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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 7, Number 5 May 2008 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

The Heart Moves in a Circular Direction
Ingeborg Gubler Casey
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595412273, $18.95,

Schizophrenia. The mere mention makes some people cringe and label whoever has it a crazy. Most kids are ashamed of their parents as well, and you have a volatile mixture when the two concepts combine. "The Heart Moves in a Circular Direction: A Story of Healing" is the story of Ingeborg Casey and her mother with schizophrenia, the story of their relationship. Although close as children, when the natural teenage rebellion kicks in, Ingeborg distances herself from her mother and her illness, even outright denying her very existence. She becomes a psychologist, but still has little understanding of her, but must fight through the guilt and depression that surrounds them both to gain that bond that they were denied that so many mothers and daughters share. A heart-wrenching tale from start to finish and deftly composed, "The Heart Moves in a Circular Direction: A Story of Healing" is highly recommended for community library memoir collections and for anyone who has a relative in a similar state that they feel they may have mistreated.

Still Alice
Lisa Genova
2021 Pine Lake Rd. Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
Kelley & Hall (publicist)
Five Briar Lane, Marblehead, MA 01945
9780595440092, $18.95,

Alzheimer's is one of the worst afflictions that can affect humankind - its victims receive a fate worse than death, forgetting who they are and who everyone they love and care for's very faces- something no one would wish on their worst enemy. "Still Alice" is a tale of an unfortunate woman struck with the affliction in the prime of her life, the debut novel of Lisa Genova, who shows she has done her research on the subject and shows a deft knowledge of the disease. Three dollars of each sale of the novel is promised to the Alzheimer's Association, which makes "Still Alice" highly recommended to community library fiction collections and for anyone who needs help getting over the affliction of a loved one.

Flight of the Kiwi
Carol Donsky Newell
PO Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705-0151
1424186757, $19.95

All too often, children are born and their father isn't there to be an effective part of their lives. "Flight of the Kiwi" is the debut novel of Carol Donksy Newell, which follows Samantha in a quest to find out her origins after her mother passes without ever revealing to her the name of her father. Samantha finds shocking secrets abound as she digs deeper and deeper into her mother's past to find out more about her father. An excellent first effort from an author who is sure to continue to impress, "Flight of the Kiwi" is highly recommended to fiction lovers everywhere and deserves a spot on any community library fiction shelf.

Behind The Mask
Helene Moore
Mystic Publishers
850 South Boulder Highway, Suite 436, Henderson, NV 89015
9781934051214, $17.95

True stories are the best stories. They teach us what people can go through, how the can endure, and most especially, how they can triumph in the end -- one way or another. "Behind The Mask" is the story of a woman whose husband was misdiagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. It's the story of how Helene Moore's personal world was shattered, how she felt helpless and hopeless with the sudden prospect of watching the man she loved being given a prognosis of slow, inevitable death that would steal his mind long before it would result in his death. It is also the story of her finding the strength to cope, to survive, to perceive and enjoy the small pleasantries of life, family, and friends. "Behind The Mask" is drawn from her journal entries and provides a compelling account of her struggle back to normalcy and her renewed appreciation for what life and love can make of even the most ordinary of marriages undergoing the most extraordinary of challenges. Superbly written from beginning to end, "Behind The Mask" is as inspired and inspiring as it is informed and informative, making it highly recommended reading for anyone finding themselves or a love done in similar circumstance.

Voices Crying in the Wilderness
Alison Teed
Xulon Press
2180 West State Road 434, Suite 2140, Longwood, FL 32779
9781604774153, $15.99 1-866-381-2665

"Write in a book all you have seen and heard..." "Voices Crying in the Wilderness: A Call to Prophesy" is author and published writer Alison Teed's answer to that call, a year of waiting on God, and calls "Voices Crying in the Wilderness: A Call to Prophesy" an account of thirty years of prophetic obedience. It is a semi-autobiographical account of growing up a prophet and a nudge that all of God's people should come and answer his call without fear. Highly recommended for Christian studies shelves and for Christian readers in general.

Easy Entertaining For Beginners
Patricia Mendez
Maple Heights Press
PO Box 3936, Torrance, CA 90510
9780979956409, $16.95,

Having friends or family over for drinks and dinner is one of the more pleasant social occasions that can be indulged in by anyone and every one -- if they know some basic fundamentals related to planning such events. That's the premise and promise of Patricia Mendez's instructional guide "Easy Entertaining For Beginners", a step-by-step, beautifully illustrated manual comprising thirteen complete and easy menus, checklists for every phase of planning, preparation, and presentation; practical ideas and advice, useful party etiquette, and thoroughly 'user friendly' answers to all the common questions and concerns that the novice party planner might have. Of special note is the section of color photos of the finished recipes for dishes that range from a Kahlua Fudge Brownie Pie, to Pizza Bar; to a Cheddar has Brown Gratin. Whether it's a cocktail party, a romantic dinner for two, feeding the in-laws, high tea, or such annual celebratory gatherings as Thanksgiving or Christmas, "Easy Entertaining For Beginners" is an ideal resource for the novice -- and has a great deal to offer even the more experienced host.

Cassandra Chanting
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781434353245, $25.00,

Nostradamus stated in his prophecies that the third anti-Christ would be a Charismatic snake in the grass that everyone would love - sounds like it could be the next President of the United States. "Cassandra Chanting: An Election Insider's Nightmare" tells of someone with these qualities and how they plan to steal the November 2008 Presidential Election by exploiting the very vulnerable modern day electoral system. While "Cassandra Chanting: An Election Insider's Nightmare" is a work of fiction, it is still a warning Americans must heed to make their electoral system the most tamper-proof possible. "Cassandra Chanting: An Election Insider's Nightmare" is highly recommended to community library collections on fiction with a focus on political thrillers.

The Voice Of Hope
Aung San Suukyi
Seven Stories Press
140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013
9781583228456, $18.95, 1-800-596-7437

Aung San Suukyi is a political prisoner of conscience who has been held under house arrest by the Burmese military junta for twelve of the last eighteen years of her life. The leader of the National League for Democracy (which won the last Burmese national election held in 1990), she is a Nobel Peace Laureate and devout Buddhist who has inspired her people and the world. "The Voice Of Hope: Conversations With Alan Clements" provides Western readers with a compendium of her thoughts concerning self-responsibility, democracy, non-violence, truth and reconciliation, and a global vision. Now in a newly revised and expanded second addition to which has been added an interview with U Gambira (leader of the All-Burma Monks Alliance that was responsible for the protests against the military dictatorship of Burma in September and October of 2007) just before his arrest in November 2007, "The Voice Of Hope" also features an updated chronology and a resource list for action toward justice in Burma. Strongly recommended reading for students of Political Science, International Relations, and contemporary Burmese history, "The Voice Of Hope" should be considered a seminal and invaluable addition to academic and community library collections, as well as the personal libraries of political activists and non-specialist general readers with an interest in contemporary social justice issues.

Abroad For Her Country
Jean M. Wilkowsi
University of Notre Dame Press
310 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556
9780268044138, $30.00, 1-800-621-2736

Jean M. Wilkowski began her career with the U.S. Foreign Service in 1944 and carried out career assignments to nine countries on three continents before retiring in 1980. Along the way she was awarded six honorary degrees and is the only woman to receive the Foreign Service Cup from the 'Diplomatic and Consular Officers, Retired'. "Abroad For Her Country: Tales Of A Pioneer Woman Ambassador In The U.S. Foreign Service" is her personal memoir of thirty-five years spent in the diplomatic service which included being the first woman U.S. Ambassador to an African country and the first woman acting U.S. Ambassador in Latin America. In addition to promoting U.S. Trade and investment interests in postings that ranged from Paris and Milan, to Rome, Santiago and Geneva, she also saw service in Bogota during the Columbian revolution, attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Teguicgalpa, and the war between El Salvador and Honduras where she was responsible for U.S. humanitarian aid for 50,000 war-displaced persons. Other career highlights include being coordinator of the U.S. preparations for the 1979 United Nations Conference on Science and Technology in Vienna, and working with the U.S. delegation on a fact-finding visit to the Peoples' Republic of China. "Abroad For Her Country" is a fascinating, informative, deftly written autobiography and is especially recommended for academic and community library collections, as well as the personal reading list for anyone with an interest in International Relations in general, and the American diplomatic service in particular.

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

A Guide To The Printed Work Of Jessie M. King
Colin White
Oak Knoll Press
310 Delaware Street, New Castle, DE 19720-5038
9781584562047, $90.00 1-800-996-2556

One of the most influential illustrators and book designers of the 20th century was a woman. Jessie M. King (1875-1949) received her training in Glasgow, Scotland and during the fifty years of her professional career she designed and illustrated more than 250 books, 100 greeting cards, distinctive bookplates, and a diversity of publishing ephemera. In "A Guide To The Printed Work Of Jessie M. King ", Colin White has compiled, identified, annotated, classified, and catalogues every known example of her often breathtakingly beautiful, museum quality work. Enhanced with an informed and informative discussion of King's work for the German publisher Globus by Dr. A. D. Portno, "A Guide To The Printed Work Of Jessie M. King" also features commentary on King's designs for the Routledge series of children's classics. Profusely and impressively illustrated throughout, an accompanying CD-Rom contains a considerable amount of her work, illustrated in full color, and with every significantly representative item presented with each illustration being numbered according to the corresponding entry in the book's text. A strongly recommended addition for academic library collections, "A Guide To The Printed Work Of Jessie M. King" is a seminal and invaluable contribution to the history of publishing and fully showcases a most remarkable woman whose enduringly beautiful work reflects the Arts & Crafts movement of her era.

Bourbon At Its Best
Ron Givens
Clerisy Press
c/o Menasha Ridge Press
2204 - 1st Avenue South, Suite 102, Birmingham, AL 35233
9781578603046, $25.00,, 1-888-60-HIKES

Bourbon is a favored beverage whose enduring popularity in the American bars and homes continues from generation to generation. Now bourbon expert Ron Givens has written a fascinating, descriptive, and informative book focusing exclusively on this alcoholic masterpiece in all its varied subtleties in "Bourbon At Its Best: The Lore & Allure Of America's Finest Spirits". Beginning with a succinct introduction, Given's continues with describing the process of how bourbon is made from mashing, fermentation, and distillation, to barreling, aging, and mingling. There are chapters devoted to the major distillers, legendary brands, the diversity of drinks that incorporate bourbon as an ingredient, and so much more. Enhanced with the inclusion of an Index and a Bibliography, "Bourbon At Its Best" is profusely illustrated throughout and includes such historical oddities as why all but one of the makers of 'straight bourbon' are located in a small region of Kentucky. A highly recommended addition to community library collections, "Bourbon At Its Best" should be considered a 'must read' by anyone who has ever sipped a glass of one of America's finest whiskies.

Surviving a Disaster
Tony Nester
Ancient Pathways, LLC
c/o Diamond Creek Press
P.O. Box 2068, Flagstaff, AZ, 86003
9780971381124 $12.95

It's something that simply can't be controlled. No matter where one is in the world, nature and man have something to interrupt their peaceful harmony. "Surviving A Disaster: Emergency Strategies And Emergency Kits for Staying Alive" teaches that the best way to survive these unexpected events is to have the right gear and protocol in hand to use and execute when it hits the proverbial fan. Granting advice on what mind-set to keep when the worst happens, proper escape plans, putting together straight forward kits, dealing with children, safe water, and communication, among other invaluable advice. "Surviving a Disaster: Emergency Strategies And Emergency Kits for Staying Alive" is an essential guide to anyone who fears the unexpected and wants to be prepared.

The Wondrous Toy Workshop
Nancy B. Miller
Syren Book Company
5120 Cedar Lake Road, Minneapolis, MN 55416
9780929636825, $15.95 1-800-901-3480

Every recorded human civilization has had the concept of toys for the amusement, education, and training of their children. Prior to the rise of the industrial age, most toys were handmade by parents and kinfolk for their youngsters. "The Wondrous Toy Workshop: Hanni's Inspiring Life And Her Toys Anyone Can Make" by writer and painter Nancy B. Miller is the story of Hanni Sager, a woman who has been severely disabled by muscular dystrophy in Oaxaca, Mexico. Hanni's disability inspired her to reach out to disabled and disadvantaged children in her community through founding four extraordinary toy-making workshops. This provided Hanni with a purpose and life-enhancing joy. Her story provides the rest of us with an inspired and inspiring account of how a single person can do enduring good for so many others. Not just a superbly written biography of a most remarkable woman, "The Wondrous Toy Workshop" also provides the reader with a 'user friendly', step-by-step manual for setting up toy-making workshops. Enhanced with patterns and simple instructions for making twelve charming pul-string style toys, as well as full-color photographs of children with the toys, "The Wondrous Toy Workshop" is a unique and enthusiastically recommended addition to personal and community library Crafts & Hobbies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Questions and Answers on Life Insurance
Anthony Steuer, CLU
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9781583484708, $24.95,

Modern funerals can be quite expensive, so life insurance can be the easiest answer. But how can you make sure that your life insurance will do what you pay it to do? "Questions and Answers on Life Insurance: The Life Insurance Toolbook" is a guide to help those who are concerned about life insurance policies make the right decisions by analyzing the fine print of it all - the different types of policies, evaluating the companies that hold the policy, trusted agencies, underwriting, and how to make sure your policy doesn't change behind your back. "Questions and Answers on Life Insurance: The Life Insurance Toolbook" is highly recommended to community library collections on personal finance and for anyone who is in the market for a life insurance policy.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Mind Control
Fritz Galt
Sigma Books
c/o Lulu
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9781435707764, $17.95,

Breaking up is never something that's too easily done - and for Brad West it means being left for dead with a murderous psychopath. "Mind Control: A Brad West Thriller" is the second novel in the series of thrillers about Psychic Brad West. This time, his ex-girlfriend's father, an expert on mind control is meddling with the latest Presidential race in the United States - and he must overcome countless obstacles to get back to America to stop him before it's all too late. "Mind Control: A Brad West Thriller" is highly recommended for community library collections with an interest in thrillers.

The Copper Indian
J.P. Morgan, D. Min.
Xulon Press
2180 West State Road 434, Suite 2140, Longwood, FL 32779
9781604772258, $14.99,

Idealistic and Frustrated with the world, Native American Jim Utze seeks to join the New York Police Department, the NYPD. In "The Copper Indian", his story is told, of how he longs for the past where the law was there to help the weak and downtrodden, and not having to deal with all of this gray area ends justify the means that his co-officers so often do to push themselves to do impure things. Even his lover, an Israeli, becomes mired in confusion, as he suspects her of dirty deeds. Faced with the overwhelming corruption of the force, what is Jim to do, who only came into this job to help others? "The Copper Indian" is a deftly written and highly recommended historical fiction and mystery novel, and lovers of any of those genres will be sure to find a treat.

Gallery of Fools
Jerome Tuccile
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595486830, $15.95,

A true story of a crime gone awry, "Gallery of Fools: The True Story of a Celebrated Manhattan Art Theft" is author Jerome Tuccille's story of being dragged into the crime by his family as they lift paintings worth millions out of Manhattan art galleries, barely escaping intact. Trying to escape the misdeeds, he runs for Governor of New York, as life falls to shambles - the campaign fails, his family gets arrested for their actions and he begins to fall into financial ruin. He turns to redeem himself in any way he can. "Gallery of Fools: The True Story of a Celebrated Manhattan Art Theft" is highly recommended for community library true crime collections.

Till Death Do Us Part
Charles Wooderson
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, New York, NY, 10016
9780533156870, $23.95,

Good at nothing besides snooker, baseball, and basketball, Adrian Dent is stuck, like so many others at a dead-end job pumping gas and checking people's oil. "Til Death Do Us Part: The Saga of Adrian Dent (Part one): Innocence Lost" is the tale of Adrian's maturing from a seventeen year old gas station attendant to his affairs with a Billiards Parlor owner to two tours of service to so much more chaos that covers Adrian's life. The first novel of Charles Wooderson, and it's a great one - highly recommended to fiction lovers everywhere and deserves a place on every community library fiction shelf.

Beyond The Sea
Roger Bares & Pat Collins Bares
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595468607, $15.95,

The bombing of Pearl Harbor, the start of World War II for the United States - and the start of separation for countless couples. "Beyond The Sea: A Tale of Love & War in the South Pacific" is a fictional account of the start of this separation in a deftly written and enthralling drama of men who want to know what the Navy has in store for them, and want to know of their women back home - and the women back home who worry for their men out on the sea, and how all of them cope with this sudden engagement of war. "Beyond The Sea: A Tale of Love & War in the South Pacific" is highly recommended for lovers of war stories and for community library historical fiction collections.

One Foot In The Black
Kurt L. Kamm
Lulu Press
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9781435706262., $14.95

All he ever wanted was a sense of his family, but Greg Kowalski must leave home to get away from his father, and chooses to move to California and then becomes a seasonal firefighter. "One Foot In the Black: A Wildland Firefighter's Story" is the story of how Greg seeks his father's approval despite their growing apathy towards him. Having to survive strenuous and grueling training just out of High School, "One Foot In the Black: A Wildland Firefighter's Story" draws from firefighter and author Kurt L. Kamm's experience to create a realistic yet still fast paced and intriguing tale, making it recommended for fiction lovers in need of a good man versus the overwhelming power of nature tale, and for community library fiction collections in general.

The Magician of Kalipur
Ken Noyle
Booksurge LLC
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
Dan Smith (publicity)
9781419671456, $12.95

Treachery, Terrorists, and Romance will keep readers glued to "The Magician of Kalipur". The novel follows Martin, a psychologist with guilt on his mind, where everything seems to go wrong - well mostly. He falls in love with a charming Eurasian girl, but that's the only thing that seems to go right for Martin, as terrorists threaten his life, the details of his love's past spill out, and the only hope for him seems to be the abrupt appearance of an omnipotent holy man. Blending elements of romance, thriller, travel, and so much more, "The Magician of Kalipur" is deftly written and highly recommended for fiction fans everywhere and should prove to be a popular lend for community library fiction shelves.

The Chocolate Queen
Lee Brooks
PO Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705-0151
1424102596, $19.95

Chocolate lovers fight for the concoction they love the most in "The Chocolate Queen", the first and hopefully not last published novel of Lee Brooks. The people of Carmel, who view the delicious delight as sacred and divine, are invaded by the land of Reverent, which is strict with its laws and the dark indulgence has been outlawed for over one hundred fifty years. The people of Carmel are not about to abandon their love so easily though in this enthralling fantasy novel even though the concept seems a bit absurdist at first. Fantasy and chocolate lovers should grab this novel right away and community library fantasy collections should find it a popular lend.

Able Greenspan

Klausner's Bookshelf

Blood Brothers
Rick Acker
Kregel Publications
PO Box 2607, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 49501-2607
9780825420078, $14.99, 1-800-733-2607

They are twenty-first century versions of Cain and Abel as brothers Karl and Gunnar Bjornsen have worked together for years building up Bjornsen Pharmaceutical; the former is the CEO and the latter is president. In a shocking move, Karl manages to have his sibling voted out as a company officer. The only setback with this betrayal is that Gunnar is the only person who knows how to create Neurostim, a miracle drug that makes people smarter, quicker, and stronger.

Karl sues his brother to force him to reveal how to produce the miracle elixir, but Gunnar counters by hiring lawyer Ben Corbin to make the case that criminal acts by his sibling makes him unfit to run the firm. Side effects show up during the test trials, but Karl keeps that concealed while Ben, his wife and his co-worker go to Norway to visit a Bjornsen subsidiary. They interview a scientist who has proof that Karl committed felonies to remove Gunnar from the company. However, an arsonist burns the building that contained the evidence destroying the documents in the inferno. Having also made a deal with the government, Karl seems indestructible as everything goes his way.

Part crime caper and part legal thriller with a supporting medical thriller foundation, BLOOD BROTHERS is an exciting thriller that demonstrates the talent of Rick Acker to keep fan interest throughout the plot. There is a lot of action in the exhilarating story line, but it is the characters that grip the readers especially fascinating is the good vs. evil fratricide war. Ben is determined as he fights for his client who he fully believes in. The war heats up as his wife gets shot while applying forensic skills to financial documents, and likable Gunnar who knows his brother is a ruthless dirty adversary, but tries to remain on the moral high road in spite potholes, detours, and obstructions.

How the Dead Live
Derek Raymond
Serpent's Tail
c/o Meryl Zegarek Public Relations
255 West 108th Street, Suite 901, New York, NY 10025
9781852427986, $14.95,

He knows the brass hates him as he is a British bulldog with no regard to his superiors, procedure, or the media when it comes to solving a case or for that matter keeping apolitically correct silence when some Home Office idiotic suit lectures. His boss can't fire him because he is so successful, but tries to exile him whenever a remote area asks for help.

Thus for opening his mouth during a mandatory class, this Scotland Yard detective finds himself leaving London for tiny Thornhill village in Wiltshire to investigate a missing-person. Apparently Marianne Mardy vanished; her husband Dr. William Mardy has not reported her missing; no one has. Since the local police suffer from duck disease up their arse, he is sent to rusticate make that investigate a possible murder so that his boss can have some needed R&R make that the gossipers can rest easy. In Thornhill, the outsider affirms the local police are uninterested in what happened to Marianne. As he keeps digging, he runs into corruption and soon begins to comprehend what happened to Mrs. Mardy when he learns HOW THE DEAD LIVE, but has problems with insuring justice not legal mumbo jumbo truly occurs.

This is a reprint of the third Factory Scotland Yard thriller written by the late Derek Raymond (see HE DIED WITH HIS EYES OPEN and THE DEVIL'S HOME ON LEAVE; neither read by me). Written two decades ago, the tale is a terrific British police procedural Noir narrated by the unnamed detective who is as excellent at solving cases as he is at annoying his boss. Sub-genre fans will appreciate this engaging one sitting detective tale that exposes the underbelly that society pretends does not exist.

Killer Secrets
Lora Leigh
St. Martin's Press
9780312939946, $6.99, 1-888-330-8477

His father, Diego Fuentes, a notorious drug cartel chief, has made everyone suspect whose side is former SEAL Ian Fuentes on? However, although his handler has doubts about his loyalty, he is currently undercover seeking to prevent known terrorist Sorrel from concocting some evil plot against innocent people. Ironically even his father is unsure whose side Ian is on.

However, every recent indication affirms the belief that Ian has joined his dad. Only Homeland Security operative Kira "Chameleon" Porter believes otherwise as she has known Ian for years and plans to prove her attraction could not be for a drug dealer. In Aruba, the Feds, the Fuentes Cartel and Sorrel and his colleagues want Ian removed. Only Kira has his back.

Ian is a fascinating individual as no one fully trusts him, not his father or his handler; only Kira partially believes that he is on the good guys' side, but she has doubts that her reasoning is tainted by love. Can a person who grew up with betrayal by loved ones and treacherous murder by family and friends as a norm still be human or has he been so demonized that he is a tundra psychopath? Kira's upbringing is only slightly better, but still in deep negative numbers. Lora Leigh's latest SEAL romantic suspense (see HIDDEN AGENDAS) is fast-paced and filled with action, but it is the uncertainty about the lead couple that makes this a strong thriller.

Pilate: A Brutal Bible Tale
Steven Rage
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432717971, $12.95, 1-888-672-6657

The Harbor is a crime filled, drug infested place. In that environs Pilate is a notorious drug dealer working for mob kingpin Herod. Over the past few months Pilate has failed to meet his assigned quota so his superior fires him and replaces him with an even more ruthless soul. He also has Mary Magdalene murdered. Pilate brings Mary to Immanuel, whose disciples insist she is the Christ. She raises Mary from the dead and kisses Pilate resulting in his remembering his past lives.

Except for his first life, Pilate was a vampire performing evil deeds during the Inquisition; during the California Gold Rush and he feasted while the plague devastated London. He kept on making the same errors and Immanuel knows her time has arrived to fulfill her mission on earth. Will Pilate betray her as he has done when she was Jesus or will he finally learn the eternal lessons?

This is not an inspirational work nor is it blasphemous (at least in my liberal mind). The story line uses biblical villains and places them reincarnated in the present where they repeat their evil deeds as they have done often in the past, but documented two millennia ago. Immanuel and the disciples with the exception of Judas, who finally remembers his first betrayal, are treated with respect and honor in this unique religious horror thriller. Steven Rage has written an enthralling tale that brings back the time Jesus walked Israel to her walking in the present.

Karen Harrington
Kunati Books
6901 Bryan Dairy Road, Suite 150, Largo, Fl. 33777
9781601640208, $24.95

In Texas Jane Nelson was a loving wife and mother when she suddenly drowned her two and a half years old son Simon and almost killed the lad's twin sister Sarah. She is charged with the homicide, but found not guilty by reason of insanity. The prosecutor goes after Jane's husband devastated Tom saying that he should have known what his wife was capable of doing and thereby failed to protect his children. He was not just an accessory, he by inactivity abetted the murder.

The media hangs Tom; his academic peers blame Tom, the public malign Tom. All need a scapegoat and the lunatic mom is considered too deranged whereas Tom is terrific for the role. However, his lawyer Dave plans to make a reasonable doubt defense based on JANEOLOGY that insists her DNA has violence imprinted on it. Jane's psychic relative, Mariah Hernandez assists the defense by looking into Jane's past and that of her antecedents.

This is a fascinating legal thriller with some paranormal elements that is at its best when the focus is on an anguished Tom outside the courtroom. The story line is fast-paced and gripping as readers will want to know what caused Jane to kill her son and attempt to kill her daughter; Mariah's visions provide insight into the motives though admittedly some readers will find that gimmicky. However, the big issue is having the DA force Tom to testify seems inappropriate as he has Fifth Amendment rights that allow his side to determine whether they want him on the stand or not. Still this is an interesting look at the causes and effect of a horrific act.

Bewitching Season
Marissa Doyle
Henry Holt & Company
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 400, New York, NY 10010-7725
9780805082517, $16.95, 1-888-330-8477

In 1837 seventeen years old twins Penelope and Persephone Leland differ about their feelings about their debut season. Whereas Pen is euphoric looking forward to all the social activity especially with this being a coronation season in London; Persy prefers to stay at home bookishly studying magic under the tutelage of their governess, Ally. However, both react the same way when Ally vanishes without a trace in Kensington Palace; the sisters use their magical skills searching for her while Persy also overhears a seditious plot to keep Princess Victoria from being crowned Queen.

As she has in her mind and heart forever, Persy remained attracted to her neighbor Lord Seton, Lochinver, who only recently seems to have noticed her. However, finding beloved Ally comes first for her and for her sibling. The clues in balls and bashes lead to danger from traitorous conspirators who plan to use Ally's magical skills to turn Victoria into their puppet.

Though targeting young adults, BEWITCHING SEASON is a alluring early Victorian historical with strong fantasy elements and some romance; older fans of the period will appreciate the fun story line as the magic in Marissa Doyle's enchanting tale is how magic is treated as a skill young ladies must learn like knitting and playing the pianoforte. The twins are a delight as their personalities are vastly different on the surface with Pen being an extrovert and Persy an introvert, but inside they share courage and caring. The romantic subplot is kept for the most part in the background while the fantasy elements play more critical roles as they are the mechanism being used to control the soon to be queen. It is elementary that fans who enjoy an engaging historical with an invigorating fantasy foundation will want to read Ms. Doyle's fine thriller.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox
Mary Pearson
Henry Holt
9780805076684, $16.95

The horrific accident left teenager Jenna Fox in a coma for over a year. When she awakens, she finds much of her memory has been wiped out like an etchosketch. What she recalls seems trivia as she can quote passages from poems but does not recognize her family or friends and has to take their word that she is seventeen years old Jenna Fox.

Her parents show her home videos of her childhood, but none of it looks familiar to her besides which it does not feel right. Slowly bits and pieces of her memory return until she realizes her parents' biography of her life is false. She begins to piece together the horrific truth not understanding the danger that poses to her.

Although there are some questionable decisions made by Jenna's parents that seem illogical once the audience realizes (along with the title star) what is going on, readers will be fully hooked into a one sitting thriller. Fans will appreciate Mary Pearson's powerful drama as shocking disclosures that seem plausible keep spinning the story line in different direction than the reader thought. Using the secondary characters to reveal the truth to the audience and the heroine, Ms. Pearson provides a strong tense cautionary thriller that dually raises morality issues while entertaining readers with Jenna's plight.

Anne Osterlund
c/o The Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780142405796, $8.99, 1-800-847-5515

Most if not all of the people in Tyalt envy Princess Aurelia, heir to the throne; however, ironically Aurelia envies her countrymen. She knows being a royal means pampering, but also connotes responsibility to her country. Aurelia dreams of marrying for love not state with some husband who wants to be the next tyrant; while her father the king expects her to marry whomever he chooses makes the best political deal for Tyalt. She would like to travel the countryside free to explore without bodyguards every step of the way and without fear of embarrassing the throne.

However someone wants the heir removed. After a failed attempt on her life, the King enforces her protection and assigns the son of his former top operator, Robert to investigate the assassination attempt. Robert and Aurelia have been friends forever, but both hide their feelings for one another. However, Aurelia is not going to remain cloistered nor wait for her unknown adversary to try again. She feels only she can save herself so she risks her crown, her love, and her life to do so.

This is an exciting young adult tale that cleverly uses references to anchor time ("The Age of Reason") and place (other neighboring kingdoms) as Anne Osterlund enlighteningly avoids dumbing down by treating her audience with respect in regards to their intelligence. The courageous princess wants more out of life than tedious nobles fawning at her feet at boring parties. She soon learns that sometimes you get what you wish for when several assassination attempts occur. However, that just makes her even braver. Readers will appreciate Princess Aurelia's rude awakening to the downside of royalty.

After Hours at the Almost Home
Tara Yellen
Unbridled Books
2000 Wadsworth Boulevard, #195, Lakewood, CO 80214
9781932961485, $14.95, 1-888-732-3822

JJ has relocated five times, but currently works as a cocktail waitress in Denver. Her first night at the Almost Home Bar and Grill, the place is packed as the Broncos are playing in the Superbowl. She struggles with customer orders as she finds the job overwhelming at least this first Sunday is; her hope is that this is an aberration caused by the football championship although the tips are excellent so she also hopes for more nights like this once she learns the job.

JJ also struggles to understand the employee dynamics that she knows is critical to her staying on this job a bit longer than her last six positions. She tries to comprehend the 360 degree relationships of each of her peers. For instance Widow Colleen has no place to leave her teenage daughter Lily so she takes her with her when she comes to the bar. Denny is ending a relationship while he and waitress Lena appear to be starting one as they huddle so cuddly together. Keith and bartender Marna plan to run away together.

This is an interesting character study that follows the employees and some of the regulars for one night, a special Superbowl evening, at the bar and grill. The story line switches perspective from the newcomer to the bartender, the teen and her mom, the male customer trying to sell a pick up to others. Though somewhat anecdotal, readers obtain a poignant look at how various people see their lives precariously through the football game in an intense one scene drama.

Baxter Moon Galactic Scout
John Zakour
Brown Barn Books
119 Kettle Creek Rd., Weston, Ct.,06883
97800976812692, $8.95

Baxter Moon won a scholarship to the Galactic Academy of Scouts and he loves attending school there because he is training to be a pilot. Since mankind went into space, they met only one other humanoid race the blue skin Aquarians. The two races do not get along but each race has something they want so they decide to negotiate in a neutral sector.

Neither race hears from their delegates, so each accuses the other side of atrocities. To avoid an intergalactic war, Baxter and his team are ordered to the place where the delegates vanished to learn what happened. They are chosen because they are not certified to bear deadly arms. When they arrive at the location, they find mindless zombies, which mean they must destroy the cause before they too join the delegates.

John Zakour has written a fabulous science fiction thriller filled with humor, action, and tense decisions that could impact both races. The support cast who make Baxter's team are fully developed and readers will enjoy their escapades especially GiS the brilliant bioengineered monkey and the extremely strong young lady Zenna. Hopefully this is the first in a new young adult outer space series because readers will adore Baxter.

Every Good And Perfect Gift
Sharan K. Souza
PO Box 35001, Colorado Springs, CO 80935
9781600061752, $12.99, 1-800-366-7788

Nearing forty, best friends Angel Gabby Whitaker Nevin and DeeDee McAllister-Kent feel they have lived great lives. Both married their college boyfriends and each couple decided on a DINK (Double income no kids) lifestyle.

However, DeeDee suddenly feels her biological clock running down as she desperately wants a baby. While DeeDee tries to become pregnant, Gabby wonders whether she should reconsider her decision to remain childless. DeeDee continues to fail to conceive, which begins to cause a strain between her and her spouse and between her and her best friend until DeeDee's medical diagnosis shakes up everyone

This is a fascinating look at friendship between two people who never had differences until they tried to get pregnant. Gabby is the one tested especially when they learn what is wrong with DeeDee as she will need patience like she never needed with her best friend before. Sharan K. Souza explains that she modernized and gender changed the biblical bond between David and Jonathan as Gabby wonders why bad things happen to good people, but accepts this is God's way and vows to the Lord she will be there for DeeDee.

Lost Prince
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Borderlands Press
PO Box 660, Fallston, MD 21047
9781880325797, $16.95

In 1564 Spain is under the terror grip of the Grand Inquisition that sees no distinction between classes when it comes to destroying those marked by the devil. Even King Alonzo understands the reach of the Grand Inquisition as he himself indirectly fed its fervor with his anti-reformation. However, his son Don Alteza Rolon is cursed from birth with the lycanthropy disease. Though he detest his offspring as a monster, to keep his Infante Real heir safe, the monarch "exiles" him to El Morro in the mountains accompanied by court jester Lugantes.

When horrific deaths occur on the full moon over El Morro, a frightened Rolon assumes he is the culprit and begins seeking a cure for his ailment. Before he finds a remedy to his blood lust infliction, Alonzo calls him home as he is to wed the niece of the Doge of Venice in a political marriage to pampered hedonistic Zaretta Patrecipazio. To his shock, Rolon falls in love with his wife and has an even stronger reason to find the cure as he wants to avoid the heretic label and the pyre while also fearing for his playful spouse and their future offspring.

Although there is no St Germain in this thrilling werewolf historical tale, fans of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro will appreciate this timely extremely dark look at The Spanish Inquisition; especially the use of torture to obtain confessions under the guise of religious security. The victims almost always "validate" what the torturer demand they say making the story line feel apropos today (wonder if reincarnation exists?). The novel follows the adventures of Infante Real Don Rolon who might be the heir to the throne, but being a werewolf at this time in Spain marks him as heretic and if found out needing to be cleaned in the pyre; he and his loyal retinue like heroic dwarf Lugantes try to hide his illness. With a terrific final spin to accentuate the period, the audience will feel they are visiting mid sixteenth century Spain where the Grand Inquisition serves as judge, jury and executioner.

The Stone Gods
Jeanette Winterson
Harcourt Books
15 East 26th Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10010
9780151014910, $24.00, 1-800-543-1918

"Planet Blue". Orbus is dying; some will say died. The planetary residents destroyed their home by polluting everything. However, led by Captain Handsome and with Billie Crusoe and robo sapien Spike as part of the crew, they escape their madness by discovering a perfect blue planet, but must rid this new earth of its dominant species. While the humans plan on their usual mass destruction to solve a problem, Billie and Spike fall in love. They send an asteroid to crash planet-side, destroying the dinosaurs that would have made colonization difficult.

"Easter Island". In 1774 the longboats arrive to be greeted by the giant monuments, but first they must control the natives before they explore. As is the human way, the newcomers plan on mass destruction to restrain the islanders even as Billie and Spike fall in love.

"Wreck City". The 3 War along with previous out of control pollution to keep the economy strong has left many places like Wreck City as no zones. These unfit places are expanding as pollution and war has wrecked the once blue planet turning it into a sickly gray. Those with wealth know it is time to escape this dying world and find a new earth to colonize even as Billie and Spike fall in love.

This poignant cautionary tale focuses on the theory that humans as a species or as individuals never learn from previous mistakes; if a person as a child touches a hot stove, his or her child will not heed their advice and touch the hot stove. With little hope, Jeannette Winterson provides a withering condemnation of mankind who she asserts cannot help it that our DNA contains pandemic (as a society) and localized (as a person and family) destructive genes. As Zager and Evans say in 2525: "He's taken everything this old Earth can give. And he ain't put back nothing". However, instead of Judgement Day, we leave behind our mess for those struggling to survive and cannot afford escape.

XXX Marks the Spot
Kathleen Lawless
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781416532743, $14.00, 1-800-223-2336

In Seattle, Kennedy James books a wild week at exclusive Walker Island golf resort in North Carolina for her and her two best friends Lisa Green and Justine Bates. Whereas she wants sex, Kennedy knows Lisa struggles with her divorce from her cheating spouse Loser Les and Justine fears her biological clock is counting down. The rules are simple they must compete their Sexcapades list X-rated scavenger hunt to include collecting designated items, scoring items, and have at least six sexual encounters including special pampering by a male slave.

At their first night at the bar Kennedy meets pilot Sam Watson who flew her a few years ago; she persuades him to show her his aviator's wings. Justin pretends to sleepwalk leading to meeting Eric the superintendent who rescues her from a sprinkler with her giving her hero a kiss. Lisa knows she is behind, but hopes to get a hole in one with golf pro Richard.

This is a fun erotic contemporary romance with three heated love subplots. Each of the lead couples are nice people but it is the women who star as the audience understands their desires and motives. Although relatively straightforward except for some interference by bossy Kennedy, XXX MARKS THE SPOT is a fine tale from boxer to chest hairs to penis photos.

To Wed A Wicked Prince
Jane Feather
Pocket Books
9781416525523, $7.99

In 1807, although still feeling like a country mouse, Lady Livia Lacy enjoys the London social life now that her recently inherited house has been somewhat fixed and her best friend widow Nell Dagenheim has fallen in love (see A WICKED GENTLEMAN). Livia has one concern; she cannot understand why sophisticated hunk half-English, half-Russian Prince Alexander Prokov pursues her as there are so many prettier and obviously more urbane women than a rustic mouse like her. When he proposes, she has doubts, but in love with her handsome suitor plus encouraged by Nell's relationship with Bonham, she accepts.

Unsure of herself, Livia begins to question who is Prince Alexander, why her, and who are all these Russian aristocrats hanging around him. She also begins to think her beloved is hiding something from her that she assumes is his real reason for being in London and perhaps courting her. When she finds incriminating old letters that answer much of what she pondered, Livia is heartbroken and prepares to rusticate in loneliness. Alex is caught between his country and his beloved wife.

The second Cavendish Square Regency romance is a wonderful tale starring two likable protagonists caught between their love and international intrigue. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the pair meets and never slows down as passion battles with duty and loyalty to one's love wars with to one's nation. Jane Feather is at the top of her game with this superb historical.

Lost Time
Susan Maupin Schmid
c/o The Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399244605, $16.99, 1-800-847-5515

Few humans reside on the planet Lindos; Alexander and Viola Vivant and their daughter Violynne are some of the few. Violynne's parents are archeologists seeking sites with Croon artifacts left behind by a vast empire that has since vanished over a millennium ago. She is worried and frightened because her parents disappeared a year ago and even the planetary scanner cannot locate them. Currently Violynne lives with her butler Einhart and her Aunt Madelyn.

One night someone breaks into their house stealing her father's violin. The family believes the ruler of the planet the Arbiter of Lyrling sanctioned the theft. The Arbiter invites the family to a party; once there Violynne snoops around until she finds her father's thought pack that he took to the dig. Only she can open it, but the Arbiter wants to control her. He arrests her aunt to force her hand, but Violynne instead goes into hiding as she is caught between the Arbiter and the real ruler the Coil. Each has a different agenda that holds in common using Violynne, but she wants to find her parents apparently LOST IN TIME.

This is an entertaining young adult science fiction thriller. The diverse alien species are fully developed yet it is easy to understand their motives as each of the races want to make Violynne play their tune. LOST TIME is filled with enough action to keep audience interest, but it is the manipulations of Violynne by the various species that makes this a fun outer space thriller.

The War On Dogs In Venice Beach
Ronald Alexander; illustrated by Nathan Geare
9780979958809, $19.95,

In Venice Beach, California the owners of beachfront property are livid as the once immaculate sand and spotless parks are being destroyed by dogs. One cannot walk let alone jog without stepping on canine crap. Pet owners seem indifferent to the plight of the affluent while the wealthy homeowners demand the city takes the dogs and their owners to the pound.

LAPD Police Sergeant Smelzkoff is assigned the canine caper case. He feels this is fitting as his life has been one toilet bowl of sh*t after another. Before he begins in total earnest THE WAR ON DOGS IN VENICE BEACH, he is in Manhattan helping his gay son Bobby pack to move in with him in California. Bobby, who suffers from HIV positive, and his dad may love one another, but the continent separation was good for both of them. In Venice Beach, Smelzkoff's campaign is one of stealth and precise military operations as he and his animal control squad arrest offenders (human and dog - no prejudice with this group) who leave their dogs to wander the beach unleashed or fail to pick up after their canine takes a crap. Meanwhile Bobby finds his dad's sh**ty case amusing and with the help of his father's stripper girlfriend Violet writes an opera that satires the war on dogs.

This is a terrific humorous parody on societal struggles between no compromise groups; in this case dog owners and beachfront property owners as the former claim pooping is God's natural way of fertilizing while the latter insists not for their feet. Fans will appreciate this well written satire that spoofs "ism" wars culminating with Bobby writing Salami the opera lampooning how far his once proud John Wayne like dad has fallen when he became the five star general leading THE WAR ON DOGS IN VENICE BEACH.

The Martian General's Daughter
Theodore Judson
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781591026433, $15.00, 1-800-421-0351

In AD 2293, the Pan-Polarian Empire, a direct descendent of the United States, rules over most of North America at a time when a pandemic nanotech plague has destroyed all hardware. However, with the recent death of powerful Emperor Mathias the Glistening, the nation is in jeopardy. His successor, his son Luke Anthony, is a psycho.

General Peter Black leads the imperial armies. He was very loyal to the competent Mathias and wants to remain so with the incompetent Luke, but has little choice as the empire begins shattering into pieces. Fearing for his family, he especially worries about his illegitimate offspring Junta who has gone from an embarrassing reminder of her dad's weak indiscretion to his prime advisor.

This futuristic story is told by Junta who sadly chronicles a dying once glorious empire as she sees it diminishing from a cancer from within. She is fully developed and from her hero worship jaundiced perspective her father and the late emperor seem real; so does the current ruler, who in Junta's mind is a sort of insane Nero. However, what makes THE MARTIAN GENERAL'S DAUGHTER superb is the thought provoking parallels between Pan-Polaria, Rome, and the United States; as Theodore Judson makes the case that the American Empire is dying from a cancer from within.

Mick Herron
Soho Press
853 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
9781569475041, $24.95,

A desperate Jaime Segura holds a gun on several hostages at the South Oxford Nursery School. One of them teacher Louise Kenney thinks he looks no more than nineteen even with the weapon as she realizes her earlier Incident seems so minor. A parent Eliot Pedlar tries to calm down his three-year-old twins weeping Timmy and Gordon, but with little success as the "Gun" seems so menacing. Then there is the cleaner to round out the prisoners.

However Jaime may be a foreigner, but he is not a terrorist. In fact he is as frightened if not more so than those he retains. His lover Miro has vanished along with 250 million pounds stolen from the Secret Service; money intended for Iraq. Meanwhile two agents tried to kidnap Jaime; all he could think of was to escape before rendition. The police surround the school asking Jaime for his demands and to free the innocent. Jaime surprises everyone insisting he will talk only with M16 accountant Ben Whistler who worked with Miro in the office. Louise knows this will end badly for everyone inside the nursery school, but she assumes Jaime is the cause instead of those outside waiting to silence all those inside to insure there are no witnesses especially the teen with the gun.

This is a great one sitting suspense tale filled with plausible yet stunning twists as nothing proves to be like it seems. Readers will feel they are claustrophobically locked inside with the hostages and the Gun while wondering who outside wants this to end tragically. Mick Herron provides an exhilarating taut thriller that will land on most short lists for one of the best of the year.

Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet
Joanne Proulx
Soho Press
9781569474877, $14.00

In 2002 in Stokum, Michigan, teenager Luke Hunter smokes pot with his friends in the basement of the house of Todd "Fang" Delaney's never home parents when he makes a dark prediction. Luke claims one of them will not make it to school tomorrow because he will be hit by an out of state red van license plate BLU 369; Stan will go heads to head at 8:37 and lose.

Word quickly gets around that Luke predicted to the nth degree of accuracy Stan's death. The media being in its usual uncaring frenzy state assault Stokum for information on the "Prophet of Death". They stalk Luke and his frightened bewildered parents as the town has become an asylum for the certifiable especially amoral reporters. Luke sees more "death flashes" that soon become real; seven months of death horrifying him as he wants to go back to his formerly mellow but somewhat cynical life. A prescription helps abate the visions even as religious fanatics try to intervene while a mom begs him to find his daughter when all he wants is his dream girl at school to say yes.

This is a fast-paced young adult contemporary paranormal thriller that focuses deeply on a previously bored teen whose 99.99% of his brain consisted of one icon: girls; suddenly he has the curse of seeing in graphic detail the death of someone soon. Thus Luke must cope with his unwanted psychic skills while avoiding the media, the religious nuts, the needy beggars, and even his family and friends whom he frightens. On top of that he is attracted to a girl who seems to reject him making him wonder if she fears his "gift". ANTHEM OF A RELUCTANT PROPHET is a well written teen angst thriller that leaves some threads unanswered, which implies sequel to me.

Death on the Holy Mountain
David Dickinson
Soho Press
9781569475034, $24.95

In 1905, though semi retired, English private investigator Lord Francis Powerscourt accompanied by his wife Lucy travel to Ireland to look into some odd art thefts. Someone is stealing low valued familial portraits from the mansions of Protestant Lords, but ignoring highly valuable masterpieces from some of the Masters.

Francis struggles with the motive as money is obviously not the objective; so he assumes a political statement is being made. However, when the portraits with altered faces begin to reappear on the walls they were stolen from, Francis ponders even more the motive behind the crime. Soon after that the bewildered sleuth rescues kidnapped Protestant noblewomen from Irish nationalists but not before someone is murdered inside the chapel at Croagh Patrick while the pilgrimage has begun.

Moving deeper into the Edwardian Era from the Victorian Age of much of the previous Powerscourt historical mysteries; David Dickinson provides a deep period piece. The story line obviously contains a strong investigative whodunit, but also much more as the audience obtains a feel for Ireland's struggle to become a modern nation. Powerscourt personally feels the tugs, but it is the larger scale of early twentieth century pragmatism warring with rich ancient tradition that makes this book incredible.

A Mending at the Edge
Jane Kirkpatrick
WaterBrook Press
c/o Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781578569793, $13.99,, 1-800-726-0600

Emma Wagner Giesy left hope in Missouri along with an abusive spouse and disapproving parents to bring her two preadolescent daughters to a safe environs in Aurora, Oregon Territory. Her supportive uncle brought her other two to safety. However, so far Brother Keil has not approved a house for the Giesy brood. This has increased Emma's despair that she desperately tries to conceal from her four children.

As Brother Keil stalls letting a separated woman settle down without a man to protect her and her children, new arrivals flood the community. Emma's faith in the Lord sending her to this new religious commune is the right thing for her and her offspring is all that keeps her going.

The third Aurora mid nineteenth century tale (see A CLEARING IN THE WILD and A TENDERING IN THE STORM) is a superb historical that stars a strong heroine whose spiritual beliefs keep her from giving up to the despondence that engulfs her. However, MENDING AT THE EDGE is much more as Emma (the author says was a real person) begins to participate with others in the community coming out of her self-imposed isolationism. Readers will appreciate her journey to belong as Jane Kirkpatrick provides a profound Americana tale that showcases people trying to live their dreams.

Things I Want My Daughters to Know
Elizabeth Noble
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061122194, $22.95, 1-800-242-7737

Barbara Forbes knows she will die soon from cancer. She tells her second husband and her four adult daughters how she wants them to attend her funeral; none are to weep as they have shared a great life with each other and none are to dress in graveyard black as they were, are, and will continue to be a colorful family.

Barbara leaves behind four letters; one to each of her daughters offering wisdom from the soon to be dearly departed. Over the next year after she is buried each opens their late mom's last words of wisdom. Barbara encourages her oldest Lisa to allow someone to get close to her; Andy would like to be that someone. To Jennifer she advises to reach out to your husband and stop worrying about fertility and offspring as the means to save her marriage. To Amanda she says to stop running away from the truth especially that her father was neither of her mother's husbands. To her youngest teenager Hannah she says rebellion is okay as long as it harms no one including herself, but she should take her time growing up as she has a precious life ahead of her.

This concept of having a deceased provide words of wisdom has been done many times before, but Elizabeth Noble keeps it fresh avoiding cliche adages by focusing on the recipients although Barbra's diary and letters are well written. Each of her children had a different relationship with their mom; something wise Barbara recognized and encourages them accordingly; she knew her children. Although the foursome heed their late mom's guidance too easily leading to nirvana, contemporary fans will appreciate this character study of four sisters, the men in their lives, and their mother still there for them though she passed away.

Bulls Island
Dorothea Benton Frank
9780061438431, $24.95

Two decades ago in the Carolinas, Betts McGee and J.D. Langley met and fell in love. However, she has working class genes while his blood is aristocratic. Still they seemed to have overcome their class differences when they became engaged. However, that same night her mom dies in a car accident while his mom Charleston sophisticate Louisa rants about dumbing down the blue blooded DNA. Unable to cope with her future mother-in-law from hell while grieving, Betts leaves her family, J.D. and the Carolinas behind to start fresh in Manhattan. No one back home knows she left pregnant and raised a son Adrian by herself while doing quite well with depressed real estate.

However, her current assignment is in the Charleston area where she will work a land deal with unhappily married to Valerie local J.D. She would prefer to be prisoner of terrorists or the CIA, but Betts heads home to work the BULLS ISLAND deal with his firm Langley development. As she realizes she never stopped loving J.D., she continues to conceal the lie of omission from him, her family, and Adrian while J.D. knows he is married to the wrong woman.

Although the audience knows what to expect, Dorothea Benton Frank provides an engaging contemporary family drama that showcases the author's skill as throughout readers will have doubts about the anticipated outcome. The cast is solid with the story line mostly told from the viewpoint of the lead female. Readers will enjoy this fine romance as everyone will wonder whether Betts is willing to take a second chance at love while eluding gatorzilla.

The Girl with No Shadow
Joanne Harris
9780061431623, $24.95

Over four years have passed since Vianne Rocher got into a local brawl over the sale of her special chocolate confections declared as contraband by the Lansquenet, France clergy during Lent (see CHOCOLAT). Tired of the sweet war, Vianne repudiated the magic part of her recipe, changed her name to Yanne Charbonneau and seeking security, accompanied by her two daughters, teenage Anouk and infant Rosette, moved to Montmartre in Paris where she opened up a more mundane chocolaterie.

However, Yanne begins to understand the curse of motherhood as she wants her children safe, but Anouk rebels. Zozie de l'Alba obtains a job at Yanne's Paris store, but soon Anouk is enchanted by the newcomer. Worried for her child, she has doubts about Zozie's intentions; Yanne returns to her past as Vianne. She needs to use her magic to keep Anouk safe and to generate a special chocolate concoction but since it is Advent season the righteous frowns on her sweet creations.

This sequel continues the adventures of everyone's favorite confectionaire (outside of perhaps Willie Wonka) who has become a die hard conformist out of fear for her daughters until forced out of fear for her oldest child to be a born again magician. The story line rotates perspective between Zozie, Yanne and Anouk while once again a major religious season is in the background causing problems for the non-conformist heroine. Readers will appreciate this strong tale with implications in today's world; the story line focuses on the problems of fighting evil when the good side gives up its moral high road behaving more malevolent based on the end justifies the mean.

Searching for Spice
Megan DiMaria
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414318875, $12.99, 1-800-323-9400

After a quarter of century of marriage to caring professor Jerry and the raising of two children soon to leave the nest, Linda Revere wants the same spice in her relationship with her husband as they had before the kids nuked the excitement. However, obtaining what they once had proves difficult to achieve as the kids still are home, and she and Jerry come from their jobs mentally tired and physically middle aged.

Still Linda hopes for some romance with Jerry. However, each plan she concocts seems to fall apart as everyday living supersedes romantic interludes; she feels the best laid plans of mice, men and Linda always goes astray. Still an optimist in spite of being a customer service rep and a mom, Linda looks kindly upon the empty nest future even as she accepts the present will remain boringly comfortable.

SEARCHING FOR SPICE is an engaging realistic look at middle age relationships. Linda is fabulous as she holds the tale (and her family) together. Her situations at work, at her daughter's school, at home and with Jerry seem genuine as she struggles with her desires for more with her husband; symbolized by her efforts to seduce Jerry who shows his full appreciation of her by snoring. Fans, especially those with soon to be or already empty nests, will appreciate this amusing yet poignant look at relationships in which even when the customer is obviously wrong in front of a jury of his or her peers, he or she is always right.

By Reason Of Insanity
Randy Singer
9781414316338, $22.95

In Virginia Beach, The Tidewater Times reporter Catherine O'Rourke covers the homicide trial of Annie Newburg Hofstetter, accused of murdering her husband Richard in premeditated cold blood. Her renowned attorney Quinn Newberg uses the insanity defense of a woman pushed over the edge by physical and mental abuse. Thanks to weeping Juror 5, the case ends for now in a mistrial.

Over the next few months The Avenger of God has been kidnapping and murdering Tidewater residents whom the serial killer believes violated the Lord. Cat has some insider information, but when the court demands she reveal her insider anonymous law enforcement source to Detective Jamarcus Webb, she refuses and goes to jail making her part of the story. While behind bars, Cat begins to have distressing visions of these horrific crimes as if she was an eye-witness to the Avenger's vigilante justice. She tells Jamarcus what she "sees" and he thinks she knows too much not to be the Avenger. The police arrest Cat who hires Quinn to defend her even though his approach means he assumes his client is guilty.

Filled with twists, this is a terrific legal thriller that grips the reader from the moment that Juror 5 ends the O'Rourke trial and never slows down as Cat prays that the Vegas legal magician can get her off the hook even if BY REASON OF INSANITY. The story line is fast-paced as Cat continues to get visions of the Avenger's serial killings. Although a romantic subplot between lawyer and client is somewhat muted, it still feels forced yet Randy Singer as he did with THE CROSS EXAMINATION OF OLIVER FINNEY brings up timely jurisprudence issues as he provides a fascinating look at the insanity plea.

Certain Girls
Jennifer Weiner
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780743294256, $26.95,

Thirteen years ago to her shock the fictional account of her life story, GOOD IN BED, became a best seller. However, Candace "Cannie" Shapiro chose to let her fifteen minutes of fame expire; instead she settled into married life with Dr. Peter Krushelevansky living the suburban mom's PTA lifestyle.

However, her beloved tweener daughter Joy has just read her mom's semi-autobiographical fiction and is embarrassed to call her mom. With her bat mitzvah coming up, Joy wants to spend more time with her biological father Bruce Guberman and less with her mother. Joy would also like to meet her mother's father while her father Peter wants another child with his gene pool; in terms of DNA the perfect surrogate is Cannie's younger sister, but she is a bit of a wacko. However, Joy decides to go west to visit her maternal grandfather throwing her family's world off kilter.

The poignant story line rotates viewpoints between the combatants as mother and daughter are at war over Cannie's past out there for everyone to know she is GOOD IN BED, mortifying her offspring. Fans will enjoy the insightful look at the travesties of being human as your past is used by your offspring to haunt you (every mother's two-edged curse). A stand alone as much of the key events of Good in Bed are rehashed mostly with Joy's perspective bringing freshness to what would otherwise be reheated leftovers; fans of contemporary relationship dramas will want to read the evolution of Cannie from free spirit to harassed mom.

Bad Moon Rising
Jonathan Maberry
Pinnacle Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
9780786018178, $6.99, 1-800-345-2665

Thirty years ago in Pine Deep, Pennsylvania blight came upon the land killing crops and farm animals. This affected Uber Griswold, a Serbian werewolf, who lived in an isolated part of town drinking animal blood. After the affliction occurred, he went on a killing spree, murdering many humans until the Bone Man killed him and interred his body in the swamp. For years Griswold was in hibernation until he abruptly awakened and telepathically contacted his friend Vic Wingate who was making plans to bring Uber back to life.

Criminals Karl Ruger and Ken Boyd stop in Pine Deep when their car breaks down. In some mystical way Griswold turns them into vampires without killing them. Some know what they are including Crow and his pregnant lover, Val; as both had family killed by Uber years ago. Now Vic and Karl who worship Uber as their deity make plans for Halloween that if successful will destroy the town and much more; perhaps the country. With the confrontation coming soon, certain people will make a difference depending on which side they align with.

BAD MOON RISING is a chilling, thrilling and exciting horror tale that will appeal to fans of Salem's Lot. That audience and others will appreciate Jonathan Maberry's fine work as the key players especially the paranormal are three dimensional while starring in a complex plot that keep readers wondering who will win this battle between good and evil.

The Queen's Bastard
C. E. Murphy
Del Rey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345494641, $14.00, 1-800-726-0600

From the moment she could crawl, her furtive father Lord Drake raised and trained Belinda Primrose by himself as an assassin. He also pounded in her allegiance to his liege Queen Lorraine of Aulun. Drake has never informed his daughter who her mother is as that could prove dangerous since she is Lorraine's illegitimate offspring.

Years ago Lorraine's most dangerous rival Queen Sandalia of Gallin miscarried when she learned her husband had died. To protect the throne with a male heir especially from ambitious Lorraine, Sandalia abducted a newborn she named Prince Javier

In 1561 Javier and Belinda meet for the first when she is in Gallin on an espionage mission. He falls in love with her and she feels the same about him, but her loyalty from birth is to her sire and he knows what must come before desire. Still their attraction grows as they soon learn they share in common that each is a "witchbreed" magic user.

This sixteenth century fantasy is much darker than the author's romantic urban fantasies as power and politics supersedes ethics; for instance Belinda encourages her beloved to rape an adversary. Well written, dark historical fantasy fans will appreciate the opening act of what looks like will be a solid series, but setting up the cast, era, and machinations at times slows down the story line. Still THE QUEEN'S BASTARD is a solid first entry.

The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy
Ellen Datlow (editor)
Del Rey
9780345496324, $16.00

This sixteen story anthology runs the gamut of speculative fiction, which makes it in many ways a fresh throwback before themed restraints became the name of the short story game for especially fantasy and horror but to a lesser degree science fiction and alternate history too. The contributions are all well written with several spectacular entries. "Renaissance" readers will enjoy the compilation from the opening alternate history act (The Elephant Ironclads" by Jason Stoddard) to the closing collaboration "Prisoners of the Action" by McCauley and Newman and points in between. The tales include contemporary urban ("Ardent Clouds" by Lucy Sussex), fairy tale revision ("The Goosle" by Margo Langan), and an alternate historical fictional account of why "Sonny Liston Takes the Fall" in his bout with Ali then Clay by Elizabeth Bear. Sci fi is present with "Special Economics" in China by Maureen F. McHugh and changing urban geography too ("AKA St. Marks Place" by Richard Bowes). Barry Malzberg provides a change of pace with plenty of humor with his talking goat golem in "The Passion of Azrael". With supernatural entries ("Jimmy" by Pat Cadigan and "The Lagerstatte by Laird Barron)) to round out the anthology, this is a strong refreshing all over the place collection though a strong alternate history (to include "Shira" by Lavie Tidhar) presence is throughout.

Succubus In The City
Nina Harper
Del Rey
9780345495068, $6.99

In Manhattan Lily the Succubus is having one of the best times of her long life as she finds men as easy pickings although she would like to get out of her Faustian deal with Satan that requires her to deliver him three studs a month as she would just like to fall in love with someone who loves her back. Still, she meets her quota with ease as she seduces the male with the lure of sex before turning them into ash.

Lily enjoys her work as the Accessories Editor at Trend magazine. When Lily meets private investigator Nathan Coleman, she thinks she finally has found love, but has doubts he reciprocates. Still even if he does she knows she owes him the truth about her nocturnal vocation, but doubts her Nathan will believe her unless she turns him to ash.

This is an entertaining chick lit romantic fantasy starring a chic succubus and the men in her life and the life in her men (paraphrasing Mae West). Lily is terrific as she seduces souls as a contractor working a war zone, jet setting Manhattan. Sub-genre fans will enjoy her lighthearted escapades as she tries to explain to Nathan that they are soulmates, but she is under an iron clad contract to Satan, inc.

The Born Queen
Greg Keyes
Del Rey
9780345440693, $26.00

Following the murder of her father and incarceration of her mother by her undead Uncle Robert, all looked lost for self-exiled Princess Anne Dare and her Kingdom of Crotheny especially since the demonic race abetted by Robert has returned to overrun the land. Yet perseverance, strong allies, and inner strength prevail with Anne, a descendent of the great Queen Virgenya Dare who has succeeded in taking the throne.

However winning the throne is not the same as ruling. She needs time to learn how to be a queen to all her subjects while learning to use her eldritch skills, but time is not what she has. Enemies still plot to replace the independent tyro with a puppet Briar King while she remains inexperienced and assumed weak. Allies in a common cause against the same enemy are no longer friends and cannot be depended upon for help. Worse the Church leader Hespero manipulating prophecy sanctions a holy war that allows the powerful neighboring Hansa to invade; at the same time the Sarnwood Witch plots to replace the Dare with a new Briar King by ordering the holter Aspar White to do his job or else suffer for failing in his geas to her. Queen Anne's only hope for her people rests with finding the lost journal of her ancestor as Robert remains at large and the Kept Skashoi Lord survived his recent defeat and has a scheme to destroy her too as the veil between life and death continues to be shredded.

The final The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone fantasy thriller (see THE BRIAR KING, THE BLOOD KNIGHT and THE CHARNEL PRINCE) is an exciting ending that ties the major loose ends into an engaging finish. There are numerous subplots as plotters work to destroy THE BORN QUEEN with none concerned with secondary consequences that will devastate a world. Although the characters and the setting are out of the quest fantasy guidebook, sub-genre fans will still acknowledge that Greg Keyes has written a great ending to a strong tale.

Dark Wraith of Shannara
Adapted from the novels of Terry Brooks by Robert Place Napton;
art by Edwin David
Del Rey
9780345494627, $13.95

In the Four Lands, the dream frightens Jair Ohmsford as he finds himself in trouble with shades like the late great warrior Jaret Jax the Weapons Master helping him survive his nightmare. However, reality proves even scarier when the shade of Allonon warns him an evil inhuman race the Mwellerts have a new scheme starting with the abduction of two of Jair's friends Kimber and Cogline. Jair knows he must rescue them, but no one wants to abet his cause out of fear of the enemy. Still he has power if he dares use the dark magic Wishsong that his father and his sister have cautioned as the price of employing this conjuring could be his soul. However, reluctantly he turns to the spirit of a deceased warrior for help as the enemy has come for him because he has proven with his sister to being the one to prevent the Mwells from making a nightmarish future for everyone.

DARK WRAITH OF SHANNARA is a stand alone graphic comic book that is a direct follow up to Terry Brooks' WISHSONG OF SHANNARA. The story line is entertaining due to the prime character as Jair, not wanting to bring his sibling Brin into what he believes is his cause, has difficult magical choices to make to save his friends. The black and white artwork is well done as the pictures enhance the plot. There are several other background sections that might fascinate some readers like the "The making of Dark Wraith" and "The Artist's Sketchbook" but this reviewer has no interest (even with the art being top rate) in those sections so I only gave it a quick glimpse. Fans of the Shannara saga will enjoy this novel entry.

The Compound
S. A. Bodeen
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781423365587, $16.95, 1-888-330-8477

Billionaire businessman Rex Yanaktisis built the Compound, a bomb shelter guaranteed to keep out radiation in case of a nuclear attack. He believed in being prepared for all events so when the bombs explode, Ren manages to get into the Compound his wife, son Eli, and two daughters Teresa and Denise; but he failed to bring in his other child, Eli's identical twin Eddie.

The family remains inside the shelter for six years and things are starting to disintegrate. They are running low on certain foods, the flour seems to have turned and only Ren eats the bread. The dates for medicine are expiring. Eli's mother gives birth frequently so if worse comes to worse; the "supplements" will be part of their diet. One day Eli has his computer outside his father's study when he makes an external connection causing the teenager to doubt everything he thought he believed about his dad.

There is a growing atmosphere of suspense as people inside the Compound become increasingly desperate as time passes. Eli stays with his brothers and sisters (the supplements) but begins to believe his father is hiding something from them. As the truth surfaces, the mother and her children pull together as a family unit. Young adults who like suspenseful chilling post apocalypse thrillers will want to join the Mackenzie brood inside THE COMPOUND.

Past Caring
Robert Goddard
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780385341172, $12.00, 1-800-726-0600

In 1977 Madeira, thirty year old wannabe but failed historian Martin Radford has an opportunity to redeem his name instead of wasting his talent and education as he has so far. Leo Sellick selects him to look into the disturbing life of the late Home Secretary Edwin Strafford, whose meteoric rise foretold a great political future that collapsed even faster in 1910 after only two years in the cabinet. Sellick wants to learn why Strafford failed so rapidly that he moved to Madeira to hide and why Prime Minister George named him consul there to live and die in obscurity.

Martin obtains Strafford's journal that implies there is much more to the abrupt resignation from the cabinet of George's predecessor Asquith and Parliament of a rising political superstar. Instead Strafford seems to implicate some great figures of the Edwardian Era just prior to WW I with ethical crimes and even murder to conceal their corruption and the young politico embroiled in a love affair only to have the woman he cherished Elizabeth Latimer reject him. Martin's research brings him looking at his own family while he ponders whether a peer Mr. Coachman wanted to destroy Strafford and if so why. Stranger yet someone wants Radford to drop his study and that unknown person is willing to kill to insure the secrets of six and a half decades ago remain buried because they have major implications on those in power today.

Starting with its aptly named title, PAST CARING is a reprint of a deep English historical thriller that uses a fascinating twist of historiography enabling the audience to compare the modern day (1977) historian with the Edwardian figure he is studying. Fans who appreciate a taut tale will enjoy past and present as betrayal in love and politics is a theme both generations distastefully swallow.

The Story of a Marriage
Andrew Sean Greer
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
18 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
9780374108663, $22.00, 1-888-330-8477

Pearlie met Holland twice as strangers. The first time back home in Kentucky when he showed up to walk with her to school and could look the tall Pearlie eye to eye. Later after a Mr. Pinker persuaded Pearlie to come to California for employment writing letters to GIs fighting the Axis powers, they re-met on a Pacific beach. The second time around led to marriage although Holland is not quite the same health wise as he was before the war and has a child Sonny afflicted with polio.

In 1953 San Francisco, a stranger to Pearlie but Holland's former lover and boss Buzz Drumer arrives. At a time when the Americans are fighting another war on an Asian peninsular while the fear of communism permeates very segment of life, he makes a strange offer of $100,000. Holland wants to accept the terms while Pearlie is afraid. Her fears stem from the realization that her husband remains a stranger with his dark secrets as the appearance of Mr. Drumer proves.

Told by a continuingly stunned Pearlie, the surprising yet plausible disclosures seem to keep coming throughout this poignant historical novel that affirms regardless of relationships everyone has a part of them that remains a stranger to their significant other. The triangle that forms between the shocked Pearlie, the secretive Holland, and the stranger-not stranger Mr. Drumer make for a fabulous look at the early 1950s in which Andrew Sean Greer asserts that the "Happy Days" nostalgic innocence claimed by modern revisionists is untrue. The author subtly explores young health issues, post traumatic distress syndrome of returning veterans, racism, sexism, and being politically correct during the "I Like Ike" era.

The Finder
Colin Harrison
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
9780374299491, $25.00

In New York City, someone is using insider information to make a financial killing buying and selling Good Pharma stock. An outraged billionaire warns CEO Tom Reilly to plug the leak and to take care of the culprit regardless of means or else. His paper notes delivered to Reilly even in Yankee Stadium frightens the CEO who must do something or face dire consequences from an unknown but obviously powerful stockholder.

Tom is unable at first to figure out who or how. Using a legitimate paper shredding outfit CorpServe as a guise, Jin Li has been selling company information that she provides to her brother Chen who trades stocks accordingly. A desperate Tom orders a ruthless wannabe to take care of the leak. In Brooklyn two twentyish female Mexican employees working for the shredding firm are murdered, but Li escapes not before she sees their horrific deaths. Her sibling and Reilly assume her former boyfriend Ray Grant not only helped her, he hid her probably in Brooklyn. Each side demands he reveals where she is. He has no idea but turns to his dying father, a former NYPD cop, to help him find Jin before he becomes an afterlife greeter welcoming his father.

This is an excellent crime thriller that grips readers as every trail converges on Li even an overseas stock market. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the two young Mexicans are killed in Brooklyn and never slows down as Tom, Chen and Ray understand the threats to their lives while each seek Li as the key to their safety. Fans of urban crime capers will appreciate this exhilarating action-packed thriller that never decelerates ending with a typhoon.

Three Girls and Their Brother
Theresa Rebeck
Shaye Areheart Books
c/o The Crown Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, #B1, New York, NY 10019-4305
9780307394149, $23.95, 1-800-726-0600

Claiming as a way to pay homage to the late great literary critic Leo Heller, the New Yorker magazine wants to do a piece on his three granddaughters and grandson. Their mom has the brain of a lifetime beauty queen who though has seen her prettier days still lives the glory through her daughters; she sees this as good publicity and the road to Hollywood. Their dad has not been around in ages so his opinion if he even has one does not matter.

The oldest eighteen year old Daria is rapturous as she sees this as her chance to become a supermodel. The middle daughter seventeen year old Polly is almost as elated. The youngest female fourteen year old Amelia is at best tepid as she does not mind the magazine piece as long as it does not greatly intrude on her lifestyle. The only male fifteen year old Philip does not trust the New Yorker as he believes they are being set up for an exposure worthy of the tabloids. However, mommy dearest ignores the concerns of her only son saying he is too male and too young to understand the opportunities for his sisters; she will do anything to get her daughters on Broadway or Southern California.

This is an amusing look at fame from four teens receiving fifteen minutes of it each. Especially enlightening is the insightful comparisons made by the youngest sibling as Amelia observes voluntary starvation as a norm of some vocations. Philip seems older than he is with his wisdom honed by survival skills as the lone bull; his observations re his mom and two older sisters are priceless. The other three females seem amusingly inane as all they can see is fame and fortune. Although a revenge subplot seems ridiculous as it deters from an otherwise superb family drama, fans will enjoy this powerful lampooning of the fame seekers.

Scott Sigler
c/o The Crown Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, #B1, New York, NY 10019-4305
9780307406101, $24.95, 1-800-726-0600

The country is stunned as law abiding ethical citizens suddenly turn into homicidal mass murderers. The first reaction in DC beyond presidential and congressional anger, fear and survival is alien terrorism so the CIA is assigned the lead with an assist from CDC since the symptoms of the killers are scratchy blue triangular irritations on their skin.

CIA agent Dew Phillips leads the inquiry with CDC epidemiologist Margaret Montoya as his scientific advisor. They soon believe that alien terrorism is extremely accurate as Margaret studying the corpses of these deranged killers finds each commonly hosted a parasite never seen before and apparently not of this earth. Then they meet a live subject, former football player Perry Dawsey, who is at war with the aliens inside his body demanding he feed them while he demands they leave him.

Modernizing and combining the INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS with the LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, Scott Sigler provides an exhilarating horror thriller that grips the audience the moment the first maniacal mass murder occurs and never slows down as the Feds struggle to prevent a deadly parasitical alien invasion. Fast-paced, INFECTED never decelerates as time is running out on mankind with Peter the last Hail Mary hope.

Looking For Salvation at the Dairy Queen
Susan Gregg Gilmore
9780307395016, $23.00

In the early 1970s in Ringgold, Georgia, teenager Catherine Grace Cline dreams of leaving town soon for Atlanta. The daughter of a widower Baptist preacher is bored with having no life outside of the church even with a caring boyfriend Hank. Catherine Grace's highlight each week is finding salvation at the local Dairy Queen one slow lick at a time to savor her Dilly Bar.

After graduating from high school in 1972, finally with the help of family friend Mrs. Gloria Jean Graves, Catherine Grace takes the Greyhound up I-75 to Atlanta. In the beginning of her stay in the big city, she diligently writes letters to her younger sister Martha Ann who consistently replies; both girls miss each other as their mom died when Catherine Grace was six years old. However before she could really taste Atlanta, four succinct worded telegram from Martha Ann brings Catherine Grace home, but with a new perspective on life in a small town.

A fully developed lead protagonist and a strong secondary cast especially daddy and Martha Ann turn LOOKING FOR SALVATION AT THE DAIRY QUEEN into a profound historical regional tale. The characters provide the audience deep insight into life in both a Georgia small town and Nixon era Atlanta. Anyone who understands what Dairy Queen has meant to the south or just wants to know will appreciate this engaging tale of young woman ready to take on the world, but while doing so learns simple truths about the flexibility of humans to seek dreams, but not fearing to modify or replace them.

Where Are You Now?
Mary Higgins Clark
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781416566380, $25.95, 1-800-223-2336

Over a decade ago Charles "Mack" Mackenzie Jr. disappeared while attending Columbia University with plans of going to Duke University law School after he graduated. However, since he vanished Mack has called his mother annually to wish her a Happy Mother's day and to let her know he is okay. Although he knows she became a widow on 9/11, he has not changed his annual routine as he tells her nothing else about where he is, what he is doing, and why he left.

Mack's younger sister, Carolyn, a recent graduate of Duke Law School, informs him when he calls that she will find him to bring him home. However Mack leaves a note for his uncle, Father Devon Mackenzie of St. Francis church, to tell Carolyn to leave well enough alone and not seek him out. Carolyn becomes even more resolute to at least confront her older brother face to face to ask why.

The queen of suspense is at her best with this riveting tale that has the audience enthralled with wondering why Mack vanished. Readers are hooked from the onset as we learn of the "vigil" that his mother and sister do starting midnight on Mother's Day; Like Carolyn, fans want to know. The heroine's investigation is terrific as she begins to learn the truth why her brother vanished. Mary Higgins Clark provides her fans with an excellent family thriller.

Perfect Family
Pam Lewis
Simon & Schuster
9780743291453, $25.95

In Vermont twentyish single mom Pony Carteret drowns while skinny-dipping at her affluent family's vacation home. While the local police investigate the drowning death, the Carteret brood back in Hartford argues over what happened to her and why and who will take in her infant son Andrew since they do not know the name of the father. Pony's widower father Jasper and her oldest sister Tinker are mostly interested in burying the scandal, but for now the latter takes in the child.

That same day that Pony died, she pleaded with her older brother William to come up to the Vermont house to talk where they argued. William feels guilty that he left her there, wondering if the accident or suicide was caused by her being distraught or homicide by her lover, her family, or someone else related to why Pony met with him. He needs to know so he investigates starting from the picture of their late mom taken with another man who is not their father. Meanwhile middle daughter Mira meets Keith at the funeral and begins seeing him; he persuades Mira and Tinker that their brother and their late sister were more than friendly siblings.

Filled with plenty of twists especially when William turns amateur sleuth, the aptly titled PERFECT FAMILY is a wonderful tale of a wealthy New England dysfunctional clan. The story line is character driven by the siblings, the patriarch and William's girlfriend; however, the key player their late mom never seems fully developed though all dynamic lines flow through her as even long dead she remains the hub of the Carteret family. Fans will appreciate Pam Lewis' entertaining thriller as the secrets keep on coming out.

Driving with Dead People
Monica Holloway
Simon & Schuster
9781416955122, $14.00

When Monica Holloway was a little girl in Elk Grove, Ohio, she sat in the passenger seat of her father's pickup truck while he would cruise the neighborhoods searching for accidents that he could film; the gorier the better. Her ghoulish father had more movies starring strangers in gruesome situations than he had of his children. Thus it is not a shocker that with her Adams family-like beginnings, when Monica turned nine years old she became fascinated with a funeral home, befriending the daughter Julie Kilner of the mortician.

Monica and Julie play together in the casket workroom. When they get driving licenses, they obtain jobs driving the hearse. However, although life at the mortuary is fun, at home it proves otherwise as her father is abusive and her mother is too busy taking care of herself to care. Her siblings have their own issues trying to avoid their parents and each other. Yet through this dysfunctional family upbringing, Monica remains a Pollyanna especially when she is with Julia, DRIVING WITH DEAD PEOPLE, or just hanging around the funeral home. That is until she learns how damaging her parents are with one last betrayal.

This is an offbeat but engaging memoir of an optimistic person who finds salvation in a funeral parlor that enables her to overcome growing up amidst a dysfunctional family. Told with humor and intelligence, Monica Holloway's autobiography provides an inspiration that a person can overcome almost anything by setting goals and thriving to achieve them like this author has even if it means DRIVING WITH DEAD PEOPLE.

Death by Bikini
Linda Gerber
Penguin Books
c/o The Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780142411179, $7.99, 1-800-847-5515

With her father Frank, Aphra Behn Connolly lives on a tropical island where they manage a resort. Her mom chose not to go with them because she felt a need to find herself. Aphra helps her dad run the resort and the Connolly duo has become very close. That is until the Smiths arrive. The father says something in private to Aphra's dad who places them in a villa that needs renovations and fails to register them as guests.

Frank makes it clear to his daughter that he does not want her to have anything to do with the Smiths' son Seth, but not why. Aphra is curious about the newcomers and finally goes into the office to read the Smith file, if there is one. She finds cards that her mother sent her that her father kept from her. Upset she runs out of the office as two people on the island show interest in the Smiths. Frank becomes ill and the only person who can help him is Mr. Smith, but for him to save his host, their offspring must keep the killers away from their dads.

Readers know from the onset that the "Smiths" are on the run from someone who wants them dead while Aphra has to work on finding out who they are; her sleuthing is fun to follow. Readers will empathize with the members of the two families, as each has problems to deal with. Linda Gerber provides an entertaining young adult mystery suspense thriller.

Gothic Heat
Portia Da Costa
Black Lace
c/o Virgin Books
65 Bleeker St.,New York, NY10012
9780352341709, $12.95

Her college pals Belinda and Jonathan Sumner took Paula Beckett to Sedgwick Priory who they insist is owned by a 200-year old sorcerer Count Andre von kestrel. However, not long afterward, Paula awakens in a hotel naked wondering how she lost two days of her life. She is taken to a hospital, but when her friends visit her she angrily tells them to leave; after a few days of observation she is released.

Paula is scared as a voice inside her head keeps taunting her and getting her to do sexual things that she would never have done before. She realizes she is fighting sorceress Isadora Katori for ownership of her body because the evil one no longer has one. At the Inner Light massage parlor she meets masseuse Rafe Halloway. However, Isadora takes control of their shared body and pins Rafe down before taking him. Later, Paula tells him about the sorcerer who haunts her; he says he will help her. Nearing forty and fearing he will die like his father did at forty-two, Rafe hides his agenda of seeking a long life span; he thinks these sorcerers will enable him to obtain that. However, he also finds he is torn between the two women in his life as he loves sex with both; opposites as one takes charge while the other has him take charge.

This heated paranormal romance enables the reader and Rafe to believe that two minds occupy and battle to possess the body of the female lead. Fascinatingly Rafe loves both women as the aggressive sorcerer takes him in ways he never dreamed a woman could and the original hostess lets him take her anyway he desires. As the women compete for ownership of their shared body and his body (and soul), fans will appreciate Portia Da Costa's unique erotic triangle as the hero is torn between two lovers with one body affirming sex is as much psychological as physical.

Gemini Heat
Portia Da Costa
Black Lace
9780352341877, $12.95

The Metropolis was already heated when Deana Ferraro attends the "Visions of Eroticism - the de Guile Collection instead of her identical twin sister Delia who is with slimy Russell. Deana realizes coming to this erotic exhibit is exponentially increasing her already over the top sexual frustration of going solo only. She places herself in the images raising her temperature higher than the melted sidewalks outside. Watching her "come" is the artist Jackson K. de Guile, who introduces himself as no talented Jake; she is Dee.

Jake proves an expert on the power of sex. He is the master and she is his obedient servant. He soon turns their S&M pleasures into a competing menage a trois when Jake brings Delia into the game. Soon the siblings compete as rivals trying to out pleasure each other by winning Jake's special rewards especially vying for his undivided lower head attention.

Erotic romance readers will enjoy this hot contemporary tale starring three full blooded in heat individuals who seemingly cannot get enough. The story line starts torrid and turns equatorial as Deana and Delia compete for the power of Jake who relishes controlling the twins in and out of the bedroom. This aptly named title showcases one of the sub-genre's best at writing XXX dramas.

Cassandra's Conflict
Fredrica Alleyn
Black Lace
9780352341860, $12.95

In London, her husband Paul Williams tells Cassandra she is frigid; that it her fault he is leaving her for Louise. When she says she has no prospects having never held a job, he coldly tells her not to sell her body as she will starve to death.

Not long afterward, Cassandra applies for a job as a governess to two small girls four years old Helena and two years old Christina, daughters of Austrian widower Baron von Ritter. However, as he offers her the position and she accepts, Cassandra is unaware that the previous governess Abigail was fired because she failed at the sex games, he and his mistress Katya play with the staff. She and her two little charges bond so when they are sent to Austria to visit their family, they are upset as they do not want to leave their governess behind. Although she misses the children whom got into her heart, Cassandra has little time to dwell on her feelings for her preschool companions as the Baron seduces her into joining the sexual games. Although she does not understand the rules, Cassandra has promised the two little girls she will be there for them when they return. She is the first governess with a non-selfish reason to win the sexual contests even as she does not grasp the rules that the Baron and his mistress keep changing.

This is a fascinating erotic character study that looks deep into the soul of the triangle formed when Cassandra replaces Abigail as companion to the girls. The Baron realizes the newcomer is different as Cassandra does not hide her warm motherly affection for the young girls; Katya sees her as another disposable servant for them to abuse. Fans will enjoy Fredrica Alleyn's intriguing heated contemporary while wondering whether Cassandra will triumph especially since she holds a non-sexual ace in the hole.

Last Post
Robert Barnard
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781416559405, $24.00, 1-800-223-2336

In the town of Crossley in Yorkshire, England Eve McNabb has just come home from viewing her late mother May prior to the funeral. Eve knows her mom was adored by her students and their parents, which makes her grief a bit easier. Eve has a ton of condolence letters to peruse and respond to; but when she opens one from a stranger named Jean, she is stunned as she insists she and her mom had an affair. Her not so subtle implication shakes the mourning woman to her core.

Although she knew her mother was a very private person, Eve wonders why she never questioned her mom about her father John McGrath who disappeared in Australia without an apparent warning as far she knows to her late mom. Needing to know what happened when she was two, Eve interrogates everyone she assumes knew Meg and John back then including former headmistress Evelyn Southwick when her mom was a deputy working under her. Her need to know sends Eve to Australia to meet her father whom she forgives once she hears his side of the breakup. She is called back to England by the police who believe that Eve has information from her inquiries that could help them on an investigation in which Evelyn was murdered.

Renowned for his suspense thrillers filled with surprising but plausible twists, Robert Barnard uses master magician misdirection to lure the readers down the wrong path so that the connections that seem evident turn out to be not so obvious. Eve is a fully developed protagonist who grieves at the same time her image of her beloved mom has been tattered yet she needs to know the truth if she is to gain any closure. Her inquisitiveness makes this family suspense drama entertaining.

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher
Kate Summerscale
Walker & Company
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780802715357, $24.95, 1-800-289-2553

In the summer of 1860, someone slashed the throat of three-year-old Saville Kent and dumped the child into an outdoor privy on his family's estate. The news traveled throughout England horrifying everyone that a child could be brutally murdered like this. Pressure mounted on the local police to solve the case, but no clues surfaced. Because of the publicity Scotland Yard sends its top sleuth Detective Inspector Jonathan "Jack" Whicher to investigate. He quickly assumes a member of Saville's family or a part of the Kent housekeeping staff killed the lad. He specifically believed that Saville's teenage half-sister Constance killed the boy, but failed to find solid proof of his assertion. Despondent Whicher went back to London as a different man than the confident person who left a few months earlier to detect the killer. Five years later, the culprit confessed.

"The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective" is a great biographical fiction of an interesting real life mid nineteenth century detective working a shocking homicide case that left him doubting his skills. Fascinatingly Jack's theory that the victim knew his killer as the culprit was probably related shocked England as unbelievable; today that is a prime source for suspects. Readers will appreciate the true investigation of "A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective" who investigated the heinous crime.

Silent Fall
Barbara Freethy
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451412553, $7.99, 1-800-847-5515

At Woodlake Mountain Lodge in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, investigative reporter Dylan Saunders attends his brother Jake's "second" wedding with Sarah. Also there is a former lover Erica Layton, who once provided the journalist with volatile information. She asks Dylan to sneak away with her into the nearby woods, which he does.

When he awakens in the morning, he is confused by last night's events especially when he concludes he was drugged. He also is the prime suspect in the apparent disappearance of Erica. A wedding guest of the bride psychic Catherine Hilliard had a vision involving danger to Dylan and though she would prefer to stay out as she grasps the peril to herself, Catherine investigates trusting on her visions to guide her.

Following up on the suspense thriller SILENT RUN, Jake's sibling takes center stage as he finds himself in a major mess with the only hope being the stunning psychic as Dylan wants to keep Jake, Sarah, and his eighteen month old niece out of the fiasco if possible. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action with a touch of the paranormal. Dylan is fabulous as a man in peril and his reluctant rescuer Sarah's best friend is terrific. Although Dylan plays a major support role in SILENT RUN, Barbara Freethy's excellent sequel can stand alone.

Sleeping with the Devil
Vanessa Marlowe
Griffin Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312364779, $13.95, 1-888-330-8477

Desert chef Meg White enjoys her mundane middle class lifestyle although she almost always is broke as her pay stinks. However, when she meets affluent older Jordan Blair while vacationing with her fiance Steve the salesman on the rainy Oregon coast, she is immediately attracted to his sophisticated charm. He is just as hooked. She ends her engagement rationalizing Steve is hooked on Kimberly whom he just met, gives up her job, and quickly moves into Jordan's expensive penthouse.

He expands her sexual encounters into a variety of S&M and other partners, but reduces her world to his apartment. Meg soon becomes concerned as she realizes Jordon is controlling every aspect of her life. She fears if the bird escapes the gilded cage, this control freak will hunt her down.

This chilling character driven psychological thriller focuses on control by an obsessed person using any means from sexual to economic to guilt inducement in order to maintain domination and supremacy. Meg's first person account showcases her change from euphoria to doubt to abject fear as she reassesses just who Jordan is. With a superb final twist, fans will appreciate this strong look at abuse that comes in many ways not just physical and emotional, but sexual and economic terrorism.

To Seduce a Bride
Nicole Jordan
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345494610, $6.99, 1-800-726-0600

Unlike her two sisters who recently said I do (see TO BED A BEAUTY and TO PLEASURE A LADY) Lily Loring vows to never marry as she assumes men and abuse go hand in hand. However Lord Heath "Heartbreaker" Griffin meets and falls in love with her. She likes him, but rejects his courtship. To elude her ardent pursuer, Lily takes a room in a boardinghouse run by former courtesans including her friend Fanny Irwin. They hire her to teach the demimonde proper behavior amidst the Ton.

The former ladies of the night suggest Lily play with Heath's affection by allowing him a chance to court her. However, as Lily aids a friend in trouble and assists another lady, she takes up the concept of wooing with Heath, but his sword play proves masterful as she falls in love with her devoted suitor.

The third Courtship Wars is an appealing Regency romance in which the third Loring sibling lines up some interesting allies in her gender battle with Lord Heartbreaker. The lead couple's kissing and fighting make for a fun tale, but it's the women in Lily's corner that brings freshness to this winning tale TO SEDUCE A BRIDE.

Tales Before Narnia: The Roots of Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction
Douglas A. Anderson (editor)
9780345498908, $15.00

The twenty-one short stories, poems, essays and other writings that make up this collection are considered by editor Douglas A. Anderson as the sub-title states The Roots of Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction. Though this reviewer has some doubts about that assertion, the entries are well written and entertaining from a who's who of literature (Dickens, Tolkien, Grahame, Stevenson, Wells, Potter, Clarke and Kipling, etc) even though the authors were in many case key players (no novels are included which in my opinion would be more likely to be influential). The contributions are excellent with the little notes prefacing them adding to the fun as Mr. Anderson explains the author's link to C.S. Lewis. The anthology provides a glimpse into the science fiction-fantasy short writings that were out there prior to Narnia, written in the early 1950s. As he did with the equally delightful TALES BEFORE TOLKIEN, Mr. Anderson provides a strong, enlightening and fun to read compilation; hard to resist "a never before published story" The Wood That Time Forgot: The Enchanted Wood by Roger Lancelyn Green (Lewis' biographer) that inspired THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE.

The Boundless Deep
Kate Brallier
c/o Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765319722, $14.95, 1-888-330-8477

Kitty Bryant invites her niece Jane and her best friend grad student Liza Donovan to spend their summer break on Nantucket. Liza hopes to learn about people she has been dreaming of, especially nineteenth century whaler Obadiah Young. Aunt Kitty owns the Young estate amongst other properties.

On Nantucket Liza meets and dates whaling museum associate curator Adam Gallagher while Kitty's godson Lucian Theriault is also staying with her. Jane has mixed feelings over the latter as he was both friend and pest when she was growing up, but now is quite a hunk. Meanwhile Liza finds her dreams turning towards erotica while also finding her self drawn to the stairs in which Obadiah's foreign wife Lucy died and still haunts. With Adam's help, she investigates what happened to the wife over a century and a half ago; hoping to solve the woman's death and free her from the dreams that haunt her.

More a romance than a mystery, fans will enjoy this fun paranormal tale starring likable modern day protagonists. The story line is fascinating as much of the clues occur in Liza's dreams; giving the plot an otherworldly feel to it and frustrating Lucian who competes with a dead man for Liza's affection. Paranormal romance fans will especially enjoy the well written THE BOUNDLESS DEEP and seek Kate Brallier's previous similarly unique novel, SEAL ISLAND.

Mutiny!: The True Events That Inspired the Hunt for Red October
David Hagberg and Boris Gindin
9780765313508, $25.95

In November 1975, Soviet anti-nuclear submarine frigate FFG Storozhevoy is docked in Riga, Latvia for normal maintenance and repair after six months at sea. Third in command Captain Valery Sablin is appalled by the wide corruption of leading Brezhnev officials and much of the bureaucracy overrun by party hacks including Soviet navy brass. He sees fat cats taking shortcuts with the lives of sailors to pocket money and obtains the best items for themselves and their family. Outraged as only a true believer can be, the Marxist/Leninist fundamentalist decides to take control of the vessel and sail to Leningrad where he would broadcast to the people to overthrown the corrupted. All went well with his plan until the Kremlin learned what he was doing and interceded.

This is the real events of the Soviet naval mutiny that led to the novel and movie The Hunt for Red October as related to novelist David Hagberg by then twenty-four years old Senior Lieutenant Gindin, who was part of the crew. The back ground of naval life in the totalitarian superpower is fascinating and well written while setting the stage for the exciting look at the events that happened in late 1975. Although nonfiction and told mostly by the viewpoint of Mr. Gindin though much supported by documentation, Mutiny is a tense thriller that grips readers from start to finish even with knowing the outcome.

Avenging Fury
John Farris
9780312877323, $25.95

Although mortals see her as a freak even when she saves their lives and has the FBI psychopath assassins after her, Eden Waring proves time after time she is a caring Avatar; she uses her mental skills to keep people safe. Her recent efforts brought her into war against Mordaunt the evil one from another plane, who thought he could manipulate the twenty-something female as his pawn to bring chaos to this realm. He thought wrong as Eden defeated him and incarcerated his physical form inside molten glass (see THE FURY AND THE POWER).

However, Eden makes one key mistake caused by her inexperience as an avatar fighting non-human malevolencies. Part of Mordaunt's soul escaped the imprisonment just prior to the glass melting. Thus his female persona Delilah is not just out there; she goes to 1926 Georgia waiting to possess Eden's doppelganger Gwen when the latter arrives. Near Vegas just after the Mordant meltdown, in Eden's present, Delilah inside Gwen confronts the kindhearted Avatar with both using Dark Energy that will change the Universe.

The final "Fury" tale may have taken three decades to arrive, but fans will fully appreciate this strong horror suspense thriller as the climatic good vs. evil showdown occurs. The story line is hyper fast-paced from the onset and never takes a breather even when Gwen goes back in time as John Farris accelerates the velocity of his plot. Fans of the saga will appreciate the invigorating finish to an exhilarating epic quartet.

The Outlander
Gil Adamson
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061491252, $25.95, 1-800-242-7737

In 1903, nineteen years old Mary Boulton calmly grabs her husband's rifle and fires killing him. The widow knows she cannot hang around not because she fears the law, but her abusive brother in laws would enact vengeance in their vicious style.

Mary flees across wintry isolated Idaho and Montana while knowing in her composed gut they pursue her. On her trek, she reflects on her unhappy but thankfully short marriage exacerbated by the dead child. As her deep depression enables her to remain eerily unruffled, she meets people along the way. First there is the Frontiersman who admits creeping civilization makes him depressingly feel like an anachronism; then there is the Reverend who treats her like an adored daughter. There are others some not as kind towards the itinerant female especially after a mining disaster that the locals feel she caused by being there. However, the worst is coming as the brothers are nearing and the Reverend wants to change their relationship to that of more of equal partners.

An allegory of a way of life that seems all but vanished, THE OUTLANDER is an excellent historical thriller starring a strong support cast, a spirited lead female, and a vivid picturesque setting. Readers anticipate High Noon is coming, but it is the trip to the final showdown that makes for a deep look at early twentieth century America in a remote part of the northwest.

Wild Nights!: Stories about the Last Days of Poe, Dickinson, Twain, James, and Hemingway
Joyce Carol Oates
9780061434792, $24.95

"Poe Posthumous; or The Light-House". Off Chile a lonely morose Poe kept a dairy while tending a lighthouse as its keeper even though he died a few months ago.

"EDickinsonRepliLuxe". In futuristic New Jersey, the mouse and the louse Krim couple buy an android of Emily Dickinson expecting poetry to brighten their lives, but instead the author finds them tedious and wants her freedom.

"Grandpa Clemens & Angelfish 1906". The famous author is being sued for his platonic relationships with teenage girls while his outraged adult daughter plans to testify against her father.

"The Master at St. Bartholomew's Hospital 1914-1916". Henry James does not want to enter the hospital ward filled wounded soldiers, but has no choice as he volunteered to help these "dear boys".

"Papa at Ketchum 1961". Hemingway is planning his last word, suicide.

The concept is brilliant and the execution superb as each tale provides insight into five of America's most famous authors. All her well written although the Clemens piece is by far the most disturbing and the Poe entry perhaps the weakest (still enjoyable). Fans of the American classics will relish this fine anthology as Joyce carol Oates proves a
fabulous impersonator who emulates the writing styles of five of the greats.

Johnny and the Bomb
Terry Pratchett
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780060541934, $5.99, 1-800-242-7737

In Blackbury, England twelve-year-old Johnny Maxwell and his pal Bigmac find local bag lady Mrs. Tachyon badly hurt in an alley off High Street. He quickly dials 911 to get her help, and stores her shopping cart loaded with black garbage bags in his family garage until he can return them and her cat to her.

However, Johnny and his buddies (Yo-less, Bigmac, Wobbler, and Kirsty) make a startling discovery about Mrs. Tachyon's bags. If they touch a bag they go back in time to whatever era that particular bag takes them to. Johnny sees a chance to change history; over four decades ago on May 21, 1941, a German air raid killed several people on High Street. He and his pals decide to go back in time to save the lives of those who died on that fatal day. However they will soon learn the paradox of altering the past when Wobbler fails to return with them so the remaining time travelers try again and again as they have all the time in the world or at least until Mrs. Tachyon claims her bags.

The third Johnny and the gang science fiction thriller (see ONLY YOU CAN SAVE MANKIND and JOHNNY AND THE DEAD) is the best of an excellent trilogy as the hero's cohorts seem so much more developed. The story line uses humor and not so subtle puns to provide the risks of fooling with tachyon particles to change history as the consequence can alter the present one pants leg at a time. Although Terry Pratchett targets young adult fans with this series, fans of all ages will enjoy JOHNNY AND THE BOMB as he and his teammates learn complex lessons about getting "lost in the trousers of time".

Roommates Wanted
Lisa Jewell
9780061137471, $14.95

In London, thirty-five year old shop girl Leah has lived across the street from Toby for years; although she has seen him about the neighborhood they have never met. Her long time boyfriend abandons her when she mentions marriage. Toby inherited his dilapidated Victorian mansion from his dad fifteen years ago; he rents rooms to loners although he finds them a pain in the butt.

Leah is walking outside when she finds long time Toby tenant Gus lying dead outside the mansion. Gus' corpse serves as a matchmaker of sorts as Toby and Leah finally meet. Gus bequests to Toby his ailing cat and a lot of money with the pleading message to clean up his life and make something of him self instead of drifting through life. Toby decides to renovate the Victorian and kick out his assortment of tenants though he does not ask them directly to leave; he turns to Leah to assist him helping these sad losers renovate their lives.

This is an amusing yet deeply touching contemporary tale as Toby who gave up on life years ago as being too hard but now suddenly has a second chance. However to succeed he must rid himself of the fully developed eccentric renters. Although he rationalizes his caring nobility as selflessness, encouraged by lonely Leah, he tries to help the others get a life first; in his efforts he gets a life. ROOMMATES WANTED is a terrific character study of dissolution becoming idealism by feeling good about helping others enables the lead protagonist to "start living" again.

Daughters of the North
Sarah Hall
9780061430367, $13.95

In the near future in the United Kingdom global warming has made this once proud place into wetlands. The climate change accompanied by a critical fuel shortage has led to the establishment of an abusive totalitarian rule. The Authority uses the guise of security to kill anyone who opposes them; they use fuel shortages to control population with enforced sterilization; they encourage drug addiction to keep the masses ignorant of their plight. If innocents are hurt so be it as collateral damage occurs.

The Authority sterilized Sister against her will. They made her work in a "New Fuel" factory in conditions that makes Dickens' Victorian tales look like fairy tales. She is assigned cramped quarters. Sister wants out feeling that if she can make it to legendary Carhullan, an all-female commune she can survive. Run by Jackie Nixon with discipline to foster strengths, the paramilitary group is outlawed by the Authority who plans to destroy these Amazon rebels.

Although the ending is too obvious for such a complex thought provoking tale, readers will appreciate this powerful near future thriller that extrapolates from Katrina and the Christmas Tsunami. However, it is not the environmental disaster that holds the reader's attention; it is the heroine and how she sees the world. Sister believes the Authority is evil from her position in the ooze below their food chain; she thinks of Carhullan as freedom fighters from her rising up their chain towards the top. Ironically she is unable to accept how similar the two groups are in their ruthless use of expendables to achieve their respective goals. With obvious comparison to the Mideast, DAUGHTERS OF THE NORTH is a terrific futuristic thriller.

Island of Lost Girls
Jennifer McMahon
9780061445880, $13.95

While on her way to a job interview in Pike Crossing, Vermont, Rhonda Farr stops at a gas station. While waiting for service, she sees a mother enter a convenience store while her daughter Ernestine talks to a white rabbit who came up to the car. Mesmerized Rhonda freezes while the rabbit takes the little girl with him into another vehicle and drives away. Rhonda snaps out of her paralysis and tells the cops what she witnessed.

Pat of Pat's Mini market where the abduction took place sets up in the store a center to coordinate people who want to find the girl. They get residents to look for her and hang up missing posters; volunteers man tip hotline phones. Rhonda tells her friend Peter what happened; he informs her that he was incommunicado when the rabbit did his deed. The evidence points to Peter as the kidnapper; no matter how hard she tries to reach him, Peter refuses to confide in Rhonda until she gives up on him and goes to the cops. That proves the catalyst for all hell to break loose with Rhonda's life in jeopardy.

As with PROMISE NOT TO TELL, Jennifer McMahon provides a strong suspense thriller with realistic characters whom readers will feel they know. Running parallel with the present investigation are flashbacks to the disappearance of the father of Rhonda's best friend Lizzie in 1993 after wearing a rabbit's costume and three yeas after that Lizzie. The present crime brings back the as filtered through Rhonda's memories. ISLAND OF LOST GIRL is a tense mystery that grips audience from the initial appearance of the rabbit and never lets go until the readers feels they entered the rabbit's hole.

Careless in Red
Elizabeth George
9780061160875, $27.95

Following the homicide of his beloved pregnant wife Helen (see WITH NO ONE AS WITNESS and the companion piece without Lynley in it: WHAT CAME BEFORE HE SHOT HER), a grieving Thomas Lynley quit Scotland Yard. Time has not proved a healer as the former detective spends his days aimlessly wandering around his hometown of Cornwall.

While on one of his senseless treks to numb the pain especially when he returns home at night, Lynley finds the battered body of teenager Santo Kerne, who it appears fell of a cliff while mountain climbing. When evidence affirms that someone sabotaged the victim's equipment, Detective Inspector Bea Hannaford looks in the direction of the person who found the corpse. However, the cantankerous consummate professional also knows Lynley had no motive so looks to see who might. Lynley provides some limited assistance, as he is unable to do much more even understanding that he is the prime suspect.

The key to this police procedural that follows up on the tragic events of WITH NO ONE AS WITNESS is that in spite of the situation he finds himself in, Lynley still mourns deeply and the case does not stop that nor turn him into super-cop. Instead he plays second fiddle (some might say audience) as Hannaford conducts the investigation. The whodunit is cleverly devised and would stand out on its own as a strong English police procedural, but it is the realism of the two cop-characters who make Elizabeth George's latest thriller a terrific tale.

Pretty Face
Mary Hogan
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
9780060841119, $16.99, 1-800-242-7737

Sixteen years old Hayley detests life in Southern California as she is not the model of the Beach Boys being thirty pounds overweight or as she prefers to think of it as six inches too short. Her mom is always on her case over her bowling ball belly, but worse she gives her a digital scale that will not lie; thus every morning the thug inside that scale disses Hayley. The worst insult is being told she has a PRETTY FACE, which is a kind slur implying she is fat. She likes Drew Wyler, but on D-Day at the movies she learns he likes her BFF Jackie. Hayley hides hurts like that one with humor.

Her parents heeding the advice of her therapist send Hayley to Umbria, Italy where her mom's friend Patrice, don't call her Patty any longer, lives. Hayley is excited to escape summer torture where she is a beached whale. In Italy she eats real pizza without guilt and enjoys her own cottage and the local males lining up to meet her. She even falls in love with a teen who calls her his "bella facia" as he thinks she is the PERFECT GIRL for him even if she lives an ocean and content away.

Haley is an amusing lead protagonist whose commentaries question the American image that thin is in but at fast food places. She is a terrific character who uses humor to conceal her distress. Although her adjustment from unwanted "social abstinence" to the bella of the ball seems too easy, young teen readers will her turning into a social butterfly.

Ink Exchange
Melissa Marr
9780061214684, $6.99

Leslie's life is totally out of control ever since her mother abandoned the family. Her father turned to alcohol to numb his pain and his gambling debts force his seventeen years old daughter to work as a waitress to pay the bills. Her brother is a druggie who stays calm when he is high on marijuana; all other drugs and abstinence make him violent. To pay for his habit he offers his sister to his druggie pals.

In Faery all is peaceful, which is dangerous for the Dark Court because they feed off of the darker emotions like hate, anger, and fear. Leslie goes into a tattoo parlor and selects a very special design that is run by a half-fey. She choose one and an INK EXCHANGE between her and Irial will occur once it is completed. He will then use her as a conduit to feed the darker emotions from humans and faeries to the whole of the Dark Court. Leslie does not realize that the exchange works both ways and Irial feels more for her then the any other human. She must find the strength to become totally independent or Faery will suck the life out of her.

MIDNIGHT INK, the sequel to WICKEDLY LOVELY and VIRAL FAERY, focuses on a world in which the morality on the paranormal plane differs from those on the mortal realm. The Dark Court is not evil, but they think differently and being true to their genetic make-up see humans as sustenance; in fact other courts are much more ruthless not caring about collateral damage. Leslies has choices to make just like any teen, but her are more magical in nature as Melissa Marr writes a wonderful young adult fantasy.

Texas Loving
Leigh Greenwood
Leisure Books
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780843956863, $7.99, 1-800-481-9191

In 1889, Eden Maxwell has lived her young life in Texas Hill Country when a well dressed elderly Englishman arrives at the family's Broken Circle ranch saying to her she looks just like her grandmother did fifty years ago. Alastair Davenport explains to the bewildered Eden and Isabelle that their late Aunt Deirdre was Isabelle's mother not her aunt and he also claims that he is Isabelle's father and Eden's maternal grandfather. A stunned Isabelle accepts her birth dad's invitation for her, her spouse Jake and Eden to come to London with him.

Alastair believes that Eden and second son Patrick Worledge would make a perfect match. However to her Texas mind, Patrick is too aristocratically English for her. Instead she falls in love with the older independent brother Edward the heir who is caught in marrying for money to save the Worledge family from ruin. Eden makes a faux pas involving legitimacy that costs Edward dearly, but when he comes to Texas to start over, she plans to be at his side every step of the way if he would only forgive her.

The final Cowboys historical romance is a fabulous ending to one of the best series over the last few years. TEXAS LOVING is a superb Victorian tale starring two likable lead characters and a strong support cast. Fans of the Greenwood saga will applaud the entire baker's dozen summed up nicely by Jake: "If I had any idea this would be the results of your mother showing up on my ranch with her eight orphans from hell, I would have run all the way to new Mexico without my cows". Thank goodness he did not although knowing Isabelle and her brood, they would have followed.

Highlander Ever After
Jennifer Ashley
Leisure Books
9780843960044, $7.99

Egan McDonald blames himself for the death of his brother in combat although he knows part of his guilt is caused by surviving the battle. He cannot return home to face loved ones so he wanders from place to place until he arrives in Nvengaria. There the royals welcome him and Princess Zarabeth, who cannot read his mind, falls in love with the honorable traveler.

Years later, in 1820 the King of Nvengaria fears for his beloved daughter as assassins and betrayals threaten the royals. The monarch sends Zarabeth to his friend Egan's home in Scotland for safe keeping. However a storm wrecks Zarabeth's ship. Egan searches for her and soon follows her "call" for help in his mind that leads him to a rock surrounded by water that she is on. As her family's enemies try to assassinate her, he falls in love with his charge. However besides surviving the royal killers, they must overcome an ancient curse, the unmarried young debs' curse, the Adam Ross rivalry curse, and the family matchmaking curse if they want a lifetime together.

HIGHLANDER EVER AFTER is an amusing whimsical Regency romance with a touch of the paranormal enhancing the fun tale. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Zarabeth's crash lands in the Highlands and never slows down as assassins hunt for her and seemingly half of Scotland intrudes on their relationship. Mindful of PENELOPE AND PRINCE CHARMING, sub-genre fans will enjoy Jennifer Ashley's latest captivating historical.

The Devil's Daughter
Laura Drewry
Leisure Books
9780843960488, $6.99

Tired of living at home, Lucy Firr persuades her dad to let her move out; however he demands payment for granting her freedom. Lucy agrees to deliver three souls to her father, the devil in exchange for her moving out of Hell.

Lucy arrives in 1891 Redemption at a bride auction attended by Jed Caine, who is not seeking a spouse though he needs a wife. Lucy persuades the recalcitrant homesteader she is the one for the job. Jed agrees and marries her so that Lucy can help his pregnant sister on their spread. Lucy knows the way to Jed's soul is his libido, which starts to her surprise with his heart not that other bloody organ. However, Lucy falters whenever Jed tenderly looks at her. When her sire sends her brother Deacon to remind her that default means moving home under the pitchfork of their irate father, Lucy must decide between his soul and her heart.

THE DEVIL'S DAUGHTER is a devilishly delightful paranormal western romance starring the literally beauty from Hell and the handsome angelic paragon. Her brain and brother demand she do him wrong while her heart and (don't tell her papa as he has a fiery temper) soul plead with her to perform a self sacrifice and pay the consequences. The story line is fast-paced as it combines Gay Nineties bawdiness with historical tidbits to anchor time and place. Fans will appreciate this enjoyable tale while this reviewer envisions Mae West and Cary Grant returning to star in Laura Dewry's devilish debut.

Ti Marie
Valerie Belgrave
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595440429, $18.95,

By 1796 war seems to be island hopping across the Caribbean. So far Trinidad remains peaceful and quiet, but fears run deep that the hostilities will come here soon. Spaniard Don Diego de Las Flores owns Santa Clara cocoa plantation away from the thriving activities of thriving Santa Fe, but remains serene. He has two young children Jose and Juanita, but lost his wife just after she gave birth to their daughter to yellow fever. Yei the half breed medicine woman runs the household; she has two twin daughters, Carmen and Elena, sired by a white man. French political radical and expatriate Louis is the other member of the household as he tutors Jose.

English abolitionist Barry Wingate arrives at Santa Clara; he falls in love with Elena, who enjoys the passion and idealism of her suitor. However, the French Revolution comes to Trinidad dividing the ruling plantation owners between hostile republican and royalist groups. While France struggles, England takes control of the island and imposes a harsh slave code that upsets the locals and leads to violence.

TI MARIE is a fantastic look at Paradise Lost through a variety of characters representing the island's social strata during a period in which the goings on in France has swept its way into the Caribbean and now Trinidad. For instance, Elena and Barry love one another with a hope for the future together (if they can communicate their feelings), but once the English arrive, their dream looks hopeless as his family would never accept a mutt like her. There is much more going on than described above as Valerie Belgrave provides a vivid landscape of late eighteenth century Trinidad through Free Blacks, slaves plantation owners, Europeans, and mixed blood, etc. as open hostilities cause havoc on the most southern Caribbean island.

Pax Dakota
Ken Rand
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
9781594146725, $25.95, 1-800-223-1244

Although the Civil War has been over for a decade, the United States military has not fully recovered. Sensing an opportunity to regain their freedom, wise leaders united their Six Tribes in 1876 behind Iron Shield who was guided by the spirit Watcher, who "incarcerated" the First People's adversary "Old Enemy" in a spirit prison These Northern Plains tribes defeat the American army and carve out Dakota as their homeland.

In 1883 Iron Shield's death leaves Watcher without a host and Old Enemy planning to escape. By 1899, Pax Dakota remains a sore point with the Americans and though Old Enemy remains imprisoned inside the small medicine bundle pouch, Watcher has lost his way having no host since Iron Shield moved on. In this environ teenager Joseph Thorn is at best an agnostic who doubts the spiritual teachings of his elders especially the medicine bundle pouch that allegedly contains Old Enemy until the evil spirit escapes. When he meets teen prostitute Etta Dooley, Joseph begins to believe they are his People's only hope to prevent Old Enemy from causing a horrific world war in which evil will use the energy of the dead and dying to exterminate humanity.

PAX DAKOTA is a fascinating alternate historical western fantasy in which characters break out of the literary norm; for instance Joseph is an agnostic instead of a true believer. The bundle prison concept seems foolish to him. The Pax Dakota concept comes across as plausible, but serves more of a background impetus for a second war between the Dakota Six Tribes and the United States rather than explored in great depth. Still this is an engaging tale as fans will appreciate Joseph's escapades with his sidekick Etta as they struggle to find a way to stop an adversary that the hero does not believe exists.

Sean Michael Bailey
Five Star Books
9781594146367, $25.95

Computer guru, self made millionaire Matt Newton flies along with other Americans on Anytime Airways flight number 1787 from Kennedy Airport to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for some fun in the sun. However, hijackers take over the passenger section of the jet, killing an air marshal. They gain access to the cockpit when the pregnant member of the terrorists removes explosives from her uterus.

Military historian Anna Horowitz takes charge of the hostages as she warns them they must overcome the enemy or die as sheep. As they begin their counter surge, no one knows who will fly the plane if they succeed in taking it back; or whether Mexico or the United States will shoot down a rogue jet that is rumored to be carrying a nuke inside its cargo. Matt with his contact to his employees and Anna with her tactics knowledge are the only hope as far up in government and religious circles are people who want no survivors to tell anyone that the terrorists are not Middle Easterners as the news claims.

Readers who enjoy an exciting suspense thriller will appreciate 1787 although they will also wonder what could have been if Sean Michael Bailey stayed with his hijack techno premise and no external trimmings. The story line is fast-paced as it plays out in the southwest skies and in Brooklyn-Queens and over the vast communication networks. Fans of wild action thrillers will enjoy terrorists in the plane.

Emerald Silk
Janet Lane
Five Star Books
978159416824, $25.95

In 1448 Father Robert, the Abbot of Cerne Monastery is upset because two gypsies, Erol and Teraf stole a chalice given to his abbey by the Bishop of Winchester who is coming to visit in two weeks. He sends loyal monastic knights led by John Wynter to retrieve the object and arrest the two thieves.

At the Applewood Horse fair, John captures Teraf, but fails to find the chalice. Teraf's mixed blooded fiancee Kadriya protests, but John shows his disdain towards the gypsies and leaves with his prisoner. Kadriya leads a bold rescue, but one of John's men and a gypsy die. She captures John, but Teraf remains prisoner of the knights who take him to Cerne while she takes her "guest" to her home Tabor barony. As John gets to know Kadriya he realizes she is honest, loyal and the woman he loves; likewise Kadriya sees the same traits in John. However, a traitor with a taboo sexual secret in the abbey is blackmailed to work with Teraf to help him escape while others want to either kill John or Kadriya depending on whose side you are on.

Almost two decades have past since the first Coin Forest medieval romance (see TABOR'S TRINKET), EMERALD SILK is a refreshing historical due to the blatant prejudice of the hero which makes him a unique protagonist. it is not the attraction and love between Kadriya and John that make this book so special but his need to overcome a lifetime of belief by accepting what he sees and what his heart tells him. The intrigue, betrayal, and sexual blackmail at the Abbey enhance a strong tale in which bias may blind the monastic knight from understanding the truth.

A River To Die For
Radine Trees Nehring
St. Kitts Press
PO Box 8173, Wichita KS 67208
9781931206020, $16.00,

Carrie's son Professor Robert McCrite and retired police officer Henry King's half sister Catherine plan to go camping near the Buffalo National River in Arkansas. Rob invites his stunned mother to join them even after she sarcastically points out that he quit the Boy Scouts in less than four months because he hated sleeping outdoors even with a tent. She realizes her spouse Henry planned the vacation with Rob as an anniversary surprise, but her son from her first marriage stinks at hiding secrets.

Carrie says no as she cannot understand why anyone would give up a perfectly comfortable soft bed to sleep on the ground. However, Catherine vanishes and soon afterward so did Rob when he searched for her. Henry, Carrie and her friend Shirley go Ozark camping to find their missing loved ones. They soon find guilt wracked Rob, who confesses he biked away from Catherine, who remains missing.

The latest To Die For Arkansas mystery is a terrific tale with a fantasy element that seems to blend into the solid story line. Rob and Catherine play much greater roles than usual in this strong thriller. Radine Trees Nehring provides a deep cautionary tale that warns readers that poachers are stealing archeological treasures from the National Parks at a time that the law enforcement diligence is lacking and more development is the norm.

The Hollow
Nora Roberts
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780515144598, $7.99, 1-800-847-5515

Twenty-one years ago three boys (Caleb, Fox and Gage) camped at the Pagan Stone, a place of great power in the woods of Hawkins Hollow, Illinois. They shared a blood rite that made them blood brothers, but when that serum hit the ground a black evil mass appeared followed by a blinding light that sent the demon back to its dimension. Three centuries ago, the guardian Trent after hundreds of years of battle with the demon Lazarus took an unprecedented step to stop the malevolent one.

In the present, the three blood brothers descendants of Trent have faced the demon who has influence over the townsfolk especially on the seventh day of the seventh month every seven years. Now they have three female allies (Layla, Cybil and Quinn) who are descended from the demon's rape of Hestern three centuries ago. They must fight as one the evil; this time hoping to dispatch him to hell forever. While the sextet research what to do, Layla and Fox are attracted to one another; feelings that frighten both of them especially her as she fears she will lose her beloved in the next battle.

The demonic powers are stronger than they were in the first Sign of the Seven tale (see BLOOD BROTHERS) as he is able to influence many more people; however, his opponents have also grown. Though it has the Hollow feel of the middle book of an urban romantic fantasy trilogy, Nora Roberts affirms her talent as she has written an exciting and entertaining thriller starring the magnificent six who will earn reader admiration and respect for their courage. Well written, fans of Ms. Roberts will look forward to the final war THE PAGAN STONE.

Lady & the Vamp
Michelle Rowen
Grand Central Forever
c/o Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446618632, $6.99, 1-800-759-0190

Dedicated vampire hunters never feared death something they faced on every mission; they worry about being converted to the monstrosities that they hunt. Former vampire hunter Michael Quinn knows first hand the dread of becoming what he killed as he has become a blood sucking predator.

His only hope to return to human and his previous occupation is to make a wish on a magical relic the Eye. However, demon obligated assassin Janie Parker also seeks the Eye to keep her Boss from decapitating her for now and find her missing sister. She knows Michael, whom she has loved unrequitedly since she was a tweener, seeks the artifact. She also knows there is one drawback with the Eye; it can only grant one wish once every millennia.

Fans will enjoy this lighthearted romantic urban fantasy as Michael and Janie compete for the Eye with each believing their cause worthier than that of their rival. The amusing story line is fast-paced from the onset as the former vampire slayer turned hungry biter and the former adulator turned failed assassin fight, snipe and love each other in the latest Michelle Rowen Immortality Bites tales (see FANGED & FABULOUS, and BITTEN & SMITTEN).

Quinones Miller
Grand Central Publishing
9780446696050, $13.95

In Detroit Shanika Ann Jenkins is a fair skinned, blonde and blue eyed African-American. Her grandparents believe her light coloring is what makes her beautiful. However her African-Americans parents reject that premise insisting the person's inside makes them beautiful.

In 2007 after graduating from school, twenty-three year old Shanika is rejected for a position because the company needs an African-American to fulfill racial quotas. Soon after she joins a Manhattan public relations firm that does not use a token minority employment system so they hire her thinking she is white; she quickly realizes everyone assumes she is a "White Girl" as her older brother Joseph calls her. Shanika sees some advantages with hiding her heritage at the company and even on the streets of New York like getting a taxi. Although she feels guilt that she has to hide what she is doing from her parents and conceals them from her peers (thanking the Lord they live in Detroit), Shanika chooses to continue to masquerade even dating a white person who is unaware of his girlfriend's heritage as she hides family pictures. Then she meets African-American businessman Tyrone Bennett.

Although the support cast is not developed enough beyond simple last century stereotypes in a world with Tiger Woods, PASSIN' as white is a thought-provoking tale that modernizes Thomas Carlyle theory of clothing makes the man; in this case skin color makes the woman. The story line is fun to follow as Shanika is an interesting protagonist pulled in two directions. Although the secondary players are weak, fans of a fascinating character study will enjoy reading about the heroine showing how to make it in Manhattan her way, but at quite a cost.

Don't Let Go
Marliss Melton
Grand Central Publishing
9780446618359, $6.99

In Las Amazonas, Venezuela, La Mision de la Paz school teacher Jordan Bliss adopts four year old orphan Miguel. However, before she arranges to bring her son home rebels attack and occupy the mission. Her sister Jillian back in Suffolk County, Virginia calls in a favor. Soon afterward a US military team retrieves Jordon; however a navy officer rips her from her adopted child leaving the kid behind. Stunned and outraged, she vows to get her child back and will never forget the sailor's face nor forgive him.

US Navy SEAL Solomon McGuire has never done a mission that has left him as upset as Operation Extraction; he cannot move past the female American's horrified face that he will never forget; even rationalizing that he followed orders fails to help his conscience. Especially since he knows what it is like to lose a child as he has only recently regained his own vanished son Silas. Feeling guilty and questioning the ethics of his team's snatch, Solomon offers Jordan a deal; if she tutors Silas in reading, he will try to locate and recover Miguel. Although she wants to tell him to shove it, she agrees. As they work together to locate Miguel, they fall in love; however Jordan hides from her beloved plans to act on the information that Solomon provides to her by rescuing her son without him.

Marliss Melton's latest SEAL romantic suspense (see NEXT TO DIE, IN THE DARK and FORGET ME NOT) is an exhilarating thriller that focuses on how far a parent will go for their beloved child. Although the Jordon-Miguel segue is the prime story line, there are a few other parental-offspring subplots that enhance the theme of parental love for a child that may not even share your DNA. Readers will enjoy this fine family drama as Ms. Melton provides a strong tale.

Elizabeth Jennings
Grand Central Forever
9780446618915, $6.99

In Warrenton, New York her beloved father Philip Court, CEO of Court Industries, has always kept Charlotte safe from life's unpleasantness. However, he is worried for his beloved daughter as he is dying from pancreatic cancer. Robert Haine decides that a cancerous death is to slow for his hostile takeover of the firm and its eight billion dollars in assets. He plans to kill Phillip and his cold bi*ch of an heir. He succeeds in murdering the old man, but only wounds Charlotte who escapes. Still, Robert slightly adjusts his nefarious scheme with some unwitting help from Police Chief Bryzinski from murder suicide to murder insuring the evidence proves Charlotte killed her dad.

Ailing from her wound, Charlotte escapes to Mexico while a national manhunt for her as dangerous occurs. There she as Charlotte Fitzgerald meets US Navy SEAL Matt Sanders, who's is on sick leave recovering from injuries he suffered in Afghanistan. They are attracted to one another, but a wary Charlotte hides her quandary from him. Matt hopes the woman he loves will share what makes her constantly look over her shoulder while Robert needs her silent forever to take over the Court billions permanently.

This exciting romantic suspense thriller stars two likable combatants recuperating from their wounds while falling in love. Charlotte turns from pampered princess to amazon warrior as she prepares to take down her enemy. Matt needs to be with her when she steps into danger, but wonders what she is about to do as she hides her past from him. The final kick is extremely realistic as the audience will cheer for Charlotte to take down the clever Haine.

The Naked Gentleman
Sally Mackenzie
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
9780821780763, $6.99, 1-800-345-2665

If the Ton figured on anyone to be scandal free it would be horticulturist John Parker - Roth who avoids London as if the plague beset the city. However, the one person who can get him to come to town for the season demands he does; John would anything for his beloved mom even face the unmarried horde and their general officer mothers.

Still even in London he spends as much time in the garden as he can. He saves Margaret Peterson from the unwanted assault of Lord Bennington although perhaps her biting amorous Bennie saved the day. Margaret shocks her would be rescuer when she asks John for a kiss; he responds in kind like a true gentleman honoring the lady's wishes. However, by doing so he may have compromised her. Although she says there will be no scandal, her family and his mother push the gossip to the surface in order to force the couple to marry; even as the pair finds their passion for one another growing exponentially.

The fourth "Naked" romance (see THE NAKED EARL, THE NAKED MARQUIS, and THE NAKED GENTLEMAN) is terrific humorous Regency in which Sally Mackenzie cleverly uses hyperbole to tell her tale and showcase the foibles of the Ton. The story line is fast-paced jocularity as John wants a pragmatic wife who will literally play in the dirt with him until Meg teaches him what rolling in the dirt truly is starting with a simple kiss. The support cast is out of control adding to the overall amusing entertainment of a delightful historical.

Olive Kitteridge
Elizabeth Strout
Random House
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9781400062089, $24.95, 1-800-726-0600

In the "Pharmacy" in a small coastal Maine town, Olive and Henry Kitteridge are opposites. Whereas she is a reserved school teacher, he is an extroverted pharmacist; she is attracted to a younger man while he likes "The Piano Player", but neither so far act on their feelings. Over time they raise a child, Christopher, who becomes a podiatrist, marries Suzanne, and moves to New York in "A Little Burst" of next generation. He does all this while his ethical mom watches the "Incoming Tide" chatting with her former student Kevin Coulson about is that all there is. Now a septuagenarian, Olive has financial "Security", but is lonely so she visits her son, her daughter-in-law and her grandchildren in New York, but is disappointed in the behavior of the children. After she dies, her family and townsfolk think of Olive as a "River" flows.

Each new tale builds off the previous tale so that the audience obtains thirteen related short stories that enable fans to get deeply inside the soul of Olive. The tales have differing leads, as Olive is the prime player in most of the entries, but also plays a secondary role in a few or serves as a memory of another person like her son relating his fears of his mom. Well written, OLIVE KITTERIDGE is an enjoyable "novel in stories" that provides a deep character study of the life of a woman told from a 360 degree feedback perspective.

The Locktender's House
Steven Sherrill
Random House
9781400061532, $25.00

In Greensboro, North Carolina Janice Witherspoon lives in her boyfriend's apartment while he serves in Iraq. She prays everyday for his safe return, but her prayers are unanswered when her boyfriend, "Private Danks," dies in the war. Janice has no time to mourn her loss; as his family kicks her out of his apartment.

With no place to go, but in need of closure by seeing her beloved's corpse, something she knows his relatives will never allow her to do, Janice drives to Dover where the dead military are snuck into the country. By the time she reaches Pennsylvania, Janice realizes she has lost her grip on sanity. She decides to take a respite and finds an abandoned Locktender's House overlooking a canal lock. She soon meets rustic sculptor, Stephen Gainy; these two lonely people forge a relationship, but it is the voice and dulcimer playing of an eccentric evanescent eerie female she hears that has her dreaming again of life not death as Janice begins to explore her family's tragic past at these locks at the beginning of the previous century.

This psychological suspense horror thriller takes its time to fully introduce the audience to Janice and through her memories Private Danks. Once readers understand how far Janice's depression is driving her over the edge making the veil between reality and illusion vanish, we will appreciate Steven Sherrill's superb setup that takes readers on a journey into the mind of a griever who is not allowed to grieve. This is an excellent character study of the cost of death turning survivors into the living dead who seem to make their own reality or then again perhaps the ghostly horrific past consumes energy to arise whenever tragedy leaves the present vulnerable.

Sister Pelagia and the Black Monk
Boris Akunin
Random House
9780812975147, $14.00

In the late nineteenth century in Zavolzhsk, Russia late at night a terrorized monk arrives at the abode of Bishop Mitrofanii shouting and weeping simultaneously as he struggles to explain that something has gone terribly wrong at the Hermitage. The Bishop seeing his distraught and unkempt monk becomes concerned as New Ararat Monastery is on the isolated Spartan island as well as an asylum built by a wealthy exile.

The Bishop sends aids to Hermitage to investigate, but those who step forth on the island go insane. With several homicides already, Bishop Mitrofanii is unsure what to do beyond praying. Sister Pelagia wants to go investigate, but females are banned from setting foot on the island. However, when others fail, Sister Pelagia decides to break custom to by going undercover to learn the truth especially about the so called Black Monk who apparently is behind the terror at the hermitage.

The second Sister Pelagia historical amateur sleuth (see SISTER PELAGIA AND THE WHITE BULLDOG) is an engaging mystery once the heroine takes over the investigation, which comes after the essential background is established as to the players and the locale. Sister Pelagia is a wonderful protagonist who risks everything by violating the Hermitage taboo re females to uncover the truth as she quickly learns nothing or no body including people she has known for a long time are quite like she thought. This is radically different than Boris Akunin's Erast Petrovich Fandorin series but readers will appreciate the Sister's inquiries into the mundane and spiritual shortcomings of her late nineteenth century church.

The Prince of Bagram Prison
Alex Carr
Random House
9780812977097, $14.00

Because she speaks Arabic, US Army Intelligent Agent reservist Kat Caldwell was deployed as an interrogator at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. When she met Moroccan teenager Jamal, she quickly realized he was not a terrorist; just a person in the wrong place at the wrong time during an allied sweep led by the British Special Forces. She gains his trust, but her tour ends and she returns to teaching Arabic in Virginia.

Three years later, retired CIA Chief Dick Morrow has Kat reactivated. Her assignment is to find eighteen years old Jamal, who had been an informer since he met Kat, but vanished in Spain after contacting his handler Harry Comfort that he saw terrorist Hamid Bagheri. The CIA sends a team to retrieve Jamal while Morrow thinks he went home and Kat is the best bet to safely bring him back as the lad trusts her. Kat flies to Madrid but quickly realizes that she is CIA bait. If she finds him in the slums of Casablanca where she thinks he is hiding, she will inadvertently betray him as those on her side of the war on terrorism will kill the teen to cover up the torturous truth Jamal could expose.

THE PRINCE OF BAGRAM PRISON is an excellent espionage thriller that seamlessly shifts between the present and three years ago, and several points of view. Readers will be hooked especially when Kat begins to realize she is being used to lure Jamal to his death; thus the heroine struggles between loyalty to her country and the military, but also knows the Army values include honor. Alex Carr provides genre fans with a great tale starring a stunned heroine, a frightened teen, and an adversary prepared to kill both of them. Newcomers will seek Ms. Carr's previous work (see AN ACCIDENTAL AMERICAN).

A Dog Among Diplomats
J. F. Englert
Dell Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780440243649, $6.99, 1-800-726-0600

Randolph the Labrador is considering a post dinner nap once the Chinese spareribs settles in his abundant stomach as staying awake proves difficult because his master Harry is dozing while some narcoleptic butchers the narration of the life of van Gogh. However, NYPD Detective Peter Davis calls bringing both Harry and Randolph out of their TV induced comas when he mentions "her". Peter is the lead detective on the disappearance of Imogen, who rescued Randolph from the pet ship morons and introduced him to her beloved Harry.

Harry and Randolph quickly rush from their Upper West Side apartment to the East Village. Trusting but naive artist Harry and doubter Randolph are informed that their mutual significant other is tied to a homicide that is linked to the U.N. Randolph somewhat because he reads the Post and knows cops are either heroic, on the take, or idiots. Whereas Harry turns to a medium for guidance from the spirit realm, Randolph figures his buddy is acting too human. He goes undercover as a "therapy" dog to anxiety ridden U.N. diplomat Leopold Maranovsky of Near Upper Pilasia, a nation that is currently not annexed by its neighbors though Randolph knows that region keeps mapmakers employed. The canine must keep Harry safe as someone has to humiliatingly escort him when he does 1 and 2 and pick up the poop after him, and prove Imogen is innocent (hopefully alive too) by identifying the real killer; now he has a chance as he has broken through the sanctimonious U.N. dog run barrier.

Randolph continues to be A DOG ABOUT TOWN as he investigates the East Village homicide by infiltrating the U.N. Once again Harry assumes some spirit is guiding his canine as Randolph follows the clues. Readers who appreciate a different type of whodunit will want to read the tale of a genius dog living in a human world especially inside the U.N. where prejudicial diplomats from Near Upper Pilasia and Near Lower Pilasia interact with scorn.

In a Dark Season
Vicki Lane
Dell Books
9780440243601, $6.99

Driving past the spooky house Elizabeth Goodweather, owner of the Full Circle Far, sees a woman about to commit suicide. She is horrified when she realizes this is her new friend Nola Barrett, who seemed perfectly stable just a few days ago. She tries to reason with Nola while waiting for authorities to arrive, but the woman leaps anyway. Fortunately Nola is not seriously injured although she is taken to the hospital. Her niece Tracy arrives to sell Nola's home so the money can be used to place her in a nursing facility.

Elizabeth is a bit suspicious because she never heard Nola saying she had any living relatives. Whenever she visits Nola at the home, her friend does not seem lucid until she starts babbling in rhyme and her words have meaning. While Elizabeth tries to figure out what is going on, Nola's pastor commits suicide for a long ago sin. These events tie back to a gang rape of an innocent young woman who wrote to the interested sheriff; but her letter was stolen so he has no way to contact her. In a silo, the bones of a man is found. Elizabeth knows these seemingly unlinked events are tied together, but not how while a cold killer prepares to add her to the list.

Vickie Lane writes a fabulous whodunit that contains various crimes in the past like when a young man is hanged for a murder he did not commit. The story line is vivid with the past imparting clues Elizabeth finds in her present activities. This technique cleverly works absorbing the audience into wondering what the heroine will find next. Although the amateur sleuth paradox is evident, fans will appreciate IN A DARK SEASON as this juicy mystery has several subplots that provide the motive to the present crimes.

The Darkest Kiss
Keri Arthur
Dell Books
9780553591149, $6.99

In Melbourne, Dhampire Riley Jensen takes her work as a Directorate of Other Races guardian seriously for if she did not she would be dead as her cases are dangerous since she is judge, jury, and executioner when a non-human breaks the law. Her boss Jack Parnell orders her to investigate the death of hawk shifter Gerald James, head of the Non Human Rights league that was pushing for political representation. Her partner is horse shifter Kade with wolf shifter Cole working the crime scene. Both Riley and Kade sense something is not right; Cole tells them the victim had quite a sex marathon. While scratches on the deceased's neck look like they came from a cat. Gerald's assistant says he was seeing Alana Burns, one of the Torrack Trollops who sell themselves to millionaires in order to live the good life.

Wolf Ben Wilson, manager of the Nonpareil striptease, calls Riley to ask her to look into the death of one of his strippers, Denny, who was into the BDSM scene and died during erotic asphyxiation. She agrees and meets Ben at Denny's place where she senses a creature similar to a vampire, but different.

Riley investigates both cases following a trail of death. In each the clues point towards the culprits being different than the normal other races that she knows of. However, understanding the danger to herself, her beloved brother, and his soulmate, Riley continues her pursuit of two dangerously deranged unique killers.

The key to the Arthurian universe (see KISSING SIN and DANGEROUS GAMES) is that the prime supernatural species seem genuine especially dhampires, psychic vampires (the ultimate dominant), and shapeshifters. The two serial killer investigations are interesting as the opponents are super paranormals with nasty grudges that has turned deadly. Although the two killers being two different distinct species that almost no one ever heard of loses some plausibility, police procedural fantasy fans will enjoy this strong investigative tale starring a fascinating individual.

The Molech Prophecy
Thomas Phillips
Whitaker House
1030 Hunt Valley Circle, New Kensington, PA 15068
9781603740555, $12.99,

His mother was an alcoholic and he had no one else so Tommy Cucinelle turned to gangs for a sense of belonging to a family. In time he started to sell drugs for a person high up in a criminal organization. Eventually Tommy began finding people who owed the crime lord money and turned it over to him. He used force when the debtors balked. His life changed dramatically when his younger brother was diagnosed with cancer yet told Tommy he was not afraid of dying because he knew he would be with Jesus. Tommy started reading the bible and eventually turned his life over to Christ.

Senior Pastor Ross Lahore asks Tommy to help him locate his former secretary Nancy who vanished. The pastor feels guilty because he sensed she was troubled, but he failed to act by counseling her. Using skills he developed on the streets as a thug, Tommy investigates. He meets the Nancy's sister Stacy, who is also worried about her missing sibling as her vanishing is out of character. Their search leads to the Wiccan Church New Forest, but once there everyone involved in the investigation ends up in trouble.

THE MOLECH PROPHECY is a thrill a minute chiller filled with action interspersed with the protagonist's efforts to lead a better life than he has. Tommy does not expect the search to land him or his cohorts in any trouble. However, he soon learns how wrong his logic proves as he realizes Nancy had secrets, said goodbye to loved ones, and was associated with some dangerous people. Thomas Phillips shows that faith in Christ helps people through the darkest times when hope seems as distant as a star.

Goodbye Sister Disco
James Patrick Hunt
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312361563, $23.95, 1-888-330-8477

In an affluent part of St. Louis, attorney Tom Myers and wealthy Cordelia Penmark attend a Christmas Party thrown by his firm's senior partner Sam Fisher. They leave the gala and go to his BMW5. While she waits in the passenger seat, he puts the key into the driver's side door when she notices two men seemingly come out of nowhere on each side of the car. The one on Tom's side pulls the trigger of his gun twice killing him. They abduct Cordelia.

St. Louis police detective George Hastings is selected to work with the FBI because of his recent work exposing a bad Fed (see THE BETRAYERS) on the homicide-kidnapping case that has very few clues as money is not the prime motivator though Cordelia's dad is wealthy; apparently political posturing is. Hastings investigates family members of both victims hoping to find a clue that will lead him to the culprits and save the life of the young woman, but most are not forthcoming with the truth. Still he prods each of them motivated by knowing how he as a divorced father with custody of his stepdaughter would die if this happened to her.

GOODBYE SISTER DISCO is a fascinating police procedural starring a likable lead character who diligently works the case with a law enforcement team distrusting of one another and two seemingly disinterested families. The story line is fast-paced with plenty of action that grips the audience as the hero begins to slowly out together the true motive. Although the support cast is stereotypically weak, sub-genre fans will enjoy James Patrick Hunt's entertaining tour of St. Louis.

Holy Moly
Ben Rehder
St. Martin's Press
9780312357542, $24.95

In Blanco County, Texas, Peter "Pastor Pete" Boothe hires backhoe operator Hollis Farley to clear the land for the construction of a mega church complex, a controversial project not warmly received by everyone. Hollis uncovers an Alamosaurus skull that if reported would halt construction until it can be determined whether the area is an archeological gold mine. However, someone shoots an arrow into Farley's back and the fossil vanishes.

Red O'Brien learned from Hollis what he found and wants the valuable fossil. So does paleontologist Dr. Underwood, who based on pictures told Game Warden John Marlin the skull could be worth millions. Meanwhile Red persuades his roommate three-hundred pound Billy Don Craddock to seduce Farley's sister, Betty Jean, as he assumes she is the most likely person to have the dinosaur skull. He also considers those in Pastor Pete's inner sanction like the preacher's cheating wife and his top lieutenant. On the other hand there are those working for dinosaur-lover Darwin Parker. While Red works his amateur sleuthing from all angles, he intrudes on Marlin's official professional inquiry into what happened to Hollis though O'Brien sees the cops getting in his way.

This is a wild well written salute to avarice as just about everyone has a reason to claim the skull and will do what it takes to gain possession. The story line is fast-paced and filled with greedy twists as rivalries battle for ownership. Interestingly Marlin is the hero as he was in GUN SHY, but he shares top billing with Red, Paster Pete, and an assortment of people who spent too much time sniffing oil fumes or baking in the Texas heat.

Severance Package
Duane Swierczynski
St. Martin's Press
9780312343804, $13.95

In Philadelphia CEO David Murphy gathers his seven underlings to a weekend business meeting at the 36th floor office. Once they gather together, David informs the septet that he has shut down the firm and more important to them he must kill them.

There is no escape as David has locked vacuum sealed tight all exits with some containing saran gas if opened and others just shut. All seven are stunned, but the least of them, Molly "mousy" Lewis pulls out a gun and shoots Murphy in the head.

Across the ocean in Scotland, two operatives keep in touch with their agent inside the finance firm Ania Kuczun. What the other six fail to realize as Ania begins her assignment is that she is Molly and the company they worked for was a top secret covert operations, but lost their usefulness so each employee must be eliminated.

This modern day, action packed espionage thriller salutes Agatha Christie's AND THEN THERE WERE NONE as the employees learn that their SEVERANCE PACKAGE is death. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that David informs his subordinate there is no escape as they must die and never slows down until the final death spin.

The Duke Next Door
Celeste Bradley
St. Martin's Press
9780312939694, $6.99

In 1815 their late grandfather Sir Hamish Pickering, disappointed in his daughters not marrying up, placed a stipulation in his will that has his three granddaughters jumping. The first of the trio to marry a duke inherits his fortune. The competing cousins started with the rustic vicar's daughter Phoebe, the elegant Deirdre and the too tall Sophie, but Phoebe is no longer a contender having fallen in love with a duke's brother (see DESPERATELY SEEKING A DUKE).

Deirdre hones in on ducal heir, "The Beast of Brookhaven" widow Calder Marbrook known for women jilting him at the altar like Phoebe just did. Deirdre tells Calder the truth just not the whole truth as she figures that is her best chance of winning; Calder agrees to marry her. Soon afterward, Deirdre meets her new spouse's young child Lady Margaret that she did not know existed; the stepdaughter from hell who does not want a new mama. Upset that her Beast was less than honest with her as he concealed his offspring for her, she wants out, but Calder wants Deidre as they play a sexual game of check and checkmate with one another.

The second Heiress Brides' Regency romance is an entertaining often amusing historical. Deirdre is a terrific lead character as she wants the title to inherit the fortune, but wants love to come with her duke. She feels that is not asking too much although she reconsiders after meeting Meggie whether the money is worth it. Readers will appreciate their gender war enflamed by their love for one another and the brat.

The Moneylender of Toulouse
Alan Gordon
St. Martin's Press
9780312371098, $24.95

In 1204 The Fools' Guild knows that some of the Church's more fanatical leaders want the Pope to disband them under the threat of declaring its members heretic. Especially vocal is the Bishop of Toulouse Bishop Raimon de Rabastens. The Guild whose mission is to prevent war send one of their top agents jester Theophilos and his family to blackmail the Bishop into retiring so that they can replace this adversary with a friendlier person.

Upon arrival in Toulouse Theophilos has no plan except to find a transgression he can use to force Raimon de Rabastens to resign. However, a scheme surfaces when the murdered corpse of moneylender Milon Borsella is found in a tanner's pit; the victim and the Bishop engaged in a loud public argument just yesterday. Theophilos plots how to use the homicide when another murder occurs and Jordan the fool is arrested for the crime. Theophilos and his wife Claudia believe both murders lead back to the Bishop, but to prove it remains difficult.

The latest Fools' Guild medieval mystery (see THE LARK'S LAMENT) is a terrific whodunit that uses a vivid look at early thirteenth century France to enhance the plot. The story line is fast-paced as the husband and wife team switch gear from their devious plot to force the Biship into resigning to proving their local compatriot is innocent. Filled with humor and a great whodunit, only a fool would pass on Alan Gordon's excellent historical investigative tale.

Mighty Old Bones
Mary Saums
St. Martin's Press
9780312360641, $23.95

In normally sleepy Tullulah, Alabama, best friends Jane Thistle and Phoebe Twigg vow to not get involved in any investigation after their recent harrowing experience (see THISTLE AND TWIGG). Instead the duo works together on the upcoming annual Halloween bash hosted at the local library.

While they toil together, a severe thunderstorm causes some damage including uprooting a tree on Jane's land. After the storm passes, the two women go outside to assess the damage to Jane's property only to find the remains of a human had been buried there. Based on information in the library, Jane and local law enforcement officials believe that corpse is probably part of an Indian burial site. Still experts are asked to confirm the prevalent theory while Jane joins the dig as she has archeological skills amongst her global travels. Meanwhile she and Phoebe discuss the vanishing of a popular senior.

This enjoyable small town regional cozy is fun to follow due to the strong friendship that contrasts the extroverted and introverted BFs. The story line simmers down two paths that soon link as the amateur sleuths become embroiled with the mysteries of the corpse and the disappearance while also working on the bash. MIGHTY OLD BONES is a fine T&T tale.

The Fire Waker
Ben Pastor
St. Martin's Press
9780312353919, $24.95

In 304 C.E. Emperor Diocletian sends his official historian Commander Aelius Spartianus on a diplomatic mission. On the dangerous trek to meet one of the other tetrarch rulers Emperor Constantius, the envoy receives a strange missive while in Belgica Prima province. The note claims Christian healer Agnus THE FIRE WAKER allegedly returned from the dead brick-maker Marcus Lupus; however soon after the miracle occurred, Lupus is found murdered in his bed with no third time reanimation.

Aelius curious by the rumors decides to briefly stop and investigate the Lupus homicide. His inquiry quickly leads him to the killing of Judge Marcellus who led court cases against Christians and a procurement corruption case that ties back brick making. The local Commander and other officials resent the outsider intruding in their affairs while Aelius wonders how high up the corruption scandal truly goes.

Mindful of the John Maddox Roberts' SQXR series though a few centuries into the future, the second Spartianius investigative tale (see THE WATER THIEF) is a superb Ancient Rome whodunit. The story line uses the envoy's sleuthing as a means of providing the audience a deep look at local and regional politics in a period when the once mighty Rome has divided into four rival yet "united" empires. The whodunit is excellent with wonderful twists while the glimpse into the tetrarch as fascinating if not more so.

Sugar Daddy
Lisa Kleypas
St. Martin's Press
9780312351632, $7.99

In Welcome, Texas teenager Liberty Jones and her mom move into a trailer park because they cannot afford anything else. Liberty's sole parent works beyond exhaustion to insure they have meals and can meet the rent. However, mom becomes pregnant adding to their worries, but Liberty tries to help at home and with an after school job.

While his father is behind bars, Hardy Cates lives with his mom and three younger siblings in the same trailer park. He works to bring in income his family badly needs. Hardy befriends Liberty helping her with school and playing basketball with her. However, although he knows she loves him. He refuses to reciprocate her feelings as he plans to be different than his wastrel father and leave town soonest without siring kids left behind. Soon afterward, Liberty's mom dies in an accident leaving her to raise her infant sister Carrington.

Liberty becomes a hair stylist in Houston where she meets businessman Churchill Travis. The other stylists suggest she allow Churchill to be her SUGAR DADDY to ease the money woes for her and her sister. When Churchill offers her a job as his live-in assistant to include her sister moving in with them, a reluctant Liberty, knowing he has a son Gage her age, accepts for Carrington's sake. As Churchill treats both Jones females with fatherly affection, Gage is fuming that a gold-digger will hurt his dad while Liberty is happy. However, Hardy returns claiming her as his long lost love though a decade has past since she last saw him while Gage has also fallen in love with her.

Much of this well written book focuses on Liberty raising Carrington with the romance especially the triangle coming late. Liberty is a great lead character as she wants to make a better life for her sister and herself. Although the ending seems somewhat forced because one of the triangular participants acts reprehensible, fans of contemporary tales will enjoy Lisa Kleypas' solid character study.

Losing You
Nicci French
St. Martin's Press
9780312375386, $23.95

On Sandling Island, England, divorced Nina Landry raises her two children, fifteen years old Charlie and Jackson. Nina is looking forward to a Christmas vacation in Florida with her boyfriend marine biologist Christian and is pleasantly stunned when he and others arrange a surprise fortieth birthday party for her.

However her joy turns to concern when Charlie fails to come home from a teen pajama party. Not only is this out of character for her daughter, but Charlie also promised to help pack for the Florida trip, a vacation the teen was looking forward to. Nina goes to the police, who provide her with platitudes about teens and nothing else just like friends and family did earlier. Each minute that passes with no news is like a nuclear bomb exploding in her stomach, but nothing except helplessness and fear happen.

This tense thriller is told predominantly by Nina so that the audience sees her dread grow rapidly and out of control because she is frustrated and fears the worst. Fans especially parents will empathize with Nina, as she not only prays for the safe return of her daughter, she offers deals to the Lord to make it happen. This is a winner from Nicci French as Nina's life goes from joy to terror in a short span.

The Woman Who Wouldn't
Gene Wilder
St. Martin's Press
9780312375782, $19.95

In 1903 Cleveland Orchestra concert violinist Jeremy Spencer Webb has a nervous breakdown on stage during a performance. The British expatriate tears apart the first violinist's music sheets, pours water down a tuba and punches the piano like a maniac before sitting on the stage crying. The men in white took him away in a strait jacket to a nearby neuropsychiatric hospital. When he began speaking three or four weeks later, he was sent to a health resort in Badenweiler, Germany in the Black Forest to recover paid fully by the Orchestra; the same place he was told that Chekhov was there battling consumption.

Dr. Karl Gross, brother to the Cleveland Orchestra's artistic director Otto Gross, takes charge of Jeremy's recovery. There the patient meets Chekhov and "cute Belgie" Clara Mulpas whom he tries to seduce but she proves to be THE WOMAN WHO WOULDN'T. His treatment consists of walks, special soaks, and fine dining with wine. When Dr. Gross decides Jeremy is ready, he asks him to perform with the string quartet entertaining the clinic's guests. Although that ends in failure, Jeremy and Anton become friends and he begins to win Clara's heart.

As with MY FRENCH WHORE, Gene Wilder takes a fun look at lampooning the excesses of the aristocracy who still controls the upper crust in spite of changing economics and soon lifestyle when WWI occurs. Thus readers obtain a sweet satirical glimpse of the elite through life in the Badenweiler health resort; pampering being the cure of all ills. Lighthearted yet insightful, fans will appreciate Gene Wilder's amusing yet deep THE WOMAN WHO WOULDN'T.

The Mercy Oak
Kathryn R. Wall
St. Martin's Press
9780312375348, $24.95

On Sunday Island, South Carolina Bobby Santiago calls his mother Dolores' employer Simpson & Tanner Inquiry Agent Bay Tanner asking for her help. He fears the Hispanic Jane Doe reported as dead in the Sunday Island Packet is his girlfriend, Serena Montalvo, who he believes was murdered.

Serena has been a vocal advocate of the rights of illegals; Bobby thinks the Coyotes who transport them to the States for exorbitant fees and blackmails them afterward, killed her. However, instead the victim is Serena's sixteen years old sister, Theresa. Bobby and Serena vanish while his parents out of fear for their other two offspring as well themselves remain mute on what they know. When Dolores vanishes, Bay drops everything to find her housekeeper even as FBI Special Agent Harry Reynolds warns Bay to stay out of his inquiries into some bank robberies he is investigating and Homeland Security agents threaten to lock her up under the Patriot Act if she does not back off. Obstinate as ever; Bay digs deeper as she distrusts the Feds to protect the Santiago's, Montalvo's, or any illegals.

This is a fabulous Bay Tanner mystery that showcases the other side of the illegal immigration issue from the perspective of those entering the country illegally. Ironically, the recent clamor led by Congressman Tancredo to kick people out has abetted the Coyote crowd, who has found a lucrative second economic source. The story line is fast-paced as Bay gets involved in a case in which everyone tells her to stay out or else. Kathryn R. Wall is at her best with this exciting thought provoking thriller focusing on the consequences of who keeps winning the illegal immigration debate.

If You Ever Tell
Carlene Thompson
St. Martin's Press
9780312372859, $6.99

Eight years ago someone broke into the Farr home in Point Pleasant, West Virginia killing the parents and stabbing preadolescent Celeste. Since teenager Teresa Farr was untouched, the police and the media assume she killed her father, stepmother and failed at murdering her stepsister. However, serial killer Roscoe Lee Byrnes confesses to the murders after he is caught. He is convicted and placed on death row awaiting state execution while Celeste has remained silent since the assault.

However, just before Byrnes is to be executed, he renounces his confession in the Farr homicides. Meanwhile Teresa begins receiving notes insisting she will soon face "justice" while mute Celeste recognizes a unique smell and begins to talk for the first time in eight years; insisting her stepsister is not only innocent, she saved her life. However others do not believe the traumatized child including the note writer as someone wants to divert attention to Teresa for the killings; if necessary even set up a murder suicide scenario that will eliminate the survivors while casting culpability on the older soon dead stepsibling

This is a tense suspense thriller that grips readers the moment that Teresa enters her home to find a nightmare that awaits her. Everyone except for Celeste believes she is the cold blooded killer even after Byrnes confessed. The story line is fast-paced as the killer raises the ante to insure no one alive knows the truth. However, fans will be irritated with the heroine's denial that danger is mounting although her reaction seems psychologically realistic since Teri cannot emotionally deal with a second deadly encounter until she has no choice. Still Carlene Thompson provides an engaging romantic suspense thriller.

A Perfect Revenge
Annabel Dilke
St. Martin's Press
9780312376260, $25.95

After spending six months in India, Laura Delancey comes home to England to find a different world than the one she left. During her absence her family lost the ancestral home the Cistercian Abbey they lived in for centuries to the Traffords.

Just before WWII, Stanley Trafford was a gardener working for his childhood friend Edmund Delancey. Both men were happily married and their wives Hester and Effie became friends who depended on each other when their husbands went off to fight for England. However, something happened in 1946 leading to the end of their friendship, Stanley's job and his eviction from the estate. Four decades later, his self made millionaire grandson Mark wants revenge against the financially strapped Delanceys starting with the Abbey. However, he is attracted to Laura though he rationalizes she is part of his plan. Soon Mark and Laura want to know what happened in 1946 that caused the schism; only those still living refuse to tell.

This is an interesting look at English society at a time of change when the historical class system is dying with the advent of nouvelle riche. The story line is at its best when is focuses on how three generations adapt to changing fortunes. The ending is to perfect while the secret that the older generation hides is obvious to the reader. Still fans will enjoy Annabel Dilke's fine character study of the changing English social order.

Trick of the Mind
Cassandra Chan
St. Martin's Press
9780312369392, $24.95

Affluent Phillip Bethancourt congratulates his best friend New Scotland Yard Detective Sergeant Jack Gibbons on his transfer into The Arts Theft Division after working homicides. In fact the pair worked a couple of cases together (see THE YOUNG WIDOW and VILLAGE AFFAIRS).

However, his accolades turn sour when someone shoots Jack. Phillip assumes the shooting of his friend is tied to his new police work; most likely Jack's investigation into an antique jewelry robbery in which the detective sergeant was getting close to solving. As Jack slowly heals, Phillip quietly arranges with Police Detective Chief Inspector Carmichael to share information as the amateur sleuth makes inquires into who shot his friend and why.

The key to this strong whodunit is that Jack is not running around town like a superhero, but instead is gradually recuperating from his wounds and is in no shape to search for clues; instead the collaboration is refreshed by Jack's boss working with Bethancourt. The investigation is fun to follow and a final twist adds a great climax to the strong story line. Readers will appreciate the inquiries as Phillip escorts the audience on a rare tour of a part of London that seemingly never appears in literature.

Giving Up On Ordinary
Isla Dewar
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312349615, $24.95, 1-888-330-8477

Divorcee Megs' life is in a rut as she gets up, gets her three kids up, feeds her three kids, feeds Shameless the dog, goes to work as a cleaning lady, comes home to feed the kids and dog, goes to sleep and starts all over again with the next wake up. Nearing forty, Megs loves her three children, but tells her best friend there must be more to life. She never recovered from her son Thomas' death in a car accident in which she was late to pick him up at school so he went home alone. Her only enjoyment is singing at the Glass Bucket every Friday night.

Megs' newest cleaning client is Professor Gilbert "Hundred Miles an Hour" Christie, whose house is a disaster. He owns a vacuum that has never been used as he appreciates style and design over use. He is surprised and attracted to her mockery, a device she uses when a patron humiliates her as a cleaning lady.

Megs works as a waitress at a university function that Gilbert attends. When Gilbert sneezes with a pea in his mouth, he humiliatingly watches the vegetable shoot across the table. Soon after the pea incident, Gilbert drives Meg crazy while she cleans his home with his angst until she yells at him. Later Gilbert watches Meg sing at the Glass Bucket. They start an affair, but she notices him looking at the ghost in all the corners.

The prime character is fully developed so that the audience can understand her frustrations of wanting to give up her ordinary life as a mother and a cleaning lady to regain the dreams of her youth. However, she is too responsible to do that until the affair makes her reconsider that her needs and that of her family do not necessarily mean exclusiveness. Fans of deep character studies will appreciate this strong look at a woman turning forty wondering when did her dreams die.

The Fourth Man
K.O. Dahl
9780312375690, $23.95

Oslo Detective Inspector Frank Frolich sees the woman leisurely walking the aisles of the shop where no customers should have been as the police are about to raid the store. He rushes inside and tackles her to the floor just a nanosecond before bullets fly. He learns the witness he saved is Elisabeth Faremo.

A grateful Elisabeth begins seeing Frank, but soon learns she conned the cop as she expertly uses him as an alibi for her brother Jonny, a hood who apparently got away with murder. Already upset with Elisabeth for using him, but unable to let her go as she has him hooked; he becomes angry to learn she has another lover. His rival is university advisor Reidun Vestli. While Frank wonders about how to compete with a female for another woman's affection, someone kills Reidun and soon afterward the Faremo siblings. As his peers at the Oslo Police Department consider him the prime suspect in the three homicides, Frank uncovers a link to an art robbery, but how to prove that is the motive when the love triangle is current and obvious.

This enjoyable femme fatale Danish police procedural will grip the audience from the moment Frank and Elisabeth meet as she quickly hooks him with sex. The story line is fast-paced and the key four players fully developed so that the audience understands the dysfunctional interrelationships that are keys to the plot. However that also leaves a fatal flaw as Frank's reaction to Elisabeth's murder seems to clinically cold for someone who was a slave to her sexuality; fans who can ignore this defect will enjoy THE FOURTH MAN.

Hold Tight
Harlan Coben
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10014-3657
9780525950608, $26.95, 1-800-847-5515

In Glen Rock, New Jersey, the recent suicide of teenager Spencer Hill has sent shockwaves throughout the community as parents wonder could their offspring follow suit and teens ponder what they could have done differently to prevent the tragedy. Since Spencer killed himself, his classmate, sixteen years old Adam Bave has been acting strange as he shows no enthusiasm for anything at all. His aloofness would have been ignored as a teen thing by his parents, Tia and Mike, but with the Spencer death they fear their child could be depressed and perhaps be the next suicide. Panic stricken as they debate security vs. privacy, the Bave pair place spy ware on their son's hard drive.

A few days after their intrusion, Tia and Mike begin feeling a bit better and silly as nothing out of ordinary has happened until a message from an unknown source menacingly states: "Just stay quiet and all safe". At the same time a grieving Betsy Hill, Spencer's mom keeps asking her self how she failed to see the signs; as she goes through an on-line memorial until one photograph stuns her; on the night her beloved son killed himself, neighbor Adam Bave or someone who looks similar is standing nearby her son.

Harlan Coben is at his best with this intimidating one sitting thriller that has the audience pondering on different levels security vs. privacy. Adding to the overall discomfit levels caused by this deep chiller is the knowledge the setting can be just about anywhere in the States as Glen Rock happens to be a suburb of New York City. However what makes HOLD TIGHT a strong suspense is not the menace though this culprit is frighteningly deadly and dangerous; it is the Bave parents' dealing with the choice of to intrude or not to intrude that on a family level parallels the 9/11 to eavesdrop or not to eavesdrop. Readers will believe they could be the Bave or Hill family as Mr. Coben writes a thought-provoking timely profound thriller.

The Boxer and the Spy
Robert B. Parker
c/o G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399247750, $17.99, 1-800-847-5515

When the body of Jason Green is found, his classmates, teachers and administrators at Cabot, north of Boston, accept the cops' official findings that he killed himself because he was juiced with "roids". Only student athlete Terry Novak disagrees with the prevalent suicide theory; he knows that Jason may have been a lover, but was not a jock so would not have done steroids to become a landscape designer as the teen planned to be. Terry wonders if his classmate he was murdered.

Terry half persuades his best friend Abby to help him investigate the death. However, he makes little progress until his trainer retired professional boxer George encourages him to hold his head up, jab away, and not quit. Heeding that advice, Terry keeps digging not aware the danger he brings to himself and Abby by someone who wants the ruling to remain suicide.

Obviously targeting the teen crowd, Robert B. Parker provides an engaging high school mystery starring a young sleuth trying to uncover the truth about the recent death of a classmate. With a strong support cast from George to cigarette smoking Beverly, Suzi and Tank to Mr. Principal and more, the story line is fast-paced from the first jab to the last as Terry and Abby follow clues that lead them to danger.

Armageddon in Retrospect
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399155086, $24.95, 1-800-847-5515

This is a terrific collection by one of the great commentators on human condition in the since WW II. As always Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. uses wry humor to rip into those warmongers who always send someone else to die. The anthology contains nonfiction like the letter he sent to his dad in Indianapolis in which the GI Grunt explains he is fortunate to escape the firebombing of Dresden in 1945 and "Wailing Shall be In All the Streets" where he discuses his POW job of burying the dead in Dresden. The short story fictions are also haunting as the title story advocates that good can never win over evil because good needs evil to exist just like the world can never be at peace for that "Great Day" would lead to war; the author makes the case that violence is in the human DNA even the very young look to fight. This anthology is a fitting final tribute by the late great author who throughout displays his droll sense of the paradox that makes up the "Guns and Butter" of life and death on planet earth.

Phantom Prey
John Sandford
9780399155000, $26.95

There is one case that Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Chief Lucas Davenport likes very much; watching the home of Heather Toms whose husband Sigites "Siggy" is on the run from the police for drug dealing. Siggy fled after making bail, but Lucas believes he will return for his wife and their child, as he loves both of them very much. Heather keeps her shades open giving the surveillance cops a peep show when she strips and breastfeeds.

Davenport leaves this scene when his wife Weather is asked by her friend Alyssa Austin to have him look into the case of her missing and presumed dead daughter Frances. Alyssa came home one day, found the alarm off, Frances gone, and blood splattered all over the house. Frances was into the Goth scene; her friend Fairy egged on by Loren kills three people who the pair believes are connected to Frances' death. As Lucas investigates, he finds this is one of the most bizarre cases of his career as people are not quite as they first seem and those he thinks might have a grudge with Frances prove innocent.

Putting aside the obvious issue that Lucas is not earning chief pay as the boss needs to take care of resources (funding, people, equipment and supplies, etc) while strategically planning instead of field work, fans will enjoy his latest police procedural. The protagonist is shot at and overworked with a load of paper waiting at the office, but none of that prevents him from working both cases. Neither inquiry intersects as each is separate as they run parallel subplots. PHANTOM PREY is a riveting work in which readers will need to know who the killer is and if Siggy will come home.

Blood Trail
C.J. Box
9780399154881, $24.95

Joe Pickett loved being the game warden of the Saddlestring District, but he was fired by Randy Pope, the Wyoming State Director. Now he is a troubleshooter for the governor and a substitute for game wardens throughout the state who are ill or on vacation. Currently it is elk hunting season; one of the hunters has been killed, skinned, and found tied upside down to a tree branch missing his head.

The governor wants Joe to find the perpetrator before he is forced to close state lands from hunters and ask the Feds to do likewise. Unlike his usual on the job distant professionalism, Pope is hands on leading the investigation. When they go into the woods tracking the killer, he is missing though his friend is there as back-up. The tracker is killed. At about the same time shots are fired and Randy's friend dies. Activist Klamath Moore, some feds feels terrorist is more descriptive, and his wife Shannon arrive in town stirring up those people against hunting because he believes killing animals for sports is ethically apprehensible. Joe begins to figure out what is going on when he gets his friend Nate released from federal custody but he doesn't want to believe where the evidence points. .

The Joe Pickett police procedurals are unique action-packed thrillers starring a hero who thinks outside of the box, which is why he lost his job. The villain is multifaceted as he is leaving a message behind for hunters who will NRA the killer with disdain and readers who will feel sorry for that person. However, this is Joe's series and he is determined to bring justice to the killer knowing that this time it will hurt badly as he sympathizes with the culprit and believes he may know the person. Using a secondary character, C .J. Box also warns the audience that the natural beauty of the parks are in jeopardy by those whose strategic planning is less than fifteen minutes as instant satisfaction is all that matters.

The Orpheus Deception
David Stone
9780399154638, $25.95

CIA cleaner Micah Dalton is still recuperating from his escapades especially the drugs he was forced to take (see THE ECHELON VENDETTA) as he continues to chat with the ghost of former peer Porter Naumann. Whereas the spirit keeps warning Micah to be cautious as all hell is about to break loose, Micah and his girlfriend Cora Vasari attend Naumann's funeral in Tuscany.

However, in reality, Dalton is hallucinating as he bleeds in a Venusian hospital after a female marathon runner stabbed him with a piece of glass. Serbian mob kingpin Branco Gospic had called for the hit after Dalton interfered with his operations making him look weak when he beat up two thugs. The Gospic gang also has hijacked a tanker off Indonesia killing the crew and murdered everyone who attended a party hosted by a rival. Meanwhile, Dalton receiving his next assignment, leaves the hospital, stops for some action with Cora, and accompanied by British agent Mandy Pownall goes into the field to rescue the only survivor of the tanker murders, rogue Special Air Service agent Ray Fyke, who is a guest resident of Changi Prison in Singapore.

This is a superb action thriller in which the reader needs to ignore their plausibility metric meter and instead put on their seat belt and helmet to join Dalton on his wild international caper. The story line is fast-paced from the onset even when the hero lies in a hospital bed and never slows down as blood flows except for sexual interludes. Fans who enjoy over the top thrillers will appreciate Dalton's second globalization adventure, an exciting tale impossible to put down.

Clubbed to Death
Elaine Viets
Obsidian Mystery
c/o The Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451223944, $24.00, 1-800-847-5515

Helen Hawthorne is moving up in the world. She has a new job making over twelve dollars and hour, a credit card, and a cell phone. The only downside is she hates working at Florida's Superior Club where only the ultra wealthy can get in. As a service rep, she feels not much more than a drone listening to the complaints of the members who expect her to satisfy their demands instantly. To make matters more unbearable, Helen's ex husband Rob has sailed into the docking area with his billionaire wife, Marcella known as the Black Widow.

When they meet Helen gets angry with him and pushes him. The next day the Black Widow reports her husband and jewelry are missing. Since there are witnesses to the shoving incident, the police arrest Helen. Marcella has her attorney get the charges dropped but in return the Black Widow wants Helen to find what frightened Rob into running away. While investigating, Helen stumbles across two murdered bodies. The amateur sleuth decides the Superior Club and its members have some dark secrets that make her uncomfortable working there, but first she feels she must find Rob who fled after stealing jewelry; unaware that her snooping makes her a likely next victim.

Elaine Viets Dead End Job mysteries are always fun and this one like its predecessors is too as the clues are always out there for the reader to identify the killer, if they can recognize these are clues. CLUBBED TO DEATH is one of the best in this delightful long running series due to a fascinating colorful support cast who range from eccentric to deranged. Fans will empathize with the heroine who is caught between her ethics and her sustenance economics even as she makes inquires that place her in danger.

Murder Can Crash Your Party
Selma Eichler
9780451223845, $6.99

Private Investigator Desiree Shapiro is invited to be the guest speaker at the Arresting Women's Mystery Convention in Connecticut. Since she needs to get out of Manhattan, she accepts. While having brunch the day after her speech, Belle Simone and her secretary Gary Donleavy join her with a business proposition. Belle has written a book and if Desiree can solve the case by identifying the killer based on the three clues she is given, the author will give her $29,940.

Since business is extremely slow, Desiree accepts the challenge. She starts reading the manuscript about a man named Rob who came home to a surprise birthday party given by his wife Tess. She pours him champagne for a toast, but he puts it down on a nearby table without drinking it; he swears he will drink it after he changes clothing. Later that night he keels over and dies. The police consider he may have been poisoned either with champagne he had later or with his dinner. Desiree uses her imagination, but even with the help of her friends, she struggles to figure out who the killer is.

With a story inside a story, this is a fascinating intellectual whodunit that has the heroine at the end of her wits trying to solve the case. The chapters from Belle's book are smoothly sprinkled throughout the tale so that the audience can join Desiree by trying to identify the culprit. Fans will also see how far Desiree and Nick have come while his son still hates her. However, it remains the enjoyable challenge of matching wits with Desiree that makes MURDER CAN CRASH YOUR PARTY refreshing and fun.

For Pete's Sake
Linda Windsor
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061171383, $12.95,

One of the Four Musketeers Ellen Brittingham loves driving a motorcycle but her tomboyish behavior seems to turn off men. She has pretty much settled on the thought she will never meet someone who will embrace the real full Ellen because they will demand she give up her safety helmet for frills. Additionally Ellen has never met a man who makes her melt inside.

That is until Adrian Sinclair moves in next door. Ellen is attracted to the single dad and likes his eleven year old son Peter, whose mom Carol died giving birth to him. However, now that she finally has found the man of her dreams, she knows she cannot compete with his fiancee Selena a stunning tall blonde software marketing rep; besides which she understands Pete must come first.

The second Windsor's Piper Cove tale (see WEDDING BELL BLUES) is an engaging inspirational romance starring two likable individuals who both understand that Pete comes before their needs. That mantra gives Ellen her only edge against her rival, who is beautiful and brilliant, but misses the key to Adrian's heart. The secondary cast, mostly the other three pals, of course Pete, Carol (through Adrian's pensive thoughts) and Selena, enhances the deep look at the fully developed lead couple. Fans will appreciate this warm romance.

Leda Swan
9780061431227, $13.95

Schoolteacher Emily Clemens knows that to keep her position at the exclusive girls' finishing school she must behave with decorum and never be in the middle of scandal. She needs the job, but the endless ennui and the posturing by her superior and the aristocratic parents are driving her crazy. Having no family to turn to, Emily decides to pose for racy photographs hoping she can become the mistress to some affluent rake.

However, Emily is stunned when she finds herself attracted to photographer Eric Twyford. He may not meet her criteria, but she does not care. However, when he fails to show even the slightest thaw in his icy professionalism, a despondent Emily returns to her initial plan, but wonders how she will seduce anyone with B&W photos when she failed to move Eric with her flesh. Still she turns elsewhere even as Eric cannot wait to move past this job because he needs to make love with his latest model-client.

The theme of this nineteenth century English romance of two people in love misunderstanding the motives of each other has been used frequently; however, Leda Swann refreshes the concept with the lewd photos as the matchmaker. E & E are fully developed individuals who fall deeper in love with each other with every shot he takes. Although Emily makes some asinine selections that feel out of character for her, fans will appreciate the heated historical romance between the model and the photographer.

A Foreign Affair
Caro Peacock
9780061445897, $13.95

In 1837, Liberty Lane travels from England to visit her father in France. However, upon her arrival in Paris, she learns her dad died in a duel over a woman. She rejects the prevalent theory because her father would never fight a duel. Liberty vows to learn the truth, but her inquiries are cut short when two "investigators" try to kidnap her.

Pledging to her later father not to give up until the truth is known, Liberty flees back to England to regroup. Home Office secret agents ask her to go undercover as a governess at Mandeville Hall as they believe her father's death and a seditious plot to kill the newly crowned young queen are tied together with Sir Herbert Mandeville at the center of treason.

This early Victorian espionage thriller with gothic overtones hooks the audience once Liberty makes up her mind to learn the truth as she knows her father would never try to kill anyone. The story line is fast-paced from the onset as Liberty makes friends (not all human) while adversaries want her dead. With Mandeville Hall being a perfect dangerous gothic setting, fans will relish Liberty's first account of spying for her country and for her late father.

The Seduction of an Unknown Lady
Samantha James
9780060896492, $6.99

In 1852 Lord Aidan McBride is stunned to see a single female walking the streets of London by herself. He offers to escort her, but she almost skewers him with the deadly weapon she carries, her parasol. Bookshop owner Fionna Hawkes distrusts the aristocratic hunk who swears he wanted to insure she was safe.

Aidan comes to Fionna's bookstore seeking the latest horrors tales by F.J. Sparrow. He does not know why, but she seems so much friendlier once he mentions the novels he desires. They argue over the tales such as the demon of Dartmoor and other things and soon walk the city together. However, though she is falling in love, her plate is full between caring for her hospitalized mentally ill mom, running her bookstore, and writing F.J. Sparrow novels. He falls in love too, but he knows she keeps a secret from him that makes him doubt she trusts him. Additionally, neither is aware that an unknown adversary is watching, stalking and waiting for the right moment to catch Fionna alone.

THE SEDUCTION OF AN UNKNOWN LADY is an excellent Victorian romance with some suspense that is slowly simmered throughout the plot. Fionna is terrific as she has no time for romance, but never met anyone like Aidan before who refuses to leave her alone as he fell in love over their Sparrow discussions. Samantha James is a sure shot when it comes to historical romances as affirmed by this strong tale.

Oceans Apart
Karen Kingsbury
9780061456718, $7.99

Eight years ago airline captain Connor Evans and flight attendant Kiahna Siefert met and shared a wonderful Hawaiian weekend; he promised to come back but never did as he regrets his infidelity. She raises her seven year old son, Max with the help of her child's babysitter Ramey, who has a severe heart condition. Connor is happily married to Michele and they have two lovely daughters Elizabeth and Susan.

When Flight 45 from Honolulu to Tokyo crashes killing Kiahna his indiscretion comes home. Her will claims he is Max's father and has two weeks to either accept him as his or reject the lad so he becomes a ward of the state. Mourning the loss of his mother and his home, Max, his dog Buddy, and his ailing babysitter arrive in Florida where Michele shows her hurt by her husband's betrayal of their vows by making it clear the child is unwanted; their daughters follow her example. Max prays for a miracle though each day that passes he feels less certain that God will intervene.

This is a reprint of a terrific inspirational tale in which the reactions of the Evans family to Max seems plausible. However, Max holds the tale together with his prayers that divine intervention will allow him to one day call Mr. Evans daddy. Readers will not have a dry eye after reading this strong character driven tale that affirms Alexander pope's "to err is human but to forgive is divine".

Temptation of the Warrior
Margo Maguire
9780061256370, $5.99

In 981 on the Isle of Coruain, High Chieftain Merrick MacLochlainn knows he has no choice but to do the mission in order to keep the Druzai safe from the malevolence of their long time enemy the witch Eilinora, who escaped incarceration, killed Merrick's father, and stole the scepter of power. The first leg of his quest is to retrieve sacred stones that will bring back powers to the Druzai. However to obtain the stones means he must travel forward in time to 1826.

Merrick goes forward over eight centuries, but upon finding himself in Regency Northumbria; he is mentally confused and cannot recall his past let alone his mission. He also has problems with just who is Jenny Keating, whom he rescued from some attackers. They travel together until the reach a Gypsy camp where she claims she is his wife. Merrick knows that is untrue but does not expose her as he wants her safe while his mind heals. As he recovers and falls in love, Merrick believes Jenny is the source for his obtaining the stones. However, both know he must go back in time, but can she accompany her beloved if they retrieve the stones while his known foe and other death sorcerers cause mayhem.

TEMPTATION OF THE WARRIOR is a fascinating romantic fantasy that employs time travel to bring together a Dark Ages Scottish warrior and a Victorian woman. The time travel is especially handled really well as he struggles with effect of the trip. The story line is fast-paced from the opening segue when Merrick tells his courageous female cousin Ana no that he not she will journey and never slows down until the confrontation. Fans will appreciate Margo Maguire's magnificent good vs. evil thriller and want to read Merrick's brother Brogan's tale (see A WARRIOR'S TAKING).

A Stranger's Touch
Cait London
9780061140518, $6.99

The Aisling triplets (Claire, Tempest, and Leona) all have strong psychic abilities. Tempest has the ability to know the history of any object she touches. Currently she seeks an ancient brooch but following the clues takes her to Marcus Greystone.

They shared one night of bliss not too long ago and both would not mind more. However, Marcus pleads with Tempest to help him investigate the murders of his parents. She reluctantly agrees even as a former lover stalks her. However, as her touch brings them closer to the truth, they fall in love, but she knows things about him that even he does not know and fears if she tells him he will not feel safe with his secrets.

The second Aisling paranormal romantic suspense is an enjoyable tale that brings some clarity to the stalking malevolence and augments key subplots left dangling in the first story (see AT THE EDGE, Claire's tale), which should wrap up in Leona's entry. Tempest is a wonderful lead character whose power is appealing but also can be sort of like that of King Midas, which adds to the readers awe and fascination with her. On the other hand readers will not like the demanding Marcus until he turns heroic. Romantic fantasy fans will enjoy the saga of the Aisling triplets.

Seduced by Sin
Kimberly Logan
9780061239205, $5.99

In 1823, Lady Aimee Daventry continues to have the nightmares that she has suffered from since she witnessed the murder of her mother ten years ago when she was nine years old. Although the late killer confessed five years ago, these dreams this time have her mom insisting she remember everything so that she can make them listen. Her two married sisters Maura and Jillian worry about Aimee who is so unlike them or their late mom, the actress Elise. Instead she is a mouse who plans to remain a spinster especially since the man she loves Viscount Royce Grenville rejected her last year as he said he was not interested in mice. Royce hides how much he desires Aimee out of fear that he is cursed to doom those he loves. He blames himself for the deaths of his late brother Alex seven years ago, his sibling's wonderful fiancee Cordelia nine years ago, and that of his unit at Waterloo.

With her two sisters settled (see SINS OF MIDNIGHT and THE DEVIL'S TEMPTATION) her father hopes to see Aimee married. However, before taking any vows, Aimee begins her quest that she pledge to herself to find her mother's killer. Aimee turns to Royce for help as her quest places her in danger from a killer who wants the secret of his/her identity to remain concealed.

This is a fabulous ending to the Daventry siblings' Regency romantic suspense trilogy. The return of the lead couples from the previous novels is more than a feeling of homecoming as they offer advice to the heroine's concerned father. However, the tale belongs to Aimee who may look and somewhat act like a mouse, but roars with claws out in perilous situations. The mystery of who killed their mother's murder is cleverly devised so that key threads from the previous tales are tied up nicely. Perhaps the only subtraction is that of a thug paid to kill Aimee turns illogically maniacal in his quest to complete this paying job.

Never Trust a Scoundrel
Gayle Callen
9780061235054, $6.99

In 1845 in a game of cards, Lady Banbury assured of her hand raises the stake by anteing up her daughter. However, to her chagrin, Daniel Throckmorten takes the pot, which includes the virtue of Miss Grace Banbury.

Grace is stunned as not only is this out of character for her prim and proper mom; she lost to a noted rake whose family is always embroiled in scandal. However, Daniel may be amused by the affair, but he will never force a female into his bed. Instead his plan is to seduce Grace so that she voluntarily graces his bed. Grace assumes she can ignore his seduction and regain her freedom, but Daniel's kisses are hard to resist as she has fallen in love with the scoundrel who keeps raising the ante.

The "introduction" between the lead couple is a wonderful unique concept (unless you're Grace) that brings a distinct freshness to the nineteenth century tale of the romance between a rake and an innocent. Daniel and Grace prove to be much more than the stereotypes as they gamble on love while the eccentric support cast especially her gambler of a mother and his out of control family enhance this entertainingly brisk early Victorian romance.

A Hotel in Paris
Margot Justes
Echelon Press Publishing
9781590805343, $12.99,

After being betrayed by her boyfriend back in the States and with no other ties, talented artist Minola Grey accepts a teaching position at L'Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. She stays in a hotel in which she has visitors late at night, but the staff respect and like her. When her English Lord Yardleigh is murdered just a few rooms from her, the Police Nationale lead the official investigation, but asks Interpol to send Agent Peter Riley to assist as he was working a money laundering case involving the deceased's company.

When Peter and Minola meet, they have an instant attraction, but he assumes she is a hooker. However, as she and her best friend Sally interfere in the inquiry, he revises his opinion of her, but remains unaware of what she does as he refuses to look her up in the police database. Sally's fiance Robert arrives adding to Peter's confusion about how much he desires Minola. However, when she sees Peter's former fiancee, the victim's wife Alexa, Minola knows she cannot compete with the beautiful woman for Peter's affection. Still she helps on the case with her artist's eye for detail and with hosting a party for Sally and Robert that includes several suspects. Meanwhile Peter knows she is the one for him; he just has to convince her that when this investigation ends to stay with him in A HOTEL IN BATH (next book) or to tour with him again and again Rodin's Museum as his wife.

This is an entertaining police procedural romance with the changing relationship between Peter and Minola intermingled with the investigation. The cooperation between Police Nationale, New Scotland and Interpol is probably too smooth as no petty jealousies surface. Still the mystery investigation is fun as it is built around the concept that "Cherchez l'Euro supersedes "Cherchez la Femme" in the modern world, but it is the loving rapport filled with self-doubts between Peter and Minola that make A HOTEL IN PARIS a fun read.

Curse of the Bayou
Mary Cunningham
c/o Echelon Press Publishing
9781590805756, $9.99,

In Indiana in 1964 best friends Cynthia and Gus decide to learn what happened to the former's great-grandfather Beau who vanished in 1915 while on a business trip. The two best friends enter the attic of Cynthia's home and the trunk sends them through time where they avoid being alligator bait thanks to some bologna Gus had. The quickly learn it is 1914 when they meet octogenarian Mouton" Mud Bug" Boudreau who warns the two young girls to avoid pirates like Buzzard Jack LaBuse. He begins taking them by canoe to New Orleans when he and his boat vanish.

The two buddies find themselves in 1844 where Jasmine is quite nice to them and so is her ten years old son Mooty called Mud Bug by everyone. From there the clues take them to 1915 and the farm of Samantha Connor whose spouse Beau vanished last year on a business trip in New Orleans. The girls know they are getting closer to finding Beau but wonder where they will go next in time.

The third Cynthia's Attic young adult time travel mysteries (see Magic Medallion and MISSING LOCKET) is a fabulous tale as the two intrepid best friends journey back and forth through time. The preadolescent pair remains consistent even with Gus having some non hunger moments while the support cast especially Mud Bug as an elderly person and a child make for a fun Bayou adventure with a fantastic final twist setting up the next entry.

Surviving Serendipity
Jacquelyn Sylvan
c/o Echelon Press Publishing
9781590805862, $14.99,

June lives a nice comfortable middle class life as she approaches her twenty-first birthday. She expects a little celebration with her friends Ashleigh and Shannon, and her fiance Kyle, but nothing life changing. She is disappointed that Kyle could not get out of a late meeting.

However, when a somewhat tipsy June enters her unlit apartment after designated driver Ashleigh drops her off, someone wearing purple pants that belonged in a Johnny Depp swashbuckler or a genie is in her kitchen. The stranger abducts her although June has no idea why as she has no one can pay a ransom to free her. She quickly realizes no one she knows has the technology to pay a ransom as her kidnapper takes her across the galaxy to on the planet Thallafrith where she is the only surviving member of the royal family that has ruled the kingdom of Prendawr. Her people expect Princess June to use the magical skills she did not know she had to save the day. With the guidance of Halryan the sorcerer and the nearly extinct blue warriors, June feels so unready to fight the evil that is destroying her new old world.

This is a fabulous young adult sci-fi novel that is much more complex than the above paragraphs describe as the heroine learns how relative truth is to the beholder. Everyone seems to have a personal agenda while interpreting events to foster the achievement of that objective regardless of side effects on others. June is great as a displaced person wondering how she fell through the rabbit hole from being a young American whose worst fear is butt growth to being a world savior mage with enemies who want her dead. SURVIVING SERENDIPITY is a superb story as June just wanted a little excitement in her life.

Phantom Pleasures
Julie Leto
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451223654, $6.99, 1-800-847-5515

In 1747 in Valoren just outside Germany, the Forsyth brothers rush to a Gypsy encampment to save their sister Sarina from ruin. Instead of rescuing her, they are turned into statues by some magical curse.

Over two and half centuries later, affluent businesswoman Alexa Chandler learns that her late father left her Isla de Fantasmas, an island off Florida, that includes a partially reconstructed German castle in which the stones were transported from Europe. She thinks she can convert the place into an exclusive hotel. However, Alexa soon learns of a phantom that haunts her castle. Alexa asks her best friend, paranormal researcher Catalina Reyes to help the ghost who becomes physical at night. Damon Forsythe is fascinated by the independent Alexa, He feels with her and Cat helping him, he might escape the curse, but assumes the cost is no longer interacting with his beloved Alexa.

This is a terrific opening paranormal romance that for the most part occurs in 2008, but also details what happened in 1747. The story line is fast-paced from the onset, but accelerates once the female developer realizes that when the castle was moved from Germany to the Florida isle a ghost was brought with it. A secondary plot involving Cat and a Romany scholar Ben augment this pleasurable tale starring the phantom of the castle and the woman whose love gives him hope.

Take Me If You Can
Karen Kendall
9780451223661, $6.99

ARTemis Inc recovers stolen art for their clients. Part owner Avy Hunt is currently searching for the Sword of Alexander. British art thief Sir Liam James is the prime suspect as the theft has his modus operendi. She tries to learn all she can about her adversary but unbeknownst to her, Liam is doing likewise re his opponent. Liam confronts Avy on his turf, London leaving her angry, confused, and wanting.

As Avy and Liam team up in search of the purloined sword, someone wants to prevent them from uncovering the truth even as their attraction for one another exponentially grows. Avy begins to wonder if she fell in love with a thief or is there something else to her beloved as his behavior does not quite add up to what she expected from a burglar.

This is an exciting romantic suspense thriller that crosses the Atlantic several times as the lead pair "competes" against one another before teaming up. The story line is fast-paced from the onset until the final extortion although the miraculous speed of recovery from on the job injuries seems implausible. Still this is a fun tale as the sassy confident heroine challenges the suave self-assured hero to take her if he can.

A Lady's Secret
Jo Beverley
9780451224194, $7.99

In 1764 the ennui that engulfed Earl Robin Fitzvitry ends when he observes a sight he never would have imagined ever seeing. While dining at the Tete de Boeuf Inn in Abbeville, France, he observes Sister Immaculata in the courtyard mumbling curses like a sailor in apparently several languages. Unable to resist her paradoxical profanity, he learns she needs an escort to take her to England; intrigued, Robin agrees to take her.

Sister Immaculata is actually Petra d'Averio hiding in a nun's outfit. She feels guilty because she is attracted to her escort while wearing a sister's garb. He also proves to be hiding something from her as he risks his life to keep her safe. Petra may love Robin, but leaves him so that her enemies will leave him alone. Robin refuses to accept that his beloved just left as he needs her safe and at his side.

With wit and humor, Jo Beverley proves a wonderful eighteenth century romance starring two amiable lead characters whose first encounter is one of the best in recent memory. The tale is filled with non-stop action as the rake and the nun fall in love, but out of her fear for his safety she leaves to keep safe while due to his feelings he needs to keep her protected. Jo Beverley provides a tremendous historical due to the antics of this lead couple.

Lovers and Ladies
Jo Beverley
9780451223364, $14.00

"The Fortune Hunter". Amethyst "Amy" de Lacy decides to marry for money so that her husband will bestow dowries on her sisters and pay off the debts her late wastrel dad engulfed her brother Jasper with. However, Amy wonders how to meet a wealthy spouse when her family cannot afford a season. Hopes rise when Jasper wins a lottery. The four siblings debate whether to buy real tea or invest until Amy takes the pittance planning to go to London to attract a wealthy suitor. However, she stops off at the new neighbor's place where she meets Harry Crisp. He falls in love, but before he can propose she reveals her scheme that she must marry money though she is attracted to Harry. Heartbroken that he loves a fortune hunter, Harry leaves.

"Deirdre and Don Juan". A married Earl, Mark Juan Carlos Renfrew is known by the Ton as Don Juan for his numerous affairs. His wife left him for another man early in their marriage so though he remains tied he feels free to chase women. However, when he learns his spouse died, Mark needs a spouse before the Mamas learn he is unshackled and make London unbearable. His mother suggests he marry his friend Lady Deirdre Stowe, who is not what one would call a second looker. She loves Howard Dunstable the mathematician and has a deal with her parents if no one proposes she can wed her beloved. Mark proposes, which Deirdre is forced to accept; one kiss tells him he is no longer a rake, but he must convince her they belong together.

These are two reprints of early 1990s Regency romances that loosely are part of a series (see EMILY AND THE DARK ANGEL) as characters reappear; however these are not the first books in that saga so some references feel unexplained. Still these are two entertaining traditional Regencies starring strong lead characters and solid support casts that Jo Beverly fans will enjoy.

The Triumph of Deborah
Eva Etzioni-Halevy
c/o Penguin Group, USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780452289062, $14.00, 1-800-847-5515

As her husband of sixteen years Lapidoth dumps her, prophetess Judge Deborah finds strength in knowing her people need her as war with Canaan is imminent. She knows her personal sorrow is minor when she expects mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters to soon be grieving for their men-folk, but Deborah rallies the Jews persuading General Barak to lead the sword-bearers to attack the overwhelmingly superior Canaanites. Shockingly he and his forces win, bringing back two special prisoners, the daughters of the enemy's mightiest king Jabin, legitimate Princess Asherah and illegitimate Princess Nogah. Barak is attracted to both.

In her third women of the Old Testament novelizations (see THE SONG OF HANNAH and THE GARDEN OF RUTH), Eva Etzioni-Halevy provides a powerful comparative tale of predominately two women, Deborah and Asherah. The story line focuses on their relative influence on their respective countries especially Deborah who understands deeply with a sad heart the cost of sending the warriors to war as some will die. With obvious modern day comparisons, readers will appreciate this biblical fictionalized biography as THE TRIUMPH OF DEBORAH vividly brings to life a dedicated strong individual who believes deeply in her cause, but truly comprehends the sacrifices she asks of her people.

Fifteen Minutes of Shame
Lisa Dailey
9780452289130, $14.00

Darby Vaughn has written bestselling self-help books and made many TV appearances, but knows she is America's dating expert by the sales of her own line of perfume. However, she is mortified when during a TV interview, she finds out her cheating spouse Will has filed for divorce. Since he was also her publicist she has no expert to help her with the media frenzy and how to spin it.

FIFTEEN MINUTES OF SHAME ends with Darby resolute to not just salvage her life, but to make it clear it is the dummy's loss not hers. After a few days of sisterhood bonding, Darby is ready to spin the tale her way starting with her column whose first entry in two weeks is "The Dreamgirl's Breakup Survival Guide" and follows up with the Dreamgirl's Academy. She also publicly dates again at the same she hires Holt, the best lawyer she can to insure numb-nuts is cut off with no blood left in either head. Darby finds herself attracted to her new attorney, but first comes her lifestyle, then mutilating her ex, and finally dating the hunk.

This is an engaging chick lit romance that stars a courageous woman who epitomizes Frank Sinatra's That's Life; paraphrasing from the lyrics: she finds herself publicly flat on her face, she picks herself up and gets back in the race. Fans will root for her to succeed with her reengineering of her vocation and with Holt.

Iain M. Banks
9780316005364, $25.99,

Far from the affluent technologically advanced Culture buried deep underneath the surface of the artificial "Shellworld" Sursamen lays the backwater Kingdom of the Sarl ruled by King Hausk who has three offspring. His heir is Oramen while his spare is Ferbin; the third sibling and only female the discarded Djan vanished into exile a long time ago.

In a coup, the conspirators assassinate King Hausk and blame Ferbin, who escapes their attempts to kill him to cover their crimes. They place Oramen on the throne as an image of continuity, but the assassins are the true power and do not hide their control of power. Meanwhile Ferbin seeks the help of his sister to free Oramen, take back the throne and avenge their sire. However Djan is no longer the same person she once was since she became an operative of the Culture's Special Circumstances that intrudes on lesser civilizations for the better good of the galaxy.

The Kingdom of Sarl comes across as a genuine backward place surrounded by seemingly superior technology everywhere outside the monarchy. The three siblings are fully developed especially the "spare" and the "discarded" who must go home to save their people in spite of the fact that neither is wanted nor needed. The eighth "Culture" tale is a superb entry that merges political machinations that come across as Renaissance Era Machiavellian maneuvers with advanced space technology; the smooth blending showcases why Iain M. Banks is consistently one of the best science fiction authors.

Robert Buettner
9780316019125, $6.99

In 2040 an unknown space armada attack planet Earth. From distances beyond anyone on the planet could achieve the aliens sent smart bombs killing innocent people like the mother of Jason Wander in Indianapolis when she came to see him. Unable to cope, Jason turns to drugs and crime until he is busted. His choices are boot camp as a soldier or prison as a convict. He chooses to become a grunt, but continues to not care until the enemy destroys nearby Pittsburgh killing everyone inside the city.

The Slugs as they have been dubbed continue to send long distance projectiles destroying city after city with a few earthlings able to shoot their missiles out of the sky. However, though it seems hopeless, the firing point has been established on Ganymede. To take them out a prototype ship is launched under the UN auspices. The counterassault fails leaving Jason, two gunner buddies, and his girlfriend left to either save mankind or the more likely outcome which is death.

The key to this entertaining military science fiction thriller is the hero who is a classic screw-up because he does not give a sh*t until Pittsburgh. Even after that Jason tries to do the right thing but still blunders and errs. Still he, his girlfriend and his buddies bond and prove that as a unit they are stronger than they are individually. Although there is little description of life on Battlefield Earth, fans will appreciate this opening engaging hyperspeed action-packed thriller.

These Boots are Made for Stomping
Julie Kenner, Jade Lee, Marianne Mancusi
Love Spell
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780505527608, $7.99, 1-800-481-9191

"A Step in the Right Direction" by Julie Kenner. Mortal Lydia Carmichael has no powers and in fact gets in the way of the Protector Nikko the Silver Streak on his mission. The superhero must capture technology thief Rex Ruthless and his cohorts before they cause harm. When Lydia puts on the special footwear everything changes.

"Kung Fu Shoes" by Jade Lee. In Indianapolis English literature teacher Michaela Becker fears for her life but still tries to reach smart student Lucy Varner. Her dreams seem futile until she dons the "Kung Fu Shoes" that turn her into a sexual fighting machine; just ask her boyfriend Joe.

"Karma Kitty Goes to Comic Com" by Marianne Mancusi. Karma Kitty comic book author Hailey Hills and her artist Thomas Carol have a booth at the 2008 New York Comic Con. Though she loves being here, she fears the love of her life Collin Robinson will be too. Their relationship ended when comic publishers rejected his art work on the original Karma Kitty though a misunderstanding caused the final break. As they see one another, both knows they still love the other, but who will make the first dangerous move becomes moot when Hailey gets embroiled in a mess requiring a superhero not a lover.

These three lighthearted satirical romantic romps are fun to read as each stars mortal females turning into superheroes ostensibly because of special shoes; yet they had the fortitude inside them embellished by a loving caring hunk or geek.

Sandra Schwab
Love Spell
9780505527233, $6.99

In 1820 it was obviously a magical mistake as she loves her relative, but turning her uncle's house blue on top of changing the foundation into shaky giant chicken legs leads to Miss Amelia Bourne losing her powers and being exiled to London for the season. She meets several nice young men, but Amelia finds Sebastian "Fox" Stapleton too haughty of a rake. Both act polite towards one another, but each dislikes the other until they drink the spiked punch. Suddenly Fox and Amelia need one another with a deep passion.

They journey to his country estate, but Amy wonders why she went from total loathing to animalistic desire on one sip. She decides to check whether this is love or an illusion. As she investigates without her magic to help her, Amy relies on her knowledge and lore of the arts and her belief that Sebastian is honorable even if he thinks he is god's gift to women, which she agrees he has a solid argument. However, a devious person has use for Miss Amelia as an expendable pawn in a revenge scheme while not wanting her to know the truth.

This is a fun often amusing Regency romantic fantasy in which spells go wrong leading to romance and love. The story line is lighthearted yet allows the audience to believe in a paranormal early nineteenth century London in which at least in the Schwab universe, magic works though not always for the good. Fans will be BEWITCHED by this enchanting charmer.

Strike Zone
Kate Angell
Love Spell
9780505527080, $6.99

In Richmond, Virginia three years ago, Taylor Hannah broke her engagement to Rogue pitcher Brek Stryker as she needed to grieve the sudden death of her parents alone. She always felt that once she healed she could go home to heal what she broke off with her beloved Brek until now. Her sister sends the Thrill-seeker guide a clipping from the Virginia Banner announcing that Brek is engaged to marry Mayor Talbot's daughter Hilary. Leaving Paris for Richmond, Taylor comes home for her Brek.

However, Brek wants nothing to do with the woman who humiliated him three years ago on their wedding day when she fled town even if she does outrageous stunts like being the mascot Rally to get his attention. Meanwhile relief pitcher Sloan McCaffery makes a pitch towards Taylor until he finds himself thinking of her sister Eve as he sits in the bullpen; neither sister wants anything to do with Sloan who wants to kiss her between the strikes if she will kiss him between the balls (paraphrasing Soupy Sales).

This is an excellent baseball romance in which two couples fall in love. Taylor and Brek are the prime show as she tries to prove to her beloved they still belong together like hot dog and mustard. Sloan and Eve almost steal home from the lead pair as their support subplot brings extra runs to the latest Rogue sports tale (see CURVEBALL and SQUEEZE PLAY).

Don't Tempt Me
Sylvia Day
Kensington Brava
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
9780758217639, $14.00, 1-800-345-2665

Forced to marry in 1757, Marquis Marguerite lovingly raises her twin daughters Lysette and Lynette Baillon. However, she becomes heartbroken when she finds out her older daughter Lysette died and was buried in Poland; still she has her beloved Lynette.

In 1780 Paris, Irish mercenary Simon Quinn recognizes Lysette as someone he sold out three years ago to Desjardin. However, although she looks the same she behaves radically different from the tough women he dealt with as she seems girly. Mistaking Lynette for Lysette, she learns that her sister has been an English assassin and is alive in France. She plans to find her sibling to bring her home, but Desjardin has plans for his stubborn pretty captive whom he must break. His chance of succeeding while crossing the Channel with a still confused Simon looks excellent.

This is a brilliant historical romantic suspense as Sylvia Day blends several subplots into a powerful thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Quinn sees Lynette and never slows down as she changes from girly girl to superhero trying to rescue her twin. The heated asides between her and Quinn feel right as this is one author who will make the readers' day and night with this strong tale of courage and love in France, a decade before the Revolution.

Sexy Beast IV
Kate Douglas, Deanna Lee and Dawn Thompson
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758219886, $12.95

"Chanku Destiny" by Kate Douglas. The Chanku shapeshifting werewolves are elated to locate two more of their species, Adam Wolf and Eve Reynolds, who deeply connect with one another on a soulmate level.

"Abundance" by Deanna Lee. For over three decades King Jude and his Yaw panther shapeshifters have had no contact with purebred humans until Kayla lands her space ship on their world.

"Passion of the Cat" by Dawn Thompson. In 1810 in the Hindu Kush, when a snow leopard viciously attacks Captain Lyle Claridge, Ihita heals him, but after he goes back to England, the full moon makes him sexually in need.

There three erotic shapeshifting romantic fantasies are well written fun short stories filled with various sexual encounters and a little less other action. The Kate Douglas entry feels like the prologue to the upcoming Wolf Tales VI while the other two are more complete. Sub-genre fans will enjoy these shapeshifters in heat tales.

Wild: Pack of St. James
Noelle Mack
Kensington Brava
9780758222756, $14.00

In 1815 although he is part Russian wolf, Kyril Taruskin is also one of the three leaders of the Pack of St. James sworn to protect the English crown. However, Kyril becomes concerned when the actions of Vivienne Sheridan may jeopardize his Pack from a werewolf hunter. He vows to find the hiding female and learn her secrets.

At the same time Kyril fears for his clan, the adversary has begun stalking his prey. Meanwhile Kyril finds Vivien hidden in a mansion. He tries to learn her secrets, but finds he wants to reveal his own to this siren who he knows from a previous encounter is his soulmate, but first they must deal with treacherous evil men as everyone converges on the Serpent's Egg allegedly possessed by Vivienne.

The first Pack of St. James paranormal Regency romantic suspense is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller starring likable lead characters and a strong support cast including the bad guys. The freshness comes from the vivid description of early nineteenth century London's underbelly where drugs, prostitution and black market contraband are the norm. Noelle Mack provides a wild vivid tale of love, war, and perhaps too much blood with her delightful opening Pack diamond.

Animal Lust
Lucy Danes
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758220585, $13.95

Their Viking ancestors left the Ursus clan cursed with the blood of the bear and mystic skills but ANIMAL LUST sexual appetites that are never satiated unless they bond with their soulmate.

"Martin". In 1800 innocent Jane fell in love and gave her virginity to Jonathan whom she thought loved her and would marry her. Instead he left her after he took what he wanted. When she meets Martin, he vows to Jane that he will give back what he lost.

"Mac". In 1801 Rasalette seeks her life mate, but the men selected by her caring royal brother don't appeal to her until "Mac" arrives.

"Orin". In 1817 when Wilhelmina sees Orin ride out of the forest, she knows she has found her beloved; now to convince him that he has too.

"Devon". Following her husband's death Amanda returns to the home of the aunt who raised her. There she meets Devon, whom she once loved and knows still does.

The Ursus brothers' saga contains four exhilarating paranormal erotic Regency romances starring strong protagonists whose couplings are hot.

Streets of Fire
Troy Soos
9780758206251, $6.99

In 1895 the third biggest city in America, Brooklyn is about to join New York and become one metropolis. Harper Weekly reporter Marshall Webb weakened the Tammany hall organization with his expose articles, but he feels stale and wants to quit. His boss convinces Marshall to work one freelance while taking time to write novels. He needs Marshall to cover the pending strike between the Brooklyn Railroad and its workers who demand safer working conditions and more money.

A strike is called with most people sympathizing with the employees until someone kills a cop. Most people assume a striker murdered the police officer, but the victim's superior Buck Morehouse thinks otherwise. The mayor, who owns stock in the railroad, calls in the militia to kill anyone acting suspicious and does not care about collateral damage like the murder of a cop.

Marcus' girlfriend Rebecca Davies, who runs a women's shelter, is helping ex prostitute Vivian O'Connor set up a shelter targeting women wanting to get out of her former line of work. She calls it Sayre House after a girl she considered a friend was beaten to death. Several weeks later, O'Connor is killed; Rebecca, Marshall and Buck believe the homicides are linked, but they need to discover how.

Troy Soos provides a great atmospheric historical novel that gives readers a picture of the corruption in the police department and by local politicians during the Gay Nineties. The common person takes for granted that the powerful will abuse their positions as that is the accepted cost of being "protected" (sounds like politicians have not changed in over a century). The three prime protagonists of STREETS OF FIRE are fully developed and believable as they walk on the wild side of the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

President Lincoln's Spy
Steven Wilson
0758225148, $14.00

In July 1861, during what later became known by historians as the Battle of Bull Run, Northern Colonel Pettibone calls for a retreat as the rebel forces appear ready to break through his line. Thinking no retreat or surrender, Captain Fitz Dunaway ignores the order and instead leads a counter surge that prevents the Confederate army from breaching the Union lines. Outraged by the defiance of his inferior officer, Pettibone has Dunaway detained in the guardhouse.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of War Thaddeus Prescott offers Dunaway a job that will get him out of the jail and allow him to take the risks he seems to relish. Dunaway accepts being part of President Lincoln's protective force, but understands his mission is to uncover who is plotting to kill the leader of the Free States. To do this he must pose as a Lincoln hater so that the conspirators ask him to join the plot to kill the President.

PRESIDENT LINCOLN'S SPY is an engaging well written historical fiction thriller that paradoxically suffers from Steven Wilson choosing so well known of a figure and adhering to facts that readers know what will ultimately happen at least to the President. Still Dunaway's escapades make for an interesting tale as the hero begins to understand politics has strange bedfellows so not to trust anyone who just might be undercover working for some other side.

Poisoned Tarts
G.A. McKevett
9780758215529, $22.00

The Skeleton Key Three are a paparazzi's dream as the ultra wealthy and super thin wild party-goers are always good for a salacious headline. Tiffy and her pals Bunny and Kiki always create the scene. Recently seen hanging around the trio is non-affluent teenager Daisy O'Neil who her new "buddies" treat her lower than dirt. Tiffy and Daisy try out for a movie role, but the latter gets the part. A raging Tiffy plans to retaliate; just prior to rehearsals Daisy vanishes. Her concerned mother pressures the police to start with the Skeleton Key Three in their missing person's search.

San Carmelita Detective Dirk Coulter catches the case, but he "cons" his friend private investigator Savannah Reid into helping him. After talking to the Skeleton Key Three, both believe that the trio is involved in Daisy's vanishing. However every lead they follow leads only to a dead end. However during the Daisy investigation while at Tiffy's mansion, they find her father lying dead with a stake in his heart in a coffin that is part of a Halloween party decoration. They discover a bullet in his chest. Both the private sleuth and city cop are more determined to solve the two cases hopefully with a live Daisy.

The inquiries are well written so the audience will enjoy tagging along with the two detectives. However the fresh fun in POISONED TARTS come with the appearance of Granny Reid, a colorful character who has been lovingly mentioned by her granddaughter for years, but now has shown up in California in the first person for the first time. THE SKELETON KEY THREE are ultra spoiled with their only interest being self hedonism; readers will find no redeeming qualities amidst these rich bi*ches. It is obvious they are involved in Daisy's disappearance and Tiffy has a motive, but is she the one who remains the mystery.

The Vampire's Betrayal
Raven Hart
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345498571, $7.99, 1-800-726-0600

Connie Jones with the help of voodoo priest Melaphia went to the Underworld to see her daughter to insure her offspring is happy and to enact revenge on her former husband who killed their child before committing suicide. Vampire Jack follows her, but because he is damned he cannot go to her; he is permitted by Heaven to see her accept her destiny as a Slayer and receive a sword. When she finds the twin blade on earth, her transformation will be complete.

Jack's sire William has returned from Europe with Melaphia's daughter who was kidnapped by his wife Diane and his lover Eleanor who wanted her for her magical blood. Melaphia is waiting for Jack to get out of the Underworld, but she wants Connie to remain behind; if Connie comes topside she will kill the vampires she calls friends as she transforms into a Slayer. Jack gets out and brings Connie with him. After brainstorming with the group of vampires in the New World re this conundrum, they agree that Jack will have to kill Connie, the woman he loves before she eradicates him and his family.

Raven Hart writes horror thrillers with plenty of heart so that her audience will feel the issue facing the New World vampires who are pacifists differing from their human blood thirsty sires who want to rule the planet as befitting in their mind the top rung of the food chain. The children who escaped them want to live happy lives and are willing to deal with their creators to achieve their goal. William does his best to be a benevolent dictator but something ugly is coming to force him into making difficult choices as the undead lifestyle is about to be jeopardized with this new fanatical Slayer who was once a friend.

Buckingham Palace Gardens
Anne Perry
9780345469311, $26.00

In 1893, the Prince of Wales invites four affluent businessmen and their wives to Buckingham Palace to discuss a proposal to construct a Pan Africa rail line. After the ladies turn in for the night the Prince offers special entertainment to the male quartet. The next morning a servant finds a mutilated corpse in a closet. The deceased was part of the previous night's entertainment.

Special Services Branch agent Thomas Pitt is assigned to solve the murder without bringing unneeded attention to the Royals. He is accompanied by his wife Charlotte and their maid Gracie Phipps, who goes undercover as part of the staff. With the help of the two females, Thomas eliminates the entire huge staff as suspects. Instead he focuses on the prince himself and his eight guests although the sleuth fears if it turns out to be the heir or if he fails to solve the case, the monarchy could be in trouble.

This is a superb Victorian mystery as Anne Perry brings alive the era through the investigation inside Buckingham and the increasing question of why a monarchy in the modern age. The story line is fast-paced as Thomas understands fully what failure could mean while the two women working for him add depth to the whodunit. Fans of the series will fully appreciate the latest tale even of knowledge of history ironically eliminates one of the nine suspects.

Jonathan Kellerman
9780345465276, $27.00

Psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware and Los Angeles Police Department detective Milo Sturgis have collaborated on several cases before (see THE MURDER BOOK, RAGE and GONE). They are currently working together on several homicides that seem to have no link except that the culprit apparently obsessively enjoys driving luxurious black cars and there are no obvious motives for what seems like random assaults on women.

Still the few early clues lead Alex and Milo into several directions in the greater LA area and surprisingly to a cold case disappearance of a child in New York City sixteen years ago. As they begin to find the key tie that binds the homicides and leads to the serial killer's motive, Alex and Robin are back together, but both wonder how long this time.

COMPULSION is a typical Dr. Delaware police procedural anchored by likable recurring characters working a strong investigative thriller. The story line focuses on what is justice as Alex and Milo slowly find and follow clues. Fans of the series will appreciate the latest tale as the killer's OBSESSION becomes gradually understandable to readers and to Alex, who learns some life lessons applicable to his relationship with Robin.

Her Every Pleasure
Gaelen Foley
9780345496690, $6.99

In 1818 with the assassinations of her male family members, Princess Sophia prays the English government will keeps its word to place her on the throne of Kavros though she expects them to use a tight leash on her if they do; her people need the leadership. She also knows the superpowers want to control the small strategically placed island chain off Greece that allows domination of the Mediterranean. However right now she needs shelter as her enemies are coming for her and if they catch her she is at best dead and at worst their token ruler-prisoner. She finds a barn that she feels will give her some temporary respite. However, the farm's owner Gabriel Knight catches her. Initially assuming he at a minimum he will toss her off his property, Gabriel instead believes his brother sent her to him as a present to help him reconnect with people after his harrowing military experience.

Sophia pretends to be the gift and quickly believes she has stumbled on to her soul-mate. He, in turn, finds his attraction to her brings him back to life. As he learns more about her dire straits, Gabriel shows why he was the Iron major in India until the atrocities he condoned by not interceding ripped his heart apart; she has mended his broken heart.

The latest Knight sibling saga (see HIS WICKED KISS and HER OWN DESIRE) is an excellent Regency romance with a strong base being the rivalry between the various superpowers to control Kavros. Sophia is a fascinating lead female who believes she must go home to help her beleaguered people, but she has not been on the islands in seventeen years having been exiled when she was four. Major Gabriel is the right hero at the right moment as he not only finds love, he finds redemption. Fans will relish this strong early nineteenth century romantic thriller.

Knight's Reward
Catherine Kean
Medallion Press, Inc.
1020 Cedar Lane, No. 2N, St. Charles, IL 60174
9781932815993, $7.95,

In 1194 frightened more for the safety of her son Ewan even if he is the lord's heir, Gisela Balewyne runs away with her child from her odious abusive husband Rhys. She takes shelter in Clovebury where she obtains work as a tailor. Her goal is to save enough money so that she and her child can travel even further away from Rhys; she hopes one day she can stop looking at every stranger she sees with suspicion that he is the one.

Lord de Lanceau sends his loyal knight Dominic de Terre to find stolen valuable silk. When the trail takes him to Clovebury, Dominic is stunned to see Gisela, who he loved before going off to war, sewing garments from the very cloth he seeks. She is working on a special order for French merchant Crenardieu. Dominic cannot believe she would be part of a theft ring, but the evidence is clear just like he learns who Ewan's sire really is. He knows his heart loves Gisela, but his head tells him she is untrustworthy of his feelings while Crenardieu sends hooligans to eliminate the investigating knight.

This is an interesting medieval romance that uses a late twelfth century setting to tell a tale that in many ways feels contemporary with a sleuthing warrior and a woman hiding from her husband. The story line is fast-paced, but obviously driven by the relationship between the lead couple as he suspects her of thieving and lying while she prays he proves her love for him is right by protecting Ewan. Catherine Kean writes a fascinating historical tale.

Flight to Freedom
D.J. Wilson
9781933836379, $15.95

He is a wealthy attorney and philanthropist who has given millions to charities in his hometown. He lives in a beautiful home with a sweet wife and is looked upon as a hero by the adulating townsfolk. Of course all those who worship this paragon have no idea what really happens inside his home; a torture chamber of abuse Harland Jeffers pours on his spouse Montana. For a decade he beat her to the point she had broken bones yet never went to the hospital as he refused because such treatment might dim his image.

He taunted her with the fact that she killed her newborn baby girl when she took her out of the hospital on a cold night leading to pneumonia. He threatened to kill her if she ever left him and the one time she went to the police they just took her back to him, as she should be grateful to be married to the town's leading citizen. One day he caught her going through a drawer that he has forbidden her to open; he went berserk. She took a gun out of that drawer and fired point blank range; she killed him. Even though she now resides in jail, Montana feels free for the first time in her life. Montana plans to plead guilty, but a kindhearted lawyer persuades her to stand trial and let the world see the real monster she killed in self-defense.

This is a poignant heart wrenching legal thriller starring a life long victim whose brother, father and husband abused her physically and mentally. Her naivety make her easy prey for these predators. Readers will empathize with Montana while hoping a jury will accept her self defense plea especially if justice is to occur. Although difficult at times to see until it is too late as the sociopath is often devious enough to hide their ugliness with public good deeds, D.J. Wilson makes a plea of her own that everyone must stay alert as abuse is an ugly crippler to family and society.

Blackness Tower
Lillian Stewart Carl
Juno Books
c/o Wildside Press
9710 Traville Gateway Drive, #234, Rockville, MD 20850
9780809572021, $13.95

For years Laura Reay dreamed of a tower with people from the past living in it. Everyone except her grandfather dismissed it as her imagination until the day a calendar arrived from Cathiness, Scotland with the picture from August showing Blackness Tower, the place she has dreamed of for years.

David was looking for realism when he bought and restored Blackwell Tower. When he takes her into his house, she sees portraits of Catherine and Suzanne who could have been her twins, but lived at the tower during different eras. Laura stays with her cousin twice removed Emma who knows that Blackness Tower brought Laura over here for a purpose. Laura and David must make a treacherous journey into another realm so the ghosts of Blackwell Tower can find peace; failure means Laura will join the dead haunting the place.

Lillian Stewart Carl writes a thrilling supernatural modern day gothic thriller that starts off with a woman coming to terms with a different reality that she saw in her dreams. Now she must enter Fairy to break an evil spell that engulfs David's home. There is plenty of action with people who lived past lives influencing decisions made by the heroine. BLACKNESS TOWER focuses on a brave woman coming to grips with her gift of Sight and a man who needs healing finding love with one another.

The Ghost and the Femme Fatale
Alice Kimberly
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425218389, $6.99, 1-800-847-5515

Penelope Thornton-McClure (and her Aunt Sadie) owns Buy the Book bookstore in Quindicott, Rhode Island in which the ghost of murdered in 1949 detective Jack Shepard resides. Penelope is the only person who can hear Jack, who is confined to the bookstore; except when Penelope carries his buffalo nickel on her, which enables him to go where she goes.

The local theatre has been closed for years, but recently was renovated with the grand re-opening this weekend. The owners are putting on a Film Noir Festival with guests from a decades-old crime. The biggest draws are Hedda Geist and her former boyfriend actor Pierce Armstrong. Jack was at the restaurant in 1948 following a cheating husband when he saw Pierce get into a fight with Hedda's married lover studio owner Irvin Vreen. Pierce shoved Irvin onto a knife Hedda was holding killing Vreen. He received five years for manslaughter.

In the present several people connected to the crime are killed; while the police assume they are accidents, Penelope and Jack think it is murder. They investigate and find several suspects, but none seemingly with a motive.

The hard boiled detective who is a ghost meets the bookstore owner in her dreams for a bit of romancing, which adds an esoteric whimsical spice to this wonderful cozy. Whereas the heroine would like to hide inside a good book, Jack shows her life needs to be lived; he proves to good a teacher as she makes him nervous when she takes chances while sleuthing. The mystery is cleverly designed so that most readers will need to stay till the last reel to figure out who the culprit is and why. Alice Kimberly's latest "The Ghost and the Femme Fatale" is a charming whodunit for fans that prefer no explicit violence in their mysteries.

Bawdy Bedtime Stories
Joan Elizabeth Lloyd
9780425219447, $14.00

These thirty-six petite short stories and two afterwards encourage readers to explore their sexual fantasies emphasizing role playing with their significant others. The tales are a few pages each with none over ten pages so serve more as entertaining guides and suggestions then erotica. In the Introduction Joan Elizabeth Lloyd explains that she wrote the anthology to foster communication between partners so that both can have their toes curled. Each entry promotes using one's imagination while having sexual fun as the head is more important than the sex organs to obtain pleasure. Personal favorites included whimsical "Rewind Time", "An Arrogant Ass Gets His" and the reminiscing (to me that is) "Nooner". Whether one chooses to be a pirate, a cameraman and his subject, or that arrogant ass, these quickies are light fun to read. Now where did I leave that sex toy that ebbs and flows.

Twisted Sisters
Stephanie Hale
9780425219508, $9.99

As a senior in high school Aspen Brooks spent part of the year being stalked and kidnapped (see REVENGE of the HOMECOMING QUEEN). Thus when Detective Harry Malone offers to pay her college tuition, she is elated to get away from home and its reminders of her ordeal. As a freshman attending Comfort Community College (instead of State U thanks to mom being a shopaholic), Aspen is elated that her boyfriend Rand Bachrach is also at the school. Although no longer the pompous coed who thought the Homecoming Queen was preordained as her, Aspen joins the in-crowd sorority, Zeta House.

However Aspen has no time to enjoy the fruits of going Greek as she owes Harry not just for his rescue, but because of their agreement. He pays if she investigates the failed suicide of his niece, Mitzi as he believes there is more to what happened. As she makes inquiries, Rand is upset that his GF seems to spend more time with the sisterhood than she does with him; he turns to another babe who wants him as her BF while his roommate stalks Aspen.

TWISTED SISTERS is a fun undercover teen thriller. Aspen has two problems to deal with: the Greeks and the Geek with neither going right. Rand is terrific as he dumps the woman he loves due to her total neglect of him; forcing Aspen to chase after him. Fans will enjoy her latest teen chick lit sleuthing escapades as smart chicks not only rock they stay in school.

Demon's Fire
Emma Holly
9780425220542, $14.00

After being exiled to the Purple Crane by the Yamish for his inability to lead as much as for being a peeping royal, former second tier Prince Pahndir Shan broke the curse of seven years when he finally masturbated. To celebrate his liberation and to use his knowledge gained as a former prisoner training sex prop, he opens up the Prince's Flame brothel in the human desert city of Bhamjran. He peddles fantasies, but feels alone as no one fulfills his desires.

Archeologist Lord Charles has come to Bhamjran on a dig. His cousin Beth who is seeking adventure joins him. When they meet Pahndir, sparks fly. The trio forms a menage a trois of sorts that enables each to explore their wants and desires. However, their bonding is weakened by their past relationships that always ended badly for each of them, their guilt for breaking taboos, and those who want the trio broken apart for their own avaricious reasons.

The latest Tales of the Demon World (see PRINCE OF ICE) will have readers on fire from Emma Holly's excellent romance as "sex rode the air"; or at least the pages. The lead trio forges a fascinating and complex relationship that enables the audience to see deep inside their souls to learn what motivates them, especially ghosts from each of their pasts. Demon's FIRE is a heated erotic romantic fantasy that sub-genre fans will savor.

La Vida Vampire
Nancy Haddock
9780425219959, $14.00

In St. Augustine, after spending the last two centuries underground, Francesca Marinelli is finally freed when Maggie O'Halloran finds her burial spot while renovating a Victorian estate. Maggie helps Cesca obtain work as a guide of the Old Ghost Town Tour although she knows she will need plenty of sun lotion; she also hopes to find some lively men to enliven her afterlife after two hundred years of abstinence.

However, while leading a tour group, Cesca literally trips over a corpse. Preternatural crime investigator Deke Saber introduces himself to her and obtains her help, which she enjoys giving as he is a hunk. As they investigate the homicide she fell into, neither is aware that a powerful individual has Cesca in the cross hairs.

This humorous romantic paranormal mystery stars a likable heroine whose chick lit commentaries on modern day life after skipping two centuries make for an amusing whodunit. The story line is fast-paced, but totally driven by Cesca who finds La Vida for a vampire in the twenty-first century is the only way to live. Her romance and inquires with Deke are fun to follow as Nancy Haddock provides sub-genre fans with a warm lighthearted frolic.

Elizabeth Vaughan
9780425220610, $7.99

With the devastating wars apparently over (see Chronicles of the Warlands trilogy), sisters Red Gloves and Bethral seek employment as there is little work available at the moment for mercenaries. They wander into the war-ravaged Palins where they stop for a respite at a demolished farm. Also there is the despondent former Baron of Athelbryght Josiah, whose people were exterminated.

However Josiah suddenly has hopes for the few survivors amongst his people when he notices the birthmark of the Chosen One on Red. He explains she is the one who will save what is left of the Palins as she is destined to sit on the empty throne. Red assumes Josiah never recovered from the war and besides even if he is right about her birthmark, she could not care less about impoverished strangers; she just wants to survive. Even when the Priestess Evelyn validates what Josiah told her, she still prefers to find her next meal not a country's next repast; of course each time she tells Josiah that he looks hurt, which make her feel guilty as she cannot understand why she needs him to think better of her.

This is an excellent romantic fantasy as the devastated countryside makes the story line feel genuine. Red is a fascinating lead character who has no interest in being a nation's legendary savior as she is a mercenary to the core of her bone marrow; but Josiah makes her feel guilty with his looks of disappointment and loving devotion at the same time. Readers will enjoy Elizabeth Vaughn's superb clever return to the desolate Warlands.

Enticing the Earl
Nicole Byrd
9780425220979, $6.99

Unable to cope with the death of his son Robert last year and with no grandchildren Squire Harris left Yorkshire for London where he lost the estate in a game of cards to the Earl of Sutton. Robert's impoverished widow Lady Lauryn Applegate Harris vows to get the property back as that is her home. Though she knows her sister would welcome her back, Lauryn offers to become mistress to the new owner Marcus in hopes of regaining the deed.

Marcus arrogantly informs her he will give her a two week trial at his country estate. There he realizes immediately that Lauryn is not a courtesan though she stirs his blood like no one ever has. As they fall in love in and out of bed and forge a relationship that includes companionship, a missing ship of his has been found. She decides to give her beloved a gift by investigating what happened to the vessel. Her endeavor and his efforts to keep her safe strengthen their love, but place their lives in danger from a deadly opium smuggler.

This entertaining historical romance is a fun read as a resolute Lauryn and a scandalous Marcus engage in a terrific gender war. Although that theme has been used frequently, the story line is fast-paced from the moment the duo duel and never slows down until their final confrontation. The subplot involving smugglers is exciting, but more critical is that it enhances the battle of the sexes. Nicole Byrd provides an engaging nineteenth century romantic romp.

Twisted Creek
Jodi Thomas
9780425220818, $7.99

The Texas attorney sends a registered letter informing Allie Daniels that her Uncle Jefferson recently died and she inherited his estate. Although confused since has no Uncle Jefferson, Allie sees this as a good luck opportunity to start anew taking her beloved Nana with her.

Allie and Nana relocate to the Texas lake community of Jefferson's Crossing. She quickly falls in love with her new home; however, she lives in fear that she will be exposed as a hoax and unceremoniously run out of town. Her biggest fear is her attraction to Luke a drifter whom she believes will be the one to learn the truth about her. Luke is attracted to the newcomer, but his prime mission is to uncover who is using the nearby abandoned cabins as a meth lab.

TWISTED CREEK is a fine contemporary romance starring two likable lead characters, a wonderful Nana, and several eccentric Texans. Interestingly the warmer relationship is between the grandma and granddaughter even with the growing love shared by Allie and Luke which is fun to follow as he tries to hide his mission from the two newcomers. Although the suspense comes very late, fans will enjoy this Texas two step romance.

Unlawful Contact
Pamela Clare
9780425217627, $7.99

In 1996 Grand Junction, Colorado Sophie Alton and Marc "Hunt" Hunter attended a high school graduation party and ended up spending a night of lovemaking that neither forgot, but both moved on rather different paths. Twelve years later Sophie has become an investigative reporter while Marc became a convict.

A dozen years later, the journalist's latest story for the Denver Independent involves the disappearance of parolee Megan Rawlings and her baby Emily that leads Sophie to the missing woman's brother Marc. He pleads with her to find his sister and his infant niece and take them to safety, something he cannot do it since he is serving time. Marc also knows if he ever gets his life straightened out he will pursue Sophie as he concludes he has always loved her since that incredible evening and always will.

This is an exciting fast-paced romantic suspense thriller that never decelerates from the moment that Marc invites Megan to the Colorado State Penitentiary to interview him about his sister. Readers will join Sophie on her search for the missing females while twists add to the overall entertainment. Fans will join Sophie on her hunt in this one sitting action-packed thriller.

Fast and Loose
Elizabeth Bevarly
9780425220856, $7.99

With his thoroughbred Silk Purse running in the upcoming Kentucky Derby, trainer Cole Early needs a place to stay in the Louisville area for about two weeks, but nothing is available even as far away as Indiana. He rents a bungalow from a local glass artist Lulu Flannery, who has doubts about allowing a stranger on her property, but she cannot refuse the fee.

Cole and Lulu meet and are attracted to one another, but she knows nothing will come of it as he will have a choice of so many glamorous women. However, Cole knows she is the one for him that he has waited to meet her seemingly forever. Besides hoping to win the first leg of the Triple Crown, the bigger prize is winning Lulu's heart.

FAST AND LOOSE is an engaging low key Kentucky romance that uses the backdrop of the Derby to set the time and place, which in many ways steals the show. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing as he knows she's the one for him while she assumes "King Cole" as the press calls him can have any female he desires so why her. Fans will enjoy this lighthearted romp while wondering whether Silk Purse wins the race.

Hooked on Murder
Betty Hechtman
9780425221259, $6.99

A year has passed since Molly Pink's husband died from a heart attack and she is beginning to come out of her grief as her life normalizes. Her late spouse co-owned a public relations firm with partner Ellen Sheridan, who forced the widow to sell her half of the business to her.. Even though Molly is poorer, she is happier as she enjoys working as community relations and events coordinator for Shedd & Royal Books and More.

Ellen and her friends are crocheting an afghan at the bookstore for a charity event. One day when she departs she leaves her needles behind. Molly goes to Ellen's home to give her back her needles, but finds her nemesis dead. Detective Heather Gilmore leads the homicide investigation. She hates Molly because she is attracted to a peer who loves the widow. By the tone and questions Heather asks Molly and her friends, the bookstore employee knows the detective is out to get her and has circumstantial evidence to prove motive, method, and opportunity. Molly with the encouragement and help of her best friend investigates knowing the real culprit is out there. Although she finds a more likely suspect, Molly feels manipulated as if she has been sent down a false path to draw wrong conclusions; she continues her inquiries not understanding the right path leads to murder.

HOOKED ON MURDER hooks the reader from the onset with likable characters especially the lead protagonists who does not know when to quit. This charming amateur sleuth cozy contains parallel investigations with the lead cop concentrating on the heroine who focuses on the culprit. Readers will admire the feisty caring Molly, who has moved on with her life, which just like her inquiry, one stitch at a time.

Perfect Poison
Joyce and Jim Lavene
9780425221273, $6.99

Widow Peggy Lee and her son Paul are in Badin attending the funeral of a dearly beloved friend, Mayor Jim Garrison. During the memorial dinner honoring the late mayor, two men wearing rescue uniforms enter and announce a diver inspecting the dam is not responding to their calls. Professor Ruth Sargent, an expert in underwater forensics, volunteers to dive into the dam to see if the men are alive. She asks Peggy to accompany her as her friend is a forensics botanist who works as a contractor for the Charlotte Police Department. Ruth finds the man dead wedged into the intake bulkhead gauge. The victim's wife arrives insisting this was not an accident because Gerry was a careful experienced diver. Later Peggy learns that Ruth had an affair with the deceased.

Back in Charlotte, Peggy is brought on a case in which Marsha Haltry apparently drowned in her swimming pool. When she sees the same water plant that was on victim who died by the dam, Peggy believes Marsha was murdered. An autopsy reveals phytoplankton in her lungs just like that found in Gerry's lungs. Both also shared a trace of a deadly toxin just not enough to kill them. The police of both counties believe Ruth is the only viable suspect for a variety of reasons. Peggy believes Ruth could not kill anyone so she investigates even after the police close the case.

Joyce and Jim Lavene provide a fascinating whodunit with unusual but plausible twists and plenty of red herrings (fungus might be more accurate) in their latest Peggy Lee poison case (see PRETTY POISON). PERFECT POISON is a charmer due to the quirky Tarheel support cast who have offbeat senses of humor but are there for the heroine when she needs them. Although at times she would like to throttle her "assistants" like her lover and her son whose attraction to a student adds to the fun. Still it is the forensic botanist and her investigation that makes this a perfect cozy.

Silent Witness
Michael Norman.
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 East First Avenue, #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590584989, $24.95, 1-800-421-3976

In Salt Lake City, police officer Kate McConnell investigates the brutal murder of Arnold Ginsberg and the disappearance of Robin Joiner; they are the eyewitnesses to a failed armored car robbery. Utah Department of Corrections Special Investigations Branch Chief Sam Kincaid joins Kate on her inquiry because the alleged armored robbery gang's leader, Mormon polygamist Walter Bradshaw awaits trial without any witnesses to testify against him.

At the same time as he works on the Bradshaw case, Sam also deals with his former wife filing for custody of their daughter. Still in spite of the distraction in his personal life that tears at his guts, Sam diligently and obstinately works the investigation along side of Kate; both hoping the college student who was snatched remains alive.

SILENT WITNESS, the sequel to (see THE COMMISSION), is an enjoyable Utah police procedural that uses the headlines of the Jett case to tell a strong investigative tale. Kate and Sam are competent cops trying to do the job, which entails rescuing a twentyish college coed while the brass hinders their efforts. Sam's personal life also intrudes on the investigation, but it is his new CYA boss who makes the inquiry that much more difficult. Michael Norman provides a fine thriller.

The Fisher Boy
Stephen H. Anable
Poisoned Pen Press
9781590584811, $22.95

Mark Winslow and his improv actors group leave Boston to perform in Provincetown. His summer stay starts upbeat over the Memorial Weekend when he attends a party thrown by his friend Arthur Hilliard; Mark anticipates meeting club owners as everyone who is anyone wants to be seen at this scene.

However, everything turns bloody ugly starting with the dead dog on the outside stoop; or perhaps as Mark suggests before that canine incident the Swedish tall ship the Vasa in the harbor was the harbinger of death. When Mark has an argument with Ian Drummond at a restaurant, he thinks nothing of it until later when he finds the brutalized corpse of Ian. Knowing he is the prime suspect in the killing of a Boston Brahmin, Mark investigates while noticing an influx of Scandinavian tourists but clues hint at the Christian Soldiers in town for the exhibition of the early twentieth century work of artist Thomas Royall.

More a witty social commentary on life in Provincetown, THE FISHER BOY is an entertaining amateur sleuth tale although the detecting takes a back seat to Mark's observations on life in the Cape during that fatal summer. The story line is character driven by Mark who seeks motive through his observations on the various diverse groups battling for supremacy of the Cape Cod town. Readers will appreciate this fine whodunit that is more a deep look at the discordance of diversity.

The Hunted
Rachel Lee
Mira Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778325383, $6.99,

The Houston Examiner fired investigative reporter Erin McKenna because the Mercator Media Group bought the newspaper placing her in the obvious crosshairs as she testifies in federal court against the parent company Mercator Industries. Although expecting this outcome but still depressed, she goes home only to interrupt a break-in to her apartment. When Erin awakens, she finds FBI agent Jerrod Westlake insuring she is okay. She wonders why a Fed arrived so soon for a burglary that she did not have time to call 911. Erin finds her computer, DVDs and CDs stolen; nothing else taken.

Both assume that her testimony against Mercator Industries is the prime reason for the theft. To keep her safe, Jerrod spends the night with Erin at a hotel where they discuss another case he is working involving a missing teenage girl that he believes is a victim of the international sex-slave trade business, which the Fed feels links to the Mercator investigation. They team up to end the abomination knowing the enemy will kill them to keep their lucrative business profitable.

From the moment readers learn about Jerrod's obsession to find his probably dead sister snatched from a school bus twenty-two years when Elena was ten, fans will be hooked by this powerful romantic suspense thriller with the emphasis on the intrigue. The romance is used to enhance the thriller as the courageous lead pair are THE HUNTED by deadly antagonists whose business interests include brutally selling young girls. Rachel Lee pulls no punches as some of the appalling conditions kidnapped females placed in the sex trade industry face are graphic (rightfully so). As the afterward points out that "Girls as young as five are bought and sold" on a real international flesh peddling commodity exchange that comes horrifically alive in this exciting gritty FBI thriller.

The Healer
Sharon Sala
9780778325444, $7.99

Jonah Gray Wolf is tired of running even as he does good deeds using his God given healing skills. However, one of those he saved ten years ago from a bear mauling, Major Bourdain pays him back by wanting to capture, cage and study Jonah because he believes the HEALER can give him the chance to live forever. In fact Jonah knows that the obsessed Bourdain is the only person he regrets healing.

Jonah refuses to be incarcerated so he keeps fleeing into the night though he is bone weary of the chase. Thinking he has gained some breathing time, Jonah takes a needed respite in Little Top, West Virginia in Appalachia. There he meets waitress Lucia "Luce" Andahar, who hides some skills she has from him and the locals. After rescuing and healing her beloved dog Hobo, he stays for now as he senses an evil stalking her. They fall in love and both hope for a life together, but Bourdain has come to town and after a decade has finally found Jonah's weakness as well as an ally as malevolent as he is.

THE HEALER is a terrific fast-paced paranormal romantic suspense starring two kind-hearted lead characters (ask Hobo and a bird she feeds daily) and two over the pinnacle of Little Top villains. The story line is action-packed as High Noon has come to Appalachia with the cougar climax feeling right. Sub-genre fans will believe in the powers of Sharon Sala after reading this stupendous suspenseful story.

Rachel Vincent
9780778325550, $6.99

Their pride (actually her father the alpha) has teamed up lover-werecats Faythe Sanders and Marc Ramos as territorial enforcers. Their prime job is capturing strays who the pride does not like wandering around because that usually means trouble. However, sometimes they investigate the deaths of werecats.

They are currently working two homicide cases. First they are searching for a serial killing rogue werecat who murders tomcats as if he or she is a predatory king of the jungle; second the duo also seeks another serial killer preying on human female strippers who bear an uncanny likeness to Faythe. As the two enforcers work the Arkansas-Mississippi line and rolling on the gravel, they wonder if the two investigations have a link.

As with STRAY, Faythe remains a chip off the alpha block of her father and the sassy block of her mother as she fights strays and other rogues, but this time embraces her love for Marc. Her escapades and asides will turn readers into believers of the Vincent mythos. Fans of werewolf sagas will enjoy this entertaining paranormal investigative thriller with a chick lit bite as the Enforcers search for a serial killer jungle were and someone else with Faythe being the link.

The Death Dealer
Heather Graham
9780778325321, $24.95

Still not fully healed from her near death experience social worker Genevieve O'Brien struggles to move on with her life though she still suffers nightmares from the killer's assaults. However, her efforts stall when Ravens literary society president Thorne Bigelow is murdered. That is followed by a second member almost dying in a car accident. Being fans of Poe, the other Ravens connect the two ugly incidents as not being coincidence. They, especially Genevieve's mom, wonders if a killer dubbed the Poe Killings, is targeting their reading club.

Worried about her mother, Genevieve asks her friend, private investigator Joe Connolly to make inquires. After some minor investigating with the advice of some ghosts, Joe tells Genevieve he agrees with the Ravens that a killer is stalking the book group.

Joe is a fascinating protagonist who talks to ghosts while Genevieve is a courageous individual who had her own near death experience, but will not back down from the Poe Killer investigation. Together they are an awesome sleuthing team as each begins to understand the true meaning of the Tell-Tale Heart. The investigation is fun to follow as his late cousin and is cuz's beloved help from the beyond (his Brooklyn apartment seems a bit over crowded and if the landlord learns of his ghostly borders will demand more rent). Paranormal romantic suspense fans will appreciate the lead couple's investigation into the Poe Killings.

In Their Footsteps and Thief of Hearts
Tess Gerritsen
9780778327042, $7.99

"In Their Footsteps". Two decades have past since her parents died and her family drowned in scandal. Now Beryl Tavistock needs to know the truth as she suspects they were murdered. She has left England for Paris seeking answers that she hopes leads to true closure. There she meets former CIA agent Richard Wolf, whom she is attracted to but does not trust. As she gets closer to learning what happened twenty years ago, someone keeps a close tab on her progress; if she gets too close she will join her parents.

"Thief of Hearts". As a favor to a pleading close friend Veronica Caircross, weary but faithful old chump Jordon Tavistock comes to her rescue; he breaks into a country manor to repossesses some damaging love letters. To his shock, he is not the first thief to break and enter as he finds himself facing Diana Lamb. They team up with her helping him find where the correspondence he seeks is and he assists her with her search for rare antiquities.

This book is a reprint of two solid enjoyable mysteries tied together by the Tavistock siblings, but not quite at the quality level of the medical thrillers that Tess Gerritsen wrote afterward. Still both are filled with suspense, action, and romance that grip the reader from the moment that their parents are killed in Paris' Pig Alley two decades ago until both Jordon and Beryl find adventure and love.

Wrath of a Mad God
Raymond E. Feist
Eos Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780060792985, $25.95, 1-800-242-7737

A Rift (or portal) was created connecting Dasati to Kelewan, and the Dark God's Death priests have caught the powerful magician Miranda to find all they can about humanity before they invade. When Miranda escapes, she kills many of the powerful enemy, but also learns the Dasati not only plan to attack, but also to turn Kelewan into a place identical to their evil world which is hostile to humans. Miranda rallies the troops to go to war against a more powerful enemy, but her sides knows the outcome if they lose to the Dark God.

Miranda's husband Pug, the most powerful magician in the world, is in Dasati gathering intelligence. The Dark God has made Dasati into a dark place in which the inhabitants enjoy killing as if it is a sports contest and enjoy providing pain to others. Despite the precautions, the Dasati breech the Kelewan defensive perimeter, killing millions. On Dasati, Pug concludes the only way to end the deadly assault and return balance to the worlds is to kill the invincible immortal immoral Dark God.

To fully understand what is going on in the third Darkwar Saga tale, fans must read at least the previous two stories (see FLIGHT OF THE NIGHTHAWKS and INTO THE DARK REALM) as this thrilling fantasy does not stand alone. What is even better is to peruse the entire Rift War and Midkemia novels as that will fill in a little more background especially about Pug. WRATH OF A MAD GOD is a complex tale with multiple plotlines that converge into a terrific climax. Fans of the long running series will relish the finish to Raymond E. Feist's fine fantasy trilogy.

Lois McMaster Bujold
9780061375330, $25.95

Having his family exile him for marrying outside his community, former Lakewalker captain Dag and his beloved wife, the farmer's daughter Fawn head to her home, Bluefield Farm. His dream of an understanding between farmers, riverfolk and Lakewalkers shattered as each distrusts the others even as they need each other to survive. However, all three groups question the need of change since a millennium of doing things in the old ways has kept the peace and restrained the deadly malices through Lakewalker control of "ground energy".

Dag and Fawn lease a houseboat from a riverfolk, but the owner and others and their boats mysteriously vanish soon after. Dag begins to investigate even as he begins to explore his expanding powers now that he has broken out of the Lakewalker limits. His ground-sense warns him a new deadly danger to the world order is coming as farmers settle into new lands and riverfolk extend their water world while Lakewalkers remain stagnantly static.

The third cerebral Sharing Knife fantasy (see LEGACY and BEGUILEMENT) continues to explore the negative impact of prejudice on people. Each of the three prime groups has vivid pictures of how they see the other two races and cannot get past those beliefs. This causes stagnation limiting development by stifling potential in order to force fit the
norm. Thus Dag and Fawn by breaking out of the prejudicial beliefs they cherished grow while others stagnate and their metamorphosis propelled by their love make them the only hope to save a world suddenly in trouble due to expansion into forbidden lands. Well written and extremely exciting, Lois McMaster Bujold will have her audience pondering the wisdom of the PASSAGE.

Tim Lebbon
9780553384673, $12.00

Four millennium before the DUSK occurred, Noreela sends forth intrepid explorers into unknown territories. These brave souls expanded the nation's glory and affluence on all sides except the south. There voyagers ran up against the Great Divide that ranges so high its top is hidden somewhere in the clouds above. Of those who have tried to scale the Great Divide, none has come back to tell the tale until now. Ten claims to have done this with his proof being an ancient parchment.

Cancer stricken Ramus Rheel has always competed against his friendly rival wealthy adventuress Nomi Hyden to be the first to reach the clouds and beyond and return to tell the tale though Ten has made that claim. For Ramus besides wanting the mantle of the greatest voyager ever, this is probably his last escapade; for Nomi wearing the greatest mantle is everything. As they make the trek together accompanied by Serian soldiers, they go past the line where no information is known except Ten's questionable ramblings There they run into the "home" of one of the ancient Sleeping Gods and they soon find themselves fighting to live to tell their saga.

The latest Noreela fantasy thriller (see DAWN) is an exhilarating adventure tale into the unknown in which fans will want to trek up the Great Dive alongside the exploring Voyagers. The story line is fast-paced, but it is the fully developed lead duo that makes the escapades seems genuine especially in the encampment of the Sleeping God who "awakens" to the intrusion. Tim Lebbon provides a fascinating quest fantasy with a different spin to the quest as a consequence of their actions is the need to the save the world endeavor

The Cold Spot
Tom Piccirilli
9780553590845, $6.99

When he was ten years old someone killed his eight months pregnant mother with a bullet to her head. His father cannot cope with his loss and leaves Chase in the car while vanishing on his boat. Chase is in foster care until he grandfather Jonah comes for him. Jonah is a career criminal who brings Chase into his life of crime; eventually the grandson drove the getaway cars. Chase walks out on his grandfather when he sees Jonah cold bloodedly kill a friend.

Chase drifts around the country stealing cars for robberies and leaving once the loot is distributed. In a small town in Mississippi, he and his cohorts botch a robbery. Lila wants to arrest them, but Chase escapes. He hangs around town and soon the thug and the deputy sheriff marry. They move to Long Island where she obtains a police officer job and he becomes a teacher. They are happy together until Lila dies in the line of duty; Chase seeks revenge but needs the help of the last man he would ever ask for assistance if he is to succeed.

This novel starts at a rapid pace and just keeps getting faster as the action continually comes even after Chase leaves behind his life of crime for marriage in the burbs. When his beloved is killed by a getaway car driver, the homicide hits his soul as that is what he used to do and his heart as the victim is his Lila. He swears to cross a line he never crossed before; even for his grandfather. Readers will admire his courage and need to avenge his beloved although his criminal activity past is another story; it is the audience's reaction to Chase that affirms Tom Piccirilli's writing skills.

Iron Angel
Alan Campbell
9780553384178, $25.00

Considered impregnable and thus invincible, war came to the city held over a bottomless abyss by chains, Deepgate. Shockingly a betrayal has led to the defeat of the unconquerable as most of the suspension chains have been broken and the toxic fumes previously deployed to keep the barbarians away from the city are now oozing from the fiery edifices. Symbolizing the collapse is the Temple of Church leader Presbyter Sypes who precariously hangs upside down deep into the abyss on the brink of falling. The conquering Spine rules the city with an iron fist.

However, the Gods who resided there are outraged and desperate. They begin a counter offensive against their former equals and now apparent superiors, traitorous Gods, to regain the city even if it means the end of mortal existence. Their weapons for divine retaliation are the angel Dill and traitorous assassin Rachel Hael, whose actions caused much of the destruction. However, they are both prisoners of the Spine yet they remain the hope of the Heavenly residents especially as it is obvious to all that the god Ulcis must have died during the combat for he would never have left open the portal at the bottom of the abyss that leads from Hell to the earth.

The second Deepgate Codex Volume is an interesting gory fantasy that has the middle book feel of setting up for the finish. The story line is extremely vivid as the audience will breathe the toxins, see the infernos, and feel vertigo from the swaying city's few functioning chains. However, no one, not even the chosen two, seems to step forth to carry the novel; thus that sense of IRON ANGEL being the transitory tale in a trilogy. Still fans of SCAR NIGHT will appreciate Alan Campbell's deep look at what has happened to Deepgate since the war of the gods erupted.

Scared to Live
Stephen Booth
9780385339070, $25.00

In the Peak District, Devonshire Detective Sergeant Diane Fry leads the investigation into a deadly fire. She knows that the majority of these infernos are caused by faulty wiring, but whenever a death like this occurs, CID checks into it. In this case, Lindsay Mullen died in her room apparently confused as to how to escape, and two of her young children Liam and Jack died in their beds while the family patriarch Brian got out with minor burns and smoke inhalation as he was trying to get into the house having not been there when the fire began; he is in Edendale General. A third child, an eighteen months old daughter is missing.

At the same time that Fry wishes Detective Constable Ben Cooper had the case as he understands children better than anyone at the precinct, he investigates the apparent sniper death of cloistered Rose Shepherd in her home during the early hours of the morning. Postman Bernie Wilding had stopped to deliver a package, but she failed to answer. His case is going nowhere as no one saw or heard anything. Unbeknownst to Cooper, a witness fails to come forward as Darren Turnbull was sneaking out of the neighbor's house and saw a big black car, probably Japanese stop and take off. Fry's inquiries also seem to go nowhere, but soon her investigation and that of Cooper connect.

Although the link between the Mullen fiery deaths and the Shepherd assassination is a stretch wider than the Atlantic, English police procedural fans will enjoy this fast-paced thriller that rotates investigations until they tie together leading to a fabulous final twist. The cast is strong especially the lead cops and their immediate police support teams. However, it is the cases that grip the audience as suspense mounts while the DS and the DC struggle with difficult investigations in their latest Peak District tale (see THE DEAD PLACE and ONE LAST BREATH).

Searching for Paradise in Parker, PA
Kris Radish
9780553805307, $22.00

Addy Lipton is unhappy with her spouse of twenty-eight years Lucky. Her feelings about her husband and their marriage are symbolized by the garage that she calls Lucky's Kingdom of Krap. Inside are gadgets, gizmos, other paraphernalia and a car that represent their almost three decades of marriage. All these items are projects he started, but never finished.

Addy wants to reinvigorate their relationship; she persuades Lucky they should go to Costa Rica on a honeymoon. They plan the trip, but he fails her as they do not go. Addy has had feeling unlucky in love. She leaves him to pursue her dreams bringing along her single sister and her workout friends, the Parker, Pennsylvania Sweat-Hers. Lucky feels lonely and guilty as he knows he neglected his wife treating her like an unfinished project to discard in some dusty corner. He vows to change because he needs Addy in his life; she remains uncommitted between returning to him or bachelorhood.

This is a fascinating character study that looks closely at what happens over time to a loving relationship when dreams are unfulfilled and somewhat discarded. Fans of female power now will enjoy the sisterhood rallies though they feel somewhat gimmicky. Still Addy's revolution in her summer of her discontent makes for a fine tale of friendship, bonding, and dysfunctional relationships as the Sweat-Hers Pennsylvania (not Virginia) Slims know "we've come a long way baby".

My Best Friend's Girl
Dorothy Koomson
9780553591415, $12.00

From St. Jude's Hospital in central London, Adele "Del" Brannon sends a short pleading note to Kamryn "Ryn" Matika asking her to come visit her before she dies from leukemia. Ryn wants to ignore the letter as she never forgave her Leeds College friend for having an affair with her fiance Nate Turner that resulted in a child Tegan. Still Ryn goes to see Del whom she stopped talking to for the past two years once she learned the truth about who sired her goddaughter.

Del asks Ryn not so much to forgive her for her indiscretion, but begs her former best friend to adopt and raise five years old Tegan. Ryn hesitantly agrees, but soon meets strong opposition from Del's stepmother while gaining support from her boss Luke Wiseman at a time when Nate, ignorant he sired a daughter, wants back in her life

MY BEST FRIEND'S GIRL is a strong contemporary drama that uses interrelationships between fully developed characters to vividly portray society's challenges. The story line digs into race, family, friendship, and different types of love relationships with vulnerable Ryn as the foci of each. Though the audience will weep at melodramatic moments, Dorothy Koomson pulls no punches with this compelling sharp look at vulnerable people.

Connie Hall
Silhouette Athena Force
9780373389803, $5.50

Athena Academy for the Advancement of Women graduate Lucy Karmon is an explosives expert who takes few risks as she uses the DAME technique to any scenario by dissecting, assessing, moderating, and estimating the situation to always succeed. Thus the Athena Academy leadership believes she and her team are most suited to go to Cape Town, South Africa to capture archenemy Arachne, who has been reported as operating with impunity from there. Her adversary turns out to be former SAS agent Nolan Taylor, an Arcane operative.

When they meet, their attraction is enormous. However, they work for opposing sides in a global war in which Arachne wants the total destruction of the Athena Academy and the extinction of all alumni. Nolan realizes he has made a bad error in judgment when he realizes his side is the terrorists. He joins Lucy's side but though some of her teammates suspect him of being a mole, she applies DAME to him, which leads to trusting him with her life and heart.

FLASHPOINT is a great romantic suspense story that starts off in a fast-paced fashion in Puerto Isla and never slows down until the final adrenalin pumping climax. The lead couple is a superb pairing of a strong dedicated female and her opponent inadvertently working for the bad guys. Fans of the series will marvel at Connie Hall's one sitting entry while newcomers will scramble for the back list.

Last Wolf Hunting
Rhyannon Byrd
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373617852, $5.25

Half-human half-werewolf Bloodrunner Jeremy Burns and his partner Cian Hennessey head to the lair of the Silvercrest pack in Shadow Peak, Maryland, a place he vowed never to turn to after leaving years ago. Jeremy and Cian have followed clues to his former pack where someone is persuading the young to go rogue and kill humans. He knows his lifemate the pack's spirit walker Jillian Murphy will be there, but he will not claim her, as she deserves better than him; besides the pack needs her while he does not want to remain there.

From the first moment they see one another in a decade; Jillian and Jeremy know the attraction remains strong even though she is a bit distracted with a cat fight to the death in the Challenge Circle. Still Jeremy must focus on finding the proof that elder Stefan Drake is agitating the younger members and needs her help as he is as always the half-breed outsider.

The second Bloodrunner werewolf romantic suspense (see Last Wolf Standing) is a terrific tale starring lifemates whose respective life goal means living separate lives. Like Cian, fans will be hooked from the moment that Jillian and Danna fight to the death, as that opening segue provides the audience insight into the Byrd werewolf mythos. Much more follows woven into an exciting paranormal investigative thriller starring two heroes who can't live together but can't live apart

Mind Games
Merline Lovelace
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373617845, $5.25

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations assigns Captain Taylor Chase to learn if scientist Dr. Oscar Hayes is being forcibly held on a Caribbean fortress near St. Kitts. Two months ago, he vanished while working on a top secret government project; he just resurfaced apparently held by or voluntarily joined a consortium planning to sell genetically engineered organs as human harvests on the black market.

To gain access to the island, Taylor heads to Princeton, New Jersey to try to persuade her former graduate professor at the University of Michigan Dr. Mark Wolfson to help her as he has worked closely with Hayes although she has doubts about working with him as she was his lab assistant and lover until she realized the mind games he played with her. Mark reluctantly agrees to pose as her lover. Along with his loyal husky Tikal, they head to the Eastern Caribbean where the pair must deal with their attraction enhanced by their telepathic connection as much as by preventing a billionaire's evil plan from occurring.

Known for her exhilarating military romantic suspense tales, Merline Lovelace adds a paranormal spin with Mark's ESP skills. Fans will appreciate the lead couple's banter as they argue, fuss and love mentally and physically, which makes his abilities feel genuine; all this inside a strong suspense thriller.

Free Fall
Laura Anne Gilman
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373802678, $14.95

In the twenty-first century, magic is not used by reciting spells, but by being able to channel current through their bodies. These adepts are called Talents and the non-human members of the Cosa Nostradamus are named Fatae. The Silence is a top secret private organization that protects the innocent from t abuses, but has become corrupted and believes the Talent and the Fatae must be eradicated.

Retriever Wren Valerie obtains objects for clients. She is separated from her lover Sergei the Null who can not channel current, but is addicted to it. If they make love and her current goes out of control, Sergei will die. He forgives her for their separation and hopes they can find a way back together. Meanwhile he uses his contacts inside the Silence to gather information for the upcoming confrontation with the magic users. Wren is in underground place for a meeting but it is really a trap and she is almost raped and killed by vigilante Nulls who label her as "it". However she kills them instead and is determined to breach the fortress of the Silence in order to retrieve kidnapped children with Talent being brainwashed for use in some Silence operations. Sergei and Wren's live-in cuddly demon P.J. plan to keep her safe as the three know something is not right with Wren.

This latest Retriever novel is one of the best tales in an exhilarating series due in part to the separation between Wren and Sergei. Readers see both sides prepare for the upcoming final battle with the current channel practitioners coming together to protect Magical Manhattan. Fans of fantasy and romantic fantasy will appreciate Laura Anne Gilman's superb FREE FALL.

Michelle Celmer
Harlequin Mediterranean Nights
9780373389704, $5.50

Her grandfather 1950s matinee idol Frederick Miles invites Claire Mackenzie to join him as he performs on Alexandra's Dream as part of a Golden Era revival show. Claire accepts as she has not seen her beloved grandfather in a while; ever since she left Hollywood to open a plant nursery in British Columbia.

On board the vessel, Claire meets assistant cruise director Liam Bates. She is attracted to him and visa versa, but she believes he is using her as a ticket to Frederick and the furthering of his career. Liam wants Claire, but more than just for a few nights or as his avenue to the stars. However when Claire claims she just wants a short fling, he is left stunned as he is STARSTRUCK on her.

This is an engaging cruise romance between two likable protagonists though the geriatric generation led by her grandfather in many ways steals the show. Claire's doubts re Liam's motives ring true while his efforts to prove he loves her also come across authentic. Although the distance of her being in British Columbia and he cruising seems shallow especially on her part, fans will enjoy the latest Alexandra's Dream contemporary romance.

Mothers of the Year
Lori Handeland, Rebecca Winters and Anna DeStefano
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373714827, $5.50

"Mommy for Rent" by Lori Handeland. Preadolescent newcomer Dani Delgado needs to rent a mom for the upcoming Mother's Day picnic in Kiwanee, Wisconsin or flee back to Florida. She and her dad baseball coach Scott meet and enchant Kelly Rosholt who reciprocates with her inane affectionate nicknames for them.

"Along Came a Daughter" by Rebecca Winters. Widow Abby Chappuis has never cut her hair since it is a memory of her late spouse Andre who loved her long tresses though they are unsuited for her French-Swiss restaurant Chez Andre. Abby hires almost sixteen Brittany Jakeman whose father Richard comes to the restaurant to "unhire" his daughter but he had not reckoned with the teen's canine guardian angel old Buddy or with falling in love with her employer; Abby reciprocates.

"Baby Steps" by Anna DeStefano. Tyler Brooks is considering leaving his wife Lily because she cannot get past her failure at getting pregnant. However, her student Dakota teaches her that motherhood is much more than giving birth.

These are three warm contemporary tales starring fully developed characters who pay wonderful homage to moms.

Baby Be Mine
Eve Gaddy
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373714841, $5.50

When police officer Maggie Barnes finds the abandoned baby she falls in love with the infant. She hopes to adopt baby Grace, but knows a single woman has little chance of success especially one in her dangerous line of work. She asks her best friend, attorney Tucker Jones to marry her so she can adopt the child.

He agrees out of friendship to marry her. However, one week after they exchanged I do, Tucker knows he loves Maggie and wants temporary removed from modifying his husband status. When the baby's mom returns demanding the return of her child, Maggie is heartbroken but has no choice. Expecting to have separated from Tucker even before losing the child, she is stunned when he says he preferred they stay married. Maggie feels she cannot deal any longer with a platonic relationship with Tucker as she knows she loves him so she plans to end their relationship heartbroken for the second time. However Tucker refuses to give up on his wife; he just needs to persuade her he loves her and believes she loves him.

This is a fascinating contemporary romance starring two amiable individuals who are best friends and lovers. The story line is filled with angst especially when the biological mom returns for Grace as Maggie learns the risk of giving up one's heart to a foster child. Tucker tries to be there for his beloved, but she has to go through a grief like cycle on her own. Fans will enjoy this fine tale of first comes marriage then comes love.

Return of the Wild Son
Cynthia Thomason
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373714834, $5.50

Hollywood screenwriter Nathaniel "Nate" Shelton returns to his hometown of Finnegan Cove, Michigan after two decades away because his father asked him to come. When Nate was eighteen, his father Harley was convicted of second degree murder and has spent twenty years behind bars, but is being paroled in five weeks. Nate prefers to stay away and is willing to find a home in California for his dad as the writer has kept his distance from his dysfunctional family. Still he agrees to convert the Lake Michigan lighthouse into his father's new home.

Nate is attracted to Jenna Malloy, but will not act on it as his father killed her father years ago. Jenna is attracted to Nate, but will not act on it for the same reason and besides she wants the lighthouse he is renovating torn down as it is where his dad committed the homicide. Besides her family loathes his; hell his family hates their dad.

The sins of the father land on their offspring in the character driven contemporary romance RETURN OF THE WILD SON. The cast is solid as the town is exclusively anti Harley even his other son Mike. Fascinatingly he is not released until the end so the audience sees how everyone reacts to his upcoming parole while the romance between Jenna and Nate seems shaky. Fans will enjoy this fine tale from the moment Harley calls Nate until the final news conference announcing the filming of The Redemption of Nathaniel Stone.

French Kissing
Nancy Warren
Harlequin Blaze
9780373793938, $4.99

Manhattan based fashion editor of highly regarded Uptown magazine Kimberley "Kimi" Renton is in Paris to cover couture week. To her chagrin at Simone's gala she is stuck with a guy who makes Colombo look like a fashion plate; private investigator Holden MacGregg is working undercover poorly pretending to be a Minneapolis Daily Tribune photojournalist while trying to expose a fashion crime ring. The guy had to be wearing his grandfather's tweed coat worn by the older male when he was the age of the younger man and jeans that would make the designers turn ill.

Kimi believes the schlep will be the one exposed unless he undergoes a makeover. He proves to be a hunk out of GQ and soon shows he is a hunk in the nude when they share her bed. As they fall in love, both understand the case comes before the romance, but they have FRENCH KISSING and more interludes to fill in the time.

FRENCH KISSING is a fun romantic suspense starring two amiable protagonists as Kimi becomes a big fan of the Carlyle theory that clothing makes the man when Mac changes from Neanderthal reject into GQ centerfold. The undercover sleuthing is as entertaining as the under cover romance. Readers will appreciate Nancy Warren's Americans rendition of we "love Paris in the Spring time".

Drop Dead Gorgeous
Kimberly Raye
Harlequin Blaze
9780373793945, $4.99

In Skull Creek, Texas Margaret Sweeny dreams of converting from classic geek to sexy siren. However, she wonders how one changes an image that has been fostered for over two decades starting with being a tomboy.

That thought makes her think about her long time friend and fellow geek, albeit former geek, Dillon Cash. Six months ago he made her look cool, suave and sophisticated; now he is a hunk. She pleads with him to tell her his makeover secret, but he refuses to inform her that his metamorphosis started with a bite. Dillon has always wanted Meg, but was too shy to go after her; now he has vampiric skills that lure every female in town except the one who owns his heart (although that proves to him that vampires may need blood, but are all heart). She finally asks him to teach her how to be a boudoir seductress.

The newest Love at First Bite (see DEAD SEXY) vampiric romance is an amusing contemporary tale that will have the audience in stitches as Meg and Dillon initially try unsuccessfully to seduce one another. The two characters engage in a Texas two step as they both hide their love that existed even when both were crappy kissers. Sub-genre fans will enjoy Kimberly Raye's jocular tale of love before the first bite.

A Mother's Love
Ruth Wind, RaeAnne Thayne and Janice Johnson
9780373837243, $6.99

"Her Best Friend's Baby" by Ruth Wind. Yogariffic studio owner Kyra Tierney is stunned when Mr. Dylan Jones calls her from Cardiff to inform her that her best friend "Africa" Fletcher and her Welsh husband, Thomas Rhys died in a car crash. She is further shocked to learn she was named their daughter's guardian. Kyra travels to Wales to meet baby Emma; there she meets Thomas best friend Dylan; both are attracted to one another.

"Daughter of the Bride" by Janice Johnson. Although attracted to the hunk, Leila Foster refuses to go out with Detective Mark Duncan, as she vowed to never date a cop after a disastrous affair. However, Leila is stunned when her mom announces she is remarrying as her dad has only been under the ground for about a year. Mark is there for her as she struggles with wanting to feel good for her mom without betraying the memory of her dad.

"A Mother's Hope" by RaeAnne Thayne. Former rodeo star Jace McCandless provides horse riding therapy to Hope Sullivan who is slowly recovering from a car accident. Jace is attracted to Hope's mother Christa, but she rejects his flirtations while hiding her desire for him from him. She may want Jace, but she stereotypes him as being no better than the glib cowboy who sired Hope and never looked at his daughter.

Seemingly published a month too early to celebrate Mother's Day, these three warm family dramas salute moms, who bring nurturing and love year round regardless of their age. Romance and daughters fill out this pleasant anthology.

Runaway Cowboy
Judy Christenberry
Harlequin American
9780373752096, $4.99

The Ledbetter siblings work extremely hard to try to make a success of their Lazy L dude ranch in Colorado. When New York City slicker Kim Bradford arrives as the manager, the Ledbetter brood are taken somewhat aback as he seems more comfortable at Belmont Park than at a stable. Especially upset with the arrival of the easterner is Jessie Ledbetter.

The Ledbetter patriarch, Jesse's grandfather brought in James, a former Texan rancher before he became a corporate power broker to save the spread. As he works hard to win over the stakeholders, he succeeds with the brothers, while also finding himself attracted to his most adversarial Ledbetter Jessica. She begins to thaw and soon they fall in love, but his sophisticated Big Apple former girlfriend has arrived to reclaim James as hers.

RUNAWAY COWBOY is an interesting ranch romance starring two adversaries who are attracted to one another, but distrust each other and consequently their respective heart). Although her grandfather selected James and he wins over her brothers, Jessie goes overboard with her deep rooted cynicism about the Texas transplant; thus her negativity makes their forging a loving relationship seem off kilter even as he tries to persuade her otherwise.

Down Home Dixie
Pamela Browning
Harlequin American
9780373752126, $4.99

In Yewville, South Carolina Union soldier Kyle Sherman of Ohio is "shot" while performing at a Civil War reenactment extravaganza. When he meets Dixie Lee Smith, he finds himself attracted to the steel "Jessamine". She is confused because she reciprocates making her traitor to her home state and the Daughters of the Confederacy as she shelters a Sherman descendent even if he is the first farrier she ever met.

As they fall in love, but struggle with trust issues having been hurt and betrayed in relationships before, their mutual pasts arrive. She displays southern hospitality offering a room in her home to his northern belle. However, although Dixie Lee assumes her beloved Yankee will leave town with his former girlfriend, he will not escape without a fight as she vows the south will rise.

DOWN HOME DIXIE is an intriguing look at the War Between the States still fought in 2008 in Dixie Lee's home; as each combatant struggles with giving the peace offering of their respective heart. The story line is fun to follow especially during the heat of battle although the hostilities seem to end with sexual encounters and nothing resolved. Still readers will enjoy the gender fight between Ohio and South Carolina in which love makes for a lasting peace.

Blame It on Paris
Jennifer Greene
9780373772780, $6.99

Forensic accountant Kelly Rochard decides to have one last fling before marrying in South Bend, Indiana. So filled with guilt that feels good, she flies to Paris to enjoy the City of Lights that is the hometown of her father.

At a bakery she stops to buy coffees and croissant only to have someone mug her. She fights to hold onto her bag because of the ratty letters inside as the thug could have her credit cards, Euros, and all other assorted hunk, but high school French failed her. He cuts off her oxygen grabbing her throat. She faints and he flees with her bag. As the gendarme questions her, a man with a Midwest accent and a Notre Dame University sweatshirt Will Maguire comes to her rescue. He fled South Bend with no plans to return as he enjoys his aimless life in France. They are attracted to one another from the onset. However, she explains she came to Paris to resolve paternal issues; not to fall in love; he has paternal issues too that he has avoided until Kel. He knows if he wants his beloved forever he must go home but can you really ever go home.

This is an engaging contemporary romance starring Americans in Paris (Kelly's name is perfect for this tale whereas Will should have been Les or Mulligan). The key to this fun tale is the metamorphosis of the lead male as love makes him lucidly see his relationship with his dad. Fans will enjoy this amusing poignant tale of love and family in two Notre Dames.

A Dangerous Love
Brenda Joyce
9780373772759, $7.99

In 1820 her family's aristocratic standing makes Ariella de Warenne part of high society, but her free thinking behavior keeps her outside not looking in; she just does not care what the Ton thinks. So when a Gypsy band sets up camp on her family's Derbyshire estate, she visits without a second thought towards proper behavior. She stunned to find herself attracted to the Roma leader Emilian, who to his inner turmoil reciprocates.

Unbeknownst to Ariella, the recipient of her affection is also her affluent neighbor, Lord Emilian St. Xavier. When he was little, his aristocratic father abducted him from his Roma mother because Emilian was the heir. He detests his title and his peerage as his only desire is vengeance against the mob who murdered his mother. Thus when he feels an attraction to the female de Warenne, Emilian also feels self-loathing until he decides Ariella is an expendable pawn that he will publicly ruin. Emilian does not know that messing with a de Warenne in love is more dangerous than facing the late Napoleon and his French army.

A DANGEROUS LOVE is a strong de Warenne Regency romance starring two aristocratic outsiders who scorn the trappings of the Ton. The story line is fast-paced, but character driven as each of the lead pair has a scheme to win their heart's desire; hers being him while his being revenge. Though both protagonists are similar to many fictional Regency protagonists, Brenda Joyce refreshes them with Attitude that provides fans with a marvelously entertaining entry in her delightful long running historical saga.

Cruel Zinc Melodies
Glen Cook
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451461926, $7.99, 1-800-847-5515

TunFaire is a magical city where humans and other species like dwarfs, and trolls live and prosper. Magic is taken for granted and while not everyone possesses the skill, those that do think of it as just another one of their senses. Private investigator Garrett wishes he could stay in his warm cozy home with his non-human bookkeeper/servant the ratgirl. Also part of his household is The Dead Man, a Loghyr that sticks around after he died while telepathically communicating with those in Garrett's house and the horde of hibernating pixies.

However, his client, wealthy brewmeister Max Weider needs his help concerning the World, a dinner theater he is trying to build. People are scared off by the gigantic bugs; ghosts that come and go and protection racketeers who are getting ready to name a price Max doesn't want to pay. Garrett takes care of the racketeers, hires the rat people to exterminate the bugs and locates the teenagers who created the insects. That leaves him with the ghosts while the Dead Man, who obtained information he culled from the minds of visitors, believes something nasty was awakened by the bug infiltration. Garrett hopes a lullaby will put this unknown malevolence back to sleep.

The latest Garrett PI thriller is an excellent fantasy noir. The hero is smart, clever, and especially devious, but each mystery he tries to solve seems multilayered with complications. There is plenty of action, sly humor, and of course magical intrigue that ricochets with the audience from laughter to fear and back as this is one author who knows how to cook a reader's gourmet repast. Glen Cook is a fantastic worldbuilder who makes his realm feel real to the readers.

A Kiss before the Apocalypse
Thomas E. Sniegoski
9780451462053, $14.00

He was old before the earth was created. Archangel Remiel of the host of the Seraphim fought when Lucifer and his allies rebelled and though he was on the winning side, he witnessed the atrocities that angels committed. He left Heaven and came to earth. After several millennia as a hermit he hid his angelic persona to live amidst humans and even loved a human. He currently calls himself Remy Chandler, twenty-first century Boston private investigator.

His former Heavenly brothers, the Seraphim led by Nathanial visit him. Nathanuel asks on behalf of the Creator for Remiel to find Israfil, the Angel of Death who disappeared a week ago earth time. He has the five seals that would call up the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the fifth seal giving them permission to proceed with their mission. The Seraphim fear Israfil, like Remy, has taken human form, which means no one is collecting the souls of the dead leaving broken and dying but never dead people praying for release. To avoid the Apocalypse and to bring death back into salvation, Remy takes on the assignment, but finds traitors amongst the allies who supposedly aid him.

This reviewer prays there will be more novels starring Remy, a being who could return to Heaven any time he wants, but so far chooses to live amongst humans because he relishes the emotions that Heaven does not have. Not everyone will agree with his choice as many people strive on going to Heaven not running from heaven, but the audience will believe he is on earth for a reason as he does great things for humanity. This heartwrenching beautiful urban fantasy will grip readers with its potent emotional fervor.

The Secret Bride
Diane Haeger
NAL (New American Library)
c/o Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451223135, $14.00, 1-800-847-5515

Being the sister of King Henry VIII, Princess Mary understands that she will one day be a political pawn marrying someone to further her brother's reign. However that does not prevent her from falling in love with the Duke of Suffolk Charles Brandon; nor he with her. She begs her sibling to allow her to marry Charles, but he refuses as she is intended to wed King Louis XII of France. However, feeling some guilt as he likes and trust Charles as a loyal friend of his and cares for Mary, Henry agrees she can marry her beloved if he is single and she is a widow.

In the fall of 1514, Mary marries fiftyish King Louis XII of France. Less than three months later he died allegedly from too much exertion trying to begat an heir on his teenage wife. . Not asking permission as she knows her capricious brother might pawn her off on someone else, Mary persuades Charles to marry her as he and others escort her back across the Channel. However, they time their nuptials perfectly as Henry has no time to deal with either of them as he struggles to obtain papal approval of his divorce from Catherine of Aragon

THE SECRET BRIDE is an excellent biographical fiction tale of the sister of King Henry VIII, who comes across as intelligent, compassionate, and sly. She has to if she is to survive her checkmating her manipulative political keen sibling. Fans of Tudor tales will appreciate this deep character driven look at Princess Mary though her romance with Charles takes center stage over the historical perspective.

Jacquelin Thomas
9780451223104, $22.95

In 1970 Mayville, Georgia, eighteen years old Jessie Bell Holt learned from her mom that sexual enticements work. However, if her daddy ever learned how she flaunts her assets, he would condemn her as having a Jezebel spirit. Somehow whether her father Reverend Holt chooses to ignore or remain ignorant, townsfolk know of Jessie Bell's reputation including an abortion and a miscarriage.

Holt hosts Preacher Traynor Deveraux Jr. who is in town to provide a tent revival sermon since his dad is too ill to perform. Jessie Bell recognizes Traynor as her ticket out of town; encouraged by her mom, she hooks the young preacher whose sermon feels God-inspired. Traynor and Jessie Bell marry. Over the years through her sexual and extortionist machinations, he becomes an international star while they raise their son. However, one day her reckoning will come, but Jessie Bell never expected the price she must pay for her transgressions; yet still has one chance at redemption.

Bringing the biblical tale of Jezebel into a modern text, Jacquelin Thomas provides a deep look at temptation in various forms. Jessie Bell is terrific as the lead protagonist as she learned very early how to sue her beauty to manipulate men; in fact only her son who loves her deeply seems immune to her charms. Fans of inspirational Christian fiction will relish this powerful look at the Jezebel Spirit alive and well in contemporary America.

The Silver Compass
Holly Kennedy
9780451223128, $14.00

In Barrow, Montana seventeen year old Ellis Williams is pregnant and frightened; adding to her fears is her father tosses her out of his home. With no place to go, Ellis decides to jump off a bridge. Ten seconds is all that it took for her to almost land on Louie Johnson. He saves her life when he pulls her from the river and though she knows he wishes he was not here with her, he persuades her to go on living by telling her a lie and giving her THE SILVER COMPASS as an anchor.

Fifteen years later, widow Ellis returns to her Montana hometown with her troubled daughter Hadley as both struggle to cope with the death of the man in their lives Mark. Ellis sees Louie who is estranged from his adult daughter Arla. At about the same time, her father, who deserted her and her mom Paullina when they needed him most, has also come home. However, though he wants second chances as he regrets his errors, he doubts his ex-wife, his daughter and the granddaughter he never met will give him a chance for redemption as Dennis needs to become THE SILVER COMPASS for the three women in his life.

This is an appealing family drama that grips the audience as the key cast members struggle with relationships past and present because each fears opening up and communicating their biggest fears to their loved ones. Any book that can turn Christopher Robin into a Dr. Ruth advising Winnie has to be incredibly poignant. Fans will appreciate this deep character study and no one will have dried eyes with the ending as the Big Lie is passed on.

Space Vulture
Gary K. Wolf and John J. Myers
Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765318527, $24.95, 1-888-330-8477

Galactic marshal Captain Victor Corsaire has come to Verlinap, a remote planet to arrest two bit crook Gil Terry. However, before he completes the job, notorious pirate criminal mastermind Space Vulture leads a raid on Verlinap. He captures Corsaire and the planetary administrator Cali Russell.

Space Vulture decides to sell the rights to the renowned law enforcement official to the highest bidder. He invites the dirty dozen, who top the most wanted list to his auction. The highest bidder gets to do what he wants to Corsaire; Vulture leans towards making spunky Cali his toy. On Verlinap, the still free and still wanted Gil helps Cali's sons by picking pockets while they fix rockets; his goal is to regain his body parts hocked to his bookie whom he lost an arm and a leg and more to before the man sells them at auction; their goal is to rescue mom; no one's goal is to save Corsaire as he can rot in Purgatory as far as the kids and the crooks care.

Saluting the Buck Rogers 1950s space pulp fiction thrillers, SPACE VULTURE is an entertaining throwback tale. The story line is a nostalgic amusement to a pre Star wars era as the heroes seem to jump from one adventure into another. Although the plot is razor thin, fans will enjoy this fun space opera that takes readers back in time.

The Stars Down Under
Sandra McDonald
Tor Books
0765316447, $24.95

Chief Petty Officer Terry Myell and Lieutenant Commander Jodenny Scott tried to hide their marriage as a relationship between them is strictly forbidden by the military code of conduct. However, when they were caught, Terry was grounded as his wife has command authority. He is bored with his spouse gone and he stuck doing nonsensical mostly made up office work.

However his ennui ends not because the brass provided him meaningful work, but abductors do. His kidnappers need his help to locate missing research scientists who vanished while studying a series of what appears to be gateways that allow near instant travel between stars. Myell is considered the only person left behind capable of turning on the spherical gates. Excited he leads his new team into another galaxy seeking the lost scientists, but instead runs into dangerous adversaries as a reptile like race wants control of the gateways and will kill anyone who seems in their way starting with Myell.

This exciting sequel to the superb THE OUTBACK STARS is an entertaining space opera that science fiction fans will enjoy, but also be frustrated by applying the 5 whys technique to the plot with no answers forthcoming why Myell and why only Myell. The story line is fast-paced once the hero is abducted leaving behind his desk jockey stint and never slows down as he and his kidnappers explore new realms. Sandra McDonald provides a fascinating tale, but omits critical plausibility background information.

The Edge of Reason
Melinda Snodgrass
Tor Books
9780765315168, $24.95

Former concert pianist but now Albuquerque police officer Richard Oort may be stunned by what he sees, but he reacts. Naked strange beings, obviously not human though what they are Robert is not sure of, chase after a young girl. His efforts to rescue a sorceress are noticed by affluent Kenntnis, who thinks he may have finally found the perfect warrior in his eternal war with the Old Ones.

Richard learns just who recruited him as Kenntnis has been called the Serpent and Lucifer amongst other derogatory names. The cop also finds out that the Old Ones encourage human religions as they feed on the emotional frenzy and suffering of diehard believers. Kenntnis and his Lumina supporters insist they want free will for mankind while their opponents need human dependency. As his mother commits suicide, Richard with no time to grieve, has doubts that he is fighting for the good guys as he has been indoctrinated throughout his life that Lucifer is the tricky devil while his new commander in chief insists the opponents won the propaganda war.

This is a terrific action-packed apocalypse thriller that will have the audience pondering the roles in society of organized religion, formal education, Lovecraftian mythos, and the Albuquerque Police Department. The story line is fast-paced yet readers will empathize with the beleaguered human hero as he struggles with comprehending a supernatural war that has gone on from the moment Eve seduced Adam into taking a bite and has spilled onto the streets of his hometown. His dealings with the stick man and associates, a homeless bum who happens to be a God (the RFK theory of the deity comes to mind) and a new Dark Age driven by the Old Ones but supported by human fundamentalists who see power in the golden rule of those with the gold make the rule are fascinating to watch. Melinda Snodgrass provides a strong thriller that will send her readers over THE EDGE OF REASON.

Little Brother
Cory Doctorow
Tor Books
9780765319852, $17.95

Every student in Marcus' high school is under surveillance through cameras both in and out of class, spy ware in the school computers and identification cards with microchips inside that let the powers to be know where they are at all times. Marcus is a computer guru who lives to beat the system; he and some friends cut school to participate in a scavenger hunt sponsored by a large corporation.

While they are trying to decipher a clue, an explosion occurs followed by a mushroom cloud rising in the sky. Terrorists hit the Bay Bridge and a San Francisco BART station. Marcus' friend Darryl is injured so they stop a Homeland Security vehicle. The teens are treated like terrorists and taken to prison where they are mentally and physically tortured. Three of them are freed but Darryl is nowhere to be found. Homeland Security has turned San Francisco into a police state, but Marcus knows the truth and organizes a resistance.

LITTLE BROTHER is a tense frightening thriller because with little spin it comes from headlines since 9/11. Marcus is a fighter yet a reluctant hero as he just wants freedom without insistent government meddling, peeking, and intruding under the guise of red alerts. Cory Doctorow has modernized 1984 with this exhilarating cautionary thriller; though one must wonder whether he will receive the Rushdie treatment from the Patriot actors.

In Milton Lumky Territory
Philip K. Dick
Tor Books
9780765316950, $25.95

Mid twenties Bruce Stevens lives in Reno working as a buyer for Consumers Buying Bureau. It is one of those new establishments: a discount place. He stops in Montario, Idaho to buy Trojans; planning to use them when he visits Peg Googer. However, Peg has company including Susan Faine, who looks familiar, but he cannot place her. Susan runs a typewriter rental service mostly used by male lawyers and has just obtained a divorce from Walt in Mexico. He leaves for Boise but forgot his coat so he returns to Peg's house; only Susan is there as the others went out. As he leaves again, he is attracted to Susan before realizing that she was Miss Reuben, his fifth grade teacher at Garret A. Hobart Grammar School in Montario back in 1944.

Ten years his senior, Susan and Bruce marry giving him an instant family as she has a stepdaughter and her typing business to run while he is on the road a lot as he does the circuit between most of the major cities west of the Rockies. His western travels lead to his meeting older traveling paper salesman Milton Lumky whose depressing look at the American conditions haunts Bruce as the middle aged seller pontificates negatively about traveling salesmen being a dying dinosaur with the discounters on the rise. Meanwhile, Susan's fears that Bruce will leave her for some younger female he meets on the road harm their relationship while his misperceptions about families hurt their marriage further.

Although written as a late 1950s contemporary, IN MILTON LUMKY TERRITORY has the deep feel of a well written character driven historical that feels so apropos today with the dramatic demographic shifts in employment skills. Bruce is actually the prime player with Milton and Susan providing strong support mostly insight into the lead character or his work. Philip K. Dick shows his versatility and currency with this fine tale that holds up well as both a historical and as a deep look at people struggling with radical societal changes in their lives.

Shadow Gate
Kate Elliott
Tor Books
9780765310569, $25.95

The eagle riding Marit the reeve died three years ago (see SPIRIT GATE) while working alongside her lover reeve marshal Joss as they and others tried to save the mortals of the Hundred from an attack led by a rogue Guardian. Now Marit awakens lying naked on a Guardian alter. She is bewildered to be alive as she remembers being murdered and knows her soulmate eagle is dead.

Marit begins to understand what has happened to her while wondering if Joss lives and if the war is over who won. As she concludes she somehow has become one of the Nine Guardians, she vows to be different than they were. She will directly help the Hundred instead of taking an apathetic position as the Guardians she served seemed to have taken until one of them turned rogue. Marit learns that the hostilities remain with the people struggling to survive against the horde led by hostile Guardians.

SHADOW GATE, the second Crossroads epic fantasy, is a tremendous thriller that grips readers from the moment Marit wakes up on the altar and never slows down in spite of numerous complex subplots that highlight a world turned from justice and order to injustice and chaos. Although the climax occurs suddenly and leaves major threads for book three, fans will appreciate the deep look at a world in trouble, but recommend perusing the previous tale first (see SPIRIT GATE) to fully comprehend the complexities of the Elliot cosmos.

The Immortal Prince
Jennifer Fallon
Tor Books
9780765316820, $27.95

In Lebec, royal spymaster Declan Hawkes directs noted ancient Amyranthan lore historian Arkady "Ice Duchess" Desean to question mass murderer Lord Cayal, who miraculously somehow survived a hanging. Declan expects Arkday to prove the dangerous psychopath is delusional with his insane claims of immortality. Bored with his current life cycle and ergo seeking freshness Caval expected his head to be sliced off so that when a new one grew in he would have no memories of his previous life.

Intrigued by the scholar's energy, he provides her with fascinating information on the legendary Tide Lords who supposedly created the human-animal half-breeds Crasii slaves. The Tide Lords ebb and flow in power reaching their apex every thousand years only to self destruct into squabbles and ultimately myth until the cycle renews. The last time they were at the pinnacle of power was a millennium ago when the great Cataclysm devastated the ancient world and the Tide Lords. Meanwhile Declan also serendipitously abets the rebel halfbreed engineered Crasii while also insuring the secret Cabal remains diligent to defeat the Tide Lords when they return.

The first Tide Lords tale, THE IMMORTAL PRINCE is a fascinating fantasy due to the strong cast in which readers get inside their heads. Fans know Cayal desired decapitation because he believed a new head would grow in containing a blank slate to refresh him; Arkday realizes the ruler expects her pregant but her spouse is gay and she is from the lower class; Caval is Machiavellan working behind the scnes to keep humans safe from when the next high tide occurs; finally the Cassii represented by an imprisoned canine-human is outraged and angry by their inhuman treatment. Although much of the novel is introducing the players and the newest Fallon realm, fans of the author will enjoy the opening of a new fantasy saga.

William H. Drinkard
Tor Books
9780765317858, $25.95

The People live a difficult but grateful life; they are thankful for Fire from the Goddess Shetow and the hunt mostly of the mighty mammoth who provide food and clothing. All of the tribe know their role in keeping everyone safe, men mostly as hunters and women mostly as gatherers and artisans. Geerna realizes it is time for her to become a woman. She anxiously waits at the Awakening Place not knowing what to expect when a light shines brightly on her; she begins a trek no member of the People has ever had to do before her.

Eons pass with People remaining the same. They abide by Geerna's Law enforced by the Medora Council wise women until Shetow who chose Geerna to bring the covenant to the People demands they choose new champions. Those chosen must prove to their Goddess that the People remain worthy.

Although the ending is too simple, readers will appreciate this strong reflective look at the interrelationships placed upon people by an external force (think in terms of bringing democracy to Iraq vs. internally the royals bringing democracy to the Kingdom of Bhutan) vs. ages of tradition. The story line is fast-paced, but driven by the magnificent seven who ponder their places in society and with one another. Fans will appreciate William H. Drinkard's thought provoking mythos.

Button, Button
Richard Matheson
Tor Books
9780765312570, $12.95

The twelve stories that make up this collection were mostly written in the 1950s and 1960s (the newest is 1970) but continue to be timely as they showcase a strong suspense horror author who remains renowned for his Twilight Zone twists affirmed by this anthology. The title story is a terrific tale of ethics vs. greed as a married couple possesses a device in which each time they press a button they receive $50,000, but a stranger dies. "Girl of My Dreams" stars a rat who abuses his naive girlfriend's psychic gift to make money; greed is one of the deadly sins in the Matheson world while the loss of innocence ("Mute") is even deadlier. "No Such Thing as a Vampire" feels very Twilight Zone like. This superb anthology is top rate as the short stories are filled with everyday people with moral choices between avarice and ethics involved in scenarios beyond their normal existence; any moment Rod Serling will inform the audience they entered a world filled with imagination and much more.

The Wolfman
Nicholas Pekearo
Tor Books
9780765320261, $23.95

Discharged by the Army after serving as a grunt in Nam, Marlowe Higgins lives in Evelyn near the Ivy River just a spider's web outside of Tennessee. He earns a poor man's living making hamburgers at Frank's greasy spoon make that restaurant as he needs the below poverty level position. Once a month Marlowe feels schizoid because he relishes yet fears the full moon when he, like his antecedents before him, turns into a werewolf. He also investigates malicious crimes as a form of sublimation to abate his guilt over killing innocent people during his blood disorder frenzy although Marlowe tries to target killers when he turns wolf albeit not always successfully.

A particularly vicious serial killer has begin horrifically murdering people; the media calls this psychopath the Rose Killer for potting flowers in eye sockets of victims. Higgins begins investigating this predator with plans to rip his throat out when he finally hunts him down.

This engaging paranormal serial killer thriller is an entertaining tale that werewolf fans and investigative vigilante readers will appreciate as the hero seems genuine especially when he agonizes over killing an innocent. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action, but it is Higgins who makes the horror crime thriller work as fans will empathize with his plight while wondering whether we sympathize with the devil. Sadly, Mr. Nicholas Pekearo was killed in 2007 while on duty as a NYPD auxiliary police officer.

Make Room! Make Room!
Harry Harrison
Orb Books
c/o Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765318855, $14.95, 1-888-330-8477

In 1999, New York City suffers from overpopulation as 35 million people live there. The country as a whole is also struggling with population issues. In that environs Chinese American Billy Chung lives in the floating slums of New York Harbor. During a food riot, Billy escapes with meat that he sells so that he can fund his effort to become a telegram delivery person. During a delivery, he finds an apartment that looks easy to break into, which he does. However the occupant is home and Billy kills "Big" Mike O'Brien.

Since O'Brien was connected, the overworked NYPD assigns Andrew Rusch to solve the case immediately just in case this was a professional hit. However, clues lead Andrew to believe Billy killed the victim. Meanwhile Andrew meets O'Brien's girlfriend Shirl and soon she moves in with him and his roommate Sol. Billy flees to Brooklyn, where he finds sanctuary with Peter, a religious fanatic. Andrew finds and kills tracks Billy. Shirl is gone and the brass punishes him over the O'Brien case as their intended solution changed and he failed to keep up with that.

Apparently this novel was the basis for the movie Soylent Green. MAKE ROOM! MAKE ROOM! is an interesting reprinting of a 1966 cautionary tale that using theories of Malthus and Ehrlich ("The Population Bomb") which warned of the impact of overpopulation on the food supply and the environment. The story line stars everyday people trying to survive in a dying world with no hope for the future; in fact the only person with aspirations beyond his next meal is the young thief. Well written and exciting, part of the fun is to see how close Harry Harrison was in predicting the world of 1999.

From Dead to Worse
Charlaine Harris
Ace Books
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780441015894, $24.95, 1-800-847-5515

The bomb explosion at the vampire summit in Rhodes, Louisiana scared, Sookie Stackhouse, telepathic extraordinaire and waitress at a diner owned by a shapeshifter., She prays she will have a respite from problems in the supernatural world. She does not expect any because so many vampires and other species died or are missing including her were-tiger boyfriend Quinn..

Unfortunately the last thing Sookie knows is that a crisis begets a worse crisis. During the were contest for Packmaster, Alcide's father was killed and Furnan consolidated his reign. Now people loyal to Alcide are dying and he thinks Furnan is responsible. When Furnan's wife is kidnapped, he blames Alcide. Sookie tries to arbitrate a peace.

The New Orleans vampire queen Sophie is in desperate straits as Katrina destroyed much of her power base in New Orleans, the bomb destroyed the vestige of her support and she is helpless while she is regenerating new legs. The city is ripe for a takeover from the king of Las Vegas but not everyone is happy with the new power structure. It is up to Sookie and her blood bonded vampire Eric Northman the vampire to prevent more deaths including the new ruler.

The heroine prefers to keep to herself but tries to help the supernatural community while the humans reject her due to her telepathy prowess. She will do anything to save those she cares about while her animosity towards Bill the vampire who betrayed her remains strong. Action-packed yet character driven, FROM DEAD TO WORSE is Charlaine Harris at her world-building best with this entertaining original story.

Key to Conspiracy
Talia Gryphon
Ace Books
9780441015764, $6.99

Marine Corps Special Ops psychiatrist Dr. Gillian Key is an expert in abnormal paramortal psychology as she works with supernatural patients with biting problems. However she is assigned as part of a team to provide assistance to the victims of a horrific earthquake in Russia. Though she knows she will see plenty of tragedy and her specific task is investigating rumors of child selling, Gillian looks forward to getting away from her usual paranormal clientele especially the brass.

However what should have been a natural calamity with a horrific aftermath turns into a supernatural disaster. Dracula, whom she met on a previous adventure (see KEY TO CONFLICT), is fascinated by the soldier-psychiatrist as he is more used to subservient females not combatant women. As bad or perhaps worse Jack the Ripper is using the mishap as an easy cover for his nefarious activities. Of course Gillian wonders if she has Murphy DNA as she meets a who's who of horror superstars.

Whereas KEY TO CONFLICT is preeminently military urban fantasy, KEY TO CONSPIRACY is more horror although the heroine's patients include vampires with biting guilt complexes, werewolves with species identity issues and military brass with 5-star superegos. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action, but also contains an underlying satirical feel as Talia Gryphon lampoons the sub-genre. Readers will relish the Russian adventure as the Key to this tale is the fully developed (with a wink) lead protagonist who copes with Drac, Jack and general whackos.

Armed and Magical
Lisa Shearin
Ace Books
9780441015870, $7.99

She was a good Seeker of objects and people and a fair sorceress, but a week ago Raine Benares was psychically bonded with the Saghred, a stone of immense power. It has boosted Raine's existing powers and given her unnatural talent making her one of the most powerful magicians in the Seven Kingdoms. However it is an evil object that thrives on eating souls with the last soul it swallowed being Sacred Nikpon. Raine forced that action which is why she has a link to the stone and its seemingly zillion stolen souls over the centuries wherever she may be.

Right now Raine is on the Isle of Mid, home to the Conclave which polices magic users and hosts a highly regarded sorcerer's school. Raine hopes someone on the island can separate her from the stone. However, there are factions on the Isle some of whom are malevolent and demand something from Raine starting with the original owner of the stone who razed cities, empires and anyone who got in his way. Raine finds her elven brethren want her for her new power while the goblins demand the stone. Everywhere she turns she finds someone threatens her and her loved ones as ethics do not apply to the people seeking the power of the stone.

Lisa Shearin has written a spellbinding fantasy that enables readers to believe in elves, goblins, and mages, oh my. The Shearin world seems real and that magic is a genuine skill thanks in part to the strong characterizations. There is plenty of partisan in fighting, intrigue, and action to keep readers turning the pages wondering what next will happen to the reluctant beleaguered heroine that is while debating her chances of surviving until the next assault occurs.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

On Becoming a Poet Full Time
Llyn Clague
Pure Heart Press
P.O. Box 690100, Charlotte NC 28227
9781599481234 $14.00

In Llyn Clague's second book of poetry, he continues the explorations begun in the first. Inward visions expand outward to include the world, the universe. He becomes Everyman, the embodiment of human fragility in a life exploded beyond our control, sharing his journey with "images, ideas, metaphors, and the hushed roar of language."

To Clague, poetry represents a new-found philosophy, a way of life, a creative process that soothes the frazzled edges of our human rat race. This excerpt from the title poem is an epiphany of sorts:

No longer the zealous devotion
to the dreams of others
and a silent prayer
that I, too, might believe.
Nor the oxymoronic
"rush" home
in demonic traffic
ending in evenings
blurred with fatigue…

"Orphaned at 60" connects the ancient and modern, childhood and adulthood, children and parents through the ages as Clague contemplates the death of his strong-willed mother:

Her body wrinkled and wasted,
her mind lucid but weak as a ten-watt bulb,
her spirit as fierce as the grit of her youth,
my mother fought for life
like a species going extinct
up to her hoarse end.

Editors and critics are not always kind to poets, who paper their walls "with slips of futility." And whether editors and critics reject a poet's work or not, the reading public seems decidedly neutral when it comes to poetry. This excerpt from "History" reflects a universal frustration:

True poetry, most agree, rises above our topical troubles, our quotidian quarrels,
and lifts us into a realm of universal truths and pristine beauty.
To bring public life, with all its coarse messiness, into poetry
might help rescue poetry from its terrible purity
and make it relevant to the vast public that so decisively ignores it.

One of my favorite poems in this book is "Early Winter." It's an incredible insight into the noels of modern city dwellers, the plight of the homeless, and annual struggle to survive winter before our modern era:

How hard winter must have been
for the original tribes of this region --
the Raritans, Tappans, Rechgawawances --
in their homes of sticks and hides
hunkered among the pines to break storm winds.
After the harvest festival, with its wealth of yellows and oranges --
maize, beans, squash, yams, pumpkins --
after its hosannas to the gods and dances around the fires,
stalks rattled in the bare fields
and men, women and children huddled together for survival
under slatted walls blackened by smoke,
among smells of stew, dried sweat, damp furs,
when thirty was an advanced age.

Clague brings a personal touch and perspective to the everyday worries and trials all humans face on a daily basis. Love, loss, survival, politics, victories and failures, sorrow and joy are the ingredients Clague measures into his rich poetic broth. Whether his words present themselves with whispers or hushed roars, they're well worth reading.

Easy Innocence
Libby Fischer Hellmann
Bleak House Books
Division of Big Earth Publishing
923 Williamson Street, Madison WI 53703
9781932557664 $14.95

The creator of the award-winning Ellie Foreman mysteries is back. To quote the author, "This is a departure for me." Yes, Easy Innocence is darker, the new protagonist harder, and features a disturbing scenario. But readers will recognize Hellmann's style, including exciting plot development and a strong heroine.

Teenager Sara Long is blonde, beautiful, and intelligent. She's discovered a better way of making the money needed to buy designer clothes, shoes, purses, and the high tech toys craved by her high school peers. Sara's new line of work does not involve working in fast food restaurants or coffee shops for minimum wage. Her job and the money it produces have become an addictive obsession, one that leads to a violent death. When mentally disturbed Cameron Jordan is found holding the murder weapon next to Sara's body, the wheels of justice grind swiftly. Murder is uncommon on Chicago's wealthy North Shore. Jordan is railroaded through the courts without further investigation. Proof against him is what the D.A. calls a "slam dunk." Only Jordan's devoted sister and one suspicious cop doubt his guilt. The cop suggests hiring Private Investigator Georgia Davis to search for clues Chicago P.D. might have overlooked in their haste to convict Cameron Jordan.

Not that long ago, Davis was a cop herself. She chafes over being booted off the force, but handles the investigation in her typical professional style, as if she were still a cop. Each lead takes her deeper into a world she finds hard to accept, where money buys everything from sex to favors in high places to murder. Davis is determined to find the truth, even when clues lead to teenage prostitution and ruthless men who don't mind killing anyone threatening their power. Complicating her investigation is the sympathy this hard-nosed P.I. feels for the teenage friends of Sara Long.

Easy Innocence is an exciting read. Fans will find Hellmann's typically stylish twists and turns of plot and strong characterizations. Georgia Davis is a provocative heroine -- tough, a bit jaded, sometimes vulnerable, but a skilled, intelligent investigator. This latest book is, indeed, a departure from the Ellie Foreman mysteries, but Hellmann fans will find her fingerprints all over it. If you enjoy gritty noir mysteries, this one is highly recommended.

Cannon Fire
Tom Eagan
Aran Press
1036 So. 5th Street, Louisville KY 40203
0966158881 $9.95

It's been awhile since I've reviewed a Tom Eagan book. I'm happy to report he hasn't lost any of his humor or imagination. Cannon Fire is another thought-provoking chapter on America's legal history, the sort of cautionary tale at which Eagan excels. This latest book is a modern update of Dante's Divine Comedy.

Nick Carlin is a successful River City lawyer known as the "Velvet Fist." He's clever and thorough in his investigation and defense of clients, respected by his peers, and considers himself to be a good and honest man. Carlin's perception of life, God, and ethics changes when a colleague gives him a personalized guided tour of Purgatory, Hell, and Paradise. The horrifying sights he sees on his way to enlightenment include many dead colleagues he thought were "good and honest" men like him.

As Carlin and his guide proceed through Limbo and the eight circles of Hell, he encounters lost, lazy souls, blaming everyone else for their fates, denying any blame. The tour spirals downward, to the very bowels of horrible hell. Suffering peers along the way tell their personal stories of fast food gluttony, addiction to MTV, and adulterous relationships. In Purgatory, Carlin meets dead friends and co-workers struggling to shed their vices, seeking perfection in pleasant terraces climbing towards Heaven. Some succeed through trial and enlightenment. Others fail through lack of faith or determination. Traveling the glowing spheres of Paradise, Carlin meets thinkers, saints, martyrs, leaders, and mystics who have changed the world with their goodness. He learns that Paradise is not where he belongs, and that he's eventually bound for Hell. In the end, Carlin awakes from a dream knowing that he, alone, can choose his destination.

Tom Eagan's books are always interesting, unusual, and unlike any other novels. His writing fascinates and amuses, despite the dark undercurrents of truth he reveals. If you haven't discovered Eagan's Tales From the Hall, start with this one. An election year seems the ideal time for readers to enlighten themselves about Hell and what lands us there.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

Bill Ison
9781432713997 $15.95

Bill Ison has led the most fascinating life imaginable. Born in Northern Wisconsin, he learned hunting and wood carving. He was also a voracious reader. His career path led him through the corporate world, until he finally turned to Hollywood, where he put his sculpting talents to good use on movie sets. Bill has always been a secret writer, and he is thrilled to have his first book, KILLROD, published at age 81.

Hart St. James is a sculptor for Hollywood sets. He is an independent contractor; lives in a dump; and is his own man. When gorgeous Kelly Moran, Hollywood's sweetheart, calls him to remodel a mantel in her home, he is cautious. But he finds Kelly to be beautiful; engaging; and the two of them have a surprising amount in common, including Midwestern roots. A romance is born, but when Hart stays with Kelly, he wakes up to find her dead next to him in bed. What possible motive could anyone have to kill her? The police at first suspect Hart, but quickly dismiss that theory when they examine his head injuries from the intruder. Hart decides to conduct his own investigation, and even the police have to admit that he is more than qualified, particularly when it becomes evident that they are dealing with a psychotic International terrorist:

"He had been orphaned while still a baby. He has been raised among adults. The only person close to him, the monk who found him, was brutally murdered six years later. He became not only unsocial but coldly antisocial. And for some reason, he had become a stone cold killer."

Mr. Ison's brings his own particular skills and lifetime experiences to create this highly original plot. Not only is the fact that he is of "Hollywood" bring mystery and romance to his novel, but he does a bang-up job of creating a Hollywood blockbuster all of his own. His characters are solidly drawn; his understanding of human nature is born of his own life; and the plot moves through several locales and moves along at a brisk pace.

Hart St. James is close to Ison's own persona, and as a hero he shines. His flaws only make him more lovable. KILLROD is begging for a sequel. A most wonderful read!

The Muted Mermaid
Del Staecker
Cable Publishing
14090 E. Keinenen Rd.,, Brule, WI 54820
9780979949463 $24.95

Del Staecker was born and raised in a town near Chicago. He was influenced by his Uncle Earling, who lived in Old Town Chicago. Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac; Allen Ginsberg, beat poet; and Bob Dylan (who needs no introduction) often hung out there, so Staecker had the experience of a lifetime during his formative years being exposed to some of the most famous artists and musicians of the fifties and sixties. Staecker was also no stranger to farm work; boy scouts; and little league. Staecker eventually made his way to Idaho, where he lived the idyllic life in a cabin with no phone or tv. He wrote THE MUTED MERMAID in longhand. SHAVED ICE, the sequel to THE MUTED MERMAID, is in preparation.

Ledge Trabue is a self-educated; self-reliant genius whose past included the military, some hard knocks, and lots of Renaissance learning and thinking. A family tragedy leads him into "the funny farm," where he meets ex-cop Albert Bryan, who is also on the skids. Their friendship saves both of them, and they communicate in their own special language. Ledge finds a dead woman floating outside of his boat. She seems to be asking for his help, particularly when the local police call it a suicide. A visit from her bereaved father seals the deal:

"Yesterday, Trabue thought, I found a body, a bobber, a dead girl. Today, the grieving father appears. First he threatens me then he asks for my help. This is nuts and I'm not making it better by volunteering. Trabue knew that his long-sought-for and much-cherished solitude was over."

Del Staecker understands solitude and pain, and he incorporates both into the relationship between Trabue and his friend Bryan, who rushes to his aid in solving a brutal murder. Staecker incorporates the underside of life in Nashville to create an enemy political machine that chews up anyone caught in its general vicinity. This mystery is as much a psychological as a political study. Staecker captures the essence in evil and its effect upon people who have experienced loss. But there is also redemption and a hint of things to come in the sequel. THE MUTED MERMAID is an amazing novel by a man who in solitude understands the sins of the masses.

Rough Treatment
John Harvey
Bloody Brits Press
PO Box 3671, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-3671
9781932859454 $16.95

John Harvey is an award-winning writer who lives north of London. He received the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger award for sustained excellence in the field of writing for his ten published mysteries in 2007.

Giving us the underbelly of Hollywood in Pulp Fiction fashion, Harvey's tale intersects the lives of a broken down TV director, Harold Roy and his unhappy wife and two small-time crooks who have created a sure-fire deal to rob wealthy mansions. Grice and Grabianski are polar opposite thieves with a common purpose. They break into Harold and Maria Roy's mansion dressed up like insurance salesmen. The shocked Maria offers them a drink, and then finds that she is sexually attracted to Jerzy Grabianski. They helped themselves to artwork; furs; and the contents of the safe, which includes a kilo of cocaine waiting to redistribution. Detective Inspector Resnick is immediately suspicious of Maria Roy's story of the two intruders, and the hunt is on. Harold Roy is absolutely no help, as his universe is crashing in on him both at home and at work:

"Harold Roy clenched his fists and stared at his knuckles until they were quite white. If ever there'd been any chance of salvaging his future with this particular company, the last half-hour had blown it. Once the rumors made their rounds, the usual vindictiveness, more than usual exaggeration - couldn't finish the series, couldn't keep to schedule, boozed up on the set, taking swings at the producer - he'd be lucky to get a job directing sixty-second promos for satellite TV."

Harvey's character-driven plot twists and turns and sucks in the reader from almost the first page. There is real drama here, and every character is feeling it in his or her own way. Yet all are tied together with just one burglary that keeps expanding like lava from a volcano. Harvey is a master at setting the mood and getting the dialogue just right. The reader feels like they are in the room with whatever action is taking place. He is a puppeteer with tone, and his imperfect and totally human characters skitter on his stick as they make one bad decision after another. ROUGH TREATMENT is just that…no one escapes from John Harvey's expertise as a writer; make it an entertaining and no doubt popular read with his fans.

The Law of Three
Caroline Rennie Pattison
Dundurn Press
3 Church St., Suite 500, Toronto, Ontario, CAN M5E 1M2
9781550027334 $12.99 U.S. / 6.99 Brit. pounds

Caroline Rennie Pattison began her publishing career with THE WHOLE, ENTIRE, COMPLETE TRUTH, published in 2006. Caroline was born in Paisley, Scotland, and moved to Canada as a child. Caroline is a teaching consultant.

Sarah Martin is a newcomer to Muskoka. She has made a couple of friends, but at least one of them seems intent on stealing her would-be boyfriend and spreads nasty rumors about her. Sarah has a run-in with Garnet Hopper, a fellow student with a "Goth" persona and obvious issues. Sarah's father is a detective, and it turns out that Garnet's reputation around school was made after she was involved in the drowning death of William Tremball. Rumors will grow, and the town's interpretation of the accident involved devil worship; the witness protection program; and the Mafia. Sarah finds herself teamed with Byron Hopper for a Geography project, and her natural curiosity overrides her friends' dire warnings about getting involved with the Hopper family:

"'Some weird guy picked a fight with Nathan Tremball,' explained Stacey. 'When Constable Meyers told them to leave, the guy went crazy. He wrecked all these decorations on his way out the door. He was with Garnet Hopper. She just watched and laughed.'

'And that's why we don't hang out with the Hoppers - or their friends,' pronounced Cori."

Peer pressure and town gossip are two issues that Caroline Pattison deals with in this insightful and compelling tale about fitting in. Most readers will empathize with this shrewd story that combines a mystery Nancy Drew style with the pains of growing up. Pattison adds a twist with a family who practices a very peaceful and non-threatening form of Wicca and their persecution due to ignorance in the community. Sarah Martin is a breath of fresh air as a junior sleuth under the watchful, and sometimes reproachful, eye of her detective father.

THE LAW OF THREE is an entertaining book that appeals to almost any age, but is probably meant for junior high and high school students. Its lessons are many.

Gravely Dead
Lawrence Rotch
9781435713659 $14.50

Lawrence Rotch is evidently a shy author, as there is no information about him in GRAVELY DEAD, nor is there a webpage.

Sarah Cassidy is undergoing a divorce from her husband, who now has a trophy girlfriend. She is drawn back to midcoast Maine, where she attended Migawoc Girls' Camp as a child. Migawoc is now a memory, as is Myra Hubbard, the neighbor who donated a boat to the camp but who was unsocial to all except Sarah. Sarah has inherited a boat from Myra, but it is in need of extensive repairs. Sarah's boat paves the way for her to become reacquainted with the residents of Maine. She discovers that Myra was murdered, and little does she know that her forty-year old memories may make her a threat to someone she knew back when. As she begins digging, it is evident that she has alerted the murderer of her movements:

"Just then, the headlights behind her grew again, filled the car with a dazzling glare. A sudden thud rocked the Explorer. Sarah yanked at the wheel, struggling for control as a truck swept by inches away and cut in front. She swerved, the road fell away, and her car shot into the woods."

Lawrence Rotch does a masterful job of setting the scene for this unusual mystery. Maine is a wonderful backdrop, with its anti-government poor. The struggle of essential survival adds a layer all its own to this powerful mystery. Add to the fact that the mystery is rooted in a thirty-year old history, and one can easily see this tale set in a movie theme.

Rotch adds a rich layer of legitimate and compelling characters, each of whom might have a motive for murder. The result is a chilling page turner with an eerie tone. Rotch uses dialogue and character to completely mislead the eager reader. He manages to hide the real killer long enough to set up yet another action-packed sequence for Sarah to have to endure before truth rears its ugly head. Naturally Maine's coastline and boat building play a huge role in this original mystery. Boating often emerges as the primary source of action. But whether it's boating or murder, Rotch succeeds in engaging the reader.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Baby An Owner's Manual
Bud Zukow, M.D and Nancy Sayles Kaneshiro
Beaufort Books
27 West 20th Street, Ste 1102, New York, NY 10011
0825305780 $14.95

To me, a mother of 3 and grandmother of 5, this book was quite refreshing. Inside I found answers to just about any question a mom or child care-giver would have concerning their baby. Written in a way that is, I would say, like sitting with an old-time doctor and just bearing your heart and fears, and getting his feed-back. His words are sprinkled with a sense of humor, yet you can tell that he has a sincere love for children and their well-being, plus knowledge and experience.

I realize not everyone or every doctor gives the same advise on all subjects, but I was familiar with some of his answers and they had worked for me. Of course others I wish I had known when I had a need for knowing. I think this is a great handbook on babies that will give a lot of parents a little more confidence with their new baby. Easy to read, informative, and well written.

Bill Ison
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd. - 515, Parker, Colorado 80134
9781432713997 $15.95

We meet our main character under some not so pleasant circumstances. It seems Hart St. James finds himself in bed next to the headless body of a Hollywood super star named, Kelly Moran. St. James, a Vietnam veteran, is now a gifted sculpture who works in Hollywood. By fate he does a mantle for Kelly Moran and a relationship quickly develops, soon he finds himself in her bed. Unfortunately for him, he is also thrown into the middle of a layer of murders. Strange murders as each one is killed by blows to the head, With the death of Kelly, these murders have become personal to St. James, who is determined to find out who is doing them and why.

What also bothers St. James is the method used to kill the victims. James, who was a Special Forces operative in Vietnam created a devise that killed in the same way as the one this murderer is using. The only difference, the killer leaves the cross of Lorraine on his victims. Why?

I feel the author, Bill Ison, did an exceptional job creating a story that was layered in mystery and suspense, and invented intense characters that definitely brought substance to the read. He wrote in a way that my emotions were stirred, especially concerning the senseless death of Kelly, as he brought it personal with the injection of the conversation with her father. The interaction between St. James and the Detective also brought spice and respect to the story. All in all I felt this was a very good mystery read that is not the norm, but had a different twist, and that is a good thing. I look forward to other works by author, Bill Ison.

Hoover Presence
Through The Gates Of Fire
Steve Bonenberger
Tate Publishing
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, Oklahoma 73064
9781602470835 $22.99

Outstanding! That is the word that I simply must use to describe this book. It grabbed me from the first page and would not let go. We meet Dr. Flash Bastion and we are thrust into his life of torment and sorrow. He was the former Senior Pastor of the largest church in the nation, until he fell. Flash's wife has left him, and taken his three-year old daughter with him. He is in a spiritual battle within himself and his God. Flash tries to kill himself, but is saved by God and through God's grace is reinstated again as Pastor, given his family back, and called to fight an evil that is destroying mankind. What a ride! What a read!

Our author did an excellent job in writing this book. His descriptions of all the characters, their thoughts, their looks, their actions, brought the read to total reality in the mind's eye. Each local was carefully grafted, clear and concise. At times dark and chilling. At others, warm and inviting. Good job! The pace quick, the story building, as each piece fitted together - each player taking their part, ending with a real cliff-hanger. Excellent. I savored every word of this read. I have to say, "I loved this book," and am very proud to give it my highest recommendation. Don't you miss this one.


Angels Fall
Baron R. Birtcher
IOTA Publishing
92 Corporate Park, Suite C-110, Irvine, CA 92606
9498562802 $23.95

Mike Travis is a man with hidden hurts, but one whose heart appears to embrace and give love and caring, out of his own need for love, to others. He comes from a very wealthy family, one that he never sees anymore, but often wishes things could have been different. He lies in Hawaii, is retired from Law Enforcement, but it always remains a part of him, even though now he has a scuba charter business.

In this read we find a young girl is missing, and Mike is asked by her friends to investigate. Feeling obliged to help, he is drawn into the lives of some of the young people on the Island. Lives filled with lies, drugs and sex, a life that sickens him. What he discovers is not pleasant and will rock this part of the Island, and awaken many to the realization that evil does exist, even in Hawaii.

I enjoyed this read. The author did a top-notch job at his description and portrayal of Mike Travis. Making him a likeable guy; one whose heart is wanting what is right for people, and frustrated that it can't always be obtained. The cast of players in this read were also described well, and the locals were vivid. The storyline had a good emotional pull, concerning family and friends. I liked that, it brought the characters down to earth and alive. Yet, the story also gave way to the mysterious as you watched the mystery unfold, bringing you to one surprising conclusion. Quite a good mix. All in all a very good story and one I recommend.

She Came From Heaven
Rosanne Pellicane
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd. - 515, Parker, Colorado 80134
9781432717094 $15.95

In this tender work we meet a couple and enter into the core of their lives. A couple just like so many others around the world, yet they were going to have an unexplained visitor who would touch both of their lives in a miraculous way. Both are animal lovers, so when a black Labrador appears at their home one night what could they do but take her in? Although Jim certainly felt a much more immediate attachment than our author did, the little puppy seemed to have been brought to them for a purpose. Whimsey, as she was named, seemed to have no past, and despite our authors desperate tries at finding her rightful owner that never happened, nor was she able to place the dog with anyone else. Whimsey soon became a part of the family and a sister and friend to Paisley, the couples other dog.

The story goes on and the couple lives life and all its struggles and challenges. Unfortunately, unbeknown to his wife, Jim could not handle what he was up against in life and killed himself. The trauma, heartbreak, questions, guilt and blame all began for Rosanne as she struggled to make sense of his death. Here is where she reaches out deeper to a God who loves her and finds solace in Him, and comfort in the companionship of Whimsey, who seemed to know her every thought and emotion. She becomes an anchor, a lighthouse through the storm, and a true friend and companion.

This story was one of life, pure and simple. Life is not often a Rose garden, but is more filled with challenges and sorrows as we walk the journey. In her walk, our author learned a simple yet complex fact. God is ever present, and often uses things, persons, and yes even animals to comfort us in our times of need. There is a lesson here that we need to be open to the knocking at our door with what maybe the very saving grace in the future. It is a story of heartbreak and sorrow, yet it is filled with courage and faith for a better tomorrow. A true heart to heart story.

Passover by Design
Susie Fishbein
Artscross/Shaar Press
4401 Second Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y., 11232
1578190738 $22.95

I have to admit my knowledge of Passover food is very limited and I was excited to receive this book for review. I am always interested in learning about new foods and how to prepare them.
My first impression of it awed me as I glanced upon the sheer beauty of the composition of this work. The cover looked alive and inviting, and the illustrations of the food looked so tempting I simply knew I would have to try each and everyone.

I set out to do just that, but of course time did not permit, so I chose just a few. My first choice was Easy Meat Roast, found on page 138. The ingredients were few, the instructions simple and let me tell you the meat absolutely delicious. I decided to add Hasselback Potatoes, found on page 194 to my dinner and my family loved the entire experience. Yummy! The meal looked like I spent hours on it, but truly it was quite quick and easy to prepare. That is a plus.

This book contains 170 recipes, given to you with simple instructions and beautiful photos that are sure to call to you to give them a try. I highly recommend this wonderful book, and not just for Passover meals, but for every family that wants a tummy delicious encounter with food anytime of the year.

Very well done, exceptional.

My God, I'm Hit
Brian David Andersen
From The Diagonal Media
9781604618969 $14.95

I didn't know what to expect when I began this read. I have to admit I was a little apprehensive. Just like you, I am sure, I know that there was never a satisfactory conclusion to who killed JFK and why. Yes, I am certainly old enough to remember that faithful day, and all the controversy that followed. So, I began the read.

The author certainly has done more than his homework in the information that is packed between these pages. He puts the reader in the position of a juror and than presents his evidence to state his claim and prove what really did happen to JFK. I have to say, what he shows definitely will shock you to the core. His hard proof that displaces so many things we have come to believe as true will shake your very being. I can understand why there have been deaths that were more than suspicious surrounding this entire event. It is actually scary that such things go on.

I am not going to tell you what conclusion I came to after reading this book, because the decision on the outcome must be yours and yours alone. However, if you have asked questions and felt you never heard satisfying answers over the many things that happened that day, you will probably find your answer in this book.

A well researched, documented, and straight forward read. A book every American should at least read, if nothing else, and allow the facts of the Kennedy incident to be laid bare before them. Way beyond interesting is my final word.

David Van Koevering
Elsewhen Research
P.O. Box 4783, Cleveland, TN 37320
No ISBN $25.00

David Van Koevering, author of this work, is President and Founder of Elsewhen Research. Mr. Van Koevering together with Dr. Bob Moog, presented to the world the first music synthesizers. His life achievements are impressive and astounding. I like how Mr. Van Koevering explains his work and I quote from his book, "Founder of Elsewhen Research is a non-profit corporation that is committed to serving our culture with scientific information that explains what the Bible claims." The Bible and science hand in hand? Could it be? I simply had to have his books/DVD's/CD's, and see for myself why many in the Body of Christ were racing to have his material. I was not disappointed.

In this book you will begin to understand some of the mechanics of Quantum physics and how this relates to the Bible. Wait! Don't be turned off here, this is perhaps the most exciting breakthrough you will ever read as a Christian, and our author carefully brings it down to a level where it is understandable to the common person. This is not a New-age teaching, but one based firmly on scientific information that backs up what God says in His Word. You will learn how the speed of light has and still is slowing down and why. You will learn that matter has memory and even the ring you wear on your finger is recording every word you say, and you will be given the Scripture in the Bible to back up that fact. Perhaps for the first time you will truly understand why it is important for you to be careful what you speak, and what you observe and to truly know why you should see what God sees for you, your life and your future. You will realize you have an assignment and why it was so important for Jesus to send the Holy Spirit to us. I found this information mind-boggling as I devoured page after page of this outstanding teaching. Now understand, at least to me, it was not a book I could read through just one time and be able to contain all the information in it. I have gone back over it again and again and each time another revelation sparks within my spirit. It is almost like a life-giving book, that just continues to give and give. I love it.

As a Christian I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. However, it is not just for Christians but for anyone who wants to understand their existence, their purpose in life and to get some answers to the many questions within them concerning the entire concept of the world we live in. I have other material by David Van Koevering that I will soon post a review for. This is one man whose work has certainly grabbed my attention and will not let go. Highly recommended reading. In one word, exceptional!

Living Sounds Of Yesterday #1
David Van Koevering
Elsewhen Research
P.O. Box 4783, Cleveland, TN 37320
No ISBN $10.00

David Van Koevering is a musicologist. He is a man who has learned about and played more instruments than any man I have heard of. He has a collection of instruments that date back many, many years.

In this DVD, "Living Sounds of Yesterday," David and his wife Becky play beautiful melodies on several instruments that truly fill the air with sounds of the Spirit. The instruments played are Triple Octave Shaker Chimes, built in 1900. Musical Sleigh Bells are another, Four In Hand Bells, made in 1905, Musical Crystal Glasses, Benjamin Franklin's Lyre Harp, Musical Saw, Spinning Discs, Moog Theremin and David's own invention, Van Koevering Interactive Piano. I have to tell you, I sat glued to the television as they played song after song with these incredible instruments. The Moog Theremin has no strings, reeds, pipes or moving parts and is played without being touched. David merely waves his hands in places to play a song. Incredible. You find yourself totally emerged in what you see and hear happening before you as music seems to come from the very atmosphere.

However, the most moving to me was the Musical Saw. It appeared to be just a simple everyday saw, yet David played Silent Night with a cello bow that literally brought deep weeping to me as I sat spell bound listening to this incredible sound. I played this for every person that I could, and each time I hear it my spirit is touched with the true love of God. There has not been one person who heard this saw played that did not go away shaking their heads in amazement and awe. I absolutely love hearing it, and do so over and over again. Who would have ever imagined that a simple saw could produce such deep spiritual beauty that would touch the very core of my existence.

This is a wonderful DVD for music lovers and just for anyone who wants to sit back and have their Spirit filled with music touched by God, played on instruments of yesterday, and given to us to hear, perhaps to awaken the realization that indeed all things created can be used for a blessing to us all. Very highly recommended. A must have. Wonderful.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Grandmother's Wise Recipes for Success
Kal Edwards
Trafford Publishing
2333 Government Street, Suite 6E, Victoria, BC, Canada, V8T 4P4
1412080541, $19.95 1-888-232-4444

Two generations more of wisdom than all of us - clearly, she's been around the block and has some of that wisdom that could be useful. "Grandmother's Wise Recipes for Success: Time Tested Wisdom for Directing Your Work and Personal Life" is a guide to remind you of all the things your grandmother should have told you and how to apply it to your modern life - be it business or personal life - to meet its challenges more efficiently, make more effective decisions, hone listening and leadership skills and more. "Grandmother's Wise Recipes for success: Time Tested Wisdom for Directing Your Work and Personal Life" is heartily recommended for community library self-help shelves everywhere, and for anyone who wants a bit of the past generation's wisdom.

Just Snap Your Fingers and... Bingo You're Sober!
Maurice Murray, B.A. M.Div., Cht.
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781434328816, $21.49,

Alcohol is a nasty drug that has probably through the twentieth century has done damage to more lives than all other drugs combined. "Just Snap Your Fingers and...Bingo You're Sober!: A Recovery Workbook for Alcoholics" is a guide to help readers fight their addiction to the horrible poison through their own faith and power, and declaring that a hypnotist simply isn't needed- that one can do it themselves and help build ones own resistance to the cravings for liquor. "Just Snap Your Fingers and...Bingo You're Sober!: A Recovery Workbook for Alcoholics" is highly recommended for those who just want to stop and for community library self-help collections.

Rural Wisdom
Larry Ernster
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
142595586X, $9.99 1-800-280-7715

We all seek to be loved and appreciated. "Rural Wisdom" is a heart warming compilation of short stories and essays using the title concept of rural wisdom that he gained with each to explain time, forgiveness, and the crush of change, and how it would apply to everyday life for the rest of us. Author and farmer Larry Ernster spins you a tale of history on a clothesline, appreciation in a car ride, and wild turkeys living in doghouses with German Shepherd. An enthralling memoir indeed, highly recommended for biography and memoir shelves, and for any reader who wants a taste of "Rural Wisdom."

Stuck in the Middle
Barbara McVicker & Darby McVicker Puglielli
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781434339683, $13.90,

In the middle - many baby boomers find themselves caring for three generations- their own children, themselves, and their aging elderly parents. "Stuck in the Middle: Shared Stories and Tips for Caregiving Your Elderly Parents" is a compilation of stories of baby boomer parents dealing with all three of the generations under their one roof. Brilliantly written and compiled heartwarming tales that will touch readers who can relate with these problems and stories. Also contains numerous and invaluable tips on caring for ones elderly parents to make ones relations with them as smooth as possible. "Stuck in the Middle: Shared Stories and Tips for Caregiving Your Elderly Parents" is highly recommended for community library health and memoir shelves alike.

Fogg in High School
Chuck Taylor
Publish America
P.O. Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705
1424192048, $13.95,

Somehow, he has to make it through high school. But it's not as easy as it seems. "Fogg in High School" is the story of Fogg, a social outcast with a mother overwhelmed with depression and an alcoholic father. All around, Fogg is someone readers can relate to- lusting for love, unsure of associations with the opposite sex, low self-esteem, working several jobs to keep himself funded. A touching story which will bring tears and joy to countless readers, "Fogg in High School" is highly recommended to fiction shelves everywhere. Also recommended from Chuck Taylor is a collection of poetry titled "Heterosexual: A Love Story" (0977179745, $11.95) from Panther Creek Press (116 Tree Crest, P.O. Box 130233, Spring, TX 77381).

Joseph, Jospeh
David Robinson
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781434325686, $19.95,

The story of the rise of the Mormon church - the pilgrimage west of one Joseph Smith. A story man religious studiers know- "Joseph, Joseph: Kingdom of God in the West" is a fictionalized, but highly based in fact telling of Joseph Smith's formation of the Church of Latter Day Saints- the Mormons. Covering his life in his entirety from his birth to his murder by bloodthirsty mob alongside his brother on June 27th, 1844. "Joseph, Joseph: Kingdom of God in the West" is a highly recommended choice for those who want some creativity applied to their history and want an enthralling account of the life of the man behind the Latter Day Saints movement.

What to Do When You Become The Boss
Bob Selden
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road. -515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432714284, $24.95,

A horrible manager can be just about the worst thing to ever happen to any company - "What To Do When You Become THE BOSS: How New managers become successful managers" is here to help readers make sure they don't become that boss that destroys the company. Deftly written as a guidebook for new managers, outlining strategies to help readers become effective leaders, deal with upper management, distribute your time effectively, and assigning your workers to the right jobs that they can do effectively. "What to Do When You Become THE BOSS: How New Managers become successful managers" is highly recommended to anyone who finds themselves or will soon find themselves in a management position and would have the pride to execute their position effectively - and for any community library business collection.

What If...?
Steve N. Lee
Blue Zoo
Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England
9780955652516, $25.99,

Mary should have been dead. The fact that she isn't sends her on a quest for answers in "What If...?". The world is falling into chaos and a stranger appears with the power to stop it - or so he says. Some follow, some don't, Mary tries to find out who exactly saved her and how. Deftly and intriguingly written, "What if...?" is a thriller that fans of other novels such as "The DaVinci Code" will relish. Highly recommended to thriller fans everywhere and should enjoy a spot on every fiction thrillers shelf.

John Taylor

Vicki's Bookshelf

Oliver Who Would Not Sleep
Mara Bergman, Nick Maland
AAL / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780439928267 $16.99

Oliver Donnington Rimington-Sneep couldn't and didn't and would not sleep. And why should he? As soon as his parents shut his door, Oliver's off on all kinds of explorations: painting and reading, drawing and racing -- and a little trip to Mars for good measure. But his explorations end where all explorations should: safe at home, in a warm bed . . . asleep. For every parent with an Oliver (or Olivia) in their lives, and every child seeking a little fun before shut-eye, "Oliver Who Would Not Sleep" is a wonderful bedtime adventure.

Craft Sale
American Girls Editors
American Girl / Pleasant Company
8400 Fairway Place, Middleton, Wisconsin 53562
9781593693442 $17.95

American Girl's latest book and craft-kit gift set sets out to turn girls into budding entrepreneurs by selling fun and easy crafts in their own curb-side businesses. The 48-page book offers dozens of crafty ideas for charming doo-dads. Simple how-to directions and suggested pricing (including at a glance lesson in cost: profit ratios) is clear and simple. Also included are all the items a small business person needs. Including an invoice pad and ledger, business cards, table tents, price tags, price tag sticker sheets, sale and new product stickers, and a "made with love by" stamp to personalize sales items.

Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China
Jeffrey Alfort and Naolmi Duguid
Artisan / Workman
225 Varrick Street, New York, NY 10014-4381
9781579653019 $54.00

"Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China" is a bold and eye-opening new cookbook with magnificent photos and unforgettable stories. In the West, when we think about food in China, what usually comes to mind are the signature dishes of Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai. But beyond the urbanized eastern third of China lie the high open spaces and sacred places of Tibet, the Silk Road oases of Xinjiang, the steppe-lands of Inner Mongolia, and the steeply terraced hills of Yunnan and Guizhou. The peoples who live in these regions are culturally distinct, with their own history and their own unique culinary traditions. In Beyond the Great Wall, the inimitable duo of Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid -- who first met as young travelers in Tibet - bring home the enticing flavors of this other China. For more than twenty-five years, both separately and together, Duguid and Alford have journeyed all over the outlying regions of China, sampling local home cooking and street food, making friends and taking lustrous photographs. Beyond the Great Wall shares the experience in a rich mosaic of recipes - from Central Asian cumin-scented kebabs and flatbreads to Tibetan stews and Mongolian hot pots -- photos, and stories. A delicious guide for food lovers, and an inspiration for cooks and armchair cooks.

Mikhail Baryshnikov, Vladimir Radunsky
Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9780689875823 $16.99

"I love my grandma. Really, I do. But she always embarrasses me. See what I mean? Whenever anyone asks her why she does such crazy things, she just says: Because... I think Grandma has a secret. But what could it be?" Narrated by a child in a repetitive format, this slight picture book story by ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov won't get many encore readings, but its message is sweet enough: let your talent shine.

Three Little Words
Ashley Rhodes-Couter
Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416948063 $17.99

"Sunshine, you're my baby and I'm your only mother. You must mind the one taking care of you, but she's not your mama." Ashley Rhodes-Courter spent nine years of her life in fourteen different foster homes, living by those words. As her mother spirals out of control, Ashley is left clinging to an unpredictable, dissolving relationship, all the while getting pulled deeper and deeper into the foster care system. Painful memories of being taken away from her home quickly become consumed by real-life horrors, where Ashley is juggled between caseworkers, shuffled from school to school, and forced to endure manipulative, humiliating treatment from a very abusive foster family. In this inspiring, unforgettable memoir, Ashley finds the courage to succeed - and in doing so, discovers the power of her own voice.

Nim's Island
Wendy Orr
Blackstone Audiobooks
P.O. Box 969, Ashland OR 97520
9781433209949 $24.00

Nim lives on an island in the middle of the wide blue sea, shared by only her father, Jack, a marine iguana called Fred, a sea lion called Selkie, a turtle called Chica, and a satellite dish for her e-mail. No one else in the world lives quite like Nim, and she wouldn't swap places with anyone. But when Jack disappears in his sailboat and disaster threatens her home, Nim must be braver than she's ever been before. And she needs help from her friends, old and new. The children's fantasy novel comes alive with this unabridged audio edition, read by actress Kate Reading (and not, it should be noted, the film cast of Abigail Breslin, Jodie Foster and Gerard Butler as pictured on the cover). Length: 2 1/2 hours on 2 CDs with tracks ever 3 minutes for easy bookmarking.

The Patron Saint of Butterflies
Cecelia Galante
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781599902494 $16.99

Agnes and Honey have always been best friends, but they haven't always been so different. Agnes loves being a Believer. She knows the rules at the Mount Blessing religious commune are there to make her a better person. Honey hates Mount Blessing and the control Emmanuel, their leader, has over her life. The only bright spot is the butterfly garden she's helping to build, and the journal of butterflies that she keeps. When Agnes's grandmother makes an unexpected visit to the commune, she discovers a violent secret that the Believers are desperate to keep quiet. And when Agnes's little brother is seriously injured and Emmanuel refuses to send him to a hospital, Nana Pete takes the three children and escapes the commune. Their journey begins an exploration of faith, friendship, religion and family for the two girls, as Agnes clings to her familiar faith while Honey desperately wants a new future.

Who is Driving?
Leo Timmers
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781599900216 $12.95

"Who is driving . . . the fire engine? Elephant! He is driving to the fire station." From fire trucks to convertibles and snails to elephants, here's a book that's full of toddler favorites. Kids must solve the puzzle: which animal is driving which vehicle? With bold illustrations full of funny details, kids will love reading -- and playing -- this simple guessing game again and again.

Jazz on a Saturday Night
Leo & Diane Dillon
Blue Sky Press / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780590478939 $16.99

If you have ever been lucky enough to hear great jazz, then you will understand the pure magic of this book. Leo and Diane Dillon use bright colors and musical patterns that make music skip off the page in this toe-tapping homage to many jazz greats. From Miles Davis and Charlie Parker to Ella Fitzgerald, here is a dream team sure to knock your socks off. Learn about this popular music form and read a biography of each player pictured-and then hear each instrument play on a specially produced CD. What's the featured song? "Jazz on a Saturday Night," written and recorded to accompany this book.

Randy Cecil
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
9780763629526 $15.99

Gator loves everything about being a carousel animal - the flashing lights, the calliope music, and most of all, the laughter. But day by day, week by week, fewer and fewer people come to the amusement park, until one day, no one comes at all. And so begins an extraordinary odyssey, as Gator leaves behind the only life he's ever known and sets off through some deep, dark woods to a place with real alligators -- and a wonderful, familiar sound. Illustrator Randy Cecil puts on his author's hat for this moving story of a modest carousel alligator who finds what he's looking for and becomes a hero along the way.

Gary D. Schmidt
Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin
251 Park Avenue South, NY NY 10003
0618927661 $16.00

"Henry Smith's father told him that if you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you." But Trouble comes careening down the road one night in the form of a pickup truck that strikes Henry's older brother, Franklin. In the truck is Chay Chouan, a young Cambodian from Franklin's preparatory school, and the accident sparks racial tensions in the school - and in the well-established town where Henry's family has lived for generations. Caught between anger and grief, Henry sets out to do the only thing he can think of: climb Mt. Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine, which he and Franklin were going to climb together. Along with Black Dog, whom Henry has rescued from drowning, and a friend, Henry leaves without his parents' knowledge. The journey, both exhilarating and dangerous, turns into an odyssey of discovery about himself, his older sister, Louisa, his ancestry, and why one can never escape from Trouble.

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen
Susan Gregg Gilmore
Crown Publishing / Shaye Areheart Books
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780307395016 $23.00

Sometimes you have to return to the place where you began, to arrive at the place where you belong. It's the early 1970s. The town of Ringgold, Georgia, has a population of 1,923, one traffic light, one Dairy Queen, and one Catherine Grace Cline. The daughter of Ringgold's third-generation Baptist preacher, Catherine Grace is quick-witted, more than a little stubborn, and dying to escape her small-town life. Every Saturday afternoon, she sits at the Dairy Queen, eating Dilly Bars and plotting her getaway to Atlanta. And when, with the help of a family friend, the dream becomes a reality, she immediately packs her bags, leaving her family and the boy she loves to claim the life she's always imagined. But before things have even begun to get off the ground in Atlanta, tragedy brings Catherine Grace back home. As a series of extraordinary events alter her perspective - and sweeping changes come to Ringgold itself - Catherine Grace begins to wonder if her place in the world may actually be, against all odds, right where she began. Intelligent, charming, and utterly readable, "Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen" marks the debut of a talented new literary voice.

Girl, Barely 15, Flirting for England
Sue Limb
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385735384 $15.99 250 pages

Jess Jordan is barely 15. Fred is her often-aggravating best guy friend; her father is a lonely bachelor; Flora is her gorgeous best friend, a constant liability; and Ben Jones is barely a twinkle in her eye. Into this innocent scene are dropped 30 or so helpless French exchange students. Jess and her mother are assigned to house Eduoard, a shy, awkward, and painfully English-deprived boy Jess's age. To counter what Jess fears is Eduoard's growing crush on her, Jess convinces her friend Fred to pose as her boyfriend, but he refuses to take their fake relationship seriously. Add a gorgeous, womanizing French student, an ill-fated camping trip in a student's backyard, and Flora just being, well, Flora, and you have all the makings of an international incident. Will Jess be able to keep the peace, or even translate the whole debacle to the confused French students? The future of England is on the line. Another charmer from Brit Sue Limb, the author of "Girl, 15, Charming but Insane," "Girl, (Nearly) 16: Absolute Torture" and "Girl Going on 17: Pants on Fire."

Princess Ben
Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780618959716 $16.00

Benevolence is not your typical princess and Princess Ben is certainly not your typical fairy tale. With her parents lost to unknown assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia, who is intent on marrying her off to the first available "specimen of imbecilic manhood." Starved and miserable, locked in the castle's highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical arts: mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle pantries, setting her hair on fire . . . But Ben's private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat facing the castle and indeed the entire country. Can Princess Ben save her kingdom from annihilation and herself from permanent enslavement?

Roots and Wings
Many Ly
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385735001 $15.95

Grace's grandmother has died, and she and her mother must travel back to the Cambodian community to give her a proper Cambodian funeral. But Grace wants to use the trip to solve a few mysteries, like who her father was, why her mother and grandmother moved from St. Petersburg to Pennsylvania, where they're the only Cambodians Grace has ever seen, and what Cambodian culture is really about. Embraced by her mother's old friends, Grace feels both at home and lost, fascinated by the traditions she's never known, but strangely judged by some members of the community. Can she make sense of, and honor, the life of the grandmother she barely knew? And will revelations about the past bring Grace closer to her mother, or push them even further apart?

Fairy Haven and the Quest for the Want
Gail Carson Levine
Disney Press
114 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10011-5690
9781423101000 $17.99

Tinker Bell and the other fairies of Neverland are off on a new adventure. They must procure a wand from the Great Wanded fairies in order to save their village from a flood. But wands can lead one astray. The exciting adventure moves briskly along as the story switches locales and characters. This magical sequel continues where "Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg" left off and those interested in both the lives of fairies and the magic of Neverland will enjoy this series.

Steel Trapp
Ridley Pearson
Disney Editions
114 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10011-5690
9781423106401 $16.99

In this riveting crime novel, 14-year-old Steven "Steel" Trapp sets off with his mom and their dog, Cairo, on a two-day Amtrak journey to compete in the National Science Challenge in Washington, D.C. Steel is both blessed and cursed with a remarkable photographic memory - just one look, and whatever he sees is imprinted for keeps. Trying to be a Good Samaritan on the train, he unwittingly becomes embroiled in an ingenious plot that may have links to terrorists. Federal agents (first seen in Pearson's adult thriller "Cut and Run") track Steel and his newfound science geek accomplice, Kaileigh Augustine, as they attempt to put together the pieces of a complex puzzle. Using Steel's science contest invention - and with the help of Cairo - Steel and Kaileigh lead readers on an action-packed adventure as they attempt to prevent the unimaginable, before it's too late.

A-Z of Antiques & Collectibles
Judith Miller
375 Hudson St., NY, NY, 10014
9780756633851 $30.00

Written by world-renowned antiques authority Judith Miller, this encyclopedia offers over 3,000 alphabetical entries that define: styles, periods, designers, makers and factories; materials and techniques; and what a piece is, how it was used, and when it was most fashionable. Whether your interest lies in Tiffany lamps, teddy bears, Greek pottery, or Gothic Revival style, this is a must-have for anyone interested in antiques and collecting, from the experienced collector to those new to the subject.

375 Hudson St., NY, NY, 10014
9780756633400 $30.00

For travelers, photographers, conservationists, and all who love nature, photographer Thomas Marent's "Butterfly" offers a completely immersive reading experience. His delicate subjects charm our eyes with their captivating colors and graceful dance of fluttering wings. This delicate beauty has made butterflies the most sought after and studied of all insects. This spring, DK Publishing is excited to present "Butterfly," an up-close and personal exploration of these extraordinary creatures, with breathtaking photography by Marent, author of DK's award-winning "Rainforest." Over the past 16 years Marent traveled all over the world photographing rainforests, from Peru and Ecuador to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. Usually traveling alone, Marent has been known to spend extraordinary lengths of time to get the perfect shot -- sometimes 12 days. Marent annotates these breath-taking photographs with a mix of scientific information, personal stories, and his own photographic processes. Brimming with fascinating details, exotic and rarely-seen species, and lush green habitats, "Butterfly" is a true celebration of the one of the world's greatest biological treasures. A photographic portrait of the world's butterflies and moths, it will open your eyes to the wonders of life on the wing.

Someday This Pain Will be Useful to You
Peter Cameron
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
9780374309893 $16.00

It's time for eighteen-year-old James Sveck to begin his freshman year at Brown. Instead, he's surfing the real estate listings, searching for a sanctuary - a nice farmhouse in Kansas, perhaps. Although James lives in twenty-first-century Manhattan, he's more at home in the faraway worlds of Eric Rohmer or Anthony Trollope - or his favorite writer, the obscure and tragic Denton Welch. James's sense of dislocation is exacerbated by his willfully self-absorbed parents, a disdainful sister, his Teutonically cryptic shrink, and an increasingly vague, D-list celebrity grandmother. Compounding matters is James's growing infatuation with a handsome male colleague at the art gallery his mother owns, where James supposedly works at his summer job but where he actually plots his escape to the prairie. In the tradition of "The Catcher in the Rye" and "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," Peter Cameron paints an indelible portrait of a teenage hero holding out for a better grownup world.

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever
Marla Frazee
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
9780152060206 $16.00

When James and Eamon go to a week of Nature Camp and stay at Eamon's grandparents' house, it turns out that their free time spent staying inside, eating waffles, and playing video games is way more interesting than nature. But sometimes things work out best when they don't go exactly as planned. In this moving and hilarious celebration of young boys, childhood friendships, and the power of the imagination, Marla Frazee captures the very essence of summer vacation and what it means to be a kid.

A Pig in Provence
Georgeanne Brennan
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
9780156033244 $13.00

From the publisher of "Under the Tuscan Sun" comes another extraordinary memoir of a woman embarking on a new life this time in the South of France. Thirty years ago, James Beard Award-winning author Georgeanne Brennan set out to realize the dream of a peaceful, rural existence en Provence. She and her husband, with their young daughter in tow, bought a small farmhouse with a little land, and a few goats and pigs and so began a life-affirming journey. Filled with delicious recipes and local color, this evocative and passionate memoir describes her life cooking and living in the Provincial tradition an entrancing tale that will whet the appetite and the spirit perfect for foodies, Francophiles, or anyone who's dreamed of packing their bags and buying a ticket to the good life.

Genius Squad
Catherine Jinks
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
97801520598959 $17.00

Now that the Axis Institute for World Domination has been blown up; the founder, Dr. Phineas Darkkon has died; and Prosper English (who enrolled Cadel in the first place) is in jail for myriad offenses, Cadel Piggott has round-the-clock surveillance so he'll be safe until he testifies against Prosper English. But nobody seems to want Cadel. Not Fiona, his social worker; not Saul Greeniaus, the detective assigned to protect him. When he is approached by the head of Genius Squad--a group formed to investigate GenoME, one of Darkkon's pet projects--Cadel is dubious Genius Squad can offer him a real home and all the technology his heart desires. But why can't he bring himself to tell Saul what the group is really up to? And how can Genius Squad protect Cadel once Prosper English breaks out of jail? The sequel to "Evil Genius" is a smartly written adventure that will not disappoint fans.

The Opposite of Invisible
Liz Gallagher
Wendy Lamb Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375841521 $15.99

Now that the Axis Institute for World Domination has been blown up; the founder, Dr. Phineas Darkkon has died; and Prosper English (who enrolled Cadel in the first place) is in jail for myriad offenses, Cadel Piggott has round-the-clock surveillance so he'll be safe until he testifies against Prosper English. But nobody seems to want Cadel. Not Fiona, his social worker; not Saul Greeniaus, the detective assigned to protect him. When he is approached by the head of Genius Squad--a group formed to investigate GenoME, one of Darkkon's pet projects--Cadel is dubious Genius Squad can offer him a real home and all the technology his heart desires. But why can't he bring himself to tell Saul what the group is really up to? And how can Genius Squad protect Cadel once Prosper English breaks out of jail?

Before John Was a Jazz Giant
Carole Boston Weatherford, Sean Qualls
Henry Holt & Co.
115 W. 18th St., NY, NY 10011
9780805079944 $16.95, 32 pages,

Young John Coltrane was all ears. And there was a lot to hear growing up in the South in the 1930s: preachers praying, music on the radio, the bustling of the household. These vivid noises shaped John's own sound as a musician. Carole Boston Weatherford and Sean Qualls have composed an amazingly rich hymn to the childhood of jazz legend John Coltrane with this colorful, historic picture book.

Claire Dean
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
9780618883905 $16.00

Polly Greene has always been considered strange, a girl who can see a person's true colors, a thirteen-year-old more comfortable foraging in the woods with her eccentric grandmother than hanging out with friends. But all that is about to change when Polly's older sister, Bree, vanishes into the woods. The only one who believes Bree can survive, Polly begins to leave food in the woods for her sister and finds a hidden grove she names Girlwood, where she believes Bree is burning a fire each night. Along with an odd but endearing group of friends, Polly clings to the hope that she can see her sister through the harsh, snowy winter. And, in the process, she discovers the cruelty, bounty, and magic of the woods. Will Polly save her sister? And even if she does, will Girlwood survive? An intriguing first novel from newcomer Claire Dean.

The Willoughbys
Louis Lowry
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
9780618979745 $16.00

Abandoned by their ill-humored parents to the care of an odious nanny, Tim, the twins, Barnaby A and Barnaby B, and their sister, Jane, attempt to fulfill their roles as good old-fashioned children. Following the models set in lauded tales from A Christmas Carol to Mary Poppins, the four Willoughbys hope to attain their proscribed happy ending too, or at least a satisfyingly maudlin one. However, it is an unquestionably ruthless act that sets in motion the transformations that lead to their salvation and to happy endings for not only the four children, but their nanny, an abandoned baby, a candy magnate, and his long-lost son too. Replete with a tongue-in-cheek glossary and bibliography, this hilarious and decidedly old-fashioned parody pays playful homage to classic works of children's literature.

Clementine's Letter
Sara Pennypacker, Marla Frazee
114 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10011-5690
9780786838844 $14.99

Clementine can't believe her ears - her beloved teacher, Mr. D'Matz, might be leaving for the rest of the year to go on a research trip to Egypt! No other teacher has ever understood her impulsiveness, her itch to draw constantly, or her need to play Beat the Clock when the day feels too long. And in his place, he's left a substitute with a whole new set of rules, which Clementine just can't figure out. The only solution, she decides, is to hatch a plan to get Mr. D'Matz back. If it means ruining her teacher's once-in-a-lifetime chance, well, it'll be worth it. Won't it?

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
E. Lockhart
114 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10011-5690
9780786838189 $16.99

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14: Debate Club. Her father's "bunny rabbit." A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school. Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15: A knockout figure. A sharp tongue. A chip on her shoulder. And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston. Frankie Landau-Banks is no longer the kind of girl to take "no" for an answer, especially when "no" means she's excluded from her boyfriend's all-male secret society. Not when her ex boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places, not when she knows she's smarter than any of them, when she knows Matthew's lying to her, and when there are so many, many pranks to be done. Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16: Possibly a criminal mastermind. "The Disreputable history of Frankie Landau-Banks" is the story of how she got that way.

Bead Loom Bracelets
Anne Akers Johnson
450 Lambert Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94306
9781591745041 $24.95

The "Bead Loom Bracelets" book and craft kit features detailed instructions and step-by-step illustrations for making seven different bracelets. All of them are surprisingly simple to make, with exceedingly show-off-able results. The books comes with all the supplies one would need, including beading floss, needles, and thousands of sparkling seed beads, bugle beads, and specialty beads. One of Klutz's most appealing gift book-kits yet (and that's really saying something).

Fact of Life #31
Denise Vega
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375848193 $16.99

Fact of life #48: Kat's mom is No-Last-Name Abra, the best home-birth midwife in Colorado. But with her own daughter, Abra can't stop teaching and lecturing long enough to be a mom. Fact of Life #21: Kat's had a crush on Manny Cruz since seventh grade. Now Manny is showing interest, but could he seriously be into Weird Yoga Girl Kat Flynn? Fact of Life #14: Gorgeous Libby Giles has always intimidated Kat. But lately there's something different about Libby, and it's about to bring her crashing into Kat's Life. . . Hilarious and poignant, this is the story of one girl's sometimes funny, sometimes painful path to self-acceptance and to finding her place in the world.

Once Upon a Time in the North
Philip Pullman
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375845109 $12.99

"Once Upon a Time in the North" is prequel to author Philip Pullman's #1 New York Times bestselling "His Dark Materials" trilogy, which includes "The Golden Compass," "The Subtle Knife," and "The Amber Spyglass." Pullman's new prequel episode from the enchanting world of His Dark Materials, welcomes readers back into this remarkable world by introducing readers to Texan aeronaut Lee Scoresby, long before he became Lyra Belacqua's confidante. Lee finds himself floating North in his infamous hot-air balloon to the windswept Arctic island of Novy Odense -- a strange and hostile place. Lee and his hare daemon Hester are quickly tangled in a deadly plot involving oil magnate Larsen Manganese, corrupt mayoral anti-bear candidate Ivan Poliakov, and Lee's longtime nemesis from the Dakota Country: Pierre McConville, a hired killer with at least twenty murders to his name. Lee Scoresby seems to be the only one in Novy Odense willing to take on the fight against them all, much to Hester's chagrin, until an alliance with one of the island's reviled armored bears unexpectedly develops. Together, Lee Scoresby and Iorek Byrnison combat the crooked politician and his henchmen, and His Dark Materials fans finally learn the roots of the friendship of this oddly matched pair. Pullman's novel provides adventure, humor, and a gun-twirling classic western shoot-out matched with a battle of wits. This exquisite clothbound volume features the engravings of John Lawrence, a removable board game -- Peril of the Pole -- on the inside back cover, and a glimpse for Pullman fans into the first friendship of two of the most beloved characters in the His Dark Materials trilogy: Lee Scoresby and armored bear Iorek Byrnison.

Your Own, Sylvia
Stephanie Hemphill
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375837999 $15.99

On a bleak February day in 1963 a young American poet died by her own hand, and passed into a myth that has since imprinted itself on the hearts and minds of millions. She was and is Sylvia Plath and "Your Own, Sylvia" is a portrait of her life, told in poems. With photos and an extensive list of facts and sources to round out the reading experience, "Your Own, Sylvia" is a great curriculum companion to Plath's "The Bell Jar" and "Ariel," a welcoming introduction for newcomers, and an unflinching valentine for the devoted.

Once Upon a Time in the North
Philip Pullman
Listening Library / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780739366981 $25.00

Another mesmerizing episode form the universe of "His Dark Materials" set in the far frozen Arctic, including the very first meeting of those two legends and friends Lee Scoresby, the Texan balloonist, and Iorek Brynison, the armored bear. This 2 hour, 17 minute unabridged audio version is read aloud by a complete cast of actors, including Philip Pullman himself as the narrator.

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street
Jeanne Birdsall
Listening Library / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780739364994 $34.00

The Penderwick sisters are home on Gardam Street and ready for an adventure. But the adventure they get isn't quite what they had in mind. Mr. Penderwick's sister has decided it's time for him to start dating - and the girls know that can only mean one thing: disaster. Enter the Save Daddy Plan - a plot so brilliant that only the Penderwick girls could have come up with it. But in the meantime, they have some other problems to deal with. Rosalind can't seem to get the annoying Tommy Greiger out of her hair. Skye loses her temper on the soccer field in a most undignified manner. Jane's love of creative writing leads her into deep waters. And Batty's getting into mischief spying on the new next-door neighbor. As for Hound, he's always in trouble. It's high jinks, big laughs, and loads of family warmth as the Penderwicks triumphantly return! The unabridged production, read by actress Susan Denaker, is 7 hours, 41 minutes.

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey
Trenton Lee Stewart
Little, Brown and Company
1271 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9780316057806 $16.99

The fabulous foursome readers embraced as The Mysterious Benedict Society is back with a new mission, significantly closer to home. After reuniting for a celebratory scavenger hunt, Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance are forced to go on an unexpected search -- a search to find Mr. Benedict. It seems that while he was preparing the kids' adventure, he stepped right into a trap orchestrated by his evil twin Mr. Curtain. With only one week to find a captured Mr. Benedict, the gifted foursome faces their greatest challenge of all -- a challenge that will reinforce the reasons they were brought together in the first place and will require them to fight for the very namesake that united them.

The Mighty 12: Superheroes of Greek Myth
Charles R. Smith Jr.
Little, Brown and Company
1271 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9780316010436 $16.99

Meet the most impressive of the gods and goddesses of Olympus -- and even a few monsters -- and see them revealed for what they really were: ancient superheroes with the power to shift shape, move mountains, and change fate. In this innovative introduction to Greek mythology, energetic poems and dynamic comic book style illustrations create a seamless blend of the ancient and contemporary that depicts the gods in all their super-human glory.

City of Ashes
Cassandra Clare
Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416914297 $17.99 www.Simon

In book two of the "Mortal Instruments" series, Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go -- especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil -- and also her father. To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings -- and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father? In this breathtaking sequel to "City of Bones," Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City's Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.

11 Planets
David A. Aguilar
National Geographic
1145 17th Street N.W., Washington D.C., 20036-4688
9781426302374 $16.95

National Geographic proudly presents the essential reference book for what is now officially a new age in space. In August 2006, the International Astronomical Union redefined the word "planet" and relegated Pluto to the status of a dwarf planet, along with Ceres and Eris. Naturally, National Geographic is there to map out this new view of our solar system. In "11 Planets," David Aguilar, an expert who works on the leading edge of this astounding shift, explains and explores our new galactic knowledge. Using spectacular computer artwork, exclusive to National Geographic, and simple engaging text, this colorful book profiles all 11 planets in our newly categorized solar system: terrestrial Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars; gas giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune; and dwarf planets Pluto, Ceres, and Eris. The author of the hugely popular "Planets, Stars, and Galaxies" now leads young minds through into this exciting new view of space, giving readers a vivid "you are there" sensation through his photorealistic artwork. David Aguilar's "11 Planets" is a simple yet compelling introduction to the solar system as it is now classified. This beautiful volume also includes informative spreads on: The Sun Earth's moon Mars' moons, Phobos and Diemos Ceres, one of the new dwarf planets The Asteroid Belt Pluto and its moon, Charon Sedna and Eggland, two large Kuiper Belt objects Saturn's rings and moons Comets and the Oort Cloud Other new worlds now being discovered. This engaging volume also includes fun activities for young readers. Aguilar's text presents the latest discoveries in space to young imaginations in a compelling and scientifically accurate way, encouraging understanding of mankind's new view of our solar system. This is the volume that every library needs; and the book that every child should have access to as the ultimate reference for the new age in space.

Best of Mad Libs
Roger Price and Leonard Stern
Price Stern Sloan / Penguin
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780483126983 $6.99 pages,

More than 125 classic Mad Libs fill-in-the-blank stories are complied in this jumbo-sized book, ready to kick parties into gear with its retro appeal and nostalgic simplicity. Included here are some oldies but goodies including "Father Goose Rhymes," "Pirate Makeover," "Penguin Facts," and "A Message from Our Sponsor." Players just fill in the blanks with random selections for nouns, verbs, adjectives, person, etc. as needed (for those in need of a quick review, an explanation of each is included in the forward), then read aloud. Hilarity ensues. This simple pleasure all began when two television writers (and best friends) got together to co-write a humor book called "What Not to Name the Baby." Leonard Stern was in the middle of a script for Jackie Gleason's "The Honeymooners" but was wasting hours trying to find the right way to describe a character's nose. "I can't find the right adjective for…" Stern began. "Clumsy and naked," Roger Price jumped in without knowing the subject. They cracked up over the randomness of it all, and stumbled upon a game that they tried out that week. Toy manufacturers said it's a book. Book publishers said it's a game. Without a buyer, the pair published it themselves, storing the books in a dining room. When talk show host Steve Allen used the newly dubbed "Mad Libs" to introduce Bob Hope, it started selling like crazy. One hundred million copies later (and counting!), the guys were flabbergasted. "Well," Price said at the time. "You can fool some of the people some of the time - and that's enough." I, for one, am glad to be one of those fools!

Mad Libs Collector's Edition
Roger Price and Leonard Stern
Price Stern Sloan / Penguin
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780843130829 $12.99

The perfect party game is now available in a gift tin collector's edition. The attractive box includes five original Mad Libs books from the 1950s and 1960s: "Mad Libs" (1958), "Son of Mad Libs" (1959), "Sooper Mad Libs" (1962), "Monster Mad Libs" (1965) and, when they apparently ran out of clever names, "Mad Libs #5" (1968). Now 50 years old, this gift set is a must for nostalgic baby boomers and a gem for newer generations.

Love Me Tender
Audrey Couloumbis
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375838392 $16.99

Elvira's family has never been the warm, fuzzy type. Most of the time, Elvira can't stand the sight of her little sister, Kerrie. Elvira and her mother, Mel, fight more often than not. Mel hasn't spoken to her own family in years. And when Mel announces she's pregnant again, Elvira's daddy storms off to Las Vegas to enter an Elvis impersonator competition. But when an urgent phone call sends Elivra, Mel, and Kerrie on an unexpected trip to visit Mel's family, Elvira discovers that love doesn't always look like it does in television commercials - it can be as simple as a bucket of blueberries, an attic full of memories, or a song. But it's there all right. You just have to know how to look for it.

Audrey, Wait!
Robin Benway
Razorbill / Penguin
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9781595141910 $16.99

Audrey Cuttler's life hasn't been the same since that song, "Audrey, Wait!" hit the airwaves. All she wants to do is go to concerts, hang out with her friends, and maybe score a date with the cute boy who works with her at the Scooper Dooper. But now, her ex-boyfriend's song about their breakup is at the top of the charts and she's suddenly famous! The paparazzi won't leave her alone, the tabloids are trying to make her into some kind of rock goddess, and the Internet is documenting her every move. Will Audrey ever be able to have a normal life again? Get ready to find out, because it's time for Audrey to tell her side of the story.

The Calder Game
Blue Balliett
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780439852074 $17.99

Following "Chasing Vermeer" and "The Wright 3," "The Calder Game" is the series' third fascinating art-themed mystery, When Calder Pillay travels with his father to a remote village in England, he finds a mix of mazes and mystery -- including an unexpected Alexander Calder sculpture in the town square. Young Calder is strangely drawn to the sculpture, while others in the village have less-than-friendly feelings toward it. Both the boy and the sculpture seem out of place...and then they disappear! Calder's friends Petra and Tommy must fly to England to help Calder's father find him. But this mystery has more twists and turns than a Calder mobile caught in a fierce wind-with more at stake that meets the eye.

Go, Go America
Dan Yaccarino
Scholastic press
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780439703383 $17.99

What state's official cookie is the chocolate chip cookie? What state hosts the International Rotten Sneaker Contest? Which state is it illegal to enter with a chicken on your head? To find the answers to these questions and hundreds more, just hitch a ride with the fabulous Farley family -- Mom, Dad, Freddie, Fran, and Fido -- as they travel state to state and discover far-out festivals, kooky contests, ludicrous laws, peculiar people, and oodles of oddities across America. So fasten your seat belt and get ready to go, go through fifty states of fun! Snappy, often humorous facts fill each page along with Yaccarino's bold, colorful, quirky illustrations. Also included are maps and cleverly designed back matter with information every kid needs: state mottos, state flowers, state birds, state trees, state nicknames, etc. This is a rollicking road trip to be visited again and again by readers of all ages on the go, go.

Amelia's Itchy-Twitchy, Lovely-Dovey Summer at Camp Mosquito
Marissa Moss
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416947226 $9.99

The irrepressible character Amelia is journaling her heart out again about life in middle school, but this time she's on vacation. She takes a break for summer at Camp Mosquito as a camper in cabin five, tells us about every little moment as she enjoys all its pleasures (s'mores, campfires, the great outdoors and a really cute guy) and agonies (slimy showers, lumpy oatmeal, and enough blood-thirsty mosquitoes to require a transfusion). Her real, regular-girl observations are as authentic as they are fun to read, and the constant interruptions from sketches and mini-comics, is always a hoot. This title in the Amelia series is just what every sleep-away camper needs in their duffle bag to chase away homesickness with a few giggles.

Attack of the Growling Eyeballs
Lin Oliver, Stephen Gilpin
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416909514 $14.99, 160 pages,

Meet Daniel Funk, a regular guy who's stuck living in a house full of girls. Why couldn't he have a brother instead of all those sisters? That would be so cool. When Daniel shrinks to the size of the fourth toe on his left foot, he discovers that he actually does have a brother. A little brother. A very little brother. He's Pablo Funk, Daniel's tiny twin, who is a toeful of trouble. When Daniel and Pablo decide to have some fun at their sisters' party and let loose a giant hissing cockroach just to watch the girls scream, they find out that it's dangerous to be so small. Lin Oliver's hilarious new series - the first in the "Who Shrunk Danile Fun" series illustrated by Stephen Gilpin -- reveals that sometimes big-time fun comes in very small packages.

The Search for the Red Dragon
James A. Owen
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416948506 $17.99

It has been nine years since John, Jack, and Charles had their great adventure in the Archipelago of Dreams and became the Caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica. Now they have been brought together again to solve a mystery: Someone is kidnapping the children of the Archipelago. And their only clue is a mysterious message delivered by a strange girl with artificial wings: "The Crusade has begun." Worse, they discover that all of the legendary Dragonships have disappeared as well. The only chance they have to save the world from a centuries-old plot is to seek out the last of the Dragonships -- the Red Dragon -- in a spectacular journey that takes them from Sir James Barrie's Kensington Gardens to the Underneath of the Greek Titans of myth. With friends both familiar and new, they will travel through an extraordinary landscape where history, myth, and fable blend together to tell the oldest story in the world. And along the way, the Caretakers of the Geographica will discover that great deeds alone do not make heroes, and that growing up may be unavoidable...but growing old doesn't have to be.

Sarah Dessen
Lock and Key
Viking / Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780670010882 $18.99

Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she's been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return. That's how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn't seen in ten years, and Cora's husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future -- it's a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give? Best-selling author Sarah Dessen explores the heart of a gutsy, complex girl dealing with unforeseen circumstances and learning to trust again.

Vicki Arkoff
Senior Reviewer

Vogel's Bookshelf

Alexandra Saieh
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781434354532, $15.99,

One of the most valuable marketing tools in the modern era is to be one of the first results listen when people search on engines such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN. "WWW: The Secret to Getting Listed At The Top of Search Engines" is a guide to improving your rank on these many search engines and why you want this benefit for your website. Included is also advice on getting the best keywords, keeping your rank once you get it, and where the line of ethics is drawn so you are not penalized by the engine itself. "WWW: The Secret to Getting Listed at The Top of Search Engines" is highly recommended for any business person in charge of the company's Internet relations and for community library business collections.

Nine Easy Steps to Complete Health and Well Being
B. Singh
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781434330208, $17.20,

Health and Well Being - for a lot of people, there's not much more they can ask for in life, but it eludes so many people so much. "Nine Easy Steps to Complete Health and Well Being: A Physician's Guide to Health, Happiness, and Vitality" is a blueprint to help readers attain this simple yet most appreciated luxury, helping them unlock everything they need that's inside their own bodies to attain it. Blending philosophy and science to push readers to attain both mental and physical health, acknowledging that they are not exclusive concepts - one cannot be considered healthy if their body is fine yet their mind is heavy with woe, and vice versa. Simple, easy to follow, yet educated and thoroughly researched advice throughout makes "Nine Easy Steps to Complete Health and Well Being: A Physician's Guide to Health, Happiness, and Vitality" highly recommended for community library health collections and anyone who's seeking a more perfect bill of health.

John Ranz
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781434336712, $14.95 1-800-280-7715

Despite being over sixty years old and a generation back, the horrors of the Holocaust are still fresh in the minds of the world. "Inhumanity: Death March to Buchenwald & The Last Jews of Bendzin" is a two-part story, the first, "Death Match to Buchenwald" is a recollection of a young man called Jochanan's desire to escape the hell that is a death march to Buchenwald. In the process, human nature is explored and the tenacity of its spirit is revealed. The second, "The Last Jews of Bendzin" is about a final patch of resistance in southern Poland to rescue a few jews sentenced to Auschwitz. Both stories will bolt you to the page and entertain you while educating you at the same time, and enhanced with appendixes, "Inhumanity: Death March to Buchenwald & The Last Jews of Bendzin" is recommended to Holocaust studies shelves and general interest readers looking for more perspective on the twentieth century's greatest atrocity.

Swedenborg Explorer's Guidebook
William Ross Woofenden
Swedenborg Foundation
320 North Church Street, West Chester, PA 19380
9780877853275, $29.95,

Scientists and translators have been going over and evaluating the writings of the erudite Emanuel Swedenborg for nearly three centuries. The "Swedenborg Explorer's Guidebook: A Research Manual" was originally released in 1988 under another title, but it is released in a newly revised and updated second edition in 2008. New to this edition is an expansive and through bibliography, organizations of Swedenborg's work chronologically, glossaries, indexes, and other invaluable appendixes. "Swedenborg Explorer's Guidebook: A Research Manual" is a top pick for community library historical reference collections.

Hope Through the Fire
Gayle Heimbach Bradshaw
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd. - 515, Parker, Colorado 80134
9781432718947, $7.95,

Gayle Heimback Bradshaw suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Schizophrenia, and Depression. Her book of poetry, "Hope Through the Fire" is her attempt to battle her ailments and set her mind right, and seeks to aid others in their recovery from similar ailments as well. Her poetry is truly heartfelt and from the very depths of her soul, showing her sheer willpower to overcome it all, and become closer to God in her grasps for recovery. "Hope Through the Fire" is highly recommended for community library poetry collections with a crossover to self-help. Twirl Into Heaven: Twirling, swirling,/fueled by the soft, subtle breezes of fall/Leaves flutter about/as though moved by the Master's call./The change of season/eases into our hearts/Where all true hope and rest/seem to have their start./Water ebbs and flows,/gently upon the shores./Mountains are shadowed by heavenly hues,/ right up to heaven's front door.

Once Upon a Rhyme
Daniel Ray Farley
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd 515, Parker, Colorado 80134
9781432710453, $14.95,

Over three decades of labor results in 40 poems, from people ranging from a youthful wannabe Heavy metal star, a recovering alcoholic, pride and triumph - but who says all these different subjects can't all come from the same person? "Once Upon a Rhyme: Year of the Winds" is the life's work of poet and Heavy metal enthusiast Daniel Ray Farley, who brings his life's experiences to the table with cunning, witty, and lyrical verse throughout. "Once Upon a Rhyme: Year of the Winds" is highly recommended for poetry lovers everywhere and for community library poetry collections. Gentle Spring: Gentle spring,/cloaked in placid hues of ease:/as children playing,/flowers dreaming,/in joyful passions of what's to be;/your sunshine glowing,/anticipating:/a thoughtful silence upon this morn.//Gentle spring,/your velvet dew upon the trees:/as sparrows singing,/lovers reaching,/in mirthful laughter now conceived;/your painted whispers,/God's creation:/oh youthful yearning thou do adorn.

Humbley's Portal
John Burnham
Lulu Books
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9781430326755, $31.50,

A man with the gift of communication with the spirit world, Steve Latimer is an ex-soldier who embarks on a journey into said spirit world in "Humbley's Portal". Finding his dead son who's training to become a mighty warrior, and mysteriously becoming linked with the Humbley sisters and the portal which lets him pass between the two world's, Latimer's world just gets stranger and stranger as he investigates the very real possibility of a life after death that none of us suspected. "Humbley's Portal" is a deftly composed novel and should be an enjoyable read for whomever should pick it up, and should be on every community library fiction shelf.

Paul T. Vogel

The Reader Views Bookshelf

Irene Watson, Editor

Queen Crystal and The Land
Sandra Jo Matusky
Dream Catcher Publishing, Inc.
3260 Keith Bridge Road, #313, Cumming, GA 30041
9780978612023, $16.95,

Reviewed by Spencer Zaborowski (age 13)

"Queen Crystal and The Land" by Sandra Jo Matusky is a magically wonderful book about fairytale-like giant birds, animals that talk telepathically, wizards, powers, kings, queens, enchanted places, and anything else that you would ever expect or need in a dreamy, fairy-tale land. I really enjoyed this book because I love fairy tales.

This book is about a seventeen-year-old girl named Crystal. She is the only blood-related relative next in line for the throne of her land. After her power-hungry father tries to kill her, she sets off to try to save 'The Land' with a magical paper that her brother got trapped in. On her adventure, she meets a talking sword that is supposed to be her grandfather, many animals who try to help save her, small penguin men, a green frogman named Freddy, and a wizard father and his handsome son. Whew! It takes concentration to keep all of the characters straight! While she is on her quest, she travels to different palaces where her great grandparents have laid out tests for her. She meets a protector who was taking care of her on the quest. She falls in love with him but is never allowed to see him. When she finally gets back to the palace in 'The Land,' she finds that most of the men are dead and the servants are in the palace dungeon. Then she has to battle her evil father for the throne.

There is more to this book that meets the eye. I enjoyed this book because it was funny, sad, romantic and adventurous. I think there are some lessons in this story, also. It teaches how important patience is, because Crystal has many tasks to do on her quest. Things are not always as they seem, and sometimes family members can be deceptive. Crystal is a great hero, and you will not want to put down this book until you find out what finally happens! Does Crystal win and save the kingdom?

This book is easy to read, with good grammar and lots of description. I very much enjoyed this book, and I hope that when you read "Queen Crystal and The Land," you will like it also!

Danny and Life on Bluff Point
Mary Ellen Lee
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595448081, $13.95, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Ben Weldon (age 10) for Reader Views

"Danny and Life on Bluff Point: The Conflict" by Mary Ellen Lee is the story of a ten year-old farm boy, Danny Lee. His story takes place in May of 1895 in Bluff Point, New York. All is not well when a white Southerner named Robert Overhouser moves to the area. Many people, who 30 years after the Civil War still harbor resentment, are very hostile to this new resident. Will the people on Bluff Point see their folly and stop the conflict?

Danny Lee, the main character, is a hard-working farm boy who milks cows, cares for his horse Sally, and treks far and wide running errands for his parents. Once, when returning from an errand, the steamboat he was on nearly sank! He is in the third grade and has to pass a geography test (geography is his least favorite subject) in order to move on to fourth grade. His favorite activities are playing ball with his friend Stan and riding his horse. From reading about Danny, I could almost imagine what it would be like if I were living in 1895.

Danny's community of Bluff Point was a peaceful place until Mr. Overhouser moved in. Mr. Overhouser moved to New York from Virginia - the rebel South! Many people still harbored resentment against the South, even though the Civil War ended about thirty years before. Some people had so much hatred that they even left church early in order to avoid their new neighbor from the South. Because Danny was friendly and spoke to Mr. Overhouser, he was shunned by some kids at school. Will Mr. Overhouser ever be welcome in Bluff Point? Will people ever overcome their prejudice?

I would recommend this book to people who like historical fiction. Once you pick up "Danny and Life on Bluff Point: The Conflict," you will really want to keep reading it. Readers will be happy to know that this is the sixth book in the "Danny and Life on Bluff Point Series." Also, readers who like illustrations will enjoy the child's drawings scattered throughout the book. I hope you will like this book as much as I did.

A Prince in Need: Volume 2 of the Myrridian Cycle
Debra Killeen
Helm Publishing
3923 Seward Ave., Rockford, IL 61108
9780980178050, $18.95,

Reviewed by Ian McCurley (age14) for Reader Views

"A Prince in Need" begins when Reginald Claybourne, the king of the medieval country of Myrridia is murdered in a brothel. His son Robert who was there unwillingly will now inherit the throne. Unfortunately for Robert, Reginald's sins had caught up with him. A mysterious woman and her brother may be behind the murder and what's worse they may want to kill Robert too. Then there's Christopher McCabe, a man who has been masquerading as the Duke of Saelym. While Chris is a time traveler from the future, the real Duke, Christian, was evil and is now dead. Things do not get any better when Chris's former girlfriend Nicole and her friend Naomi come through a portal into Myrridia. This causes Chris's relationship with his wife Helen to falter. When the murderous woman captures Nicole and uses magic to set a magic trigger in her mind to kill Chris, they discover how evil and powerful this woman it truly is. When a challenge is issued, they must rely on the magical skills of Allyson, Prince Roberts' sister. With the royal treasury in a state of falter, and the arrival of time travelers from the future and the threat of attack from evil people looming over his head, Robert is truly 'A Prince in Need.'

Debra Killeen's writing style is full of character development and excitement. While lacking in action, "A Prince in Need" makes up for it with plenty of romance, plot twists and feminist humor. "A Prince in Need" is for teens 16 and older who enjoy medieval fantasy, romance and medieval politics. Be sure to read "Volume 1 of the Myrridian Cycle."

France: Instructions for Use
Alison Culliford and Nan McElroy
Illustrata Press
c/o Beagle Bay, Inc.,
14120 Saddlebow Drive, Reno, NV 89511
9781885436405, $14.95,

Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views

"France: Instructions for Use*: The Practical, On-site Assistant for the Enthusiastic (Even Experienced) Traveler" is ingenious! At first glace I wondered how a small book as this could possibly cover all the information I need when traveling in France. I soon found out this is the most concise book there is on the market. Great things do come in small packages! A package small enough to fit into your purse, pocket, or fanny pack. At 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches, it actually holds 118 pages. And the wonderful thing is that I didn't need a magnifying glass to read it! More so, I wish I had it on my last trip to France but I can assure you it's coming with me on the next trip.

Okay, now to the content. I don't see anything missed because it covers how to get around by various means of transportation, money, drinking and eating, shopping, shipping as well as tourist information and a section called "let's be perfectly frank."

There is even a section of common phrases. My experience in the larger cities, particularly Paris, is that most people know how to speak English; however, this is not true for smaller communities.

Reading the section about driving a car made me smile and reminisce of why I wouldn't want to drive there. Being used to space to drive in and driving on the right side of the road, driving in France could be a challenge. However, after reading what the authors have to say, I may change my mind on the next trip.

On my last trip to Paris, I did take the train. It was very confusing and how we ended getting to our intended spot, I really don't know. After reading the section, I'm amazed we actually got to our destination. It would have been less stressful to have read this book!

There is so much more to "France: Instructions for Use*" than I can write in this review. It's a very practical, well-organized, concise book that is a must for any traveler to France, especially due to its size and content. This is not a tourist book giving you places to see or eat at, it's a book that give you sensible and matter-of-fact information that every traveler must know before embarking to a foreign country.

Human Matters
Steven Kalas
Stephens Press, LLC
PO Box 1600, Las Vegas, NV 89125-1600
9781932173574, $16.95,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

"Human Matters: Wise and Witty Counsel on Relationship, Parenting, Grief and Doing the Right Thing" is a newspaper column that the author Steven Kalas writes in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "Human Matters" contains a collection of his articles that have already been published. He covers a multitude of topics ranging from relationships, to authenticity, to grief, to spiritual matters. In his book, Kalas states that he provides "people a context of meaning, safety, and encouragement in which to confront themselves, learn, suffer, celebrate, grow." Through his writings he teaches us about human wholeness and authenticity.

In addition to being a therapist, he is a divorced parent and he was once an Episcopal priest. He has had quite a variety of life experiences that have provided him with some interesting, thought-provoking insights into our human condition. In his writings, not only does he relate experiences of others, but he also uses a great deal of self-disclosure. By incorporating self-disclosure into his discussions, he teaches us that it is okay to look into our own lives and reflect on what we are experiencing.

While reading "Human Matters" I discovered some important insight into an issue that has been troubling me for over a year. I find myself having difficulty forgiving two people who have betrayed me and treated me without respect. I distanced myself from these two people without directly confronting them. In spite of this, I frequently get hit with waves of anger. While I was reading this book, I came to the realization that the core of my anger is not directed at these two people, but more so at myself for allowing them to get in close enough and repeatedly hurt me. I discovered that I hurt myself by continuing to allow these people to mistreat me. So the real anger I need to let go of is directed at my self. I think that I will heal faster now that I have discovered what is really happening within me.

"Human Matters" is a book that we all need to read. So many issues are covered, if one doesn't directly involve us, it will still give us insight into someone that we know. I think that it is best read slowly, section by section, so that when we finish one part, we take some time for self-reflection. This would be an excellent choice for a reader's group. Every person reading it will be able to relate to some part of it, and it will definitely inspire some interesting discussions.

Mustard Seed Market & Cafe Natural Foods Cookbook
Bev Shaffer
Pelican Publishing Company
1000 Burmaster Street, Gretna, LA
9781589804654, $29.95,

Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views

In 2003, Mustard Seed Market & Cafe became Ohio's first certified organic retailer. Bev Shaffer joined them in 1997 as the cooking school and baking director, and hence this book. Chef Shaffer collaborates with the Cleveland Clinic, the Cleveland Botanical Garden, Akron General Wellness Center, and Summa Health System. She has created more than eight-thousand recipes, many of which she shares in this cookbook.

On the first flip through the book one finds elaborate and colorful pictures, chef's notes for every recipe, explanations, and, of course, the recipes for everything from soups and salads, to grain dishes, meat and fish/seafood dishes, as well as pasta and deserts. Of course, there are vegetarian and gluten-free recipes too.

It was difficult for me to decide which recipes I would try for this review but first of all I chose an interesting dish called Citrus Apricot Couscous. I've never seen one like this before, not only did it have dried apricots but also snow peas, red bell pepper, mint, orange zest and cumin for flavoring. A combination I've never done before. Well, I must say, it was delicious! The suggestion was to serve it with grilled salmon which I did. A perfect complement, to say the least.

Being a salmon lover, the next recipe I tried was Roast Salmon with Thai Coconut Sauce. Wow! Terrific. The unsweetened coconut milk combined with Asian chili sauce, ginger, and cilantro gave a flavor I hadn't experienced before.

I also tried the Black-Eyed-Pea Salad. Living in the south we are used to eating a similar salad but we call it Texas Caviar. This recipe is good, and certainly gives a different flair to what we are used to. The radishes as well as Italian parsley made a difference, but the biggest difference was the dressing. A vice nice change and I will be using this recipe again.

The most encouraging thing about "Mustard Seed Market & Cafe Natural Foods Cookbook" is that the recipes are extremely simple and all the ingredients may be obtained at your local grocery store. Shaffer's culinary experience, pizzazz, and knowledge of natural foods certainly shine through this collection.

You Had Me at Good-bye: A Novel
Tracey Bateman
Hachette Book Group USA, 237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446698948, $13.99,

Reviewed by Leslie Granier for Reader Views

"You Had Me at Good-bye" is the second book in the "Drama Queens" series by Tracey Bateman. This volume focuses mainly on Dancy Ames, but her family and two close friends, Laini and Tabby, play prominent roles as well. Dancy is facing several changes in her life including, but not limited to, being fired from her job and learning of a family member she did not know existed. She is having problems finding the right man, which is compounded by the fact that both her brother and her good friend will be celebrating marriages soon. Only after Dancy loses the things that she considers important to her does she realize what it is that she wants the most.

This book contains religious elements but the author adeptly avoids being preachy and trying to overdo the spiritual aspects. Her message of the importance of trusting in God to find the right path for one's life is a central theme. It was fun to see the personal growth that many of the characters underwent as their lives progressed. I also enjoyed reading about the thought processes they used when faced with making important decisions about their futures.

Dancy's transformation from a spineless and indecisive woman into one who is strong and goes after what she wants is well portrayed. The author uses excerpts from a book that Dancy is writing to begin each chapter. These excerpts give the reader insight into how Dancy pictures her life should be versus how complicated it presently is. It is when Dancy learns to accept what she cannot change that her true growth begins.

Women of all ages will enjoy this book. It is a cute story that centers on looking for love, but also stresses the importance of letting God guide you through your life decisions. The interactions between Dancy, Laini, and Tabby are very realistic and will remind many readers of the times they have spent with their close friends. There are some questions listed at the end of "You Had Me at Good-bye" to assist reading groups in their discussions. I am eagerly looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

Biscuit's Pet & Play Easter (Biscuit Board Book)
Alyssa Satin Capucilli
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
9780061128394, $6.99,

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2) and Max (age 19-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

"Biscuit's Pet & Play Easter" is a fun touch-and-feel holiday board book. Biscuit the puppy is on an Easter egg hunt and along the way to finding the eggs he encounters a fuzzy chick, a grassy garden, a silky butterfly and a bunny.

Cayden: "We went on an Easter egg hunt the other day!"
Max: "Eggs!"

Max: On the page with the chick: "Beep! Beep!"
Cayden: "No Max- it is Peep! Peep!"
Max: "Peep! Peep!"

Cayden: "I like the page with the glittery eggs because they are shiny and sparkly!"

Mom: "What is your favorite page Max?"
Max: Points to the first page: "Chick"
Mom: "Why is that your favorite?"
Max: "Soft"

We have other Biscuit books so my children were already familiar with the character of Biscuit and enjoy sharing in his adventures. Max loves to copy Biscuit saying "Woof! Woof!" on every page. Both children really enjoy touch-and-feel books and this one was especially nice with a lot of variety in textures. "Biscuit's Pet & Play Easter" is a cute, playful book to help put you into the spirit of the Easter season.

Mommy's Best Kisses (Board Book)
Margaret Anastas
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
9780061241307, $6.99

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2) and Max (age 19-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

"Mommy's Best Kisses" is an adorable board book filled with all different types of animal mothers and their babies. On each page the mother is kissing her baby in a different spot. For instance, the giraffe kisses her baby on the neck, the pig kisses her baby on the tummy, and the camel kisses her baby on the eyes.

Cayden: Pointing to the penguins inside the front cover: "They are kissing each other because they love each other."

Mom: "What was your favorite page?"
Cayden: "The elephant kissing her baby on the nose. Then I liked the ostrich kissing her baby on his knees!"

Parent's comments:

While my children did not have a lot of comments on this book they really did enjoy it. They had fun finding all of the body parts on themselves that were being kissed in the book, especially their belly buttons!

Each page starts with "I kiss" and every time I read that part Max made the kissing noise with his mouth. After we read through the book once Cayden wanted to go back through and name all of the animals for us. The illustrations and the text are very sweet making "Mommy's Best Kisses" a wonderful bedtime story!

Ingrid Law
Dial Books for Young Readers
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY, 10014
9780803733060, $16.99

Reviewed by Casey Holt (age 14) for Reader Views

"Savvy" is about a family, and they all have, or will have, "savvies." A savvy is a special kind of know-how. Mibs is just about to turn thirteen, which is when her savvy should kick in. But two days before her birthday, her poppa gets into a terrible car crash. All her dreams of having a perfect (because that's her momma's savvy; everything she does is perfect) cake with sugar roses and pink and yellow frosting are crushed. Her brother Rocket gets to go to the hospital with their momma, because he's the only one who can make the old car run. (His savvy is electricity.) Mibs (12), Fish (14), Samson (7), and Gypsy (3) are left home with their old Grandpa.

Miss Rosemary, the pastor's wife, decides to move herself in, bringing her children, Will Junior and Roberta, who everyone but her mother calls Bobbi. Then Miss Rosemary announces that a "little bird" told her that it was somebody's birthday tomorrow, and that she was getting together a huge party for Mibs at the church. Fish immediately starts freaking out, telling Mibs how she knows as well as he does that 13th birthdays in the Beaumont family HAVE to be kept quiet (still remembering his own 13th birthday hurricane that he created). But they cannot sway Miss Rosemary, so the next day they're all herded to the church to celebrate Mib's birthday. When Mibs finds out her savvy, or thinks she found it out, she just knows that she HAS to get to Salina, where her poppa was in the hospital and wouldn't wake up. So she hops on a Bible delivery truck that says Salina on the side, thinking that must be where it's headed. But when the bus takes a right-turn when it's supposed to be left, and goes north when it's supposed to go south, they know that they are NOT headed for Salina.

This book was pretty good, I would recommend it for younger children; I thought that "Savvy" was for teens, but I would say maybe 7-10 year-olds would enjoy this book more than I did. It seems like it would be a good read-aloud.

Who Lives in the Rainforest?: Discovering Animals (Fisher-Price)
Nora Pelizzari
c/o Harper Collins Children's Books
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
9780061447709, $6.99

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2) and Max (age 19-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

"Who Lives in the Rainforest?: Discovering Animals" introduces your child to the elephants, giraffes, toucans, monkeys, butterflies and tigers who live in the rainforest. Each page focuses on a specific trait of the animal and asks your child if they see that certain part on the page. For instance, "Monkeys have curly tails. Do you see a curly tail hanging from the branch?" Once they find the tail they lift the flap and the whole monkey is revealed.

Both children love interactive books like "lift the flap books" and for us it is a great opportunity to teach taking turns.

Cayden: "I like flap books!"
Max: "Flap! Flap! Peek-a-boo!"

After establishing who got to open the first flap we got started reading.

Cayden: "Mom! It's an elephant! Elephants say 'mmmm' with their horns!"

Cayden: "Is this the word elephant? Let me spell it!"

Max's favorite page was the one with the tiger hiding behind the grass.

When asked what tigers say he and Cayden both said "Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!"

Parent's comments:

"Who Lives in the Rainforest?: Discovering Animals" is a very bright and colorful book. When the flap is lifted and the animal revealed the name of the animal is also printed there by itself. Isolating the animal name from the rest of the text is very helpful in assisting those beginning to recognize words and read. Cayden clued right in on those words and named and went through all of the letters in each one.

Fisher Price has a whole line of rainforest items. Max happens to own the Fisher Price train which has quite a few of the same animals that are in the book. I brought it out for him and he was excited to see that "his" animals were the same animals that were in the story. So, if you have any of the rainforest line that would be another fun game to use the book for and teach matching at the same time.

Zoom: A Book of Things That Go (Board Book)
Jennifer Frantz
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
9780061128592, $13.99

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2) and Max (age 19-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

"Zoom: A Book of Things That Go" is an interactive board book that explores tractors, submarines, trains, fire trucks and everything that goes! There are lots of tabs to pull, textures to feel, and wheels to turn.

Cayden: "I like the top cover because it has wheels that can spin around and it is a dump truck!"

Cayden: After we turned the page: "Look! It turned into a bulldozer!"

Cayden: "There are tabs to pull! Cool!"

Max: "Pull! Pull! Cool!"

Cayden: While turning a wheel: "A train! Watch, I can make it go! Chugga-chugga choo choo!"

Cayden: While pulling a tab: "Mom look! I can make the building grow real tall!"

Cayden: While turning another wheel: "I can make the plane go in a circle!"

Cayden: "Fire is coming out of the rocket!"

Parent's comments: The dump truck on the cover of "Zoom: A Book of Things That Go" immediately grabbed my children's attention as they are fascinated with trucks. Max, however, instantly pulled off one of the wheels while turning it a little over-zealously which made big brother Cayden angry. While the majority of the book is pretty sturdy, the wheels on the front and the railroad track crossing arm are easy for a younger child to pull off like Max did. After reattaching both we decided that this was not a book that Max could have on his own because he wasn't careful enough yet.

The book is very stimulating as there is so much to do and look at. Cayden had a lot of fun differentiating between things that were big and small, tall and short, and fast and slow, as the book suggests doing at the end. He also enjoyed going through and counting the number of wheels on the different types of vehicles. Max loved looking at the trucks and trains and, with assistance, making things move by pulling the tabs and turning the wheels. They really enjoyed "Zoom: A Book of Things That Go" and wanted to read it over and over!

Darok 10 (Moon)
H. J. Ralles
Top Publications
12221 Merit Drive, Suite 950 Dallas, TX 75251
9781929976317, $9.95

Reviewed by Ian McCurley (age 14) for Reader Views

"Darok 10" begins when Rachel's boss Dr. Gunter Schumann mysteriously vanishes from Darok 9. The Daroks are colonies on the moon. There are 10, and Darok 10 is the largest and the capital. This and the sudden disappearance of Will's mom, leads Will, along with his friend Maddie to Darok 10, where they travel in hopes of finding the truth. Then there is the disturbing calling sign of a past nemesis. When Will is also kidnapped, Hank and Maddie team up to find out where Will is and what is going on. With old enemies and new, government plots and the threat of lunar war hanging over their heads, Hank and Maddie will face incredible challenges.

This book, with its plot twists and lots of action, make for a great read. H.J. Ralles writing style keeps you going and excited throughout the entire book. "Darok 10" is for readers nine and up who enjoy science fiction and space travel. Also be sure to read "Darok 9."

Darok 9
H. J.Ralles
Top Publications
12221 Merit Drive, Suite 950 Dallas, TX 75251
9781929976102, $9.95

Reviewed by Ian McCurley (age 14) for Reader Views

Life in 2120 A.D. is much different than you would expect. People live in huge domelike cities called Daroks, water is rationed severely, and to top it all off, everyone lives on the moon. After a nuclear war, humanity left a polluted earth, divided the moon into four quadrants and built the Daroks. Then there is Hank Havard, a First Quadrant scientist who is working, along with his assistant Lydia Grant, on a drug called SH33. This drug, when administered correctly, gives one the ability to survive without water. Hank and his Lydia had been working in a first quadrant laboratory and had been attacked by the dreaded fourth-quadrant. When they attacked, he had put all his research on two memory cards. They had escaped on the Bullet, or lunar subway, and had ended up back in Darok 9. Upon arriving at his apartment Hank discovers that Lydia has been severely beaten. He then heads to his nephew's house and asks him to copy the memory cards. Can Hank, with the help of his nephew Will and Will's friend Maddie, find out who is trying to steal SH33. And, when Will is injected with a tainted version of this drug, can he find out fast enough.

In this book of stolen government secrets, foreign conspiracies and double agents you will be so enraptured that you won't be able to put the book down until it's finished. H.J. Ralles writing style is unique in that it keeps the reader excited and attentive while leaving room for character development. "Darok 9" is for readers who enjoy science fiction or books about post-apocalyptic happenings. Look out for H.J. Ralles next book, "Darok 10."

Goodnight Moon 123: A Counting Book (Board Book)
Margaret Wise Brown
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
9780061125973, $16.99

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2) and Max (age 19-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

"Goodnight Moon 123: A Counting Book" takes the familiar illustrations from the original classic "Goodnight Moon" and arranges them into a counting board book. The book has a very simple format. Each page consists of a number, an illustration, and then short text saying what it is. For example, on one page there is the text and picture of "Six bowls of mush" and then the number "6" in the top corner of the page.

Cayden: "I have a 'Goodnight Moon' book and a 'Goodnight Moon' game!"

Cayden: "Look mom! There is the mouse that is in the other book!"

Cayden: "There is the old lady who whispers hush!"
Max: "Hush!"

Cayden: "One hundred stars is a lot of stars."

Parent's comments:

Cayden and Max love the original "Goodnight Moon" book and Cayden pretty much knows it by heart. When he saw the illustrations in this book he was able to finish "reading" what the page said before I was able to read it to him. He enjoyed showing Max how to count the different pictures on each page.

We do own other counting books but to my children "Goodnight Moon: 123 A Counting Book" is familiar and that is very appealing to them. I also like that the number and the actual written out word for the number are printed in a different color than the rest of the words on the page to assist in word recognition.

For counting books the more basic the format the better. I have seen so many that are just too cluttered and that takes away from the true purpose of the book. My children enjoyed this book and with Cayden reading it over and over to his brother, Max will be counting in no time!

Mother Goose and Friends
Ruth Sanderson
Little, Brown and Company
237 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9780316777186, $16.99

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2) and Max (age 19-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

"Mother Goose and Friends" is a 64-page compilation of all of the familiar nursery rhymes that we all grew up with and more! From the familiar "Mary Had a Little Lamb" to the more obscure "The Purple Cow" the book is filled with rhymes that everyone will enjoy!

Cayden: ("Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater"): "Why did he put her in a pumpkin shell?"

Cayden: ("This Little Pig," when the pig is sitting in the corner): "Is that pig on a time-out?"
Max: "Naughty"

Max: ("Humpty Dumpty"): "Fall! Fall!"

Cayden: ("The Queen of Hearts," when the Knave stole the tarts): "People aren't supposed to take things away. They are supposed to say 'please!'"

Mom: "What was your favorite picture in the book?"
Cayden: "I liked the mouse running down the clock! The first one about Mother Goose is cool too!"
Mom: "I think Max liked the 'Humpty Dumpty' picture since he keeps turning back to it!"
Max: (Turning once again to "Humpty Dumpty"): "Fall! Fall!"

Parent's comments:

What makes this book stand apart from other similar Mother Goose books is the beautiful artwork! I did not think that this would be a book that Max, at 19-months, would sit for but he was entranced by the pictures. The oil paintings that grace the pages are incredibly detailed and wonderfully capture the meanings of the traditional rhymes.

Some of the rhymes in "Mother Goose and Friends" were familiar to my children but many were new. There were some in the book that even I had never heard before. While some of the antiquated language is a little over my children's heads I think that it is important to expose them to writing such as this. In a world filled with Dora and Blue's Clues, a return to the old-fashioned nursery rhyme is a breath of fresh air!

The World Around Me: Colors, Numbers and More! (Fisher-Price) (Board Book)
Alexis Barad
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
9780061450396, $7.99

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2) and Max (age 19-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

"The World Around Me: Colors, Numbers and More!" is a colorful Fisher-Price board book that teaches numbers, colors, shapes, animals and other concepts. On each page there is a wheel to turn to change the main item being highlighted. For instance, one page has a tool box and when you turn the wheel a different tool appears in the middle along with the corresponding word for that item. There are three different pictures to turn it to on every page.

Max: While trying to turn the wheel: "Help! Help!"
Cayden: "It is hard to turn isn't it Max. All the wheels are together. Maybe if we lift the page it will be easier."

Cayden: "I like the gingerbread man. I like the page with shapes."
Max: "Star! Circle!"

Cayden: "I like the telephone page too!"

Parent's comments:
The book is filled with a lot of learning opportunities for babies up to preschoolers. It teaches the basics like colors and shapes but also teaches beginning reading because the word for the item is displayed whenever you change the highlighted picture.

My children found the turning the wheels to be a little difficult. All of the wheels are stacked on top of one another and then there is the back cover of the book which sticks out a little beyond the wheels. This makes it a little difficult to get in there and turn the correct wheel. Cayden got the hang of it fairly quick but Max needed help even after going through the book numerous times.

Some of the word choices in the book were also confusing to my children. For instance on one page there is a cat and the word that is printed with it is "kitty." In a book such as this one whose aim is to be basic and educational I think that the word "cat" would be a better choice. It was confusing to a beginning reader such as Cayden who recognizes the word "cat" to see a different word printed there.

Despite these minor flaws, my children did both enjoy the book and Cayden spent quite awhile with it turning the wheels and trying to learn the words that appeared. "The World Around Me: Colors, Numbers and More!"is also very sturdy and will hold up for a long time.

365 One-Minute Meditations: God Calling
A.J. Russell
Barbour Publishing, Inc.
P.O. Box 719, Ulrichsville, OH 44683
9781602600522, $9.97,

Review by Leslie Granier for Reader Views

"365 One-Minute Meditations: God Calling" is a collection of beautiful and uplifting scriptures taken from the Bible. The scriptures are very short so one can read them when s/he has limited time and still have enough time to spend reflecting on their meanings. The book, chapter, and verse where the reading can be found in the Bible are listed so the reader can read further if he or she finds particular interest or comfort in a specific quote. Each day a new scripture is featured, encouraging the reader to create a routine or a set time to spend reflecting on God's word.

The compact size of this book (slightly larger than five inches by four inches) makes it convenient to take anywhere. One could slip it into a purse and read it at the bus stop or a waiting room at the doctor's office. It could also be packed in a briefcase and brought on business trips so God will never seem far away. This book is cleverly designed so that it has a built-in bookmark. There will be no more having to find a random scrap of paper to hold your place.

The beautiful scenery and artwork in this book accentuate the peace and tranquility of the scriptures. Devout religious people, as well as those struggling to find spiritual guidance and renewal, will find comfort in reading the word of God and the interpretations that are presented. This book would make a great gift for religious holidays, such as Christmas and Easter. But it will also be a wonderful gift for graduates to help them better experience God's presence and importance in their adult lives. Those in despair who need guidance to make it through difficult times would greatly benefit if they invest the time in this book.

The book, though small in size, is great in content. The reading for each day has a title letting the reader know what the subject matter is. This is helpful when someone needs instruction or motivation in a particular area. He or she can choose what scriptures to read instead of feeling the need to reflect on the scripture that is listed under that day's date. "365 One-Minute Meditations: God Calling" is an excellent resource for anyone seeking to improve his or her spiritual life.

Handling Employment for Bosses and Supervisors
Geoffrey H. Hopper
Robert D. Reed Publishers
P. O. Box 1992, Brandon, OR 97411
9781931741897, $19.95,

Reviewed by Kathleen Dowdell for Reader Views

Written by a labor and employment attorney, "Handling Employment for Bosses and Supervisors: Guidelines to Avoid Employee Lawsuits, With a Touch of Humor" presumes to be a guideline for avoiding employee lawsuits. In the author's section, titled "Thirty-One Steps on How to Keep Your Home," he lays out thirty-one ideas of practical information that employers should use to protect themselves from litigation that may cost them their home (employment litigation) or their lives (workplace violence). Hopper spends a good chunk of time explaining employment litigation and its repercussions likening it to going through a divorce. He includes twenty-three factors that cause employment problems and he provides practical, legal suggestions how managers and supervisors can avoid litigation. He points out that "the United States is viewed by many as the most litigious country in the world having more than 20,000 discrimination lawsuits filed in 2000." Staggering figures like that make this book a must have in any employers' library.

The evolution of employment law in the United States began about forty to fifty years ago, modeling itself from England's employment law in the beginning of the 1800s. An interesting fact the author points out is how the term "fired" came about. Back in 1871 "fired out" meant to throw out or eject someone from a place or location. Some years later "out" was dropped and the term "fired" came to be synonymous with "dismissal of an employee." When an employer has to fire someone, he has made two mistakes: hiring the person in the first place and failing to train the person to become productive. Investing in your employees pays off in the long run as is pointed out in one of the thirty-one steps he discusses. Employees, as Hopper points out, should always be treated with dignity and respect. If everyone remembered and acted that way, the workplace would be a better place.

This book contains practical, concise information and makes a great reference for managers and supervisors. Every factor of employment is covered in this book including interviewing techniques, policy writing, sexual harassment, unlawful employment practices, termination, and workplace violence. Hopper uses humor to keep the book from becoming too morose. The subtitle of the book "Guidelines to Avoid Employee Lawsuits, With a Touch of Humor" is aptly named. Quotes of famous people interspersed throughout the book make the information more personal and adaptable to the reader.

I would recommend "Handling Employment for Bosses and Supervisors" to owners of small business as well as managers and supervisors. Its content is informative, practical, and humorous. The book is laid out in short, easy to read sections. By adding humor to the content, Hopper's great writing style makes what could be laborious reading interesting and fun.

You're a Medical What?!
Sara Burns
Robert D. Reed Publishers
P.O. Box 1992, Brandon, OR 97411
9781934759004, $14.95, (541) 347-9882,

Reviewed by Leslie Granier for Reader Views

"You're a Medical What?!: A Lighthearted Peek into the World of a Medical Transcriptionist" is a compilation of anecdotes written about things author Sara Burns has experienced in her twenty-nine years as a medical transcriptionist. Her passion and love for her chosen career resonate throughout the book, However, she is upfront with the reader about aspects of her job that are not as glamorous. Burns states that she wrote the book for three distinct groups: veteran transcriptionists, those considering a career as a transcriptionist, and "any inquisitive individual who happens upon this book." All three groups can appreciate the book and gain important knowledge. However, people with backgrounds in the medical field or those who are familiar with medical terminology will be able to better identify with her stories.

Burns offers helpful tips for those interested in seeking a career in medical transcription. She also discusses where the profession is headed for the future and how vastly it may differ from its present state. She provides good advice for those trying to decide between working at home and working in a traditional office setting. (These tips are helpful for anyone considering working at home, regardless of his or her profession.) She challenges the reader to ponder if he or she has enough self-motivation to remain focused and complete the work on time. Another important item to consider is whether a particular person can work well alone or if interaction with other people is needed.

The author uses humor to depict the job of a medical transcriptionist. She includes some cute cartoons, but the best part is her takeoff of Jeff Foxworthy's "you might be a redneck" routine. She devotes an entire chapter to her "you might be a medical transcriptionist" theme, including such quips as, "If every time you sit in a chair you automatically feel for the foot pedal with your foot, you might be a medical transcriptionist."

This is a fun and well-written book. Sara Burns does an excellent job of recounting her life-experiences so the reader can easily relate to many of the situations. She includes humor to entertain and keep the audience interested. In addition, she serves as sort of a mentor for people considering making medical transcription their career.

Artist's Proof
Lander Marks
Stephens Press, LLC
Post Office Box 1600, Las Vegas, NV 89125-1600
9781932173734, $24.95, 702-383-0496,

Reviewed by Leslie Granier for Reader Views

"Artist's Proof" is a novel that contains mystery, murder, and many secrets. Shannon Phillips is an art dealer who conducts auctions on luxury cruise ships. She is quite persuasive in getting people to purchase expensive artwork from renowned artists. DJ Singer is one such customer. While on a cruise, DJ meets Ron, the man of her dreams, but becomes involved in more than she ever could have expected. Ron's uncle questions the authenticity of some paintings by the late Sol Fleming that DJ purchased. Adding to the mystery is the fact that excerpts from Fleming's diary are appearing on the internet and no one knows who is posting them or why. As DJ and Ron try to figure out the truth, their journey leads them all the way to Italy where they question whether a large and influential organization may be behind these occurrences.

The author tells the story from the viewpoints of Shannon and DJ. Each chapter alternates between their stories. Author Marks cleverly uses different print styles to help the reader recognize that a different character is being featured. Both characters are portrayed realistically, with their backgrounds well-documented with the reasons for their insecurities.

The beauty that can be found in art and nature plays an important part in this book. The descriptions of the scenery as DJ and Ron traveled through Italy conjured up vivid images in my mind. Art enthusiasts will appreciate the paintings and artists mentioned throughout the book as well as the different styles of art. The information about how some works of art are made or reproduced was interesting and educational.

Lander Marks does a nice job of building the plot, meticulously adding new information for the reader to absorb. In contrast, the ending was quite abrupt, with the truth being rapidly revealed. Although I loved finding out what truly happened, the mysteries could have been unravelled more slowly. This would have provided more of a shocking effect and a dramatic buildup to the ending.

"Artist's Proof" is filled with mysteries, plot twists, and shocking secrets that keep the reader trying to guess how the story will end. Anyone looking for a good mystery should give this book a try.

Blessings (Sommerfield Trilogy #3)
Kim Vogel Sawyer
Barbour Publishing
P.O. Box 719, Ulrichsville, OH 44683
9781597894067, $9.97,

Reviewed by Lori Plach for Reader Views

Sometimes blessings come in the most unexpected places. We never know just how and when God will decide to bless us. Trina Muller can't understand why she feels compelled to be a veterinarian. She has always loved animals; surely God could use her love of animals and talents to God's glory. If she was just an ordinary girl, her dreams of college and a career wouldn't be such a big deal. However, she belongs to an Old Order Mennonite group. Women are not to have any education beyond grade school, much less a career. She is supposed to be content in just being a wife and mother.

She has a strong Christian Mennonite man who wants nothing more than to be her husband. Graham and Trina have known each other for years and courting for quite some time now. Surely an engagement and traditional wedding ceremony is right around the corner. Graham sees Trina's tender heart and encourages her to follow her dream even if the other members of the fellowship don't understand why she isn't content to live the life she has to. The only one in Sommerfeld who truly wants to help Trina achieve her goals is the young newly-married, stained-glass artist. She has an internet connection and wants to help in any way possible.

Just as things look like they might be able to do both, their marriage and her impending career, disaster strikes and it looks like God isn't blessing them in any way, but isn't He?

"Blessings" is the third book in the "Sommerfeld Trilogy." Kim Vogel Sawyer doesn't disappoint in this final book as we leave Sommerfeld. There are moments where you will laugh, cry and find yourself cheering on the young couple every step of the way. I was sorry to see the book end and am anxious to read more books by Kim Vogel Sawyer. Take a trip to Sommerfeld today; you will certainly fall in love with the characters and simplified way of life.

Stranger Room
Frederick Ramsay
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 East First Avenue, Ste. 103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590585351, $24.95,

Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views

Just when you think you have seen it all in mystery topics, one comes along that has a totally new twist. The "Stranger Room" is that mystery. It is murder, intrigue, southern genteel and bigotry at its best. Once I picked up the book to read, I had a hard time putting it down. It is the fourth book by the talented author and after reading this story, I would be very interested in reading his other books.

The first question that comes to mind when you see the title and the description of the book is, what is a stranger room? A stranger room is a guest room used centuries ago that is not connected to the house. They were built to keep out unsavory guests. The stranger room in this book was not attached to the house and had no windows. The only access was through one door.
The story starts 150-years ago when a guest staying in the Lydell family stranger room is murdered with the door closed and locked on the inside. The mystery was never solved and fell into the background of the Civil War. The town is completely mystified 150-years later when another guest is murdered in the same stranger room with the door locked from the inside. As Sheriff Ike Schwartz and FBI agent Karl Hedrick work to solve the mystery they encounter obstacles, more mysteries and death. The completely arrogant elderly Jonathon Lydell III lives for his family history and connections and provides obstacles at every turn. He is related to the Virginia Lees (both Light Horse Harry and Robert E. Lee) and does not let anyone forget it.

Sheriff Ike Schwartz is Jewish and FBI agent Karl Hedrick is African American. They are very frustrated throughout the story as they continually run into racist and prejudice behavior. The "Stranger Room" also has a cast of secondary characters that make the story very interesting. These well-developed characters include Ike s girlfriend, Callend College's President, Ruth, Karl's Deputy Girlfriend, Sam, police dispatcher Essie Falco who physically reminds everyone of Dolly Parton and the whole Sunderlin clan. The LeBrun clan in the story is part of a nasty set of characters that give the town of Picketsville a run for its money.

I found this well-written book to be a fast-paced mystery with surprising twists and turns. It completely held my attention and kept me on my toes right to the end. I would highly recommend "Stranger Room" to mystery lovers.

The Pocket Guide to Mischief
Bart King
Gibbs Smith, Publisher
P.O. Box 667, Layton, Utah 84041
9781423603665, $9.95, 1-800-835-4993,

Reviewed by Leslie Granier for Reader Views

"The Pocket Guide to Mischief" begins by focusing on how to play fun pranks that are not physically or emotionally hurtful to the victim. The reader is then taught how to choose a target or nemesis for their pranks. This target should not be a stranger or a shy or sensitive person because it is important for them to know the pranks are meant in a fun and good-natured way. The author lists five rules for mischief-making which include safety, not causing property damage, and never hurting anyone with a prank. Listing these rules is important because this book will appeal mainly to young males (ages ten to fifteen) as well as some adults who have never grown up and need to be aware of dangerous results that could occur. There is also a short quiz to help determine how much of a mischief maker one is.

King's writing style is humorous and fast-paced. As a former middle-school teacher, he is familiar with what appeals to kids. He includes many interesting, odd facts about a variety of topics. Mischief made by many famous people, including world leaders and members of royalty, is incorporated nicely into this book. There are also a few chapters dedicated to unusual vocabulary words that children will undoubtedly remember. Kids may not realize they are learning while they are reading such a fun book.

Some of the antics Bart King writes about remind me of another Bart-- Bart Simpson. As someone who has spent a lot of time around children, King has definitely had first-hand experience with mischief makers. This adds plausibility to the book because children will believe in, or respect, someone more if they know that person really understands what it is like to be their age and what kinds of things they face on a daily basis.

"The Pocket Guide to Mischief" is a light, entertaining, and easy read. Children will get a kick out of it and will likely learn a few things in the process. Parents should read the book too so they can be sure the child understands the importance of safety when playing pranks.

A Soul in the Wind (Excerpts from the Book of Life)
Richard Finegold
Llumina Press
PO Box 772246, Coral Springs, FL 33077-2246
9781595267504, $18.95, 1-866-229-9244,

Reviewed by Tyler R. Tichelaar for Reader Views

"A Soul in the Wind (Excerpts from the Book of Life)" is an engaging and often hilarious novel that will make you laugh out loud, cheer for the main character, and yet feel he gets what he deserves in the end.

Gideon Fruitman's story is one of growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, going to college, marrying and raising a family. He is a Jewish man, continually trying to get ahead with women, in school, in his job, and always finding something to frustrate him along the way. The novel is in some ways every heterosexual male's story, and specifically that of the baby boomer generation, as Gideon takes the reader on his journey through his time period, the events and music of his generation, and specifically through his series of attempts for success, disappointments, guilt, and sense that the fates have it in for him. After all, as Gideon points out, when John F. Kennedy had such a tragic fate, why should he expect anything better?

Gideon's quest to understand the opposite sex made me laugh out loud at times, especially when as a boy his mother loses the top of her bathing suit, resulting in his puking at the sight. Female readers might find Gideon a bit annoying, just as his wife does when he asks her on their wedding night about female plumbing. Male readers, however, who enjoy novels such as Philip Roth's "Portnoy's Complaint" and John Updike's "Rabbit" series, will welcome this novel with its likeable male character who unfortunately lets his sex drive interfere with his reason.

One cheers for Gideon throughout the novel, hoping he will have the sexual experience he wants and that his hard work in school will pay off, and yet his story is one of real-life. While his Jewish guilt is a bit much - he feels a sense of responsibility when his cousin dies in a car accident at the exact time he smokes his first cigarette - Gideon's view of fate is one to which many readers will relate. "A Soul in the Wind" has no plot other than to follow Gideon through life as he tries to succeed, but it is an enjoyable Odyssey through his life. The irony of the last fifteen pages may catch the reader by surprise, and yet the ending is appropriate and satisfying. One wonders how much of Gideon's story is based on the author, Richard Finegold's life since the information about the author on the cover resembles Gideon's background, but unlike Gideon who dreams of writing a great novel, with "A Soul in the Wind," Richard Finegold has succeeded.

How to Mediate Like a Pro: 42 Rules for Mediating Disputes
Mary Greenwood
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595469628, $12.95, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views

Author Mary Greenwood does it again with "How to Mediate Like a Pro: 42 Rules for Mediating Disputes." This follows her book "How to Negotiate Like a Pro," which has now won six awards and this new one is just as impressive. It is a great book for anyone who works in mediation, is thinking about becoming a mediator or to use in a classroom when training mediators. The advice is simple, straight-to-the-point and effective.

There are only 55 pages in this book, but they are full of valuable information on mediation. My only experience with mediation was with my divorce and, after reading this book, I realized that the mediator was following a process. The mediator helped us make a very painful process short, effective and less expensive.

The author starts the book by defining what mediation is. Then she compares the differences between a negotiation and mediation. In chapter two she explains the role of the mediator and begins the 42 rules of mediation. The 42 rules include: setting ground rules, not showing emotion, letting the parties tell their story, being neutral and not having any bias, not letting the parties get bogged down, being the devil's advocate and follow up. There are many other rules besides what I mentioned and they cover the topic from A-Z.

Following the chapters are several appendices with mediator's opening statement, glossary terms, what makes a good mediator and resources. They are great references that are set up to be easily referred to. The resources also include what is available in every state.

I thought that this is a great book, straight-to-the-point and simple. I definitely walked away with good knowledge about what a mediator is supposed to do. I highly recommend "How to Mediate Like a Pro" for anyone who is a mediator or thinking about becoming a mediator.

Three Chords
Mike Mihalek
RoseHeart Publishing
10116 SW 122nd St., Gainesville, FL 32608
9780980150421, $ 12.95, (863) 984-2966,

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views

"Three Chords" is a character-driven novel dealing with the complex issues of child abuse, abandonment, and unresolved guilt. Sixteen years after being abandoned by his mother, frustrated, confused, and seeking closure, Ethan, a 26-year-old musician, set out to find her. An earlier attempt by his father prompted Ethan to visit a South Florida marina. He followed a clue arising from a phone call made by Julie four years earlier. The call was traced to a public telephone and Ethan soon located his mother.

After leaving Ethan and his father John in Baltimore, Julie lived and worked at a homeless shelter where she met people and heard stories that helped put things in perspective for her. Julie described her experience this way: "Drugs, incest, abuse; entire families on the street…Life was cruel, unfair, but people survived, learned to cope. Still was surviving enough? What about hope?"

As a result of the impact of her personal inner turmoil, feeling of desperation, and self-inflicted abasement, Julie became a fugitive, running from her past, driven and haunted by her guilt. After Ethan found her and as she worked through the challenge of reconciliation with the family she left behind, she is caught in the middle of a scheme to vandalize the South Florida marina she now calls home.

Mike's writing is absorbing. He writes with amazing insight into issues of dysfunctional relationships. He writes of the experience and pain of, regret, confusion and longing felt by Ethan, John, and Julie. He reveals compassion, forgiveness. Mihalek uses strong dialog and mental images to help his characters work through resolution to the conflict they have been endured. I identified with their pain and confusion as I became aware of an inner sense of conflict and unresolved issues in my own quest for identity. Mike shows unique insight into a subculture of illegal activity, greed, and the frenzy of real estate developers in South Florida.

Mike Mihalek writes with a creative imagination and strong story-telling skills. "Three Chords" is haunting, timely, and an important novel.

Every Man Sees You Naked
David M. Matthews
610 East Delano Street, Suite 104, Tucson, AZ 85705
9781604940282, $13.95,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

As soon as I got my hands on "Every Man Sees You Naked" my world stopped. I put everything down to focus on this book. It was definitely well worth my time. David M. Matthews really tells it like it is. He takes us into the minds of men. I learned a lot. Rather than saying that men's minds are simpler, I will be nice and say that they are less complex than I thought. Matthews says that he got the idea for this book from the many conversations that he has had with women. He writes with humor, which helps soften the blow of his brutal honesty. I was very impressed with his ability to understand the minds of women. The way that he explains how men's minds work as compared to women's showed me that he has a good understanding of how we think.

Even if I was in the perfect relationship (relationship, what relationship?), I would still love reading this book to gain more insight into my partner. The humor that Matthews infuses into his writing also makes it a very fun book to read. He doesn't hold back with his words, so the reader should be prepared for some graphic details. In addition to gaining insight into how a man thinks or doesn't think, he also offers some great advice on techniques for spicing up the relationship. This is definitely excellent reading material for someone who wants to make positive changes in her relationship.

Matthews answered some rhetorical questions that I had in my mind in regards to issues in previous relationships. One was, "Why would a man want to be intimate with me, if he doesn't treat me with respect?" Well, I learned, in a man's mind, respect doesn't play into sex issues. They don't need to have respect for a woman to have fun with her. I also gained some insight into men and women just being friends. In my own life, I have noticed that there are guys that say that they are okay with just being friends, but then they get all bent out of shape when I start a relationship with someone other then them, or if the friendship doesn't extend into the friends-with-privileges level. Matthews taught me that guys really don't want to just be friends with women. They always want more. I will definitely keep this in mind for future friends!

"Every Man Sees You Naked," is a must read for all women. It should be required reading in high school. Actually not high school, because then the moral majority would have to hold book burnings, but definitely for college. Every woman needs to read this book. If she can read it before she gets into her first relationship, she will have a much easier time. But it's never too late, at least not for a divorced, almost-middle-aged woman like myself. Mr. Matthews please keep writing.

Between The Lines
Sarah Schwersenska
Crystal Dreams Publishing
Box 58043, Rosslynn RPO, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, L1J 8L6
9781591460701, $10.95,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

"Between the Lines" takes you into the publishing world of erotica. Alexandra Tate, also referred to as "The Ice Queen," has spent more than ten years creating Tate Publishing which is a successful publishing company. Alexandra has a very hard edge too her, and while she might be respected by others in the business, she is not well-liked. In her private time, she likes to use erotica fiction to fuel her fantasies so that she can take care of her own needs. When she discovers that her favorite erotica author, Sterling Morris, is looking for a new publisher, she does everything she can to recruit him into her company and into her life, and I do mean everything.

Sterling's actual experience with women is very limited. As a matter of fact, until he steps into this story, the majority of his experience is in his own mind. Obviously he has a very creative and active imagination because his books are so popular. As he gets sucked into Alexandra's world, he enjoys his time with her, but he discovers that there is someone else who is more able to capture his heart. Alexandra will stop at nothing to try to keep Sterling in her bed. She is a ruthless woman. Sterling has to decide what is most important to him.

"Between the Lines" is a tale that takes you into the wicked world of publishing. The women in this story are actually more aggressive and experienced than most of the men. This was an interesting twist in this erotic story. Having the main female character not well-liked also made the story more interesting. Schwersenska takes you into her mind, and she doesn't have too many redeeming characteristics. This made the story much more fun to read. The erotic scenes, both created in the characters minds, and in between the sheets, are also well-written and descriptive. The author brings them alive on the pages. The book runs just over 100 pages, so for someone that needs to take a break and escape into a fantasy world, "Between the Lines," is a perfect place to run away too.

Stand To…: A Journey to Manhood
E. Franklin Evans
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Rd. Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595450534, $19.95,

Reviewed by Dr. Michael Philliber for Reader Views

After someone has endured the harshness and horrifying fear of combat, they're left with memories. Some can only seem to deal with those memories through medications, others by suppressing them and being haunted by the ghosts in their dreams. E. Franklin Evans has confronted his memories head on by rehearsing many of them in his book "Stand To…: A Journey to Manhood." This short book is his story, told in a manner that can be as easily grasped by a teenager as by an older adult.

Though Evans could probably have recounted loads of hair-raising aspects of his tale, he has chosen to focus less on combat and more on the men he led and served with. The people one meets through Evans' account are in various ways humorously captivating, as well as believably human, whether it's the brand new Platoon Sergeant who picks up the radio receiver the wrong way and speaks into the back of it, to the Kit Carson scout who finds Evans' lost wedding band and returns it without asking for any reward. And, into this human mix is camaraderie between soldiers that grows and thrives.

The closest Evans gets to rehearsing his combat experience in detail is his recounting the highly stressful period he spent at the Ben Het Special Forces camp, A-244. This becomes the literary climax of his book. From the daily bombardment, to the nearly devastating, frightful siege on the camp by the North Vietnamese Army in February and March 1969, through the tense time when "friendly" Strike Force units held the American soldiers of camp A-244 hostage until their demands were met, the reader will keep turning the pages to find out how it all ends.

Evans has given the non-military world a readable account of the life-shaping episode of his time in Vietnam. He has even added a fairly helpful glossary at the end of the book to aid the reader in some of the unfamiliar Army lingo. If a reader wants to have a first-hand glimpse into infantry life in Vietnam, they will not be disappointed in reading "Stand To..: A Journey to Manhood."

All About My Day: Baby's First Scrapbook (Fisher-Price)
Laura Marchesani
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
9780061447686, $6.99,

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2) and Max (age 19-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

"All About My Day: Baby's First Scrapbook" is a sturdy Fisher-Price board book that has slots into which you can insert five pictures of your child. There is room for a cover picture and then areas for pictures of the child sleeping, eating, playing, and bathing. On the opposite pages are familiar Fisher-Price animals doing those same daily activities.

Max: When I first showed him the book after I had put the pictures in: "Me! Me!"
Cayden: "Yes Max that is you!"

Max: On the page where he is sleeping "Max sleep!"

Max: "Eat! Eat!"

Max: "Bath!"

Max: "Me! Me!"

Parent's comments:

Max was very excited to have a photo book of his very own. He sat and laughed and looked at the pictures over and over. It even has a little carrying handle for toting it around and a fun mirror at the end for your baby to see his reflection in. The book is also pretty sturdy and it is very hard for a child to get the pictures out, and believe me Max tried! We have another book that is similar to this one for Cayden but the pictures were not nearly as easy to get to as these are and ended up getting bent up. "All About My Day: Baby's First Scrapbook" is definitely a great book for toddlers.

Biscuit and the Little Pup (My First I Can Read)
Alyssa Satin Capucilli
HarperCollins Children's Books
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
9780060741709, $16.99,

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2) and Max (age 19-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

In "Biscuit and the Little Pup," Biscuit is at the park playing ball. On his way to retrieve it, he finds a little pup and tries to engage him in play. However, the little pup won't come out of the playhouse that he is hiding in. Eventually though Biscuit finds a way to get him to play.

Cayden: "Why won't the puppy come out?"

Cayden: "We play hide and seek too! "
Max: "Hide!"
Max: "Find!"
Cayden: "Who is going to count? Can dog's count?"

Max: "Woof! Woof!"
Max: "Arf! Arf!"
Cayden: "Why does one dog say 'Woof' and the other one says 'Arf?'"

Parent's comments:

"Biscuit and the Little Pup" is a great book for those just starting to learn how to read as it is part of the "I Can Read!" series of books. It has very simple words with lots of repetition and that is extremely helpful in encouraging word recognition. Although the text is basic, the book still has enough of a storyline to keep children interested. My children love the character of Biscuit and enjoyed joining him on this latest adventure.

Polly Shulman
c/o Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780142409350, $7.99,

Reviewed by Mary Johnson (age 14) for Reader Views

Cinderella meets Jane Austen. Young Julie Lefkowitz has an enthusiastic friend (Ashleigh Rossi) who jumps from one craze to the next. And this time it's something Julie likes too: Pride and Prejudice. But as usual Ashleigh takes it to a whole new level. Wearing an old dress and talking as though she just popped out of a Jane Austen novel, Ashleigh convinces Julie to crash a party at an all-boys' prep school in search of heroes. But, as in all great plans, there are also problems -- especially when both girls fall for the same guy, young and handsome Grandison Parr. In the end Julie has to choose between love and loyalty in this comical book titled "Enthusiasm."

Polly Shulman is a very impressive author. The storyline and characters for "Enthusiasm" are excellent. I will admit I would normally not read a book such as "Enthusiasm." But, "Enthusiasm" is a book that has a sort of comedic lilt to it that everyone will love. I also am impressed the way Polly Shulman presents the characters in "Enthusiasm." Every character kind of has his, or her, own back story. I am now very interested in seeing what else will come from this inventive author.

I think this book is definitely for any reader 14-years or older, especially if you like a romantic comedy. But it might be more so for girls. It will even teach kids about being loyal to your friends; know matter how crazy their schemes are. After you start reading "Enthusiasm," you will soon realize why it is called "Enthusiasm." What I like is that it also has an ulterior motive-- it can also be used for an exercise in reading comprehension because there are discussion questions in the back of the book.

I personally like "Enthusiasm"--it kind of has a twist on "Cinderella Story" (Hilary Duff), without the whole lose your cell phone thing. I don't want to copy anybody but I think School Library Journal's quote "A charming romantic comedy!" fits "Enthusiasm" perfectly, without overdoing it. I think what sets "Enthusiasm" apart from other books is that it kind of takes a bit of Jane Austen's novel "Pride and Prejudice" and mixes it up with a kind of comedic fairytale. But, of course, it adds a 15-year-old enthusiast to top it off.

If You Were My Baby: A Wildlife Lullaby (A Simply Nature Book)
Fran Hodgkins
Dawn Publications
12402 Bitney Springs Rd, Nevada City CA 95959
9781584690900, $7.95, (530) 274-7775,

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2) and Max (age 19-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

"If You Were My Baby: A Wildlife Lullaby" is a very sweet, calming bedtime story filled with wonderful illustrations of various animal moms and their babies. The book is part of the "Simply Nature" board book series.

Cayden: On the page with the bears: "Their nails are long but that is how they are supposed to be."
Max: "Clip! Clip!"
Cayden: "No Max, bears don't clip their nails!"

Max: "Bear!! Arrrrrrrrrrrrr!"
Cayden: "Bears says Rarrrrr, not Arrrrrrrr! Pirates say Arrrrrrrr!"

Max: Pointing to the fawn: "Spots!"
Cayden: "Right Max, baby deer have spots."

Cayden: When the wolves are singing to the stars: "I think they are singing 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star!'"
Cayden: "Which ones are the babies on this page?

Parent's comments:

My children really enjoyed looking at all of the pictures of the animals in the book and once we were finished reading it they went back through and named them again and again. Being that we used to live in a very wooded area they were familiar with a lot of the animals already and enjoyed seeing them in the book.

The text accompanying the illustrations is unique for a children's book and full of great lessons. For instance on the page with the baby skunk the text reads: "If you were my baby skunk, I would teach you to have the patience to give others fair warning before you act."

Besides teaching animals and life lessons, "If You Were My Baby: A Wildlife Lullaby" also can serve as a basic counting book due to the varying number of animals, flowers, and other items pictured on each page. I look forward to reading my children more great books from the "Simply Nature" series!

Keeper of the Empire (The Third Book in the Keeper Series)
H. J.Ralles
Top Publications
12221 Merit Drive, Suite 950 Dallas, TX 75251
9781929976256, $9.95,

Reviewed by Ian McCurley (age 14) for Reader Views

The story begins when Matt, after having been sucked into his videogame and completing two levels of the game, Matt arrives in the third level. The third level is in the Empire of Gova. Matt appears in a cornfield and is soon surprised by two grotesque lizard-like creatures, 8-feet tall, with extending tongues that paralyze on contact; the Vorgs are a formidable enemy. The Vorgs are trying to capture a young girl named Angel. The Vorgs succeed, and after hiding Matt's laptop, Matt and Targon are also captured. At the Vorg prison they meet again with Angel and discover that the Vorgs are brainwashing people to become zombielike workers. The Vorgs are invading space aliens. After escaping and joining up with the Govan resistance, Matt and Targon help formulate a plan to stop the Vorg invasion, find the keeper and get back to the correct place and time.

H. J. Ralles book "Keeper of the Empire" is a novel of utmost quality with a good plot and plenty of excitement. "Keeper of the Empire" is for children ages 10 and up who enjoy video games and science fiction. Also, be sure to read "Keeper of the Kingdom," "Keeper of the Realm" and the next book in the "Keeper" sSeries, "Keeper of a Colony."

Get Your Career on the Fast Track
Michelle L. Casto, PhD
Multi-Media Publications, Inc.
Box 58043, Rosslyn RPO, Oshawa, ON, Canada, L1J 8L6
9781897326763, $29.95,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

I am really impressed with "Get Your Career on the Fast Track: A Navigational Guide for the Modern Manager." I have a Masters of Science degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling and can say that I have never, ever seen a more concise book on helping people with their careers. The author, Michelle Casto, PhD, designed this book to empower the reader to use "self-awareness, active reflection, and intuitive guidance," in the career decision-making process. These aren't tools that we are all naturally gifted with, so she shows us how to learn about ourselves so that we can develop them. This involves reading, completing assignments and journaling. In addition to providing a great deal of self-reflection, the activities and journal assignments are fun to do. Everything that you need is in this book.

The typical books that help you find jobs tend to simply address the steps of finding a job. They offer interviewing tips and resume samples. Casto takes you beyond that and teaches you how to find a fulfilling career. This is perfect for both people who are starting out and for people who are looking for a change in employment. There is not one area of work that is not covered in this book. Casto describes the different types of people that you might either be working with or be getting interviewed by. She also defines the different types of work environments out there.

"Get Your Career on the Fast Track" should be required reading for college students. It would be an excellent textbook for personal-development courses. I really enjoyed reading it. Unless you are retired and have no plans to do anything, I highly recommend this book for everyone. It would make the perfect graduation gift.

Hacksaw: First in the Eva Baum Detective Series
Charlotte Phillips & Mark Phillips
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595456079, $15.95, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

I always know that whenever I get my hands on a book published by iUniverse, I am going to love it. Once again, iUniverse did not let me down. "Hacksaw" is the first book in the Eva Baum Detective Series. It is written by the husband and wife writing team of Charlotte Phillips and Mark Phillips.

"Hacksaw" immediately pulled me in. It is one of those books that has so many twists and turns that you won't want to put it down. The main character, Eva Baum, is a private investigator. She does her best to do what is right, but she also has to deal with temptations that sometimes involve having to step around the law. She learns from those lessons. When pushed into a corner, she does not back down. As a matter of fact, you really wouldn't want to find out what she can do when pushed. I loved this aspect of her character. As a woman, it made me feel empowered. Even if she is just a fictional character, I had thoughts like, "If she can do it, so can I."

I also liked Eva's independence. She knows what she wants and goes for it. She is loyal to the people around her. In this story, Eva is trying to help Shade, who is a mentally ill man still emotionally recovering from having been accused of being Hacksaw. Hacksaw is a serial killer who likes to torture and dismember his victims. Shade was cleared of any wrongdoing; however, mentally he suffered dearly from the whole ordeal. When Shade is beaten up by someone seeking his ex-wife Julie, Eva steps in. She discovers that there are several people looking for Julie and none of them are reputable characters. It appears that Hacksaw himself is after her.

Eva has to step down into the dark world of drugs, pornography and prostitution to get clues of Julie's whereabouts. She encounters some really unscrupulous people. Her own life becomes at stake. She also learns a hard lesson about betrayal.

"Hacksaw" is a great female private-eye mystery. Both men and women will love this book. I am looking forward to future books in the Eva Baum series. I don't think that we have heard the last of the Phillips and Phillips writing team.

The Monkey and the Engineer
Jesse Fuller
Redpsych Productions
JD Publications, P.O. Box 696, Fairfax, CA 94978
9780979397264, $14.95,

Reviewed by Conner (age 4) and Mom for Reader Views

The words for this story were adopted from a one-man band songwriter, Jesse "The Lone Cat" Fuller, in the earlier 1900s. It is a rhythmic telling of near-rhymes of what happens when a monkey gets control of the train.

"What did you think of the book?"
"I love it. I like the story. That's all. I love it when the monkey drives off."
"Cause it's funny. That's all."
"Do you think it was right for the monkey to drive off with the train?"
"Why not?"
"'Cause you need a captain."
"What does a captain do?"
"He drives the ship."
"Do you think the monkey was lucky?"
"No, because he shouldn't drive off."
"Do you think the engineer was mad when he caught up to the monkey?"
"I don't know, no?"

Parent's comments:

I thought the illustrations in "The Monkey and the Engineer" really brought out what was happening in the lyrics. Not being familiar with any of the song versions of the story, I found it better to read the book as a book and not try to sing the story. The near-rhymes require someone who has a stronger musical talent than is in my ability. But I did appreciate the history behind the story and having a place to go where I could hear the song sung. We tried following the story with the music and that made the words have more zing when looking at the pictures.
Kevin Scott Collier
Tweener Press
c/o Baker Trittin Press
PO Box 277, Winona Lake, IN 46590
9780975288023, $10.95,

Reviewed by Brianne Plach (age 10) for Reader Views

Do you like to get email? If you do and find it interesting to read emails, you will like Jordon Mink. He got an email from heaven. He must leave this earth immediately. The emails come from Barth Penn who lives in heaven. Barth is assisted by different angels who are trying to convince Jordan to come to heaven. It's only Barth who talks to Jordan, but the angels give him advice.

Can you imagine his response when opening his email? He goes through four months of corresponding with Barth. There are blank pages in between some of the emails because Jordon does not reply to his email partner. Jordon was undergoing some medical treatment.

"" is a very interesting book for young readers who like fantasy books. Their story is told by reading each email and seeing just how the story develops on and on. I read this book in two days, it was so exciting. It's definitely a book which you can't put down until you are finished with it.

You never know what might end up in your inbox. But you definitely won't get any from heaven like young Jordon did in ""

Froggy Goes to Camp
Jonathan London
Viking Juvenile
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson St. NewYork, NY 10014
9780670010981, $15.99

Reviewed by Matthew Feliciano (age 7) for Reader Views

"Froggy Goes to Camp" is a really funny book about Froggy's latest adventure which is going to summer camp. He wakes up on the first day of summer so excited he jumps up and down on his bed and bumps his head. He happily gets ready and thinks he packed everything. But he soon finds out he didn't. His father has to turn around and go back home, not once, but two times because first, Froggy forgets his sleeping bag and then his bathing suit.

They get to the camp in the evening and Froggy starts to get really, really nervous. He doesn't know anyone and decides he wants to go home. His bunkmates are nice but he doesn't like that the camp director is his school principal.

In "Froggy Goes to Camp," each day they do different things and somehow, Froggy always manages to do something funny. He slid eggs on Mr. Mugworts' head one day, hit him in the bottom with an arrow and tipped over their kayak. Day by day Froggy felt better about camp and when his parents come to get him, he is happy to go home and sing the camp songs about beans that he learned.

Ghost of the Chicken Coop Theater (Bailey Fish Adventures)
Linda Salisbury
Tabby House
PO Box 544, Mineral, VA 23117
9781881539445, $8.95,

Reviewed by Brianne Plach (age 10) for Reader Views

Summer is almost here! What do you plan to do with all your summer days and nights? Bailey, Fred and Noah have come up with an idea for how they could make their summer fun and get extra credit for their home-school at the same time. Let's change the old chicken coop into a theater! Sparrow is a friend of theirs who wants to be a part of the production even though she is forced to be in a wheelchair. Noah and Fred are Bailey's adopted brothers. Sugar lives with her grandmother because neither of her parents care about her.

Their dad offers to help them convert the chicken coop into a theater, as long as they help with fixing it up for rehearsals and the production of the play. After all, they still have to do their regular chores. The play should have some history in it since there are a lot of ghosts in the history of their area. But the kids also like space adventures. They enlist the help of Dr Robinson, who helps them with a delightful and entertaining story. They came up with the idea of charging admission because they wanted to raise money for the chickens. They brainstorm their own ideas for a play and are given an old trunk full of costumes. It looks like they might have their own production after all.

Donise and Bean check into the Keswick Inn. Donise goes by the name of Li'l Bonbon and is immediately intrigued by the children's goals. However, since she was a child actress she decides that she needs to be the #1 director. She even rips up the script that the kids worked so hard to develop. Li'l Bonbon is brutally mean to all the cast members and certainly HATES Clover, Noah and Fred's dog. Li'l BonBon walks off in a huff. Will the production be put together by the end of summer? One of the kids thinks that they can drive, but end up in the lake and need a rescue. Is there a reason why Bailey's last name is Fish?

"Ghost of the Chicken Coop Theater" is a great story. It uses some historical facts along with a great storyline. It shows kids who have an imagination for their own fun. It also serves as a lesson on how to deal with a bully, even if the bully is an adult. I loved this book and didn't want to set it down until I was completely finished. "Ghost of the Chicken Coop Theater" will have you cackling with laughter from start to finish.

Buried Too Deep: An Aurelia Marcella Mystery
Jane Finnis
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 East First Avenue, #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590583999, $24.95,

Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views

Jane Finnis' "Buried Too Deep" has all the elements I consider necessary for a great read -- smooth, elegant writing; suspenseful story with several very engaging sub-plots, great historical background, tons of intrigue, lovable characters and just enough gore to make it edgy.

Aurelia Marcella and her twin brother Lucius run a road inn in the Roman province of Britannia. The spring of 98 AD looks peaceful and full of promise, but then violent events start to happen in the area. There is a band of sea-raiders, harassing local farmers and severely injuring several of them. One of them, Belinus, dies from his wounds, but not before he manages to send for Lucius, telling Aurelia that it was a matter of life and death. Lucius and Aurelia set out to deliver Belinus' body to his family and pay a visit to their sister Albia, who lives on a farm next to Belinus' family. When Albia's farm is also attacked by the Gaul-led sea-raiders, it becomes quite obvious that those attacks are not random, but rather must have some hidden agenda. Two powerful local men, one a Roman settler, and one a mighty local Chief, are the most likely choice for the mastermind behind those attacks. To add to the violence and confusion, a valuable cargo disappears from a government vessel and Lucius also has some startling news to share with his two sisters. Will Aurelia, Lucius and Aurelia's lover, Quintus, find the culprit for all of this mayhem on time, or will the entire province explode in a boundless feud between the locals and the settlers?

Aurelia Marcella is one of the most lovable and surprising sleuths I've encountered in a long time. Unbelievably real and even contemporary-sounding, she leads a very emancipated life for somebody living in the first century AD. Not only is she running a large and successful business, but she helps both her brother and her lover in their investigations. And yes, she has a lover and does not seem to yearn for marriage and children at all. I've thoroughly enjoyed "meeting" her, as well as the rest of the very detailed characters in "Buried Too Deep." I was also mesmerized by the depictions of day-to-day life in the country, especially in view of the fact that other books set in the Roman period that I've read so far all seem to be happening in the cities, most commonly in Rome itself. No less fascinating were the descriptions of the medical practices in those days as well as the local customs and beliefs.

I would highly recommend "Buried Too Deep" to any mystery lover, not exclusively those who enjoy the historical mysteries. As it seems to be the case with all the books published by Poisoned Pen Press that I've read so far, this is another outstanding read.

How to Get Your Husband to Listen to You: Understanding How Men Communicate
Nancy Cobb and Connie Grigsby
Multnomah Books
12265 Oracle Blvd., Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781590527429, $13.99,

Reviewed by Vicki Landes for Reader Views

Nancy Cobb and Connie Grigsby obviously know what it takes to get a woman's interest peaked. Their new book, "How to Get Your Husband to Listen to You," is definitely titled to get your undivided attention. Even more, the cover art is an absolutely perfect match: a woman, jaw dropped and mouth wide open, bellowing into a megaphone which sits only inches from her husband's deer-in-the-headlights, expressionless face. It only took me half a second to conclude that this would be a profoundly educational book…but as the old adage says, don't judge a book by its cover.

"How to Get Your Husband to Listen to You" is essentially a trip back in time and reminded me of an old home economics book from the 1950s -- you know, advice about primping and dressing up before your husband gets home so you can look pretty for him or straightening up the house so when he walks in from a long day at work, his home looks clean. "Before you start telling him everything that has happened to you and the kids while he's been gone, turn all your attention to him, his words, and his needs." If he isn't doing things around the house (like mowing the lawn or some other item you've been asking him to take care of), simply start taking the responsibility of doing it yourself? Instead of obtaining an education on how to make my husband into a better communicator, I was being told how I, as a wife, needed to change by cutting details out of my conversations or not talking to him about things that don't interest him. About halfway through the book, I was convinced that Nancy Cobb and Connie Grigsby were actually the pen names of two male authors, snickering as they poured their submissive wishes into each and every chapter.

I honestly can't see how any mature, self-respecting woman would take any stock in the advice from "How to Get Your Husband to Listen to You." As a wife, it isn't your job to shelter your husband from reality. If he forgets to do a project at work, do you think his boss will smile and take on that project without complaint? No, there would be any number of consequences from a simple reprimand to the loss of employment. If he goes out in public and acts negligent and discourteous, again there are consequences. Why should it be any different with responsibilities at home? If you tell your children to do something and they don't do it, there are penalties. By ignoring a husband's irresponsibility and disrespect, you are teaching them that - if they are lucky enough to be born with a penis - their wives must conform to their way of thinking and their way of living. In today's society, we need more books that deal with maturity, coexistence vs. racial and religious tensions, and higher education. Books like "How to Get Your Husband to Listen to You" can be dangerous in a society already fraught with unrealistic body image, women with low self-esteem, and a high rate of violent crimes against women.

I'm convinced that Nancy Cobb, Connie Grigsby, and "How to Get Your Husband to Listen to You" would have been an enormous hit 50+ years ago but in today's society, their ideology is not only outdated but potentially harmful. Striving for better marital communication is both a positive and mature subject to write about but it shouldn't come at the detriment of one partner.

The Dragons of the Storm (In the Land of Whispers #2)
George Robert Minkoff
McPherson & Company
PO Box 1126, Kingston, NY 12402
9780929701813, $24.95, 1-800-613-8219,

Reviewed by Lynn O'Connell for Reader Views

This historical novel is framed as the story of Jamestown's founding in the early seventeenth century. However, it is much more. While readers gain a detailed knowledge of the Jamestown situation and Captain John Smith himself, the majority of the book actually focuses on Sir Francis Drake. In fact, the book's title, "The Dragons of the Storm," is perhaps derived from the Spanish word for dragon, draque.

The book opens as Jonas Profit, an old mariner who is tending Smith's wound from a stingray, tells about his years serving under Sir Francis Drake. Throughout the book, Profit focuses on Drake's two best-known adventures -- first, his sailing around the world in The Golden Hind. Profit gives incredible detail of the Elizabethan court intrigues and the pressure from the British crown to discover treasures and win out over the Spanish. The second adventure which Profit recounts is the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1788.

The Jamestown story takes up less than one third of the book. Minkoff focuses on the hardships that Smith faced and generally conquered - mutiny, attacks by the natives, illness, lack of food, and an unwillingness to work by many of the settlers. Pocahontas is briefly mentioned in several of the chapters as well.

The second novel of the "In the Land of Whispers" trilogy, Minkoff does an excellent job of providing accurate details about early British exploration of America - and offering believable hypotheses in cases where no recorded history is available. This novel went beyond many of the other books on this topic, as it delved into the relationships of the place and period - the relationships between the British and the natives as well as the relationships among the settlers themselves. Minkoff also explored the mystery of Roanoke as well as some of the common beliefs of the time regarding tobacco and alchemy.

The book is designed for readers with significant interest in the Elizabethan time period. The book is quite detailed, and Minkoff sticks true to Elizabethan language throughout the novel. Since this book focuses on sailing exploration to such a degree, I compare it somewhat to the novels of Patrick O'Brian. The difference is that Minkoff takes us further into the personal relationships of the characters - and the role which power plays in the settlement of America.

In all, I found "The Dragons of the Storm" to be a thought-provoking book. It led me to think about what it took for the leaders in the 1600s to stabilize America and compare those leaders to our current ones. How much has really changed?

Abraham Lincoln (Chronicles of Faith)
Sam Wellman
Barbour Publishing, Inc.
P.O. Box 719, Ulrichsville, OH 44683
9781597899710, $4.97,

Reviewed by Brianne Plach (age 10) for Reader Views

Who is that guy on the penny? Why did they use his face on the penny? Couldn't they find a more attractive guy or did he just have the right profile that they wanted? Maybe you do know that Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States. Did you know that Illinois is known as the "Land of Lincoln" because he was so important in American history? Abe Lincoln is also known as Honest Abe. Did you know that he was a Godly guy?

He believed in equal rights for all people. He had been around a lot longer than Martin Luther King Jr. Abe Lincoln freed the slaves. It didn't matter that some guys have white skin and others black. He believed in freedom for all. For standing up for what he believed in, he faced death. In fact, when he was sitting in a theater, someone decided to kill him even though he was the President of the United States.

"Abraham Lincoln (Chronicles of Faith)"is written like a novel for kids. It uses historical information and presents in a kid-friendly format. Through the use of this book, you can learn more about this famous American without studying a history textbook. After reading this book, I now have a new appreciation for this slave-freer President. Way to go, Abraham!

Corbin Bleu: To the Limit: An Unauthorized Biography
Betsy West
Price Stern Sloan
c/o Penguin Publishng Group
375 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014
9780843126853, $4.99,

Reviewed by Brianne Plach (age 10) for Reader Views

Have you ever heard of Corbin Bleu? Maybe? He is more popular as Chad from High School Musical. Do you know all of the REAL facts about Chad/Corbin? Like starring as Nathan on Flight 29 down. Did you know that February 21st is a day to celebrate his birthday? He has been involved in television and film since he was just two-years-old. He is following in his Dad's footsteps.

If you ever wanted to read the story of his life and just what he likes and dislikes, then you will want to read "Corbin Bleu: To the Limit." If you think he is just such an awesome guy and want to be the envy of your friends, you will want to read this book and know all the interesting facts of this great-looking guy's life. There is a lot more to Corbin than just his good looks, acting ability and dancing ability. The sky is the limit in knowing all there is to knowing who Corbin is. I am sure that at least one of the cool facts about him will astound you. Take him to the limit!

First and Ten (South Side Sports)
Jeff Rud
Orca Book Publishers
P.O. Box 468 Custer, WA 98240-0468
9781551436906, $7.95,

Reviewed by Brianne Plach (age 10) for Reader Views

Sometimes there's more to life than just being a football player. Sometimes we have to tackle more difficult situations than just playing a game with a piece of pigskin.

Matt Hill is excited to be a part of his football team but he has found himself in some sticky situations. Off the field, he has to try and build a relationship with his father who has suddenly appeared after ten years of being absent in his life. Matt also is trying to be the best friend and teammate to Ricky who is dealing with a father who gives him too much attention but the right kind of attention. Which is worse -- having a dad who was gone and came back or having a dad who is too aggressive? Should both boys look to Coach Reynolds as a role model when dealing with father issues? He's a man, will that help?

"First and Ten" will certainly score a touchdown for football fans and young readers, ages 8-12. We all have to make decisions both on and off the field. Jeff Rud will score many points with young readers who enjoy a good book about one of their favorite sports. This is a very well-written story with good lessons in succeeding on and off the field. I hope Jeff Rud has already kicked off his next book in this series, its one you won't want to miss!

If You Give a T-Rex a Bone
Time Myers
Dawn Publications
12402 Britney Springs Rd. Nevada City, CA 95959
9781584690986, $8.95,

Reviewed by Matthew Feliciano (age 8) for Reader Views

"If You Give a T-Rex a Bone" is all about a little boy who learns about different dinosaurs. He was being chased by a T-Rex so he gave a T-Rex a bone. This made the T-Rex mad so the little boy hid in the bushes. Then he was found by a dimetrodon, and when he went to escape that dinosaur, he encountered another one. This book takes us all through dinosaurs and what they ate and what they were like.

This book is very similar to the "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" books and I liked that. It is a fun way to tell a story and keeps things moving. At the end of this book the author gives pictures and information about dinosaurs and some other books and websites to learn more. I think that is a good idea for anyone who reads this book and wants to know more about the dinosaurs. "If You Give a T-Rex a Bone" was a fun and educational book to read.

Island Life (Five Star First Edition Mystery)
Michael W. Sherer
Five Star Publishing
c/o Thomas Gale
P.O. Box 95501, Chicago, IL 60694-5501
9781594146336, $25.95, 1-800-223-1244

Reviewed by Danielle Feliciano for Reader Views

In "Island Life," we are drawn into the world of Jack Holm, suddenly single father to his two children after his wife suddenly goes missing. Jack's relationship with Mary was on the rocks before her disappearance and with her job as a flight attendant, he does not report her missing for a few days. This puts the story in motion as the police arrest Jack for Mary's murder, Children's Services takes his children and begins their own investigation, Jack's mother-in-law files for custody, and Jack realizes he has no one to rely on but himself to solve the mystery of what happened to his wife before he and his children become the next victims.

Interspersed with the narration are snippets of conversations between Jack and his therapist. These conversations give great depth to the story as they are the only times you are truly in Jack's head. In his day-to-day life, he is going through the motions, just doing his best to hold on for the sake of his kids. With his therapist, however, Jack truly lets go of pretending and opens up like he does to nobody else. These interludes give "Island Life" a voice of originality that you don't see often in this genre.

There is nothing perfect about Jack and that makes it all the more wondrous that you find yourself rooting for him. He admits to affairs, has ignored the problems in his marriage, and does things that many parents would never think of (dragging his children to Las Vegas while he goes after the killer). It is exactly these imperfections that make him so real. He is tortured, he makes no excuses for the choices he has made, and while he makes a few questionable parenting decisions, he truly believes those decisions are what is best for his children.

"Island Life" was truly gripping. I read it in one day, as I kept finding myself lost within the books. It does fall apart a bit towards the end, where it feels as though the author tries too hard to attain action and thrills rather than staying at the same pace as the rest of the book. Sherer quickly redeems himself, however, and leaves the reader feeling satisfied.

Dear to Me (The Brides of Webster County #3)
Wanda E. Brunstetter
Barbour Books
PO Box 719 Ulrichsville, OH 44683
9781597896115, $9.97,

Reviewed by Lori Plach for Reader Views

When faced with a major decision and desiring for God's will in your life, don't you wish that the correct decision would come to you like a bolt of lightning? Melinda Andrews has everything that a young Amish girl would want. She has been baptized in the Amish faith, and is being courted by her longtime good friend, Gabe Swartz. She has learned all she has to learn in order to be an Amish wife and mother. That is all that young Amish girls are supposed to be able to do with their life anyway.

Melinda has a job working with the local veterinarian. She is able to put her love of caring for animals into action and make additional income for her family until she and Gabe are ready to be married. Everyone in Webster County realizes that Melinda has a heart for wounded animals. She often has injured animals delivered to her farm for medical attention. She is also known to bring animals (tame and wild ones) home from the veterinary clinic for personalized attention. Her parents and brother do not understand her caring spirit and why she is so fascinated with caring for animals rather than attending to her family's needs as expected.

Gabe sees her caring spirit as a valuable trait as it means she will be an excellent mother to their children. The vet, Dr Franklin, sees additional traits in Melinda that would make her an excellent vet assistant or even a veterinarian. But she will need additional education which is contrary to Amish beliefs.

Melinda is so focused on her dream of becoming a vet becoming a reality. She insists that if Gabe really does love her he will follow her into the English world. Being outside the Old Order Amish world is not foreign to young Melinda as she lived her first six years in Branson, Missouri while her mother was chasing stardom. Why is Gabe being so stubborn, doesn't he love her at all? Does loving someone require you to give up all your hopes, dreams and all that you have ever known? What will it take for Melinda to realize what God's plan is for her life?

Wanda Brunstetter is a wonderful storyteller. She uses her experience in visiting Amish settlements throughout the United States to add realism to her stories. "Dear to Me" is the third book in her "The Brides of Webster County" series. "Dear to Me" will have you seeing what is really dear to Melinda's heart and how God can work in your hearts and show how you can utilize your talents to His glory!

The Fortress of Darkness
Patricia Perry
P.O. Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705
9781424180974, $24.95,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

"The Fortress of Darkness," the second in a series, continues on two-hundred and fifty years after "Quest for the Source of Darkness." Not having read the first book, I found "The Fortress of Darkness" to stand well on its own. However, I enjoyed this book so much that I want to go back and read the first one by this author.

"In the Fortress of Darkness" a group of mortals including, elves, dwarves, and a demon are each following their own missions. Fate unites them in one mission. That is to fight Emhalla. Emhalla is a demon who is on a mission to gather all the strong magic in the land so that he can rule. He wants to unleash the underworld on the land and destroy all living creatures.

When the mortals unite to try to destroy Emhalla, they each have to overcome their own personal limitations to triumph. In addition to confronting their weaknesses, they also have to learn to trust each other. This is not easy, especially for two dwarves because they have to work with a Rock Lord who has kept themselves and their people in slavery. While each person learns to overcome their animosities and fears that they hold within themselves, they also discover an incredible amount of inner strength. One of the elves on the mission discovers what his true legacy is.

I truly loved reading "The Fortress of Darkness." I was disappointed that it had to end. I loved the magical elements used in the story. In addition to demons, elves and dwarves, there was also a powerful dragon, an enchanted spider and other magical creatures. Perry gives each character depth. I never thought that I would like a demon, but she managed to convince me that not all demons are bad. At least there is one tries hard to be good. I loved that she incorporated May, a huge spider into the story. Through May, Perry also managed to convince me that a spider can be cute and endearing. I found that Perry has an ability to change my preconceived perceptions about otherworld creatures. This quality added dimension to the story. While reading this book, I was in her world, not mine. I like that, because it makes the story a true escape from the mundane.

I highly, highly recommend "The Fortress of Darkness" to fans of fantasy. I look forward to reading previous and forthcoming books in this series.

The Balance of Power: The Zone War, Book 2
Terry Cloutier
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595467211, $17.95,

Reviewed by Deb Shunamon for Reader Views

I am a very big fan of Terry Cloutier's first book in the Zone War series, and "The Balance of Power: The Zone War, Book 2" did not disappoint me. The Zone is a world that was created by Edward Fox when he was a young boy, to help him cope with the intense horrors in his life. In it he felt respected and in control of what was happening to him. However, a grown-up Edward now finds himself stuck in The Zone and losing that control, leaving his wife and doctor to ponder over his strange physical state. What is decent and right is once again being contested, making this second book just as uncomfortable and mesmerizing to read as the first one.

This novel is more character-driven than the last. There is more intrigue than big battle scenes, even though the war in The Zone continues. Character links between the "real" world and that of The Zone also become clearer as more of Edward's past is explained. New characters are introduced and old ones elaborated on, and the story lines flow and intertwine as wonderfully as they did in the first novel. This one, however, is definitely not for younger audiences, not only because of a respectful, but graphic sex scene, but the continued incredible violence. Weakness and vulnerability, and the malicious way these are preyed upon; horrific deeds going unpunished; realistic, objective descriptions of gore and tremendous pain; and exquisite word choices and character actions simply suggesting the nastiness of the moment - Edward's two worlds have been, and are, extremely harsh places.

There are no great, long descriptions of places, people or things in this novel. Everything in Edward's world and The Zone simply exists, and the reader steps comfortably back into the story where it left off in "The Zone War: The Demon Inside." Once again, however, the story ended far too soon for me. I am really anxious to discover the kind of man this once sorry child will become, and which world will claim him. This book, "The Balance of Power: The Zone War, Book 2," is quite simply an incredible follow-up to an all-round, terrific story.

A Very Special Valentine: A Little Pop Book
Geoffrey Hayes
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
1350 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
9780061227561, $5.99

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2), Max (age 19-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

Tyler the fox spends a lot of time making a special valentine for his mother. Just when he is going to surprise her with it, his cousin Obie rings the doorbell and gives Tyler's mother a valentine of his own. Tyler is very upset and runs off to his swing. His mother seeks Tyler out and asks him to be her Valentine. Tyler is confused but his mother explains to him that "A mama can have more than one valentine on Valentine's Day." Tyler then retrieves the valentine that he made for her and on the last page we see the 3-D version of his card.

Cayden: "I got valentines at preschool!"

Cayden: "Who is that ringing the doorbell? Why is he giving a card to Tyler's mom? Oh no!"
Max: "Oh no!"

Cayden: "I wouldn't like that if someone gave you a valentine mom! Except Max. I can help Max make one."
Max: "Help.'

Parent's comments:

"A Very Special Valentine" is a cute Valentine's Day story that also teaches children a valuable lesson. The pencil illustrations are very basic yet still expressive. Without even reading the words you can completely see how Tyler is feeling just by looking at the expressions on his face. Both of my children also love the pop-up Valentine at the end. This book would make a great Valentine's Day gift for any young child!

Owen's Marshmallow Chick (Owen Board Book)
Kevin Henkes
c/o HarperCollins
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
9780060010126, $6.99

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2), Max (age 19-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

In "Owen's Marshmallow Chick" the main character Owen is a mouse who loves candy! On Easter morning he wakes up to a basket full of jelly beans, gumdrops, buttercream eggs, a chocolate bunny and a marshmallow chick. He proceeds to eat everything in the basket proclaiming each item to be his "favorite" as he is wolfing it down. When he gets to the marshmallow chick he hesitates and instead of eating it decides to play with it all day instead. At bedtime he carefully places the chick up on his toy shelf with all of his other favorite things.

Cayden: "He is jumping up and down because he is so happy he got all of that candy in his Easter basket from the Easter bunny!"
Max: "Chocolate!"

Cayden: "He dropped some of his candy on the floor."
Max: "Fall! Fall!"

Cayden: "Why is he eating everything? His tummy is going to hurt from all that sugar!"

Cayden: "He should have eaten some healthy food too and only had one candy from his basket every day."

Cayden: "Why is he playing with that chick? It is candy, not a toy."

Parent's comments:

"Owen's Marshmallow Chick" is a fun Easter board book. Max made a game out of pointing out the marshmallow chick on each page before we could continue reading the book. The text is very simple and has a lot of repetition which is perfect for a young child. The illustrations are very engaging and did a great job at conveying the emotions that Owen was feeling. This book would be a great surprise to stick in any young child's Easter basket!

Your Own Big Bed
Rita M. Bergstein
Viking Juvenile
345 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014
9780670060795, $15.99

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2), Max (age 19-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

"Your Own Big Bed" is a wonderful book chronicling events in every young child's life from being born, to being carried, to walking, to sleeping in a crib and finally to sleeping in a big bed of their very own. Alongside these events taking place in the child's life, the book also shows the same milestones being achieved by baby animals like ducklings, tigers and foals.

Cayden: "Max, I think this book is for you! You just got your own big boy bed!"
Max: "Big bed!"
Max: "No crib."

Cayden: "Look at the baby alligator! Are the animals going to get bigger?"

Cayden: After we read the part about the kangaroo riding in her mother's pouch: "It is also called a pocket mom."

Cayden: In disbelief after learning that mother tigers carry their cubs around in their mouths: "In her mouth? No they don't. Do they mom?"

Cayden: At the illustration of the father marking the child's height on the door frame as he grows bigger: "My daddy does that downstairs!"

Cayden: "That puppy is sleeping in a doghouse so she doesn't get wet in the middle of the night in case it rains."

Cayden: "Look Max there is a boy sleeping in a big boy bed like you and I do!"
Max: "Big boy!"

Parent's comments:

Max just transitioned into a "big boy bed" a couple of days ago so our first reading of this book came at a perfect time. Both of my children could completely relate to the story and we had a lot of fun with the book. Max even seemed to think the child in the book was him because every time there was a picture of the boy he pointed to it and said "Me."

It was also a great learning experience for them to watch the animals grow up and to see that even though they may do different things, like fly or sleep in baskets, there are still a lot of similarities between how they grow and how we grow. "Your Own Big Bed" is a very sweet book and even though inside the cover it says for "Ages 4 up" I think that younger children would enjoy it as well, especially those who have just made the transition to a toddler or regular bed.

The 86th Degree
Barbara Harken
Robert D. Reed Publishers
PO Box 1992, Brandon, OR 97411
9781931741941, $14.95,

Reviewed by Danielle Feliciano for Reader Views

At its core, "The 86th Degree" is a novel of romance, love, family, abuse and loss. Amber Helm has been neglected and manipulated by her parents from birth. Her mother is a severe diabetic whose illness has controlled the family for as long as Amber can remember. There seems to be an eerie correlation between Amber's behavior and her mother's medical crises. Her father is rich, powerful and overbearing. As an adult, Amber has defied her parents enough to take a job of her choosing, yet continues to benefit from their money.

As an English teacher, Amber is selected to act as host to a visiting writer who will be teaching for a few weeks. To her dismay, the writer turns out to be Ethan Michaels. Ethan and Amber had a fling three years ago. It could have been more but Amber left without an explanation and it is immediately clear neither Ethan nor Amber has gotten over their separation.

Amber gets a new student in her class, Jocelyn. Jocelyn is clearly abused and/or neglected and Amber sets out to help her. Her desire to help is admirable, but it is easy to question her motivation. I found myself asking whether Amber was trying to save Jocelyn or to save herself.

"The 86th Degree" is a good read for a weekend curled up with a book. As faulted as Amber is, it's hard not to like her and want her to be happy. However, I found the story was choppy at times which made it hard to stay focused. Amber went back and forth between present and past too often. She had panic attacks and a few times her behavior went so far as to be unbelievable. I don't see many people putting up with behavior like hers for long (the rambling outbursts that make no sense, the staring into space and seeming to be lost inside of her self with no regard for the situation).

Overall "The 86th Degree" did its job. The author made the point clear that blood is not always thicker than water and family ties truly can strangle us. I was satisfied with the ending and enjoyed reading this book.

The Host: A Novel
Stephenie Meyer
Little, Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316068048, $25.99,

Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views

When Stephenie Meyer's "The Host" landed on my desk, it made quite a thump -- since the book weighs in at well over 600 pages, it wasn't surprising. My first reaction was far from positive. It seems to me that in today's fast paced-world people's attention spans keep getting shorter and shorter, and I am no exception. Anything over 350 pages or so tends to be too long, and the only contemporary author that I can think of who can hold my attention for 600+ pages consistently would be Diana Gabaldon. So seeing this quite substantial tome in front of me did not exactly make me jump for joy. Then I read the notes on the back cover, or rather skimmed through them… "Earth has been invaded by a species that takes over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of the humanity has succumbed." It sounded very much like the "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," a movie that I never saw and had no desire of ever seeing. So I opened "The Host" with reluctance, expecting little or less. Three-hundred pages later I grudgingly came up for air, or rather a refill for my coffee. At four-o-clock in the morning I was finally done, but so wired I could not go to sleep. Stephenie Meyer's "The Host" was pure magic; totally unexpected, filled with incredible characters and great character development, hard questions, even harder decisions and unexpected touches of tenderness and sweetness throughout.

The story itself is quite simple - Wanderer, the "soul," took over the body of a young woman, Melanie. Wanderer is an experienced soul, who has been hosted by many different bodies of different species already, and she thinks herself well prepared for the new challenge. But then the trouble starts. Melanie refuses to fade away, filling Wanderer's head and heart with images from her former life and the love for another yet unconquered human, Jared. Wanderer and Melanie set out on a quest, attempting to find Jared. After they found him - and more! - the really interesting story begins. The interactions between Wanderer/Melanie and the "non-invaded" humans are utterly fascinating and the challenges all of them are facing seem to be insurmountable. Is there a solution that will work for all of the involved participants? Is there a solution at all?

Stephenie Meyer's "The Host" is a proof that one should never judge the book by its cover, especially not by its back cover. If I would have let myself be turned away by the outline of the story as it appeared there, I would have missed an incredibly entertaining, thought-provoking and fascinating read. As for the 600+ pages, all I have to say at this moment is that I hope the sequel - and I sure hope there is one! - will be at least this long.

Alysa of the Fields: Book One in the Tellings of Xunar-kun
Tina Field Howe, Inc.
Box 2399, Bangor, ME 04402
9780976858515, $16.95

Reviewed by Ian McCurley (age 14) for Reader Views

"Alysa of the Fields" begins when Alysa, a young Field Folk woman, is crying by a stream. She lives on the alien world of Xunar-kun. Three-thousand years ago a great event called the Cataclysm took place, ravaging the land and killing most of the inhabitants of the world. One of the few remaining groups, the homesteaders, was led, just before the cataclysm, to the mountains where they remained safe since that day. Years later, when Alysa's father died, she becomes a trader. The trader's job is to trade with the wondering nomadic tribe of the Trailmen. After becoming lost in the snow and being rescued by one of the tribesmen, she learns that they are not indeed savages, but intelligent and skillful people with origins close to their own. Now, when children are being snatched by mutants from the cataclysm, Alysa must go, with no survival knowledge whatsoever, on a long journey to find these people and request eight.

Tina Field Howe writes so exquisitely, though targeted at girls, male readers can find some enjoyment. While it takes time to get into, "Alysa the Fields" will enrapture you and you will be unable to put it down. Readers who enjoy post-apocalyptic events, cultural exchanges and unlikely heroes, will almost certainly enjoy this book. Be sure to read Book 2 in the "Tellings of Xunar-kun."

Chewy, Gooey, Rumble, Plop!
Steve Alton
Dial Books for Young Readers
375 Hudson St. NY, NY 10014
97802803732261, $17.99

Reviewed by Matthew Feliciano (age 8) for Reader Views

"Chewy, Gooey, Rumble, Plop!" is a very exciting book about how poop is formed. The grossness starts on the front cover with a fake tongue that is so real I screamed. My mom thought it was disgusting, too. She said to put the book away before she threw up from looking at it!

First we learn about the mouth and how we taste our food. The four tastes are bitter, sour, salty and sweet. Once you get a little deeper in the book it got even more disgusting. This book has all sort of tabs to pull, pop-ups, close-up real photos of things inside the body, and diagrams and foul facts. You learn about throwing up, stomach juices, and how our intestines make poop.

The book ends with a child on the toilet. You can use your imagination to figure out what he is doing there. I used my imagination to make farting noises to help tell the story. "Chewy, Gooey, Rumble, Plop!" is gross but fun to read!

Ducks Don't Wear Socks
John Nedwidek
Viking Juvenile
345 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014
9780670061365, $15.99

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2), Max (age 19-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

"Ducks Don't Wear Socks" is about a serious girl named Emily who keeps encountering a duck wearing strange things like socks, boots, and a hat. Duck teaches Emily that it is okay to be silly sometimes instead of being serious all of the time.

Cayden: "What does 'serious' mean?"

Cayden: "Why is he wearing socks? Ducks don't wear socks! They swim in water."
Max: "Socks!"

Cayden: "The duck is going to work?"

Cayden: "The duck is going to plow a field?"
Max: "Boots!"
Cayden: "Yes Max, the duck is wearing boots."

Cayden: "Look! There is a policeman- is the duck going to jail?"
Max: "Police."

Cayden: "The duck is wearing underwear! That is silly!"

Cayden: "Now Emily is being funny too! She is dressed up like a duck!"

Parent's comments:

"Ducks Don't Wear Socks" is a silly book that teaches children that even though it is okay to be serious, it is still important to have fun and laugh sometimes. My children both thought that it was hilarious that a duck was wearing all of these different articles of clothing. The illustrations are very entertaining as they show the duck engaged in a lot of non-traditional duck activities. The text is great and the humor will have your children laughing out loud!

Forest Bright, Forest Night (A Simple NatureBook)
Jennifer Ward
Dawn Publications
12402 Bitney Springs Rd, Nevada City, CA 95959
9781584690894, $7.95, (530) 274-7775

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2), Max (age 19-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

"Forest Bright, Forest Night" is part of the "Simply Nature" series and is a great introduction to forest animals. The first half of the book explores different animals that you see in the forest during the daytime such as deer, woodpeckers, and squirrels. The second half of the book introduces us to a variety of nocturnal animals such as owls, skunks, and opossums. In the corner of each page there is a number corresponding to the number of that animal on the page. There are also "hidden" numbers on each page etched in various trees and rocks or formed by plants or animals.

Cayden: "I want to count the animals!"

Cayden: "Look, a deer! And there is a bear, no two of them!"
Max: "Two! Rrraaarrr!!"

Cayden: "I like finding the hidden numbers! It is fun! That is my favorite part. I like counting though too."

Cayden: "I like this book a lot mom."

Parent's comments:

"Forest Bright, Forest Night" was definitely a hit with my children! Besides reading the text there are so many other fun things that you can do with this book from counting and naming the animals to finding the hidden numbers and hidden animals. It is also a great introduction to teaching children about how some animals sleep during the night whereas other animals are out and about during that time. The illustrations are great and definitely held both of my children's interest. Any child who enjoys counting and animals will love this book!

Mary Engelbreit's Funny Mother Goose
Mary Engelbreit
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
9780060081294, $6.99,

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2), Max (age 19-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

"Mary Engelbreit's Funny Mother Goose" is composed of six classic Mother Goose nursery rhymes each illustrated in Mary Engelbreit's classic style.

Cayden: "I know 'Jack and Jill'- they went up a hill! That is Jill and that one is Jack and there is the bucket for water."

Cayden: "Max, you know 'Pat-a-cake' don't you?"
Cayden: "Look, there is a 'B' on that cake and it is chocolate!"
Max: "Cake!"
Cayden: "It looks yummy!"
Max: "Yum! Eat!"

Cayden: "'Ring around the rosebushes?' That isn't how it goes!"

Cayden: "Why is that boy wearing shoes in bed? You aren't supposed to do that! You are supposed to wear jammies!"

Parent's comments:

"Mary Engelbreit's Funny Mother Goose" is a great little board book that contains some nursery rhymes that my children were already familiar with and also some that were new to them. The illustrations are wonderfully captivating and anyone who loves the artwork of Mary Engelbreit will definitely enjoy reading this book to the young person in their life.

Dirty Money: A Parker Novel
Richard Stark
Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446178587, $23.99

Reviewed by Gina Holland for RebeccasReads

"Dirty Money" is the follow-up novel to "Nobody Runs Forever." "Nobody Runs Forever" is a story about three men who stole the assets of a bank in transit, but the police made it so difficult for them to escape, that they had to hide the money in a unused country church. In this follow-up novel, the three men are trying to get back to where they hid the money, but they are not together. Parker is with his girlfriend, Claire, who doesn't seem to question anything that Parker does or wants to do. Nick is on the run and also headed back for the money, and McWhitney, now owner of a bar, meets up with and is willing to work with Parker on getting the money back. Parker and McWhitney have not seen or heard from Nick. He was nabbed by the police but has now escaped. So the two team up to do what they can to get the money and split it. Also on their trail is a bounty hunter named Sandra, who is willing to let Parker and McWhitney get away with the money if they deal her in on Nick's share. What happens to them along the way is sometimes crazy but also very frightening.

This novel was written very well. It keeps the reader intrigued. The threesome of Parker, McWhitney and Sandra are quite interesting. I suspected that Sandra wasn't on the up and up with the others all along, I believed that she was going to turn them in at the end, but you have to read to the end to get a surprise. This novel reveals things that happen in everyday life with bank robbers and all other types of crimes. The author, Richard Stark, really brings to light, what can happen with a crime of this nature. His writing is magnificent. I would definitely read another follow-up to this story as well. "Dirty Money" would probably be good for teen to adult readers. I definitely recommend this Parker Novel for anyone who likes suspense. It was worth the read.

Salmon Run
S.W. Capps
Inkwater Press
2021 6750 SW Franklin St, Suite A, Portland OR 97223-2542
9781592993055, $23.95,

Reviewed by Kam Aures for RebeccasReads

Woodrow Salmon was a man that had it all. He held a high position at Titan Toys, had a beautiful, rich wife, and two perfect twin daughters. His life was turned upside down following a simple family outing to the beach, which once you cracked the surface was not so simple after all. Woodrow's wife Claire had put a hit out on her husband. After repeatedly encouraging Woodrow to go into the water to swim, Woodrow finally heeded to her wishes and went to cool off in the ocean. Little did he know that lurking under the water was a man who was poised and ready to kill. When attacked Woodrow was rescued by a giant wave which separated him from the hit man. Thinking it was just a creature of the sea that had attacked him, Woodrow tried to make his way to shore but realized that he had lost his swimming trunks in the struggle. As the beach was jam packed with people he tried calling his wife from the shallow water but she did not respond to him. A jellyfish forced him to run ashore where he was subsequently arrested for a string of charges including indecent exposure.

Not knowing that his wife had put a hit out on him, he tried calling to her once again as he was being taken away and was ignored. His phone call from the police station also went unanswered. When he got out of jail he found that his wife had gotten a restraining order and had cleared out the accounts. To make matters worse, after reporting to work he found out that he had been fired. Further events cause him to go on the run and change his identity in order to survive. The remainder of the book follows Woodrow as he tries to keep one step ahead of those pursuing him.

"Salmon Run" is full of twists and turns and is a true page turner! You can't help to feel for poor Woodrow who seems to have the worst luck on the planet. Following him as he tries to escape is definitely an adventure worth reading. The characters whom he meets along the way are very memorable and well constructed. Although the book is 350-pages long it flies by and is a very easy read.

"Salmon Run" is S.W. Capps' first novel and it is a very impressive debut. Capps has a true talent for reeling the reader in and keeping them hooked until the final page is read. The "About the Author" section on the back cover states that he is working on his second novel and I definitely will be looking for that book once it is released. I am confident that anyone who enjoys reading suspense novels will enjoy "Salmon Run" and I highly recommend it.

The Black Stone
Linda Cargill
Cheops Books
8746 E Wallen Ridge Dr., Tucson, AZ 85710-6235
9780979890406, $19.95

Reviewed by Gina Holland for RebeccasReads

I am really struggling with the events that take place in "The Black Stone." I have an opinion, which is totally mine, that may or may not be the opinion of any other. "The Black Stone" was one of those novels that brought you back and forth in time, I guess in order to explain the story itself. We went all the way back to the Cleopatra days along with Julius Caesar. The author was trying to bring forth the point of origin of "The Black Stone," however; the time it took to read about that part of the time in history, was too lengthy. I think that part of the story could have been written with less explanation, but still bring us to understand where the "The Black Stone" really came from. Everyone in the world has their own opinion on the happenings of 9/11. I am not sure that the author realized how much she brings back the memories of 9/11 in her story. Some people would probably welcome the story in the novel as a reminder of the events of that day, but myself, I did not like reliving those events. The author bringing Osama Bin Laden into the mix brought back some very haunting memories and had me wondering what Osama has been up to these days. It reminded me of how dangerous of a man he really is.

The storyline was a good one, but as I said the explanations were very lengthy. I was disappointed in the outcome of the character Madeline's family. I think that a different ending would have been better. As you travel along with Madeline and her endeavors, it is a very good and a very interesting part of the novel. What becomes of Madeline is wonderful, very nice, I was pleased.

I believe that the author, Linda Cargill, had a vision of a novel that she wanted to write, which included in her mind, terrorist times and tribulations. Maybe she felt as though she needed to get her thoughts on paper. I would only recommend this book to adults, as children would only become frightened in reading about the reality of what can happen in this world. Some of you may enjoy this novel, may really get all the points and plots. You have to read it to find out. I, however, have a problem with looking into the minds of terrorists and Osama Bin Laden. I think the author's efforts in "The Black Stone" are good and she should not take offense to any one person's judgment. Maybe the novel was just not for me. In closing, I actually did enjoy a large part of the story. I wish the author good luck in future writings.

Olympic Gold: The Ultimate Quest
Rob Henning
Olympus Books
10989 Bluffside Drive, Unite 3318, Studio City, CA 91604
074144674X, $13.95,

Reviewed by Ben Weldon (age 10) for Reader Views

"Olympic Gold" by Rob Henning takes place in Greece at the time of the 16th Olympic Games. Adonis has been selected to compete in the pentathlon but his registration scroll is mysteriously missing. Alexis and Clio are determined to help recover the scroll, but to do so they must venture into dangerous places and confront angry Greek gods. Will they find it in time? Will Adonis be able to compete in the games and beat his evil Athenian rival?

Adonis, aged 18, is the pentathlon representative for Corinth. (The pentathlon includes five events: wrestling, discus, running in full amour, javelin, and the long jump.) This is very exciting for Adonis because only one person from his province is chosen for the once-in-four-years event. When his registration scroll disappears he is crushed. Adding to his anxiety, his cousin Alexis is missing, too.

While Adonis is praying to Zeus for the safe return of his cousin, Alexis and his friend Clio have taken things into their own hands, determined to help Adonis compete in the Olympics. They climb up Mount Olympus to ask Zeus ask for a new scroll, but Zeus send them to Hades, the god of the underworld. The underworld is a scary place. Will Alexis and Clio make it out?

The book is an interesting mix of modern and ancient. The setting is ancient but the language is very modern. For example, Adonis addresses his cousin Alexis as "cuz." The modern-style illustrations of bobble-headed characters don't do justice to the book. I think that the goofy illustrations detract from the relationship the reader builds with the characters because they do not seem very life-like. Luckily, there are only four illustrations in the book. It might be most appealing to readers who really like modern features.

I would recommend this book to people who like adventures and Greek mythology. I think boys and girls would both like this book. (One of the main characters, Clio, is a girl). "Olympic Gold" is part of a trilogy, so if you liked this book, there are two other books that you can look forward to reading.

Artificial Imagination
Kalpanik S
Center of Artificial Imagination, Inc.
c/o Talreja Enterprises
14525 SW Millikan Way, Beaverton, OR 97005
9780981476247, $31.99

Reviewed by William Phenn for Reader Views (04/08)

Kalpanik S. is an artificial imagination software program. He has a wife and two daughters and resides somewhere in the United States. I candidly say, "somewhere" because one never knows where he will be next. Constantly moving to accept interesting positions with software corporations, Kalpanik does not let moss grow under his feet. Born twice, once in 1988 and then again in 2002, Kalpanik was not just an ordinary Artificial Intelligence program. He was created to be different, to feel and imagine like a real human. He was his own character, a graduate Computer Science Engineer.

Beginning with San Francisco, the story leads the reader through the many adventures of Kalpanik. After losing his job in San Francisco, he moves to Seattle, the comparison he draws between there and Silicon Valley is hilarious to say the least. He talks about the rain and the weather changes as opposed to California. How he hated parting with his California drivers license and how gently he was treated by the understanding clerk.

From there to Nashville like a wandering soul, he tells about the demographics of his new digs in Tennessee. Similar to a tour guide on a bus, he describes the different attractions and scenic beauty of each point of interest, giving the reader a humorous commentary. He even includes comparing the Chinese restaurant to others he has been in. He explains that while in such a restaurant one day, he noticed that all the servers were Caucasian. He had never noticed Caucasians in any Chinese restaurant working as servers, in any place he had ever been. This had to be the first one of its kind. The Nashville tour finishes off with Kalpanik comparing the ethnic percentages. Coming from a city where a high percentage of people were Asian, he had a bit of culture shock when he came to Nashville and saw that it wasn't Asian but African Americans that was the cultural dominant. After Nashville, he finds himself in San Diego; a California city more to his liking. He tells of the seventy miles of beaches and how they spread as far as the Mexican border. His description of "Mission Beach" (complete with picture) is straight out of a travel folder.

"Artificial Imagination" was a funny and well-written book with some very good photography peppered into its 176 pages. I enjoyed the unique way in which it was presented and gave it a very good grade of an A. I would recommend it for a good read for the general audience.

Ron Sanders
Masterpiece Press
Box 10784, Marina del Rey, CA 90295
9780615142371, $10.95,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

Vilenov is a man that gets what he wants. As a matter of fact he can get what he wants from any woman. When a nosy neighbor of a woman named Purly, suspects that she is being taken advantage of by this man, the authorities are alerted. When they investigate, chaos erupts. They discover that nothing is as it appears to be. Vilenov seems to be either drugging or hypnotizing Purly into performing sexual acts on him. When the media gets a hold of his photo, more women come forward. Those investigating are stumped because he appears to have the ability to alter people's thoughts. What appears to be happening on tape is very different from what people remember.

When Vilenov gets captured, he presents two different personas. The first is of a man who is proud that he can take what he wants whether it is a woman or money. The second persona appears when he tells his story of his upbringing and abusive father. While his story is compelling, he is still a vile, despicable character with no redeeming qualities. That part of what makes "Freak" so fun to read.

"Freak" is definitely an attention-grabbing story. Sanders created a very interesting plot from a unique idea. It made me think, "what if?" When people talk about superhero powers they would like to have, the answers usually involve invisibility or being able to fly. I suspect, after reading "Freak" a few unscrupulous people would choose Vilenov's ability to control minds so that they can do what he does. How unsettling.

"Freak" is something different. I am not quite sure how to categorize it. I think it sits in a class by itself. I also think that people who enjoy books with quirky twists will love it.

Easy Entertaining for Beginners
Patricia Mendez
Maple Heights Press
PO Box 3936, Torrance, CA 90510
9780979956409, $16.95

Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views

What attracted me to "Easy Entertaining for Beginners: You Can Throw a Fabulous Party, from Holiday Fiesta to a Romantic Evening for Two" was the author's comments "you don't have to be a gourmet chef…or a nervous wreck…to throw a great dinner party." I'm certainly not a beginner at entertaining; however, I'm always looking for ways to host a party more easily and smoothly than the time before. Patricia Mendez didn't disappoint me.

Mendez's experience in catering and coordinating events is a boon to aspiring home chefs as she sets out the steps to creating a fabulous party, whether it's a dinner for two or eight, or a tea or cocktail party. She also includes Thanksgiving, 4th of July, and a Mother's Day brunch as well as other occasions.

Each chapter includes an introduction and talk about the party, menu, timeline, optional shortcuts, party etiquette, mistakes to avoid, and tips to ensure success. In the menu section Mendez includes the food, drinks, and music suggestions. At first glance I realized she didn't miss a thing. Mendez even included beautifully colored pictures of some of the dishes. The dishes look wonderful and time-consuming, however, with the information Mendez provides, creating the same look is a breeze.

I had the occasion to entertain a group of female friends so chose to follow "Girlfriends' Tea." The menu included Chicken Salad with Grapes and Walnuts on Mini-Croissants, English Cucumber and Cream Cheese Sandwiches, Scones, Clotted Cream, Brownie Drop Cookies, and purchased lemon curd and strawberry jam. All the recipes were easy to follow and the ingredients are available at any grocery store. I was reluctant to try the scones because of previous failures but to give justice to the book, and this review, I decided to try it one more time. I was amazed at the results. This recipe is a keeper! The step-by-step checklist was well-organized and I followed it to a T. My guests were very impressed and best of all, I wasn't stressed out. I was able to pull off the event without a hitch and still put in a full day at work.

Patricia Mendez's book "Easy Entertaining for Beginners" is a must-have gift for any person setting off on their own or for those embarking on new territory. The simplicity and conciseness makes this book a valuable reference and a guide to pull off an event without stress and worry. The hosts will shine to their guests.

Distant Peaks: A Journey through Cultures & Conquests
Peter Len
Millennial Mind Publishing
c/o American Book Publishing
5442 So. 900 East, #146, Salt Lake City, UT 84117-7204
9781589824607, $24.95,

Reviewed by Deb Shunamon for Reader Views

A young Peter Len was looking for a way to challenge his own physical and mental limits, and he found it on his first major mountain climb with his father and family friend. "Distant Peaks: A Journey through Cultures & Conquests," is written from the perspective of a non-professional climber, and documents the author's trips up some of the toughest peaks in Europe, Africa and South America. His experiences while climbing, as well as the tremendous amount of detail provided on everything from planning such trips to the actual ascents up the mountains, illustrate how it is possible for mountaineering to be enjoyed by anyone.

The great introduction has the author admitting to his limits, and how, although exciting to read, most climbing books seemed to be beyond his initial skill level. From here it does not take long for the reader to become familiar with climbing terms and equipment, as well as what to expect at the guide centers and on the practice runs that take place before the actual ascents. Personal observations (did you know Gatorade is good hot?), historical notes and side stories fill the pages, along with the author's joy of just being on the mountains. His desire to reach the summits, quelling his fears and pushing his physical abilities along the way, was not always successful, but the author never stopped trying in the twenty years that the book covers.

Peter Len is a "young writer," and even with the assistance he had, the writing is at times either quite choppy or could use some commas, but his adventures are captivating enough to keep readers interested. There is also no ending to the book - it just stops after the final climb. However, the Afterward, and Guide & Outfitter directory that follow, attempt to convince readers to take their first step in planning a trip of their own. Numerous photographs are provided, with this book useful for anyone who has a beginning interest in climbing, as well as die-hard enthusiasts who have yet to conquer the Matterhorn, Mt. Kenya, or Chimborazo. "Distant Peaks: A Journey through Cultures & Conquests" is also a decent try at a first book, and most certainly meets Peter Len's purpose of showing that with effort and desire, anything is possible.

The Iron Tongue of Midnight: A Baroque Mystery
Beverle Graves Myers
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590582329, $24.95,

Reviewed by Deb Shunamon for Reader Views

This delightful murder mystery set in the mid-1700s Italian countryside, takes the reader into a fascinating world of international politics, distinctive cultures, and class behaviors of the time, including civilized Venicians, nasty Turks, and even nastier Russians. As an opera cast rehearses in the villa of their benefactor, midnight murders begin to claim the lives of strangers and friends. Tito Amato, a renowned castrato and amateur sleuth, is already intrigued about his invitation to be a part of this performance, and discovers that the mysterious murders have more to do with his unconventional family than he could ever imagine.

Our inquisitive soprano is an extremely likeable main character, and his logic is easy to follow. Tito, and his brother-in-law Gussie, are clearly familiar with solving murders. When they start investigating these, it does not take long for the trembles that were not there a moment ago, the glances unnoticed by others, gossip, and surprise encounters to reveal possible suspects. There is also a great sense of adventure in the story, and I read it as a fun, who-dun-it, historical travelogue, however, this approach did mean an important question was answered adequately, but too easily. At the end of the book, however, the author provides a surprising short note which made me reevaluate my view, and think more seriously about people's tenacity to survive.

"The Iron Tongue of Midnight" would easily make a great movie. It teaches about this time period in both Venice and other parts of the world, the writing flows well, and the author does not get too carried away with description. Research notes and suggestions are also provided for those wishing to learn more about many aspects of the 1700s. I devoured this substantial book in one day and will not waste any time locating the other books in the series as I learned a lot from, and enjoyed, this engaging mystery story.

Talk of the Town
Lisa Wingate
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South, Bloomington, MN 55438
9780764204906, $13.99,

Reviewed by Lori Plach for Reader Views

Mandalay Florentino has worked hard for every break in her career in the entertainment industry, but nothing could have prepared her for this assignment. She has to find just the right place for Amber Anderson's welcome-back concert. Amanda is a finalist in the "American Megarstar" TV show. No one is supposed to know that she is a finalist but somehow the small town of Daily, Texas is abuzz with excitement about their hometown girl. Mandalay has to deal with her difficult boss, Ursula, who insists on Mandalay keeping her anonymity.

The case of keeping an anonymous identity is no easy task. Daily doesn't get a lot of tourists to visit their small town. The owner of the hotel doesn't even have her rooms ready to rent. She absentmindedly rents her deluxe to two single individuals, Mandalay and Carter. The twosome doesn't know each other but soon become acquainted as she has to request when the lights should go off in her room since the switch controlling her lights is in his room. Why did Carter pick Daily, Texas as a place to vacation, and is he really just on vacation?

Under the mask of being a 50th-wedding anniversary party at the community center, there are a ton of plans to make. Will the surprise of Amber making the finals be a huge bust? "Talk of the Town" is a beautifully written story about small town America, a local making it big and a well-meaning hotel owner. There is a touch of romance and mystery beautifully created in this book by Lisa Wingate. By picking up "Talk of Town" you will soon fall in love with the town and its many characters who can't keep any secrets. "Talk of the Town" is such a hit, I'm sure it will be the talk of your town with any readers. I hope Lisa Wingate writes more books like this one!

Stolen Fields
Jean Boggio
Colerith Press
175 Dickey Mill Road, Belmont, ME 04952
9780979933042, $15.95,

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views

"Stolen Fields: A Story of Eminent Domain and the Death of the American Dream" is a story of the American Dream gone wrong. It is a story of hatred, bitterness, ambition, and greed. It is also a story of "What If" and "If only." What if eminent domain had not taken the Cole property? If only Grandfather Cole had been able to build his prosperous ventures?

Jean tells of growing up as a descendant of the strong-willed and vibrant Cole family. In the first few chapters she gives the reader a glimpse into the historic heritage and of the hard working Coles and the economic success of the fertile farm on Neville Island near Pittsburg. The Cole farm on Neville Island was known as "The Market Basket of Pittsburgh."

Jean Boggio consistently and fairly shared two sides of a story. I felt bonded to the family as I listened as Jean shared lighthearted gossip through the stories handed down from one generation to the next, fairly reporting on two completely different perspectives of the perceived facts.

During the years of 1918 and 1919 toward the end of WWI, the United States government came up with a plan to rival the German Krupps Works that provided munitions for the German juggernaut. Neville Island was selected to be the site for the project. The government officials invoked the process of eminent domain to seize the property for public use. The project had only begun when the Armistice was signed. The government no longer needed the land. It was put it up for public auction.

The Cole family, distraught by loss of the home that had been in the family for over a hundred years, held out in an attempt to negotiate a fair market price. After a great deal of harassment and the fear of arson they were forced to accept the government-determined price.

Family accounts, newspaper research, and historical sources, as well as her own memories provided Jean Boggio with the material for this remarkable account of the Cole's of Neville Island and the impact of eminent domain on the dreams of her parents, their children, and ultimately on the generations that follow. Although there were feelings of hatred, and bitterness by members of the Cole family, theirs is a journey that resonates with a sense of accomplishment, pride, and promise.

This is more than a leisurely nostalgic stroll down memory lane. Jean's vivid descriptions draw the reader into the experience of being a part of her childhood at the Sandy Lake farm. She has the amazing ability to turn everyday circumstances and events into entertaining, often humorous, stories that resound with simplicity, warmth, and reality. Jean uses flashbacks depicting scenes from her childhood. She reveals details of her relationships with her sister, her parents, her grandparents, Aunt Gladys, Uncle Robert, Uncle Ned, and her cousins. These colorful characters provide dramatic word pictures bringing an excitement to the otherwise routine life for the Cole's from Neville Island. Family photos are included throughout the book to illustrate the events. These pictures add another dimension and a sense of relationship to the Cole family.

I especially enjoyed Jean's openness in relating college relationships and her early experiences in New York City. As an aspiring actress she was sympathetic to the beatnik culture. I appreciated her positive writing even in light of romances gone awry, family relationships gone amok and personal goals unattained. Jean gained a broad range of work experiences in corporate offices, in the field of education, and ultimately in the medical field as a nurse.

Strong writing, thorough research, and an objective look into the avarice that often accompanies the process of eminent domain make "Stolen Fields" a significant contribution to the history and future restructuring of a process often misunderstood and abused.

As a memoir writer Jean Boggio is a gifted storyteller. Her vivid descriptions and characterizations insure that the enjoyment of her writing will linger long after reading the final chapter. "Stolen Fields" is a rich and entertaining reading experience.

Hermetica: Myths, Legends, Poems
Paul Kiritsis
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Rd, Suite 100, Lincoln NE 68512
9780595449569, $21.95, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Kam Aures for RebeccasReads

"Hermetica" is a captivating literary collection of myths, legends and poems. In the preface to the book, the author, Paul Kiritsis explains to us the differences among three different classes of folklore. First, there are myths which often take place far, far in the past and are generally accepted as true. Second, we have legends which "are set in a remembered or historical time and presented as undisputed truth, often being more secular than religious." (p. xiv) Lastly, there are folktales which are fictional stories.

Kiritsis gives us a history lesson on the origin of folklore which started in Ancient Egypt. He then describes to us one of the greatest myths of all time, and also the first love story, which is about Osiris and Isis. Throughout this literary collection Kiritsis seeks to expand on this ancient myth with his own renditions of the events that occurred.

The title of the book, "Hermetica," was derived "not only from the fact that it was influenced by Hermetic literature but also because it concerns itself with alchemy, primarily the alchemy of love." (p. xvii) The book is divided into two different sections which are poems and verse drama. The poetry section consists of six different subsections: alchemica, astrologica, mythologica, philosophica, musica, and erotica. The second section, containing verse drama, is composed of seven different short stories including the author's prequel to the known myth of Osiris and Isis.

Kiritsis is a very creative and talented writer. He obviously is wonderfully educated in the subjects he writes of and this definitely shines through in his stories. Not unlike ancient oral and written literature, Kiritsis' stories also have lessons to teach. His words will whisk you back to a time long ago and keep you there until the last page is turned.

Although I enjoyed both parts of the book I would have to say that I enjoyed the second part with the myths and legends the most. Once I started reading that section it was hard for me to put the book down until I saw how everything played out. I think anyone who enjoys poetry, myths, legends or just a general escape from books set in modern day, would enjoy this unique literary collection - "Hermetica: Myths, Legends, Poems."

How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate
Lynne Cherry and Gary Braasch
Dawn Publications
12402 Bitney Springs Road, Nevada City, CA 95959
9781584691037, $17.95, (530) 274-7775,

Reviewed by Maya Landers (age 10) for Reader Views

"How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate: Scientists and Kids Explore Global Warming," by Lynne Cherry and Gary Braasch, was both interesting and informative. I didn't know anything about Global Warming, or how scientists know about it, but this book explained it to me. It also told me ways that I could participate in helping scientists get more data, which I thought was fascinating. I didn't know that there was anything that I could do to help. One of the ways that the book said that children could help was to record and chart when the first birds began to appear and when the first buds began to blossom.

The pictures were clear and sharp, and they featured extraordinary and beautiful views, as well of pictures of the some children who helped the scientists to collect their data. The type was large and easy-to-read. The book laid its facts out in a simple, easy-to-understand way that young children could understand, and there were definitions for most of the words, making everything even clearer still. While it could be for any age group, I thought that it was best suited for six-to-twelve-year-olds, although children and adults of any age would be able to understand and enjoy it.

The combination of pictures and information helped balance the book so that it was not too much like a textbook. Throughout the book, the authors show pictures and write articles about children who helped scientists collect data. In addition, readers learned facts about Global Warming and how scientists know about it. I thought that this was a very good balance between scientists and non-scientists, something that I do not find in many science books.

There are also photographs in the book that compare "now and then" -- for instance, what the Athabasca Glacier looked like in 1917 compared to what it looked like in 2005. The difference was astounding! I wasn't aware of the changes that Global Warming has provoked, and this book explained it to me. However, it wasn't a discouraging book. It told the facts, and then told you what you could do to help, not dwelling unnecessarily on gloomy or dispiriting things.

I would recommend "How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate" to my friends because I thought that it did a good job separating fact from fiction, and also because it showed real-life situations where children were able to help scientists.

Orphan Ahwak
Raquel Rivera
Orca Book Pubishers
PO Box 468, Custer, WA 98240-0468
9781551436531, $7.95,

Reviewed by Avery Largent (age 9) for Reader Views

"Orphan Ahwak" is an enjoyable adventure story about a young girl named Aneze. When all the men in her hometown are killed by warriors, and the women are all kidnapped, Aneze runs away and meets a kind old man who begins teaching her how to be a hunter like her father had been. Once she learns the skills necessary for a hunter, she goes off on her own and finds many exciting adventures.

Author Raquel Rivera writes with such good description of the characters that you can really relate to them. Even though the plot is exciting, the characters are another reason that keeps the reader turning the pages. My favorite character is Aneze because she is so bold, kind, and would make a very trustworthy friend. Aneze shows she is very brave and has the heart of a hero even if she has just suffered so much, and during the whole book she shows no signs of losing her head or mourning forevermore in her losses. Aneze holds her responsibility, however hard it is and keeps moving forward to stay alive.

The old man Aneze first finds home with is a very good character, too; he made a great friend for her the beginning and he builds back Aneze's strength. Aneze's friend Ketch and Ketch's family provide the family and home that Aneze was searching for. Even if Ketch and his family were nervous at first to Aneze's arrival, they quickly bond to her. Ketch makes almost a brother, as well as a friend, and Uncle and Aunt fill in as her mother and father, even though she does not forget her old parents or her hometown.

Aneze faces many life-threatening challenges, but unlike most books her biggest challenge is her first. When her town is attacked and she runs away, this is the hardest thing that Aneze has to face. One complaint I had with the book is that the end of the story gave Aneze very little challenge. I think it would have been more interesting if Raquel Rivera had made the ending harder on Aneze.

"Orphan Ahwak" shows real things a hunter may have had to do back in that time. At times, it is almost like a guidebook. Occasionally, however, it gets so involved it is almost cruel to animals. For example, the old man sometimes talks absentmindedly about killing various creatures, including his own lead dog. Aneze also does not appear to feel upset or show any sign of comfort to the reader, though, perhaps, this is just because her father is a hunter and she may have heard these kinds of things back at home. The book is very well written, though it may be frightening to younger children searching for a good read.

I would recommend "Orphan Ahwak" to my friends, just as long as they were prepared for the parts that are hard for animal lovers. The book was a very good book one and definitely one of my favorites. I believe it is good for children over nine and even adults. I think that Raquel
Rivera will one day be a best-selling author, and "Orphan Ahwak" is a great entertainment.

The Little Elephant with the Big Earache (Dr. Hippo)
Charlotte Cowan
The Hippocratic Press
281A Fairhaven Hill Rd., Concord MA 01742
9780975351604, $17.95,

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2) and Max (age 20-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

"The Little Elephant with the Big Earache" begins when all of Eddie the elephant's cousins arrive on Wednesday to help celebrate his birthday. They run down to the river and start building mud castles for the Mud Castle Contest on Saturday. Wednesday evening, however, Eddie wakes up in the middle of the night because his ear is hurting him. His mom gives him some medicine and says that they will see the doctor in the morning. After a visit to the Dr. Hippocrates, the doctor determines that it is an early ear infection and that they are just going to monitor it. By Saturday Eddie feels better just in time to enjoy his party!

Cayden: "His ears hurt!"
Max: "Hurt! Hurt!"

Max: Pointing to the picture of Eddie crying: "Cry!"
Cayden: "He looks sad because he is sick Max."

Cayden: "Why would they sit on the porch in the middle of the night?"

Cayden: "Why doesn't he like to go to the doctor? I like to go to the doctor!"
Max: "Like!"

Cayden: "Why is he wearing his blanket as a cape? Maybe he doesn't want it to fall in the road on the way out to the car."

Cayden: "My favorite part was when the doctor looked in his ears to see what was wrong."

Cayden: "I also liked the pictures of when they were building those mud castles, especially the elephant one!"

Parent's comments:

Written by a pediatrician, "The Little Elephant with the Big Earache" is a very educational and entertaining book. Although my children have never had ear infections they could completely relate to being sick with other ailments and visiting the doctor. They loved the colorful illustrations and spent a lot of time on each page as there was so much to look at.

Inside the back cover of the book is a helpful pull-out guide for parents answering frequently asked questions regarding ear infections. The guide details exactly what an ear infection is and gives recommendations such as to how to make your child feel better and when to call the doctor. The inclusion of this helpful reference guide makes "The Little Elephant with the Big Earache" not only a great book for children but also for parents. We look forward to reading more books from the Dr. Hippo series!

Eyes of the Calusa
Holly Moulder
White Pelican Press
132 Marcella Avenue Sharpsburg, GA 30277
9780979040504, $8.95

Reviewed by Ben Weldon (age10) for Reader Views

"Eyes of the Calusa" by Holly Moulder is the story of Mara, a Calusa Indian from the southwest coast of Florida, who is captured by pirates and sold into slavery. Mara's adventure starts when her younger sister Lupa loses her doll, and Mara tries to help her find it. While searching the sand dunes, pirates are suddenly upon them. Mara's hands are bound and a rag stuffed in her mouth. Will Mara ever be free again?

It is about the year 1720 and Mara is taken aboard the Devil Ray. The pirate ship is commanded by Captain Hannah Dunne who loathes and despises natives and captures them and sells them as slaves in Charlestown, South Carolina. Mara is sold to the Stanley family which runs a large indigo plantation. As a slave, her jobs include spreading and drying the indigo leaves in the hot sun and transporting stale slave urine (the urine was a key, but very stinky, ingredient in making the indigo dye).

Although Mara is a fictional character, things like what happened to Mara did happen. At the end of the book, there is a very informative Author's Note that explains what is true and what is not. For example, the Calusa Indians really did exist and stale urine was used in making indigo dye. Mara's story was truly captivating, and it is terrible to think that some people really suffered this fate.

I was surprised to find that the first five-and-a-half chapters are written in verse (like a poem) and the rest of the book is not. Readers should not be scared away by this because it is still easy-to-understand. This is Holly Moulder's first novel, and it is a well-written combination of adventure and history.

I would recommend "Eyes of the Calusa" to people who like adventure, pirates and action. This book has no bad words and nothing offensive. I really liked this book and think lots of other people will, too.

Racing for Diamonds (Orca Young Readers)
Anita Daher
Orca Book Publishers
P.O. Box 468, Custer, WA 98240-0468
9781551436753, $5.95

Reviewed by Anne Marie Medema (age 12) for Reader Views

Anita Daher cleverly weaves a story of intrigue, filled with danger and excitement. In the book "Racing for Diamonds," Daher writes a story with a theme and location she is familiar with. With descriptive vocabulary and flowing phrases, Daher makes the story come alive in the mind of the reader. Daher wrote in a way that causes the reader to anxiously turn each page to the end.

"Racing for Diamonds" begins with our main character Jaz participating in a first-aid course. Jaz is training to compete in a dog sled race in Canada. In the race Jaz is paired with Colly, a master corporal. She and Colly start out in first place in the dog-sled race and go through several checkpoints still in the lead. Soon they meet up with Gunther, a diamond mine cleaner. Gunther pulls the dog team of Jaz and Colly aside. Gunther says he left town abruptly because his little boy named Luka was kidnapped by a Russian who wants all the diamonds. The three of them meet up with the Russian and Luka. It would be a fight, but fortunately the JCR Rangers approach in a helicopter looking for Jaz and Collie. The JCR Rangers rescue Gunther and Luka. The Russian is sent to prison. Collie and Jaz do not win the dog-sled race. But they do win Medals of Honor for rescuing Gunther and Luka. Jaz and Colly are highly praised and commended for their bravery by the JCR Rangers.

I recommend "Racing for Diamonds" by Anita Daher. It is a story targeted for young readers who enjoy adventure and action. I enjoyed the setting of this story as it takes place in a part of North America I have never visited before. Also, it enlightened me about what it is like to participate in a dog-sled race. I liked how the author packed so much adventure into a small easy-read novel. Hitch yourself into "Racing for Diamonds," by Anita Daher, and get swept away into a snow-packed adventure.

That's How Much God Loves You!
Chris Shea
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
9780060838768, $7.99, 2008

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2) and Max (age 20-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

"That's How Much God Loves You!" is a sturdy board book that provides comparisons to show children how much God loves them. For instance one of the pages reads, "God loves you as much as pancakes are fluffy and maple syrup is sticky sweet and butter is golden and melty."

Cayden: "Where is God on the cover? Will he be in the book?"
Cayden: Pointing to the sky on the cover: "Is this heaven?"

Max: Pointing to the ocean: "Snow! Snow!"
Cayden: "Why is the ocean white? It DOES look like snow. I think they forgot to color it. The next page is colored though."
Max: "Color! Crayon!"

Cayden: "The moon in the sky really doesn't have a mouth or eyes."

Max: Looking in the mirror on the last page: "Me! Me! Max!"

Parent's comments:

The illustrations in "That's How Much God Loves You!" are very simplistic and crayon-colored which really drew my children's attention. They spent a long time paging through the book just looking at the pictures and naming the colors that each item was colored in. The text was also very creative and conveyed a wonderful message in a fun way. The non-breakable mirror on the last page was a big hit as well, especially for Max. "That's How Much God Loves You!" is a very sweet, colorful book!

Edward M. Baldwin
Jazlo & Lossi Publishing
1704 E. 24th Street, Suite 102A, Jacksonville, FL 32206
9780979407444, $24.95

Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views

With the use of cultural dialect, Edward Baldwin creates an intriguing story about children who come from an environment where no one wants to bother with them, much less educators. With the typical stereotypes these children are branded as "bad," "no ambition," and "will not amount to anything."

The inspiring story revolves around Kenny Houston who lives with his single mother who cares nothing about him. Her life revolves around drinking, partying and many men. Kenny has been left to fend for himself, as well as his little sister, after their father dies suddenly. No one talks about this and Kenny keeps his pain and anger inside which leads him to become a problem child in school and in his little area of the world.

The second character to come into play is Tony Avery, a black man who is a first-year teacher in a school that is for those who cannot adapt to regular school, Lincoln High. It is full of misfits for students and the teachers could care less as long as they collect a paycheck. Mr. Avery tries to make a difference in the school by showing the students he does care and has made enemies as an English instructor because he talks "their talk."

As a former teacher, I really enjoyed the theme of "Learnt." I know how we can forget those that really need our help and yet we don't give it because of how they dress, where they come from and most of all because of "the attitude." No wonder we have such a high dropout rate in schools from kids who are in the lower income bracket and have no family to support them. One of the aspects I really liked was the way it was written, in "chocklish," a combination of cultural dialect and Standard English. As many major reviewers have said "This is a must for all those who work in the school systems."

The Blue Star: A Novel
Tony Earley
Little, Brown and Company
237 Park Ave, New York, NY 10017
9780316199070, $23.99

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

"The Blue Star" follows "Jim the Boy." Jim is now a teenager growing up at the start of World War II. Jim has just broken up with his girlfriend, Norma. She was too boring for him. Both Norma and Jim's moms are not happy about the breakup because Jim had already told Norma that he loved her, so they assumed that there would be a marriage to follow. Jim's heart has already moved on to Chrissie Steppe. She is the daughter of Injun Joe. Chrissie is beautiful. Unfortunately, she has a boyfriend, Bucky Bucklaw. He is in the Navy.

Jim develops a friendship with Chrissie. He admits that he loves her. He discovers the complicated reasons of why she is not able to be with him. Still he does not give up hope. His affection for her is very apparent to everybody else in their school. As Jim gets to know Chrissie better, he learns about his uncle's former relationship with her mother. Jim and Chrissie's family history is extremely intertwined.

"The Blue Star" paints a vivid picture of life during the early years of World War II. In his descriptions of the times, Tony Earley creates a very real picture of how life was at that time. People were dealing with family members going away to war. There was also a great deal of poverty. Jim's relationship with his family is very special. He is very close to three uncles since his father died when he was young.

Jim's relationship with the women in his life was entertaining to read about. He is close to his mother; however, she still wants him to be with his ex-girlfriend. His ex-girlfriend is still in love with him and has to learn to move beyond that. Chrissie seems to be in love with him, but can't do anything about it. Jim's feelings for her are very sweet. He has the normal teenage boy hormonal issues, yet at his heart, he also truly cares for her.

I really enjoyed "The Blue Star." It is a classically, timeless story. People of all ages will enjoy this story.

The Pocket Guide to Mischief
Bart King
Gibbs Smith, Publisher
PO Box 667, Layton, UT 84041
9781423603665, $9.95, 1-800-835-4993,

Reviewed by Avery Largent (age 9) for Reader Views

"The Pocket Guide to Mischief," by Bart King, truly is a pocket-sized guide to pulling pranks and making mischief. It includes facts and humorous stories about people who played jokes on others in history. Bart King has a witty writing style, and he sure knows his facts about mischief!
When I was reading this book, every few paragraphs I would giggle out loud at some prank or trickery done, even by a very important person. Some famous pranksters were Calvin Coolidge (a former president), Sidd Finch (a baseball player), and even Bill Clinton's presidential staff! Bart King must have known -- and studied -- a lot about mischief. I particularly liked learning about Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt always suspected that people were so nervous to meet him that they didn't listen to what he said. So he played a ridiculous prank to see if they were listening. When he met someone new, he always shook their hand, saying, "I murdered my Grandmother this morning." No one ever said a word about it; they just smiled! I say, what president would do that?

Also, Bart King must have been an expert in grossology. Some pranks are disgusting, and I suggest not reading certain parts at the dinner table. Keep this in mind when you read the part about making your own paper -- yuck! However, lots of children will like this book because of its sometimes gross pranks, and I must say I enjoyed reading some myself.

The only real drawback to "The Pocket Guide to Mischief" is that even though the author tries to set standards for what is acceptable mischief and what is not, throughout the book there are some almost evil pranks and jokes. Some cause pain and can be hateful to the reader; others are disrespectful to grownups. One chapter, entitled "Oldies But Goodies," even suggests pranks to play on grandparents! It seems extremely rude to hurt, anger, or trick elderly people.

Overall, I think that "The Pocket Guide to Mischief" is a well-written, funny book. I like Bart King's writing style, and even if it is gross in spots, hey, sometimes a kid needs a bit of that kind of thing. I like its purpose and ideas, and it makes a great book for a kid to have fun with. I would recommend this to my friends, with a warning about the few gross parts and a plea to not play mean tricks on their grandparents. I can picture my friends being sucked into this book, making their parents need to shout to pull them from their trance-like, unable-to-stop-reading state. It is a great book to stow in your back pocket...and start making some mischief!

Findings (Faye Longchamp Mysteries, No. 4)
Mary Anna Evans
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave. #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
IBN 9781590584835, $24.95,

Reviewed by Lynn O'Connell for Reader Views

Heroine archaeologist Faye Longchamp begins the novel by discovering an emerald on her property - Joyeuse Island, which Faye had inherited from Cally, her great-great-grandmother and a former slave. Immediately, in the first chapter, Douglass Everett, founder of the Museum of American Slavery, is murdered while holding that same emerald. Where did it come from? Who would have buried it on Joyeuse Island - and why? And, who would even know the emerald existed? Faye and her friend, Joe Wolf Mantooth, spend the rest of the 232 pages of this short mystery trying to answer these questions. Much of their work is tedious, as the duo spends hours in the library sifting through the many letters that emerald-owner and Confederate official Jedediah Bachelder wrote to his wife Viola during the Civil War years. Other times, their work is dangerous as Faye and Joe get attacked by pothunters and encounter other unsavory characters.
"Findings" is the fourth installment in the Faye Longchamp mystery series. As was the case in the previous three books, author Mary Anna Evans does a wonderful job of including archaeological information, art history and ethnic issues along with the core of the tale - the mystery which Faye will solve. One interesting twist to this particular book is the fact that it is as much a story about love, perhaps, as it is a murder mystery. There is the strong and beautiful love expressed between Jedediah and Viola in their letters…there is the love between the murdered Douglass Everett and his wife…and, then Faye has her own budding romances.

Faye's ancestral home Joyeuse Island off the coast of the Florida Panhandle is the setting for this book. I commend Evans; this setting transforms the tale into something other-worldly and sets a tone which works well for this archaeological mystery.

I enjoyed the fast action in "Findings" as well as the accurate historical information that Faye included throughout the book's 28 chapters. Adding in the well-known mystery surrounding what happened to the Confederacy gold was a nice way to give the plot further relevancy. Evans also covered some of the social issues surrounding individuals who are of mixed race, discussing Faye's biracial heritage and Joe's Native American descent. Faye Longchamp mysteries bring a nice addition to the mystery genre of a female sleuth who is both intellectual and charming.

Forsaken Soul: A Medieval Mystery
Priscilla Royal
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 East First Avenue, #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590585214, $24.95,

Reviewed by Tyler R. Tichelaar for Reader Views

"Forsaken Soul" is the fifth installment in Priscilla Royal's Medieval Mystery series. I have not read the previous books in the series, but I was able to follow the plot without any problem. In the beginning, I had a little difficulty remembering who all the characters were, but I quickly caught on. Royal drops hints to events from previous books, and it is clear the characters have been developed over the series, so I may have missed some of the significance in their relationships, but I do not think anyone would have difficulty following the story.

The main characters of the book, at least those most involved in solving the murder, are Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal Priory, her monk, Brother Thomas, whom she secretly loves, and Crowner Ralf, a type of medieval lawmen whose job it is to bring justice to the community. The excitement begins when Martin the Cooper is poisoned at the village inn while coupling with the local whore. Because of her relationship with Martin, the whore is suspected as his killer, but it is soon revealed other people in the village may have equally had reason to kill Martin.

For me, the most fascinating part of the book was the depiction of Juliana, an anchoress at the priory. Anchoresses typically walled themselves up in a small room they never left and into which food was brought to them. They also had a window where people could come and speak to them of their sins and seek advice. Part of the mystery revolves around how the suspects have all at different times visited the anchoress, and because their visits are nocturnal, it is whispered the anchoress is not as pious as she may seem. Speculation in the village even suggests Satan himself had a hand in the murder.

The medieval setting did not distract me from the story, nor was it overly detailed; in fact, I would not have minded more historical detail. What makes the book interesting is the type of tools people used back then to commit murder, so different from most modern mysteries where guns and advanced technical and chemical weapons are used. The religious viewpoints of the characters were also strongly depicted, making the reader understand how they struggled to understand God and whether he had a hand in their daily lives or would punish sinners through murder.

I also greatly enjoyed reading the Author's Notes, where she described her research into medieval England. While I would have liked more historical detail, Priscilla Royal clearly did her research on the time period and especially the religious occupations of the characters. Because of the intriguing historical setting and the original characters, I think any lover of mysteries or historical fiction will enjoy "Forsaken Soul."

Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children
Allison Bottke
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402-9173
9780736921350, $11.99,

Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views

Although Ms. Bottke's theme for "Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children: Six Steps to Hope and Healing for Struggling Parents" is not a new one, it is refreshing to see that she has given parents of adult children six steps on how to set boundaries.

Through the use of her own personal examples with her adult son, and examples from other parents Ms. Bottke is able to show us that through gentle mistakes we made while raising our children, we can set boundaries in their adulthood.

As a parent who has had recently two adult children move back home, I can honestly say I was ready to tear my hair out. Not that we don't love our children or want to help them in any way, we must learn not to enable them and have them make us their slave.

This reader found the 6 Steps to Sanity to be very helpful. The steps were something you could put use to right away. Most books of this nature tell you what you should and shouldn't do, but I always felt I was being blamed for bad parenting. I was especially impressed with learning to let your children go and identifying my own negative behavior. I was truly amazed at all I have done and still do to enable my children not to own up to their own responsibilities.

Every parent should read "Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children" and keep it within easy access. Each time one reads part of the book it helps them to take control of their life again and not feel we "owe" our children everything.

'Dillos: Roadkill on Extinction Highway?
W. R. Klemm
Benecton Press
9001 Grashbur Road, Bryant TX 77808-8719
9780975522523, $15.95,

Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views

Being a Texas resident, often experiencing armadillos as road kill, I wanted to know more. The "more" I got in Klemm's book "'Dillos" was definitely more than I expected!

One aspect I was interested in was what good armadillos were in nature, because my experience was a dug-up flower bed. I was pleased to find they eat the ever-growing population of locusts (known here as cicada) as well as other insects and grubs. Klemm also explains "These creatures not only look prehistoric, they are prehistoric. Direct ancestors of armadillos appear in the fossil record in South America and these are dated to have lived 55 to 60 million years ago." Interestingly enough, armadillos have evolved over time in order to survive the changing environment.

Klemm shows sketches of 8 living species of armadillos. They certainly have similar characteristics but definitely have the distinct differences. Living in underground burrows they are able to survive the Texas summers, but at the same time keep warm in colder winters of Louisiana. Like any other animal, their daily survival tasks are to find food. They sleep during the day, but forage during the early morning and late evening.

There is much more to this book than one could cover in a review. However, I do need to ask a question. Interested in tasting armadillo but don't know how to cook it? Klemm even gives recipes! How does Mu Shu Armadillos sound to you? Or Armadillo chili? I'm not quite ready to venture out and get myself an armadillo, but, if they keep digging up my garden as profusely as they have been lately, eating armadillo may be closer than one thinks!

Combining history, science, research, and his own experience with armadillos, Klemm gives a concise perspective of the animal. Reading "'Dillos: Roadkill on Extinction Highway?" gives the usually unlikeable mammal a place in our society and appreciation of its existence.

Supreme Confidence: Secrets to Bold and Fearless Living
Deborah Smith Pegues
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402-9173
9780736920629, $12.99,

Reviewed by Vicki Landes for Reader Views

Is your confidence utterly rock solid and able to sustain its uncompromising level despite new personalities and tricky situations that come into your life? Do you see your life's purpose with absolute clarity and can press on past any number of intimidating or discouraging factors? If not, author Deborah Smith Pegues has a fresh solution for you. In her book, "Supreme Confidence: Secrets to Bold and Fearless Living," she details her method for not only meeting these goals but doing so in a wholesome, Christian way.

Deborah Smith Pegues begins her book with a variety of reasons that contribute to personal insecurities and gives several Biblical character examples that suffer from the same negative mindset. She goes on to list some various roadblocks that hinder the progress towards this ultimate level of security, helpful strategies to overcome them, and good habits that would maximize one's chances of reaching and maintaining that much sought after confidence. "Supreme Confidence" is firmly grounded in Christian values and throughout the book, Deborah Smith Pegues references ample scriptures to ensure that any growth made is done so with God in mind.

"Supreme Confidence: Secrets to Bold and Fearless Living" is the perfect read for any Christian looking to live a more purpose-filled life. Deborah Smith Pegues writes with a very gentle and loving style that provokes her readers to fervently search for more within themselves. Well-organized and immediately attention-grabbing, the book and its methods will appeal to both mature men and women of faith. Her convincing message will have you saying, "Wow, I had no idea that was holding me back!"

Author Deborah Smith Pegues means to project a compelling and powerful message able to be followed with certainty and intention - and she does that remarkably well in her book, "Supreme Confidence: Secrets to Bold and Fearless Living." Radiating with a Christian's love of purpose, the book is a beautiful example of how life can be. If you are feeling like something in your life is suppressing you or holding you back, you'll learn that this something is simply your state of mind. "Supreme Confidence" is the roadmap to a better you.

Single Men Are Like Waffles, Single Women Are Like Spaghetti
Bill Farrel and Pam Farrel
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402-9173
9780736922494, $12.99

Reviewed by Leslie Granier for Reader Views

As the title indicates, "Single Men Are Like Waffles, Single Women Are Like Spaghetti: Friendship, Romance, and Relationships That Work" is about the many ways in which men and women differ. Men tend to compartmentalize their lives into small boxes (hence the waffle analogy) and focus only on one box at a time. Women's lives, on the other hand, are like cooked spaghetti on a plate. The pieces are intertwined, which symbolizes the amount of multitasking they do. When people learn to understand these inherent differences between the sexes, they can find ways to avoid problems and misconceptions.

This book also focuses on helping single people seek serious relationships. It stresses the importance of making specific, realistic, and achievable goals and being honest about what they desire so they will not spend time on relationships that will be doomed from the beginning. The authors provide questions for people to consider to determine if they are ready to start dating again after a difficult or painful breakup. Kinds of dates that will help people learn more about potential spouses are listed. These include co-hosting a party to see how they handle stress and planning issues. Another idea is to go on a long outing with children (such as nieces or nephews). If having a family is one of the goals, this will give insight into how a potential mate relates to children.

Examples of free or low-cost dates are given which will allow people to learn more about each other in quiet and stress-free situations. The pros and cons of the different ways of meeting people are discussed. Should someone aggressively seek another individual (i.e. internet dating sites) or passively wait for another person to find them?

At the end of each chapter there are humorous lists that relate to the topic of the chapter. There are also discussion questions for small groups to begin conversations about this book. The book, although not overwhelmingly religious in nature, discusses the importance of God's role in relationships and how one's relationship with God is the most important one of all.

Although Single Men Are Like Waffles, Single Women Are Like Spaghetti" is aimed at single men and women, all adults could use a refresher course on understanding how men and women differ. It is through the knowledge and acceptance of these differences that relationships will not only grow, but flourish.

Fool on the Hill: A Tess Camillo Mystery
Morgan Hunt
Alyson Books
245 W 17th St., Suite 1200, New York, NY 10789
9781593500276, $14.95,

Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views

Criminitlies! Author Morgan Hunt does it again with another excellent "Tess Camillo Mystery." This book follows Hunt's first Tess Camillo story "Sticky Fingers" and it is just as good, if not better. The story is fast-paced and packed full of grisly murder, intrigue and humor.

Middle-aged Tess Camillo has recovered from breast cancer and has a new clarity on life. She lives more in the moment now and is not as fearful since her previous close call with death when captured by a psychotic character in "Sticky Fingers." In this story, she still lives with her housemate Lana and her main confidante, Raj, her Welsh Terrier. You do not need to read "Sticky Fingers" to read this mystery, but it is a great read and I would highly recommend reading it.

The story begins when Tess and Lana attend a Cody Crowne concert. Cody was a popular musician from the 80s and is now an opening band for a larger act. Things go South after the concert. Unknown to anyone else, Cody is attacked and kidnapped. The next day when Tess goes for a walk in one of favorite spots in a park, she is horrified to find Cody crucified. As the grisly details of his death are revealed, she and Lana are so disturbed by what has occurred she decides to take a leave of absence from work to try to solve the murder.

This adventure brings more than Tess bargained for as she sharpens her amateur detective skills and meets a cast of motley and potentially dangerous characters. As the danger and intrigue grow Tess is pleasantly surprised to meet her first love interest since her breast cancer surgery. Nervous about having to reveal her mastectomy to a lover for the first time, Tess reveals to this new woman in her life that she is a breast cancer survivor.

The ending of "Fool on the Hill" brings a dangerous and surprising twist when Tess figures out who done it and she and Lana try to get proof to give to the police. Overall, I found this story to be very well written. It is a great book for those who enjoy a great mystery. The main character is a lesbian, but the book is written for all audiences. Hopefully we will see more of Tess Camillo in the future.

My Freaky Family
Kim Schaedler
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd, #515, Denver, CO 80134
9781432706173, $15.95,

Reviewed by Conner (age 4) and Mom for Reader Views

"My Freaky Family" introduces us to all the family members using alliterative descriptions.

"That was a short story."
"What did you think of it?"
"I like it and that's it."
"Is your family freaky?"
"No. Read it again Mommy, it's not very long."
"Mommy, why are the flowers growing in there [the mud pie]? That won't be good. I'll cough at that."
"I like the sister in salad dressing, mommy, and that's it."

Parent's comment:

The repetition of certain sounds or letters at the beginning of words is a fun way to get a child interested in words and making phrases, though at my son's age (4), he is still interested in content and the pictures. So a lot of the lessons in writing or word emphasis pass over his head. But "My Freaky Family" can be a tool to extend out the phrases about other family members and their follies.

Serial Connections
Mark De Binder
White Falcon Group Publishing
18 Depot Road. Hancock, NH 03449
9780979589706, $13.95,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

Chase Benton operates Serial Connections, a high tech company that utilizes both modern technology and psychics to catch serial killers. Chase and his team have state-of-the-art technology to help enhance their psychic abilities to solve crimes. Some of the team's abilities, especially Chase's have deep spiritual roots.

As this story gets going, Chase brings some people from the FBI in to work with the group at stopping some madmen. Chase quickly discovers that not all of them can be trusted. He also finds himself attracted to Seville who is very adept at her job. Seville is welcomed by the team and works really well with them. She is fascinated to see how the company operates and rapidly becomes one of them. As the murders continue the team finds their selves ready to sacrifice everything to stop them.

"Serial Connections" truly kept me sitting on the edge of my seat as I read it. Mark De Binder doesn't just torture you with a story about one evil serial killer; he takes you into the dark worlds of three of them. The method that the serial killers use to silence their victims is always painful and gruesome. The action in this story is nonstop. I found myself unable to put the book down because I had to see what would happen next, and I was dying to know who all of the people were that were involved.

"Serial Connections" is definitely a book will be enjoyed by fans of thrillers. De Binder has developed a complex plot that will stretch your imagination into areas that you might not want it to go. That's what makes it so fun. The incorporation of technology, psychic ability and spirituality makes the plot so much more exciting because it allows the characters to stretch themselves outside of the mundane world. I cannot wait to read forthcoming books in this series.

"Serial Connections" is a five-star thriller. I was unable to give it 5 stars because there were numerous grammatical errors that I felt detracted from the flow of the story. If future editions are properly edited, I will definitely revise this book from 4 stars to 5.

You're A Brave Man, Daniel!: Daniel 1-6
Kay Arthur and Janna Arndt
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402-9173
9780736901475, $9.99,

Reviewed by Brianne Plach (age 10) for Reader Views

Who is famous for getting thrown into a den of hungry lions but not get eaten? You probably have heard about Daniel in the Bible. If it was you or I that would be thrown into a lions' den, we would most likely panic and know that we were going to die. But Daniel wasn't worried? Why, because he knew God would help him. God wouldn't let that happen to him unless it was his time to die and go to live with Jesus. This is just one of the tough situations that Daniel found himself in throughout his life.

The name Daniel means "judged by God." Yes, Daniel was judged by God and how did he shape up? Daniel trusted in God through everything. God used him as an example of how we should be Christians through everything. What a great role model Daniel was for us. He always trusted in God above all things. We don't have to be worried about our futures because it has been planned out by God.

Kay Arthur has created a Bible study for kids in studying the remarkable man Daniel. Sections of Holy Scripture are studied in details. "You're a Brave Man, Daniel!" is a very easy-to-use and fun experience for kids 8-12 to learn more. I could easily see this book being used in a Bible School or Sunday School. There are word searches, puzzles and places to draw pictures throughout the book. You can personalize your experience by studying each page. You are bound to learn more about Daniel. By the time you're done, when you are asked who Daniel was, you will be able to say more than "he's that guy in the den of lions." By studying him, perhaps you will be able to handle being bullied like he was by Nebuchadnezzar and knowing that God is with you to defend you from any bully.

Note from Brianne's mother: For the last few months I have been attending a Bible class on the book of Daniel which Brianne attends with me. Through the use of "You're a Brave Man, Daniel!," she has been able to understand more about what is being said in Bible Class. It is my hope that she will be able to use him as an example when faced with difficult situations in her life too.

Marriage Revolution: Rethinking Your Relationship in Light of God's Design
Debra White Smith
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402-9173
9780736917674, $12.99,

Reviewed by Vicki Landes for Reader Views

Veteran author Debra White Smith proves that despite the over-50 books she has published, she hasn't run out of ideas yet. In fact, she's taken a subject - marriage - that has had an innumerable amount of how-to books written on every tiny aspect and produced a method so fresh and exciting, that it's bound to be the last marriage book you'll ever read.

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to get different results." White Smith begins her book with the famous and profound quote from Albert Einstein but it's Jesus Christ whom she draws her approach to marriage from. In "Marriage Revolution" she challenges her readers to completely reevaluate their current actions and attitudes toward achieving marital bliss - even those in 'good' and 'great' relationships. Instead, she wants you to experience an explosive, knock-your-socks-off love complete with a "high-level of attraction, terrific communication, mutual respect, tons of laughter, great romance, and exhilarating sex." No only does she more than deliver what she promises, she shows how it's done while maintaining Christian morals and values.

"Marriage Revolution" goes beyond the traditional norms, cultural obstacles, and struggles for equality to using Christ's example of leadership and servitude. Although some of her discussions will ruffle feathers of even current opinions of 'head of the household' and women in the church, they make sense. White Smith utilizes an abundance of scriptures to help explain her road to revolution, all while completely avoiding the 'femi-Nazi' attitude. The entire book radiates love, respect, and an ever-optimistic view of one of the most frustrating relationships that adults face.

Debra White Smith's "Marriage Revolution" is a wonderful read for Christian couples, whether just beginning their life as husband and wife or those well down that path. I would even recommend it as a Bible study for a group of couples as it's well-organized and the chapters provide a good structure for easy study and application. Each chapter even has an assignment for couples to put into immediate use as well as short prayers to ask God for specific help.

In "Marriage Revolution," Debra White Smith says it's time to stop trying to fix your marriage with old school tools that never actually worked in the first place. It's time to turn to a better example of unconditional love. It's time for a revolution.

The Prisoner: A Novel
Patrick M. Garry
Xlibris Corp.
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113-1513
9781425753481, $20.99,

Reviewed by Danielle Feliciano for Reader Views

This book is a prime example of the old adage "don't judge a book by its cover." At first look, the cover features what seems to be a tourist shot of a courtroom. It is blurry, unexciting and does nothing to make the reader want to pick the book up. However, if you can move past the poor cover design and open the book you will not be disappointed.

On the surface, "The Prisoner" is the story of Milo Krantz, a rent collector for a slumlord who stands accused of providing the gun used to slaughter a mother and her children. He is a career criminal who, though now working legitimately, has failed to redeem himself since his job is threatening people into paying their rent. Under the surface, however, is a man who feeds the very children whose parents can't pay rent. Milo at one point aspired to make more of himself and is ashamed of what he does, but hides it all under a façade of bravado and pride. This façade starts to break once he faces the judge who presides over his case.

Judge Donna Davis is a woman with a past she is trying to hide. Trapped in a marriage where both parties use each other to get ahead, she lives with the memories of the one man who stood by here when she was left blind and hospitalized after an accident. Those memories start to blend with reality once she is faced with Milo Krantz in her courtroom. Detective Gunther Mulvaney is the person who arrested Milo and who starts to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Under the surface story of "The Prisoner" you will find a deeper story of true love, lost love and the effects it has on our lives. The most interesting thing about the way this love story was written is the way the author intertwined both Donna and Milo's memories of their story. Rather than see it from only one perspective, the reader is able to see it from both sides which helps make it more real. As much as these two people may have been mismatched and from different worlds, they truly loved each other and it was impossible not to want them to end up together. The ending of the book was heartbreaking, but real. The author did not cop out and give the reader a happy, tidy ending. Mr. Garry gave the reader a realistic ending to a story that was tragic from the beginning. I look forward to more work from this talented author.

Logan's Hill: The Blood Brothers of the Night
John M. Scanlan
Bookmasters, Inc.
30 Amberwood Pkwy, PO Box 388, Ashland, OH 44805
9780975540527, $24.95

Reviewed by Gina Holland for RebeccasReads

In my younger days, it seems as though things were not as complicated as they are today. I wish that I had lived in a small town like Circleville. Everyone knows everybody and so it seems, people look out for one another. That's the kind of childhood I would have wanted, except I would not want to endure the things that these kids in Logan's Hill come up against. Sadly it happens everyday.

The novel begins with some kids initiating their friends into a boys' club called Blood Brothers of the Night. Remember blood brothers? Where you would prick your finger and make it bleed and then rub it on the other person's bleeding thumb? Back then it was sort of safe, now I would be worried about catching something deadly sharing blood with someone else! Anyway, as the story goes on about the young men, we learn about Kevin Kiley and his two adult friends he calls Goons. Why? I haven't a clue, as I am not sure it was even explained in the story. Maybe it was, maybe I just missed it. That would be because I couldn't wait until the end to find out what happens. Kevin and his goons are on the run from New York City where they killed a policeman. They come upon a small town (Circleville) in which they need to get gas. Thus begins the coming together of everyone in this once quiet town. Something about a black bag being left in the gas station bathroom, a boy named Alex who just wants so badly to keep the bag, and Kevin and Goons who badly need to get this bag back. The Blood Brothers are definitely in danger. What do they do about it? The story just comes full circle, as the criminals meet the brotherhood and the ending is just so wonderful. The author kept it simple. That was what I liked the best.

I would recommend "Logan's Hill: The Blood Brothers of the Night" to teens and adults. It is written with both mystery and fascination. The story kept me reading on and eagerly awaiting the end to see what happens. I was pleasantly pleased with the story and the author. Marines can definitely read and write!

My Sister the Vampire #1: Switched
Sienna Mercer
10 East 53rd St., New York, NY10022
9780060871130, $5.99

Reviewed by Simon Smith (age 9) for Reader Views

"My Sister the Vampire #1: Switched" is a great book. It is about a girl named Olivia who moved to a different school because of her dad's job. She was nervous and upset because she had to move. She found out that she had a twin sister whose name is Ivy when they were talking to each other in science class one day. Later, they decide to switch identities so that they could do different things at the same time. Once, while Olivia was covering for Ivy at a meeting, she thought that all of the people at the meeting had a weird sense of humor because at the beginning of the meeting they said their secrets would be cloaked in darkness and would never see the light of day. Little did she realize that all of the people at the meeting were vampires!

Later she finds out that Ivy is a vampire and a lot of the people at her school are, too. Olivia is exactly the opposite of a vampire. She doesn't wear black, she loves garlic, and her skin is not pale. Olivia is sort of scared of all of these vampires. By the end of the book her feelings changed because one of the vampires at the meeting became her friend. The book ends with Ivy and Olivia deciding to stick together even though one is a vampire and one is not.

I think that the author, Sienna Mercer, is great at writing and should keep up the good work. Sienna Mercer did an excellent job of showing how even vampires can be good guys if you don't treat them like Brussel sprouts. I also liked it a lot how Sienna Mercer used some of the myths about vampires (like the weakness for garlic) but not others (like vampires not being able to see their own reflection).

This book is a good choice for both genders and kids ages seven and up. The words weren't too complicated but she made the story very good. "My Sister the Vampire #1: Switched" is the first in a series and I can't wait to read the other.

My Sister the Vampire #3: Re-Vamped!
Sienna Mercer
10 East 53rd St., New York, NY10022
9780060871185, $5.99

Reviewed by Simon Smith (age 9) for Reader Views

"My Sister the Vampire #3: Re-Vamped!" is the third book in a series that tells about the lives of twin sisters. Their names are Olivia and Ivy. Olivia, who loves garlic and bright colors, is the opposite of Ivy, who is more of a goth and likes black and hates garlic. And did I mention that Ivy is a vampire? Even though Ivy is a vampire, Olivia is not much bothered by it. At the end of the first book, they swore to stay together, vampire or not.

Because Ivy and Olivia were adopted at birth, the parents who are raising them did not realize that they were twins. The book starts with Olivia explaining to her parents that she has a twin sister. Then Ivy did the same thing with her dad. Then Ivy's dad started to think that a vampire and a human being related was odd because human and vampire cross-breeds sometimes came out very odd. One of the cross-breeds had four heads - and that wasn't the weirdest one!

The main plot of the book is Olivia and Ivy trying to get into a special information vault that they think will tell them where their real parents came from. But when they were in the information vault, the security cameras caught them. Then, the vampires knew that Olivia knew that vampires existed which no human is supposed to know. To make sure that she was worthy of knowing about the secret of vampires, they tested her. Olivia had to pass three tests and I don't want to give away the whole book; but the first test was her having to sleep in a coffin from dawn until dusk.

I think that Sienna Mercer is a great author and should keep on writing these "My Sister the Vampire" books because out of all the books that I have read (and I have read a lot of books), "My Sister the Vampire #3: Re-Vamped!" is one of the best. She has made a great book with consistent action, adventure, and mystery. I think that this book is okay for both genders and, as an age rating, I would say eight and up. I hope Sienna Mercer will write a lot more books because I enjoy them a lot.

The January Girl
Goldie Taylor
Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Ave., New York, NY 10017
9780446179560, $13.99

Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views

Thandy Malone appears to have everything going for her. She is a young black woman that has just become a president at an investment company. She appears to have it all, success, money and beauty. While it appears that she was born with a golden spoon, her past holds some very sad secrets. Escaping from an abusive home, she ran off with a man that became a drug dealer. She had a child to him, and when he got caught, she lost everything. Being a strong survivor, Thandy turned herself into a success, while still keeping her past a secret. Not even her daughter knew that her father was in prison.

Ten years ago, Thandy got involved with a wealthy, married surgeon. At the time, it appeared he would leave his wife. Well that never happened and when Thandy finds out that he is cheating on her as well, she dumps him. She moves to Chicago to take on her new career. She discovers that her situation was more complicated than she realized. Her lover, Jack is devastated. It takes her leaving him for him to realize how much she meant to him.

Jack's wife, Etienne, is an alcoholic. Years of Jack's inattentiveness caused her to turn to alcoholism for solace. She finally finds strength within herself to stand up for herself and her children. In "The January Girl," both women have to come to terms with their pasts so that they can clean up their futures. They discover the true depths of their inner strength. Unfortunately, for both of them, having to deal with betrayal is a huge part of their growth.

"The January Girl" is so real. It will really hit home for you when you find yourself relating to those moments in your life, when you find yourself doing something that you promised yourself you would never do, like trying to save your relationship with an unfaithful man. I really loved the depth of Thandy's character. I don't think that getting involved with a married man is the best choice; however, she was able to learn and grow from the experience. It made me feel really good that it took Jack the pain of losing her, to wake up to what he had.

I highly recommend "The January Girl." I would love to see a future book with the rest of Etienne's story in it. This is a perfect selection for a woman's readers group.

Alphabetical Sleepy Sheep (with CD)
Rory Zuckerman
Little Lion Press
4911 Cumberland Ave., Chevy Chase, MD 20815
9780979639319, $7.95,

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2) and Max (age 20-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

"Alphabetical Sleepy Sheep" is a bedtime board book that teaches the letters of the alphabet through fun rhymes. The book has an accompanying audio CD that plays the story and has a sheep "Baaaa" so little ones know when to turn the page.

Cayden: "Look! He has letter magnets on his fridge like we do!"
Max: "Magnets!"

Max: "Bike!"
Cayden: "Yes Max that is a bike! We have bikes!"

Cayden: "Indigo? That's not indigo, that is purple!"

Cayden: "I like the 'A' page because she is pulling the alligator."

Cayden: "I also like the page with all of the letters in a row because I like to name them."

Cayden: "I liked this book! It was really fun!"
Max: "Fun! Sheep!"

Parent's comments:

"Alphabetical Sleepy Sheep" is another great book from the Sleepy Sheep series! It is both fun and educational. Cayden loved pointing out and naming the letters on each page. The CD was wonderful as well and is easy for preschoolers to follow as there is a "Baaaa" every time it is time to turn the page. This book is definitely a creative and engaging way to teach children their letters!

Colorful Sleepy Sheep (with CD)
Rory Zuckerman
Little Lion Press
4911 Cumberland Ave., Chevy Chase, MD 20815
9780979639326, $7.95,

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2) and Max (age 20-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

"Colorful Sleepy Sheep" is a board book in the Sleepy Sheep series which explores ten different colors through fun rhymes. The book also has a CD enclosed that reads the story to your child.

Cayden: "I like these sheep books mom!"

Cayden: "She's coloring!"
Max: "Color! Color! Crayon!"
Cayden: "I have crayons."
Max: "Blue!"

Cayden: "Look Max! He has a big banana on his head!" (followed by hysterical laughter)

Cayden: "What's chartreuse? Isn't that color supposed to be green?"

Parent's comments:

"Colorful Sleepy Sheep" is another great Sleepy Sheep bedtime story. Cayden really enjoyed going through the book trying to teach Max colors. The only thing that was confusing to Cayden was the inclusion of the color chartreuse as this is not a commonly used color in children's books. The CD that accompanies is wonderful and even a preschooler can sit and go through the book on his own as the CD has a "Baaaa" sound every time it is time to turn the page. This is an excellent book and we highly recommend it!

Counting Sleepy Sheep (with CD)
Rory Zuckerman
Little Lion Press
4911 Cumberland Ave., Chevy Chase, MD 20815
9780979639333, $7.95,

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2) and Max (age 20-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

"Counting Sleepy Sheep" is a sturdy bedtime board book that explores numbers 1-10 through a fun rhyming story about a little boy who can't sleep so he tries counting sheep. The book also has an accompanying audio CD that reads the story and has a sheep "Baaaa" so little ones know when to turn the page.

Cayden: "Cool! This book has a CD! Mom, can we listen to the CD and read the story after you read it to us?"

Cayden: "He can't fall asleep. I always can't fall asleep every night."
Max: "Sleep! Bed!"

Cayden: "Look, there is the number 4! And there is the number 5!"

Cayden: "She is fixing the wagon wheel with a wrench! I have a wrench in my toolbox!"
Max: "Tool!"

Cayden: "He is playing hoop ball!"

Cayden: "Max- look! That sheep's name is Max too!"
Max: "Max!"

Cayden: "My favorite page was number 2 because I was 2 after I was 1. I also like 3 because that is how old I am now."

Parent's comments:

My children absolutely loved this book, both with me reading it and listening to it on the CD. The illustrations were very eye-catching and the rhymes were a lot of fun. Cayden especially liked identifying the numbers printed on each sheep and trying to get Max to repeat them after him. He also felt like a "big boy" listening to the audio CD because he could do it all by himself as there was a sheep "Baaaa" when it was time to turn the page. He listens to it over and over again counting along with them. "Counting Sleepy Sheep" is a very fun educational book and we highly recommend it!

Shapely Sleepy Sheep (with CD)
Rory Zuckerman
Little Lion Press
4911 Cumberland Ave., Chevy Chase, MD 20815
9780979639340, $7.95,

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2) and Max (age 20-months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

"Shapely Sleepy Sheep" is a board book in the Sleepy Sheep series that teaches ten different shapes through a series of rhymes. The book has a CD accompanying it which reads the story to your child and has a "Baaaa" sound effect when it is time to turn the page.

Cayden: "Why is that other guy opening Lulubelle's present? It is not his birthday so he shouldn't be opening it! "

Cayden: "You bang on the triangle with that triangle banger and it makes music."
Max: "Sing!"

Cayden: "Moons are really circles and not crescents. I like moons better that are circles."

Cayden: "Why does he like painting arrows?"
Max: "Paint!"

Cayden: "A bed is a rectangle, like a couch is a rectangle too."

Cayden: My favorite page was where he was painting arrows because I like to paint! Let's go through the book and name all of the shapes again! I will teach you them Max!"
Max: "Teach!"

Parent's comments:

"Shapely Sleepy Sheep" is a fun book to teach or reinforce knowledge of shapes. Like the other Sleepy Sheep books this one also has a lot of fun rhymes and colorful illustrations. The CD is great as well as even a young child can follow along with the story and know when to turn the page when they hear the "Baaaa" sound. We highly recommend this book and all of the other books in the series!

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