis Publishing
1787 Cartier Court, RR 1, Kingston, Nova Scotia, Canada, B0P 1R0
1897370148, $14.95,

Kaitlyn Wolfe's police officer father was murdered in the line of duty when she was a child; the case was never solved. Growing up as a First Nations child, Kaitlyn was the victim of racial bullies who assaulted her physically and verbally for having a different skin color. One incident as a teen taught her much about societal abuse; she nearly died from a racial drugging, but the culprit only received a slap on the wrist probation. Lesson learned is skin color is a major determination when it comes to not so color blind justice.

She vows these and other perpetrators of de facto racism should pay for the cost they cause to their victims. Thus she becomes a crown attorney prosecutor in Vaughan, Ontario. Kaitlyn is working two cases in which the defense attorney is Maxine "Barracuda" Swayman, who kept the person who almost killed her as a teen out of jail. They argue in court over a murder case and a armed robbery case when a link to her father's homicide surfaces.

KAITLYN WOLFE CROWN ATTORNEY is an intriguing well written Canadian legal thriller that in many ways is a character study of a young woman overcoming much to be a success. The story line purposely uses coincidence to test the heroine's conflicting resolve as she must decide between a not color blind justice system and her personal values; additionally Jacqui Morrison takes a strong stance, at times overwhelmingly in the reader's face, re the harm racism does to everyone. Fans will appreciate the heroic Kaitlyn Wolfe who constantly strives to overcome inequality and de facto racism to be the fairest Canadian crown attorney.

Maximum Ride: Final Warning
James Patterson
Vision/Little, Brown & Company
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, 15th floor, NY, NY 10017
9780316002875, $7.99,

The Feds want to control the Flock, so they offer a devious deal. They will provide the six teens with wings shelter and an education if they cooperate with the authorities. Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel consider the offer, but prefer not to be placed under a microscope by adults, who tend to try to harm them.

They flee before the Feds turn their offer into a prison like sentence. The Flock head to Antarctica figuring the isolated frozen continent should prove safe. Environmental scientists studying global warming's impact upon the ice cap welcome the runaway teens. However the evil Director has replaced his failed Erasers with invincible mechanized soldiers. His plan is to sell the Flock for billions each to the highest bidder. Antarctica is no problem for him and his mechanical horde.

The fourth Maximum Ride is an exhilarating 200 proof action-packed middle school thriller. However the plot feels much thinner than the previous entries and somewhat disconnected. Still the Flock remains cool (and not just because of the climate) especially Max who quips his way from one fire to another even in Antarctica as he and his best buddies must save the world while eluding the Director and the Feds who have plans for THE ANGEL EXPERIMENT participants.

Maximum Ride: Final Warning
James Patterson
Vision (Little, Brown)
9780316002875, $7.99

The Feds want to control the Flock, so they offer a devious deal. They will provide the six teens with wings shelter and an education if they cooperate with the authorities. Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel consider the offer, but prefer not to be placed under a microscope by adults, who tend to try to harm them.

They flee before the Feds turn their offer into a prison like sentence. The Flock head to Antarctica figuring the isolated frozen continent should prove safe. Environmental scientists studying global warming's impact upon the ice cap welcome the runaway teens. However the evil Director has replaced his failed Erasers with invincible mechanized soldiers. His plan is to sell the Flock for billions each to the highest bidder. Antarctica is no problem for him and his mechanical horde.

The fourth Maximum Ride is an exhilarating 200 proof action-packed middle school thriller. However the plot feels much thinner than the previous entries and somewhat disconnected. Still the Flock remains cool (and not just because of the climate) especially Max who quips his way from one fire to another even in Antarctica as he and his best buddies must save the world while eluding the Director and the Feds who have plans for THE ANGEL EXPERIMENT participants.

The Passion of Mary-Margaret
Lisa Samson
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781595542113, $14.99,

As explained by Aunt Elfi and grandma, the second Mary-Margaret was born in Baltimore when an evil entered a seminarian student who entered the first Mary Margaret not long after the crash on Wall St. As an aside the first was a by-product of the second's grandmother and a tourist from Belgium. When the first died giving her soul to the second, grandma raised the child until she died when the second was eight years old. Aunt Elfi left for Tibet while the second attends St. Mary's Convent School for Girls where she is on the fast track to becoming a religious sister of Christ.

However, Mary Margaret II meets the Locust Island Chesapeake Bay Lightkeeper's carefree son Jude Keller; to her inner shame she is attracted to him and him to her; both hide their feelings although they become friends as she must fill grandma's redemption destiny for her. Mary-Margaret completes her last assignment, a medical missionary task in Swaziland before taking her vows. Jude comes home too, bitter and troubled from his time on the mainland. Mary-Margaret finds she remains attracted to Jude and prays for guidance from the Holy Spirit of Jesus, who provides her with surprising pragmatic and worldly advice.

This is an excellent tale of redemption starring a quirky religious student, an acrimonious disturbed young man, and a terrific mystical modern rendition of Jesus providing help to Mary-Margaret. The story line is fast-paced though initially confusing between past and present partially because of the common first and Second names. Fans will enjoy this deep inspirational story as whimsical eccentricity turns redemption into a moving entertaining read.

City Without End
Kay Kenyon
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
1591026989, $25.00,

Earth agent Titus Quinn has arranged a shaky truce with the Tarig who still plot to destroy the Rose universe to strengthen their Entire universe. Both the Tarig Lords and Quinn are buying time as the former knows how deadly his nanotech weapons are and the latter knows how deadly the Entire universe is.

The Tarig believe they can use Quinn's estranged daughter Sydney known as Sen-Ni, born in their universe and whom he deserted years ago as their tool to get him out of the way; they fail to understand how deep Sydney's hurt and anger towards her father is as she has her own scheme to get back at him. At the same time former earth agent Helice Maki has set in motion a seditious devious plan to rule the Entire by destroying her home planet's universe the Rose. Desperately Quinn follows her across the Entire to thwart her ambition but is sidetracked when he finally meets his daughter.

The third Rose and Entire science fiction thriller contains a complex story line as so much is going on in the parallel universes (mostly in the Entire). The story line is action-packed as the players eventually converge in a supernova finish. Fans of the trilogy will appreciate this superb ending while newcomers need to start with a BRIGHT OF THE SKY followed by A WORLD TOO NEAR before CITY WITHOUT END; even those who read the previous entries will find the plot multifaceted and at times especially early on convoluted.

Charlotte Hughes
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780515145939, $7.99,

Psychologist Kate Holly is having a miserable week starting with the fact that her firefighting ex-husband Jay walked out on their first marriage counseling session. Although they still love one another deeply, she fears his occupation because her father was a firefighter who died in the line of duty; he is afraid of her job as some of her patients tend towards violence as proven by her need to find a new office after a nitro incident in her former shrink pad.

Her landlord is evicting her and she struggles to find a new location. Her ex-boyfriend, Dr. Thad Glazer asks her to join his practice, which a desperate Kate reluctantly accepts. Meanwhile she is worried sick about Jay who is dealing with a serial arsonist that can only mean more injuries from entering burning buildings. She councils a con man dating her secretary; works with a disassociative identity disorder person, and a teen accused of beating a collaborate press. Kate hopes Jay won't get hurt chasing down the arsonist while fearing he is involved with Mandy; he hopes she won't get hurt by one of her patients while fearing she is back with Thad.

Charlotte Hughes writes a very jocular and charming romantic suspense thriller filled with eccentric characters starting with the lead duo; supported by series regulars like her mom and secretary, Thad and Mandy and unconventional newcomers especially her patients. However with all these odd players, the zany story line is owned by Kate. She is tough as a shrew but vulnerable like a child; yet she is also strong but somewhat unconfident especially when it comes to dealing with the regulars in her life. Though the plot is thin, fans will enjoy this amusing zany tale starring an interesting individual.

Once Bitten
Kalayna Price
Bell Bridge Books
P.O. Box 67, Smyrna, GA 30081
9780980245394, $14.95,

Kita Nekai is the Dyre (heir) to become the Torin (ruler) of the Nekai clan in Firth; located in another dimension. Every full moon the gates open up and the shifters can travel to earth. Kita has just done that breaking her shifter's world greatest taboo: no female shifters are supposed to be on the earth. For five years she has been on the run from Hunters who want to bring her back to face the Elders and whatever punishment they mete out.

After being drugged at a rave, she is attacked by a stray shifter and is near death. Nathaniel the vampire turns her without the Council's Permission. She must go before them to obtain feeding rights, but prior to her meeting The Judge, a mage, gives Kita a death sentence. He believes she turned a human into a rogue shifter and is ultimately responsible for his insane killing rampage. Shifter friend Bobby and Nathaniel plea for her life; the judge gives her forty-eight hours to bring the rogue to him or her and her friends forfeit their lives.

Urban fantasy readers who enjoy the works of Kelly Armstrong and V.K. Forrest will have a great time reading this exhilarating story. Kita is a fascinating lead character as she believes she cannot lead her clan because she shifts into a kitten and loathes the politics that go with being the Torin. Thus she remains in exile staying in kitten form so humans can adopt her until she feels she must move on to her next household. This is one fantasist who is worth the price of admission.

Bite Me
Parker Blue
Bell Bridge
P.O. Box 67, Smyrna, GA 30081
0980245389, $14.95,

Val Shapiro is a teenager who is part succubus, but seven-eighth humans. All her life she has tried to suppress the demon she calls Lola as if it was a separate part of her. Two things appease Lola's appetite: sex and the bloodlust of battle. Since she almost killed a boy she kissed, Val uses Lola's bloodlust to fight vampires killing humans.

One night when she is fighting a vampire, she discovers her sister Jen has snuck in the back seat of her car. When they return home, their mother kicks Val out and forbids her any contact with Jen and her step-father agrees. Needing a job, Val obtains work with the Special Crimes Unit that deals with paranormal crime; executing vamps preying on humans. She is assisted by a sidekick dog who is a hell hound and who becomes her friend. She is partnered with Dan, a man she likes more than is safe for his well being due to Lola, but she is unable to dampen the sparks between them. They search for a vampire lair while the vampire Alejandro has started a movement to get humans to donate blood to a blood bank and they will be paid in cash or enthrallment. Val has to rescue Jen before she is turned and find her missing stepfather.

The heroine's mom comes across like Cinderella's stepmother, throwing out of her home the offspring she loathes to protect the daughter she loves. Jen's father seduced her using his incubus powers and the woman has never forgiven him and struck back at him through a surrogate: his child. Teenagers will empathize with Val whose differences set her apart from her peers, but make her a strong SCU operative. Parker Blue provides an entertaining romantic supernatural thriller that fans of Stephanie Meyer will want to bite into the tale.

Marilee Brothers
Bell Bridge Books
P.O. Box 67, Smyrna, GA 30081
9780980245349, $14.95,

The daughter of Faye, an impoverished single mom, Allie is living in her uncle's trailer. Allie Emerson knows she is a classic klutz. However even for her this latest fiasco could not have been more unlucky short of breaking a bone. Standing on a ten foot ladder she is fixing a TV antenna on the trailer's roof when she falls touching an electric fence before landing face first into cow pie. Though the dive would have been scored a 10 for its perfect landing right into the bulls-eye, Allie Blue Note believes she has nothing but bad luck

However, something weird happens to Allie besides Child Services stalking her and her mom. She suddenly has developed paranormal powers. Her friend Kizzy the witch gives her a moonstone to help her focus. However, as is the case with Allie, her luck turns all bad. The Trimarks now know she is the Star Seeker and need her removed to complete their evil plan starting with stealing her Moonstone. Allie turns to student Junior Martinez, a retired gangbanger for help even as her unknown stalkers abduct her mom and then her.

The first Unbidden Magic teen fantasy is a wonderful tale due to Allie. She is a terrific protagonist who holds the story line together in an optimistic way in spite of her belief that she is jinxed. The support cast like her mom and the Trimarks is weak and underdeveloped except as a major cause of her bad luck. Still young adult fans will appreciate her efforts to learn to use her power reminiscent of the Greatest American hero's early days while the Trimarks stalk her and her unique choice pf a hero as her sidekick is a former gangbanger.

Murder Takes a Cake
Gayle Trent
Bell Bridge Books
P.O. Box 67, Smyrna, GA 30081
0980245362, $14.95,

In Brea Ridge, Virginia is the owner of Daphne's Delectable Cakes that she makes out of her home. Daphne Martin delivers her pastry to her grouchy demanding customer Yodel Watson but she finds the woman lying dead on her sofa.

Soon afterward, Yodel's daughter Annabelle calls Daphne asking for a favor. She wants the cake baker to find her mother's diary and hold it for her until she arrives. She finds the diary that contains plenty of gossip about everyone in the small town including Daphne's mother and sister. Daphne realizes that almost every resident had a reason to want Yodel dead and the diary burned if they knew it existed. Unable to resist investigating the claims re her family, Daphne finds herself in trouble with her kin and in danger from a killer who thinks her inquiry is focused on the homicide.

This is an entertaining amateur sleuth culinary cozy starring an obstinate baker who needs to know the truth about her mom, her sister, others and the murder. The breezy story line is fun to follow although fans will pick out the killer early on. Even with several cooking sleuths like Diane Mott Davidson "Goldy", Daphne is a solid lead character as she follows the murder recipe one step at a time to the delight of sub-genre readers.

From the Sea to the Stars
Andre Norton
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
1416591451, $7.99,

"Sea Siege". As the Cold War seems on the brink of going nuclear thermo, something is killing life in the oceans. Widower Dr. Gunston brings his estranged teenage son Griff to live with him while he conducts research into what is happening in the sea using San Isadore in the West Indies as his base. Island Queen Captain Angus Murdock and his crew Chris Waite and Rob Fletcher deliver supplies; they befriend the angry Griff and inform him of strange phenomena at sea. As the world goes ballistic, those on San Isadore will survive the nuclear winter but might not live through the attack of sea monsters lead by a sentient being from the darkest deepest depth of the Pacific.

"Star Gate". Almost five hundred years ago, the Star Lords fled their dying planet to colonize Gorth. The earthlings have a much greater life span than the native Gorth, but also breed few offspring and none purebred. The outsiders refuse to share their technology with the resentful natives; fearing what they did on Earth and want to avoid that on Gorth. Thus the expatriate earthlings move on to another Gorth in another dimension in which their counterparts enslaved the natives. The indigenous populace left behind on the first Gorth seem heading to clan war. To prevent it Kincar is exiled from the Holding. Kincar holds a special gem of power as he begins his adventures starting with meeting six travelers; three of each gender waiting for another. He joins the seven believing the last arrival is a Star Lord.

The reprint of two late 1950s science fiction thrillers is fun to read for differing reasons. SEA SIEGE feels like an entertaining 1950s B horror flick while "Star Gate" mixes science fiction with a fantasy sort of a precursor to the Witch World mixed with Crosstime. Both tales are enjoyable young adult thrillers.

Storm From the Shadows
David Weber
1416591478, $27.00

The Republic of Haven and the Star Kingdom is at war and Rear Admiral Michelle Henke is in the middle of a pitched battle. On board her flagship the Ajax, Michele knows the Manticore Navy is losing the fight; she and others go to escape pods before blowing up her vessel so the technology does not fall into enemy hands. She wakes up in a Havenite medical facility before being sent to an island with other POWs. She is shocked to meet H aven President Eloise Pritchett.

Pritchett is willing to free Michelle if she agrees to no longer fight against them and if she passes on a message to Queen Elizabeth III for a summit meeting to discuss peace. After coming home, Michelle is sent to the Talbott Quadrant which is far from the war zone to patrol the newestt star systems of the Star Empire. On the planet Monica, Solarian ships were going to be used to remove Manticore from the new system, but a Manicoran captain destroyed their fleet. In the cluster New Tuscan which did not want to join the empire, they deliberately try to push the Manticorans into a war with the Solarian League. The peace talks end abruptly when the Havenites kill two high profile officials. No one understands that the Havenites, Manticorans, and the Soalarans are being cleverly maneuvered by a fourth party with plans to take over the stars once each group devastates one another.

Nobody writes better military outer space fiction starring heroic females than David Weber has consistently done for years. The protagonist is Michelle who is as honorable and courageous as Harrington is as her tale which fills in the blanks in the story arc and provides a differing perspective to AT ALL COSTS. Both are strong-willed and do what they believe is right regardless of what others might think. There is plenty of action and suspense leading up to the military engagements. Yet with so much going on, the cast is solid and most significant realistic as fans will consider whether the Weber mantle of greatness has moved the torch from Honor to Michelle proving there is life after a hero "falls".

Detachment Delta
Don Bendell
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425224489, $6.99

Lakota warrior Master Sergeant Charlie Strongheart is a member of the elite Delta Force Combat Applications Group (CAG). His current assignment is to assassinate a New York City cop on the streets of Manhattan. He succeeds in taking out James Rashad, but NYPD had a sting operation so the local police angrily capture Charlie as a cop killer. The cops are taken aback as they thought they were conducting surveillance of a drug deal, but are shocked to find a stinger missile inside Rashad's vehicle. The next day Charlie is freed by the court.

The brass assigns Poke as Charlie is called by his unit with a dangerous mission. He and CAG "Funny Platoon" Sergeant First Class Fila Jannart, an Iranian-American, are to infiltrate Iran and terminate jihadist Davood Faraz Dabdeh, whose growing popularity alarms the Western intelligence agency as he claims Bin Laden is a coward and has no compunctions raping and killing female Muslims as well as any American. The difficulty of the mission is killing him without martyring him.

Don Bendell moves from his enjoyable Criminal Investigations Detachment series to the Delta Force CAG thriller, but retains the action-packed excitement while providing the audience intriguing background into his lead couple especially Charlie and what is even more fascinating is what occurs before a deployment. The story line is fast-paced from the New York scenario to the Fort Bragg gangbanging to Iran and never slows down while insuring Charlie and Fila are fully developed. Although a strong bias with an obvious good and bad characterization mindset leading to oppositio n characters like General Rozanski and the villains seem to be somewhat like caricatures with perversions, fans will relish DETACHMENT DELTA starring two real American heroes with intriguing deep rooted backgrounds especially the heroine.

Corked by Cabernet
Michele Scott
9780425226445, $7.99

In Napa Valley, Malveaux Estates manager Nikki Sands and owner Derek Malveaux are in love and plan to live together on the property. However, she is bit upset at a time she is overly busy to learn Derek's gay brother Simon and his partner Mario have arranged for Guru Alan Sansi and his Source of Enlightened Elite (SEE) to conduct a seminar on the estate. Derek explains he needs the money while he also informs his beloved he is going to New York on business.

The SEE attendees arrive and Nikki realizes they have family conflict starting with the guru's daughter Sierra and Japanese publisher Iwao Yamimoto who wants to become the SEE publisher and demands Alan look at a video he brought with him; Alan refuses. On the Napa Valley Wine Train, a drunken Sierra heads to the storage car to find more wine only to see the body of Iwao. Nikki contains the crime scene until Detective Jonah Robinson arrives. He warns her to not sleuth, but asks her to listen to the SEE members when they talk. She enlists Simon and Mario, but though Nikki tries to do no more than listen, she begins to sleuth.

Although the motive comes late and seems a bit weak, the latest Vintage Murder amateur sleuth (see MURDER UNCORKED and MURDER BY THE GLASS) is a lighthearted fun Napa Valley whodunit that goes well with red wine. The recurring cast is solid though Derek is conveniently across the country during the "not" investigation as he would have taken his beloved to task for her involvement. The SEE members especially the guru and his family are a fascinating crew as each has issues, especially the three adult children. Fans of the series will enjoy Nikki's inquiry as she swears she is not investigating just assisting Robinson.

Deep Waters
Kate Charles
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
1590586026, $24.95,

The London media led by Daily Globe reporter Lilith Noone feeds the public's fascination with celebrities when Muffin, the baby daughter of reality TV show hosts Jodee and Chazz, dies in her cot. Lilith has the inside track to England's most famous grieving couple. Since the infant passed away in her district, All Saints Church curate Callie Anson assists with the funeral arrangement.

Meanwhile the autopsy of the crib death victim raises some anomies that have the police wondering if this was a tragic sudden infant death case or something more sinister. There are enough questions to have the brass bring back Detective Inspector Neville Stewart on his honeymoon with his pregnant bride Triona. At the same time that a frustrated Neville and an angry Triona return to London, Callie's boyfriend family liaison officer Mark Lombardi is helping his extended family cope with the heart attack death of his brother-in-law so he is unable to provide much help to Jodee and Chazz or be there for Callie.

The key to this terrific combination police procedural and faith-based amateur sleuth inquiry is the strong cast; few novels will match how deep the secondary and tertiary characters are developed within an exciting story line. Fans will appreciate the depth to the Lombardi brood, Lilith, Jodee, Chazz and Triona while Mark and Callie have issues as does Neville. All this with a strong whodunit and an insightful look at behind the scenes of reality TV make the third Anson mystery (see SECRET SINS and EVIL INTENT) a winner.

Lone Star
Edward Ifkovic
Poisoned Pen Press
9781590585870, $24.95

In 1955 septuagenarian novelist Edna Ferber riding the success of her books is in Hollywood to work on the movie adaptation of her latest bestseller Giant. As the George Stevens' directed movie is almost finished, rumors spread that one of the stars "Rebel Without a Cause" James Dean sired a child with unbalanced extra Carisa Krausse.

However, as the Warner Brothers studio worries about the negative publicity a child out of wedlock would bring, someone murders Carisa. The evidence points towards the volatile womanizing Dean as her killer. Though his ego is "So Big", Edna likes the unique Dean who probably does not know that water exists outside of alcohol. With the help of actress Mercedes McCambridge, Edna investigates the homicide.

This engaging Hollywood historical mystery stars renowned novelist Edna Ferber who at first look is probably the last person to investigate a homicide. Starting with Edna and James Dean, the cast of Hollywood real people like McCambridge and Rock Hudson come to life. In fact the strong cast casts a giant shadow over the amateur sleuth prime theme. Still fans will enjoy Edna Gerber meets James Dean.

Probable Claws
Clea Simon
Poisoned Pen Press
9781590585641, $24.95

Helmhold House for Wayward Cats owners Violet and Caro are stunned when a donated batch of kibble is laced with poison. Neither can believe someone could be that cruel yet they assume it was deliberate. When their pal freelance writer Theda Krakow begs to differ as she assumes it was an accident, they become upset with her for trivializing their concerns; she takes a quick look at the shelter's processes to see what safeguards exists.

When her beloved cat Musetta needs a tooth brushing, she drops her off with the shelter's vet. When she returns she find Musetta soaked in blood and the vet Rachel dead with a scalpel wound. The police suspect Theda who investigates the murder to clear her name and regain her hope of a permanent position at the Morning Mail. She assumes the motive involves an irate sociopath opposed to the shelter combining the poisoned food with the vet's murder

Fans will definitely enjoy this fun cat caper. Musetta is not only the traumatized eye witness to the homicide, the feline wipes clean much of the crime scene as sticky red does not blend well with her tuxedo look. Cat fans will enjoy Theda's inquiry into the PROBABLE CLAWS behind the homicide.

The Pain Nurse
Jon Talton
Poisoned Pen Press
9781590586242, $24.95

At Cincinnati Memorial Hospital, Pain Nurse Specialist Cheryl Beth Wilson finds the corpse of Dr. Christine Lustig in an isolated office. The CPD homicide detectives quickly suspect Cheryl Beth killed the victim because of her affair with the deceased's spouse.

One of Cheryl Beth patients, just out of surgery removing a tumor on his spinal cord, former homicide cop Will Borders feels like he suffers from deja vu when on his gurney heading back to his room he glimpses the crime scene. It eerily reminds him of the Mount Adams Slasher, who was caught, convicted and executed. Bed-ridden and in severe pain, he is unable to make the cops including his former partner listen to him. Instead Will directs Beth on investigating the crime while someone nearby watches her every move.

THE PAIN NURSE is an excellent refreshing investigative thriller starring a detective stuck in bed and his "legs"; mindful of Jeffrey Deaver's Lincoln Rhymes. The location plays a key part in this thriller as Jon Talton moves from Arizona (the Mapstone mysteries) to an Ohio hospital. Readers will feel empathy pain as Borders' aches are that descriptive; on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being hurting at Mt. Everest levels, he is a 12. However, it is the recuperating patient and his pain nurse who team up as an unlikely investigative duet searching for a killer.

Sleepwalking in Daylight
Elizabeth Flock
Mira Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
077832513X, $21.95,

In Chicago, Samantha Friedman misses her former life before she became a car pooling soccer mom to her teenage adopted daughter Cammy and her eight years old twin sons Jamie and Andrew. The stay-at-home mother reflects bitterly that she has not had sex with her husband Bob in a period longer than it takes to have a baby. Samantha has escaped ennui with an affair as she considers running away from family and responsibility.

Seventeen year old Cammy is even more despondent than her mother as she turns to drugs and sex to escape reality. The brooding goth teen keeps a diary including dark poetry that reflect her anguish while writing about her out of control activities as she considers running away from family and responsibility.

The despondency level of this dysfunctional family makes for a deep but difficult read. The two Freidman females are fully developed so the audience sympathizes with the two of them. Filled with despair and a sense of hopelessness, mother and daughter desperately need to find one another before there is that all there is in life takes full hold on them. The males serve roles that enable readers to better understand how despondent the women truly are. Although the ending seems contrived, the aptly titled SLEEPWALKING IN DAYLIGHT is a profound tale in which wealth does not necessarily mean happiness.

The Killing Tree
Rachel Keener
Center Street
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
1599951118, $13.99,

Living on Crooked Top Mountain in Appalachia, recent high school graduate Mercy Heron dreams of visiting the ocean although she also understands she has no future beyond waitressing at the diner owned by kind Rusty who is interested in her. Her mom died giving birth to her and her father was never there so her grandparents raised her. Her grandpa Father Heron is a deacon who expects perfect pious behavior from her; while her grandma Mamma Rutha is a bit crazy. In fact everyone except perhaps Mercy and her best friend Della assume Father is a martyr for living with a lunatic.

Della, known for her wild ways, persuades Mercy to go to the docks where all the cool kids hang out. Mercy meets a boy her age who says he saw a fire-trout in the water. He also tells her his name is Trout. She is attracted to him, but Della warns her he is unacceptable as a mater migrant worker who harvests crops. When Mercy walks to town to buy jeans, it begins to rain and Trout gives her a lift. They find much in common and begin seeing one another though she knows Father will be irate with her transgressions just like he was with her mom.

The sense of life in Appalachia is superbly portrayed as few novels have been able to do. The lead couple seems genuine and the support staff very strong either enhancing the mountain lifestyle or the relationship between the lead couple (not necessarily in a positive way). Although the descriptions and characterizations overwhelm the limited action including the climatic suspense, readers who relish a deep sense of place through a powerful cast will want to read this keen look at Appalachia.

Still Life
Joy Fielding
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
1416585273, $25.00,

Casey Marshall is wealthy, successful as an interior designer, and loves the ethical man she married who insisted on a prenuptial agreement to protect her assets; he receives nothing from her estate if they divorce. She loves her spouse so much that she tells her two best friends at lunch she is thinking of having a child with her beloved.

Afterward she goes to the garage to get her car when another vehicle going at least forty miles above the posted speed limit runs her over; almost every bone in her body is broken and she quickly lapses into a coma. At the hospital she somewhat returns to consciousness though cannot see or move a muscle. However unable to see and paralyzed while seemingly still comatose, Casey can hear. Her visitors are unaware that she listens in to their discussions. She learns things about her husband, her friend and her sister that she wishes were untrue. The detective working the case informs everyone in front of Casey that the hit and run was deliberate by someone targeting her. When she is released from the hospital she returns home where her staking killer can finish the job much easier.

Fans of the Higgins-Clark mom and daughter duo will enjoy this taut thriller that builds up the tension gradually from the moment Casey's perfect world is shattered forever. Casey remains resolute even in her comatose state and with her injuries as she is determined to defeat her deadly adversary even if it means her death; she will not go idly into the night. Joy Fielding provides a strong suspense starring a courageous woman in trouble.

50 Ways to Hex Your Lover
Linda Wisdom
P.O Box 4410, Naperville Il., 60567
9781402210853, $6.99,

Based in Pasadena, witch Jasmine Tremaine is a chauffeur for All Creatures Limo Service and a hex remover. She is currently having a few problems. First her abusive bunny slippers Fluff and Puff seem to have anger management issues that could lead to trouble with the Witches Council. Next Irma the ghost chain smokes in Jasmine's vintage Thunderbird in spite of the Surgeon General's warning on second hand smoke and the odor that permeates the upholstery for eternity is stronger than any hex spell. Finally, Jazz is not sure if the on and off love of her life Nikolai "Nick Gregory" Gregorivich the vampire cop is on or off.

Nick is working a serial killer case in which a predator is murdering vampires. He enlists Jazz's help to bring the culprit with seemingly incredible supernatural powers to paranormal justice while wondering about how their attraction after three hundred years together appears stronger. Jazz has her own issues with her ghoulish limo boss Dweezil, the violence on ankles by Fluff and Puff, and Nick's sex appeal.

This first Jazz urban romantic fantasy is a fun frolic that hexes the audience to read in one delightful setting. The fast-paced storyline is a lighthearted spoofing of the sub-genre; you sort of expect Thursday Next and Good Magician Humfrey to drive by in an open convertible. Cast-driven, 50 WAYS TO HEX YOUR LOVER is a humorous appealing Southern California paranormal.

Hex Appeal
Linda Wisdom
9781402214004, $6.99

The nightmares have kept witch Jazz Tremaine from her proper sleep, but she assumes the two causes are the accusations by the Witches Council that Fluff and Puff her bunny slippers committed the homicide of eating Will the were-weasel, and her latest separation from Nikolai Gregorivich AKA in modern day California as Nick Gregory, vampire cop. She believes Nick bit her so she dumped him for violating their weird relationship though she ponders why her witch blood failed to poison his vampire body; she already is on a century probation from the Witches Council for a prior transgression so fears the penalty if her slippers are found guilty.

He is used to her dumping him after three centuries of Jazz ending their relationship numerous times. That does not disturb him too much as the getting back together is how a vampire attains heaven. However, this time he finds he suffers from nightmares and struggles to eat. When the two of them finally compare notes, they conclude someone hexed each of them manifesting especially while sleeping. This is ironic as she earns some money removing hexes.

This whimsical amusing urban romantic fantasy is an entertaining lighthearted romp starring a likable couple who should be like oil and water and are at times; but in between they are a loving pair. The story line is fast-paced driven by the on and off and on relationship between Jazz and Nick who finally team up so they can each gain a decent night of sleep by ending the hex though a new "old" problem will prevent their getting sleep as always occurs when they are together. Fans will enjoy this appealing fun frolic in which Linda Wisdom hexes her new audience including this entranced reviewer to read the first tale (see 50 WAYS TO HEX YOUR LOVER).

The Hunted
Wayne Barcomb
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312370756, $24.95,

The child witnessed the murder. She testified in court explaining what she saw that she knows will haunt her forever. The killer is convicted and sent to prison.

Eighteen years later, New York homicide detective Frank Russo is the lead investigator into the homicides of several people. His inquiry seems to go nowhere though he believes a serial killer is the culprit. Frank soon learns that a convicted murderer sentenced eighteen years ago was recently paroled. He begins to change his theory re the current killings and wonders if that freed convict is on a rampage leading him to the person who sent him to prison.

Frank is a fabulous cop struggling in his failed personal life as much as he struggles with a case that is going nowhere. In many ways the deranged killer steals the show from Frank as the audience sees first hand how he was an abuse victim and his efforts to not give in to the obsession to kill again. As Frank follows the few clues, he remains clueless to the identity of the culprit who lives a normal middle class life even as his urging is to hunt down the cop chasing him. Though serial killer investigative thrillers have saturated the market, Wayne Barcomb's fine tale is a refreshing police procedural mostly because of the hunter and the HUNTED.

Death and the Crossed Wires
Linda Berry
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
9781594147470, $25.95,

The Ogeechee Baptist Church in Ogeechee, Georgia (population 3,000), has the flock excited that sixteen year old Crys Cleary is being baptized by the youth pastor Josh Easterling; even her grandfather Howard, who raised her, but is not noted for going to church, attends the ceremony. However, something happens and Josh falls into Baptistry. Bobby Turner takes charge of the scene until the EMT and cops respond. Josh is dead having been electrocuted by the microphone.

Police Chief Henry "Hen" Huckabee leads an investigation into what initially looks like a tragic accident. However, Officer Jerome Sharpe learns from his relative, an electrician that someone tampered with the device. The murder investigation makes no progress until Hen's cousin Officer Trudy Roundtree suggests looking at the deaths of the teen's parents and boyfriend.

This is an engaging small town Georgia police procedural in which the case goes nowhere beyond proving a homicide and not an accident occurred until Trudy persuades Hen to change the focus. The story line is action-packed but it is the cast starting with the police officer cousins, their family especially his mom-her aunt (no comment on nepotism), and the rest of the unit and the Ogeechee Baptist Church members that make the tale fun to read. They bring alive the eccentricity of a small town in which everyone seems to know everyone except someone has the dark secret of being a killer. The latest Hen-Trudy investigation (see DEATH AND THE FAMILY TREE and DEATH AND THE WALKING STICK) is an enjoyable Southern fried (literally) whodunit.

Of Words and Music
Lynda Fitzgerald
Five Star Books
9781594147760, $25.95

Wealthy widow, sexagenarian Lilah Kimball has never recovered from when her late martinet spouse told their daughter Elizabeth to never come back if she marries beneath her. So when social worker Felicity Greenlea informs her that Elizabeth is dead three months ago from a car accident, she hides her grief; as she always prayed for reconciliation. She also learns she has a twelve year old granddaughter Bethany Freemont whose father died two years ago after suffering with leukemia. Although she prefers to say no, encouraged by her best friend (and housekeeper) Marabet, Lilah agrees to temporary house the child until a paternal relative is located.

Lilah hides from Bethany who hates her grandmother for not being there for her mother. Marabet sees a chance for Lilah to regain her life lost fourteen years ago. However, her forty year old son Charles, a chip off the dictatorial block of his late dad, wants the brat gone. As Lilah and Bethany begin to bond playing the piano together, secrets from Athens and Atlanta haunt everyone.

This is an engaging redemption family drama as Lilah has a chance to indirectly fix the mistake of her life if she can take a chance on loving someone again. The cast is strong . Marabet is a terrific BFF who is there for her buddy, but refuses to pull punches. Bethany is a delightful charmer who goes from loathing to loving her grandma. Charles' wife Lese goes from mouse to frightened lioness while Charles shows few if any redeeming qualities and fans will hiss him with what he did years ago to his mom and late sister. Although overwrought at times especially a late unnecessary runaway scene, fans will enjoy this fine character driven drama with a fabulous final twist that defines what a family truly is.

Taos Chill
Linda Lea Castle
Five Star Books
9781594147548, $25.00

In 2007 in Taos, New Mexico romance author Carmen Pollini is knows for her flash temper. This morning she got into a dispute with Rapid Express Delivery person Jake the Snake over a fender bender; she and Jake have been going at it for longer than that as she accuses him of tossing her packages haphazardly. After stopping to see her insurance agent Mr. Hardass; whoops make that Hardwick, she goes home only to find the corpse of Jake in her driveway. County Sheriff Jim Dunn arrives immediately and arrests Carmen while his replacement as sheriff Hugh Blaines watches in shock because any arrest seems premature at this time.

Meanwhile Carmen is stalked by emails that contains threats of exposing plagiarism and by gifts left anonymous by her biggest fan. Soon after being released from jail, she learns Dunn was fired due to accusations by women of sexual harassment and replaced by Blaines. At a nearby convention Carmen accuses her literary agent of stealing her royalties; Ethyl Gatz admits it, but also says she is filing for bankruptcy so Carmen will collect nothing. When Carmen slips and accidentally takes down Ethyl to the floor everyone assumes she lost her temper and attacked the woman. Soon afterward, Ethyl is found dead. Blaines initially believes Carmen is a killer, but reconsiders his premise when he learns of the sexy gifts and the nasty emails. He vows to find the killer and learn who is causing so much trouble for Carmen.

This is a lighthearted police procedural starring a trouble magnet and the sheriff attracted to her though he believes she is epitome of what he detests in a woman. The story line is fast-paced as Carmen has quite a temper, which she gets from both of her compassionate divorced parents (what can one expect from a transplanted New Yorker - I know personally). Readers will enjoy this fun tale though the solution to the murders seems abrupt and the motive required a crazy person to forge it.

Stranger in Paradise
Jackie Griffey
Five Star Books
9781594147531, $25.95

In Greenfield, Laura Carroll mourns the death of her beloved Aunt Sophie, who raised her like she was her daughter. Attorney M.C. "Mac" McKinley informs Laura, who he is attracted to, that her aunt placed in her will a condition that Laura was to go on a vacation for no less than two weeks. Reluctantly Laura agrees as she made a death bed promise to her aunt to carry out all the conditions of the will.

Laura travels to Isla Verde near Puerto Rico. There she meets Esteban Aguilar who speaks Spanish only. As they fall in love she extends her stay to thirty days. When he talks of sharing a casa, she accepts what she assumes is a proposal. However, after he tells her "Yo te amo", he vanishes. When he fails to reappear, she goes home heartbroken unaware he hid the truth from her to keep her safe. He and his family are hacking a path through a Columbian jungle.

STRANGER IN PARADISE starts off as an intriguing contemporary romance that half way into the tale switches into a suspense thriller. The story line is at its best when the theme is pure romance on Isla Verde between two people finding love enables them to communicate even though they speak two different languages. When Esteban vanishes, the suspense feels a bit jarring and a second twist on Hawaii even more strident. Still fans will enjoy two STRANGERS IN PARADISE using love as their common language to discuss the present and future together.

Cast the First Stone
Rebbie Macintyre
Five Star Books
9781594147463, $25.95

In 1932 in Ludlodi, Colorado, fifteen years old Katherine Woodson explains to Coyote County Sheriff George Mallis that her bootlegging father Merle vanished after arguing with his business partner Parn Shannon. They have not found the corpse but the sheriff locks him up after accusing him of killing the missing father. It is obvious to the deputies and Parn's sister that the sheriff has a deep grudge against Parn; George blames him and Merle for the deaths of his wife and child.

Deputy Roy Eastman persuades Parn's widowed sister Trini Bates to use her dowsing skill to locate Merle. She succeeds finding his body at the bottom of a canyon. However, George not only remains steadfast in his belief Parn killed his partner; he finds a bloody knife in a woodpile by his prisoner's cabin. As an angry but despondent Trini ignores her need to grieve her husband's death eight months ago. She investigates Merle's background convinced George killed him to gain control over east Colorado bootlegging, but evidence mounts against Parn, which impacts negatively on Trini's dowsing skills. Still she fosters Katherine and her twelve year old brother Jake who has the mind of a five year old, and is taken aback to find Roy desires her even while someone else wants her dead.

Timely with the impact of the Depression on a person's values vs. employment as Roy learns, CAST THE FIRST STONE is an engaging historical amateur sleuth tale. The cast is powerful running very deep as each provides a taste of life in the Rockies in 1932. The whodunit and related suspense are well written, but also enhance the sense of time and place for instance waiting for the traveling circuit judge to come to town as speedy trial is theory only; thus in many ways Rebbie Macintyre's entertaining tale is more a historical than a mystery.

Death's Door
Gail Lukasik
Five Star Books
9781594147142, $25.95

In Egg Harbor, Wisconsin, fifteen year old Janell Margaris is missing. Door County Gazette reporter Leigh Girard covers the search and rescue by going out into the filed on the quest for the missing daughter of a wealthy "summer people" Chicago couple.

After an accidental dunking in the Mink River in which Joe Stillwater pulls her out of the icy water, Leigh finds a female corpse in the nearby woods. Janell's bossy affluent father Russell arrives at the death scene and takes something from the body; the corpse turns out to be Janell's estranged friend, all year teenage resident, Stephanie Evanson, whom Leigh interviewed that morning. While the Margaris trio flees for Chicago, Leigh wonders why anyone would be DESTROYING ANGELS like Stephanie. She quickly follows the runaway Margaris brood to confront the daughter about seeing an older man. As she digs deeper into the case, the cops arrest a local fisherman, but Leigh, believing they jailed the wrong person, still investigates and soon she and the killer begin to exchange letters.

This is an entertaining regional investigative whodunit with a few interesting twists starting with the first body found not being Janell. The fast-paced story line provides a sense of location especially the beauty of the Door Peninsular with the cold Mink River and nearby woods. Although serial killers providing clues to reporters is an overused technique, Gail Lukasik keeps her version brisk and exciting as Leigh places herself in peril in her second case.

And Don't Forget to Rescue the Other Princesses
Marc Bilgrey
Five Star Books
9781594147449, $25.95

It has been a year since thirty-one year old Al Breen has had a visit from a talking cat, who yanked him into another dimension where the feline turned into a wizard. Master wizard Merv, the advisor to Castle Furley in the land of Flemp, explained to the bewildered out of work actor that he had been summoned as a great knight to travel to the kingdom of Mornnnnnnn to rescue the king's kidnapped daughter Megan. After mission accomplished with the help of Sir Nigel the nervous, Al was sent home (see AND DON'T FORGET TO RESCUE THE PRINCESS).

However his idyll time of respite abruptly ends when Merv yanks him back to Flemp with the same choices of losing his head or rescuing Princess Deirdre. Once again with Nigel the Nervous as his sidekick, Al the mighty couch warrior journeys to the northern citadel atop of the treacherous mountains where the evil sorceress Sorchaaaaaaaa is hatching plans to conquer the lands making her ruler of the world. To begin her unholy quest, she must sacrifice Deirdre to the Dark Gods. After fighting off an ogre, wild boars, fighting to get out of a fairy ring, and taken prisoner by a giant, the reluctant heroes are taken to the leader of the resistance who escort them up the mountain where the real danger awaits them as Sorchaaaaaaaa looks forward to the encounter.

Readers who like the wackiness of the Xanth tales without any puns will enjoy this fun farcical fantasy starring an earthly couch potato turned reluctant Don Quixote saving a world filled with magic. His companion on the trek Sir Nigel the Nervous is constantly whining about everything and anything when they are not in a dire predicament which is rare; otherwise he is wisecracking about their dilemmas as a means to keep from losing his bladder. Fans will enjoy Marc Bilgrey's tale of the absurd.

Breach Of Trust
DiAnn Mills
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414320472, $12.99,

Running as an independent conservative, former CIA operative Daniel Keary appears heading to victory as the Governor of Oklahoma. In Split Creek, Oklahoma lives former agent Mikaela Olsson under the guise of librarian Paige Rogers; Daniel's henchmen placed her there with the warning to remain silent or her Wisconsin parents will die.

Split Creek High School football coach Miles Laird has fallen in love with Paige who rejects his requests for a date. She is attracted to the caring but tough coach, but she is a realist as she knows she has no future as long as Keary is lurking. As the coach has a quarterback controversy caused by a player's rabid father who is on the school board, CIA agent Palmer pleads with Mikaela to help him bring down Keary before he is elected as doing it after would cause international damage to the country. He believes Keary killed his CIA teammates on the Angola mission in 2002 that Mikaela was fortunate to have survived with major leg damage and that he now is dealing illegally and deadly African oil. When Keary tries to bully Mikaela to join his election team, she prays to God for guidance before informing Palmer she will bring the deadly traitor down.

This fast-paced character driven thriller answers the question whether a CIA field operative expected to do all sorts of Ten Commandment sins can believe in God outside of a foxhole or being a fundamentalist claiming divine right. The story line focuses on Mikaela as Paige struggling with her failure to bring down the traitorous snake who has White House ambitions. She turns to God for solace and guidance even understanding that her Father works in mysterious ways as one woman's treasure is another's sacrifice. Although a mole in Split Creek fails to come across as a Keary undercover agent, fans will fully enjoy this strong tale as DiAnn Mills answers her fascinating question re God and the CIA. Readers who enjoy the works of Dee Henderson, especially her O'Malley series will love BREACH of TRUST

Red, White and Blue
Laura Hayden
Tyndale House Publishers
9781414319407, $13.99

Emily Benton is elected President of the United States. The first female PROTUS asks her best friend Kate Rosen to be her Chief of Staff; a position in which the President must fully trust the aide to provide poignant often unwelcome truths and honest advice.

Kate has doubts about accepting the job as she is a deeply religious person who fears the corruption of the White House will cause her to slip from her first loyalty to God. However, she rationalizes her decision by thinking she can bring the Lord's Commandments into a place where avaricious grabbing of more power is everything and faith is left behind in the pack of disregarded morals. Whatever she chooses, Kate will be tested by friendship, belief, and loyalty especially when scandal erupts over a corpse.

The timing is perfect with the Inauguration of a new President as RED, WHITE, AND BLUE provides deep insight into the changing of the guard, who has easy access, and everyday life inside the White House (not just the Oval Office). Emily is an interesting first female president as she makes decisions that at times pamper her support group at the cost of the greater good (must be the first commandment of politicians). Kate with her vacillation and her change from idealist to doubting cynic makes a case that there is little room for a truly deep religious person in political DC even running the faith based initiatives program whose function is to pamper the PROTUS support base. Her relationship with Emily's former husband Nick seems ingenuous and fake though key to a unique triangle power struggle. Still fans will enjoy this fine look at the White House through mostly the lens of a deeply devoted religious person.

First Comes Marriage
Mary Balogh
Dell Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780440244226, $6.99,

In Throckbridge, Viscount Elliot Wallace learns he is guardian of Stephen Huxtable, the new Earl of Merton. Stephen complains to Elliot that his three sisters are driving him insane with their demands. Elliot decides to take the oldest off his hands by proposing marriage to Meg.

However, Elliot finds he is attracted to middle sister Vanessa, a widow, who shocks him when she proposes to him. Elliot accepts her surprising off as he feels strongly they will be a perfect match. However, they find happily ever after not quite what each expected after they exchanged I do except for the heating up the sheets. Both begin to understand the need for compromise if their marriage is to work, but will either make the first step towards give and take cooperation outside the boudoir.

Once the lead players meet, this SIMPLY PERFECT regency romance turns into a terrific tale of post marriages woes. The cast is fully developed especially the lead couple and her siblings However, the first Huxtable story line is owned by Elliot and Vanessa as each came into their marirage sharing a deep hot attraction, but radically differing expectations. Fans will take immense dleight in this deep historical.

The Club
Sharon Page
Dell Books
9780440244905, $6.99

In 1818 Widow Lady Jane St. Giles enters the notorious gentlemen's Club that welcomes couples. Run by Mrs. Brougham, Jane is a rarity as an unescorted lady of quality, but though she is prim and proper, she risks the scandal in hopes of finding her best friend Lady Delphina Treyworth who has gone missing. Del's spouse insists his wife ran away with another man for France. Jane believes Treyworth is a liar and abuser. She blames Del's brother Christian Sutcliffe, Lord Wick ham, for fleeing overseas while his sister was forced into an odious marriage. Inside she is shocked by the depravity she witnesses until Christian becomes her escort; she was unaware that "Lord Wicked" is back in London.

As they work together to find Del, Christian feels guilty that he was not there for his beloved sister when she was forced to marry by their detestable father and Jane fall in love. Each fears for Del's life as increasingly the evidence they find inside the Club points to foul play since other women have been murdered. As they continue their desperate search, they learn of four special club members whose abuse goes beyond the depravity of the normal couples who belong.

THE CLUB is an engaging erotic Regency romantic suspense starring two individuals who were in love as battling teens and remain in love as adults, but though they share the common goal of rescuing Del, they also remain combatants. The story line is at its best when a shocked Jane sees the goings on inside the Club. The investigation into the disappearance seems too easily resolved, but sub-genre readers will relish this page turner with a terrific final twist that is in the audience's face, but most if not all will not see it coming.

Hand of Isis
Jo Graham
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue , New York, NY 10017-0010
9780316068024, $14.99,

In the first century BCE the invincible Roman Empire has crossed the Mediterranean and threatens Egypt. Proud of their independence the ruling Ptolemy family will do what it takes to prevent the Roman takeover. Especially prepared is the heir to the present Pharaoh ailing Ptolemy XII, his teenage daughter Cleopatra.

Cleopatra trusts only her half sisters Iras and Charmian, who share the desire to keep their kingdom free of the outsiders. Ostensive, a handmaiden to her future queen has the true burden of being there for Cleopatra and advising her as her future Queen struggles through the Roman political maze. However, the two sisters are also the Hand of Isis Incarnate; something the Romans want superseded by their pantheon.

This is an intriguing look at Cleopatra's Egypt at a time of crisis from the perspective of the Ptolemy female leadership struggling to keep their kingdom independent. The story line vividly takes the audience on a tour of ancient Egypt and to a degree Rome as Jo Graham escorts us into hidden desert temples hidden and Roman palaces in which danger lurks everywhere. Told by Charmian, fans will be charmed by the efforts of the siblings to use anything and everything including sex to conquer the conquerors.

William Peter Blatty
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit 7, Forest Hill, Maryland 21050
9781587670831, $25.00,

The old mansion Elsewhere in Craven's Cove up the Hudson from NYC has a haunting reputation that makes it difficult to sell. Thus thirtyish Manhattan realtor Joan Freeboard hits on a unique idea to try to find a buyer for what has become a mausoleum. She persuades British psychic Anna Trawley, NYU parapsychologist Dr. Gabriel Case and renowned but currently wordless author Terrence Dare to accompany her inside of Elsewhere to prove there are no ghosts.

As the quartet settle inside of Elsewhere, a nasty storm strands them there. Meanwhile, each member of the team feels isolated from the others yet shares in common a growing sense of belonging to the mansion. As they learn the secret of the house, their personal secrets are exposed; each visitor has protected their egos with customized realisms.

In many ways this excellent haunted house tale is a psychological suspense thriller as much of the story line (except for the climax) follows the quartet as the house coaxes them to reveal their secrets. Illustrations by Alex McVey add depth to the atmosphere of pending doom. Fans of Peter Blatty will welcome his fresh approach of psychological paranormal paradigm twist to the haunted house horror sub-genre.

Bones of Betrayal
Jefferson Bass
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061284748, $24.95,

A corpse of an elderly man is found in a lake near the Oak Ridge, Tennessee nuclear research facility. The victim is identified as Dr. Leonard Novak, a leader on the government top secret Manhattan Project during WWII. The autopsy reveals that Dr. Novak died from ingesting poisons that concerns local medical examiner Dr. Bill Brockton who fears others might suffer the same fate. Additionally since he is unsure how the researcher ingested the poisons, he is not ruling out murder.

At Novak's funeral, Brockton talks to the scientist's ex wife. Following that discussion the ME begins to hypothesize that the homicide is tied to the victim's past; perhaps as far back as WWII and the nuclear bomb project. With the assistance of a local librarian, Brockton investigates the second half twentieth century history of Oak Ridge.

The latest Brockton reading the bones forensic investigative thriller (see CARVED IN BONES, FLESH AND BONE and THE DEVIL'S BONES) is an exciting tale starring an engaging hero. Although readers will solve the whodunit rather easily, the fun in the fast-paced story line is the contemporary link to the 1940s Manhattan Project.

Life Sentences
Laura Lippman
9780061128899, $24.99

Author Cassandra Fallows' nonfiction work received critical acclaim and was best-sellers. Her venture into novels did okay, but not near the level of her memoirs of growing up in Baltimore in the turbulent 1960s or her revelations into her relationships; two failed marriages and a zillion affairs.

She considers writing a biography of her elementary school colleague notorious African-American Calliope Jenkins who two decades ago was accused of murdering her infant son. Jenkins has not answered one question on the infanticide charge. A Caucasian Cassandra looks up three African-American former classmates of both her and Jenkins in order to obtain their memories of her subject's childhood. However, she is taken aback as their recollections are Grand Canyonesque apart from hers.

Allowing Tess Monoghan to take a well deserved breather but remaining in Baltimore, Laura Lippman provides a deep character study that focuses on the tricks of memories. The gap between what Fallows recalls from their school days vs. the three interviewees is oceanic in size as relativity of perspective surface. Readers will enjoy this strong psychological tale that spotlights the tricks the mind employs to conceal the negative memories; especially those in which the person is more a passive observer rather than directly actively involved.

Pain Killers
Jerry Stahl
9780060506650, $24.99

Septuagenarian Harry Zell breaks into the home of former cop turned private investigator Manny Rupert. After knocking out the sleuth and reviving him, Harry hires Manny to investigate the claim of a nonagenarian San Quentin inmate who insists he is Nazi war criminal Dr. Josef Mengele. Though he would prefer to decline the case, Manny needs the, $10,000 fee to meet his debts including two ex wives demanding their checks.

To get inside the prison, Manny pretends to be a drug counselor; a job he figures he knows personally having been a user. He meets Mengele who provides seemingly personal accounts of scientific experiments on humans at Auschwitz and San Quentin while also hinting at advising pharmaceutical companies on his scientific method applied at Abu Ghraib and other American prisons around the world. As Manny struggles with determining whether the old man is senile with one hell of a dark imagination or the "Angel of Death", he observes one of his former wives Tina frolicking with a prisoner. Thinking how charming his luck seems to run, she claims she is at the prison working for Manny. Harry wonders what is his client's true agenda.

This intriguing premise takes a deep shot at the market corrects itself philosophy as Jerry Stahl ties big government especially the prison industry to big business as warehousing and experimenting on people in which the bottom line is everything. Social, political and economic issues are raised throughout that will have the audience ponder the reason behind the Bush administration belief that everything is top secret . The plot cleverly skews ethical restraints starting with the Mengele "scientific method" applied in modern times apparently by a consortium of CIA, DOD and big pharmaceutical firms. However, at times the psychology sessions with the ex-addict prisoners drag the tale from its basic theme of hyperbole satirizing the "Big Bush" vision of the world, fans who enjoy something different will appreciate Mr. Stah's skewing.

Don't Look Twice
Andrew Gross
9780061143441, $25.99

It has been a year since the Grand Central Terminal bombing (see THE DARK TIDE) and Police Lieutenant Ty Hauck, head of the Violent Crimes Unit of Greenwich, Connecticut, is finally piecing together his life. He and his daughter Jess stop at a local convenience store when a drive-by shooting occurs. The man behind Hauck on the line is killed; the cops are unsure whether Hauck or federal prosecutor David Sanger was the target as they believe David was an innocent bystander.

Another possibility is the store owner was the intended target because his sone was one of the teens in a swimming pool when a girl drowned there. The killers screamed out her name as they fled. They find the car, which was stolen. Meanwhile at Pequot Woods Resort and Casino, pit boss Keith Kramer is killed; it turns out he and the victim at the store knew each other. The Federal Prosecutor had separate bank and credit accounts that he concealed from his wife. Every time Hauck feels he makes progress to uncover the powerful people behind the killings, another homicide occurs. The mysterious "they" blow up his house killing a police officer who was inside at the time. Despite warnings from his boss, the FBI, and the enemy, Hauck keeps investigating.

Andrew Gross provides a strong police procedural thriller starring a hero, who understands the advice of his peers is DON'T LOOK TWICE; but he ignores them and looks for the killers more than twice. The protagonist is a moral person who believes strongly not to back down and let others risk their lives making the inquiries that he feels he should do as part of his job. There is plenty of action as Hauck leaps into one incident after another. Though he may seem too much of a superhero as a single father action figure cop, the support cast brings realism to the mix of a terrific thriller.

The Writing on My Forehead
Nafisa Haj
9780061493850, $24.95

In California, teenager Saira Qader is a second generation Muslim-American whose views on life radically differs from her immigrant parents from India and Pakistan respectively. She even senses the gap between her and her older sister Ameena who married the choice of their parents. Saira wants to attend college like most of her school friends plan to do, but knows her overprotective old country (that is before the 1947 partition) parents want her settled in marriage to someone they choose.

In 1983 at a family wedding in Karachi, fourteen years old Saira attends by herself as her mom and sis refuse. She is stunned to learn her mother lied about her maternal grandfather; instead of being dead, he lives in London far from his days as a Gandhi freedom fighter; he is patriarch to another family with his British soulmate and three offspring. That revelation leads to her going to college where she experiments with drugs and sex; once she graduates she becomes an international war correspondent which leads to an estrangement with her family. A few years later, she comes home as her mom is near death and her sister is a totally devout Muslim. Not long after mother's death father returns to India while soon after that Ameena is shot in mob retaliation for 9/11 because she wears a hijab. Saira begins to look again at her Asian roots vs. her Americanization.

This is an intriguing glimpse of a Muslim-American family struggling with tradition of the first generation and the assimilation of the second. The story line occurs over a few decades so the audience obtains the metamorphosis, especially of the lead character Saira. The cast in America, London and in Pakistan (incredibly profound is her Aunt Big Nanima) is fully developed so that the audience learns the impact of globalization on American assimilation. This is a deep look at a Muslim making it in the United States.

Nuclear Jellyfish
Tim Dorsey
9780061432668, $24.95

In Jacksonville Serge A. Storms becomes unglued, which seems strange as he is always unglued, when he sees a couple of skinheads dispatching a pair of skinheads beating up a homeless person. Feeling a need to right this wrong, he takes care of both punks, Serge style.

However, Serge needs some spending money so he and Coleman head to an Internet job fair as he has become quite good on-line especially with his rants. He obtains two jobs: check streets for a GPS system and evaluate motels for a travel club. His new work introduces him and his traveling buddy to a con dealing gang who make more money illegally bringing in diamonds, but as always he rights the wrongs of cheating discount motel owners, thugs preying on the hopeless and having sex with a Viewmaster-loving stripper. In other words Serge takes out miscreants who scorn society.

This is the usual insanity as Serge takes readers on a bloody unique tour of Florida. Fans of the series will enjoy his latest escapades as he doles out punishment with gizmos like a hose to reprobates used to bullying their way without regard. Though more of a road trip series of escapades without an overarching plot, readers will enjoy riding the highways and byways as Serge provides his usual enthusiastic bloody tour.

A Not So Perfect Crime
Teresa Solana
Bitter Lemon Press
37 Arundel Gardens, London, W11 2LW, United Kingdom
9781904738343, $14.99,

On first look, one would not consider them brothers; on meeting them one would notice how their personalities are total opposites; their differing surname support the assertion that the pair does not share the same DNA. However, Eduard Martinez and Borja "Pep" Masdeu are not just siblings, they are twins.

In Barcelona, the pair open up Frau (as in Tau as you get what you pay for especially the poor) Consultants providing special (some might insists illegal or least Borja has a tendency to cross the line) circumspect services to the rich and richer though they hide their common heritage even from Eduard's wife. MP Luis Font plans to run for president, but cannot afford personal scandal. He hires Frau Consultants to discreetly investigate his wife Lidia to insure she is not cheating on him with the portrait artist painting her. However, someone sends Lidia a gift of marrons glaces flavored with poison. When she dies the brothers investigate her murder fearing their client did it and might be setting them up for the fall.

The fun in this satirical whodunit is the fumbling twins who thrive on making mistakes while putting up a false bravado facade even when it comes to their office. The story line converges on the political-affluence connection, but is owned by the soft-boiled siblings as they hide their DNA link (never quite explained why) and their clueless skills while working on A NOT SO PERFECT CRIME.

A Cousin's Promise
Wanda E. Brunstetter
Barbour Publishing
P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
9781602600607, $10.97,

In Indiana, a car accident leaves Wayne Lambright wheelchair bound. Though he suffers some self-pity and bouts of feeling sorry for his plight, his biggest concern is he deems he is no longer worthy of the love of his fiancee Loraine Miller. Instead he wants her to live a happy life and not have to waste her youth caring for a cripple. Loraine wants to help her fiance, but cannot grasp the deep emotional issues confronting her disabled beau especially since he must adapt from being a healthy do it yourself person to a person dependent on others.

Loraine's former boyfriend Jake Beechy has come home to the Amish after tasting the English lifestyle. His only regret for leaving is leaving behind Loraine. He wants a second chance with her. Loraine has a difficult decision to make as she cares for both men, but each in their way at some time deserted her.

This is the start of a new Amish saga taking place in the Hoosier State. The strong support cast brings out the strong sense of community, a trademark of a Wanda E. Brunstetter Amish romance; they also set the tone for future stories as Loraine's cousins have personal issues that need resolution. The lead triangle is fully developed with each caring about others but carrying flaws. Although at times their discussions seem a bit forced especially with Wayne, fans will appreciate Ms. Brunstetter's opening Indiana Amish contemporary romance.

The Women
T.C. Boyle
Viking Books
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780670020416, $31.95,

Frank Lloyd Wright lived a life of triumph and defeat all in the public eye. Whether he designed a remarkable edifice like his Wisconsin home Taliesin or an affair he seemed bigger than life. Four women loved him though surely there were others: Montenegro dancer Olgivanna, Miriam the drug addicted Southern belle, Kitty the first wife; and Mamah the intellectual equal who was murdered.

Told mostly by Wright's apprentice Japanese-American Tadashi Sato, this is an engaging biographical fiction. The story line looks at the great twentieth century architect through the musings of four females who loved him as each looks back at their relationship with him. Ironically, the show is stolen from the star and the titled characters by the narrator. Tadashi as the sole survivor is the only one whose opinion of Wright changes and whose wry thoughtful commentary throughout the novel add much of the complexity of trying to describe this multifaceted person; how complicated is symbolized by the remarkable Taliesin where much tragedy occurred.

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn
Allison Goodman
Viking Books
9780670062270, $19.99

Twelve years old Eon dreams of becoming one of the twelve apprentices Dragoneye, able to communicate with the energy dragons. He knows his chances are slim though he works harder than all his competitors. First he has limited sword capability due to a hand injury suffered years ago, which makes him fail at forms. Worse, he is not male. Females are forbidden from practicing Dragon magic. Twelve years old Eon has disguised herself as a lad as she is actually sixteen year old Eona.

To the shock of everyone attending the Rat Dragon competition, the Mirror Dragon, absent for over five centuries, shows up and stunningly picks the obvious least Eon. Still hiding her gender even from her close friends, Eona as Eon feels strongly she must save her nation. She has learned that a conspiracy of those who would dispose of the emperor for selfish gains exists; to prevent a calamitous change in leadership, Eon must learn how to use the power the Mirror Dragon has offered her as an apprentice.

Based on Chinese mythology, EON: DRAGONEYE REBORN is an exciting young teen fantasy thriller. Although the theme has been used often in books and movies, Eon is a terrific inspiring lead character who refuses to allow the handicap of a useless hand or a gender ban from keeping "him" from competing. However, Eon will learn that the biggest handicap is not physical, but the lack of knowledge as she as a he struggles to learn how to use the gift the Mirror Dragon gave. Fans of all ages will look forward to the concluding novel.

Devil's Gold
Julie Korzenko
Medallion Press, Inc.
1020 Cedar Lane, No. 2N, St. Charles, IL 60174
9781934755556, $25.95,

At the request of OPEC, Dr. Cassidy Lowell examines the effect of oil drilling on the land, the people, and the animals of the Niger Delta. Robert Cole of oil mega-company New World Petroleum (NWP) expects a favorable report so he can send the crews in to start digging, but the consulting zoologist finds the explorations have caused appalling conditions. She gives her report to Cole and her boss Dr. Drew Sharpe, but is yanked immediately from Africa to Yellowstone National Park where her superiors figure she cannot cause too much trouble to big business. Her assignment is to determine why the gray wolf population is vanishing.

Just before leaving Africa, someone attacks her in her hut with his intent obviously to kill her. Jake Anderson saves her life. He is a member of Special Forces Black Strike black ops unit that works behind the scenes of her organization, Zoological Environmental Bio Research Agency (ZEBRA). He becomes the biologist on her Yellowstone team with his hidden agenda to learn what she knows that have people wanting her dead. The wolves are dying from a new genetic strand of the parvovirus that now harms canines and now is made into killing humans. NWP funded the research but Jake and crew have no idea why or what the firm intends to do with it. Jake and Cassidy accompanied by a concerned CDC and the Black Stripes plan to learn their intention and stop them

DEVIL'S GOLD is an exciting thriller as both the good guys and the villains have plans for the beleaguered heroine who is uncertain she can trust anyone though she is attracted to Jake. He shares her confusions as he wants her and more so wants her to be innocent, but fears she is a deep operator in the NWP scenario. Neither trust the other (or their respective heart). The fully developed lead characters make for a special tale as they struggle to uncover the truth against a foe willing to execute a diabolical plan.

Fire at Midnight
Lisa Marie Wilkinson
Medallion Press
9781933836546, $25.95

In 1703, her odious Uncle Victor Brightmore with the help of Dr. Elliot Macgulay places his eighteen year old niece Rachael Penrose in Bedlam Insane Asylum to keep her out of the way of his stealing her younger brother's inheritance. To insure his plan goes without a hitch Victor has abducted his nephew James and has spread rumors that Rachel told the authorities about smugglers like Frenchman Sebastien Falconer. Victor leads a more vicious smuggling crew than that of Sebastian.

Whereas Sebastien searches for Rachel, John Wyatt, a pal of her friend Tarry Morgan, breaks her out of asylum. However nine days and drugs have taken their toll so when he realizes they are followed, he places her in another carriage so that he can divert Victor's

thugs from her. Sebastien takes the woman to his isolated home only to learn his ailing guest is Rachel. She escapes to London where Tarry sent James after rescuing him. There she meets Sebastien's English customs officer estranged twin Jacques while Victor has John killed and the house belonging to Tarry's father burned to the ground. Soon all will converge in danger and love.

FIRE AT MIDNIGHT is an exciting Georgian romantic suspense starring a strong lead couple and a solid support cast. Though he has no redeeming quality in some ways the ultra villain Victor steals the show as his plots and actions are diabolical and deadly even when he is off the page. The rest of the secondary characters are also developed enough to either enhance the story line or the understanding of the two stars; especially Tarry who wants to be a hero to his beloved friend and to his larger than life father, but though he tries he lacks the skills. Fans will enjoy this fine early eighteenth century historical thanks to deep characterizations that hopefully include sequels.

Thy Kingdom Come
Don Helin
Medallion Press
9781933836973, $7.95

Although he retired from the army four months ago, his former superior officer General Paul Gerber persuaded Colonel (R) Sam Thorpe to accept a position with a conglomerate that supplied weapons and training to militias. The US government is targeting the Patriots who have ties to a Canadian terrorist organization. The leader of the Patriots has a mission to accomplish so Sam's "boss" Aly Kassim sends him to train the troops of self anointed General Quentin Oliver.

Sam's real job is to find out what that mission is and prevent it from happening. The foreign link involves the Quebec Separatist Movement, who want weapons of mass destruction that chemist Sidney Kramor will create; Sam smuggles him over the border. Coming to collect the weapons is the head of the Separatist Movement Marc Dubois. Sam knows he is playing a game in which a tiny error could result in many deaths including his own as construction of cesium-137 dirty bombs is underway.

Readers obtains a good look at how a militia acts and its leaders think as they are true believers in their quest; in this case they accept as divine truth that they are Jesus' crusading soldiers who must right the wrong that minorities have caused to white people. Sam is a double agent who gets deep inside the concentric circles that make up the militia, but is not privy to the innermost leadership so is unaware of the actual mission, but knows whatever it is will cause widespread death and destruction. Don Helin has written a stirring thriller that hooks the audience who wonder if Sam can save the day.

Armor of God
Paul Block & Robert Vaughan
c/o Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765313393, $24.95,

Though at times he feels the weight of the world upon him, forty-seven years old Father Michael Flannery knows faith and his mission for God keeps him going. He is the Keeper of the Sign that somehow combines the Star of David, the Cross of Christianity and the Crescent and Star of Islam before any of these symbols have been known to have existed.

He knows the consolidated symbol represents the Trevia Dei paths to God. He continues his work to bring peace and harmony through the recently stolen Gospel of Dismayas that predates the four accepted Gospels. Many fanatics from each major religion want him dead as he preaches any path to God not one intrusive way. On his way to give a talk in New York, a Via Dei assassin tries to kill him to keep him from preaching the earliest known gospel; one that has been contradicted ever since.

This fast-paced religious thriller also contains a subplot involving the Crusades starring a scholar Tobias Garlande, who sees the future which adds depth and excitement, but this is Father Flannery's tale. The story line is fast-paced from the onset as assassins try to kill the hero to prevent him getting the world out. Although at times the language feels stilted, fans will relish the sequel to THE MASADA SCROLL as Paul Block and Robert Vaughan provide an intriguing look at the three major monotheistic religions in which a gospel of peace and harmony is unacceptable to the powerful who need the masses conflicted to maintain their affluent position on earth.

One Second After
William R. Forstchen
9780765317582, $24.95

Retired Colonel John Matherson lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina with his two daughters; one of them suffers from Type A Diabetes and needs insulin to stay alive. They think the serenity of their location high in the mountains can never be destroyed until the day the lights go out. Everything electric based no longer works to include cars. John immediately understands what happened; that the United States was nuked in the atmosphere by a few bombs containing an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP).

John becomes one of the town's leaders trying to keep things calm and peaceful as no station on the transistor radio in his car broadcasts. Food rationing is instituted and former high school students are trained as a militia. They turn away desperate refugees and as the food supply dwindles they must hunt and forage, and chop wood for heat. The Posse, a cruel group of cannibalistic gangbangers, murders, and rapists, are taking over the mountain. John and his allies must stop them before they overrun Black Mountain. Meanwhile, his daughter's supply of insulin is getting dangerously low.

Already frightening the Pentagon and the Congress is the plausibly including the ease in which the United States can be sent reeling back to a modified medieval era. John and his fellow survivors are figuratively and literally in the dark as to who did this, but the first directive is survival which includes not giving up o hope that the USA still functions and will bring relief especially medical. Fans will appreciate this powerful apocalyptic cautionary thriller but also fear how simply this can actually happen.

The Rules of the Game
Leonard Downie, Jr.
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
0307269612, $26.95,

After receiving a reprimand for a tryst with a colleague, Washington Capital investigative reporter Sarah Page is assigned to the national politics desk. She currently covers the presidential contest between elderly Democrat senator from Pennsylvania Monroe Capehart, and Republican Vice President Warner Wylie.

Capehart surprisingly chooses California Senator Susan Cameron as his running mate, which excites some with the selection of a woman and disappoints others who claim she is too inexperienced to be one elderly heartbeat from the White House. However, it is after the election is decided and Cameron is the new PROTUS with the death of Capehart Sarah learns that under the guise of national security even murder at Pennsylvania Ave or that of a nosy journalist getting too close to the truth is acceptable.

THE RULES OF THE GAME has some obvious ties to the Palin connection, but Cameron is a different personality and more significant is her side wins and her running mate and boss dies. The story line is fast-paced and filled with twists as Page seeks to uncover a conspiracy that uses national security to rationalize any action even when the tie to the country's safety does not exist except as a political cover. Fans will enjoy this engaging investigative thriller with its cautionary warning that the Bush Legacy is to hide everything inside the wrapper of 9/11-like national security concerns when there is not the remotest connection.

Trouble in Mudbug
Jana DeLeon
Love Spell
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
9780505527844, $6.99,

In Mudbug, Louisiana, Maryse Robicheaux is not grieving the loss of her odious mother-in-law, Helena. The woman was nasty and haughty using her wealth as a weapon against the other townsfolk. Now if she can cut the last tie to that family by obtaining a divorce from r Helena's son. However, just like Helena was in life, she can't help being a manipulative nag in death. Her ghost demands her daughter-in-law finish some business for her so she can move on.

Maryse has enough on her plate without dealing with a cantankerous spirit who was a cantankerous person. She is about to make a medical breakthrough at work, but is slightly deterred by having a new office partner. Half Creole zoologist Luc LeJuene is quite a hunk, but his arrival has brought a stalker who wants Maryse dead.

The first Ghost-in-Law amateur sleuth romance is a jocular fun read sort of the Bayou version of Woody Allen's Oedipus Wrecks from New York Stories as even death cannot assist the heroine from ridding herself of her mother-in-law. The TROUBLE IN MUDBUG is a lighthearted romp that is somewhat thin, but loaded with humor, intrigue and romance in which the audience and Maryse will believe in nagging disparaging ghosts.

Divine Fantasy
Melanie Jackson
Love Spell
0505528037, $7.99

As a child her parents exiled her because of a heart defect that made her imperfect in their minds; Audrey Atheneum, which is not her "joyous" birth name, but instead her adult pen name as a biographer of the almost famous quirky people, was shipped off to boarding schools as out of sight out of mind was the mantra of her family. The worst time was holidays, which the other kids looked forward to while Audrey knew she would remain alone.

She met Max Ober and fell in love, but after a miscarriage they broke up partly because he turned to the big breasted Bavarian floozy efficient Gretchen. Needing time to heal and with no one to turn to as her parents are dead besides they were never there for her when she was alive, Audrey leaves Bavaria for Fiji where on Dolphin Island she meets author Ambrose Bierce, who allegedly died after vanishing in 1914. However, her fun in the sun turns even stranger when she and Ambrose battle zombies and ghouls while he uses his magic to keep her heart from failing.

This is a fascinating twist on the DIVINE FANTASY universe of Melanie Jackson as much of the story line is dialogue between the heroine and the author of The Devil's Dictionary starting with their first "Dr. Livingstone, I presume" encounter. There is plenty of action even with the discussions and musings of the A level lead characters and a great final spin. Fans seeking something different will appreciate this clever fantasy because in between the musings is war with zombies and ghouls.

The Magic Knot
Helen Scott Taylor
Love Spell
0505527960, $7.99

Accountant Rosenwyn Tremain was warned by her mom to never go to Cornwall where her paternal relatives live. She heeded that advice until her mom passed away. Now Rose has a need to meet the other side of her heritage.

In Cornwall, Rose meets motorcyclist Niall O'Connor. She is attracted to the roguish Irishman, but will not back away from her quest. As she begins to find clues about her father, Rose also learns why her mother warned her to never come to Cornwall and to especially never seek out her dad as he is evil, something she finds out first hand. Only Niall whose tarot card reading includes betrayal can keep her safe if she trusts him while the fairies she encounters have waited for years for her to liberate them.

This is a superb entertaining romantic urban fantasy starring a likable heroine, a mysterious champion or perhaps not, and a horde of villains starting with her father. Intrepid Rose holds the tale together with her determination even after she finally understands why her late beloved mom said to avoid Cornwall and her paternal roots. Fans will enjoy Rose as she meets the other side of the family.

Hold Back the Dark
Eileen Carr
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
1416587942, $6.99,

Clinical psychologist Aimee Gannon is awakened at two in the morning by Sacramento Police Detective Josh Wolf. He informs her he has one of her patients in custody at a hospital's emergency room; the woman is uncommunicative. He asks her to meet him there to see if she can seventeen year old Taylor Dawkin out of her catatonic state. He fails to tell Aimee that Taylor was found covered in blood sitting between her dead parents in a scene so gruesome that hardened cops wanted to puke.

Tests later prove that Taylor, a cutter, slashed open her hands and used her blood to draw unexplainable patterns at the murder scene that Aimee believes have critical meaning to the horror that happened to the Dawkin family. Aimee realizes immediately that the totally mentally withdrawn Taylor needs institutionalization. Meanwhile Aimee's former patient Kyle, who insists he loves her, was convicted of attempted rape, but is on parole and back to stalking her. As Taylor continues to draw geometric shapes, Aimee wonders if the drawings relate to abuse during a childhood period that the teen had no memories of when they talked before the murders. As the psychologist puts together the puzzle pieces, she risks her life to insure an innocent child is not the next victim.

HOLD BACK THE DAWN is a memorable romantic suspense tale that will keep readers interested in the story line from start to finish as there are four primes suspects which include Taylor that keeps the audience wondering who the killer is. The attempted rape has turned the heroine into damaged goods, which is an overdone angst requirement of the sub-genre. Still the violence she suffered forced Aimee to keep her personal life on hold until she meets Josh who cherishes her from the first time they meet and makes her want an intimate relationship with him. Fans will immensely relish this tense investigative tale as the shrink and the cop search for clues while falling in love.

Fat Chance
Rhonda Pollero
Pocket Books
9781416589488, $14.00

Her mother Cassidy with her five surnames from all her spouses persuades her daughter Finley Anderson Tanner to buy a cottage on the beach of Palm Beach for, $25,000 that mom swore that stepdad Jonathan Tanner, who died fifteen years ago, wanted her to have. The estates & trusts paralegal at Dane, Leiberman and Zarnowski loved Jonathon who was the only man she considered as her daddy.

Accompanied by her friends, Becky Jamison, Olivia Garrett and Jane Spencer, she goes to see her new house only to find it smells horrendously and the inside is a disaster. Becky soon finds a corpse in a closet. While the police plan to do nothing as they assume he is a vagrant, private investigator Liam McGarrity seems to show up every time she is in need including obtaining her a cheap handyman. Her new boss at the office criminal defense attorney Tony Caprelli encouraging her to investigate while Finlay thinks once again mom dumped on her as she resolves to learn who left the body in her beachfront home.

The latest Finley Florida fiasco is a fun frolic as the heroine is conned by her mom only to find matters getting worse for her. The lighthearted story line is brisk and breezy as the heroine seems to land in amusing scenarios regardless of what she does. Fans will enjoy her escapades and her chick lit asides as she now has two hunks maybe in her personal life.

J.F. Lewis
Pocket Books
9781439102282, $15.00

In Void City, vampire Eric Courtney struggles with his new existence. A few days ago his business partner at the Demon Heart Strip Club Roger blew up the place with Eric in it (see STAKED). Now Eric is a ghost, which makes taking a bite of blood a bit difficult.

His former fiancee Marilyn begins to fill in the details of his last living undead days in Void City, but before she can explain how he was betrayed, J'iliol'lth the demon takes her soul. Eric cuts a deal with J'iliol'lth. In exchange for him finding the Stone of Aeternemthe that raises the dead, the demon will grant him immortality and give him Marilyn's soul. All that seems simple enough, but he finds the hardest thing to accept is his Mustang has become a vampire and worse he must enter Vampire High Society with his almost girlfriend Tabitha if he is to complete his end of the Faustian deal.

Much more in your face (make that neck) humor than the biting jocularity of Eric's first tale, REVAMPED is an entertaining bloody vampire thriller with the spin of the hero becoming a ghostly blood sucker. The story line is fast-paced as Eric is the Murphy of the supernatural world in J.F. Lewis' fine urban fantasy in which he learns that even being an undead dead does not prove any safer.

Darkness Unknown
Alexis Morgan
Pocket Books
9781416563433, $6.99

In the woods next to her farm, Gwen Mosely saves Jarvis Donahue's life when she pulls his unconscious body from a stream, which keeps him from drowning. To her surprise, his wounds heal immediately although she has seen her teenage half-brother Chase pulls off the same effect. She hopes the stranger will be able to answer questions the siblings have about Chase's previously thought of unique skills.

Jarvis is shocked when he awakens to find his nurse easily accept his recovery ability. However, what truly stuns him is when he sees Chase; he could be the identical twin of a dead Palladin. As Jarvis and Gwen fall in love, he knows the teen also will soon become a Palladin, which means he must mentor the lad to fight against the Others for the rest of his life.

After starting another "dark" saga (see DARK WARRIOR UNLEASHED) Alexis Morgan returns to the Paladins of Darkness universe (see REDEEMED IN DARKNESS, DARK PROTECTOR, DARK DEFENDER and IN DARKNESS REBORN) with a strong entry. The romantic fantasy contains two intriguing lead characters and in many ways an even more fascinating support player whose healing skill comes between them. The story line includes the dark battles between the Palladins and Others, but it is the triangle relationship that makes this a superb thriller.

A Highlander of Her Own
Melissa Mayhue
Pocket Books
9781416572596, $6.99

In 2008 in Prairieland, Texas, Ellie Denton finds her life reeling when Ray Stanton, the ex husband of her late mother, claims her family ranch as his; she is thankful he was not her dad. However, that proves a minor nuisance when compared with the mysterious mark on her chest; she is relieved to learn whatever it is it is non-cancerous. Meanwhile she feels like Eddie Murphy as animals speak to her. However, the strangest phenomenon occurs when Ellie wishes she had a man who loved her that she loved back. That odd mark quivers when she says her heart's desire and before she knows what next she knows she is no longer in modern day Texas; in fact she is in 1304 Scotland.

Caden Macalister has vowed to never marry after his betrothal fell apart almost a decade ago. When he meets the strange Ellie, he assumes destiny has brought her for one of his siblings as he is not fated to be a spouse. His mother strongly disagrees as she insists fairy magic has transported Ellie to be with her beloved Caden. As the stock begins to suffer from a disease, her skill to talk to the animals comes in handy, but Caden remains obstinate that she is not his destiny although Ellie begs to differ.

This is an entertaining lighthearted time traveling frolic. The story line is brisk as Ellie feels she got her wish in a weird way; Caden's mother agrees believing the Fae answered her wish; but stubborn Caden makes the tale with the refusal to believe his heart or the women in his life. Fans will enjoy the latest Daughters of the Glen time travel medieval romance (see THIRTY NIGHTS WITH A HIGHLAND HUSBAND) as Melissa Mayhue provides a winner with justice for all in two distinct centuries.

Kiss of Fate
Deborah Cooke
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
045122616X, $7.99,

The war between the dragons, Pyr vs. Slayers remains heated as they disagree over the fate of humanity. The Pyr protects the humans while the Slayers want them dead. In that environs, Pyr leader Erik Sorensson prepares for battle. However, he learns of a relic owned by mythological expert Eileen Grosvenor that he believes his side must possess if it is to succeed.

When he meets Eileen he is stunned as he realizes she is the reincarnation of his wife, who committed suicide when their offspring Sigmund became a Slayer. Erik wants a second chance at the firestorm mating, but fears the outcome at a time he must focus on preventing the Slayers' latest deadly ploy. At the same time Eileen has dreamed of a were-dragon lover and now he stands in front of her.

The third Dragonfire paranormal romantic suspense (see KISS OF FURY and KISS OF FIRE) is a terrific thriller that enables the audience to believe in the urban fantasy world of Deborah Cooke. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action yet fans will believe in the firestorm destined soulmates romantic subplot especially critical to this entry. KISS OF FATE is a superb second chance at love romantic fantasy filled with delightful twists while starring two wonderful lead protagonists and a horde of nasty Slayers assigned to kill both of them.

Danger in a Red Dress
Christina Dodd
9789451226266, $7.99

Personal nurse Hannah Grey's last client died and his family accused her of unethical practices when they did not like the will though her share of, $50,000 matched each of theirs. Her agency obtains work as a personal nurse to ailing Melinda Manly in remote coastal Maine.

Meanwhile Melinda's playboy son Carrick hires surveillance expert Gabriel Prescott to video his dying mom and her new companion as he insists he fears for his mom's life from associates of her late criminal spouse who stole and hid a fortune of money that everyone from dangerous felons to the law enforcement assumes she knows where the loot is. Gabriel hides from Carrick that they are half-brothers but accepts the job not realizing what the real danger is to him comes from what Hannah does to his heart.

This is a clever blending of the Prescott saga (see Lost Texas Hearts) and the Manly saga (see The Fortune Hunters) as Christina Dodd provides the audience with a strong romantic suspense that closes out two wonderful series for the price of one novel. The story line is fast-paced from even before Gabriel meets Hannah and takes off when they do meet. Fans will relish the Prescott-Manly merger.

The First Apostle
James Becker
9780451226709, $7.99

Englishwoman Jackie Hampton remains behind in Italy due a change in a builders' schedule while her spouse Mark is in London on business. Two men Alberti and Rogan assume the Hampton house is empty, but see Jackie and break her neck. They next chisel away at the plaster above the fireplace until the next layer is exposed displaying an inscription carved into it. They use a digital camera to take pictures before they replaster the wall and leave.

Mark receives the gruesome call. He and his best friend English policeman Chris Bronson travel to Italy. Officially her death is ruled an accident, but Chris sees evidence of a break-in. As he looks around what he believes is a crime scene, he notices the fresh plaster over the fireplace seems out of place in spite of renovation all over the house as this section is isolated from the work done and looks incomplete. He finds the concealed ancient Latin inscription "Hic Vanidici Latitant". As the Church leaders fear the impact of the find, Chris asks his former wife antiques expert Angela for help with the translation, which he learns is "Here Lie the Liars." To decipher the connotation of the message, the couple follows clues across Europe while hunters try to kill them; collateral damage of the innocent is an acceptable practice by the Vatican as the truth will shake their foundation.

This is an exciting Brownian thriller based (see the Author's Notes) on "historical evidence that St. Paul was an agent of Rome." The story line, built from that premise and much more, is fast-paced and filled with non stop action as the lead couple uncovers a conspiracy that makes Da Vinci's look minor. Although the market is flooded with these types of thrillers and the exomologesis villains seem pathetic, fans will enjoy THE FIRST APOSTLE as Mr. Becker uses historical hypothesis and facts to enhance his electrifying Church conspiracy tale.

Brian M. Wiprud
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312388614, $24.95,

Morty Martinez is a specialized house cleaner; after someone dies, he cleans their house. However, he makes more money as a "feeler" searching for the hidden cache of loot senior citizens leave behind.

In Brooklyn, Morty is euphoric to find, $800,000 lying around while he cleaned the house. However, his find comes to the attention of his peers who want more than just a cut; the information also reaches an angry former cop who believes the loot in Brooklyn belongs to him as he believes it is part of an armored car robbery. Finally, one of the thieves who has just left prison having gained the useful skill of an ice pick killer and he wants his money; Morty better give it to him or risk a flash temper stabbing. Everyone targets Morty who thinks he can become the gringo lover of Mexican senoritas if he can escape from New York in one piece.

This is an enjoyable suspense thriller mindful of It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World as everyone seemingly in the Big Apple wants a bite out of the anti-hero's butt. The story line is fast-paced once Morty finds the loot and even faster is the underground gossip network. Brian M. Wiprud provides the audience with a terrific tale in which Morty may be dreaming of senoritas, but he can't safely get to New Jersey.

Can't Never Tell
Cathy Pickens
Minotaur Books
9780312354442, $24.95

In Dacus, South Carolina, seven year old Emma is somewhat bored while wandering around the fair fright house with her Aunt Avery while two teenage couples are also touring the place. However, the child's ennui ends when the leg of a mannequin with a chainsaw separates; she realizes immediately as does her aunt that the limb is that of a human remain. The fright house is closed as the cops investigate the mannequin that turns out to be a mummified human.

The next day, Emma's parents and Aunt Avery are attending a faculty picnic near Bow Falls when the wife of Professor Reimann falls into the waterfall. While the Fair's owners have retained attorney Avery to help them reopen for the July Fourth holiday weekend, a friend of the professor asks her to file a life insurance claim since the grieving widower is too upset to do so. However, Avery also wants to know who the corpse in the fright house is though she leaves that to her assistant Shamanique to explore and who pushed Rinda into the falls.

The latest Avery Andrews legal cozy is a fun regional tale filled with some of the down home humor expected of a Cathy Pickens novel; starting with the two teen couples Amazonian girlfriends knocking the leg off the mannequin. The story line is not quite as fast and breezy as previous entries like HUSH MY MOUTH or HOG WILD but in some ways is much deeper as the audience obtains a profound look at financial fraud that is critical to the plot leading to a cautionary afterward.

Out at Night
Susan Arnout Smith
Minotaur Books
9780312368340, $25.95

In Palm Springs, California, at an international agricultural symposium, protesters peacefully march against genetically modified crops. That is no violence until someone shoots an arrow into the chest of Professor Thaddeus Bartholomew. The assailant quickly follows up, while people watch in horror, by pouring gasoline on the professor and igniting it with a match; but before his death Thaddeus sends a text message: "FIND GRACE DESCANSO."

The FBI suspects the violent group Radical Damage killed the professor to cast a dark shadow on the conference and most likely to plan an even more ferocious assault during the closing ceremony. Grace a San Diego police crime lab technician is yanked back from her vacation with her daughter by her FBI Agent Uncle Pete. As the niece works with her uncle investigating the homicide and potential follow-up terrorism, another murder occurs and while the moment of truth draws closer, there remains too many suspects including Grace's pregnant cousin to prevent an expected tragedy.

OUT AT NIGHT, the second Descanso police procedural (see THE TIMER GAME) is an exciting thriller from the moment an expecting to die Bartholomew sends his text message and never slows down until the final confrontation with agricultural terrorists. The gripping story line hooks the audience, but never quite explains why the professor picked Descanso and waits until the latter half of the tale to provide the actual terrorist threat and the rationale. Still fans will enjoy this enjoyable family affair.

Brian M. Wiprud
Minotaur Books
9780312388614, $24.95

Morty Martinez is a specialized house cleaner; after someone dies, he cleans their house. However, he makes more money as a "feeler" searching for the hidden cache of loot senior citizens leave behind.

In Brooklyn, Morty is euphoric to find, $800,000 lying around while he cleaned the house. However, his find comes to the attention of his peers who want more than just a cut; the information also reaches an angry former cop who believes the loot in Brooklyn belongs to him as he believes it is part of an armored car robbery. Finally, one of the thieves who has just left prison having gained the useful skill of an ice pick killer and he wants his money; Morty better give it to him or risk a flash temper stabbing. Everyone targets Morty who thinks he can become the gringo lover of Mexican senoritas if he can escape from New York in one piece.

This is an enjoyable suspense thriller mindful of It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World as everyone seemingly in the Big Apple wants a bite out of the anti-hero's butt. The story line is fast-paced once Morty finds the loot and even faster is the underground gossip network. Brian M. Wiprud provides the audience with a terrific tale in which Morty may be dreaming of senoritas, but he can't safely get to New Jersey.

Haunt of Murder
P.C. Doherty
Minotaur Books
9780312359614, $24.95

The travelers on their way to Canterbury stop at Maldon, Essex where rumors abound that ghosts and killers live. A debate breaks out whether there are spirits haunting the woods as some reject the concept of ghosts.

The Clerk of Oxford makes an anecdotal case in support of the paranormal. He tells the tale of his peer Ralph Mortimer the clerk of Ravenscroft who in 1381 was researching documents at Ravenscroft Castle in hopes of finding a clue that will lead him to Brythnoth's legendary treasured jeweled cross. So far he has been unsuccessful. Meanwhile he, his fiancee Beatrice Arrowner and some friends were on the greens by the castle celebrating May Day. However, Beatrice apparently fell from a parapet to her death. Shattered, the despondent Ralph believes she was murdered though his friends insist a tragic accident occurred. He vows to find Beatrice's killer, but he will soon learn there is more to life than death as his beloved is fighting evil demanding her soul while she waits for her beloved to uncover her killer.

Perhaps the lead author of the medieval mystery (besides the Canterbury Tales, there are also the tales starring the Royal Clerk Hugh Corbett and Brother Athelstan), P.C. Doherty provides another terrific entry in his homage to Chaucer. The story line provides a deep window into the late fourteenth century through the eyes of the travelers while the investigation looks into whether Beatrice died from an accident or a homicide is cleverly devised. Fans will enjoy the latest entry in this fine medieval mystery series with an apparent touch of the paranormal (see The Carpenter's Tale: THE HANGMAN'S HYMN).

A False Dawn
Tom Lowe
Minotaur Books
9780312379179, $24.95

Widower homicide detective Sean O'Brien left the Miami police department after promising his beloved late wife Sherri in a death bed promise he would give up criminal investigations. Sean packed his bags and accompanied by his dachshund Maxine leaves Southern Florida for rural Volusia County near the St. John's River. He enjoys his quiet life with Max. One day while they hike through the nearby near

Ocala National Forest, he finds a badly battered Hispanic girl who he suspects was raped, dies in his arms. Volusia County PD detective Slater follows the book and considers the ex-cop as his prime suspect. Although he knows he is breaking his pledge to Sherri, Sean believes she would want him to investigate the homicide. His effort soon leads him to a Miami serial killer The Bagman, and with Police Detective Leslie Moor to human trafficking of migrant workers sold to the farms as slaves; to the pimps as hookers; or as cash crops harvesting organs to sell to transplant medical facilities.

This is an exciting investigative thriller starring a likable reluctant hero who enjoys his time away from the cement jungle, but feels a need to bring justice to the dead girl and to prove his innocence. The story line is action-packed though overwhelmed by the combo Bagman and slave trade; either would have sufficed. Still fans will enjoy Tom Lowe's exhilarating human trafficking tale.

Broken Wing
Thomas Lakeman
Minotaur Books
9780312380229, $25.95

In New Orleans the FBI assigns forty-something Special Agent Mike Yeager to go undercover as a rogue operative in order to gain insider access to the growing Barca mob. Mike thinks it is a small world as he once dated the chieftain's daughter Sofia, who he deserted two decades ago to turn in her dad. Mike's current task is to help the mobster expedite the sale of kidnapped Amrita Burke, whose husband was murdered during the abduction.

His actual task is to stealthily investigate who brutalized and killed British citizen Simon Burke and has offered up his wife Amrita up for bid. Mike meets with chieftain Emelio Barca and his half-son Grady, who agree to his working with them on the Amrita sale. However, his efforts to find her spouse's killer and ultimately rescue Amrita take a personal spin when he realizes Sofia needs his help too.

The still devastated parts of the post Katrina city steals the show in this superb police procedural as neighborhoods have become urban wastelands. The hero quickly learns to trust no one, especially those who are supposedly his FBI support group, if he is to accomplish his mission and leave New Orleans alive. There is plenty of explosive action and double and triple crosses on all sides including the law as avarice and corruption greet Yeager everywhere he goes. He already has enough of a burden with remorse, guilt and psychological defense mechanisms loading him down before he arrives (see The Shadow Catchers), but the BROKEN WING undercover operative will quickly understand he is in the eye of the hurricane.

Better on Top
Delilah Dawson
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312369378, $13.95,

Single mom Toni Lyons struggles with raising her five years old autistic daughter Twyla. As a "solid" favor for her friend Eileen as well was making money, the auto mechanic reluctantly agrees to anonymously "test" her new matchmaking web site, Orchid Soul.

Her landlord in the converted duplex, Nick Benson has returned from a harrowing experience in the military. Prior to leaving home on the deployment, he was known as the Reverend for being the top player; now he has no interest in playing since a personal death in the war zone has left him grieving. He spends much of his time renovating his house. He is attracted to his renter and very patient with her offspring. Eileen convinces him as a solid to her to test her new erotic matchmaking site.

Due to his manipulations, Orchid Soul matches up the two neighbors as their sexual fantasies go together. However, she is hesitant as she was scorched once before when she trusted a man with her heart while he takes it slow knowing she and Twyla belong with him, but fearing she will discover his hacking chicanery and have one more reason to distrust men.

The second Orchid Soul romance (see UP ALL NIGHT; not read by me) is an engaging contemporary as the sexual fantasy program fails (with some human assistance) yet achieves the strategic goal of the website. The lead couple is a terrific pairing, but it is the relationship between Twyla and Nick that makes the story line fulfilling. Fans will enjoy Delilah Dawson's delightful duet as testers falling in love.

The Girl Most Likely To
Susan Donovan
St. Martin's Press
9780312939519 , $7.99

In Persuasion, West Virginia, high school sweethearts Kat Cavanaugh and Riley Bohland are in love. However, he abruptly ends their relationship without explanation. Being pregnant and feeling alone at sixteen while living with an abusive father and a pathetic mother, Kat leaves town. She is fortunate as trucker Cliff Turner kindly gives her a ride leaving her with his sister Phyllis, who took her in and raised the sixteen year old and her soon to be born child Aiden with love as if they were her daughter and grandson.

When Phyllis died, she left Kat with three million dollars. Though grieving her loss, she decides to go home to confront those who deserted her when she most needed them. However, her expectations of triumph is short lived when she meets Riley a doctor, who angrily rips into her for running away with his son; he tells her she will hear from his lawyer. Aden is also upset with Kat for keeping him away from his dad. Worse she still loves Riley.

This is an interesting extended family drama that focuses on the premise that you can't go home even with money to flaunt. The story line is at its best when it concentrates on the obvious relationships between Kat and her parents, her son, and Riley; it feels overwhelmed when the concentration turns to other angst-laden issues like abuse and stalking etc. Still Susan Donovan provides an entertaining contemporary as Kat and Riley need to overcome distrust if they are to enjoy a second chance at love.

The Agency
Ally O'Brien
St. Martin's Press
9781433260995, $24.95

London-based literary agent Tess Drake takes no prisoners at work, in romances, or even with family and friends. She does not care what anyone thinks of her except her boss at Bartwright, an international multimedia giant.

When senior partner Lowell Bartwright dies mysteriously during a tryst, Cosima Tate is named to replace him. Cosima hates Tess for a various reasons especially since she suspects the agent who sleeps around is including her husband in her affairs. Knowing the she must leave, Tess considers opening up her own firm starting with her top client bestselling children's author Dorothy Starkwell whose panda star is accused of being plagiarized. She also knows someone is trying to frame her in Lionel's death. With her life at stake on two fronts, her only hope to survive apparently is underselling Oliver Howard whose first novel is being considered for a Cruise movie.

Although the tale of urban depravity has been used quite frequently, THE AGENCY is an entertaining story starring a ball busting (women too) man-eater who acknowledges her errors, but the audience never learns what motivates her behavior. In many ways Cosima is similar to Tess so their cat fight is a war of female alphas in which collateral damage to other people is acceptable by both of them. Neither receives the slightest empathy from readers who will dislike both. Still fans will enjoy Tess' misdeeds in London.

Honestly Dearest, You're Dead
Jack Fredrickson
St. Martin's Press
0312380925, $24.95

From West Haven, Michigan, William Aggert, attorney for the estate of the late Louise Thomas, informs financially broke, suspiciously paranoiac of the human race and over the edge depressed private investigator Vlodek "Dek" Elstrom that he is the executor. Dek asks why he, as he never met the woman or heard of her. The lawyer offers no solutions except he will receive, $700 for his efforts.

Curious but more important needing the money, Dek travels from Rivertown, Illinois to the hometown of Louise, Rambling, Michigan. In her dilapidated shack, Dek finds blood spattered everywhere and an obvious quick search for something was conducted; the only other noted object is an ancient typewriter that looks identical to one owned by the former love of his life. He concludes Louise was murdered, but has no idea why. As Dek investigates his connection to Louise and her homicide, he finds himself looking into a bank robbery and arson too.

Dek's second case (see A SAFE PLACE FOR DYING) is a terrific private investigative thriller due to the likable hero who is going through some deep emotional issues that only increase his already high level of obstinacy to the sky; he e is resolute with a gut need to learn why a stranger chose him, who killer her and why. Fans will relish this engaging Illinois sleuth as he works a Michigan case that he personalizes.

Paper Roses
Amanda Cabot
c/o Baker Publishing Group
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
9780800733247, $13.99,

In 1856, Sarah Dobbs becomes a mail order bride for two reasons. First she needs to move on with her much younger sister Thea after the tragic deaths due to influenza of her parents back in Philadelphia and second she cherished the paper roses and loving letters her fiance Austin Canfield sent her. However, in San Antonio instead of Austin arriving, his brother Clay informs her that her groom was murdered by an unknown assailant. Clay offers to pay the return fare for the two siblings, but Sarah refuses his kind offer preferring to find work in nearby Ladreville than face ridicule and bad memories back home.

Clay, a widower, almost goes berserk when Thea affectionately calls him papa as he wanted to hear that word from his baby, but both the infant and his beloved Patience died. On the family ranch that he takes the two siblings to, he admires Sarah for her spunk in spite of her recent tragedies and her leg that leaves her limping and actually likes the little one though feels guilty for doing so. Soon Sarah and Clay fall in love, but both hide their feelings out of guilt and fear of rejection; rationalizing that solving the murder mystery must come first

The first Texas Dreams tale is an excellent western romance with an amateur sleuth whodunit investigation serving as a minor but powerful support. The two likable lead characters are tied together initially by grief, but soon that becomes love and a precocious (perhaps too much so) young girl enhance their relationship. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Sarah waits for her fiance to arrive while Clay dreads the mission of telling her he won't and never slows down even with the inspirational message of keeping the faith interwoven from start to finish. Fans will enjoy this fine pre-Civil War Hills Country historical.

Edge of Light
Ann Shorey
9780800733308, $13.99

In 1838 in St. Lawrenceville, Missouri, Samuel McGarvie dies from cholera. He leaves behind a loving pregnant wife Molly and three children. With the help of Betsy the slave, Molly hides her grief as she knows she must be strong for her shaken children (Franklin, James, and Luellen).

Samuel's brother Matthew arrives intending to bring back to his home to Illinois his sister-in-law and his two nephews and niece. However the stubborn widow makes it very clear she will not remarry although several men seem interested in her. When Franklin goes missing on the journey east, Molly turns to God to help find him while one persistent suitor Karl falls in love with the feisty skin ripping widow but focuses on helping the kids as he
assumes he has no chance with her.

The first At Home in Beldon Grove is an engaging inspirational historical romance with the emphasis on the era through the cast. Without preaching Ann Shorey makes the case through her deep characters like Betsy and her enslaved almost husband Ruben that God has room for everyone. Fans will enjoy EDGE OF LIGHT, a wonderfully inspiring early nineteenth century Americana.

No Place for a Lady
Maggie Brendan
9780800733353, $13.99

In 1892 Crystal Clark buries her father. With her mom dead years earlier from cholera she leaves her Georgia home that she sold to pay bills and Andrew "Drew" Franklin who wants to marry her to stay with her Aunt Kate on her cattle ranch Aspengold in Colorado. The southern belle initially feels lonely as a fish out of water, but soon finds she enjoys the rugged Yampa Valley although the local women shun her due to her manner and the men want her for the same reason. She ignores both genders though she knows her aunt's foreman Luke Webber is impossible to disregard even as he scorns the exquisite Southern Belle.

She is taken aback when Aunt Kate dies, a distraught Crystal vows to remain strong as expected of a steel magnolia. Luke wants the Georgia peach to go home even as admires her grit and her friendliness to the ranch help treating everyone like family while also hiding the truth about the ranch.

The first Heart of the West inspirational historical romance is a wonderful tale starring an intriguing heroine who in spite of her losses and her inability to understand God's plan for her still strongly believes the Lord is with her. Crystal makes the tale with her friendliness like playing the autoharp for ranch hand Curley. Luke is an honorable person who wants the best for the woman he loves; which to him means Georgia and Drew. As he finds his way to God, he owes his beloved the entire truth, but fears telling her. Maggie Brendan provides a fabulous late nineteenth century Americana.

Cut to the Quick
Dianne Emley
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345486202, $6.99,

Although she has physically healed from her brutal knife attack two years ago (see THE FIRST CUT), Pasadena homicide detective Nan Vining remains emotionally traumatized especially since her attacker has not been apprehended. When she enters the mansion of millionaire Oliver Mercer to investigate the brutal double murders, Nan fears she will not be ready to cope with what she sees. Someone using a hacksaw carved up Mercer and his girlfriend, art-museum administrator Lauren Richards.

Vining interrogates Mercer's business partner Mark Scoville, who initially seems friendly as he responds to her questions. However, abruptly he refuses to answer her inquiries and demands a lawyer be present. Shocked by his change in demeanor and cooperation, Vining ends her interview for now, but focuses on phone calls between him and former con man Jack Jenkins in which Scoville spoke disparagingly about his partner. She wonders if Jenkins killed Mercer and Richards showed up at her lover's home at the wrong time. However, Vining's concentration is distracted when the police arrest a vagabond mute Nitro who possesses disconcerting drawings of the assaults of Vining, a Tucson police detective, and other unknown apparently female cops; she wonders if her perp she calls TB Mann is a serial killer.

This fast-paced sequel stars a cop still mentally reeling from her near death assault (see THE FIRST CUT), which makes her refreshing as she has doubts about her effectiveness and is obsessed with Mann. The investigation into the graphic homicide in many ways takes a back seat to Vining's psychological trauma (wonder how she passed a police psychological screening?). Still the whodunit is fun to follow as the cops seek a particular brutal killer even if the death scene keeps reminding Vining of her own death scene, which sets up future thrillers in this series (see THE DEEPEST CUT).

Dark of Night
Suzanne Brockmann
Ballantine Books
0345501551, $25.00

In San Diego, except for a few in the know, most of the Troubleshooters remain in shock and denial after the shooting death of one of them Jimmy Nash (see INTO THE FIRE). Receptionist Tracy Shapiro and Jimmy's former partner Lawrence "Deck" Decker have always been attracted to one another, but though he knows Nash survived the hit and is in hiding at the home of his girlfriend Troubleshooter Tess Bailey, he remains concerned and more open than usual; so does Tess. Grieving their loss are operatives and lovers Dave Malkoff and pregnant Sophia Ghaffari.

To out Jimmy's "killer", the team begins a dangerous ploy against a culprit who knows the Troubleshooters so intimately he or she is always ahead of them. When Dave becomes the next target and is framed for murder, the cat and mouse game starts anew.

DARK OF NIGHT is an engaging Troubleshooters romantic suspense as three couples heat up the sheets (talk of corporate incest) and the streets. The action is fast-paced from the onset as the team struggles with someone who knows their turf and has a vendetta against them. As the romance supersedes the suspense, Suzanne Brockmann's myriad fans will relish this superb thriller as the Troubleshooters affirm the song Friends and Lovers (by Gloria Loring and Carl Anderson): "So I'll be your friend, And I'll be your lover Cause, I know in our hearts we agree, We don't have to be one or the other, Oh no, we could be both to each other" as long as have each other's back.

Highland Warrior
Monica McCarty
Ballantine Books
9780345503381, $7.99

In 1608 on the Isle of Bute, off Scotland, Lord Lamont hosts a Highland gathering at his Ascog Castle in hopes of finding an acceptable husband for his not always biddable daughter Caitrina. He hates using his offspring as pawn, but feels for the sake of the clan's safety he must arrange a marriage that brings a strong alliance with it. She understands the need and accepts her role, but prays that her fiance is not a Campbell; a clan the Lamont tribe has feuded with for years.

Due to the pleading of her younger brother Brian to rescue a kitten from a tree, Caitrina climbs up, but her sibling leaves once she gives him the feline before helping her down. The Privy Council's enforcer Jamie Campbell arrives in time to help the damsel in distress out on a limb; that is after taking his time as he admired the view. In spite of the clans' disputes and Caitrina's trepidations, Jamie marries her. However, whereas he sees the world as black and white, she sees a rainbow. They fall in love, but their marriage remains fragile as he remains inflexible unable to understand that chastisement is not always the best response to right a wrong. When his beloved almost dies, Jamie begins to comprehend how fortunate he is to have Caitrina as his wife and to have her love as he begins to understand justice without passion leads to injustice.

The opening of Monica McCarty's latest Highland saga, The Campbells, is a terrific character driven historical romance that showcases a great author cleverly using a seventeen century setting to make a point about modern day justice. Love is not enough as Jamie as the enforcer never cares about circumstances when he doles out punishment in the name of justice. Caitrina is his opposite as she feels strongly all the pertinent information needs to be considered before determining the best fairest course of action. Fans will relish their dispute over what justice truly is.

A Red Hot Valentine's Day
Lacey Danes, Megan Hart, Jackie Kessler and Jess Michaels
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061689390, $13.99,

"Torn Desires" by Lacey Danes. Widow Sophia enjoys having two hunks in her life while wondering if choosing one over the other will be enough to satiate her appetite.

"Get There" by Megan Hart. Edie and Ty are lovers though their relationship is long distance; each dreams of their next in person reunion on Valentine's Day as they ponder how they will arrive at the tryst site and what they plan to do with their beloved.

"Hell Is Where the Heart Is" by Jackie Kessler. The two demons need time away from their jobs of enticing mortals so they take deserved vacation nights to enjoy sex the way it is meant to be, demon heated.

"By Valentine's Day" by Jess Michaels. The rake has until Valentine's Day to persuade Charlotte that he loves her, but she is marrying someone else in one week; his plan to win her heart is to love her with a passion from the core of his soul.

These are four well written erotic romantic novellas that range from historical to fantasy to contemporary, but share the title of A RED HOT VALENTINE'S DAY collection. Fan who relish their sweets served differently will want to read this heated holiday anthology.

The Desires of Her Heart
Lyn Cote
9780061373411 , $12.99

In 1821 twenty-five years old spinster Dorritt Mott fears her stepfather Mr. Kilbride is up to his usual no good, but this time her clenched gut expects the worst. She proves right when she learns he gambled away her family's Belle Vista Plantation that he has lived off of while she ran it. Knowing he must flee from New Orleans, he informs his extended family they will leave for the Texas Territory where they can claim land and start over. Dorritt would like to go her own way, but knows her pampered mom and her spoiled sister Jewell whose fiance dumped her need her.

Dorritt knows Mr. Kilbride is an amoral moron who will vanish at the first inkling of trouble; from what she knows of the trek from Louisiana to Texas it is very dangerous. She prefers to depend on wagon train half-breed scout Quinn and God than Kilbride. However, as her attraction for the half Cherokee grows, she learns once again a man cannot be trusted as he has business yes with Kilbride.

The opening Texas Star of Destiny tale is an interesting "Era of Good Feelings" Americana romance. Although Mr. Kilbride, his wife and Jewell are too stereotyped, Dorritt and Quinn are fully developed intriguing lead characters. Fans will relish this fine tale of a feisty female defying the expected role of a Louisiana aristocrat in life and in love.

You're the One That I Haunt
Terri Garey
9780061582035, $6.99

In her twenties in Atlanta, Nikki Styx suffered heart failure. However instead of passing on, she is sent back to earth to help those dead unwilling to move on. She co-owns Handbags and Gladrags with Evan, who is despondent because his lover Butch is cheating. Nikki has had commitment phobia issues until she met Joe six months ago when she nearly died and he was her ER surgeon; Joe is also her sister's ex husband.

At the Moon Beam Coffee Shop an angry ghost Crystal accuses Joe of killing her. Sammy the devil arrives to inform Nikki and Joe that Crystal is his apprentice unless Nikki wants the position as he wants her to go dark. Sammy has opened up an Indie music store Divinyls nearby. Crystal leaps inside Nikki taking control of her and shouting that Joe killed her; Sammy tapes her outcry. Nikki forces Crystal out of her body. Afterward, she asks her sister Kelly in Savannah for help. Kelly promises to research possession and their transvestite "grandma" Bijou heads to Atlanta with the Savannah Garden Club members. Meanwhile Crystal's mother encouraged by Preacher Jimmy Boyd sues Joe and Columbia Memorial Hospital for wrongful death. As Crystal refuses to move on encouraged by Sammy, she possesses her again; Nikki realizes the dead woman cannot depart until she is assured that her twelve year old sister is safe, but to persuade the mom seems impossible.

The strong relationship between the lead couple is terrific as Crystal's possession and a hospital lawyer causes problems for Nikki and Joe. The strong support cast enhances the plot especially the Savannah posse, Sammy, and Crystal. Although the plot is thin especially the climax, urban fantasy chick lit fans will enjoy Nikki's latest caper (see A MATCH MADE IN HELL and DEAD GIRLS ARE EASY).

Never Resist Temptation
Miranda Neville
9780061715914, $6.99

In 1816 London, Anthony the Earl of Storrington wants to court Lord Candover's niece, Jacobin de Chastelux, over the objection of his dying father who loathes her uncle. However, Jacobin is not interested in his suit in spite of his being the catch of the season. Instead she runs from her home masquerading as Jacob Leon.

When hooligans assault Jacob, Anthony rescues him. Though he is a bit perturbed that he finds the lad attractive, he hires Jacob to serve on his staff as a pastry chef. When someone tries to kill Candover using poison in his food the evidence points towards Jacobin as the culprit. She, as a male, begins to investigate in an amateurish attempt to expose the culprit, but soon finds Anthony helping him, make that her.

This is a fun Regency romantic suspense starring a likable delightful duo. The debates between Anthony and Jacobin-Jacob are fun to follow as he begins to see the similarity in his-her pattern. Although happenchance allowed Anthony to be in the right place at the right time to rescue Jacob, fans will not care as they began to fall in love when she was his male chef.

Tempted by His Kiss
Tracey Anne Warren
9780061673405 , $7.99

In 1809, Lord Cade Byron hides from his family and society due to a leg injury suffered when the French tortured him on the Peninsular. He wants no company even driving away his older brother Edward. His only solace is alcohol although at times the pain is so severe he uses laudanum.

Meg Amberley accompanied by her servant arrives at Cade's isolated home during a blizzard. She asks for shelter for her and her "cousin". Cade tells her to get lost, but she insists the roads are impassable. He acquiesces allowing her to stay one night. Cade feels guilty because he desires the visitor while it is only one year since his beloved fiancee and her family were tortured and killed by the French in an effort to make him tell them military secrets. With her parents dead, she is on her way to stay with an aunt whom she never met.

Several days later she is still at his home though he hides from her until she invites him to dinner; he agrees. Afterward she challenges him to a game of chess. If she wins he must socialize with her; if he wins she will no longer nag him. Meg checkmates him. Cade mentions his leg was hurt when he was caught spying in Portugal; Meg mentions her late parents. The next few days they play cards and chess. They walk outside together; when Cade kisses Meg, he feels guilty and flees. As they fall in love, his guilt mounts.

The relationship between the lead couple is terrific as he rejects his attraction for her having watched one beloved raped and tortured while she slowly brings him out of his despondency and self recrimination. Cade's family is a strong support cast who want to do the best for him, but are frustrated and clueless as to how to help him; while the villain is diabolically clever. Though the final confrontation seems weak Regency romantic suspense fans will relish this character driven tale.

Confessions of a Beauty Addict
Nadine Haobsh
9780061128622, $13.99

Twenty-eight year old Bella Hunter destroys her career as the beauty expert when she opens her mouth while intoxicated to a New York Post reporter. Her dissing of colleagues leads to the columnist being fired from her job at Enchante magazine. However, her former boss and mentor Larissa "Riss" Lincoln gets Bella a position as beauty expert columnist at Womanly World, a magazine that caters to her mom and grandma.

She feels out of place at her new location and struggles with her boss Frances McCabe, but feels good about her assistant Megan Murphy. As she tries her best to accomplish the mission of making Womanly World the "Chic" for wives and moms, the magazine's editor James Michael initially believes she is a pretty face without one pixie of a brain cell; however, her enthusiasm and efforts coupled with creative ideas make him reconsider his first opinion of Bella. She on the other hand cannot speak above third grade English whenever he comes near her.

Initially readers and James will dislike and disdain Bella as being snobbishly chic (hiding her Ohio and hair roots) and too stupid as a motor mouth when she scorns Womanly World to Megan at the office. However, over the course of the story line, fans and James will warm towards the lead character as she tries to be helpful to others and accomplish her mission for the magazine. Fans will enjoy the catty (that includes males for the unenlightened) wars between those working in the beauty magazine realm.

Bring on the Blessings
Beverly Jenkins
9780061688409, $13.99

Fiftyish Bernadine Brown feels strongly she has wasted her life when she chose a high society marriage to Leo the cheat instead of social work. When she receives over, $275 million in a divorce settlement, Bernadine decides to use that money for some common good. She learns that the town of Henry Adams, Kansas is in trouble. She wants to help one of the few surviving historical oasis founded by former slaves in the 1880s, which is now up for sale on the Internet.

Bernadine also sees the town as a way to find homes for needy foster children. She is the buyer and quickly finds an ally in Henry Adams Mayor Trenton July; but there are those who oppose her dream as they do not want troubled children in their town.

Even when writing a contemporary Beverly Jenkins always provides her audience with a fascinating look at African-American history; this time with the return to Henry Adams (see SOMETHING LIKE LOVE). The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Bernadine begins to format her project and never slows down as the tidbits of historical information are interwoven into the strong contemporary plot. Fans will enjoy this delightful tale and want sequels; those who have not read this great author are missing a treat.

Love on the Line
Laura Castoro
9780061542763, $13.95

Four years have passed since her white husband died. African-American Widow Thea and their daughter Jesse have moved on. Mom has an influential well paying job and a new "old teen" love in her life Pastor Xavier Thornton; while her mixed race child who can pass for white is a terrific athlete starting college. Xavier proposes and she accepts though her work keeps her in a different state than his.

Xavier's Arkansas church frowns on his wife for her frequent absences, her white like attitude and her daughter's white like looks. Thea loves Xavier and what she does for living, but begins to understand the pressure mounting on her spouse. She is also worried about Jesse, who is unsure of her heritage even as her blue eyes and light skin give her a choice until someone reveals her mixed bloodlines.

This is an intriguing look at defining one's race in modern times when the child is the offspring of mixed races. Thea and Jesse make the tale work as each face complex identity issues with courage and strength. Although Xavier is more a caricature of the ideal husband-father-community activist than a person, fans will enjoy this fine inspirational as Thea knows he is a good man but loves her work and Jesse knows what she should do, but that is not easy to do.

A View to A Kiss
Carline Linden
9780061706356, $6.99

Harry Sinclair is considered by the government as their top field operative. His current assignment is to uncover who is behind a dangerous seditious plot to destroy England and what they intend to do so they can be stopped

He attends a gala undercover at Doncaster House, but his head is spinning as if intoxicated upon meeting the host's daughter Lady Mariah. He agrees with the assessment of the Ton that she is the catch of the season, but his reasoning differs; the shallow Ton knows she is pretty but more important the daughter of an Earl; Harry believes she is the loveliest woman he has ever seen. Unable to resist in spite of the risk of exposure, he sneaks into her bedroom where he verbally seduces her from the shadows as she scandalously reacts to his sexy verbiage and his feathery caresses sends her into ecstasy. While he continues his inquiry, she conducts an investigation into who is her mystery lover.

This is an exciting Regency romantic suspense starring two delightful lead protagonists as Harry understands the mission comes first, second, and last, but cannot stop himself from climbing into Mariah's bedroom through her window. Mariah knows she should scream, but instead relishes the visits and bravely tries to uncover the identity of her nocturnal lover. Carline Linden provides an engaging Regency romance as the professional and the amateur fall in love while dangerously sleuthing.

A Perfect Darkness
Jaime Rush
9780061690358, $6.99

In Annapolis, computer data rescuer Amy Shane can see auras, but her life is boring except when she sleeps and vividly dreams of a lover, whom she has never met. However, ennui will look nirvana like after Lucas Vanderwyck bursts into her apartment to inform her that her father was part of an experiment that probably led to his being murdered; not a suicide as officially declared almost two decades ago near Fort Meade. He also says she is an "Offspring" of the experiment and under surveillance. What leaves Amy almost speechless is nothing he says or his breaking into her abode; Lucas is her dream lover and they are not strangers.

Three armed FBI agents arrive and shoot Lucas with a tranquilizer; they inform her he is a serial killer and they take him away. After meeting other Offspring and now fearing even her Uncle Cyrus, Amy makes telepathic contact with Luke while sleeping and vows to rescue him from his incarceration. Luke fears for her life and begs her not to attempt a rescue.

This fast-paced romantic suspense paranormal thriller will hook the audience from the beginning and never slow down until the final confrontation. The story line is filled with plenty of action while starring two delightful Offspring who rush OUT OF THE DARKNESS into trouble not of their making. Fans will relish this exhilarating conspiracy thriller.

Paisley Hanover Acts Out
Cameron Tuttle
Dial Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780803733442, $14.99,

Sophomore Paisley Hanover is used to being part of the in-crowd, which at school means joining the Yearbook club. However, the faculty adviser Mrs. Madrigal informs her she is not on the list so must leave. Her seven point plan to Ivy League success has taken a hit but worse her chances with super soccer star Eric Sobel vanquished. Instead Paisley is exiled to the losers' wasteland Drama.

Although taken aback, Paisley is not a person to dwell on defeat. Instead the confident soph regroups and adjusts to being a drama queen and quickly makes new friends as she finds she likes the genuineness of the freaks and geeks. She begins an underground insurgency against the bullies of the in-crowd leading the Un-revolution.

Mindful somewhat of the movie Sydney White, PAISLEY HANOVER ACTS OUT is a delightful middle school drama starring a teen that becomes likable when she "un"-burdens herself of being in and cool. Her campaign to make Un in is fun to follow as are her doodles. Young adult fans will enjoy her escapades as "Miss Unpleasant" writing an anonymous crusading column for the school paper filled with quirky amusing observations that survival of the fittest does not mean emotionally dining on the "Un".

Living with Ghosts
Kari Sperring
DAW Books, Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756405427, $7.99,

The Kingdom of Merafi was founded on blood between the elementals and the first ruler. Magic fails to work here for the most part and ghosts are stars of stories to scare children. Yet an aristocrat sees the ghost of his late brother-in-law and a foreigner has the ghost of the man who killed the relative constantly with him. The queen is dying and her heir prince is only twelve years old. She hopes to have a more stable relationship with the Tarnaroqui who would love to conquer Merafi.

Gracielis, an exiled Tarnaroqui, is bound to the sorceress Quenfrida; he spies for her on items she feels is significant. He is the first to notice the things in the mists that should not be there as they enter the borders of Merafi. Lunedith is a vassal state of Merafi and its Prince Kendan is in the royal city paying homage to the queen; he plans to free his nation from Merafi rule when the time is right, which he believes is soon. He allies himself with Quenfrida to break the pact with the ancient powers. Creatures rise from the mists harming people; the river rises over it embankment adding more death and disease and enabling the creatures to break free of the mists killing incessantly while plague spreads across the capital. Gracielis, who failed as an assassin, is helped by allies, as they try to bring the river under control before the realm turns into Quenfrida's dark vision.

This is an enthralling fantasy that contains horror elements interwoven into the story line. Gracielis believes he is a weak loser, which is how Quenfrida sees him too; however, when the realm is in peril, he finds courage to make decisions that counter his master's wishes as he sounds the alarm of what is inside the mists. He is a complex individual with a failed past; a conflicting present as a spy for the sorceress and an advisor to one of the queen's spymasters. This reviewer predicts Kari Sperring will have quite a future as a renowned fantasist.

A Magic of Nightfall
S. L. Farrell
Daw Books
9780756405397, $24.95

Nessantico is the capital of the Holdings, but it is not as large as it once was. Firenzcia has broken away and other states followed forming the Coalition. Audric the ruler is two years away from his majority so continues to rule under the guidance of the Regent Serge Ca'Rudka. However, Audric is also falling into madness, as he imprisons the Regent while heeding the advice of an ancestor who the lad believes is giving him good counsel even though she is in a painting which he believes talks to him.

Sergei escapes heading to Firenzcia where Allesandra Ca'Vorl is manipulating events to enable her to achieve her goals. Allessandra was once a hostage is Nessantico because her father rejected her as his heir choosing her younger brother Fyyn. The lady has the assassin The White Stone carry out her plan for having the counsel place her son on the throne. The Westlanders in the Hellins were invaded by Nessantican forces; they push the outsiders from their country and invade the city. Alexandra wants her son to use his army to help Nessantico, but he has learned about her lies and murders so needs time to decide what to do.

The second Nessantico Cycle doesn't suffer from the middle book syndrome as A MAGIC OF NIGHTFALL takes place twenty five years after the events of A MAGIC OF TWILIGHT. This gives the saga a feeling of freshness yet retains the innovative political intrigue. Each main character maintains their part of the story so that the audience sees a changing POV that makes for a fascinating read; for instance how different mother and son look at Nessantico. Based on a blending of medieval France, Florence, and Venice, this superb fantasy captures the betrayals even within families as Machiavelli would claim S. L. Farrell is more than just a great world-builder; he understand the essence of power is manipulating your opponents and allies to do your bidding.

S. Andrew Swann
Daw Books
9780756405410, $7.99

By 2525, two centuries have past since the collapse of the Confederacy civilization. From those ruins two major rivals form: The Roman Catholic Church and the Eridani Caliphate compete for dominance on earth and on other planets in other solar systems. Both groups believe there are lost colonies in space who prefer not to belong to either power; instead they keep low profiles hoping nether empire find the needle in the haystack. However, a super intelligent AI who can pass as human has noticed an anomaly in the star Xi Virginis sector.

The AI Tjele Mosasa is headquartered on the planet Bakunin. Since an AI is banned in most places as are self-replicating nanotech and genetically engineered sentient beings, Masassa arranges to have mercenaries Nikolai the descendent of genetically engineered tigers and Julia Kugara, a genetically engineered human, as well as Father Francis Mallory join his expedition to Xi Virginis; there he plans to investigate the anomaly. When they arrive at their destination, they are greeted by the vanishing of the star and a saboteur's explosion on board their ship cripples the vessel. The survivors make an emergency landing on the xenophobic planet Salmagundi.

The first book in the Apotheosis saga sets the slope for the next tale Heretics while containing an action-packed futuristic science fiction. The story line is told from many viewpoints so readers obtain a 360 degree perspective of what is happening though that somewhat subtracts from character development yet enables the audience to understand how different factions perceive reality. S. Andrew Swann provides an intriguing look into life a half millennium from now.

Dante's Numbers
David Hewson
Delacorte Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780385341486, $24.00,

In Florence, Italy, terminally ill septuagenarian director Roberto Tonti is hosting a special premier of his new movie Inferno. As part of the gala, a fourteenth century death mask of Dante is on display. However, instead of the priceless original, someone replaces it with a death mask of the star American actor Allan Prime. The person wearing the Prime mask is gruesomely murdered and the American actor is missing. Soon afterward someone in a Carbiniere uniform stalks the film's leading actress Maggie Flavier, but her attacker is shot.

Whereas the Carbiniere insist case closed blaming the robbery, homicide and assault on a fanatic madman, Police Detective Nic Costa thinks otherwise; that is when he is not feeling self pity as a widower of six months and not even thirty. He, accompanied by officers Leo Falcone and Gianni Peroni and pathologist Teresa Lupo, heads to San Francisco where Tonti's film is premiering next in order to prevent further murders as they believe a killer remains on the loose.

The Dante connection in Italy is one of the best police procedural opening segues in years. When the story line and the four musketeers shift to San Francisco, the story line remains fun, but loses some of its steam as three of the Italian cops are distracted; only grieving Costa, even with a new girlfriend, remains focused on the investigation. He is not so ably assisted by locals, who add humor to the mix. Although the villains are over the top of Nob Hill, fans of the series will enjoy Costa and his mates as they travel the mean streets of San Francisco.

Heart of Ice
Gregg Olsen
Pinnacle Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0786018313, $6.99,

Cherrystone, Washington sheriff Emily Kenyon investigates the murder of nine month pregnant Mandy Crawford whose husband Mitch, owner of a large car dealership, is her prime suspect. However, though she believes he killed his wife starting with her visit to the Crawford home just after he used bleach to clean their house, she lacks concrete evidence.

At the same time Mandy investigates the homicide; two men cause her extreme stress. First her former partner in the Seattle Police Department Chris Collier wants to marry her, but she has fears of commitment having failed at marriage once before; besides she worries about the impact a husband would have on her daughter Jenna. Serial killer Michael Barton is murdering sorority girls as he makes a cross country trip; his current target is Jenna.

HEART OF ICE is an intriguing police procedural mainly due to Michael whose history will fascinate the audience and bring him some empathy. He refreshes the typical serial killer theme, but also knowing him so well he makes him see less of a devil and more of a pathetic out of control human. Mandy is a terrific lead character worried about her daughter's safety as Chris' pressure becomes insignificant. Fans will enjoy the return to A COLD DARK PLACE.

The Rose Variations
Marisha Chamberlain
Soho Press
853 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
9781569475386, $24.00,

In 1975, following her graduation at a Philadelphia school in which she was the only female in her class, twenty-five-year-old Rose MacGregor accept a temporary position as the token "Girl Composer at a St. Paul, Minnesota college. She arrives with almost nothing beyond a few T-shirts and her cello. Her only feminist ally in the music department is the secretary Frances Dupree.

She dreams of becoming a famous composer and finding true love; having spent her pre-graduate days growing up in New Hampshire and taking care of her younger sister Natalie. Rose blossoms in St. Paul as she falls in love although the romance ends sadly. She joins cellist Lila Goldensohn's all-female musical group and enjoys her time on her mentor's farm composing. That ends abruptly when a despondent pregnant Natalie arrives. After doing what comes naturally which is taking care of Natalie, Rose's music thrives while she continues her quest for love.

This is an enjoyable historical character study that takes the audience back to the early days of the feminist movement; affirming we have come a long way baby; if you have doubts look at sports with women dunking. The story line is owned by the appealing Rose who seeks musical accomplishments in her professional life and an interesting combination of self sufficiency with a love of a lifetime. Her eccentricity that flourishes with growing confidence due to her musical achievements make for an engaging tale in which the late 1970s have become historical.

The Samaritan's Secret
Matt Beynon Rees
Soho Press
9781569475454, $24.00

In Nablus, Palestine, someone murders Palestinian Authority employee Ishaq and apparently stole the millions he controlled as part of his government job. The World Bank is furious with the shoddy funds control and the strong possibility of government corruption involved in the theft; they threaten to cut off future financing unless the money is found and used appropriately.

Fifty-seven year old Palestinian history teacher Omar Yussef knows investigating on the West Bank is dangerous, but gets involved anyway. He quickly realizes no one in Nablus thought highly of the deceased; in fact most people scorned Ishaq as a bad Samaritan, who even in death gets no respect. He soon finds the murder and theft tied to religion and politics and if he is not careful he could become victim number two.

The third Yussef amateur sleuth mystery is a timely exciting tale that provides an in depth look at the Palestine situation from the Moslem perspective. Yussef is a terrific hero who just wants to be an educator, but feels obligated to investigate. Although his inquiries in this case and his previous two seem implausible, no one will care as THE SAMARITAN'S SECRET like A GRAVE IN GAZA and A COLLABORATOR IN BETHLEHEM are superb thrillers because of the profound glimpse into Palestine.

Grass Roots
Stuart Woods
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061711565, $7.99,

When highly regarded Senator Ben Carr of Georgia suffers a debilitating stroke, his loyal chief of staff, Will Lee runs for the office. His opponent in the Democratic primary is the state's governor Mack Dean; if he wins that his most likely Republican foe is an extreme TV star fundamentalist.

However, Will places his personal campaigning on hold when Judge Boggs asks him to serve as a public defender on a hate crimes homicide case in Meriwether County where he grew up and his ma still lives in Delano. The case is a racially charged murder that could impact his election chances as his client is a white male accused of killing a black female.

Meanwhile a former cop hunts a vigilante group assassinating people involved in what they interpret as porn peddling gangland-style. This too impacts Will's chances of winning the election as the issues of soft on crime and pornography surface.

Each of the three prime threads is gripping and easily could have served as fully developed novellas in differing sub-genres: political, legal and investigative. However, the fun in this tale is how Stuart Woods cleverly interweaves the three seemingly diverse subplots into a cohesive exciting thriller. This reprint of a 1989 tale holds up nicely two decades later.

The Laws of Harmony
Judith Ryan Hendricks
9780061687365, $14.99

Sunny Cooper grew up in a New Mexico commune. However, when she was eighteen, an accident killed her younger sister freaking out Sunny. Unable to remain at the commune, she fled in self-exile barely able to communicate with her mom Gwen.

Fourteen years later, Sunny lives in Albuquerque, but still has not moved past her grief and thus remains somewhat estranged from her mom; both somewhat impact her relationship with her boyfriend Michael as she hides part of her self from him. When Michael dies in a questionable accident, the cops interrogate her like she is a killer and like a zillion cockroaches creditors surface demanding payments of Michael's enormous debt that she was ignorant existed. She flees to the commune, but mom remains the same out of touch happy hippie homemaker. Still needing escape, Sunny flees to Harmony on San Miguel Island off Washington State. However, her past follows her to the barrier island.

Sunny is the key to this intriguing character study of a person hammered by two tragedies in which she has obtained closure in neither. Whereas her mom wrote off her daughter's death as the laws of nature have taken back her younger child, Sunny internalized it. As to Michael, no one will let her move on. Although the story line has too many sidebars that subtract from the focus of THE LAWS OF HARMONY, a deep psychological drama of a person struggling to cope with traumas in a world that will not allow her to do so.

Dream House
Valerie Laken
9780060840921, $24.99

Married couple Kate and Stuart Kinzler have enjoyed hanging on to their college lifestyle though they graduated seven years ago. However, as she closes in on thirty, Kate wants more than a rundown Ann Arbor apartment and all night parties. Reluctantly Stuart agrees it is time to commit to their relationship, but loathes such a permanent fixture like a house. With the help of her parents, they buy a fixer-upper; but are ignorant that almost two decades earlier in the summer of 1987 a murder occurred in their new abode.

As Kate dives into the renovation project, Stuart walks out of the home and her. Despondent over the apparent end of her marriage Kate keeps working on the house. She soon meets African-American Walker Price who grew up in her new home before going to jail as a teen for the homicide almost twenty years ago, and her friend Jay comes by realizing upon arrival he cleaned the house after the police finished their murder investigation.

This is a timely look at the American strategic vision of individual ownership as the house serves as the connection between four thirtyish adults. The link between the Kinzlers and Walker is obvious; however the tie to Jay is a major stretch that is asking a lot of the reader to accept. Still this is a deep character driven tale as Valerie Laken goes inside the underpinnings of owning one's DREAM HOUSE with a strong look into the bonds that make effective nurturing relationships.

Sacred Well
Antoinette May
9780061695551, $14.99

Fortyish travel writer Sage Sanborn is in Mexico's Yucatan on a writing assignment to describe romantic spots in the Peninsula. During a storm, she rushes inside a tavern in Merida. There she meets David Winslow who asks her to join him for a drink. They listen to a local band play a haunting love song that David insists was written by a former states governor.

In 1923 Yucatan Governor Felipe Carillo Puerto and American female journalist Alma Reed met and fell in love. She reported the plundering of Mayan artifacts, which angers some locals. Soon afterward Felipe is assassinated; Alma blames herself for the murder of her beloved as her article led to his death. Sage returns to San Francisco where her boyfriend Mark lives to write the heartbreaking story of Felipe and Alma. However, she also misses David and considers returning to him and the Yucatan.

SACRED WELL is an intriguing premise of an American female reporter investigating the true life story of Alma Reed. The two subplots eight plus decades apart are fascinating to follow especially the historical based on the tragic love between Alma and Felipe. Although the contemporary lacks the excitement of the 1920s, fans will enjoy this fine tale of a modern American journalist searching for what her counterpart found in 1923 in the Yucatan.

The Run
Stuart Woods
9780061711572, $7.99

Everyone in the Democratic Party assumes Vice President Joseph Adams will be the nominee to replace the current incumbent. However, Joe does not plan to run as he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. He asks highly regarded Georgia Democratic Senator William Henry Lee IV to make a run for the presidency and he will publicly support him. Though he has some doubts as he fears to be elected he will have to give up much of his ethics, William decides to run. However, the current PROTUS suffers a stroke and Adams as acting president delays his support.

Will's primary run is filled with nastiness even as he and his campaign team take the moral high road. A South Carolina Republican arranges a dirty campaign to insure unelectable Senator Kiel becomes the Democratic nominee. Will's past ignites headlines when his lover from ten years ago movie star Charlene Joiner demands he file a Death Row appeal on behalf of a murderous rapist he once defended; both try to pressure him to acquiesce to their wishes. Even his wife, the Deputy CIA Director's past, intrudes on the run. Finally an assassin who failed to kill him years ago is back for a second attempt.

Though the timing is a bit late as the campaign is over, the reprint of this exciting political thriller remains a fun read even if Will's run for PROTUS goes off the plausibility scale; than again when Obama started he was even further off the scale. Will is an intriguing lead character as he insists on an ethical run though his staff places their values on what that means; while his stereotypical opponents prefer disinformation taking events out of context. Although health enables Will to run was also used in GRASS ROOTS to make him a senator, fans of Stuart Wood's Lee saga will enjoy his presidential campaign.

Missing Witness
Gordon Campbell
9780061646638 , $7.99

In 1973 in Phoenix, Arizona, Rita Eddington and her twelve-year-old daughter Miranda enter a house where the mother fires shots killing her husband. The police arrest Rita with the murder of Travis. The DA and the cops believe this is a slam dunk case as the only other suspect is Miranda whose witnessing of the homicide left her catatonic (obviously the title character).

Surprisingly Rita's wealthy father-in-law Ferris hires the best defense attorney in the state Dan Morgan of Morgan and McKenzie. Morgan and his able second chair Doug McKenzie believe their client is guilty based on the overwhelming evidence although the latter has a problem with that concept as he has known Rita all his life and cannot envision her committing murder. Still they plan the best defense they can mount as they just need an iota of doubt in the mind of one juror.

This is an intriguing legal procedural that sub-genre purists who prefer plenty of legal maneuvers over action will want to read this. The story line starts off with an interesting premise of a father-in-law hiring the best lawyer in the state to defend his daughter-in-law on trial for killing his son. Fans, Dan and Doug wonder why especially Morgan who knows the Eddington family as close friends. MISSING WITNESS is an insightful suspense tale brings the jurisprudence system under a close up microscope.

Santa Fe Rules
Stuart Woods
0061711632, $7.99

Affluent Hollywood producer Wolf Willet cannot remember what he did the night before, but thinks nothing of it as he is flying on his private plane from his Santa Fe home to Los Angeles even with Thanksgiving being the next day. Engine trouble forces him to land near the Grand Canyon. While waiting for the repair with the holiday in the way of any maintenance occurring, he reads the New York Times only to find his wife Julia, his business partner and himself murdered.

Instead of reporting that the third body is not him, Wolf flies to Hollywood after his plane is repaired to finish his movie. A week later he hires defense lawyer Ed Eagle to defend him as he expects legal trouble. The Santa Fe cops suspect him of murder and have identified the other dead male as the ex-husband of Julia's look-alike sister Barbara who has a tryst with Ed. Soon another homicide occurs and Wolf is arrested for the murders just when he leans his late wife stole over three million dollars from him, but remains ignorant to a hit called on him.

This is a reprint of an exciting fast-paced early 1990s thriller that is fun to read, but stretches plausibility further than the distance between Santa Fe and Hollywood. The twists starting with the insanity of finishing the movie instead of either going with a lawyer to the cops or gong underground as an amateur sleuth to spins on siblings that seem unreal, but in fairness add entertainment. Far from Stuart Woods' best work, his most dedicated fans will enjoy Wolf playing hardball by Hollywood make believe rules in Santa Fe.

A Day And A Night And A Day
Glen Duncan
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0061239992, $24.95,

They are both Americans linked forever in their respective minds by the Global War on Terrorism. They perform a dance ritual several times a day, but in a part of America not within the fifty states. Instead operative Harper tortures alleged terrorist Rose in a dark cell in the pits of Guantanamo expecting to extract information like a dentist taking out a tooth without Novocain.

The African-Italian Rose expects to die here because the CIA and White House can hide the fact they have tortured an American citizen at Gitmo. Up until his snatch he was a Manhattan restaurant owner with a past. Rose thinks back to the 1950s growing up in Harlem where he was condemned for his Italian paternal roots leading a decade later to Merkete easily recruiting him as a soldier in her "vigilante democracy" movement, which the Americans called terrorism. He remembers 1968 when he was twenty-one and in love with Selina; thirty years later she died in a Barcelona bombing. Finally he is old and alone expecting death once again while on some bleak British island; but even there he is pulled back into the violence of humanity when he meets a girl.

This is a fascinating character study that condemns the Bush legacy of torture accepted by Americans as a standard operating procedure regardless of the information obtained or the victim's worth. Although Rose is the prime star, he shines when he is compared with Harper as Glen Duncan digs deep into each of their souls to uncover what motivates a terrorist and an inquisitioner to act the way they do: Intriguingly each claims the moral high ground of their end objective condoning the means they use. The Selina and the post-Gitmo subplots are also well written; but it is comparing the inspirations of the two antagonistic Americans that turns this into a terrific intelligent look at a world that has become anesthetized to genocide, terrorism, and torture.

The Dead Man's Brother
Roger Zelazny
Hard Case Crime
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780843961140, $6.99,

Ovid Wiley was once an infamous art thief, but gave up the second story profession to become a highly regarded New York City art dealer. One morning he arrives at his gallery only to be met by his former criminal partner, Carl Bernini; who is a corpse on the floor.

NYPD charges Ovid with the homicide. The CIA offers Ovid a deal; they will spring him from jail and insure the charges are dropped in return for him working a mission for them. Ovid agrees and heads to Rome, Italy to follow the trail of money-laundering priest Father Bretagne, who recently vanished without a trace. Ovid wonders about the coincidences as his friend Maria Borsini was apparently lover to both Bernini and Bretagne. The clues send him next to Brazil where probable death awaits him from lethal foes.

Apparently the late great sci fi writer Roger Zelazny wrote this exhilarating thriller in the early 1970s, but was never published until now. The story line is fast-paced from the reunion of former criminal partners in Wiley's gallery and picks ups speed and several plausible twists as the hero hops continents working for the CIA. The plot contains a historical feel as the war of the moment was Viet Nam. Readers will appreciate this exciting detective tale as Ovid uses his crime experiences as he believes the same skills are needed for sleuthing.

Gord Rollo
9780843961959, $7.99

In 1967 after his father deserted him and his mother, Jonathon Page and his mom Mary moved onto a farm that her husband owned in Dunnville, Ontario. Johnny makes three friends (Tom, Peter and David). The trio knows about the tragedy that occurred a decade ago in the house currently occupied by their new buddy and his mom. They tell Johnny that in 1955 Jacob Harrison butchered his entire family and was caught when he also killed a co-worker. They fear the house, but go there anyway to play with Johnny.

During their exploration in the field, the ten year old boys find steps that lead to a bomb shelter where they meet the creature that had been stuck in the well. He removes a ring and throws it at the boys. David picks it up but then gives it to Johnny who puts it on his finger. From that moment on, the creature haunts the quartet in their dreams. One of them falls out his window after an encounter with the creature. Nine years later, the town is rocked by a series of murders and one of the surviving tweeners is one of the dead. The creature frames David who is sent to prison where he believes he is safe.

The creature has the power to send giant spiders and animate a scarecrow so the teens, who feared it as ten year olds remain even more frightened than before. He plays with the minds working on their biggest fears to break their spirit. Although the creature is left too much to the reader's imagination, fans of Bentley Little and Brian Keene will enjoy Gord Rollo's cutting edge, dark and scarey small Canadian town horror thriller.


Cindy Holby
0843960264, $7.99

In 1773 British Captain John Murray and Scottish lass Isobel Ferguson fall in love. However, both understand love is not enough as their backgrounds prevent anything but an unattainable dream. Her family rejects the Sassenach believing strongly he is part of an occupying force.

However, all hell breaks loose when Isobel's siblings attempt to free their father from jail. Needing a scapegoat, the English leadership feel they have the perfect fall guy. John because of his caring for Isobel is held culpable, demoted and exiled to the colonies. At the same the Ferguson family is sold into indentured servitude in the Virginia colony. They do not meet again until another war, like the one back home, heats up the American colonies.

Putting aside the entertaining "wind" historical romances, Cindy Holby provides a fun late eighteenth century romance that takes place on both sides of the Atlantic. John and Isobel are star-crossed lovers with no hope for a future together until they meet up for a second chance at love in America where freedom encourages them to pursue their relationship. Fans will enjoy the aptly titled FALLEN as the lead couple fall into love but also fall into enforced exile.

Tempting Fate
Alissa Johnson
0843961562, $6.99

When Whittaker Cole and Mirabelle Browning were children their constant bickering looked cute to the adults amused by them. Each understood even as youngsters, their arguments were not endearing; instead they hated one another. Neighbors once again, their preadolescent antagonism has not abated one iota as they still detest one another.

Mirabelle insists she would never be attracted to the handsome Earl who is considered prime meat (and real estate) on the Marriage Mart. Whit insists he would never be attracted to the hellion next door who broke his nose. Their families believe they make a perfect couple and when they kiss neither can pull back; leaving both to wonder how could a lifetime of fighting lead to love.

The amusing sequel to the charming espionage Regency romance AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT is somewhat different in tone as there is no spying yet shares in common as an enjoyable lighthearted historical due to the antics of the cast. The lead couple is either kissing or arguing while the support cast plays matchmakers. Fans will relish this fabulous romp as the laughs keep on coming as does the romance.

40 Years
Bernd Struben
Srider Nolan
1932045023, $9.95

They are born, raised and educated for war. Kept in stasis until a mission occurs, the Augmented Combat Personnel (ACP) genetically enhanced soldiers know they are awaken only for conquest. They are humanity's advanced soldiers in the twelve-century old competition against the Pfrianx to dominate habitable planets not yet conquered by either. The ACP understands he will cleanse an orb of its opposition inhabitants killing millions for the greater good of mankind; they are humane compared to their rivals who simply eradicate entire worlds while the ACP transfer survivors to remote hostile sectors on the conquered planet.

ACP Captain Brink D'Mar awakens knowing instantly his mission is to subdue a planet; this time 40 years beyond the most outer human controlled rock, a military combat deployment mobilization outpost. D'Mar follows the standard operating rules of engagement by offering the local populace of New Columbus (as the humans call it) a chance to surrender. However the native Borell reject the concept as it has no connotation in their language. As the death toll mounts, D'Mar begins to consider adoption of the Pfrlanx ethnic cleansing methodology as he must complete the mission, but to his shock finds pandemic genocide abhoring, a thought not in his upbringing.

This is an intriguing military science fiction tale that looks closely at the ethics of war especially colonization through conquest. D'Mar and his peers face a moral quandary as the Borells seem easy to defeat, but they never give up; willing to die instead. Although he knows none of the brass is near enough to witness any atrocities, the hero struggles with the awakening of ethics as he either destroys the entire populace or what else can he do. Well written and fast-paced, fans will relish this fine outer space saga starring a genetically engineered person who does not blink at the death of a million people as his moral slate was kept shallow and limited to standard operating procedures until the conflict 40 years away from his superiors awaken his conscience.

Ulterior Motives
Mark Andrew Olson
Bethany House
9780764202759, $13.99

He is an American blond haired blue eyes scientist working at Cal Tech; but at his heart he is a fervent Muslim fundamentalist who believes violence is the only answer the United States understands. He invented a potent toxic nerve gas that could wipe out husbands perhaps millions with a small dose. He calls himself Azzam the Younger named for Al-Qaeda's patron saint. The successor to Bin Laden is Omar Niburi, who is in Pakistan when he is captured and taken by Americans.

They hope to torture the truth out of him as to where and when the gas will be released, but Niburi resists the efforts relying on his religious beliefs to comfort him. When the agents realize he is not going to break, they bring in civilian Greg Cahill, forced out of the FBI for killing a child. He became an evangelist minister preaching at prisons. The Feds hope he can reach Niraub's soul and convert him to Christianity. If they succeed they believe he will tell them all. Greg detests the politics but wants to save this man's soul; miraculously they connect. However a betrayal leads to the pair fleeing while trying to prevent the nerve gas tragedy from occurring.

Greg Cahill has done many ugly things in his life, but his conversion seems real and people like Niburi sense that he is a true believer now. He feels blessed to hear the voice of God and to witness angels taking a killer to heaven while protecting him and Niburi. This is also a psychological thriller where the protagonist, unaware who to trus,t turns to the one he can always trust Jesus, enabling him to forgive his transgressions. Mark Andrew Olson provides a deep inspirational supernatural thriller filled with messages without preaching.

A Knife Edge
David Rollins
0553805355, $25.00

As the recovery ship Natusima waited, the Shinkai underwater research vessel is as deep any human had ever gone while exploring a Pacific trench off Japan. Dr. Hideo Tanaka and Professor Sean Boyle discover a frightening bacterium that each fear could devastate the planet. Soon afterward Tanaka is dead a victim of a shark attack.

Air Force Special Investigations Vincent Cooper is now assigned to the Department of Defense on DC. His on and off relationship with Anna Masters is off again as she feels he takes nothing serious; even when they worked together on THE DEATH TRUST case. However, he quickly found solace with a terrific heated tryst with his superior officer, Lieutenant Colonel Clare Selwyn. The brass sends Vin to Japan to investigate the "accidental" death of the scientist. Before he finishes his Tanaka inquiry, as only the military could do he is assigned to investigate the parachute jump death of Master Sergeant Ruben "Wrong Way" Wright who became road kill in Florida; they served together in Afghanistan.

The frustrated Masters explains why the Vin Cooper CID procedurals are so much fun; he takes nothing serious as he quips and jokes even when facing deadly adversaries. In reality, Vin does believe his inquiries are usually important and tries to resolve them, but also feels strongly one can work diligently and hard, but have fun doing so. Fans will enjoy his antics in Japan, Florida and especially DC.

Made to be Broken
Kelley Armstrong
9780553588385, $6.99

To finance her Red Oak Lodge in the Kawathas, two hours from Toronto, she is a part time hit-woman contracted mostly by the Tomassinis mob. Nadia Stafford's partner on her current job is a Federal Agent, but Quinn sees that justice is done by playing vigilante. Nadia's mentor in how to be a successful hit-woman is Jack, a mercenary for hire with few scruples.

When Nadia returns to her prime business she has a fight with her employee. Seventeen year old Sammi Ernst lives with her little daughter Destiny who accompanies her on her job. Sammi pays more attention to her child than her work so a frustrated Nadia explains her duties to the teen mother. When the mother and daughter vanish, Nadia searches for a grave. With Jack's help she finds it, but Destiny remains missing. Since the cops believe Sammi ran away, they refuse to look for her. Nadia, Jack, and Quinn discover there are other crimes when a disenfranchised teenage mom with a baby disappears. Mindful of an incident in her past, Nadia wants to take out those who caused Sammi's death and find the still missing infant. Jack and Quinn assist her on her avenging quest for justice.

Known for her Otherworld tales, Kelly Armstrong also writes exciting refreshing and enthralling sagas that are every bit as great as her urban fantasy sagas. The protagonist believes everyone she kills deserves their fate so when the Canadian legal system fails she becomes an avenging Lady Justice if the case is personal. However, she is not someone to role model after as she also kills in cold blood as a means of making money. Though not admirable, she is refreshing and fascinating as are her two cronies. MADE TO BE BROKEN is filled with twists and blind cul de sacs, but it is the lead trio especially the lodge owner who turn this into an entertaining thriller.

The Coldest Mile
Tom Piccirilli
9780553590852, $6.99

Chase's mom was murdered in a cold case unsolved and soon afterward his father committed suicide. His grandfather Jonah, a murderous con artist raised young Chase, mentoring the lad in a life of crime. Chase became a getaway driver until he met, fell in love with, and married cop Lila. After her death, he learned his grandfather sired a daughter currently two years old Kylie.

With Lila competing with Jonah for "talking" time inside his head, Chase believes he must rescue his two years old half-aunt from her father; who is his grandfather. He believes grandpa killed his mom years ago. Knowing he will need money to accomplish his goal, with the help of a friend, he obtains work as a chauffeur to the dysfunctional Langan crime family whose patriarch is dying. He plans to steal from a mob that has seen its better days. After he takes their money, the next stop is a confrontation with Jonah.

THE COLDEST MILE feels more like two novellas with part one involving Chase's time up the Hudson with the Langan mob and part two involving his search for his grandfather and his infant half-aunt. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action whether it is with the hero shaking down the pathetic mob in New York or his inquiries in Florida. Though the exciting plot especially with the Langan family takes longer than necessary before reaching the anticipated reunion, fans will enjoy Chase's latest escapades (see THE COLD SPOT) knowing an even arctic colder tale should follow.

Almost Single
Advaita Kala
9780553386103, $13.00

In NewDelhi, twenty-nine year old Aisha Bhatia works as guest relations manager at the five-star Grand Orchid Hotel. She is good at her job, but the single woman knows the pay stinks especially for the long hours she works.

Her mom and other relatives especially the females constantly remind Aisha she should be married by now. She agrees secretly but hides her loneliness with champagne and spending time with her two best friends Misha and Anushka, whose divorce was just finalized. Her search for love has run the gamut of internet dating to fasting on a Hindu holiday. So far she has had no luck until New York banker Karan Verma comes to New Delhi; for the first time she reconsider what she wants in life.

More a contemporary Indian chick lit than a romance, ALMOST SINGLE is a superb glimpse at how India's modern day society treats single females as they close in on thirty. Aisha feels the pressure of getting married, but though she wants too she refuses to settle; instead she prefers the fun with her two pals until she meets Karan. Fully developed Misha and Anushka augment this profound look at single women in modern times especially with the latter getting divorced. Using plenty of wit and jocularity, Advaita Kala lifts her novel above a Bollywood version of chick lit romance with an entertaining tale starring an almost thirty- year old single.

Black Blood
John Meaney
9780553806717, $24.00

Tristopolitan police lieutenant Donal Riordan saw Senator Blanz kill his beloved Laura with a shot to the head just before the legislative official murdered him. However, Donal awakes from death with Laura's black zombie heart beating inside his chest; put there by paramedic mages. He returns to work with one goal in mind: a vendetta to take down anyone associated with Laura's death to include the top secret invincible organization, the Black Circle.

There is trouble brewing in Tristopolitan as the powerful Unity Party incites normals to go after undead and inhumans including zombies and revenants. This group is infiltrating every level of power, private and government, in a campaign to disenfranchise the undead. As Donal investigates Laura's death, he finds a connection to a foreign government with a diabolical plan to all non-human beings regardless of sentience. That nation is harboring Laura's killers, which means if Donal is to enact vengeance, his only reason to live, he must travel to a place that might become his tomb.

This is a dark futuristic urban fantasy noir set in a world that uses bones as the prime energy source. Wraiths abound as the police solve paranormal murders and everyday people wear sunglasses inside while never venturing outside which is perpetually dark and dangerous. Zombies are citizens with the same rights as the normals, but the Unity Party wants that revoked while also pushing a final solution of extermination mindful of Hitler. With that background in a free society, readers can imagine what Donal will face if he follows the investigation to its foreign roots. As with BONE SONG, BLACK BLOOD is a compelling tale that places a gothic horror inside a police procedural fantasy.

Hope's Folly
Linnea Sinclair
9780553592184, $6.99

Rya Bennton lives for vengeance; her sole reason for breathing is to kill the persons responsible for the death of her father. This is why she signs on the rebel vessel Hope's Folly as she believes the junker will take her closer to achieving her goal. The only negative with a position on what was a fruit carrying cargo ship is her puppy love hero when she was a little girl Admiral Philip Guthrie who is in command.

Former Imperial Fleet Commander Admiral Guthrie hides some of his injuries still not healed (see SHADES OF DARK)and all of his concerns and doubts that his dilapidated converted vessel and motley crew are ready for combat against the overwhelming superior Imperial forces. Making matter complicated is someone with entrance to any part of the ship is sabotaging their preparation efforts. Even more complex to Guthrie is his adult feelings for Rya, whom he has known since she was a child as the daughter of his best friend who died under his command.
Although this terrific romantic military science fiction thriller can stand alone, fans will gain even more pleasure by reading the prequels GABRIEL'S GHOST and especially SHADES OF DARK (Guthrie is a hero in his ex wife's tale). The story line is fast-paced from the onset as Guthrie struggles with a broken down ship and a crew not fit for war especially against a much more powerful foe. As he and Rya fall in love, he tries to keep his objectives in proper order as the safety of the crew and the mission come before his personal feelings while she struggles with love and his role in her dad's death. Fans will appreciate their extraordinary escapdes in scintillating Sinclair space.

Catherynne M. Valente
9780553385762, $14.00

Somewhere out there beyond the realm of the living or for that matter the dead is Palimpsest, a place you just don't simply get to. First you must believe it exists; then you hope for a miracle, though some might insist a curse, must occur. You still might not get there as there are many strange places out there beyond life and death. To find this city beyond all, following a major loss usually of a loved one and during the deepest of natural sleep after sex like none before or any afterward, will appear a tattooed map on the skin that seems to have come from no known source.

Four strangers wake up to the map and a binding need to find each other as they begin their quest: In Tokyo is Amaya Sei: in California is November; in New York is Oleg; and in his books is Ludovico. They are heading to the ghost train that will take them to Palimpsest and a realm filled with wonder, awe and perhaps what each seeks: someone to fill the loss in their respective souls.

This is an intriguing Twilight Zone like quest fantasy, but the quest is not some prophecy artifact to save a world from evil; instead it is an individual search to find what death recently took away and left behind in its wake loneliness and sorrow warped in grief. The quartet seems genuine even when they confront creatures that logically could not exist. The support cast before the journey, during the travel, and in the city also comes across real enough to make the heroes seem more complete. Though as always is the case with a Catherynne M. Valente tale (see IN THE CITIES OF COIN AND SPICE and IN THE NIGHT GARDEN) this parable of seeking to belong to someone is complex, and convoluted making for a difficult but ultimately poignant read.

Spell Games
T.A. Pratt
9780553591361, $6.99

Jason Mason comes to the town of Felport where his sister Marla is the chief sorcerer. She has mixed feelings about her roguish sibling as she expects he will run a scam. He plans to pull a con on mega-billionaire Cam-Cam Compton, who believes in magic and wants to learn how to use it. Jason asks Marla what Cam-Cam would interest him that he would pay a fortune for and she says a vial of Borrichius spore that does not exist. A waiter overhearing them calls the sorceress Nicolette who thrives on chaos; she sends a courier to find the mycronancer Bulliard who should be interested in them. The courier finds his target only to find Bulliard in thrall to the Mycelium, an underground mushroom god. Nicolette knows that if Bulliard comes to Felport, chose will follow to her euphoria.

While coping poorly with her brother as she doubts she should trust him, Marla also works with apprentice Bradley Bowman, who she believes is a worthy successor to her. Jason ropes Marla's consigliore into his con. Rondeau, who is a psychic parasite that took over the mind and body of the person he lives inside of, finds the graft an exciting experience. However when Bulliard and his cronies arrive, chaos ensues; leaving a heartbroken Marla to clean up the mess caused by those she loves who betrayed her.

The latest Mason urban fantasy affirms that in a relatively short time, T.A Pratt has become a sub-genre star. Fans will find it fascinating as Marla introduces Bradley to the top sorcerers in town; as each teaches him a little bit of magic. He is like a younger brother to her whom once he learns to control his power will be a perfect successor to her. Readers will admire the heroine, but adore her innocent apprentice while also hoping her sibling will mend their estranged relationship, which she tries to do by assisting him on his scam. Like its predecessors (see DEAD REIGN, BLOOD ENGINES and POISON SLEEP) SPELL GAMES casts a magical enchantment on the readers to finish it in one sitting.

The Swan Maiden
Jules Watson
9780553384642, $12.00

In Erin, Deirdre at her birth is blessed with a beauty that is legendary even as a newborn. However, she is also cursed that her beauty will lead to civil war and the destruction of the kingdom of Ulster and consequently the downfall of King Conor. Chief Druid Cathbad upon hearing of the prophesy pleads with his monarch to either kill the baby or exile her. Fascinated by what Deirdre will be, Conor hides her in a remote forest in the province of Ulaid; the child is raised by foster-parents Connacht and Mumu and taught by Druid Levarcham the art of magic and nature.

Years pass and Deidre has gown into the most beautiful woman in the kingdom; perhaps the world. Conor wants her, but she is the captive of three rebellious Red Branch sibling warriors. Naisi the eldest hates the aging monarch and to his chagrin falls in love with his captive. He wants to take her away from Ulaid as his wife, but his younger brothers Ardan and Ainnle disagree. Besides Deirdre may love him back but has doubts about leaving her druidic forest. The final stage of the prophecy of Deirdre has begun.

This retelling of the Irish mythological equivalent of Helen of Troy is a terrific saga that brings to life the Ancient Celtic period. The cast is solid especially the king, Naisi, and the title character. Although the detail into Celtic Erin can slow down the story line and move it more to a historical than a mythos, readers will enjoy the Irish rendition of "the face that launched a thousand ships".

White Witch, Black Curse
Kim Harrison
9780061138010, $24.95

Although she has nightmares over what she will ultimately learn, Rachel Morgan continues her inquiry into the murder of her vampire boyfriend Kisten (see FOR A FEW DEMONS MORE). As she remains resolute she knows much of her fear comes from not remembering what happened just before her significant other died. She is also frustrated as neither her mundane hunting skills nor her witchcraft abilities have enabled her to achieve her objective (see THE OUTLAW DEMON WAILS).

While the witch struggles with the lack of progress in her investigation, a banshee family assaults the Hollows. As always the bitterness and distrust between humans and Inderland lead to more hostility. However there is a rare but common agreement that Rachel and her demons are behind the troubles.

The superb seventh Rachel Morgan fantasy contains a radically different feel to the story line as there is less action than in previous tales, especially the last two, and more depth into the souls of what motivates key characters. The poignant look is not just with Rachel; though the audience understands her trepidations yet need to solve the whodunit. Filled with the profound reflective musings of the cast, this is a must read for fans of the Morgan saga as WHITE WITCH, BLACK CURSE resolves key threads especially the big one from the previous entries and begins a new major twist.

Jailbait Zombie
Mario Acevedo
9780061567148, $14.95

His superiors at the worldwide vampiric association the Araneum send private investigator Felix Gomez to Denver. His assignment is two-fold. First the vampire is to destroy a zombie infestation in the Mile High City and suburbs like Aurora; and more important insure the maker is out of the reanimation business permanently.

Felix begins to follow the deadly Zombie path which leads him to teenage Phaedra Nardoni, who is dying from Huntington's chorea. The sixteen years old sends Felix on a hallucinatory spin back to his days as a grunt in Iraq. She threatens to keep piling on the illusionary flashbacks until she dies unless he converts her to an undead. Before he can decide what to do, the zombie creator abducts Felix.

The fourth Gomez urban fantasy (and Ricky Mountains) Noir (see X-RATED BLOODSUCKERS, THE NYMPHOS OF ROCKY FLATS and THE UNDEAD KAMA SUTRA) is as zany as the private investigator's previous cases. Besides dealing with zombies and their reanimator, Felix must cope with a brilliant, talented but dying teen that provides the "jailbait" aspects of the title. As always in this wacky but always entreating series filled with blood, gore and an over the top premise of the Rockies; this time even George Romero will take notice of controlling the world domination through zombies in space.

Starvation Lake
Bryan Gruley
9781416563624, $14.00

In Starvation Lake, Michigan everyone is shook up when pieces of a snowmobile wash ashore at Lake Walleye. Sheriff Dingus Aho puts a close hold on the investigation, but rumors spread that the snowmobile is the one driven by legendary peewee ice hockey coach Jack Blackburn who died ten years while riding one at Starvation Lake.

Thirty-four years old Gus Carpenter, the editor of the local paper Pilot, and his ace reporter Joanne McCarthy makes inquires into the current case, which leads back to what happened to the coach in 1998. Their investigation leads to a decade earlier when Gus as a goalie let in the winning shot in the State Championship and back to the 1970sd when Coach worked with kids in Canada. However, Gus has legal issues involving an unidentified source back when he worked in Detroit that has him somewhat distracted as he knows the family oriented Pilot may be his last stop on the way back down the same ladder he had climbed up.

Although there are too many references to the lost hockey game that allegedly destroyed the town especially by an odious participant turned builder who belongs in the penalty box, fans of sports mysteries will enjoy this fun investigative thriller. The story line is driven by the townsfolk as everyone seems to have secrets even the hero's widow mom. Gus is a terrific lead character who holds his anger in check as no one will let him forget the goal that changed Lake Salvation. Joanne reminds him of himself when he was on the way up until he learned at the Detroit Times how in bed the media and the corporations are. Bryan Gruley provides a winning goal that places the small-town hockey atmosphere of Mystery, Alaska inside a Michigan mystery.

Charlotte Featherstone
Harlequin Spice
9780373605286, $13.95

In 1850 in Worcestshire, England, childhood friends Lord Lindsay Markham and Lady Anais Darnby are attracted to one another though so far they have hid their deep regard. However, Lindsay plans to propose to Anais and has already bought a ring.

His opportunity is thwarted by Anais' friend Rebecca Thomas who drugs him with opium and seduces him. When Anais sees her friend and her beloved together, her heart breaks. She rejects his plea and his excuses before vanishing.

Almost a year later, Lindsay is ADDICTED to opium, but still hopes to find and marry his beloved. When he finally meets up with Anais, he declares his love. However, having still not forgiven him for his transgression with Rebecca and nauseated by his drug dependency, she rejects him again although she knows she still loves him. He knows what he must do if he wants the woman he is addicted to as his wife; he must give up the opium, but that owns his soul as much as Anais does.

Lindsay with his opium addiction makes for a unique energizing Victorian romance. Anais is a terrific lead female, but in some ways is more a major secondary character as she competes with opium for Lindsay's soul. His mistreatment of his loyal friend Brougham is partly caused by his need for the drug even as he knows that he can never fully kick the habit as there will be times he will want to indulge. Fans who relish something well written but different will want to read Charlotte Featherstone's insightful historical as the hero is not just flawed he is overwhelmed by his cravings.

Dark Victory
Brenda Joyce
9780373773466, $7.99

Tabitha Rose is a witch though her day job is a NYC schoolteacher; her sister Sam is a warrior Slayer HCU agent. She and Sam go to an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art but she senses evil and an injured man in pain. Though frightened of his looks at her she sees in her vision, Tabby tries to heal him. She casts a spell to bring him to her.

Brooding and bloody the Black Macleod arrives in 2008 Manhattan from 1550 Scotland filled with anger. He is attracted to the healer and knows he will bed her, but has vengeance to take care of also. Macleod blames himself for the deaths of his family as he has failed to use the superpowers the Gods bestowed on him to help the innocent. Macleod soon must choose between the cold of revenge and his beloved Tabby as evil stalks her thanks to his vendetta.

The second Rose romantic urban fantasy (see DARK EMBRACE) is a terrific Masters of Time superb thriller (see for non Rose tales, DARK SEDUCTION and DARK RIVAL) is starring a wonderful wounded displaced warrior and a courageous modern day woman with a psychic gift. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Tabby in MOMA summons the dark brooding Scottish champion to her time and place to heal him; she just did not know the real healing comes from her heart. Fans will relish Brenda Joyce's strong dark thriller while waiting for kick butt Sam to complete this saga.

Evie Ever After
Beth Ciotta
9780373773602, $6.99

Although the agents of Chameleon did not want the assignment, they did the job of winning back the money that the wife of Senator Clark lost gambling with Mad Dog Turner, who she said cheated her. The only actual government official on the team former Bunko Squad police officer Milo "Jazzman" Beckett sends the squad home with the mission accomplished of stopping a con artist while he finishes the close-out. Team member forty-one year old stage performer Evie Parrish is worried about him, but her younger lover, former con artist Arch "Ace: Duvall tells her Jazz is a big boy.

Jazzman is met at the airport by two fellow agents of the Artful Intelligence Agency that Chameleon is part of. They escort him to the AIA chief who informs him that he should not have killed Mad Dog. Jazzman insists he did not, but hard evidence proves otherwise, but AIA cleansed the crime scene. As his team work on a scam perpetuated by Madame Helene on Evie's friend Jayne, they also decide to learn who inside of AIA set up their leader. At the same Evie wonders why Ace will not tell her who the mysterious Kate and his kid are; while Jazzman wonders why he likes Evie's friend Nic Sparks who figuratively rips his skin off him when they meet.

The climax to the Evie trilogy (see ALL ABOUT EVIE and EVERYBODY LOVES EVIE) is a lighthearted romantic suspense. The support cast is solid while readers will know from the onset whom the heroine is attracted to between the two hunks. Although the plot is a bit thin, fans will enjoy the antics of Evie and her Chameleon cohorts as they try to out con cons and want another tale starring Nic in time.

Wanted in Alaska
Kate Bridges
Harlequin Historical
0373295316, $5.99

In 1899 Skagway in the District of Alaska, Quinn Rowlan needs a doctor for his injured brother Harrison who will die if not treated for a fever. Although it is difficult for an outlaw to come to town, Quinn does only to learn the two doctors were gone. However he learns of a nurse Victoria Windhaven and decides to take her as his only option. He with the help of his cronies abducts the woman.

However, Quinn kidnapped the wrong woman. Instead of Victoria he grabbed singer businesswoman Autumn MacNeil who at a masquerade party wore a nurse's uniform. She knows nothing about treating illnesses or knife wounds and besides she seems sick too. He finally believes her, but reluctantly escorts her back by canoe to Skagway. Making matters worse he is falling in love with his feisty prisoner and she is chagrined that she wants this wanted man.

This is a superb Alaskan historical romance with masquerades being the overarching theme. The story line is fast-paced whether readers kayak on a river, trek in woods, or walk the planks of Skagway. The lead couple is terrific pairing of love intruding at the wrong time with the wrong person. Once again this fabulous author provides fans with a vivid bridge into the past.

Montana Creeds: Dylan
Linda Lael Miller
9780373773589, $7.99

In Las Vegas, rodeo performer Dylan Creed is considering where to travel next when he runs into a shocker. His two year-old daughter Bonnie has been abandoned by her worthless mother Sharlene. Dylan is struggling with what to do with his precocious offspring as he is not single dad material.

As Dylan debates with himself as to what he should do, his former girlfriend Kristy Madison has become the Stillwater Springs, Montana librarian. When she sees Dylan she realizes she still loves the rolling stone, she hides her heart from him as she distrusts him staying around for her or even his daughter. However, Dylan envies his brother Logan finding love with Briana (see Montana Creeds: Logan). He soon worries about the safety of his beloved after a murder occurs and a sniper takes shots at people while someone breaks into Kristy's home; motives and links unknown.

The second Montana Creed tale is a wonderful romantic suspense that in spite of the same place, background and almost time, is a refreshing unique story different from Logan's return to grace. The suspense serves as a matchmaker of sorts as Dylan cannot help but be the hero. Fans will enjoy the romance between Rodeo's "bad guy" and the librarian as Linda Lael Miller's middle son finds love.

What Family Means
Geri Krotow
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373715473, $5.50

In Buffalo, New York, Will and Debra Bradley have been married for thirty-five years. However, their interracial marriage has had some conflict lately over their role in the lives of their adult children. Will believes Debra is too involved while she feels he is too removed as their offspring need them because it is not easy being mixed race.

Debra looks back to when they first started to fall in love and what they went through even in Upstate New York. She also helps her daughter Angie cope with an unexpected pregnancy at a time when her child is separated from her spouse and takes care of Will's elderly mother without complaint. Will her husband finally understand his wife does what she does because she loves her extended family and is not motivated by guilt.

This timely family drama is at its best when it focuses on the problems of interracial couples and their children; when the tale flashes back to the early days of the relationship between Will and Debra it loses some of the momentum though it does provide insight into race in America in the 1970s. The characters and their problems seem real as Geri Krotow provides a timely thoughtful contemporary as the offspring of a mixed couple enterers the White House.

The Story Between Them
Molly O'Keefe
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373715428, $5.50

Former reporter Jennifer Stern was doing her friends Sam and JD a favor while they went on vacation. She is the wrists while Deb Barber the brains as they run the Serenity House women's center after the latter broke her two wrists. However, she did not expect to deal with a flood caused by a broken faucet turning the kitchen into a geyser or a killer snake in the kitchen that her eleven years old son Spencer picks up saying it is a harmless garter.

Other catastrophes occur too. However, the widow is stunned to learn the secret benefactor of Serenity House is jet setter Ian Greer, the son of a former president. She and much of the world know Ian as a philanderer. As they become acquainted, Jennifer realizes Ian is nothing like his hedonistic image; instead he cares about everyone at Serenity House, especially her.

Even with an offspring of a former PROTUS as a co-star, THE STORY BETWEEN THEM is a well written contemporary romance in which the audience will accept the relationship between him and Jennifer as plausible. The story line provides readers with insight into how the media shapes and maintains an image but does so inside the romance between Jennifer and Ian. Fans will enjoy this fine tale as Molly O'Keefe provides an engaging contemporary.

A Cowboy's Redemption
Jeannie Watt
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373715435, $5.50

If her family knew what she was doing, they would have heart attacks after they abducted her. However, Kira Jennings is in Otto, Nevada hoping to persuade Jason Ross to allow her family access across his ranch to land they want to develop. She knows Jason hates her family but she cannot understand why he fails to take responsibility for the crime he committed that landed him in jail.

Jason believes God is testing him like a modern day Job as he is attracted to the enemy, a Jennings. He knows better than to have anything to do with Kira or her kin as her half-brother is the reason he ended up doing time for a crime he did not commit. As they fall in love, she wonders if his attraction to her will prove stronger than his loathing of her sibling.

This is an interesting contemporary romance due to her family as a detractor to the relationship between the lead couple. Kira and Jason are enemy combatants as neither wants to fall in love with the other because the complications seem to astronomically insurmountable. Fans will appreciate this fine Nevada tale as Kira needs to know the truth whether her brother or her beloved committed the crime.

Once a Lawman
Lisa Childs
Harlequin American
9780373752492, $4.99

In Lakewood, Michigan police Lieutenant Chad Michalski gave a traffic ticket to Tessa Howard for speeding. At traffic court she denies she drove over the limit though Judge Howard recognizes her from previous speeding appearances. Tessa applies a nana-ism taught to her by her grandma as she tries to lie her way out of the ticket, but to her surprise Chad is there to testify otherwise. If found guilty she will lose her license, subsequently her job and her ability to assist her five siblings especially picking up her high school age brother before he vanishes into trouble for the night; the latter being her reason for speeding. Chad suggests to the judge that Tessa enrol l in the Lakewood Police Department's Citizens' Police Academy instead of losing her driving privileges.

Chad and Tessa are attracted to one another, but he is a by the book officer while she is a stretch the law rule breaker. Still at the academy they begin to fall in love, but both have doubts that their relationship can survive their differences. Her family thinks otherwise, believing the pair is good for one another as he brings order and she brings chaos to their mix.

Although the sibling relationships seem over the top of Mt. Huron, ONCE A LAWMAN is terrific contemporary romance filled with humor and a vibrancy reminiscent of the Murray (John that is)-Tilley movie Moving Violations; I expected Joan Pudillo to show up for a grease job. The story line is fast-paced from the opening court appearance and never slows down as Tessa and Chad speed to love in Lisa Childs' fun tale.

Once Upon a Valentine's
Holly Jacobs
Harlequin American
9780373752515, $4.99

Police Lieutenant Chuck Jefferson arrests Carly Lewis for burning her couch after her spouse the lawyer cheated on it with his secretary as well as the neighbor's shed. The ADA and her lawyer agree on a plea bargain, but the judge rejects a year of probation as he feels arson is too serious to ignore even if it was a one time aberration; but jail time seems inappropriate too. Instead he assigns the single mom to assist Officer Chuck who gives talks at schools warning of the danger of reckless handling of fire.

As Carly and Chuck work together, they begin to fall in love. However, she has doubts having been burned by cheating Dean and besides she is busy with raising her children, attending nursing school, and as part of her PTA duties sponsoring the Erie Elementary Valentine's dance; that is besides the fire lecture circuit. Chuck refuses to accept her choices of keeping things casual or not all because he knows he is in love.

The key to this enjoyable holiday celebration of the PTA of Erie, Pennsylvania (see ONCE UPON A THANKSGIVING and ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS) is like the predecessors the strong cast. The lead pair is a delightful pairing of workaholics; the children shockingly behave like children; and the return of the stars of the previous contemporaries make for a terrific romance. Holly Jacobs writes another entertaining Erie PTA romance.

Blazing Bedtime Stories
Kimberly Raye, Leslie Kelly and Rhonda Nelson
Harlequin Blaze
9780373794515, $4.99

Once Upon a Bite by Kimberly Raye. In Skull Creek, Texas vampiric lycan Matt Keller meets beauty consultant Shay Briggs, who wants to take more than a bite out of the hunk.

My, What a Big…You Have! by Leslie Kelly. In the Bayou children's writer Scarlett Templeton heads to grandma's house only to get lost in what looks like a fantasy location until hunter Thibodaux rescues her.

Sexily Ever After by Rhonda Nelson. Artist Juliet Swan always believed she is the ugly duckling until she meets landscaper Gareth Harper who makes it clear she is his femme fatale.

The instigator (matchmaker) of these aptly titled BLAZING BEDTIME STORIES is Burt the sex statistician who out counts Masters and Johnson informs LB (Loverboy) Patterson known more as Cupid that he needs to work the sex numbers. LB's assignment is three women, whose mantra is "love stinks" as stated on

With a touch of whimsical fantasy, the heat is on for Valentine's Day as this is a super contemporary anthology written by top to quote Ms. Raye "blaze babes".

Under the Influence
Nancy Warren
Harlequin Blaze
9780373794560, $4.99

On Valentine's Day, management consultant Natalie Fanshaw is working temporarily at a resort hotel on the beach in Orca Bay, California. She stops at the Driftwood Bar and Grill where she meets bartender Johnny "Hot Johnny" Santini; known for his orgasm inducing cocktails. Lonely, she decides to taste Hot Johnny that night.

As they spend the evening together, the bartender and the consultant heat up the sheets. However, comes morning she will return to prim and proper Natalie and he will return to Hot Jonny. Compromise between them to begin forging a relationship beyond a one night stand seems impossible though both desperately crave a second and third and fourth, etc. round.

UNDER THE INFLUENCE is a fabulous torrid contemporary romance starring two opposites in every way except for their attraction. He is "blue crush" known for his "screaming orgasms", "one sex on the beach" and a roll between the sheets; she is a consultant who knows about Hot Johnny and cold Natalie. Although a late spin re his background takes away some of the edge of opposites attract, fans will enjoy Nancy Warrens cocktail of love.

The Warded Man
Peter V. Brett
Del Rey
9780345503800, $25.00

Every day when the sun sets, the corelings rise and try to get past the defensive wards on buildings in order to kill humans. Mankind fears these ferocious demons and no one understands that abject trepidation more so than Arlen who watched his mother killed when she was outside and his terrorized father refused to help her even by opening their home or come to her aid. Arlen leaves home to become an apprentice to a Warder and then a Messenger traveling the roads to deliver mail and supplies to the hamlets. He happens to find a way to fight the demons by constructing offensive wards, a lost art long forgotten by people who thought the coreling threat over.

Leesha refuses to marry the man her family chose for her because he spread lies about having already bedded her. She apprentices to local healer Bruna, an even bigger outcast than she has become. She returns to her home village when a plague kills people she knows. She begins healing villagers accompanied by Rojer, whose parents demons killed when he was a child. In their journey they meet the WARDED MAN hoping to join his quest to take the fight to the corelings.

When humanity though the demons were gone forever, they built great cities and science and technology flourished. Demons and demon fighters became myth and knowledge lost except for some limited defensive wards. When the demons return, mankind is vulnerable to their attacks and live in fear behind warded walls. This vivid description of how far humanity has fallen sets the atmosphere for the three coming of age protagonists learning to fight as the legends describe the demon hunters. Fans will enjoy their action-packed escapades in a world filled with frightened humans hiding in fear. Peter V Brett's work is an outstanding fantasy sublimely written with characters people feel are real.

Outcast (Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi, Book 1)
Aaron Allston
Del Rey
9780345509062, $27.00

The politicians are meeting in a summit on the planet Coruscant to discuss bringing the Imperial Remnant into the Galactic Alliance. Luke Skywalker is arrested at the instigation of Chief of Sate Natasi Dalaa for dereliction of duties. His protege Jacen Solo turned to the dark side of the force and caused the Second Galactic Civil War when he became Darth Caedus. Dalaa wants to prosecute Luke for his failure to recognize Jacen's turn to the dark because he believes Luke is accountable for the deaths caused by the war.

Luke pleads guilty because he knows the charges are true; he is excommunicated from every Jedi Temple and Coruscant for ten years. He will be pardoned if he can learn what turned Jacen. Jedi Knight Valin Horn has a psychic break that makes him believe everyone he knows is an imposter. The media captures his rampage and the public turns against the Jedi Order leading to restrictions on them. Han Solo, his wife Leia and their granddaughter go to the dying planet Kessel to find out why earthquakes are out of control; they find an underground tunnel complex filled with machines and energy forces that could destroy the orb. Luke and his son Jedi Knight Ben go to Dorin where Jacen studied the native use of the Force hoping to find a clue.

This is the opening act of a nine book saga in which the Jedi have fallen into disgrace as the government and the public believe they are not held accountable for their actions. There is plenty of action and the known characters stay true to their film personalities. Perhaps the only negative is eight books to go in this arc, but if they are anything like the first this will be one of the better Star War entries.

The Temporal Void
Peter F. Hamilton
Del Rey
9780345496553, $28.00

The Void continues its non-stop expansion in all directions from the galactic core leaving the entire galaxy in peril. In fact psychic usage by Edeard the Waterwalker from within the Void against evil forces has had a consequence of geometrically accelerating the pace of expansion. Now, the multi billions of worshipers of the Living Dream cult plan to enter the Void.

However, the alien Raiel are using warships to keep sentient beings out of the Void and those already inside to remain there. At the same time the Ocisen Empire and its newest ally the Primes have sent a space armada to destroy the earth and its insane inhabitants before the Living Dream can enter the Void. Meanwhile the ANA cyberspace human minds running the Earth are in the midst of a civil war. The cyborg Aaron has detained the First Dreamer Inigo, but has failed to capture the Second Dreamer Araminta while rumors of a Third Dreamer abound.

With a zillion things going on, readers will be better off reading the superb DREAMING VOID recently as Peter F. Hamilton provides an excellent but multifaceted science fiction thriller filled with several major subplots that the author interweaves into a cohesive story line. The cast is fully developed in and out of the Void and whether they are human or alien while some characters go back quite a way in the Hamilton galaxy. Fans of epic science fiction thrillers will want to read the 700 plus page middle tome of the Void trilogy.

The Incredible Origins of the Onyx Sun
Christopher Mahoney
Pariah Publishing
0979520258, $19.99

Zack Goodspeed is the "normal' American boy. He is a normal ten year old living with Mr. and Mrs. Normal Parents in a normal suburb. Everything about Zack is simply normal. That is except for his grandfather Fyodor, who, is simply is not normal.

Zack's normal life began to change two years ago due to his abnormal grandfather and an airplane wing in the garbage can, but it is this summer that he turns abnormal. Fyodor's big moment was back in the fourth grade at a school science fair when his entry, a small rock, turned out to be the greatest energy source ever created, the Onyx Sun.

Zack discovers his grandfather's discovery and uses it to fuel a rocket ship. He flies to the moon, drives giant robots like his parents drive cars, and befriends Max the girl. However, his delightful adventures into abnormality need to be placed on hold as Dr. Machval plans to harness the power of the Onyx Sun to destroy the earth; only Zack and his new friends stand in the way of the planet's extinction, but earth's champion failed just before his moon flight to stand up to neighborhood bullies who took his baseball from him.

This is an excellent middle school science fiction thriller starring an intriguing tweener hero who only has to save the world. The story line is action-packed and filled with twists including friendly encouragement at the end to change the text on line. Zack is terrific role model as he and his grandfather encourage students to be all they can be, not to fear math or science as each can be a fun puzzling adventure, and its great to be eccentrically "not normal". Young adults will enjoy flying in space to the moon, riding giant robots and saving the earth alongside of Zack and his friends.

Blonde Roots
Bernardine Evaristo
Riverhead (Putnam)
9781594488634, $24.95

Doris, an English serf, had heard the horror tales of "Aphrikans" coming to the Gray Continent "Europa" to abduct people so she knows to be cautious though she also wonders if those tales are exaggerated. The daughter of generations of cabbage farmers soon learns the truth when Aphrikans arrive at the coast. They abduct numerous natives including Doris and take them across the vast ocean in substandard conditions to "Amarika." where they are sold into slavery.

Former slave runner, Chief Kaga Konata Katamba I buys Doris to work on his sugar plantation. No longer dirtying his hands, Bwana as he expects his property to call him has become part of the elite of polite society. Doris tries her best to avoid slave politics and obey her Bwana though she prays for a future as a free person. When an opportunity arises for her to escape bondage for freedom, Doris decides to take a chance though if caught the punishment is extremely severe as the normally jovial Bwana will not tolerate runaway property.

This is an intriguing thought provoking premise that turns history upside down though the theme has been used frequently in literature and movies for instance the film White Man's Burden will hook fans from the onset. The profound story line compares the two lead characters to one another and though anecdotal leads to generalizing their traits as respective of their respective races. Can the seemingly dreary Doris survive outside of the protection of the Aphrikan's burden while the witty seemingly intelligent Bwana relishes his responsibility as the "burden" keeper?

Karen Robards
9780399155420, $24.95

Partner in the most prestigious law firm in DC, John Davenport tells associate attorney Jessica Ford to get FLOTUS out of the Harrington Hotel bar and into the waiting limousine. While wondering where the Secret Service is, Jessica gets Annette Cooper to cooperate and enter the limousine.

Not long afterward, the limousine is in an accident. FLOTUS, Secret Service Agent Will Prescott and the chauffeur are dead; Jessica survives. While the world is shocked, President David Cooper grieves the death of his wife obtaining emotional support from the First Father. At the hospital, someone tries to kill Jessica, who knows the crash was not an accident. Everyone tells her she hallucinated, but Mark has proof something happened and believes someone wants Jess dead. Although her memory of the accident is incomplete; when she learns of Prescott's death in the crash, she knows he was not in the vehicle with them. She distrusts everyone except her family; not even Mark whom she has been attracted to from seeing him with FLOTUS at her boss' office. Soon afterward as someone tries to kill Jess again, John dies of a heart attack and his secretary in a car accident. Jess has no one to help her except perhaps Mark, whom in spite of her attraction she has doubts about his agenda.

PURSUIT is a fast-paced romantic suspense political thriller that fans of Karen Robards, especially conspiracy buffs (particularly those who believe the Clintons killed Vincent Foster), will appreciate. Jess is a terrific lead character who fears not only she has no one to help her, but that she is bringing danger to her family and that the killer has gotten away with murder. Mark needs to know the truth starting with how FLOTUS left "18 Acres" (White House) without at least an agent at her side. His mission changes to protect Jess whom he is falling in love with although their attraction is a distraction. Though over the top of the Washington Monument Karen Robards provides a thrilling tense tale.

Luke's Story
Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
9780399155239, $24.95

In Syrian Antioch in 20 AD, Loukon (later called Luke) was owned by stoic Theophilus, who sees intelligence in his teen slave that he feels if fostered, could lead to the lad rising above his station. Theophilus' belief is affirmed when Loukon saves a man's life using knowledge he learned form a physician. Deciding to help his slave, Theophilus pays his tuition to attend the University of Tarsus while the other slaves angrily resent his special treatment. At the school, Loukon meets opinionated Saul who thought the gentile Greek slave was beneath him. Loukon studied hard and graduated; afterward he returned to his master's's estate to practice medicine encouraged by his owner-mentor.

Loukon soon provides medical care to the poor and at sea. He hears fables about a carpenter in Judea who preached a philosophy that was heretical to the Jewish powerbrokers. After this man's murder, His Word spreads. Saul was rooting out these heretics until on the road to Damocles he witnessed a miracle. He buries Saul the killer of the faithful and becomes Paul the believer. He continues his travels, but now as a teacher of the Christ. When he and Loukon meet again, he converts him. Now calling himself Luke, he studies diligently Christ's teachings starting with a series of dialogues with Paul and later with Mary. Although he never met the carpenter, he feels he knows Him and writes his story of Jesus even as the Romans persecute the followers of the Christ.

As they did with the insightful MARK'S STORY: THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PETER the Left Behind team provides a deep biographical fictional tale of one of the Gospel authors. The newest Jesus Chronicle focuses on Loukon the stoic becoming Luke the believer; perhaps the first major figure who never met Jesus except in his heart. The ancient Mediterranean world comes alive as Luke and Paul travel spreading the word in spite of the danger. Although nothing new surfaces, the faithful will rejoice with this profound look at the only Gospel writer who never met the Christ in person.

A Quiet Flame
Philip Kerr
9780399155307, $26.95

In 1950 former Berlin police detective Bernie Gunther is stunned when he is accused of war crimes as he loathed the Nazis. Knowing the atmosphere is one of shoot first, he obtains haven in Argentina alongside many other Germans, almost all Nazis.

In Buenos Aires he begins to start his new life when local cop Colonel Montalban asks him to investigate the brutal murder of teenage Grete Wohlauf. The police officer points out to the German expatriate that the current homicide shares much in common with a cold case Gunther failed to solve in 1932 Germany. Gunther takes the cross Atlantic connection seriously even though the two homicides he investigated occurred almost two decades apart as much of the scum of German have come to reside in Peron's paradise. When another teen goes missing, Gunther agrees to slyly question his fellow expatriates in exchange for medical treatment for thyroid cancer. Meanwhile Anna Yagubsky begs Gunther to find out what happened to her missing Jewish aunt and uncle.

This is a superb post WWII investigative thriller that contains an ethical lead character who is assumed to be an amoral racist due to guilt by association; as everyone believes war criminal fled to Argentina. Thus fans receive a unique intriguing look at the Nazi haven under Peron's rule. The whodunit is well written while the missing persons' case adds to the sense of being in Buenos Aires in 1950 as Phillip Kerr continues to explore the Nazis this time after their defeat (see The Berlin Noir trilogy).

Dead Silence
Randy Wayne White
9780399155406, $25.95

Before leaving for New York City, Dr. Marion Ford, a member of a top secret black-ops organization, kills former NFL player Bern Heller, who murdered Doc's friend, was convicted as a serial rapist, but was freed due to a mistrial. Ford goes to the Big Apple to meet former, but maybe still active, British Agent Sir James Montbard, who plans to lead an expedition to the jungles of Central America; Ford wants inclusion to see if Crusaders came there with treasures plundered from the Crusades. As they talk, he notices through a window a kidnapping of Senator Barbara Hayes-Sorento.

Ford reacts going after the kidnapper while Sir James gets the senator to a safe spot. Will, a teen who was in the car with the senator is abducted by two former expert torturers who want a part of the Cuban files. While Castro was alive he had all his treasures and papers on his vacation island. The critical plan was to force the US government to hand over the documents by burying the senator alive, but now adjust with what they indeed for Barbara they will do to Will. Ford accepts the assignment to find Will before it is too late while dodging the Florida cops who suspect him of murdering Heller.

DEAD SILENCE is a fabulous action-packed thriller as Ford is as fascinating as ever especially when he performs what he believes is righteous justice; a belief that is personalized. He feels no remorse when he kills as the people he assassinates deserve their fate and the system fails in meting justice to these miscreants. Will is no saint but a tough guy who even scares the crap out of one of his kidnappers with his ire while they bury him alive. Readers will enjoy this wild out of control Doc Ford thriller.

Jami Alden
Kensington Brava
9780758225474, $14.00

Gemini Security is run by the Taggert brothers with the oldest Danny in charge and his younger twins Ethan and Derek top security operatives. The firm is hired by Emma Bancroft to provide security at a major gala. At the event Derek meets "Miss Thing" Alyssa Miles and afterward takes her home with him.

Still attracted to her, he later learns affluent Alyssa the party animal is the type of worthless female he loathes and the tabloids love. He is chagrined when her family hires his agency to protect them after Alyssa's father and stepmother recently died in what the police believe is a murder-suicide. Danny assigns Derek with the 24/7 protection detail of Alyssa. However, as he begins to fall in love with his subject and her with her bodyguard, they begin to realize something is not right about the two deaths. Instead evidence surfaces that implicate the Van Weldt Jeweler business in illegal trafficking of "blood diamonds".

The twin sequel to CAUGHT is a fabulous romantic suspense thriller starring a caring hero hiding his heart and a seemingly flit female who proves she is his equal once he gives her the chance. The cast is fully developed especially her family like her grandmother Grace Van Weldt who's as cold as diamonds. Fans will enjoy the changing relationship between the lead couple as they fall in love while needing to know whether her family firm starting with her icy grandma is dealing in blood diamonds.

Work What You Got
Stephanie Perry Moore
Kensington Dafina
0758225423, $9.95

Western Smith College sophomore Hayden Grant looks forward to pledging for the Beta Gamma Pi sorority along with her BFFs. However she is taken aback when Myra, Bridget, and Chandra decide not to join her at Beta Gamma Pi; the four roommates seem to be drifting apart. Although she has issues with the hazing, Hayden goes along with the herd mentality saying nothing. She regrets not voicing her reservations when a pledge nearly dies from a particularly nasty assault led by Keisha the Betas Big Sister Mean Machine.

Many of the sisters are expelled leaving Hayden to become the local chapter president; a position she did not want at least at this time. She also deals with her attraction to Creed who is pledging to a fraternity in which Hayden's ex-boyfriend Butch is president. She does not want to cause Creed any problems. As she works on clearing the name of her sorority, and tries to resolve her relationship with Creed and her three BFFs, Hayden depends on her Christian faith to guide her to do what is ethically right.

This is an interesting young adult relationship drama that encourages readers to not just join the line if it feels wrong. Hayden who tells the tale is a solid lead character as she regrets not speaking out against hazing. Her friend Penelope is one of the Betas kicked out though she did not participate in the hazing; standing silently on the sidelines doing nothing is almost as bad as performing the abusive deeds. Although the use of Ebonics especially by professionals like Hayden's uncle who is the college president is a detractor (personally prefer professionals sound educated like Obama does), fans will enjoy the first Beta Gamma Pi inspirational tale.

The King's Daughter
Barbara Kyle
9780758225450, $15.00

After being in exile due to her religious beliefs, Queen Mary sits on the English throne. Her strategic objective is cleanse England of her late father's heresy; returning the country back to true Christianity and away from the abomination of Protestantism. Thus her first major act as queen is to marry Catholic true believer Prince Philip of Spain to forge a real Christian alliance.

As Mary leads a religious cleansing leading to her reputation as Bloody Mary, others plan her overthrow. For instance rebel Isabel Thornleigh wants to save the life of her father merchant Thomas rotting in a prison for allegedly being a Protestant. To do so she ignores her father's plea for her and her mom to travel to Antwerp for religious freedom, ends her betrothal, and begins seeking a means of removing Mary from the throne before she marries Philip; and replace her with her half sister protestant Princess Elizabeth. She quickly realizes she is a dreamer with no hope of success until she meets Spanish mercenary Carlos Valverde. Their efforts and others lead to the failed 1554 Wyatt rebellion.

The follow up to THE QUEEN'S LADY is a terrific mid sixteenth century historical that brings to life the religious cleansing under the reign of Bloody Mary as well as the counter insurgency. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action using real events to focus the plot on; while also containing a strong lead female character caught up in the power struggle of the post King Henry era. The romance between Carlos and Isabel rightfully takes a back seat to the tumultuous times that sweep up seemingly everyone culminating in the failed Wyatt revolt.

Let Me In
Donna Kauffman
9780758231291, $14.00

Former covert operative Tate Winslow is placed in the witness protection program where her new identity is novelist Tara Wingate residing in Hebron Valley, Virginia. She wants nothing to do with her past having witnessed her partner CJ shot dead. However, her former boss at the agency Derek Cole arrives insisting CJ is alive and needs their help.

She has problems with Derek's claim as she saw CJ killed, which is why she left the guns behind her three years ago. Derek explains the agency refuses to rescue an agent in trouble so he has gone rogue in order to save CJ. Each tries to ignore the attraction between them. However, both Tara and Derek question whether saving CJ is wise as each wonders if he could be a traitor betraying his country as a double agent.

This is an exciting romantic suspense thriller from the moment Derek comes back into Tara's life. The story line is fast-paced, but the action is overwhelmed by the second chance romance between the former agent and the rogue operative. Fans will wonder whether CJ is alive and if yes is he a traitor?

Escape to Ecstasy
Jodi Lynn Copeland
Kensington Aphrodisia
0758227124, $12.95

"Killing Me Softly". After a nasty incident, Claire Vaughn became a hermit. Attending her mom's fiftieth birthday feels like going to hell. Her sister Erin worries about her so arranges for her to go to Ecstasy Island where she hopes healer Chris Cavanaugh can bring her satisfaction and a passionate reason for living.

"Living in Technicolor". Dana Lancer arranges for her twin sister Deanna to vacation on Ecstasy Island. The voice on the other end of the line when she made the reservations reminds her of whom she gave up eight years. Resort owner Treah Baldwin has never forgotten his former wife. So to his elation, Dana not Deanna ends up in his bed

These well written torrid visits to Ecstasy Island are enjoyable erotic romances once the heroine arrives at the resort. However, the rendition method of getting them there is inappropriate even though it is done out of love by caring sisters. Fans will ponder whether the end (heated loving island ecstasy romances) justifies the means.

Cream Puff Murder
Joanne Fluke
9780758210227, $24.00

In Lake Eden, Minnesota, Hannah Swensen and Lisa Herman Beeseman co-own the Cookie Jar bakery. Business is booming as the winter cold sends people in for hot coffee and a tasty dessert. However the store is not Hannah's top priority at the moment because she has to lose weight in two weeks to fit in her Regency costume she will wear at her mom's book launch party. A desperate Hannah she enrolls in Heavenly Bodies fitness center.

When she goes to use the center's Jacuzzi she finds the corpse of instructor Ronnie Ward floating inside. Ronnie also served as the fitness instructor to the sheriff's department. Most men adored her but women despised her because her morals were less than that of an ally cat as she went after any male, married or not. Hannah's sometimes boyfriend Police Detective Mike Kingston, her sister's husband Sheriff Bill, and her other sister's police officer spouse ask her to investigate since she has solved several homicides and each excuse themselves having a history of sorts with the deceased. The three cops offer advice to Hannah, but she makes her inquiries her way; as she gets closer to the truth the killer gets closer to killing her.

Putting aside the plausibility of Hannah finding the corpse and of the professionals asking a civilian even with the heroine's resume to sleuth, rather than a nearby law enforcement friend, CREAM PUFF MURDERS is a delicious amateur sleuth mystery. Besides the mouth watering dozen dessert recipes, the whodunit is cleverly constructed around severable viable suspects including Mike yet none fully stand out in a crowd of haters. Clues abound that eliminate some of the potential culprits as Joanne Fluke provides a marvelous wintry Minnesota mystery.

Road Trip of the Living Dead
Mark Henry
9780758225245, $15.00

In Seattle nightlife lover Amanda Feral wishes American had more of a fashions sense especially those people she dines on when she eats their brains; though if they understood fashion, she might not use them as dessert. The zombie fashion hound learns her abusive mother Ethel is dying so she decides to pay her respects to the wicked witch of the northwest. She persuades her friend zombie Wendy Miller to go with her to Rapid City, South Dakota, home of the fashion-challenged and mommy meanest.

The two zombiettes decide to stay in town for one more night before the trek to mommy meanest. However, their friend gay vampire Gil angers a strip club owner, making it imperative he leave town immediately. The trio flees as werewolves give chase while Amanda's pickups seem to lose their heads, but their biggest fear is the shopping horde at Kmart.

This is a wild zany bawdy urban horror thriller (see Happy Hour of the Damned) starring no heroes. The story line is fast-paced with plenty of graphic blood, guts, and sh*t letting. The road warriors are a crude but fun bunch while the tale needs to carry two warnings: don't eat while reading this novel and cover your genitals with armor at all times. Sort of placing Divine of Pink Flamingoes fame in a George Romero movie as Mark Henry is over the Rocky Mountains with this wild ROAD TRIP OF THE LIVING DEAD.

Being Wicked
Lacy Danes
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758220592, $12.95

"Willful Surrender". Her plan seemed simple when she hid in her brother's carriage to find him at a gala and prove his innocence. However, Lily never expected to end up at the Cyprian's Ball where she meets notorious rake Vincent, who wants her with a craving she shares.

"Willing Seduction". The Widow Grace returns to the house where her fondest sexual memories of her late husband occurred. At the Cyprian's Ball, she disguises herself as a courtesan hoping to taste some of what she lost when her spouse died. However, she never expected Winston, her brother's best friend to be there; Winston the star of her fantasies whom she plans to seduce into sexual nirvana this time.

These two heated erotic romances star likable lead characters finding perfect sex partners at a Regency Cyprian Ball. Although, the two novellas lack a sense of time, fans who relish their romances equatorial hot will appreciate the lead couples BEING WICKED.

Night of the Hawk
Vonna Harper
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758229458, $12.95

Her investigation into the serial killings leads reporter Smokey Rivers to Storm Bay, Oregon investigating a string of murders. In an art gallery Smokey is fascinated by a photo of a beautiful hawk in flight. Thus she enthusiastically meets the photographer Mato Hawk.

Mato is attractive to the tough skinned journalist who he thinks hides a passionate soft inside. He begins to dominate her turning her increasingly into his submissive. She enjoys each spin he takes them as he controls more and submits more. However, Mato hides his real agenda by his BDSM seduction as he wants to keep her from her inquiry, but finds himself trapped by his desire for her.

NIGHT OF THE HAWK is an interesting erotic romance in which Mato kidnaps an initially unwelcoming Smokey and seduces her through dominating her until she turns submissive (Stockholm syndrome perhaps). At times their sexual relationship goes beyond BDSM romance into forced sexual captivity, but that adds realism to the mix. Although deeper psychological insight into the courageous investigative reporter seeking a killer but though frightened tacitly submissively accepting her kidnapper's dominance would have enhanced the plot, this is an intriguing erotica, just not for everyone.

Wicked Beast
Tawny Taylor
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758226785, $12.95

Cailey Holom is not just a non cat person; she has a deep rooted feline phobia as she fears these beasts. To help her overcome her inane irrational dread even of tiny house cats, she writes an erotic romance starring the were-lion King Lander Cornelius as his race's champion. To her shock she drools and not from the mouth over her fictional hunk.

Cailey is further taken aback when Lander actually arrives in her home. A witch has dispatched him to abduct her, which he does taking her back to his land where he is the king of the Were-kin. Freed from the limitations of a novel, Lander plans to teach his prisoner ecstasy as only a WICKED BEAST can provide.

This is a fun romantic fantasy starring a stunned heroine and the lion king who rules her dreams and soon afterward her reality. The story line contains Cailey's segments from were-lion book used sort of as flashbacks within the overall novel; however that device slows down the overall engaging plot of a woman who learned from her lion to stop worrying and strangely love the cat.

Bare Nerve
Katherine Garbera
Kensington Brava
9780758232083, $14.00

Three British females (Charity Keon, Anna Sterling and Justine O'Neill) form a powerful team at Liberty Investigations. Unlike her two partners who have found loving men in their lives (see BARE FACTS and BARE WITNESS, Anna does not trust males. For that matter she prefers destroying the enemy with keystrokes on her computer than meeting any people.

Her hacking skills uncover a major gun running operation. The Liberty threesome is paired with mercenaries headed by uncouth Jack Savage to end the deadly black market dealings; they begin the mission in Algiers. A daughter of an aristocrat and an ambassador Anna is shocked by her attraction to crude Savage, whose behavior lives up to his surname. Even more stunning Jack reciprocates even if he detests these marshmallow feelings.

As with the previous tales, the final Liberty Investigations romantic thriller comes right out with its homage to Charlie's Angels. The story line is filled with suspense and action as the extended team battles terrorists as Carl Douglas sings "Everyone was kung fu fighting" while also taking time for boudoir interludes between the lady and the beast to the delight of romantic suspense fans.

The Incredible Origins of the Onyx Sun
Christopher Mahoney
Pariah Publishing
899 Green St.,#206, San Fransisco, Ca. 94133
0979520258, $19.99

Zack Goodspeed is the "normal' American boy. He is a normal ten year old living with Mr. and Mrs. Normal Parents in a normal suburb. Everything about Zack is simply normal. That is except for his grandfather Fyodor, who, is simply is not normal.

Zack's normal life began to change two years ago due to his abnormal grandfather and an airplane wing in the garbage can, but it is this summer that he turns abnormal. Fyodor's big moment was back in the fourth grade at a school science fair when his entry, a small rock, turned out to be the greatest energy source ever created, the Onyx Sun.

Zack discovers his grandfather's discovery and uses it to fuel a rocket ship. He flies to the moon, drives giant robots like his parents drive cars, and befriends Max the girl. However, his delightful adventures into abnormality need to be placed on hold as Dr. Machval plans to harness the power of the Onyx Sun to destroy the earth; only Zack and his new friends stand in the way of the planet's extinction, but earth's champion failed just before his moon flight to stand up to neighborhood bullies who took his baseball from him.

This is an excellent middle school science fiction thriller starring an intriguing tweener hero who only has to save the world. The story line is action-packed and filled with twists including friendly encouragement at the end to change the text on line. Zack is terrific role model as he and his grandfather encourage students to be all they can be, not to fear math or science as each can be a fun puzzling adventure, and its great to be eccentrically "not normal". Young adults will enjoy flying in space to the moon, riding giant robots and saving the earth alongside of Zack and his friends.

Mortal Touch
Inanna Arthen
Light Unseen Media
9780979302800, $16.95

In 2004 in Sheridan, Massachusetts psychic Regan Calloway owns a quaint shop while hiding from her gift. Several years ago she helped law enforcement catch killers by using her ability to see things by touching objects held by a murderer or a victim, but the cost to her mind was too great for her to cope with.

Her friend Dr. Hiram Clauson, who worked with her when she lent a hand to the cops several years ago, asks for her help as there has been a serial attacker who leaves victims with scars on their necks, a major loss of blood, and no memory of an assault. Regan reluctantly agrees to assist with the investigation. As she begins to touch objects to try to fathom what the victims can no longer remember, writer Jonathan Vaughn moves into Sheridan; Regan's best friend Veronica Standish seems attracted to the reclusive author. When Regan meets Jonathan, her touch of him reveals to her his connection to the unsolved mysterious assaults and much more as if he has lived for centuries and something illogical about blood. As the psychic and the vampire become attracted to one another, Veronica begins to lose her mind turning dangerous and suicidal.

This is an intriguing paranormal investigative thriller with a touch of romance that grips the audience from the moment Dr. Clausen asks a reluctant Regan to use her psychic skills on the strange case he works. Thus the readers meet the heroine, immediately after the call her flighty best friend and soon afterward the vampire-author. The small New England town is a Frisbee toss away from Rhode Island, making a perfect atmosphere for this engaging supernatural mystery in which Regan suspects the man she is attracted to is the neck biter. Although the font size is tough on the eyes, Inanna Arthen provides an interesting Vampires of New England tale as the lead pair must make difficult even perilous choices that endanger them, loved ones, and semi-innocent.

Cry for Passion
Robin Schone
9780425225936, $15.00

At the Old Bailey courthouse, James Whitcox wins acquittal and freedom for his client, widow Frances Hart from her son's complaint. James and Frances are lovers who both belong to the Men and Women's Club. Jack Lodun loses the case. Afterward thirty three year old married Rose Clarring asks Jack to obtain her a divorce from her husband Jonathan of twelve years. He says that is impossible to obtain and besides she being a member of the club he raked her in court in the Hart case as a loose woman; everyone even her family believes she is a slut. She explains her spouse like her wanted kids, but he caught the mumps soon after they married and became sterile.

Rose leaves Jonathon a note that she is leaving him although she knows her husband can have her committed. A drunken Jack asks her to prove passion exists. She says no because she will humiliate her husband. She explains the last time she had sex was in 1875, eleven years ago. He asks why now and she says the look of love between Whitcox and Hart. Jack says he wants to have sex with her, but she says no and asks him how he felt when his lover, James' wife Cynthia died in an accident. Jack says he loved her but could not attend the funeral. As their attraction grows, neither knows what the future holds except in the long run not together as a married woman only has the rights her spouse grants her.

The nonexistent legal rights of women in Victorian England even with a queen ruling the country already for five decades are fascinating. The relationship between the lead couple is interesting as both know it can go nowhere while the erotic scenes are graphically described so sub-genre fans will enjoy them. However, a late abduction adds suspense to an already deep historical that did not need it. Still fans will enjoy the latest Men and Women's Club Victorian saga (see SCANDALOUS LOVERS).

The Bishop's Daughter
Tiffany L. Warren
Grand Central
9780446195140, $13.99

After his mom praised Bishop Kumal Prentiss with increasing fervor, freelance journalist Darrin Bainbridge moves to Atlanta with plans to investigate the celebrity minister. He figures he will not have to dig far to find dirt for a story and in turn obtain accolades from his father.

However, Darrin quickly realizes that God works in mysterious ways when Darrin visits Bishop Prentiss' Freedom of Life Church to join the congregation as an undercover reporter. There he meets THE BISHOP'S DAUGHTER Emoni Prentiss. As he falls in love, Darrin uncovers the scandal that would make him famous and get his father's praise, but he must weigh that with being the righteous person his beloved pious Emoni warrants.

THE BISHOP'S DAUGHTER is a terrific inspirational romance starring two fully developed wonderful lead characters. This fine duet is nicely supported by solid family members and the congregation. The story line is loaded with scripture as "Honor thy father" becomes increasingly difficult to achieve but the biblical references enhance the tale of love between the cynical undercover reporter and the title character. Their rotating perspective to include his blog augment a delightful realistic romance as doubting Darrin falls in love with the enemy's daughter.

Sundays at Tiffany's
James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet
Grand Central
9780446199445, $13.99

Born to affluence and fame, Jane Margaux grew up lonely with one exception. While her famous producer mother Broadway creates musicals and her father preferred spending quality time with his second wife in Nantucket, her only friend and companion is Michael, who provided her solace even if he was only imaginary. However, when she turned eight, Michael informs her he will no longer be with her though he will always be her best friend.

Over two decades later, Jane remains lonely even with a boyfriend and neurotic though she works for her mother. No one would believe she is Vivienne's daughter as she is treated scornfully and horrifically. As Jane produces her first play based on her childhood with Michael, he returns bringing light into Jane's dark life. They fall in love as each find their groove with one another; but Michael fears he will not be allowed to stay with his beloved as adults are not supposed to remember imaginary friends while she has never forgotten him especially since he left her once before.

This contemporary romantic fantasy is an enchanting tale in which Jane breaks the rules of imaginary friends by somehow always remembering her Michael. The story line effortlessly switches from preadolescence in which he is a sort of guardian big brother to her to and adult love story. Although the standard operating procedures of what an imaginary friend does and does not do and the laws of physics that govern the relationship between a child and their buddy are lacking so that the audience cannot fully appreciate the heroine's breaking the barrier, fans will enjoy it happened to Jane.

Little Giant of Aberdeen County
Tiffany Baker
Grand Central
9780446194204, $24.99

The wagering was enormous as almost every townsfolk of Aberdeen bet on the size of the boy Lily Plaice was carrying because of how much the child stretched her stomach; this kid was going to be huge. Everyone feels remorse when Lily dies giving birth to a giantess, but more are upset because no one won the pool as the newborn outweighed the highest estimate. Her widower father blames Truly for killing his wife; to some degree her older sister pixyish Serena Jane does too. Finally their father dies as he lost the will to live. Truly and Serena Jane go their separate ways with the latter becoming a popular affluent beauty while the former a dirt poor ostracized farmer.

Bob Bob Morgan decides Serena Jane will be his wife and achieves his goal as expected of the latest runt of Dr. Robert Morgan's. Truly loathes her brother-in-law who has always been one of her harshest abusers. However, after years of marriage Serena Jane decides enough with a loveless relationship; she flees town leaving behind Bob-Bob and their eight years old son Bobby. Bob-Bob blames Truly for driving away his wife. However, when she discovers she has healing talent after finding some herbal cures written by a nineteenth century witch-wife of the first Dr. Robert inside a Morgan quit, Truly begins to assert herself.

This is a unique superbly written character study of a truly scrumptious giantess and how those in a 360 circle around her treat her with scorn with two exceptions, outcasts like her. The story line is driven by Truly who takes her size as a matter of fact on the surface but inside the ridicule hurts her. Readers will appreciate this fine saga of a woman who is physically different.

Your Roots Are Showing
Elise Chidley
5 Spot (Grand Central)
0446178144 , $13.99

Lizzie Buckley is frustrated, tired and bored. The suburban London mom takes care of her toddlers while her still handsome hunk of a husband James is always on the road. Overweight and over the top with resentment she sends a scathing email about James' failures re her and their kids to her sister; only problem she sends it accidentally or perhaps Freudian slip accidentally to James.

James not needing much of an excuse leaves her and informs her he is filing for a divorce leaving Lizzie alone with their twins. She begs him to come home as she suffers anxiety attacks, but he refuses. Lizzie goes to a therapist and soon reflects on what has passed and soon concludes she has been depressed since the kids were born and her marriage added to her lack of self esteem. While she hopes to bring back the old Lizzie and persuade James they can still be a family, he is hanging with his assistant.

Stereotyping of the key secondary players detracts from an otherwise intriguing family drama in which the heroine is unaware that she suffers from post partum depression until her husband leaves. The story line is driven by the heroine who goes from a tin Lizzie to a dizzy Lizzie trying to mentally heal and get James back. Though Lizzie's recovery seems a bit fast once she understands what happened to her; fans will enjoy her efforts as she could have quoted Genesis: "There must be some misunderstanding; There must be some kind of mistake" in her attempt to win James back.

Kitty Raises Hell
Carrie Vaughn
Grand Central
9780446199544, $6.99

Everyone who goes to Vegas understands the mantra that what happens there stays there; everyone except Kitty Norville as a piece of the Neon City followed her home to Denver. She first realized what happened when the word Tiamat is burned into the door of her restaurant the New Moon. In Vegas (see KITTY AND THE DEAD MAN'S HAND), Kitty tangled with the Band of Tiamat, a lycan group led by a vampire who sacrificed other lycanthropes to the Babylonian Goddess they worshipped. Instead off her Bbeing sacrificed Kitty defeated them and apparently the survivors seek vengeance.

When Paradox PI, a reality TV show that investigates supernatural cases, enter an alleged haunted house; something destroys the trailer they are in and the smell of fire, brimstone, and sulfur permeates the atmosphere. That same odor arises when they conduct a seance at the New Moon; almost immediately the restaurant is on fire. The cameraman taped the incident and catches on the video a humanoid shape in the smoke. Kitty and her pack are magically protected, but the monster kills one of her people who didn't use her potion and several innocents. Kitty has to find out what it is and how to contain it without help from Roman the new vampire in town or the city's master vampire Rick because she deems the price of relying on either of them is too high.

Urban fantasy fans who like the works of Kelly Armstrong are going to relish the latest supernatural thriller. The protagonist is a kick butt heroine similar to Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake as both are the lead alpha of an extended family/pack. They each understand the responsibility of protecting their submissive loyal followers. Carrie Vaughn provides another enthralling and spellbinding Kitty tale although this time it pays to read KITTY AND THE DEAD MAN'S HAND first as this is a direct sequel.

Houston, We Have a Problema
Gwendolyn Zepeda
Grand Central
9780446698528, $12.99

In Houston twenty - six year old single Jessica Luna is perhaps the most superstitious person in Texas; she will argue otherwise insisting it is a survival technique to dealing with her family especially her mom and older sister. She depends totally on psychic Madame Hortensia for guidance and buys special good luck gizmos from the spiritualist especially after the clairvoyant makes three predictions that all happen.

Jessica has decisions to make as she loathes her job in insurance even with a promotion coming her way when she would prefer to use her Art History degree. However, it is the two men recently in her life who represents her work vs. her vocation whom she must choose from. Guillermo the lazy flaky Latino artist and a prim and proper white businessman Jonathan are attracted to her. Jessica turns to her advisor Hortensia for her job decision and for which man she should select.

HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEMA is an entertaining lighthearted Latina chick lit romp focusing on the metamorphosis of a young woman lacking confidence in herself so she depends on amulets, horoscopes, and psychic reading, etc. to boost her esteem. Readers will root for her while enjoying the amusing antics of Madame Hortensia, the psychic whose objective is contact with dead presidents on official government paper yet has a consciousness. Fans will enjoy this fascinating coming of age tale with a psychic dependence twist starring a passionate believer who relies on undependable forecasts to make her decisions.

We Take This Man
Candice Dow and Daaimah S. Poole
Grand Central
9780446501835, $14.99

In Florida Dwight and Tracey Wilson seem to have the perfect marriage as they raise their two children in their new home. They are euphoric when Dwight has a chance for a major promotion, but Tracey changes her mind when she learns the job is in Maryland. They talk and argue over relocating until Dwight takes the position and leaves on own with plans to return to Florida on weekends; while Tracey remains behind with the kids. That arrangement fails.

Dwight ends his marriage with Tracey and soon afterward has an affair with his work peer Alicia Dixon. When she becomes pregnant, Dwight marries her, but he is unaware that his divorce from Tracey is not finalized. Instead his legal wife arrives in Maryland hoping to save their marriage.

This is a well written entertaining extended family drama starring three people with personal issues that make each struggle with relationships. However, most readers will have a problem with the basic premise that each of the two women wants Dwight as their mate to help them raise their kids although he comes across as emotionally feeble and unable to cope with one family let alone raising two. Fans will enjoy this intriguing tale of a bigamist caught between two women, three children, and his inability to decide what to do; leaving it up to Tracey and Alicia to come up with an alternative family arrangement if the two strong women can stop their bickering and compromise.

Love and Other Natural Disasters
Holly Shumas
5 Spot (Grand Central)
9780446504775 , $13.99

During Thanksgiving with her spouse and their five years old son Jacob, eight months pregnant Eve thinks her Jonathon is having an affair, sort of. She sees how friendly he is on the phone with some unknown female and concludes where there is smoke there is fire. He denies her accusations.

Eve opens his e-mail, which affirms he never physically touched the other woman, but shared a deep emotional relationship with her. However, Eve and Jon also realize how much they had drifted apart when both considers whether it is worth saving their marriage for themselves and not just the kids.

This is a thought provoking deep look at what is cheating in a relationship especially in the electronic age. Fans will ponder whether one is stepping out on a spouse although there is no physical contact between the mate and the other person. Holly Shumas also raises the ethical question of whether it is ethically acceptable to perform domestic spying when a spouse suspects their mate of an affair; especially to check the personal email to find evidence they are cheating. Although the story line is a bit slow as the focus is deeply on the emotional behavior of the lead couple, readers will appreciate this fascinating sharp tale that asks what denotes cheating in the modern age.

The God Cookie
Geoffrey Wood
9781400073443, $13.99

Coffee shop owner John Parrish enjoys debating anything and everything with his best friends, his employees Mason and Duncan. He especially relishes their arguments over faith and Heeding God's voice. At a Chinese restaurant, Parrish opens up his fortune cookie to a bizarre message: "Take the corner." Whereas his buddies believe this is some cookie cutter nonsense, John believes God is calling him to take a leap of faith.

Although he has doubts and expects he will end up humiliated in the eyes of his two friends and several strangers, John heeds the note to go to the nearest corner to obtain further divine guidance. There he picks up a mysterious letter from the ground by the bus stop. John decides his heavenly quest is to deliver the note to its rightful owner. His odyssey has begun.

The story line starts slow until Parrish's quest leads him to meet people who react differently to his heavenly need to deliver the letter. His mission enables him to see what others need as if he is wearing their shoes. The interaction between the lead character and the support cast makes for an unusual inspirational tale that fans will enjoy trekking along side Parrish on his journey of the soul.

Martha Grimes
9780451225894, $15.00

Andi Oliver still suffers from amnesia (see BITING THE MOON) as she aimlessly wanders North Dakota. Following her rescuing of a donkey, Andi decides she needs a respite from her quest to find out her real name. So she settles in Kingdom.

However, she is hardly in her temporary digs when she runs into a dispute with local bullies. She obtains a job at Klavan's pig farm where the owner and workers mistreat the animals; Andi plans to change that practice starting with the nearby slaughterhouse for the inhumane cruel treatment of animals. However, as she stirs up the townsfolk dividing them between for or against her, a psychopath wants to kill her and someone else plans to torture her into revealing secrets she no longer knows.

Although the amnesia theme does not move at all and a late spin seems implausible, DAKOTA is an exciting suspense thriller especially when the focus is on the mistreatment of animals under the guise of feeding humans. The story line is fast-paced as Andi takes a respite from her quest only to find a social issue of cruelty that drives her to take action. Fans will enjoy her DAKOTA caper.

The Shadow Queen
Anne Bishop
9780451462541, $24.95

The deceitful Queens ignored the honorable Rules of the Blood; their mendacious rule ruined Dena Nehele leading to open revolt. At about the same time weak Queen Cassidy of Bhak became Lady Cassidy when her retinue deserted her to join the stronger court of much prettier and more powerful Queen Kermilla.

Following an uprising, one of the remaining Warlord Princes, Theran Grayhaven desperately needs a partner to help him re-establish his family's control. The High Prince of Hell introduces him to Lady Cassidy. He proposes a marriage of convenience, which the former queen, encouraged by her few loyal friends, accepts as the new Queen of Dena Nehele. However, though Theran and Cassidy seem an ideal match, they have relationship issues further exacerbated when she meets and is attracted to his cousin Gray the gardener, a Warlord Prince with body and brain damage caused by the Blood Queens.

The latest Black Jewels fantasy thriller is a strong character driven tale as Theran and Cassidy seem genuine as does the key support players Gray, Ranon, and several Queens. The royal pair needs to unite if they want power, but once they do the duo realizes how incompatible they are especially when they meet significant others. To fully appreciate the interwoven history of the Blood magic world new readers should peruse previous tales in the saga (see TANGLED WEB and DREAMS MADE FLESH, etc.), even as Anne Bishop provides a strong romantic fantasy that fans will relish.

New Blood
Gail Dayton
9780765362506, $6.99

Women have been banned from practicing magic. In fact in 1636 the enforcers of the taboo, the Imperial Council of Magicians burned at the stake the last blood sorceress. For the next two centuries, the last witch's loyal servant Jax, who watched horrifically the burning, has searched for the next female practitioner with no success until now.

In the Austrian Empire, Jax believes hedge witch Amanusa Whitcomb is the heir. He mentors a frightened Amanusa on the use of blood magic. However, when she uses her new skill on brutes, she comes to the attention of the Imperial Council of Magicians who sends enforcer Inquisitors to kill the miscreant. As they begin to fall in love, teacher and student flee for their lives heading to Paris but are forced to enter the "dead zones" where none live except those who have died and magic is impossible.

This is an engaging fantasy that takes a sharp turn in emphasis from a unique Europe to romance. Thus the story line loses some momentum with the detour as a fascinating world is overwhelmed by the romance between Jax and Amanusa. Still Gail Dayton writes an interesting tale in which love proves one of the strongest if not the most powerful magic of them all.

Mind Over Ship
David Marusek
9780765317490, $24.95

In 2034 the sabotaged rocket crash left financier Eleanor Starke dead while her adopted daughter Ellen's life is saved when her preserved cryogenically frozen head was grafted on to the body of an infant (see COUNTING HEADS). Over the next year Ellen insists her mom is alive while everyone scoffs at her.

At the same time she demands control over the Starke business while other executives want her out of the way as the daughter may have been adopted but is a chip off the old block of her late mom with her desire to help those below the Boutique line. Instead her enemies are more interested in the bottom line even devastating a space colonization scheme to improve the life of the masses. Eleanor's fanatic husband Sammy Harger, who pushed the failed plan to move some of the fifteen billion off a planet over-populated with clones and AIs too, wants a piece of his daughter's head.

This sequel is a timely frightening futuristic science fiction thriller that extrapolates much of what is happening in technology, on Wall St and in DC to paint a dark nightmarish world that makes Malthus' prediction look naively understated. Ninety-nine percent of the populace lives in poverty while the avaricious remainder manipulates events to obtain larger portions of the pie. Ellen is terific as she struggles to take control of her mom's empire, but her adversaries are diabolical and sleazy as they control the convergence of science, money, and politics at the expense of the many. Though reading the first tale helps the audience understand what COUNTING HEADS is, this second act is a terrific thought provoking thriller that extrapolates the Bush years into the next century.

The Unincorporated Man
Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin
0765318997, $25.95

In the early twenty-first century, multi-billionaire Justin Cord learns he suffers from an untreatable cancer; he will die soon. A battler all his life, Justin battles for his life; betting on the future. He has a cryogenic burial home built and has himself put on ice inside it.

A few centuries into the future, Justin's frozen home is discovered. He is thawed out and his body healed. However, Justin learns that he is THE UNINCORPORATED MAN in a radically differing economic system than the one he made his fortune in. That collapsed in spite of humanity reaching as far away as the Oort Cloud, the outer rim of the sun's gravitational pull. At birth, a person is incorporated; they spend years trying to buy controlling interest in his or her self. For Justin this means he is owned by a corporation and starting very late to buy himself. As he did with death he rejects the concept of he owning a limited share of himself while others own the majority share.

This is an intriguing science fiction thriller that extrapolates the current economic trends of free market and total privatization (Bush legacy meltdowns) into a future in which a person is owned like an indentured servant only by corporate shareholders. Thus the Kollin brothers shine a deep spotlight on a DNA like matrix interweaving acceptable societal norm with the economy. The story line is thought provoking on several fronts starting with the economy, the government and the technology that has taken mankind across the solar system. Justin is a throwback to an earlier age before the corporations bought power as he believes strongly in freedom, which he feels the shareholders thwart. Fans who enjoy an exciting twenty-forth century thriller with roots in today's global economy will appreciate this deep tale.

Whipping Star
Frank Herbert
0765317753, $14.95

In the future mankind has met several alien species; forging the ConSentiency alliance to govern interrelationships. However, to control the dictatorship of perfect democracy run by bureaucrats, a top secret agency was formed. The mission of the Bureau of Sabotage (BuSab) is to cause problems for the ConSentiency government and its bureaucracies to fumble in reaction to their tossed figurative hand grenades with exclusions granted to individuals and to those agencies considered critical to everyone's well being.

Someone is whipping stars; killing them. Now this sadist is targeting a star whose death will have consequences throughout the galaxy and probably the universe. When a Caleban beach ball lands on a remote planet, BuSab sends its best troublemaker Agent Jorj X. McKie to communicate with the life essence living inside; no sentient race has been able to communicate with the Caleban. Likewise the Caleban have tried also. They need help to save the universe from a bad legally bound contract they signed with a human sadist Miss Abnethe. The Caleban have become her victims of pain and death based on the contract. They need McKie to find a way out of the binding contract before the universe is whipped to death by Miss Abnethe.

This is a reprint of a 1970 science fiction thriller that seems so timely with the economy freefall while extracting moral objectivism to the extreme. Amusing and satirical, fans will enjoy McKie's efforts to save the universe in between his divorce proceedings while trying not to become a masochistic victim of the wealthy sadist destroying the universe one Caleban whip at a time.

The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction
Gene Wolfe
9780765321350, $27.95

This superb anthology lets the 31 tales sell the talent of the author to science fiction and fantasy readers; as the compilation jumps right into the stories. There are 14 from the 1970s; 11 from the 1980s; and 6 from the 1990s. Many are award winners and have appeared in the best of the year anthologies like "The Fifth Head of Cerberus" and "Petting Zoo". This reviewer's favorite in this superb collection is the related threesome: "The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories", "The Death of Dr. Island" and "Death of the Island Doctor"; my suggestion is skip around and read these three one after another. Fans will appreciate how wide Mr. Wolfe's vision of a dark future is whether he writes a fantasy (see "A Cabin on the Coast") or a science fiction tale (see "The Fifth Head of Cerberus"); the road to hell can be "On the Train" or in a "Bed and Breakfast". Regardless, the audience will quickly find out you can't just read one (a night).

The Last Paladin
Kathleen Bryan
0765313308, $15.95

Averil has become the queen of the Kingdom of Lys with the death of her wicked uncle King Clodovec. However, the evil he did lives after him; there is no good interred with his bones as the sorcerers who used her odious relative continue their quest to bring forth the Serpent God of Chaos and their soulless armies continue to kill anyone in their path.

Averil knows she must confront the amoral sorcerers before the Serpent God arrives; if she fails to stop their incantations in time, Chaos will rule over Order. Her magecraft bondmate Squire Gereint reluctantly supports her quest to take the battle to the enemy, but her loyal subjects fear her death means the end of the Light. None can prevent the final war between Order and Chaos with the Serpent God apparently ready to lead Averill's enemies.

The final War between Order and Chaos (see THE SERPENT AND THE ROSE and THE GOLDEN ROSE) is a great ending to a strong quest trilogy. The courageous Averil and her brave bondmate have gained wisdom as both sadly understand what she must do. However, it is the Serpent God who makes the tale as he also comprehends that even Chaos has a need of Order. Although the ending appears too formulaic for this extremely complex character driven fantasy saga, Kathleen Bryan's fans will relish the final battle between the forces of Order and those of Chaos.

L.E. Modesitt Jr.
9780765320346, $25.95

In the capital of Solidar, L'Excelsis, frustrated with his master Caliostrus and his teacher's nasty son, apprentice portrait artist Rhennthyl wishes the man would die. Immediately afterward an explosion followed by a fire occurs leaving his mentor and his toad of an offspring dead. Stunned with what he did though he had hints of magic skills, he had no idea he was an Imager. Since he knows no one will take him on as Imagers are feared and isolated, he wonders how he can make use of his ability to create objects from seemingly nothing and kill with a quick look, but knows his first stop must be the Collegium of Imagisle.

Master Dichartyn accepts Rhenn as an apprentice imager. The son of a merchant soon learns the limits of an imager as he must sleep in specially padded with lead rooms to insure he causes no harm while dreaming. Rhenn quickly performs like a seasoned veteran even as he finds himself attracted to second sight Seliora after watching her gracefully handle bullies. As assassins try to kill Rhenn though he has no idea why, Dichartyn assigns him a dangerous undercover task.

The opening act of the Imager Portfolio starts extremely slow as L.E. Modesitt Jr. establishes his new world order that as always is particularly complex especially between nations on the Terahnar and the personality quirks of his prime players especially the hero. The action is nonexistent for the most part until late into the fantasy as readers wonder along with Rhenn what the hidden agenda Master Dichartyn has for his newest operative. Still filled with surprisingly twists, IMAGER is a solid world builder that bodes for fans excellent novels to follow.

Deader Still
Anton Strout
9780441016914, $7.99

The psychometric powers that enabled Simon Canderous to be a brilliant thief ended up also putting him in jail. As an ex-con he knew no ordinary employer world hire him, but the Department of Extraordinary Affairs (DEA) operates on a tight budget so hiring a man with his talent would normally be impossible; he has no choice but to accept a crummy civil servant salary (see DEAD TO ME).

It has been over two years since vampires were spotted in the Tri-State area, but when a booze cruise is found floating in the harbor, a check finds everyone on board dead; all drained of blood with marks on their necks. Like all the law enforcement types on the scene, Simon initially assumes vampires killed everyone on board. He changes his mind when he sees in a vision what killed them. His partner Connor tells Simon he believes it is a chupacabra, a canine like creature with red hypnotic eyes and a protruding spinal ridge. Gypsies brought the beasts into the area and are selling one to an enemy of Simon who wants Simon dead. Numerous attempts are made on his life, but he escapes each time even while trying to prevent a supernatural catastrophe from occurring in Central Park.

The antihero has an acerbic wit that helps him cope with the insanity of the bureaucracy he has joined. His significant other Jane has powers that are similar to Simon's skill of knowing an object's history by touching it although she is not as controllable as he is; she saves his life before being captured by his foe. DEADER STILL is a refreshing exciting urban fantasy with elements of romance and horror that will appeal to fans of Jim Butcher.

Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye
9780441016877, $7.99

Skeeve has found he dislikes retirement so decides to return to work. He expects to get his old job as the head of M.Y.T.H. Inc. once he crosses the office threshold. Thus Skeeve is shocked when Aahz refuses to give up the top gun position he took over after Skeeve left.

Everyone including the two combatants agree that they should compete for the position of boss. Skeeve and Aahz will work diametrically opposite on whatever case walks through the door next. Their mutual friends and allies fear the end of a long friendship and legendary in several dimensions partnership as only one can be MYTH-CHIEF.

This is an engaging entry in the long running saga as fans will rejoice that Skeeve has returned to Myth Inc. after he personally walked away. The story line as always is filled with wit and amusing sidebars as Aahz and Skeeve trade barbs in a sort "Anything you can do, I can do better" duet. However, when Skeeve turns reflective, his musings lack the intelligent jocularity of his debates with Aahz . Still fans of the Asprin-Nye myth saga will welcome the hero's return to the fold.

Bone Crossed
Patricia Briggs
9780441016761 $24.95

In the Washington States Tri-Cities, auto mechanic Mercedes Thompson still heals physically from the brutal assault in which she killed her attacker. Mentally the Were-coyote Walker knows her soul remains battered and raped (see IRON KISSED). Still she the courageous Mercy carries on with a brave front as she prepares to marry alpha werewolf Adam Hauptman.

Her college roommate Amber reads about her in the newspaper and thinks back over a decade to when they were drunk and Mercy told her about meeting a ghost. She wrote it off then, but since the werewolves have come out of the woods into the open and Mercy is engaged to one, she reconsidered that tale. She comes from Spokane to ask Mercy to help her rid her house of a nasty ghost. Amber further explains her husband thinks she is crazy. Mercy knows this is a good time to leave town as irate vampire queen Marsilia wants to drain her blood after torturing her vampire friend Stefan for killing a monster. Mercy agrees to accompany Amber back to Spokane while Adam negotiates a settlement of sorts with Marsilia before a species war ignites. Mercy soon realizes Adam has the easier job.

Though a February release, the fourth Mercedes Thompson thriller (see BLOOD BOUND and MOON CALLED) will be on the short list of best urban fantasy for 2009 as the action never slows down for a paragraph. The deep look into the Briggs state of Washington is terrific as vampire customs and werewolf politics enhance a strong tale. In spite of her still healing Mercy remains a tough as ever as she sets out to prove she is a genuine ghostbuster.

Coyote Horizon
Allen Steele
9780441016822 $25.95

In 2350 on Coyote, convicted of killing his abusive dad, former convict Hawk Thompson lives a bland lifestyle trying to stay out of trouble. The parolee earns a civil servant wage as a customs inspector at the spaceport, but has no goal to try anything else as the crime treatment therapy washed away his oomph for life; besides which he knows if he raises his voice an iota, the drug filled patch on his skin will produce a paralyzing affect. However, Hawk cannot stay out of an incident in which he helps hooker Melissa Sanchez. Soon afterward, the Customs Department upper management selects Hawk as their agent in a meeting with the enigmatic alien species the Hjadd who have a nearby embassy on the orb. He begins to understand their customs and soon with Melissa accompanying him, Hawk begins a quest.

Meanwhile Sawyer Lee leads several European on a hunt for deadly avian; at the same time a Navaho Shaman Joseph Walking Sky Cassidy, hired by Morgan Goldstein to watch over his horses, vanished in an unexplored area. Morgan informs Sawyer he is worried about the missing shaman he hired who is addicted to the drug sting. Sawyer leads a missing person's search unaware that Hawk and Joseph have met in the wilderness.

Though filled with plenty of action, this is a deep thought provoking entry in the Coyote saga as Allen Steele makes clear the inanity of prejudice limiting who can enter the tent as superior humans know their race is in God's image while the Lord obviously rejects the Hjadd. Interestingly, the founders have started to give up power to their descendents as five decades have past since the first colonization began; thus a new horizon begins with the passing of authority. That profound depth aside, this is a strong science fiction thriller that follows Hawk, changes direction to Sawyer and Joseph, and ultimately brings the trio together in a winner that the Coyote universe fans will immensely relish while waiting for the sequel.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Larsen's Bookshelf

Those Damned Black Hats! The Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign
Lance J. Herdegen
Savas Beatie L. L. C.
521 Fifth Avenue Suite 3400, New York, NY 10175
Special Sales
P.O. Box 4527, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
9781932714487 $32.95 916.941.6896

Lance Herdegen understands the Civil War. He has written and taught extensively about Iron Brigade. Sometimes I forget that he's not a veteran of the 2nd, or the 6th or the 7th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment or the 19th Indiana or 24th Michigan Infantry Regiment. When he tells a story, you can smell the camp fire, and have trust that the tale is mostly true.

The best part of all of this is he writes as if he is reporting a current event. Sometimes it is as hot as the headlines.

This is his 4th book about the Iron Brigade. He started with The Bloody Railroad Cut at Gettysburg, The Men Stood Like Iron, and the Civil War Journal of William R. Ray.

I promise, you will know a lot more about Gettysburg when you finish reading Those Damned Black Hats.

Illustrated with some 50 photographs, numerous maps, a long bibliography, plenty of notes, The Damned Black Hats is splattered with 33 fine chapters of some of the best damned Civil War reporting I have ever seen, damn it!

Twenty-five Missions: A Bombardier's Story
Charles Russell Wayman and Candace R. Wayman
Fithian Press
A division of Daniel and Daniel, Publications Inc.
P. O. Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564744791 $10.00 800-729-6423

May they keep coming, these wonderful memoirs about service in World War II. They surface from attics and basements, these journals and letters and photos and pressure from the grandchildren. They surface from the collective hidden memory of this generation's men and women who went from suffering the greatest economic depression to the battlefields of the greatest war. Twenty-five Missions is one of those diaries. It is a catalogue of entries of 25 missions flown by bombardier Charles Wayman to complete his combat tour with the 351st Squadron of the Bloody 100th Bomber Group.

There is also a diary of Wayman's basic training and flight school and a narrative of his early days in Cornell, Lancaster County in central Illinois. Nine photographs complete this 62-page book.

This project brought father Charles and daughter Candace together. Charles was born August 19, 1921, and died 77 years later on August 19, 1998. His father died August 19, 1943.

This bit of history can be purchased for $10.00, one hell of a buy.

The Gift of Wings: An Autobiography of a Life in the Sky
Ben Mukkala
Still Waters Publishing
257 Lakewood Lane, Marquette, MI 49855-9508
9780970997173 $15.95 plus $ 5.00 shipping and handling

The Gift of Wings is a rare and irreverent look into the life of a fighter pilot who was trained during the Korean War, flew with the Strategic Air Command during the Cold War, then flew an F-2 "Phantom" in Southeast Asia as a combat fighter pilot over Viet Nam. He retired from the Air Force as a Major in 1971. He currently lives on the South shore of Lake Superior in Marquette, Michigan and is fully qualified to call himself an "UPer."

This autobiography ably serves as a primer for all of us who served in the military during the same period and anyone else interested in the same. It is a fun breezy read, fresh as the North wind off Lake Superior, in large print and illustrated with many photographs and highly recommend by this reviewer!

Ben Mukkala is also the author of several books on his life's trip including Thoughts Along the Way and Life is Not a Destination. These are also available through the publisher.

Wiregrass to Appomattox: The Untold Story of the 50th Georgia Infantry Regiment, CSA
James W. Parrish
Angle Valley Press
P. O. Box 4098, Winchester, Virginia 22604
Distributed by Atlas Books
9780971195073 $39.95

424 pages, including a regimental roster, casualties, parole list, battle flag, final resting places, notes, bibliography, and index and more than 100 photographs.

Wiregrass is a plant with long, thin wiry leaves which grow fast and hardy in soil that favors crops like tobacco, corn, cotton and Confederate fighting men. The men of the 50th Georgia infantry regiment called the eleven counties in Southern Georgia home.

Wiregrass to Appomattox is the first serious attempt at putting this Confederate Regiment under the microscope.

From Second Manassas in August of 1862 to Appomattox in April of 1865, the 50th Georgia Infantry Regiment was allied with the best the south could offer against the best of the Northern armies.

Jim Parrish has done a magnificent job of research in giving us this regimental. A feeding ground for genealogists, he has carried many of the men through their service to their final trumpet.

His writing is terse. His facts sing with accuracy. He has obviously followed in the footsteps of his regiment, and knows his men and their battles.

If you enjoy reading Civil War Regimentals, you may well adopt Wiregrass to Appomattox, the 50th Georgia of Jim Parrish. It is an outstanding buy at $39.95.

The Bloody Triangle: The Defeat of Soviet Armor in the Ukraine, June 1941
Victor J. Kamenir
Zenith Press
Quayside Publishing Group
400 First Avenue North, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Marketing Manager-John Wurm
9780760334348 $30.00

Little reported, rarely written about, the Bloody Triangle formed by Ukrainian towns of Lutsk, Dubno and Brody, was scene of what became the second largest tank battle of Operation Barbarossa. Between June 24, to July 1, 1941, some 2500 tanks, tank destroyers and artillery face each other, the Russians losing. The German Panzers moved on to the siege of Leningrad, the bloodletting at Stalingrad to end at the battle of Kursk, where the Germans were defeated in the largest tank battle in history.

Author Kamenir has taken on a large topic for his first book, an important battle which helped the Russians gain time to gather forces to eventually defeat the Germans at Kursk. He writes with clarity, keeping me on task and reminds me occasionally that I need help keeping the units and geography straight and the dates in order.

The Germans did not learn from their victory at the triangle, and the Russians began recognizing weakness and produced a large armored force, capable of holding at Stalingrad and winning at Kursk.

The research was admittedly weighed toward the Russians so we see a bit different picture of the Operation.

Victor J. Kamenir, I look forward to your next book. Hopefully you will take us further on the war on the Eastern front.

Richard N. Larsen

Micah's Bookshelf

A Cross Estate
William Thomas Kinsella
Booksurge LLC
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439203903, $15.99

Author William Thomas Kinsella worked in Lower Manhattan when the 9/11 attacks hit, and his experience so close to the tragic event forms the core of A Cross Estate. A novel about a young man caught between worlds, A Cross Estate follows Jack Conroy, a young man groomed for success on Wall Street by his doting parents, yet who unexpectedly discovers that he has a passion for landscape design, and falls in love with Veronica Cashmiris. Yet despite the joy he takes in his new career, he ultimately yields to his parents' wishes and pursues a Wall Street career... only to be killed in on September 11th, leaving behind a pregnant Veronica. His parents are tormented with guilt for pushing him into a Wall Street career, while Veronica suffers from the knowledge that she did not try as hard as she could have to keep him focused on the landscaping business that he loved. Is there any hope for reconciliation or healing? A poignant story life and death, highly recommended.

A Journey of Unexpected Blessings
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533159888, $21.95,

The story of an immigrant is never a simple one. "A Journey of Unexpected Blessings" is the story of Mehar, who left his home country with only pocket change on hand to come to America and to attempt to improve his life - not a simple journey by any stretch of the imagination. Mehar relays his story poignantly, and his tale is one to inspire others to make the best of the land of opportunity. "A Journey of Unexpected Blessings" is solid and moving reading all the way through.

How to Start Your Financial Future
Edward Gardner
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432720391, $19.95,

Why do anything if there's no meaning behind it? "How to Start Your Financial Future: You've Got Have the Why Before the How" is a look into the importance of meaning in the world financial planning. After helping readers establish what their future financial security is for, Gardner effectively guides them through the starting steps of their planning. "How to Start Your Financial Future" is a must for readers who embrace purpose when they plan what to do with their money.

Shan Sacranie
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781434377777, $17.98,

Life is a strange web where even the most unrelated things can ultimately intersect. "Rendezvous" is the story of three lives on a collision course. Salim is on the fast track to terrorism, David is trying to make ends meet, and Simon just wants to start over. These three men are going to be key players in an event that will shake America to its core once more. "Rendezvous" is a fine novel of suspense, diving into the everyday lives of three Americans so very different from one another.

Cedar Creek
David A. Weiss
Virtual Bookworm
PO Box 9949, College Station, TX 77842
9781602642539, $14.95,

It is sometimes incredibly difficult to be unbiased. "Cedar Creek" is the story of Lauren Washington, a woman pulled in many directions. Her father is a business tycoon, her boyfriend is a lawyer, and the two are clashing over the rights to build a shopping mall. To make matters worst, her boss wants her to break the rules for the story. Lauren's principles will be tested to their extremes, making "Cedar Creek" an entertaining story of a woman trying to do the right thing.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

Knee Deep
Lisa Polisar
Port Town Publishing
601 Belknap St., Superior, WI 545880
1594660077 $8.95

Lisa Polisar is that wonderful combination of writer and musician. Not only is she a professional jazz flutist with a degree from the Hartt School of Music in Connecticut, but she is also a prolific writer. Her first psychological thriller, BLACKWATER TANGO, was published in 2002. She's added short fiction and book reviewing to her list of accomplishments. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Southwest Writers. She currently lives in New Mexico.

Tamara Kindrel is a graduate student, finishing up her requirements for her Ph.D. She's found something in the Hagen Mineral Mine, and her last visit there turns out to be deadly. A telephone call from a disembodied voice warns her away from the mine, but her determination compels her to go to her doom. Her skeleton isn't found for two years.

When it is, Sheriff Judd Eakins calls upon Leo Drucker, a Law Enforcement Ranger with BLM. Judd has complete confidence in Leo's abilities. Leo has a history with Tamara Kindrel, which sets the scene for this psychological mystery, much of which takes place in Leo's head. A meeting with an old teacher and mentor dredges up the past for Leo, parts of which he doesn't want to remember:

"'From what I understand, you and Tamara and some of your friends were swimming in one of the deeper parts of the lake. It was a real sunny day so the sun lit up the bottom and you could see the vegetation growing. Tamara evidently realized that she's lost the necklace she was wearing and dove to the bottom to look for it. The way I heard it, she came up for air and not finding it on the first dive, and then dove again - but that time she never came up.'"

Polisar's emphasis in this mystery is not so much the traditional whodunit, although for the characters it's an important question. Rather she focuses on what all the major players are thinking, and what drove the motive for the murder. From a law enforcement point-of-view, this mystery is compelling. How does the investigator get inside the heads of both the victim and his or her killer? With little evidence to go on, this proves to be a formidable task in KNEE DEEP. Polisar's writing style is clear and concise, and she has no problem drawing the reader in to her Southwestern world of intrigue.

The Secret of Bailey's Chase
Marlis Day
a division of Echelon Press, LLC
9735 Country Meadows Lane 1-D, Laurel, MD 20723
9781590805770 $10.99

Marlis Day is a teacher who loves kids. She has published three mysteries for adults, but her love of reading children's stories and remembering her own childhood drove her to write her first book for middle-age kids. Thus the Sparky and Grey Bailey series was born. She is presently working on her next adventure featuring the Bailey cousins.

Bailey's Chase was named for Granny Bailey, an old woman with blue eyes which changed colors and hair that seemed to throw off sparks. Everyone loved Granny Bailey, whose wisdom could cure small ills; whose hospitality made everyone feel welcome at her door; and whose love of animals extended to her being able to communicate with them. Granny was beloved by all, and when she died her gifts didn't surface again until a tragedy brought her two great-great-great-granddaughters together:

"'Hi, I'm Sparky,' the girl said, holding out her hand and staring curiously at Grey's face.

'Do you know that your hair's on FIRE?' Grey asked while shaking hands.

Nobody else seemed to notice anything out of the ordinary. She thought she must be tired and seeing things. Hallucinating, that's what people called it. Grey had read about people hallucinating when they got tired, but she had never done it. She shook her head and blinked, making sure she was awake.

'My hair's not on fire,' the girl said with a giggle, running a hand through her hair just to prove it. Grey continued to stare, amazed at the sight. The girl suddenly leaned forward, stared directly into Grey's eyes, and said, 'Your eyes are funny though. They just changed colors!'"

With this premise, the stage is set for adventures that would make Nancy Drew jealous. The two cousins discover their gifts and how they relate to good and evil. Marlis Day creates a building block of character, action, and a wonderful plot to create an adventure the reader will never forget. Her skill is apparent throughout the book, as well as her love of children. Sparky and Grey are great role models for middle-school children, and Marlis Day's jewel of a book could be used in any classroom to entice young minds.

A Number to Die for
Malcolm Clark
Elderberry Press, Inc.
1393 Old Homestead Drive, Second Floor, Oakland, OR 97462-9506
1932762361 $19.95

Malcolm Clark is a retired physicist, who spent most of his career flying objects in space. He owned real estate in the South Pacific for many years.

Terence Powell is a professor from California, and spends most of his down time on Runaia, a South Pacific island, in his little house on the beach. He is involved with several women and haunted by the death of his college girlfriend in a sailing accident. When an island girl, Mere, is found brutally stabbed after Powell's sexual encounter with her, he automatically is considered the number one suspect. Friends in high places vouch for him, but he decides to launch his own investigation. In the meantime, another love interest shows up from California. She is independent, but finally agrees to help Powell with his sleuthing, with mixed results:

"Finally, she found a photo of Vara in his second last year on the faculty, seated at a table with three students - the Maori Council - and there, at the other end of the table, the caption identified a much younger Mere Upu. She was gazing adoringly at Vara; it was Jan's first view of Mere and she couldn't suppress a surge of jealousy, even anger."

The beauty of this charming little mystery is the author's familiarity with Polynesia in general. The reader is treated to a travelogue that covers the topography of the islands; the culture; the crops and food; and the attitudes and mores of the people of the islands. As a mystery, Clark relies on the nature of the beast to provide an exotic backdrop for Terence Powell, who is by his own admission, confused about the opposite sex. He is a flawed academic, but his heart overcomes his social clumsiness in the end.

The plot itself is a whodunit, and even beginning a search in a society so alien to our own is quite a challenge. Clark relies on expatriates from Australia and New Zealand to help translate some of the more difficult island nuances. But in general, A NUMBER TO DIE FOR is a sort of every man's fantasy: an island paradise with friendly girls, lots of beer, sand, and island background to form a plot that meanders its way from beginning to end. A NUMBER TO DIE FOR is a great escape!

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Jennifer Chase
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd, Parker, Colorado 80134
9781432734169 $17.95

Emily Stone is a survivor, losing her parents to a killer at a young age she has a score to settle with killers, especially child-killers. Emily doesn't carry a badge, but she has all the latest electronics that help her to track, do surveillance, and identify many of the predators at large.
She keeps her identity a secret, not even telling the law enforcement offices that she sends her information to who she is, or how she got it. It's safer that way, or at least it was, until Emily begins to be stalked.

These stalkers are more than just cold blooded killers, they have a reason for finding and killing Emily, a reason that will shock her to the core and the reader as well. The race is on for Emily's very life as Emily desperately tries to be one step ahead of those out to kill her. Emily has hope however, hope in the form of one, Detective Rick Lopez, who is drawn to this mysterious woman and is thrown into the player part that may well save her life. What a ride.

I have to say that I read this book in one night and that is not something I usually do. The author writes in such a way that you are completely drawn into the story. The characters are so alive, the story so repulsive, yet so captivating that it urges you to continue on with a desperate need to know there is a satisfying conclusion. The mystery element is rich. I did not know who was truly after Emily until they were revealed. You would think that would relive some of the pressure of who is it that I was experiencing through the read, but it didn't, as I realized how ruthless and insane these killers were, and that they would stop at nothing to complete the drive and lust of death that was within them. Creepy.

This truly is a top-notch mystery - thriller of a read. One that has thought out characters, defined so well that you feel as if you are part of their lives, and a storyline that is mysterious, and chilling, yet delivers a personal touch that brings realism to the mix. CSI fans will love this book, as will any mystery/thriller fan, for it is definitely one that delivers.

The Chemist
Janson Mancheski
Bridgeway Books
PO Box 80107, Austin, Texas 78758
9781934454282 $15.95

There are just something's that produce horror into the hearts of mankind far more than anything else, and abduction heads the list. In this new work by author, Jason Mancheski, the work of evil is used in such a way that even the detectives are baffled. Over the course of two years several young girls are missing and despite hard police work there are no clues or leads as to what has happened to them. Detective Cale Van Waring who heads the investigation, wrestles deep within himself. He knows that it is just a matter of time before this evil force strikes again, and it appears he is helpless to stop it.

When another young woman turns up missing they desperately try to find some clues. Finally they get a break as they discover that a new version of date-rape drugs and chemicals are probably being used to subdue the victim. It is said that evil minds often use brilliant ideas and this killer has found the perfect way to drug his victims right out in the open and steal them away. Creepy! As the story moves along it becomes more critical for Detective VanWaring as the woman in his life turns up missing and time is about to run out for her. Will he save her in time? Are there other forces at play working with "The Chemist?" perhaps even more evil than the abductor? What is behind the abductions? Truly evil wears many faces.

Author, Janson Mancheski, has written a tale of horror that is laced with all the elements of a true life experience. He takes you into the mind of the abductor, giving you a clear view of his hideous thoughts, his deceiving ways, and his complete absence of regard for human life, other than the use it can be to him. It is sickening, yet fascinating at the same time. It makes you wonder how anyone could have no feelings except pleasure at the pain of another human being. And you shake your head knowing there are people in our world that would look at such a man as a hero. What a thought!

Our author also gives enough information on Detective Cale Van Waring, his life, his inner emotions, to bring the character to life. We are shown some of his short-comings, his personal life, and his deep desire to solve the case. His team of detectives, his captain, and the workings of the investigation all were well worked into the story, allowing you to become part of the happenings. In this work, Mr. Mancheski gives us a glimpse into the frustrations of those who are confronted with hideous crimes and have little if any leads to stop the horror. The story brings to light the battles that go on behind the scene, and how some are won and some are loss. We always want crimes solved immediately, and this book definitely shows the battle that goes on to do just that.

This is a real page-turner of a read. The twisted mind of "The Chemist," will remind you that there are those out there who plot harm and destruction for their sheer pleasure. What a scary reminder that is. If you are a fan of serial killer reads, detective stories, murder mysteries, you will love this book. It is well written, showing both the mind and intent of the killer, and the battle of those who fight to stop the evil. Fast paced, tightly written, a book that will leave you more aware of the dangers around you than perhaps you care to know. Well done!

Reading Your Male
Mary Farrar
David C Cook Publishing
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434768711 $19.99

I have read countless books on men, by just as many authors. Some I have found to give great insight, others have left me dry, but this book sparked an interest from page one.
Our author, Mary Farrar takes us on a journey into the very heart of men, a sacred place that few have had the privilege to travel. Our men may be in trouble and need woman to understand their inward spirit and what they are so desperately seeking from us, but not finding it, turn to places such as pornography where they did not need to go.

This book is frank and honest and covers a myriad of topics. Ms. Farrar takes us into the very deepest part of our men's being. She talks of love and sex, why men are turned on by sight and what we can and should do about it. She speaks of the enemy, adultery, and what can be done to ward this off. We read stories and hear men talk from their hearts to ours, and all of this is blended in with the importance of God being in the mix.

Understand, this book is not 'preachy,' but truthful and a real eye opener. It is always so easy to pass the blame, point the finger, and make ourselves less guilty of the way things are. In this book the truth is put before you and you yourself must make a decision what you are going to do about it. Are the men in your life really important to you? Do you want a better relationship and life with them?

"Reading Your Male," is a frank, honest book that will take you down a road you probably have never traveled before, although you have longed to reach the blessed destination it will take you to. This work will give you insights you never imagined on the subject of men, and will answer questions you never even knew you had. Ms. Farrar's biblical truths and advice will definitely help you live a more loving and fulfilled life with the man of your heart, and the males in your life. All that can come out of this book is victory, and that's a good thing.
Very well done, a work I gladly recommend.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Loving Our Cats
Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen
Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing LLC
9781935096085 $14.95

I like animals, no as a matter of fact, I love animals. However, I haven't had a cat around me in many years, probably because my 4 German Shepherds would not particulary want the company. However, this did not stop the pure enjoyment I received from reading this book. As I began this read I was so amused that I actually laughed out loud at some of the anticks of these furry little creatures. I had forgotten how playful, crafty, and loving cats can be.

This book is broken into 12 sections such as: Learning To Love "The Cat", Purr-fect Pets, and Saying Good-bye, to name a few. Under each section you will find stories that warm your heart and bring tears to your eyes, stories that bring out more than a giggle, and some stories that you will shake your head and say, "You have to be kidding?"

I loved this book, it was just as good as the one on Dogs that I finished not long ago. I'm telling you, if you love cats you will adore this book, and even if you don't you will still walk away never looking at them the same. I never really knew that cats could be such faithful companions. They definitely are not like dogs, and they certainly let you know that, but I have to admit they are a 'class act.' I'm so glad that I got to read this book and recommend it to all who want to know, just what is going on in the mind of your cat and why they do the things they do. Trust me, highly interesting and very entertaining, to say the least.

Great book! Fun and heartwarming read! Strongly recommended.

A Supernatural Encounter With God
Charles and Saundra Stewart
Xulon Press
9781602667594 $10.99

In this tender read we are privileged to enter into the world of, Charles and Saundra, a world that like most of ours, has indeed its trials and tribulations. The couple share with you their lives, their journey with the Lord, and the battles they encountered. Both stricken by medical problems, they reach out to a God who they find is more than enough.

Their story, told in a down-to-earth- personal way, will move you by the honestly of emotions that the authors' feel during their journey. I found this to be refreshing. You are touched by the intervention of the supernatural, the knowledge that God certainly does see, and care, and you find yourself smiling at the goodness of the Lord.

Troubles, infirmities, battles, come to all of us in this life. Through this book you will find encouragement and hope. You will understand that there is a God who is reaching out to a hurting world, One who does indeed have an answer to their problems. If you have never believed in miracles, or have stopped believing a long time ago, this book is for you. You will be refreshed and filled once again with true hope for the future. May God continue to use this couple to bring Him glory. Well done.

The Secret of Yahweh
Laferna Arnold-Walch
Mary's Lamb Inc.
9780980179484 $16.95 1-888-Mary'sLamb www.publishing@mary'

Mary is in fourth-grade, she loves school and is excited that the new year is starting. Mary has lost her parents and lives on a farm with her great aunt Gracie. The first day of school Mary learns that the phrase 'under God' is being omitted from the Pledge of Allegiance and this causes her concern. Why would they take the word, God, out of the Pledge? she wonders.
The teacher, who is a Christian, tries to explain without allowing her personal beliefs to show.

Mary has been raised to love God and one day she discovers a lamb under her bed. This is a special lamb whose mission is to tell others about Jesus. The problem, not all are able to see J.C, Lamb, not even her best friend, Peter. One day J.C. asks Mary if he may go to school with her. Mary doesn't see why not and takes him along. To Mary's surprise some of the students, even the teacher are able to see J.C. and the reason that he is among them begins to unravel. Including the mystery of why some can see him and some cannot.

This is a exceptional book. It has many facets woven within it for the betterment of children and adults as well. I enjoyed the author's words on our Constitution and Bill of Rights. She explained about our forefathers and brought some history to life in an interesting way. She also shows the reader that they must believe with their heart, not just their head in matters of the spirit and she strongly shows the importance of being a good witness for the Lord. Her explanation of the importance of receiving the Lord, and the power of His love was great. I also liked the black and white illustrations along the way. They definitely helped to bring the characters to life.

I do feel however that this book should not be a quick read, but one that should be read and digested slowly. I think it would be a great story to share as a family, discussed and enjoyed. Questions could be asked and answered, and faith shared. I believe a lot of discussion could come from reading this book that would open up doors for ministering to young ones. All in all a very nice work that definitely is a plus for re-enforcing the purpose and love of God in believers, and explaining the why's to seekers. Very nice work.

Inquest On Imhotep: Beyond The White Walls
Derek Adie Flower
Lulu Publisher
9781430325994 $13.95

In this novel we are taken to the mystical land of Egypt where an ancient tomb has been discovered by archaeologist, Christopher Grant. You would think this would bring great excitement but there are forces at work that do not want this tomb to be opened by anyone except themselves, and they will stop at nothing to make sure this does not happen.
Chris, as he was just about to announce his find, dies unexpectedly and the owner of the villa he was renting flies to Egypt to take care of his villa.

After arriving there a reporter, Jim Collings, comes to see him and tells him that it was his understanding, after talking with Chris on the phone, that he had found the tomb of Imhotep on that very property. This was a shock and surprise to the owner who was hesitant to believe it. Several days after his visit, Jim is also found dead and the owner begins to realize something sinister maybe going on.

Upon doing research, the villa's owner learns that Imhotep achieved fame in his life and received many titles from his Pharaoh. He was a High Priest, Magician, and Healer, to name a few. He was certainly an important figure in Egyptian history and greatly revered to this day by many.
Shortly after he is visited by a psychic, Madame Serafim, who fills him in on more of the history of Imhotep and the groups that still worship and serve him in present day, including herself. Some groups good, and some very evil, who will stop at nothing to have their way. Thrown into the mix is a beautiful mysterious woman, named Meri de Rougemont, who has much information to add to the story and who becomes the true love of the villa's owner's heart. Her father, and the group he belongs to, plays an important part in the overall picture of the story. Now there is a race, good against evil, darkness against light, death and life hanging in the balance. Quite intense at times, who will come out the victor? You'll have to read this work to find out.

I enjoyed this novel. I liked the way the writer paints the picture of Egypt, its skies, and landscape, people and customs, and of course its history all influenced the story in a positive way. The storyline was well thought out and quite intense. The characters were also well defined, vivid and life-like, and the weaving of romance into the read added that personal touch that helps bring a story home. All in all a work that gives the reader just about every element they would want, murder, mystery, romance, good against evil, and a few surprise twists to keep you alert and charging on along the way. Very well done. Recommended

For The Love of St. Nick
Garasamo Maccagnone
9781439210123 $8.99

In this Christmas tale the story centers around two young boys, Johnny and Tiger. Their mother died during the birth of Johnny, and Tiger and their father, a US Navy Commander now must unite as a family. Tiger tells the tale of happenings in their life, the challenges with the care and protection of, Johnny, who has many serious problems with his health, and the intervention of his favorite saint, St. Nicholas, one Christmas eve.

The Commander, as their dad was called, had to go away on a secret mission shortly before Christmas. The boys grieved for the absence of their father, who promised to be home by Christmas-eve.

Time goes by and Christmas-eve arrives, but a terrible storm is brewing outside. The children worry is their father will be able to make it home with such a massive storm about to erupt. Their care-giver ventures out to get some much needed supplies in the house and that is when little Johnny quickly develops a high fever and Tiger is left praying for the life of his brother to the Saint he loves so well, St. Nicholas. Does his faith and the spirit of the season save the brother he loves so much?

"For The Love of St. Nick," is a warm, personal book, told in a down-to-earth manner that easily draws you into the story and unites you with the characters. It is one that shows the love of family, the challenges of sickness, the power of love, and the miracle of a child's faith. Very well done, simple, yet powerful.

Scholastic Book of Lists
James Buckley, Jr.and Robert Stremme
Scholastic Publishers
Shoreline Publishing Group
Santa Barbara, Calf.
9780439837576 $9.99

Believe it or not, this was the first time I had the privilege of reading one of the books that lists different trivia and I had a ball. Inside the pages of this book you find out answers to some many unthought of questions. For example: What do they put on pizza in Japan? What do you use to have good luck? And what brings bad luck? And how ab out some Weird Laws? Now that is just naming a few of the different topics covered in this book.

We read it during Tropical Storm Fay when the family was sitting around the living room. It really helped distract us all from the howling winds and driving rain outside and it was a lot of fun.

This book is both entertaining and educational. Great fun! Great read. I recommend it.

Your Ministry of Conversation
Randy Fujishin
Xulon Press
9781604779110 $14.95

Do you ever feel that you would like to share the love and salvation message of Jesus but just did not know how to approach another? Have your words become stuck in your throat and you have let opportunity slip by you, leaving your frustrated? I believe we all have, but take heart.
In this new book by author, Randy Fujishin, Your Ministry of Conversation, we are given some excellent tips to use that will help us communicate the love of the Lord to others.

Our author breaks his work down into 10 sections giving insight to us from each one on how we can touch another human being for the good. These sections are: Welcoming Others, Asking Questions of Others, Listening to Others, Being Cheerful to Others, Encouraging Others, Thanking Others, Flowing with Others, Forgiving Others, Praying for Others, and Sharing Jesus with Others.

Under each main category, Mr. Fujishin, goes into detail on reaching individuals and gives some great points that I would have never thought of. Points that would be easy to implement into our conversations on a daily basis that will give us opportunity to expand into areas of ministry. Interesting!

I am very impressed with this book. I can see that the author has truly put much prayer and thought into the words that he is sharing with the reader. I sense that his motive for writing this book was definitely to help other Christians reach out to a hurting world, and he has done that well. I am proud to recommend this book and hope that others will partake of the wisdom that is found within its pages. One of our jobs, as Christians, is to touch others with the hope Jesus brings, this book will give you a heads-up and many ideas on helping you achieve that goal. Great job Mr. Fujishin.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Mohammad B. Alikhail
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595470488, $17.95,

Being in a new culture is like truly starting over again. "Goal: My Journey from Afghanistan" is the autobiography of Mohammad Alikhail chronicling his life growing up in a single-mother household in Afghanistan. With only his soccer skill seeming to work out for him, he finally manages to leave Afghanistan and make a name and life for himself abroad. An inspirational story, "Goal" is a solidly recommended autobiography about Old Afghanistan before the Taliban.

Never Stop Laughing!
William Goodman
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781438929040, $9.90,

Laughter is the best medicine. Literally. "Never Stop Laughing!" is Dr. William Goodman's delving into the power of laughter and the innumerable health and emotional benefits it brings. Drawing from motivational speeches that he has given throughout his life and peppered with moving personal stories, Goodman gives a good dose of his medicine through his writing alone. "Never Stop Laughing!" is a title to take at face value - highly recommended.

John F. Egbert
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
059542158X, $18.95,

Hearing is something that so many take for granted. "MindField" is the story of a terrorist plot. A rapid nationwide plague inflicts spinal meningitis throughout the country. While body count is minimal, the side effects are not, as many of the afflicted find themselves permanently without hearing. The government is faced with a rapid change, and a nation of people who can no longer hear. "MindField" is riveting reading that proposes a unique what-if scenario, and plays it out well.

Leadership from Below
Trond Arne Undheim
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9780557007592, $34.95,

The time of totalitarian business leadership has been over for ages. "Leadership from Below: How the Internet Generation Redefines the Workplace" is a look at cultural diversity and how it greatly impacts the world of business. Concepts and ideas rapidly change the interiors of companies, and as such, leadership has become less of a thing done by leaders but more of an idea. A new and unique workplace is emerging, and "Leadership from Below" is a solid manual for understanding it.

The Word of God
Job Ovenda
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432731700, $24.95,

Language changes over time, making older writings difficult to understand. "The Word of God: What It Really Meant" is a verse by verse approach to better understanding the Bible. Each verse is broken down into what its words truly mean in the context, the better to cut through the archaic language that is heavily used throughout the Holy Bible. A useful guide to fully understanding one of the most important works in the modern world, "The Word of God" is enthusiastically recommended.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Who Owns the World?
Darby Checketts
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595528042, $10.95

Author Darby Checketts has traveled extensively, including to five Islamic countries, and has come to the conclusion that America needs more communication with and understanding of foreign cultures - an America perceived as a universal aggressor will only bring an excess of suffering on itself and on humankind. Who Owns the World? The Parable of Tehya was written in response to modern current events, and especially the way in which America has been perceived during the administration of President George W. Bush. Though a work of fiction, Who Owns the World? mirrors present-day reality with an uncanny twist. Set in a world where the President's wife Laura Bush formed a "Council of Mothers" (wives of the heads of state) to consider responses to terrorism before the "great chiefs" finalized their decision to invade Iraq, Who Owns the World? offers new insight in the problems of modern times - the emphasis is not on relentlessly criticizing past mistakes, but rather hoping and building for a better future. Highly recommended.

Wholesome Heroes with Rick Sowash: Johnny Appleseed
Vision Video
PO Box 540, Worcester, PA 19490-0540
$14.99 1-800-523-0226

Wholesome Heroes with Rick Sowash: Johnny Appleseed is a documentary about the American frontier legend who traveled far and wide, planted apple trees, and spread a message of hope and faith. Johnny Appleseed remains a beloved folk hero to this day, but what was he truly like? Did he really go barefoot, or wear a pot on his head? Viewers ages eight to adult are sure to enjoy this fascinating portrait of a brave and good-hearted American pioneer. Wholesome Heroes with Rick Sowash: Johnny Appleseed is highly recommended as an educational gift for young adults, as well as for public and school library DVD collections. 28 minutes.

Guerrilla Marketing
Terry Telford & Jay Conrad Levinson
Trafford Publishing
2333 Government Street, Suite 6E, Victoria, BC, Canada, V8T 4P4
1425180825, $18.97,

Sometimes normal marketing isn't enough to get the job done. A plain terms instructional accessible to readers of all backgrounds, "Guerrilla Marketing: Breakthrough Strategies" is a guide to using the concept of Guerrilla Marketing to get one's goods noticed. Encouraging the power of partnerships and teamwork,"Guerrilla Marketing: Breakthrough Strategies" is a must for those who want to do whatever it takes to spread the word about their product or service.

The Darien Jungle Shakedown Cruise
C. Buck Weimer
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9780615251851, $15.95,

Traveling the world is as great way to learn about it. "The Darien Jungle Shakedown Cruise" is the memoir of C. Buck Weimer as he recounts his journey down the Pan-American highway to the Darien Jungle over four decades ago. Recounting his experiences ranging from encountering criminals to meeting Native Americans to crossing the path of hostile cats to just struggling to survive, and more, "The Darien Jungle Shakedown Cruise" is a fascinating true adventure, recommended.

Ghost Music of Vaudeville
Billie A. Williams
Wings Press
403 Wallace Court, Richmond, NY 40475
1597057282, $11.95,

The show must go on; never mind the lack of a pulse. "Ghost Music of Vaudeville" follows Roberto Callistrari as he stands in defense of an old Vaudeville theater. But Father Damien is ruthless, and maybe not event the determined musical spirits of the theater will stand a chance. A novel blending entertainment history and suspense, "Ghost Music of Vaudeville" is a fun read that'll keep the pages turning, as if by themselves.

Daily Dose of Knowledge
West Side Publishing
c/o Publications International
7373 North Cicero Avenue, Lincolnwood, IL 60712
Sullivan & Partners (publicity)
9781412752916, $19.95

There's nothing wrong with having a deep pool of knowledge to draw from. "Daily Dose of Knowledge: 365 Ways to Increase Your Intellect, Expand Your Cultural Horizons, Revive Your Education" is a book with 365 days worth of knowledge. On a day by day basis, the book spotlights topics from a wide range of academia, ranging from literature to the latest technology pushing the boundaries of the world today. Utterly fascinating and making for quite the year of knowledge, "Daily Dose of Knowledge" is an excellent book to enhance one's daily life.

Paul T. Vogel

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

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