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A More Obedient Wife
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9780615135168, $21.50, www.lulu.com www.amazon.com
It's always a pleasure to discover a new award-winning writer with a decided gift for storytelling. Natalie Wexler is just such an author whose novel "A More Obedient Wife" has won both the Writer's Digest International Self-Published Book Awards and the Independent Publisher Book Awards. Two women in the 1790s (each in a troubled marriage to a Supreme Court Justice), become unexpectedly embroiled in judicial politics while having to deal with problematic personal relationships and family lives. A deftly written and complex novel that touches upon themes of depression, addiction, infidelity, friendship, and the relationship between spouses of radical different personas, "A More Obedient Wife" is a riveting read and highly recommended for both personal and community library historical fiction collections.
PO Box 22324, Flagstaff, AZ 86002
9780980060812, $16.95, www.amazon.com
The art of making bread is one of mankind's oldest culinary skills. "Wild Bread" by Lisa Rayner is more than just another 'how to' book on baking bread. What is unique is her presentation of step-by-step instructions on baking such culinary delights as San Francisco sourdough, crusty French artisan loaves, dense Russian ryes, Italian ciabatta, Indian naan, pita bread, and Ethiopian injera crepes. Also provided are 'kitchen cook friendly' recipes for everything from pizza crusts and whole wheat sandwich bread, to bagels and sweet doughs. Highly recommended for personal, family, and community library cookbook collections, "Wild Bread" is spiral bound to lay flat upon the kitchen table or counter -- always a good thing.
It Gets Better!
Maria Machado Munroe
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781438907468, $13.99, www.authorhouse.com
Cancer is not something to fear; it's something to be fought. "It Gets Better! What I Learned from Cancer" is one woman's account of her battle with one of the things people dread most, cancer. Through boldness and strong character, author Maria Munroe overcame her disease and hopes to inspire her readers to rise up and do the same. Motivating and helpful, "It Gets Better!" is a fine tale of beating cancer.
The Coldest Day of the Year
LeAnn R. Ralph
There has to be something to occupy one's time on those dull winter days. "The Coldest Day of the Year: True Fall & Winter Stories from a Wisconsin Farm" is a collection of true-life anecdotes about a small farm in Wisconsin and how one girl grew up on her farm. Entertaining and a picture of the dedicated human spirit, "The Coldest Day of the Year" is fascinating and enlightening reading.
Raven Comes to Call
Aerial Raven Dreams
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533159789, $7.95, www.vantagepress.com
"Raven Comes to Call" is the debut anthology of poetry from one Aerial Raven Dreams, reaching out to a wide spectrum of human emotions and concerns. "Raven Comes to Call" is a fine selection of poetry from a fine poet. "Healing Warmth": The rising sun glowed/A radiant, burnished gold/And soothed my sad soul.
Game Plan for a Novel
Gianna Manzini, author
Martha King, translator
7290 Investment Drive B, North Charleston, SC 29418
9781599101125, $15.00, www.booksurge.com
To write a novel, one is taking a trip to another world - a world that they have to build themselves brick by brick. "Game Plan for a Novel" follows an author as she starts on her novel and follows her story's evolution as well as her daily life. Italian author Gianna Manzini puts forth an exciting, somewhat autobiographical story that reveals much about herself but never stops being entertaining. Deftly translated into English by Martha King, "Game Plan for a Novel" is a fine read for world fiction fans.
The Gray Warriors
Carol Lavelle Snow & Howard Thomas Snow
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Milton Kahn Associates (publicity)
PO Box 50353, Santa Barbara, CA 93150
9780595523276, $13.95, www.iuniverse.com
Odds are often overwhelming, but does not mean they cannot be overcome. "The Gray Warriors" tells the story of helicopter pilot Josh Phillips as he works with the DEA on a mission to Peru. Terrorists, however, have no intentions of letting the mission go well. Outnumbered by a huge margin, Josh Phillips and his men must overcome a crashed helicopter to find justice, and to survive the battle of Santa Lucia. "The Gray Warriors" is an action-packed adventure novel sure to keep the reader glued to the pages.
Your Daddy Ain't Rich
Robert O. Boyington
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432714826, $12.95, www.outskirtspress.com
Most of the world wasn't born into a ludicrous fortune. "Your Daddy Ain't Rich... So You Have to Work" is a guide to the workplace and how to establish oneself for a lifetime. Ethics, improving yourself, being a good employee are all discussed within, and all are essential points in being a good worker. "Your Daddy Ain't Rich" is something to be considered by anyone in the workforce.
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533156191, $8.95, www.vantagepress.com
Who knew the story of a golf ball could be so interesting? "Body English" is an exploration of the human spirit through the eyes of an inanimate object with human characteristics. Following the ball's adventures through the military, jewelry thieves, and generous Italian families, a story unfolds through the blank slate of the ball's mind. "Body English" is a unique way of conveying a message but gets the job done.
Caenus and the Quiver of Artemis
Christopher S. Ledbetter
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432734138, $9.95, www.outskirtspress.com
Love is a powerful value to some, but can it be the most powerful? "Caenus and the Quiver of Artemis" follows Prince Caenus as he falls for a beautiful peasant woman, in a story set in Ancient Greece. But a ruthless fellow Prince will create trouble for him; Caenus is viewed as a crazy man as he encounters the gods and demons. He will do anything just for a peasant. "Caenus and the Quiver of Artemis" is a fine fantasy sure to give fans of classical mythology something to enjoy.
Beyond Going Postal
Stephen D. Musacco
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
An unhealthy work environment can prove disastrous in the long run. "Beyond Going Postal: Shifting From Workplace Tragedies and Toxic Work Environments To a Safe and Healthy Organization" is a guide to dealing with disgruntled employees before their anger spills over into something far worse. The United States Postal Service (in which Musacco served in for over thirty years) is used as a model of what not to do! Intended especially for companies and employers that care about their employees' happiness - even if only as a self-defense measure - "Beyond Going Postal" is a fine read.
Shadows of War
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
Germany is not a country that had one way of life for all of the twentieth century. "Shadows of War: A German Life in the Century of Extremes" takes a wide-ranging look at author Klaus Agthe and his family during three periods of Germany's history. The eras covered are pre-World War I Imperial Germany, a European power; the postwar depression and rise of the Nazi party; and the Cold War division of Berlin. "Shadows of War" is a fine look at the German people, and is highly recommended.
The universe is infinite, so the chances of having something unusual happen are higher than one would think. "Probability Angels" is the story of Matthew Huntington, a man who has been dead for over twenty years. A story of strange events and piecing one's life together after it's already over, author Joseph Devon tells a story that is sure to please many a reader as they laugh and think at the same time. "Probability Angels" is a treat of a novel, as is another work from Joseph Devon, "15 Stories" (9781440458262, $8.99), a delightful anthology.
Life Under the Corporate Microscope
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432733933, $15.95, www.outskirtspress.com
A company doesn't become a major player overnight. "Life Under the Corporate Microscope: A Maverick's Irreverent Perspective" is the story of author Larry Underwood, who worked for the well-known national car rental company Enterprise Rent-A-Car. He joined the company in the mid-seventies and stayed with them for almost three decades as they became one of the biggest companies in the field of car rental. Telling many personal stories with wit and wisdom, "Life Under the Corporate Microscope" gives a personal look at the growth of the supposedly faceless corporation.
The Ottoman Empire
Suraiya Faroqhi, author
Shelley Frisch, translator
Markus Wiener Publishers
231 Nassau Street, Princeton, NJ 08542
9781558764491, $26.95, www.markuswiener.com
Christianity had the Roman Empire; Islam had the Ottoman Empire. "The Ottoman Empire: A Short History" traces the history of one of the longest standing empires known to man. Chapters cover the post-Crusades period, the Ottoman Empire's constant conflicts with Europe, Russia, and other neighbors who successfully resisted its rule, and much more. Looking at how the empire managed its own internal affairs and the strong role Islam played, "The Ottoman Empire" serves as a fine introduction to this historical entity, deftly translated from the original German by Shelley Frisch.
Black Light Rising
Michael F. Rudder
9781847482808, $23.95, www.athenapress.com
Sea borders have always been a hotly debated topic between countries. "Black Light Rising" follows the story of a mysterious uninhabited island near Barbados. Many countries soon rise claim to the new landmass. The political claims, however, soon take a backseat to a strange phenomenon of black light that wreaks havoc with the technology of the conflicting nations. A scientific and political thriller, "Black Light Rising" is a very enjoyable read.
Let Your Innate Sing
William A. Kriva
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432733902, $18.95, www.outskirtspress.com
There are many sacrifices people make for a comfortable existence. Don't let personal dreams be one of them. "Let Your Innate Sing: The Key to Finding the Life of Your Dreams" is an inspirational guide to breaking out of an emotionally draining but tiresome job to pursue one's dreams. Drawing on author William A. Kriva's own experience of searching for his dreams, "Let the Innate Sing" is a fine inspirational manual.
Land of Men
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595526437, $18.95, www.iuniverse.com
You never know what you'll find when you embark on a sea journey. The novel "Land of Men" follows Samuel Dover as he tries to fulfill his naval dreams, but ends up getting so much more. His ship supposedly cursed, he finds himself landing on a remote island called Nuka Hiva - nearly two hundred years in the past. This daunting situation may turn into everything Sam has ever wanted when he sees Kaitu, who may be the woman of his dreams. "Land of Men" is a fine time travel romp into romance, highly recommended.
M. Carol Coffey
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432731908, $12.95, www.outskirtspress.com
Zoe Lucky isn't very lucky. "Zoe Lucky: And the Green Gables Mystery" follows young teenager Zoe as she copes with being home alone after her father passes on and her mother enters the working world. Even more scary is that a burglar is on the loose! The last thing Zoe needs as she enters young adulthood is for romance to strike her for the first time. "Zoe Lucky" is a charming book for younger teenage readers, giving them much to relate to.
The Love of You
Catherine N. Crumber
Pure Victory Entertainment
9780615248011, $12.95, www.purevictoryentertainment.com
What can prayer really do? "The Love of You" is a novel with a Christian slant, focusing on the power of prayer. Three women, their lives in disarray with little hope for the future, turn to the church. An elder of the church shows them that with a little prayer and faith, they can find the strength to face the days to come. "The Love of You" is a charming and empowering Christian novel.
Kathleen M. Henry
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595524129, $10.95, www.iuniverse.com
Catholicism is as wide reaching as it is old. "Critical Mass" is a series of short stories entwined around the traditions of Catholicism, with a focus on its weekly tradition of mass. Centering on the perspective of four women over the course of a century, author Kathleen M. Henry spills a riveting commentary on the nature of the church and its problems. Critical and intriguing, "Critical Mass" is well worth the read for any fiction reader who likes a message with their story.
Growing Up Without the Goddess
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781419693533, $20.99, www.growingupwithoutthegoddess.com
The mind does not like terrible things, so it will often repress them. "Growing Up Without the Goddess: A Journey Through Sexual Abuse to the Sacred Embrace of Mary Magdalene" is the psychological coping of author Sandra Pope. When her mind continues to give her visions of a haunting past, she prays to the figure of Mary Magdalene, whom she says gives her the power to finally name the one responsible. A dive into the world of faith and repressed memories, "Growing Up Without the Goddess" is a fine and highly recommended read.
A Life Remembered
Pearl Roberts D'Andrea
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533159987, $8.95, www.vantagepress.com
Some things only narrowly avoid obscurity. "A Life Remembered" is a collection of poems from Pearl Roberts D'Andrea. Her poems might have been lost to time if her husband Frank had not found them after her death. Collected and edited with love and care, her work is now presented for the public to read. A charming view of a woman's life through poetry, "A Life Remembered" is solidly recommended. "My New Year's Wish for You": Love in your heart, for your fellow men,/Strength, when you stumble, to rise again,/Faith, as a light to lead you on,/Hope, when you feel that light is gone.
Fifty Is Not a Four-Letter Word
5 Spot (Hachette)
In 2003 Hope Lyndhurst-Steele believes strongly her upcoming fiftieth birthday is no milestone as nothing will change in her near perfect life. However, just after her birthday, her world collapses. Her mom announces she is dying with just a few months to live. Hope's husband Jack says he cannot cope with her cynicism and upside down values accentuated when she is more upset that he told their son Olly before her that he is leaving her and moves out. She is also upset to see Olly hanging around with the neighborhood tramp, the older single mom Vanessa; Hope tells her to leave her son alone only to upset her son. Hope feels no hope as she flees for Paris to reassess her relationships.
This is an interesting character study of a fifty year old woman whose world implodes and has to look closely at her set ways and decide whether changing is worth the cost. Hope is a fascinating protagonist but the use of her viewpoint abates the impact of how the others feel as we only know them through a Hope filter. Still this is a difficult read as the heroine learns fifty is a four-letter word and changing one's spots is extremely difficult; that is if a person truly wants to change.
The Soul Collector
Crime writer and weekly columnist Matt Wells knows how lucky he is to have survived his encounter several years ago in London with the serial killer White Devil (see THE DEATH LIST); he even was dating the sister Sara Robbins of the deadly brilliant predator. Though the White Devil is no more, he still fears an avenging Sara even though his lover Detective Chief Investigator Karen Oaten, who once suspected he was the White Devil, swears Sara is no threat.
However, history sort of repeats it self when a renowned mystery writer is murdered; and Matt receives a message explaining that he can save the life of the next intended victim if he solves a word puzzle quick enough. As the death count rises along with the cryptic notes from the SOUL COLLECTOR, Matt knows once again he must face the devil without blinking.
This is as gripping a thriller as its predecessor. The Soul Collector is diabolical and methodical working through a death list that shakes Matt to the core. He feels like a murder magnet but knows what he must do even if Karen pleads with him to let the police handle it. Graphic and gruesomely grim, Paul Johnson writes an electrifying serial killer sequel even if predators sending taunting clues have become overused by the sub-genre.
Darkness Under Heaven
Concerned for the safety of foreign VIP visitors attending a conference in China, the government hires American security expert Peter Avakian to provide personal security to the international attendees. At the same time, the U.S. government hires Avakian and physician Dr. Judy Rose, who has become an espionage agent, to help obtain the release of an American gymnast incarnated in Beijing on the charge of shoplifting.
However, the worst case scenario occurs when someone assassinates the Taiwanese president. Three Chinese soldiers attack Avakian, who kills them. Judy and Peter are in trouble as they know the Chinese government plans to arrest them if they are not killed. Forced to flee Beijing, their chances of getting out of the city let alone the country alive is slim to none.
The key to this exciting action-packed thriller is China as seen through foreigners on the run. Avakian is a terrific hero who keeps the story line focused while he and Dr. Rose are called terrorists by the Communist government, which will have readers pondering over who defines a terrorist and what the parameters are. Fans will enjoy Avakian's tour of Beijing and beyond as escape seems almost impossible.
5 Bodies to Die For
Atlanta remains gripped with terror as The Charmed Killer continues to intimidate the city. Meanwhile Carlotta Wren hides at the home of her former fiance Peter, but his late wife's presence dominates his residence; besides his elite pals hold her culpable for sharing the DNA of her father who pulled a few fiscal stunts on them; ergo she is unwelcome.
Her body-mover friend Cooper and his assistant her brother Wesley are finding business a bit slow in spite of the antics of the Charmed Killer. In spite of the down turn in the economy causing less professional corpse transportation, as always, Carlotta finds life out of control.
The fifth body movers' thriller continues Carlotta's adventures as a corpse and hunk magnet as the dead pile up while police detective Jack, her former fiance Peter, and Cooper the professional body mover want her. The overarching plot makes snail progress leading to whether Carlotta is losing her Mojo or just filler. Still the lighthearted romp retains its graveyard jocularity that is a trademark of the series while fans will wonder who the last man standing will be in the Carlotta sweepstakes.
In Virgin River, Cameron sadly muses how ironic life is. He and his former pediatric partners met at the Davenport Hotel Steak House in Grants Pass while Abby attended a wedding there. Attracted to one another, they had a fling that he thought he outgrew and she never had one before. He sought her out the next day, but she was gone. When Doc Mullins died, he moved to Virgin River to change his lifestyle; Abby arrived soon after carrying his twins. He wants to marry her and raise a family with her, but she rejects his advances.
Marine corporal Rick went to Iraq a boy, but came home early a shattered man who sees a dark future due to the leg. Liz who loves him refuses to accept his rejection as she keeps in her heart what the retired military like Jack and the General (who misses his Muriel while she is in Hollywood) told her; those who love a wounded warrior are wounded too and never leave your loved ones behind. Others like newcomer Dan pray for a fresh start here as people before him have achieved; Cheryl who has a past too gives him hope.
Paraphrasing the early 1960s TV show the naked City, "there are 8 million stories" in the Virgin River community and Robyn Carr nicely balances several of them. The key to this well written multi-faceted contemporary tale is the ensemble cast; for instance the eight players named above are fully developed with different personalities while other returning citizens enhance the current tale. Filled with angst and pathos, fans of Robin Carr's quiet salute to the veterans will enjoy the latest trip to Virgin Rover.
Alicia Ponte finds her sheltered home shattered when she learns her father Richard, CEO of an arms manufacturing firm, is selling his company's most deadly products to terrorists. Upset she flees, but her angry father sends a thug to retrieve his daughter, who always obeyed him before.
John Nightwalker helps Alicia elude her controlling father's henchmen. She is attracted to her protector, but remains ignorant as to his mission. For centuries through numerous lives, Nightwalker has tried but always failed to bring Ponte to karmic justice. He knows he must tell her, but doubts she will believe in reincarnation or that he is attracted to her; instead he assumes she will try to run away from a lunatic.
This terrific romantic fantasy is not an easy tale to read with the complications of reincarnation compounded by the premise of how to kill an apparent immortal. Nightwalker is a great hero who keeps trying though he feels he is running on a treadmill sort of like the movie Groundhog's Day; the hard part of returning for the next battle is to know that after this one you will return for the next battle for eternity. Alicia is an innocent who is shocked to learn her caring father is actually a nasty international villain; she cannot handle much more as she flees, but deeper earthquakes to her mental state comes. Readers will relish this super thriller with a fabulous karma finish that seems right but quite the stunner.
In 1979 former legal aid attorney Harrison J. Walker struggles to make a success of his legal practice having gone private because he could no longer handle the stupidity of what was expected of him; which rarely was in the interest of his indigent client. In the middle of the night Jay receives a call from a distressed woman who begs him to defend her son. Inez Kingston says her adult child Darren has been accused of five counts of rape. Jay agrees to defend Darren.
In the Castle Hill section of the Bronx, five different women picked Darren as their attacker. The DA believes it has an iron-clad case. Jay reluctantly agrees, but will insure he mounts the best defense he can. After interviewing his client, Jay begins to believe perhaps Darren is innocent. However, with each woman adamant even Jay goes back to his original position of guilty. Still as this case works through the process, Jay knows this case has fundamentally changed how he looks at the system. Decades later with his spouse dead for ten years and their daughter in her thirties, he knows the Castle Hill rapist case will always haunt him.
Jaywalker's second legal thriller (see THE TENTH CASE) is once again an insightful look at the dysfunctional American jurisprudence system from the perspective of an attorney whose outlook on defending his clients is much different than the typical lawyer. This case occurs much earlier than the previous book as this time the relatively inexperienced Jaywalker learns the tricks of the trade in a defense that haunts him three decades later. With a historical feel to the pre-DNA legal system of the 1970s, fans will enjoy Joseph Teller's deep look at injustice, American style.
The Wind Comes Sweeping
Marik Youngblood fled Oklahoma after her family forced her to give up her baby for adoption. When her father died, Marik returns home saddled with a failed cattle ranch and a debt that in her mind rivals the Feds. She would prefer to get rid of the financial elephant but made a death bed promise to her dad. Desperate to bring in income, she leases part of the Killdeer Ridge Ranch to a firm building windmills in order to use wind turbines to create energy.
Marik's action angers Burt and Lena Gurdman, who own the neighboring ranch. However, Marik is unconcerned with the Gurdman ire as she has bills to pay until a dead bald eagle is found by a windmill; she believes Burt is trying to use the endangered species act to force her to shut down. However, the excavation is actually halted when the remains of an infant is dug up. Marik fears the unmarked grave contained her child whom she was told was living a happy life. Needing to know the truth Marik begins to investigate further upsetting the Gurdman couple especially an outraged Burt.
Although the pace starts slow, once Marik begins her amateur sleuthing, the story line accelerates into a fast-paced suspense with romance in the air. Marik is terrific as she tries to save her heritage, learn who the remains are, and praying it is not her daughter whom she hopes to one day meet. Marcia Preston writes an interesting Oklahoma character driven contemporary tale with an intriguing subplot re windmills on the plains that oilman T-Boone Pickens would appreciate.
The Inn at Eagle Point
In Chesapeake Bay, Jess O'Brien realizes she is in financial trouble and the inn she is renovating may have to go on the market. Jess asks her older sister Abby Winters, a financial genius, to come home to help save the inn from foreclosure.
Abby plans to assist Jess a bit, but will not stay long as she and the rest of the family are somewhat estrange though she took care of them when mom deserted them. To her chagrin, her former lover, Trace Riley holds the mortgage paper that Jess must pay off or lose everything. He demands she stay in town if she wants to buy time for her sibling. Abby never forgot Trace and still wants him, but a bad marriage and relocating her five years old twins (Caitlyn and Carrie) at a time the ex Wes wants full custody cause her to hesitate as she grasps she who hesitates may be lost, but she feels lost either way.
Leaving Serenity, South Carolina, Sherryl Woods introduces her fans to the Chesapeake Shores series with an engaging contemporary family drama. The cast is solid especially the lead female protagonist who finds herself feeling engulfed by a 360 degree blob as her sister, other family members, her kids, her ex and her former lover place conflicting demands on her. Although too many plot machinations occur to limit the heroine's choices detract from the tale (making Abby choose would have left her more vulnerable from those she failed to satiate), fans will enjoy the story of the over-achiever.
4 Bodies and a Funeral
Still mentally reeling from her friend Michael Lane trying to kill her (see 3 MEN AND A BODY), Carlotta Wren is back in Atlanta returning to work at Neiman Marcus. However, her first day back at the job is as wacky as her recent trip to Florida when some lunatic brandishing cake as a weapon tries to get close to Olympic athlete Eva McCoy. Carlotta knows her luck remains south when of the three hunks interested in her, Atlanta Police Detective Jack Terry and his beautiful partner Maria Marquez arrive in time to see Carlotta caked. During the fiasco, the icing turns out to be someone stole Eva's famed charm bracelet.
Soon after the cake incident, a murder victim is found with a charm. Carlotta and Jack believe there is a link between the corpse with a charm and the athlete losing her charm. As more dead bodies with charms surface, Michael escapes incarceration.
Carlotta is a corpse magnet once again with bodies piling up as does the usual suspects wanting her (Jack, her former fiance Peter and her brother's boss Cooper the professional body mover). The heroine is her usual self pondering why she can not have her cake and eat it too since she already has the cake (calories aside). The lighthearted romp retains its graveyard jocularity that is a trademark of the series while fans also wonder who the last man standing will be in the Carlotta sweepstakes.
Maria V. Snyder
In Sitia the Stormdancer clan is near panicked over some recent deadly incidents. An apparent diabolically clever traitor has killed some glassmakers and destroyed the glass orbs they were creating that is needed to catch elemental power. They know this unknown adversary must be stopped before the realm is devastated beyond recovery by the power of unabated torrents.
Master Magician Cowan assigns glassmaker and apprentice magician Opal Cowan to investigate the deadly incidents as he believes her two skills make her uniquely qualified to learn what is going on. The two males who seem interested in her, Kade the Stormdancer who grieves the death of his twin and Ulrick the glassmaker who is a long time friend, help her. None of them realize the peril they place themselves in from crafty foes; none of whom have any compunction with killing someone even a person they have known for years.
This is a terrific mystery fantasy told mostly by the unconfident Opal, who believes she is a failure due to her inability to expand her magical skills, which is ironic as she was a heroine in MAGIC STUDY. The action-packed story line is fast-paced, but character driven while the whodunit is fun to follow. Fans of the Study trilogy will enjoy returning to that world as Maria V. Snyder writes an entertaining coming of age simply superb fantasy whodunit.
When Lilith awakens, she feels confused as to where she is, how she got there, and why she is nude. Although it is cold at dusk, she feels no discomfort except for her emotional bewilderment. Somehow she knows to walk to Ethan's nearby ranch though she has no idea why that feels right or how she knows the property is near.
Ethan, who was falling in love with her when they were prisoners, informs Lilith that she like him is a vampire trained by the top secret CIA Division of Paranormal Investigations as a killing operative. Also like him, she escaped from the Farm, the DPI's top-secret facility. DPI brass wants both brought in from the cold while Lilith feels an obsessive need to free others from the Farm.
This is a superb romantic fantasy thriller starring two likable legendary escapees struggling to survive as anyone who kills either of them becomes an instant legend and anyone who brings one of them in from the cold to the CIA owns the "farm". The story line is fast-paced, but driven by the lead couple who knows the danger they confront especially if they try to assault the Farm. Maggie Shayne's fans will relish this fun fantasy thriller as Lilith and Ethan fall in love while taking the fight to the DPI.
Professor David Middleton persuades photographer Rachel Chapman to come to Silver Falls as his wife. He swears he will make a safe home for her and teenage daughter Sophie. After years of traveling, Rachel agrees.
April 19, 2009
However, she finds the idyllic Pacific Northwest college town depressing as it seems to rain everyday and when it is not pouring, it looks like it is about to storm. Worse, she finds David's loving personality has turned to smothering her and her daughter. Starting to be concerned with his obsessive behavior, Rachel reconsiders whether she did the right thing in marrying the previously charming professor. When his brother, Caleb arrives in town, Rachel is stunned by her attraction him even as he mockingly rips holes in her lifestyle. When someone begins to serially murder girls who look like Sophie, Rachel fears her brother-in-law is the culprit with her terrified that her daughter will be his final curtain.
SILVER FALLS is a fast-paced suspense thriller starring a strong cast. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the newlyweds and her teen daughter arrive in town and never slows down. Although some of the "Notorious" excitement is lost because the killer is revealed early on, fans will enjoy Anne Stuart's tale as Rachel risks her life to keep Sophie safe.
Chin Up, Honey
Curtiss Ann Matlock
John Cole comes home ostensibly only to attend the wedding of his son Jonny. However, he also has returned hoping to persuade his wife Emma Berry to give them a second chance. Emma has doubts, but agrees to try again with the stipulation that together they see a marriage counselor. Reluctantly John, who hates discussing issues with loved ones let alone strangers, agrees.
As the day of the marriage ceremony comes closer, Emma realizes her in-law disapprove of her son. She wants to help Johnny with his future relations so she makes an effort to change the mind of her son's mother-in-law and show she, her husband and Johnny are good people who will be there for her daughter.
The quirky secondary cast makes for a fun lighthearted frolic. The story line lacks action and the one of the two prime premises not significant as Johnny will have to prove his worth to his in-laws with deeds not his mom's interference. The second chance romance aspects are also somewhat muted as the differences between John and Emma are minor. Still fans will enjoy watching the antics of the groom's mother, making two fronts worse.
Summer on Blossom Street
In Seattle at the Blossom Street yarn store, A Good Yarn, owner Lydia feels great about overcoming cancer for the second time. To celebrate and to bring in new clients she and her sister Margaret decide to start a new group "Knit to Quit". However, Lydia also notices her sibling is extremely careful with her words, but Lydia expects that will pass soon enough.
Lydia and her spouse Brad discuss adopting an infant. In the interim, Lydia allows twelve year old Casey to move into her home with tom's agreement. The baker Alix wants a baby too, but her spouse Pastor Jordon demands she give up smoking first so she considers joining the new class. At the advice of his doctor who is worried that chocolate CEO Hutch will suffer a stroke or heart attack if he does not slow down, he joins the group. Finally concerned bookstore owner Ann Marie needs a stress releaser so she also attends Knit to Quit so she can get away from the demands of her adopted daughter's biological father, a recovering addict, wanting to see her child.
The latest Blossom Street tale is an engaging entry due to a strong cast struggling with issues and traumas. The multiple subplots are all engaging and tie together at the Knit to Quit group. Fans will enjoy this warm SUMMER ON BLOSSOM STREET as Debbie Macomber stitches a multifaceted good yarn.
The Wandering Heart
9780981514857 $15.99 Leapfrogpress.com
St. Patrick's College history professor Elizabeth "Lizzie" Manning is on her winter break when British Lord George F.R. Hatton asks her to assess his family's special artifacts collected by an ancestor Lieutenant Francis Hatton who sailed with James Cook on his third Pacific exploration. Excited, Lizzie leaves Charlestown, Massachusetts to look at the collection at the aristocrat's Hengemont, Somerset, England estate.
As she catalogues the treasure, Lizzie learns of the Hatton family curse. Every female Elizabeth Hatton commits suicide. Only George's mentally disturbed sister Bette remains alive from this generation. As she digs deeper into the Hatton family history, Lizzie begins to find disturbing evidence that she might be a Hatton. Worse she begins to see terrifying visions that make her wonder if she is the next victim.
THE WANDERING HEART is a fabulous thriller starring a historian heroine who looks back in time over the centuries to various eras seeking what happened to numerous Elizabeth Hatton. Thus the reader obtains a modern psychological tale with strong implications of horror from an alleged curse dating back to the Crusades. As Lizzie begins to understand what has happened in each century since medieval times, she starts to believe she is the current doomed one, but readers will wonder if an artifact is causing a family curse or if it is a self fulfilling prophecy as Mary Malloy provides a terrific tense thriller.
At thirty-eight years of age, Warship Captain Soledad Scott of the Icarus faces mandatory retirement. She travels to the Straits at the end of known space to visit the Pleasure Dome. Soledad is a maternity client who will be teamed up with a sex toy male with the DNA she wants for the sire who will make her pregnant. Due to worm-hole dyslexia, she misreads room 660 as 990; the hunk waiting in the wrong room is expecting a sterile female sex toy.
Sol acts as if half-breed Chakkra empath Commander Gabriel Merriweather is her sex toy and he acquiesces enjoying the role change. However, in the morning she learns of her mistake and sneaks out of his room. Most species believes that Chakkra are violent barbaric mercenaries who prefer to fight to the death than negotiate. The empath cannot forget Sol, but fears she will reject him because of the reputation for violence his Chakkra heritage has in spite of the irony that he works in the Diplomatic Corps. He uses his empath skills tring to find Sol but they fail him because his target is a tranq; a person with the ability to mute the emotions that empaths like Gabeare bombarded with. Still he is coming for the woman who ran away with his sperm and his heart.
This is a sizzling, energizing science fiction romance that takes place far into the future vividly described by L.F. Hampton to the point that readers will believe they are at the Pleasure Dome. The heroine is a brave combat veteran who displays vulnerability once she embarks on her first post-retirement deployment. Gabe is her wonderful counterpart showing the same leadership caring qualities along with a liability (in his mind) of being half-breed Chakkra. Together they bring to readers a pleasurable romantic outer space thriller.
Exiled from Dramon due to her father's avaricious attempts to steal the throne, Laila DiSanti lives alone in the mountains distrusting everyone and killing slave raiders and bandits while rescuing good people who find themselves in trouble. She sells her services, but no one wants to buy them more than Pace Alastar, who lives in the magically hidden Andacor Valley where the residents are immortal due to crystals; they pay the price of no emotions or desires
When they meet, she believes his valley is a myth; he explains about the earthquake that led to the breaking of some of the crystals. However, the remaining crystals are failing and consequently the people are dying. Their only hope of surviving is with his daughter Aria who can return the crystals back to health, but left the valley when her mother decided to leave because immortality without feelings is like death. Laila agrees to help him find Aria. On their quest, they meet dangerous foes including the mountains, but it is the attraction between them that is most lethal; as he begins to learn what immortality's true price is, but to pay the fee of love means leaving his beloved as a widow.
Elysa Hendricks's delightful updating of Shangri-La is a beautiful adult fairy tale filled with romance, danger from various sentient species, other obstacles, and a quest filled with spins and detours. Part of the tension comes from the romance as viewers of the final scenes of the classic Capra film The Lost Horizon will wonder if that is how this couple's relationship will end. Filled with varying cultures, the return to the Hendricks Moon realm of crystals (see CRYSTAL MOON and SHADOW MOON) is a winner.
The Demon's Librarian
She is the librarian in Jericho City who found a secret room filled with books of magical instructions and information. When Francesca "Chess" Barnes sees a demon eating a child, she vows to do something about that. She reads the books written by the founder of the Order, an organization pledged to keep humans safe. Chess learns spells including casting a demon out and owns a magic knife called Fang that can kill hell's spawn, which she uses to eliminate one of these ugly amoral creatures.
Two men claiming to be from the Order arrive and ask if the founder of the Order's library is in her library and she denies it. They smell the use of sorcery and Paul the Malik, a human mage with magical powers, and Ryan, the Drakul half demon, which makes him a second class citizen in the Order, are in the front line war with the demons. Ryan follows Chess while Paul turns to another human he believes is using magic. Ryan realizes that Chess is using magic, but is much more as a Golden almost pure Phoenicus practitioner who if she attains her full potential will be able to kill even the almost invincible demonic High Ones. To his shock, Ryan falls in love with Chess, which may be the only reason she might survive as a traitor inside the Order knowing who she is wants to give her to the Inkani demons as a sacrifice for a rare rite.
The outwardly prim and proper (and underpaid) librarian gets down and dirty when she realizes the lethal threat to schools kids as her library is a battle zone between the paranormal and the normal. Ryan is the more intriguing character as he always assumed he was tainted with bad blood and the Order enforced his lack of self esteem (outside of his fighting demons); but Chess soothes the troubled beast through love. Lilith Saintcrow has written an enjoyable romantic urban fantasy in which the book world will agree don't mess with THE DEMON'S LIBRARIAN as she silences the evil ones.
Blood of Ambrose
His uncle Lord Urdhven killed his parents leaving the twelve year old heir to the throne of the Empire of Ontil, Lathmar, under his blood-soaked relative's protection. The frightened pre-teen feels alone, expecting his ambitious Protector to kill him one day if he objects to any decisions. Dismayed and depressed Lathmar has no hope as he knows he is just an expendable puppet.
Everything changes when two of his ancient magical kin arrive at Ontil to raise Lathmar and help him one day regain the throne and depose his odious usurper. Ambrosia is calculating but reachable while her irritable companion Morlock is sinister and frighteningly unreachable. As Lathmar becomes a young man ready to claim his throne from his Protector, Urdhven revises his gory plans for his nephew; as the lad is becoming increasingly rebellious. Lathmar constantly tries to please his beloved relatives who have raised him as if he was their child; which in their mind he is.
BLOOD OF AMBROSE is a strong coming of age fantasy as the key four players in this waltz seem genuine. Urdhven comes across as a combination Lord and Lady Macbeth merged with Hamlet's uncle while his nephew grows in confidence with maturity and nurturing from his ancient relatives. Although typical of the sub-genre, this excellent tale is worth reading as it's the lad's journey that makes for a superb fantasy.
In Australia, Felicity no longer comforts her mom Sarah; she insists her mother move on with her life instead of still grieving her late husband Charles as almost two years have passed since the heart attack killed him. She tells her mom Charles was her dad and even his mother has moved on beyond mourning. The daughter also coldly lectures her mom over the annuity she accepted in which Sarah took care of herself only and complains that her mom's shrink Dr. Kahn holds her back.
Sarah feels isolated from her family and decides to end her life at Bondi Beach with a final drowning swim. Instead of dying she finds an underwater civilization in which the occupants especially Xaxanader welcome the surface dweller. She soon is back on the beach wondering if what she saw is real until she returns to the sea world; especially afterward when Bantryd of the sea moves into her home with her in order to search for her parents who came ashore years ago. This happens at a time when missing teen heiress Jennyfer Blanchard who resembles Bantryd vanishes. Everyone sees the videotape that shows Sarah with Jennyfer; so Felicity, Kahn and anyone in the Brisbane area believe she killed Jennyfer.
This is an intriguing character driven fantasy with a deep message pleading with the survivor to seek a new groove when a life mate dies. Sarah's overwhelming depression drives away her loved ones. Ultimately after finding life underneath the sea, Sarah must decide between memories fueled by grief and starting a new life to build new memories. She is a terrific protagonist who holds the whimsical yet melancholy story line together although the support cast feels too stereotypical on land and at sea as they exist only in terms of her. Readers will enjoy Sarah's sea saga as she struggles to move on in her life following Charles. She considers suicide as the only solution, but learns there is so much more out there.
Chasing the Bear
Robert B. Parker
Spenser and Susan are talking while watching the swan boats in the Boston Public Gardens as she wants to know more about what he was like growing up. His mother died giving birth to him, so he lived with his father and two uncles. The three men taught him to box and know right from wrong, which he realized early on may not always be legal.
Jeanne is his first friend and she tells him how much she hates her father because he is an ugly drunk who beats up her and her mom. One day Jeanne calls out to fourteen year old Spenser from her father's truck asking him for help. He follows them and separates her from her dad. The drunk gives chase, but with a little help he dies in his attempt. Spencer tells the police before returning home.
Spenser knows when to fight and when to take flight. He refuses to help the Anglo boys beat up Mexicans so the bullies challenge him, but Jeanne gets his family to the fight sight. When the Mexicans decide to fight, Spenser refuses to join them but also hides his information from the Anglos. Susan can see the teen roots of the present day Spenser.
The same qualities that Spenser has as an adult can be seen as a teen because he does not care about one's race but instead the person. His Boy Scout tendency to help someone in need comes through loud and clear, especially his disinterest with rewards and accolades. Targeting young adults, Robert B. Parker provides insight into what shaped his hero, a role model of get involved.
All over Italy, it seems everyone struggles with what to do about waste, which to the average citizen and the tourist seems like nothing as the senses are overwhelmed with the smell and sight. Although it seems otherwise, a lot is going on to dispose of waste; some being illegal and proving deadly.
Marghera Carabinieri agent Maggiore Filipo Guarino is investigating the murder of police informant Stefano Ranzato. The trucking company driver-owner was killed during a robbery that most likely is a cover to eliminate a government stooge, who was providing information on illegal toxic waste removal. Needing local Venetian help, Maggiore asks Commissario Guido Brunetti to assist on the inquiry that seems to imply a Mafioso takeover of waste disposal. At the same time Conte Orazio Falier, the father of Guido's wife Paola, asks him to investigate Maurizio Cataldo, who solicits capitol to invest in China; and whose second wife former model Franca Marinello suffers from a failed cosmetic facial surgery.
The two story lines that make up this solid Brunetti Italian police procedural sort of come together in a final confrontation, but the heart of the tale is the insightful look at the relationships of the hero especially with his cherished wife and children, the change with his aristocratic in-laws, and the respect from the cops who work for him. The underlying theme is that humans are turning the third planet from the sun into a toxic dump that needs action now. Fans will enjoy Donna Leon's cautionary environmental whodunit that focuses on the garbage wars.
Rides a Dread Legion
Raymond E. Feist
For over a century, the horde of the Demon King Maarg has defeated the Taredhel elves, kicking the ancient race off of many planets and leaving few left. After their latest defeat on Andcardia, the desperate remnants of the Clan of the Seven Stars led by Laromendis the mage flee to their origin planet that they left millennia ago, the legendary home world Midkemia.
Pug the magician assumes the elves are friends united in a cause to defeat the demon legions who pursue them. He underestimates the newcomers whose leader plans to brutally seize control of Midkemia and use the orb in a desperate last stand that could readily mean extinction of everyone on the planet. Pug knows no one magician can stand against the coming invasion. He hopes to obtain the help of Amirantha the demon master Warlock of the Satumbria, the Order of the Dala cleric Sandreena, Queen Miranda the elf, and Tomas the warrior to join him and the Conclave of Shadows, unaware of previous relationships but not caring anyway. This is their last prayer to forge a stronger magical alliance to fight the coming Dread Demon horde.
Just when long running fans of Pug figure he is ready to retire, Raymond E. Feist begins a new adventure for the hero with the first book in the Demonwar fantasy. Pug struggles to put together an alliance of enemies as each is threatened by a greater opponent. The story line is fast-paced though the beginning is a bit slow but the opening act is needed to introduce the varying factions. RIDES A DREAD LEGION is filled with action, but it is the Machiavellian intrigue between allies who distrust everyone else on their side that makes this tale work, each expects betrayal so almost everyone plots betrayal even though none can stand up alone while Pug struggles to keep the alliance together as the legendary Dreaded Demon Legions are coming to Midkemia.
In Ragona when she was ten years old her parents condemned Sabina to madness and an early death by volunteering her to be the next Dragonmaid. Sabina and the royal enslaved copper dragon Cordain bond starting with their mutual loathing of her parents. Over time their affinity grows stronger to a deep abiding love even as their link increasingly makes it difficult for the evil Dag Racho to control the beast.
When Racho is killed, Cordain's soul becomes caught inside the detestable man's corpse. Sabina searches for her dragon and finally finds Cordain, but he has lost much of his memory. Without him soaring above in the sky protecting the people, their emboldened enemies begin to attack. Only the return of the dragon can save Ragona, but Sabina believes the cost is her heart and soul.
DRAGONBOUND is a superb romantic fantasy in which "Now" and "Then" rotate giving the audience the present day psychological well being of the lead characters and the past that led to their emotional issues that leave a kingdom in trouble if either fails to act. The story line is fast-paced, a tribute to the great Jade Lee as even the changing time frame never decelerates the plot. Fans will relish Sabina's adventures flying with Cordain over Ragona as Ms. Lee provides another excellent character driven thriller.
Barbie and the Beast
Barbie Bradley visits Forest Lawn Cemetery at night with her best friend Angela in search of a party. However, instead of the gala she expected to attend, some hooligan lifts her off her feet and runs off into the dark carrying her like she was a featherweight.
Barbie is a bit surprised that she is attracted to her wannabe suitor Darin Russell and even more stunning gives the hunk her number. As a werewolf in a tux Darin knows Barbie is his soulmate. Although he cannot understand why her parents named her after the doll, he has to persuade her that he is her hirsute Ken or at least her faithful shaggy werewolf
Readers who nuke their plausibility gene for a few laughs need look no further than the lighthearted BARBIE AND THE BEAST. Neither Barbie nor her hairy suitor is fully developed, but the frolic is fun to read starting with their meeting in the cemetery (think of the memories they will share with their grandchildren looking back to where each first met their true love) as the doll and the werewolf react differently to their attraction.
In 2000, associate district prosecutor Felix Saldivar has spent much of his career in Lima avoiding conflict. However, the almost only ash remains of a corpse found ironically on Ash Wednesday in Ayacucho changes his detachment when he is sent by his superiors to lead the official inquiry in his birth place.
Adhering strictly to standard operating procedures, Saldivar interviews the locals, but gets nothing of use from them. He asks Police Captain Pacheco for a copy of their report, but is ignored as none have been filed. Instead the police and the military command ignore his questions and requests. In spite of the evidence he has collected, he rejects the obvious answer that the deceased was a victim of the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) terrorists because officially the group no longer exists. However, even Saldivar who buries his head in the sand notices that anyone who chats with him dies. He still writes an inane report with no supporting evidence to validate his claim, but defends the position of the army brass that terrorism no longer exists in Peru. His reward for this is to observe an election in a remote village where violence is the norm as the "nonexistent" Sendero openly operates death squads .
This is a terrific, radically unique Peruvian police procedural that looks deeply at the people ravaged by the brutality of the Fujimori government and the Shining Light; neither side lets human rights stand in the way of achieving their agenda. The whodunit is intriguing as the villagers understand facts do not matter to an authoritarian big brother government obsessed with mistrust and the insurgents are perhaps more paranoid and deadlier. The career bureaucrat is phobic, obsessive, and impulsive with a need to impress, which have nothing to do with the facts. RED APRIL is a profound thriller that is exciting yet insightful with applications to Afghanistan as to how people endure when two adversarial groups pull villagers in opposite directions.
Joyce Carol Oates
These fourteen short stories focus on family relationships that appear initially normal, but turn grim when a crisis occurs. Each tale is well written and insightful; with some shocking. For example "Dear Husband" is a letter from infanticide mom Andrea Yates explaining to her spouse she did God's work when she drowned their children. "Vigilante" focuses on a drug abuser son trying to kick the habit while helping his mom avenge his father. Though some aspects of the theme has been used often by Ms. Oates, all the entries are "Special" whether it stars an autistic child devastating the lives of her caretaker parents and her ignored younger sister or a juror attracted to a charismatic defendant in "Mistrial". Women forced to make difficult decisions that fail to go as planned in "Cutty Sark," and "Landfill," or meeting the boyfriend's family in "The Glazers,", are part of "Dear Joyce Carol Oates" entreating look at the dark side of the American family.
The Collector of Worlds
In the nineteenth century Sir Richard Francis Burton is a military officer, spy and amateur anthropologist. He learns two local languages so that he can intermingle with the natives more freely; this enhances his work as an espionage agent and his passion as an anthropologist, but especially with courtesan Kundalini.
When his military career ends due to a report on brothel use by the army, he leaves India. He uses his ability to speak Hindustani and Gujarati to masquerade as an Indian doctor on a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Sir Richard and John Speke journey to explore the Nile. They meet many tribes as they travel from one lake to another with Sir Richard marveling at each culture while John loathes the savage beasts as much as he detests his disgusting companion.
This is a terrific biographical fictional account that brings to life the three prime Burton adventures. Amazingly in spite of Burton starring in each, they are radically different as if there are three well written novellas connected by the brazen hero. His India escapade is highlighted more by Kundalini than Burton as she fosters his interest in Eastern philosophy, religion, folk stories, and exotic sex. His Saudi saga provides vivid insight into an illegal pilgrimage to Mecca, but it is Burton's daring masquerade that hooks the audience. Finally, the contrast between the two explorers is wider than the width of the continent yet it is the deep look at the tribes that will fascinate fans. Using real correspondence, events, places and people, Iliya Troyanov provides an excellent nineteenth century tale based on the real world adventures of Sir Richard Burton.
Blood From Stone
Laura Anne Gilman
Magic in the twenty-first century is created by channeling currents the same way electricity powers machines. Wren Valere is a powerful Talent and an excellent Retriever who takes things her clients want for a colossal sum of money. Her business partner and lover Sergei find her next assignment which is to she snatch a boy who is the focus of a custody suit; the child has Talent so his parents sold him to a man who wants those powers. Wren put a compulsion on the lad's father keep the child and care for him.
She has no time to catch her breath because her friend the demon P.J.. has a problem. He was created to enable a Talent to discharge channeled energy. The people after him are descendents of his creators and plan to use him to create new demons for them to use. Sergei and Wren risk their lives to stop this dangerous fiasco from occurring.
This ends the Retriever saga with quite a climax that will hook fans interested in how several themes play out; will Sergei and Wren work out their differences and will they save the demon P.JI. are among the questions answered. Laura Anne Gilman proves once again she is a gifted fantasist over the course of the final tale (and the overall series) as her heroic lead couple evolves. Though it pays for newcomers to read the five previous Retriever thrillers first, fans of the novels will know that master enchantress Laura Anne Gilman can draw BLOOD FROM STONE.
No Such Creature
An orphan for years, eighteen year old Owen Maxwell has toured the country with his verbose Shakespearean actor Uncle, Magnus "Max" Maxwell conning wealthy Republicans. However after doing this for a few years, Owen has a chance to attend Juilliard. He tries to persuade his uncle to give up the criminal life as Max is getting on in years and should retire, and the teen wants to attend the drama school.
As they leave San Francisco for Vegas with their latest loot, Zig and the Subtractors come after them; the gang is known for catching up with thieves in order to rob them after they pound the crap out of their prey. On the run from the Subtractors the duet meet twenty year old Sabrina Bertrand, daughter of the legendary jailed felon Pontiff. With her also in trouble from a security guard obsessing on her, she joins the uncle and nephew as they flee across the country
Although none of the key players are full blooded though they bleed, NO SUCH CREATURE is a zany crime caper that seems on the verge of going out of control, but never quite does. Leaving Canada for the States (giving Homicide Detectives John Cardinal and Lise Delorme a breather), Giles Blunt provides an over the top chess game between violent criminals and rakish criminals. Bluntly fans of Elmore Leonard will want to join the cross country marathon.
On an icy isolated Colorado mountain road, an illegal immigrant is killed in a hit and run. Law enforcement gives the case nothing as the victim has no rights and was just a rodent catcher; besides which someone in the affluent town of Fairview probably killed the man who should never have been there in the first place, and no cop is going after the wealthy.
Six months later the case is tundra cold when a woman makes the dangerous trek across the border. She barely survives, but manages to reach Fairview where she obtains work as a maid. The woman is an illegal immigrant but not from Mexico and is not looking for work in the States. Though an extremely dangerous trek to get to her destination, Havana Police Detective Mercado snuck out of Cuba and through Mexico into the States obsessed with finding out who killed her father; an intellectual exile whom she had not seen in fourteen years, in a hit and run near Fairview six months ago in which the driver left him to die.
This is an exhilarating thriller from the onset when the illegal rat catcher is allowed to die and six months later when an undercover investigation by another illegal turns into a cat and mouse encounter. The story line is fast-paced with a neat final twist as Adrian McKinty provides readers with an entertaining tale driven by a strong cast especially the avenging Cuban.
The Spy Game
In 1961 in London, Hilda Beatrice Palmer, wife of Lieutenant Colonel C.H. Palmer and mother of Anna and Peter, dies in a car accident. However, neither the eight year old little girl nor her older brother believes that is the truth especially with the news of the Krogers' espionage case. Brainstorming, the two children conclude their mom is a Soviet spy. They know their mom was German though born in Russia and met their English dad in Berlin just after the war.
The pair begins to investigate the neighbors for suspicious behavior that will validate their theory. They look suspiciously at a family friend who was incarcerated in a Japanese POW prison and the suicide of the German piano teacher. Then there is their father's clandestine work during the war that each wonders if that might be a factor. Decades later Anna remains fixated with a deep gut need to understand her mom so she heads to Berlin and Konigsberg, Russia seeking the truth.
Rotating perspective between the past and present with a greater emphasis on the former, readers will enjoy this deep look at the need for causal closure especially with the loss of a loved one in what is an inconsequential accident to everyone except her loved ones. Peter, Anna and their dad come across as fully developed people especially the kids with their maternal obsession; mom also seems real though seen through the rose colored eyes of her children. Readers will relish THE SPY GAME while pondering whether Hilda was a spy who returned to the cold of Soviet Russia or just a mom who died just after saying goodbye to her daughter on a foggy day.
Silly Little Rich Girl
9781934081174 $12.00 www.casperianbooks.com
As she lies in the hospital Liza Davis reflects amusingly on the New York Post headlines that dubbed her and Lily Durfee as SILLY LITTLE RICH GIRLS doing an inane stunt to get attention. Liza muses that the media as always does what it does best rush to judgment without supporting facts.
Her hospitalization can be traced initially to when her older sister Jamie vanished after their business oriented mom ripped her for joining the Peace Corps instead of getting a real job. Missing her sibling, Liza, a student at Dartmouth, began writing letters to herself signed by her sister. Her mom pressures Liza to work on Wall St when she graduates when she wants to do is design clothing; which reminds her of her vanished sister. However, her quest to find her sibling, who reportedly never showed up in Africa, becomes her obsessed mission; reality is not an issue nor is danger as she travels the country in her pursuit.
This is a refreshing brisk family drama starring an intriguing college age student and her affluent anti-soccer Type A mom. Through their dysfunctional relationship the audience obtains a picture of Jamie and their younger brother Jack. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Jamie disappears and never slows down as Lily lands in one troubled situation after another culminating in the media flip flops re an abduction and hospitalization. SILLY LITTLE RICH GIRL is a philosophical intense yet often humorous character study of a family of four with one kitchen chair currently empty though the table is set to include her.
Vera and the Ambassador
Vera and Donald Blinken
President Clinton appointed financial banker Donald Blinken as the American ambassador to, Hungary. Mr. Clinton selected Mr. Blinken because the President understood the fledgling democracy would need someone who could help the country adjust to the global economy and Donald's wife Vera was born and raised in Budapest; as a child she and her mom fled just after WWII ended and the Soviets brought down the Iron Curtain.
This memoir provides alternating insider looks at Hungary during a critical adjustment point. Rotating perspectives, Donald's sections enable the reader to obtain a glimpse at world events impacting the former Communist nation such as joining NATO and helping with the Bosnia crisis. Vera's entries are more personal as she compares the 1990s Budapest to her memoirs of living there in the 1940s. VERA AND THE AMBASSADOR is one of the best autobiographies in recent years, as readers will appreciate the couples' take on the 1990s in East Europe with Hungary as their prime focus as well as the historical viewpoint of how much the capital changed in four plus decades of Soviet rule.
You've Got Blackmail
Fourteen years old Lauren "Lozzie" Cracknell cannot believe how much trouble she is in. Her older sister Karen is outraged for her borrowing her green nail polish and a few other items. Her parents have separated with her mom apparently dating her boorish English teacher Mr. Hilary Barnett. Lozzie may be killed by her mother or by the school bully two ton truck Tonya. The former will be irate as Lozzie forgot to mail the invitations to her mom's customers at the A Cut Above salon; the latter is disturbed over an email sent to all their classmates that combines Tonya's face with a donkey's body.
Lozzie survives Karen's tirade and with the help of her best friend Dex gets the letters delivered. Tonya with her freaky super tall spy Fran the giraffe lurking and their gang ready to execute Lozzie remains a threat. At her mom's salon, Lozzie and Dex find a note addressed to Hilary blackmailing him. Even more stunning is Mr. Bore has authored a novel The Haunting of the Black-Eyed Girl. The teen duo brainstorms and draws conclusions as to who is behind the extortion threat and why; not realizing the danger of investigating the demand for ten thousand pounds.
The stressed to the max Lozzie and her sleuthing buddy Dex makes a fun young teen amateur sleuth duo as they use Holmes logic to solve the blackmail of the boring schoolteacher. The story line is fast-paced and humorous as Lozzie lands in one predicament after another, but with help from her friends and dad survives the ordeals only to land in the next mess. Fans will enjoy this young adult whodunit.
In 2008, the Republican Party is holding its presidential nomination convention in St. Paul. The Twin Cities brace themselves for all the expected visitors including conventioneers, protestors, pick pockets, and professional robbers looking for easy prey.
Besides the city police patrolling the city and trying to keep the convention safe from fringe elements on both sides of the political spectrum, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent Lucas Davenport and his team are also in town trying to help maintain law and order. Additionally the city has one more special visitor with a seething grudge. Randy Whitlock, a thief who was accidentally shot leaving him wheelchair bound, has plans for revenge against the culprit he holds responsible for crippling his life. He plans to shoot Davenport's fourteen year old daughter so she can be wheelchair bound for life. Finally a team of operatives led by Brutus Cohn and Rosie Cruz has converged with a deadly mission.
Using the real Replica National Convention as a backdrop, WICKED PREY is a great police procedural that never slows down until McCain and company leave the Twin Cities. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action while also providing a law enforcement perspective to a major public event. The villains are kick butt in differing ways. Paraphrasing Biden's description of Guliani, Randy only speaks with a verb and an "F" modified noun; while the Cohn-Cruz team are professionals with an intriguing agenda. John Sandford provides a tense thriller using a major real event to showcase what police deal with in the post 2001 world.
The Night Watchman
He is the night watchman at the Coral Bay Condominium in Orlando, but just eleven months ago, Ray Quinn was a tough superior OPD homicide detective. On orders from his boss, he and Trisha, his partner (professionally and personally), go to a suspects house to question that person. They are ambushed with Trisha dead and Ray's career as a cop is over as he ate some bullets too.
When Pam Hendricks begs him to let her into her brother's apartment, Ray opens the door to an ugly scene as David the pastor and Jamie the erotic dancer are dead inside. The police quickly conclude this is a murder-suicide. Pam pleads with Ray to clear her sibling's reputation as she is convinced he was framed. Reluctantly , he agrees because her convictions persuade him that David is innocent. Using OPD connections, he notices anomalies that undo the open and shut case. However, he soon finds a connection that horrifies him as his private investigation links back to the ambush that destroyed his life. Proving it is nearly impossible as a key culprit works inside OPD and is watching him very closely; at least he believes so.
Ray lives with survivor guilt that consumes him with his only companion being Jack Daniels until Pam's plea. By the time he nearly completes the case, he makes enemies with the few remaining people in the department who care about him as his obsession makes them with one deadly exception believe he crossed the line. Ray's inquiry is top notch as readers wonder if he is losing his tentative grip on sanity yet Pam believes in him. He makes Mark Mynheir's crime caper an entertaining fascinating thriller.
Twenty years ago, the ugly incident that still haunts Hanna Kessler occurred. She somewhat walled it way, but recent events have made her realize what a lie she conveniently made for herself.
Crimes Against Children FBI agent Michael Parker struggled emotionally with the cases he has worked; even the trauma specialist offers him little help though he religiously attends their appointments. His current case involves a white supremacist who escaped the justice system. With an Asian child snatched he realizes his beloved Hanna's past has caught up with them as she is in the crosshairs.
This is not an easy read as the third Defenders of Hope inspirational thriller (see RANSOMED DREAMS and HEALING PROMISES) is extremely dark and gritty as pedophile and racial hate crimes take center stage. The story line grips the audience as time is running out to save a child. At the same time, Michael wants to execute justice so the perp cannot fall through the cracks. He and a hurting Hanna may be in love, but their future together looks grim unless they can heal; only God can help them achieve this, but neither seems ready to embrace the Lord as each feels deserted instead.
In 2003, over a decade since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cubans, having lost its Russian subsidy, most live in abject poverty. In that environs, Mario Conde left the police department over fourteen years ago to follow a dream though he knows the state of the economy could sink his efforts to become a successful antiquarian book dealer. He loves looking at book treasures in personal libraries although he feels for the family forced to avoid starvation.
He visits a dilapidated mansion that is home to starving siblings who must sell books they probably do not own; as the former wealthy patron most likely fled over decades ago to Florida. Conde is excited by the historical collection and tenderly looks at each volume. Inside one of the books, he finds a cut out of the Battista era bolero singer Violeta del Rio, which to his shock seems to possess Conde with a thirst to know the truth. Though warned to ignore his obsession, unable to resist, he needs to learn whether she killed herself in the 1950s as reported and how she is connected to the impoverished family who owns the collection. His inquiry takes an ironic lethal spin when one his hosts is murdered and the police suspect Conde.
The latest Conde Havana investigative tale is a great entry in an excellent series. Although no longer a cop trying to bring justice in the corrupt Castro Communist Cuba as he did in his colorful four police procedurals, Conde cannot stop himself from applying those skills. Besides leading to a modern day homicide and threats to his life, the key to this terrific story line is a contrast between pre and post Fidel with the populace coming full circle back into abject poverty (as if the Castro years never happened; similar to the stock market and the Bush era).
A Date You Can't Refuse
Harley Jane Kozak
Broadway (Harper Collins)
The FBI assigns greeting card graphic artist and tyro espionage agent Wollie Shelley undercover work at MediasRex, a California media training company. MediasRex owner Yuri Milos hires Wollie to teach etiquette to their socially-impaired clients and as needed fill in at dates at public functions.
Wollie's boyfriend FBI agent Simon Alexander is upset with her assignment although the pay is great; not that he wants to be the social trainee to miscreants even for $50,000 for three months of training. However, he knows Yuri has deadly connections to Eastern European politicians and mobsters. Inside the firm's Calabasas, California headquarters, Wollie finds out her predecessor died in a car accident that the late predecessor's boyfriend claims was a homicide.
The latest Wollie's woes (see DEADLY EX, DATING IS MURDER and DATING DEAD MEN) is an amusing zany investigative thriller as the heroine gets in trouble in her personal and professional lives. The story line has a humorous undertone but Simon is simply right with the amount of danger engulfing Wollie as Yuri's secrets re his East Europe community connections could prove fatal. Once again Harley Jane Kozak provides a lighthearted romp inside a potential deadly scenario starring a former serial dater on her first knockout date arguing over who drives.
His grandfather was a successful man who brought the family middle class comfort; his father built on that foundation and turned the family into one of the rich. His son Itchy feels lost, not knowing what to do in life except have a good time; as he has affluence way beyond his need. He turned into a womanizing sports junkie living in the exclusive French Alps village Chamonix Mont Blanc in which the more perilous the event the more he relishes participating.
As he nears thirty, Itchy feels less certain of defying mortality sports. However, he cannot resist snow, the stuff you ski down the Alps on and the stuff you sniff up your nose as a Columbian uphill. He still loves watching the " bobfocs" babes and pseudo cherishes the romantic poets of early nineteenth century. Yet recently the ski bum remains unfulfilled and despondent; decadence remains his lifestyle though it no longer has the savory taste it once had while his drunken drug stupors leave him with memory gaps. Itchy gets community active with an obsession to uncover the identity of a serial rapist.
This is a fascinating character study of a third generation nouveau riche who knows something is no longer right in his world, but remains clueless as to what it is and why the change; the I in his first name stands for idiot and ignorance. Even when he decides to be a heroic activist, he picks a dangerous path and approaches it as a sport as if he is downhill skiing with total abandonment of safety. The action is somewhat limited even when the antihero does his insane sporting events, but no one will care as Jonathan Trigell digs deep into the psyche of excess materialism leading to indifferent decadence even if Itchy is no BOY A.
Grieving the death of her brother Hotshot firefighter Tony, Maya Jackson is in Lake Tahoe seeking to bring her sibling's killer to justice, but officially his death was caused by an accidental fire. Additionally, Maya's firefighting father is dying from cancer caused by decades of smoke inhalation. Desperately needing a drink, she stops at the closed Tahoe Pines Bar and Grill where the bartender serves her. They end up having sex before she flees. Wildland firefighter Logan Cain wants her again, but her weeping shook him.
Six months later in Desolation Wilderness near Tahoe, Logan and the McKenzie brothers flee for their lives from an out of control fire set by an arsonist. He fears his mentor retired firefighter Joseph Kellerman may have lit the fire as the elderly man is starting to lose his mind. Cal Fire arson investigator Maya is nearby ready to begin inquiries into this inferno. The evidence points towards Logan. She watches him and one of the brothers save the life of the other sibling.
Maya informs Logan he is suspended and under suspicion when she recognizes him. He is irate as he has a job to do, but vows to protect Joseph. He asks her about six months ago, but she responds she can do the job in spite of their connection. Someone tries to kill Maya with the evidence pointing at Logan. As they fall in love, she does not want anything to do with a firefighter especially one she believes is a killer-arsonist; he needs to persuade her otherwise.
Readers will feel they are working alongside the Hotshot firefighters as we feel the WILD HEAT and danger they face. The admirable lead couple cares about others as well as one another; although Logan turns super-stud when he is hurt in a bad vehicle explosion, but instead of obtaining medical help and notifying police, he has sex with Maya. With a strong arsonist subplot even with a final spin feeling off kilter, fans will appreciate Bella Andre's exciting romantic suspense tribute to firefighters.
What the Bayou Saw
In 2005, southern transplant Sally Stevens teaches American Music at Midwest Community College in Normal, Illinois. She has received threats from three white supremacist students who want her to delete any references to blacks and particularly detest the fact that a black Shamika Williams attends. As Katrina bears down on New Orleans, Sally worries about her brother and his family and her best friend Ella and her brother getting out. Her sibling left the city, but Ella remained behind as she works at a hospital where sixty three ambulatory patients reside.
When whites assault Shamika leaving her in the hospital, the school turns to Sally to expedite them from a law suit. Instead she feels an affinity for the injured student, letting the police investigator as well as Shamika and her irate Aunt Ruby know it. Sally explains what happened to her as a child living in segregation in 1959 Waco; an incident that led to her and black Ella becoming sisters; yet in spite of the chain with Ella, she has hidden the full truth of what happened when she was twelve from even her husband Sam all these years.
WHAT THE BAYOU SAW is a captivating character study that looks deep into the destructive aspects of racism on different individuals, but especially Sally with her facade crumbling under the weight of the current hate incident. The story line is for the most part passive as Katrina, Waco (1959 that is) and Shamika are more reflective rather than active. Fans who relish a profound look at race in America, circa 1959 and 2005, will enjoy this fine tale that emphasizes the importance of reporting of crime to protect others while proclaiming we have come a long way, but have a long way to go.
Somebody Else's Daughter
In the Berkshires, headmaster Jack Heath hires former drug addict Nate Gallagher to teach at his Pioneer School. Jack's wife Maggie was a classmate of Nate.
Each has an agenda that sent them to Western Massachusetts. Jack had to start over after his reputation was trashed at his last academic stop. Maggie tries to be the dutiful wife though she hates her abusive womanizing spouse. Finally Nate wants to see his daughter Willa, whom he and his girlfriend gave away seventeen years ago when they were hippie addicts to Candace and Pioneer School president Joe Golding to raise; Willa attends the school. Joe hides from the school board that he produces skin flicks while Candace is a former porn actress.
Nate admits to himself teenage Willa seems adjusted even as she is beginning to experience sexually experiment with failing student Teddy Squire, who suffers from dyslexia. All hell breaks loose when Teddy receives a DVD starring Candace. Maggie has had enough of the abuse, and a local hooker wants money for silence or she will expose her school clients.
Elizabeth Brundage comparatively explores the lives of several people who seem so different on the surface, but deep down come across quite similar. Money can provide a bit of public polish, but the tarnish will remain privately below the surface. Although too many major events occur almost simultaneously, fans will relish this homage to Thomas Carlyle with a reflective look at peeling away the clothing to glimpse at the inner soul of the ensemble cast.
City of Thieves
During the Nazi siege of Leningrad, seventeen year old Lev Beniov remains in the city alone as his dad "officially" vanished several years earlier and his mom and sis were evacuated. However, he is unable to stay in hiding as he needs food, but he is caught looting. The Germans execute looters on the spot. Yet Nazi Colonel Grechko offers Lev and equally guilty twenty year old Russian army deserter Kolya a chance to live. They are to obtain twelve eggs in five days for his daughter's wedding cake; failure means death.
They quickly know the black market has nothing for sale. Thus the duet works their way behind the Nazi line as they assume nearby farms are their best bet. Lev and Kolya stumble onto a Nazi death squad sexually abusing Russian women and help the partisans kill the Nazi beasts. As they witness more atrocities, the unlikely duo becomes friends while Lev is attracted to kick-butt partisan sniper Vika.
This deep look at the atrocities of war stars a coming of age odd couple who forge a friendship out of surviving the abuses they encounter in spite of Kolya being a confident extrovert and Lev a self mocking introvert with the latter telling their story. The story line is fast-paced with plenty of action; much of which accentuates the abuses, carnage, and the scarcities the civilian population face. Readers will want to join Kolya and Lev on their quest to find the Holy Grail: a dozen eggs.
Alexander C. Irvine
In 2040 Los Angeles middle management insurance executive Martin Kindred works for Antelope Valley Casualty, a firm seeking to increase profit margin after a fiscally disastrous 2039. The brass comes up with a terrific reengineering solution to cut government costs and obtain revenue by eliminating overcrowding in prisons caused by the increase over the past few decades to 22 crimes leading to automatic life sentences without freeing the incarcerated. The beneficiaries of lifers with no chance for parole will receive millions if the convict opts for immediate death.
Martin is assigned the task of preparing the prisoner-volunteer for execution and subsequently giving the check to their survivors. The once dead pro-life movement resurfaces in a furor over the cold hearted bottom line execution. Martin finds himself caught in the crosshairs, which impact his marriage. However, his neutrality collapses when his brother the cop is murdered.
Using hyperbole to extrapolate America's second greatest growth industry during the Bush Administration, the warehousing zealousness of convicts (military contractors were first), Alexander C. Irvine provides a profound futuristic parable. The story line leaves the audience questioning the prison system especially privatization in which the government pays by the number of prisoners incarcerated. BUYOUT is a well written dark winner using trend analysis exaggerated into the future to provide a solution to America's fondness for prison warehousing
Alan Dean Foster
Flinx still recovers from the demoralizing events that have shaken his soul (see QUOFUM). Filled with self loathing and galaxy wide doubts he can do the mission he must do, Flinx with his loyal sidekick Pip prepares for the eventuality of the final showdown against the Great Evil. Adding to his growing uncertainty is the reality he is the only individual who can stop the Great Evil if he can avoid the Order of the Null assassins who need him eliminated to achieve their mission.
With his confidence at an all time low and shrinking and on his way to the final confrontation, Flinx, with Pip accompanying him, stops off to negotiate a truce between the human Commonwealth and the AAnn; and. He also reunites with his beloved Clarity Held and his teachers Truzenzuzex and Tse-Mallory in hope that they give him inspiration, hope and a renewed fighting spirit even as he expects to go it alone in the last battle.
Long time fans of the saga will relish the finish besides the obvious strong tale, the return of key players in Flinx's escapades seems appropriate for the end game. The story line starts a bit slow as the strange bedfellows need introduction, but once the plot accelerates, FLINX TRANSCENDENT never slows down until the final spin. With a nod to the homage my enemy's enemy is my friend, Alan Dean Foster provides a triumphant climax to a wonderful series as Flinx learns the same lesson constantly of be careful who has your back (besides Pip).
Kings and Assassins
Janus Ixion knows he has come a long way from an impoverished commoner wondering when his next meal would occur to being the Earl of Last. Though he no longer worries about eating, he knows his countrymen in Antyre remain indigent and starving. He dreams of bringing the industrial revolution to Antyre so no one would go to bed hungry.
Prince Ivor of Itarus plans to replace King Aris on the throne of Antyre and arranges for the monarch to be assassinated as he knows the young heir Prince Adiran is a moron. However, although Ivor achieves his royal killing, the late king's nephew from the wrong side of the sheets Janus is irate; not because his uncle died, but because the murder occurred to soon for him to make a bid for the throne. Meanwhile his wife Psyke, who believes he arranged his uncle's murder, acts mad as the demonic god of death and victory Haith possesses her. Even more enigmatic than Psyke's behavior, is King Adiran shows intelligence that makes everyone believe he must be possessed by an ancient god at a time when Itarus invades.
A few years have past since the events in MALEDICTE that focused on Janus' rise and other political backstabbing in a realm where gods intrude. Fascinatingly, no one is a pure hero with Janus the closest as he condones his lethal methods to seize power by claiming he is the best person to enable Antyre to prosper and to prevent its annexation by Itarus. Fans will enjoy the battle for power as anything goes, but with neighbors invading and traitors inside the court with personal agendas and sparking unrest while the gods possesses people for reasons known to them. KINGS AND ASSASSINS is an excellent political fantasy.
The Red Wolf Conspiracy
Robert V.S. Redick.
The four decade old hot and cold war between the Mzithrin and Arquali Empires remain unabated as both claim Crownless Lands that borders each nation and is abundant in natural resources. However, the first dramatic change between the hostilities in years occurs when the sorcerer's floating city fortress the Imperial Merchant Ship Chathrand brings the ambassador's daughter Thasa as a bride prize to marry a royal and forge a treaty between the empires.
However, though both emperors agree to this marriage, neither side trusts the other. Both kingdoms also remain ignorant of stowaways on the vessel. Soon on board "The Great Ship", which seems to have vanished without wreckage anywhere, simmering distrust ignites into battles. Assassins lurk everywhere and no one is safe especially when each of the major sides and a few outsiders like Pazel the blessed-cursed tarboy, miniature sized warriors and sentient beasts learn of the Red Wolf artifact thought mythical but on "The Wind Palace" Chathrand believed real.
This is an exhilarating seafaring young adult fantasy that grips the audience from the onset as everyone on board "The Great Ship" knows lethal stalkers and betraying rats lurk around every corner. No one is safe as the stakes rise from two empires seeking peace after four decades of hostility to THE RED WOLF CONSPIRACY. Fans will want to follow the adventures of those on board the vanished Chathrand as the vessel goes where no one recently has gone before and those who once did never returned.
TV reporter Grace Logan and her crew are covering the fragmentation of the Antarctic ice shelf. However, they notice a bright, iridescent light hovering in the sky. The TV team points their cameras at the glow, which does strange things before abruptly vanishing.
Around the world people from all nationalities, races and religions debate the unexplained phenomena. Politicians and other world leaders use the light as proof they are right though no one knows what the light is, how it came to be, who is behind the scene and what do they want. The fiery mysterious light next appears over the Arctic at the same time in a remote locale in Egypt a tired elderly Catholic priest hears voices in his head asking him if he is ready to lead people to salvation.
Combining diverse topics like global warming with divine intelligence, Raymond Khoury provides an exciting thriller that condemns extreme bias, which seems to always lead to disinformation and misinformation as the end justifies the mean. The story line is fast-paced from the first sighting until the final explanation with several intriguing twists in between. Fans will appreciate THE SIGN as everyone seems to bring their prejudice and personal demons to interpret the phenomena in their image.
Shannon K. Butcher
In a diner in Olathe, Kansas, Helen Day recognizes the man who has been the focus of her nightmares. She is positive she never met her Vision Man before except in her dreams, but she knows that face is the one she sees almost every time she falls asleep because y when she is awake she recalls the details of this male standing near her while observing her die in a fire.
Drake is a bit stunned by the deep attraction he feels for Helen; as he has been around for ages. He is a Theronai warrior, whose species is dying; he fears for the safety of humanity, who he and his peers vigilantly protect. Helen reciprocates his regard, but does not trust him as she fears their relationship will end in her fiery death. When their demonic enemy the Synestryn attacks her, Drake battles them to keep her safe. She still believes in her vision, but also believes Drake is on her side.
This is an exciting romantic urban fantasy starring two strong lead protagonists as star-crossed wannabe lovers. Fascinatingly though the two other species come across as genuine and the confrontations between them well written and exciting, the human Helen owns the entertaining story line with her divided emotions. On the one hand she is falling in love with her self-proclaimed guardian, but on the other hand she distrusts him as Vision Man does nothing to save her from her fiery nightmares. Shannon K. Butcher adds her trademark suspense with plenty of tension and danger to the mix of a terrific paranormal thriller.
The Killings on Jubilee Terrace
Jubilee Terrace remains the second most popular soap opera in England in spite of being on the air for years. Actors come and go; almost always either being released or quitting for another job. However, top star Vernon Watts accidentally is hit by a bus. To appease upset viewers, Reggie Friedman brings back Hamish Fawley on the show; Hamish plays Cyril Wharton, who came home to die from TB.
Bet Garrett and Hamish pretend to marry and threaten to gain custody of her three children. She does not want her brats, but her husband Bill, who also performs on the show, actually wants his offspring so she uses her daughters as an extortion device. Bill believes his wife and Hamish are deceitful and is unable to let go of his his seething rage. Someone kills Hamish and his latest chippie and rumors spread that Watts' seemingly accidental death was no accident. Leeds Inspector Charlie Peace, who thinks soap is to wash hands, investigates in what seems to him as if he stars as Alice in Wonderland without the benefit of the rabbit or the looking glass. He struggles with separating TV persona from real personalities as everyone seems to perform all the time. In terms of Hamish, he quickly realizes everyone had a strong motive to see the final curtain fall on the nasty actor playing his last role.
Most of the novel takes the reader back stage behind the scenes of a soap opera so they think they get to know the key characters rather quickly; albeit with the same problem Peace has as the reader wonders whether they are seeing the real person or a role. The investigation is intense, but takes a long time to solve. No one will care as Charlie plays second fiddle, which adds freshness to the wonderful police procedural series; as Robert Barnard shines a deep spotlight behind the TV wall where acrimony and backstabbing are not hidden behind a performance.
Carol Higgins Clark
Regan Reilly is all alone in New York City while her husband NYPD Major Case Squad chief Jack Reilly (no blood relation) is in Miami attending a seminar and her parents are in Palm Beach. After being reminded to remove her property from her parents' garage so they can park their cars inside, Regan moves her stuff into a Long Island City storage unit. On the way back to her car, she receives a call from her former apartment neighbor in Hollywood Hills Abigail Feeney.
Her former boyfriend Cody Castle borrowed $100K from her a few months ago to make a movie; he promised to pay her back in three months but instead vanished but recently was seen. She needs Regan to return to California to find him before her grandmother arrives in town to give her a condo as a birthday gift; that 100,000 is needed to pay part of the principal. Regan knows Abigail is a kind person who is a hairdresser to the stars but gives free styling at a nursing home so she agrees to help. However the case takes a spin when someone kills an old rich man she gave a haircut to and the police suspect Abigail in spite of her recent injury on a set. Regan needs to find the murderer, clear Abigail and get Cody which is all in a day's work for the brilliant private investigator.
Regan leans no good deed goes unpunished as besides the cops seeking Abigail for questioning, a stalker believes she is married to the man who Abigail is house sitting for and tries to kill her. Abigail brings comic relief to the tense plot with her belief she is cursed by the number thirteen (read to learn why she reached her Triskaidekaphobia conclusion). Though a bit light Carol Higgins Clark provides another exciting fun to read mystery.
The Color of Lightning
In Texas freed slave Britt Johnson is still angry with his wife Mary when he stomps off to get supplies. When he returns still somewhat fuming, he finds a horrific sight awaiting him. His oldest son is dead; his spouse and their two other kids as well as their elderly neighbor and his grandchildren are gone. He knows the Kiowa abducted them; that is if they have not killed them.
When the Kiowa abuse the female prisoners, Johnson's ten-year-old son adapts their lifestyle rather easily. Meanwhile Johnson begins a quest to rescue his family while the Office of Indian Affairs sends Quaker Samuel Hammond to convert nomadic Kiowa from a feral society to agriculture. He is especially appalled with the tribe's abduction policy and even more aghast when some of the kidnapped prefer to remain with their abductees. Johnson refuses to quit seeking to ransom his family; knowing the mental scars each bears.
Based on a legendary mid nineteenth century hero, THE COLOR OF LIGHTNING is a superb historical biographical fiction that brings vividly to life the saga of Britt Johnson. The cast is powerful as guilt ridden Britt struggles with rescuing his family members from the Kiowa and afterward coping with their changes; his wife is mentally and physically an abuse victim and his two surviving children, especially his son, have adapted to the Indian culture; each finds it difficult to return to their previous life. Paulette Jiles provides a thoughtful look at a true American hero and his family.
Diane Mott Davidson
Aspen Meadow, Colorado caterer Goldy Schulz has no time to breathe as she works on two wedding receptions. Balancing both would be tough enough, but one of the brides is out of control with last second demands. Trying to satisfy the poster girl of bridezillas is taking a toll on Goldy.
Traveling to one of the ceremonies, retired Harold "Doc" Finn dies in mysterious circumstances. Goldy considers Doc might have been murdered though she admits to herself it could have been a tragic accident. When someone attacks Goldy's godfather Jack Carmichael, who was Doc's buddy, the caterer feels her hunch is affirmed. While her police husband Tom wants her to remain in the kitchen, Goldy investigates anyway.
The latest Goldy culinary amateur sleuth (with some limited police procedural elements hovering sort of in the background) is an amusing yet suspenseful tale as nothing seems to go right for the caterer to the delight of her fans. The story line easily shifts gear between the humorous antics of Bridezilla (funny as long as you are not the target) and others to the whodunit. Goldy, Tom, assistant culinary assistant, Julian and the rest of the cast make for a SWEET REVENGE cozy.
In Brooklyn Seminus demon Wraith chooses his prey carefully as all predators do, but also being a vampire he adheres to the Vampire Council ruling of one human kill a month. Still he enjoys hunting down the Upir gang, human vermin owned by vampires who appreciate blood sports especially since he can kill the vamps as if they are rodents. However, this time an unknown demon species hits him with a poisoned dart.
Two weeks later, he awakens from unconsciousness to learn from his peers he has been poisoned and will die in four to six weeks unless he can obtain a charm possesses by archeologist Serena Kelley, who must willingly give him her artifact by giving him her virginity. Egotistical about his seduction prowess as an Incubus class demon, Wraith goes on the hunt with his prey being Serena. When she was seven years old, her mother gave her the charm that he covets and which has made her immortal; the only stipulation is that she must remain a virgin. However, he is not alone as the demon Byzamoth also wants that charm for a nefarious evil purpose.
The third Demonica romantic urban fantasy (see PLEASURE UNBOUND and DESIRE UNCHAINED) is fast-paced from the onset in Brownsville and never slows down until the exhilarating climax in which much more than just two "souls" are at stake. Readers will be enthralled by the action and the charmed lead couple as the irresistible object (an incubus demon) meets the immovable force (an immortal mortal) as one must give up their immortality though both have eternal dreams; while also simply saving the world (something seems to always intrude).
Stakes & Stilettos
In Toronto fledgling vampire Sarah Dearly tries to retain her former human life though since the blind date from hell with the late Gordon Richards who converted her over two months ago (see BITTEN AND SMITTEN) that has proven impossible. Even crazier is that amidst the vamps and hunters she is called Slayer of Slayers for killing a vampire hunter, pure luck did it (see FANGED AND FABULOUS). However, her fortune holds when she is staked but saved by that masked hombre Red Devil the vampire.
Her parents worry that their daughter is seeing a much older probably married man (so Master Vampire Thierry de Bennicoeur is little older than her parents at six hundred years or so) while Sarah muses over tasting the blood of two ancient vampire masters (Thierry and the late Nicolai). At her high school reunion, a still furious from their teen days (talk about not letting go) schoolmate who was rejected as a cheerleader so became a witch curses Sarah, turning her into an obsessed blood addicted vampire that leaves the heroine fearing for her loved ones.
The fourth Immortality urban fantasy (see LADY & THE VAMP) is an amusing over the top of the CN Tower that series fans will enjoy though the story line leaves the major plot lines wide open for a sequel. Sarah is terrific as she is a paranormal magnet for evil doers. Fun albeit thin, readers will enjoy her latest capers as she has another vampire in her undead existence.
All of Me
Struggling to cope with the death of his wife Aimee, architect Tucker Manning leaves for his self imposed exile to Salvation, Colorado. He hopes to grieve in peace at the lake house his father-in-law Blake gave him.
Houston attorney Jillian Samuels arrives to find Tucker there. She insists the lake house is hers as her beloved mentor Blake meant for her to inherit the Salvation home. Rather than fight in court, Jillian and Tuck reach an agreement to co-share the house for now until they can come up with a more suitable arrangement. Both are stunned by the attraction each feels from the first encounter. Whereas Tuck feels remorse and betrayal of his love for Aimee though she passed away two years ago, Jillian takes a chance on love if he allows her.
The fourth Wedding Veil Wishes tales (see THERE GOES THE BRIDE, ONCE SMITTEN, TWICE SHY and ADDICTED TO LOVE) is a warm serene character study. Jillian in a fully developed person, but the relationship drama is owned by Tuck as Lori Wilde goes deep inside his soul. Fans who appreciate a sometimes amusing but always pathos second chance at life (and love) will enjoy this profound contemporary.
In Melbourne, Earthly Delights Bakery owner Corinna Chapman is happy about her life especially with her lover Israeli investigator Daniel until her estranged mother Starshine, a throwback to the 1960s hippies arrives hysterical. Her equally hippie spouse (and Corinna's father) Sunlight has vanished. Apparently the faithful Sunlight must have a supernova with a midlife crisis that has him on a quest to find a younger woman.
However besides coping with a weeping mom, two bakery employees and some weird monks become ill after drinking poisoned tea. Corinna and Daniel with the help of a diverse eccentric crew search for her runaway dad while also tracing the source of the toxic tea, which leads to an anti-obese cult.
The third Chapman cozy (see EARTHLY DELIGHTS and HEAVENLY PLEASURES) is a wonderful Australian adventure starring an interesting heroine who is the total opposite of Kerry Greenwood's superstar Phryne Fisher. The story line is lighthearted fun as Corinna goes from enjoying life to a near breakdown in a heartbeat when Starshine arrives. However, she has learned somewhat to cope with her star-sun shiny communal hippie parents so searching for dear old dad while struggling with poisoned tea and an anti fat cult targeting the pleasantly plump Corinna has added unneeded stress to her life. Still she, her boyfriend and their horde turn Melbourne into a personal playground in this fun lighthearted farce.
Half-Cheyenne self-proclaimed shaman Mad Dog leaves Kansas to attend the Yaquis festival in Tucson, Arizona; his traveling companion is his best friend Hailey the wolf. Also in town for the gala is mad Dog's niece Heather. However during an Easter ceremony, someone kills a Sews tribal police officer and sets up Mad Dog to take the fall.
On the run from the cops and a professional killer, Mad Dog calls his half brother, Benteen County, Kansas Sheriff English to tell him of his plight from the law. English informs him his home was destroyed by a grenade. While English works the Kansans explosion and Mad Dog keeps eluding the law and a killer, Heather and Hailey team up to prove his innocence while a new target surfaces in Vegas. As always, all hell has broken out in the west and this time in cyberspace where a game is not a game when it comes to War of Worldcraft.
The latest Mad Dog and Englishman thriller (see BROKEN HEARTLAND, PRAIRIE GOTHIC, and MAD DOG AND ENGLISHMAN) is a zany crime caper that contains super twists in three states and cyberspace. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action as reality and cyber-reality commingle. However it is the eccentric cast, some of whom feel like they come from Alan Arkin's war parody King of Hearts, which makes the novel so much fun to read.
Embrace the Grim Reaper
The accident left her husband and their son dead; no one can figure out how Casey Maldonado survived with many believing it was divine intervention. Casey knows how because after Pegasus Car Company settled, she fled her family, friends, lawyers, strangers and media whose constant refrain was to demand more. Her traveling companion knows why she lives; Death using human forms when he deems to appear explains to her that "life" should prove much more interesting riding around with someone suffering from survivor guilt.
Casey stops in Clymer, Ohio though is unsure why except Death pushes her there as this town is no different than the others she has recently seen. It is on the verge of collapse as its only industry HomeMaker is leaving for Mexico. Casey follows her nose to the Home Sweet Home soup kitchen where she offers to serve. Usually optimistic Eric Jones nee VanDienbos accepts her offer even as he and most of the townsfolk are depressed, grieving the alleged suicide of his girlfriend Ellen Schneider. No one who knew the single mom believes she killed herself. Casey, encouraged by B&B owners Lillian and Rosemary and guided in an enigmatic way by Death, investigates with clues leading her to HomeMaker where Ellen worked.
EMBRACE THE GRIM REAPER is a fascinating paranormal amateur sleuth tale starring an intriguing lead female struggling with grief and guilt and her more interesting traveling companion Death who surfaces at odd moments in differing personas. The story line is fast-paced from the opening when Death explains why Casey lives and never slows down as she investigates Ellen's death. Although the violent climax comes as a shocker, urban fantasy mystery fans will enjoy Judy Clemens' departure from her Pennsylvania dairy farmer Stella Crown "normal" amateur sleuth series.
Much to Your Chagrin
Almost thirty, no longer engaged, and a recent recipient of a Master of Fine Arts degree Suzanne Guillette had a concept for her first book that Jack her new literary agent felt had merit. The wannabe author would write anecdotal true stories of embarrassing moments collected from family, friends, strangers, and her own. Surprisingly many people volunteered their tales of humiliation. The author found most could be classified in common categories like clothing, relationships (especially romantic), office blunders and body emissions (liquid that feel warm and fuzzy or look like uncooked oysters and gas bombs that is louder than a heavy metal band while the smell clings to everything). Well written, the best embarrassments are the one's the author provides as those like misunderstanding her relationship with Jack or the need to sneak out to smoke while working at a health agency are the best as they set the bar for others. Humorous (as long as it is not you) and honest especially by Ms. Guilette, readers will enjoy these forthright memoirs that affirm to err is human, but to be embarrassingly caught is un-divine.
The Traitor's Wife
In 1306 England, thirteen years old Eleanor de Clare leaves the Priory to marry Hugh le Despenser while her favorite uncle, the heir to the throne Prince Edward, sleeps late with his lover Piers Gaveston. She is happy living the aristocratic good life and being Hugh's spouse.
One year after her marriage, her uncle becomes King Edward II and Eleanor eventually a Lady in Waiting to his wife Queen Isabella from France. Over the next few years, Eleanor hears unsettling rumors as to why her husband is the royal favorite. No longer the naive teen worshiping her uncle and husband; has she scrutinized what she knows about the two men especially examining how ambitious her husband is. She concludes the rumors are basically true as she deems her spouse would sleep around with anyone to further his goals and fears the outrage amongst the aristocracy in England and France re Hugh's methods to gain favors and the affront to the Queen, who has her own personal affront to the king. Though she would prefer to expose her husband and uncle to the naked truth and is unsure of the long term consequences of her inaction; Eleanor tries to protect her extended family.
This is an intriguing medieval historical epic starring a courageous real fourteenth century person, many other genuine people (like her husband) and what seems like a support cast from a Cecil DeMille movie; a four-page character reference guide helps. The story line brings to life the Edward II reign so that the audience obtains a taste of the era. Although the zillion players feel like they could fill up Wembley Stadium, fans of fourteenth century sagas will enjoy this engaging biographical fiction mostly told thorough the eyes of Eleanor.
Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark
Donna Lea Simpson
The letter from her best friend Lady Lydia Bestwick seemed hysterical to sensible Lady Anne Addison. However, concerned about her buddy's mad rant regarding werewolf sightings, Anne travels to Darkefeel Castle in Yorkshire to prove her wrong and bring some peace of mind to Lydia.
Forced to go on foot to complete her trek to the remote castle, Anne hears the scream of a woman in the dark gloomy woods before stumbling upon a corpse. As she investigates the homicide she tripped over and the alleged werewolf sightings sworn to God by the villagers and employees of the castle, Anne realizes the evidence points towards the only uncooperative person in the vicinity, Lydia's recalcitrant brother-in-law the Marquess of Darkefell. As Anne finds indications of a poorly developed frame with ties to the bustling slave trade, the Marquess makes it clear he wants her in spite of his objection to her independence and courage.
This is a fabulous historical amateur sleuth that introduces readers to a terrific Georgian Era gender bending detective. The story line contains three wonderful subplots that tie together with a Moebius Knot twist: romance, investigation including into potentially paranormal and the profound look at the slave trade with its biblical "Curse of Ham" misinterpretation rationalization. With a nod to The Hound of the Baskervilles albeit a century plus earlier, Donna Lea Simpson's first Lady Anne eighteenth century mystery is a howling success.
S. G. Browne
The car accident left Andy Warner and his wife dead. However, Andy actually survives or at least comes back to life though he is mute since his vocal cords were destroyed. He lives in his parents' wine cellar though they are on ice for now and attends UA (Undead Anonymous) meetings when he goes out, which is rare as the undead has no inalienable rights. In fact there is de facto prejudice against zombies as the group can be hunted down without penalty and de jure bias as the group is legally barred from employment.
Andy understands why mortals loathe, fear and hunt them due to their fetish of dining on human flesh. When he and his cohort Rita the suicide and Jerry the undead hunter learn why they obsess over eating breathers, Andy becomes animated as a leading spokes-person for the rotted smelly disadvantaged to gain their rights.
This superb satire lives up to its subtitle: "A Zombie's Lament" as Andy narrates his reanimated life of no rights. The story line lampoons western societies with hyperbole, dark freezer humor, and of course plenty of violence; the latter is a trademark of zombies. With a deep look at hypocrisy, but somewhat softened by a romantic subplot, fans will enjoy BREATHERS as S.G. Browne takes a bite out of the holier than thou society.
Half-brothers Moses Reed and Aaron Fox share the same mom, but have different fathers. Both became cops working for LAPD. However that is where the similarities end as Moses is middle class all the way while Aaron is upper crust. Finally Moses remains a police detective while Aaron left the force to open up an upper class private investigative firm.
Fox is hired to investigate the disappearance of twenty year old student Caitlin Frostig. He is shocked how good the coed behaved as Mother Teresa could not have been better and her grades are all "A"s. His inquiry runs into Reed who is doing his own investigation into the missing student. Both look closely at her college boyfriend Rory Stoltz and her single father. Clues lead to filmmaker Lem Dement and actor Mason Book.
The brothers made an appearance in the last Delaware-Sturgis thriller BONES and star in this investigative tale; Delaware and Sturgis play tertiary roles this time. The inquiry is fun to follow as the lead pair compete and team up in the search for an alleged perfect teen. However the emphasis on the antagonistic relationship bordering on dysfunctional between the siblings feels forced and intruding as their "Odd Couple" lifestyles would have been more than enough to emphasize their differing philosophies; though in fairness neither is close to the extremes of Oscar or Felix.
Eliani's spirit was shattered when her beloved rejected her after their after cup bonding. Despondent and feeling like she wasted a year and a day, Eliani enlists as an Alpinon Guard warrior, one of the most dangerous jobs an aelven can accept as death is a typical outcome but that no longer matters to her. She vows no male will ever get her heart again except her father whom she has become his top aid.
Turisan leaves Glenwhollow feeling upbeat about life as he goes to deliver a message from his father to congratulate the daughter of a family friend on her election as governor. He journeys through the invigorating woodlands but realizes someone is following him, whom he identifies as an Alpinon Guard. However, instead of an assault, he is taken to Hightstone where he receives great honors.
When he and Eliani meet they are not just attracted to one another; they share the legendary mindspeech. Both are appalled and frightened yet euphoric. Neither realizes their paranormal connection as much as their respective heart ties will be the main hope when the outlawed exiled former aelven clan Darkshore led by the bloodsucking Queen Shalr are crossing the Ebon Mountains to reclaim more than their lost status; they come to conquer and dine on the blood of their once allies.
This is an exciting romantic fantasy starring two intriguing protagonists and a solid support cast who add societal depth to the aelven clans or the vampiric alben. The reactions to the mindspeech between Eliani and Turisan are terrific as each covets the link but also fears what is going on. Fans will appreciate Pati Nagle's appropriately titled tale and look forward to me adventures in Alpinon and beyond.
At a society party in Washington DC, black-ops Jordan Montgomery feels a deep obsessive need for the tender charm and love of a beautiful stranger. He is unaware she is Devon Winters, whom he knew since childhood. She conceals her true identity from him because she fears he will reject her if he knows who she is. They go to his home and make love, but he is angry afterward; she assumes because she failed to mention she was a virgin. She runs away from him but comes back but not before he hearsher mother's ugly lies about her knowing his hatred will haunt her forever. However, someone abducts a fleeing Devon.
Years later, she becomes an agent for Last Chance Rescue who make daring saves of people abducted with no chance of freedom. Jordan is back in her life, but he knows her as Eden St. Claire; she hides her real identity of Devon from him. He is attracted to her and admires her skill and spunk on a kidnapped child rescue mission that they work together on. The pair realizes they love one another, but she fails to tell him the truth. When he finds out, he feels betrayed and walks out on her; unaware he leaves her back exposed from someone who wants her dead.
Mindful of the quality expected of Cherry Adair and Mariah Stewart, Christy Reece's first novel is a terrific romantic suspense thriller. Devon is a survivor overcoming traumas, which not only made her stronger, but led her to LCR where she planned to do what she could to keep victims safe. Exciting although readers will want to smack Jordan for his pompous dumping without all the facts, fans will look forward to two more LC entries RETURN TO ME and RUN TO ME.
Krapp's Last Cassette
Highly regarded and connected Hollywood screenwriter Alex Krapp asks Seattle private investigator Quinn to come to Southern California to discuss an inquiry. Krapp wants Quinn to find fifteen year old Danny Timpkins, who survived the abuse of the satanic cult his parents belonged to.
Last year, the teen wrote a memoir that Krapp wants to adapt into an HBO film. He has never met the teen but has talked with him over the phone. However, a Vanity Fair reporter claims Danny the star of the memoir does not exist as the work is fiction. After learning why her client flew in an outsider, Quinn leans in the direction of the reporter even when she hears Danny talking to "Poppa" Alex over his speakerphone. There are too many holes in Danny's tale of woe; starting with Danny's past paralleling the infamous Merck pedophile-rape case that she worked when she was an LAPD cop.
Quinn's third investigation (see WALLA WALLA SUITE and HOMICIDE, MY OWN) is an excellent thriller filled with twists including an incredible climax and prologue. The inquiry is top rate as Quinn increasingly believes a fraudulent memoir has been perpetrated with a follow-up scam taking advantage of Krapp who displays a fatherly adulation to Danny. Readers will appreciate KRAPP'S LAST CASSETTE as Quinn tries to prove the lad exists as described for Alex's emotional sake.
In New York, Rose Manning is a legendary philanthropist. How highly regarded is made quite clear to her daughter Carrie when Rose dies. A who's who of causes arrives at her funeral to praise Rose. Carrie cannot help but notice not one of the accolades mentions Rose the friend or for that matter her late husband (and Carrie's dad) brilliant Broadway composer Bobby Manning whose death changed the family dynamics; all the eulogies target Rose's philanthropic activity. Even in death, her mom has left Carrie bitter, unwanted, and feeling like a failure unable to reach the humanitarian bar set by her cold to her, but warm to strangers mom..
While cleaning out Rose's apartment, Carrie finds some strange secrets about her mom that she never shared with her. She would like to follow up with her maternal grandma but is somewhat estranged with the renowned stage actress Lu Lawson; the split occurred when she was a little girl and her daddy died. Instead she goes to New Haven to see Lu's older brother octogenarian great-Uncle Paulie. He tells her the truth about Rose, Lu and Lu's mom Mifalda; and how illegitimacy that seems to run through the generations. She follows that with a close friend of her parents and finally her maternal grandma.
This is an interesting family drama that looks at four generations of women with each having issues leaving estrangements between them. The story line is carried nicely by Carrie though at times she seems too naive for someone with her pedigree. Still fans will enjoy her sleuthing as she begins to go past the caricature of the happy altruist widow image to piece together the full puzzle of who her mom really was and what shaped her.
Rich Lowry and Keith Korman
CIA agent Stewart Banquo knows he needs a specialist to get past the concentric circles of security surrounding his target; he must choose a killer who the Iranians (and the American media) would never suspect. He tags Crusader writer Peter Johnson as his ghost, a mild mannered drunken liberal writing for an ultra left wing rag; Banquo just needs to figure out how much to bribe the fool to do the deed.
Johnson agrees to undergo the dangerous mission of assassinating the eliding Iranian nuclear scientist using his magazine as a front. However, In Iran, he is double crossed several times ending up a guest of the state. Tortured into confessions of everything short of killing Cock Robin; Agents Robert Wallets who actually recruited him and Marjorie Morningstar who trained him enable Johnson to escape. Back in New York, Johnson leads the agents in a quest to prevent Iranian terrorists from nuking the city while his daughter is being held hostage.
This exciting espionage thriller works on two levels. First there is the thrilling obvious terrorist threat and the counter efforts to do more than just prevent it; second there are not so subtle left hook right uppercut combos slammed at politicians and news media for interfering with the efforts to stop terrorism (mostly by the left) or dumbing down the realities (mostly by the right). Even with these sharp punches, the strong story line is owned by BANQUO'S GHOSTS especially the mild mannered reporter who is out of his element when he takes the field assignment.
In downtown Los Angeles homeless bum Albert K. Arnold accosts bestselling author Dermot Nolan at the latter's warehouse home. Dermot's first reaction is the visitor is crazy. Still, he accepts a manuscript from the derange person mostly to get him out of his face.
Nolan puts aside My Worst Nightmares, a journal of an abusive serial killer who catches his victims over his net site Dream Healer before committing atrocities based on the prey's biggest fear. When Arnold dies, Nolan takes a closer look at the manuscript. Suffering from writer's block since his last book was sold to Hollywood last year, Nolan and his wife adapt Arnold's book and publish it as his. However, there is one problem that surfaces with the plagiarism of the manuscript; evidence mounts that My Worst Nightmares records real homicides that make the writer a person of interest to LAPD, the FBI and a serial killer working the Internet to ensnare his targets.
Mindful of A Murder of Crows starring Cuba Gooding Jr., WORST NIGHTMARES is a terrific thriller as Nolan crumbling under writing pressure to produce his next novel takes a seemin shortcut that leaves him in a greater pressure cooker. Readers will know who his antagonist is, but not care as the fun in the tale is to see whether the novelist can extract himself and his wife out of peril from a lethal serial killer and with the law that believes he is the lethal serial killer.
In Central Iraq, insurgents fire internationally outlawed Diamondhead missiles at an American tank convoy. Several men die in their fried tanks. Outraged Navy SEAL Lieutenant Commander Mackenzie Bedford rejects the surrender of the dozen or so culprits who killed his men; instead he executes the unarmed enemy.
Following a court martial in San Diego, the navy discharges Mack, but does not pursue homicide charges. In Dartford, Maine, his wife Anne informs Mack that their ailing son Tommy is dying from a rare disease similar to leukemia that will cost at least one million dollars for the experimental full bone marrow operation, which is the only chance to save his life. To help pay the tab, Mack accepts a commission from the local shipbuilder Remson to assassinate right-wing French politician Henri Foche who is running for President of France; Mac has an added incentive in killing Foche; a major stockholder in the company that develops the banned Diamondhead missile.
Over the top of Mt. Katahdin, DIAMONDHEAD is a fabulous action-packed thriller from it opening sequence in Iraq to the military trial in San Diego to coming home in Maine and finally to France. Mack is terrific as an obstinate hero with a mission that takes him on a linear path while not allowing any adversary to get in his way. Ignore the plausibility as this is a fun tale of a dad on a quest to save his son.
In 1587 Queen Elizabeth considers the consequences of executing her prime rival Mary, Queen of Scots vs. keeping the threat of revolt by leaving her alive. At the same time, English spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham learns of an assassination plot from a reliable source that the Spanish want to kill naval hero Sir Francis "El Draque" Drake; his murder would cause havoc in the country as he has caused trouble for Spain and known for sailing aroud the world.
Walsingham assigns assistant secretary and chief intelligencer John Shakespeare to investigate the scheme and quickly concludes the Drake plot is tied to the murder of a relative of the Queen Lady Blanche Howard, whose corpse mutilated with numerous stabbings was found in a London fire. John's inquiries angers the Queen's loyal supporter Richard Topcliffe, who uses torture to obtain confessions from Her Highness' enemies especially Catholics. Richard warns John to back off or he will come after Shakespeare's father, who empathizes with Catholics, and insure his brother's writing and acting career fails.
This is a superb Elizabethan thriller starring Will's older brother John just prior to the execution of Mary and a tear before the defeat of the Spanish Armada. The investigations into the murder of Elizabeth's cousin and the conspiracy to kill Drake are top rate especially the way Rory Clements ties them together. With a deep look at the era as well, Elizabethan period and historical mystery fans will appreciate this delightful novel.
God Of Clocks
The King of Hell Menoa appears on the brink of achieving what would have been universally thought of as impossible over the past eons. The god appears ready to take over Heaven and therefore the universe and recreate it in his image.
Perhaps the only potential meaningful opposition comes from Menoa's half-brother Cospinol, but he has hurt his chances of usurping his sibling as he tries to boil out the life essence of mad angel Carnival. However, the fallen angel's former allies keep seeking a miracle as humanity as we know it will be extinct if they fail. Assassin Rachel, blood-mage Mina, demon-dog Basilis, sop god Hasp and the ghost Dill turn desperately to whom they believe is the last prayer Sabor the god of clocks who controls time. Menoa sends his invincible arconites to kill the last insurgency, but finally aware of the urgency of stopping his half brother is Cospinol, who sends his top aid to destroy the breach that will release a zombie horde; however, he may be too late.
The exciting final tale of the Deepgate Codex fantasy (see SCAR NIGHT and IRON ANGEL) is a gruesome violent finish to a fine trilogy. The story line is fast-paced, filled with bloody action, and a sense of desperation. Adding to the overall feel of violence is none of the Gods care one iota about the lesser beings except as an energy source, which seems apropos for the war of the gods. Although the ending takes a plausible but Twilight Zone twist that supersedes too much history, fans of the saga will overall enjoy the GOD OF CLOCKS.
A secret organization consisting of a few hundred people of Noreela search out and kill Strangers who look human, but have gills on their neck and tendrils on the outside of their spine. The Strangers d not cooperate with the Core who they believe are the advances scouts before an invasion. Collateral damage of innocent people by the Core is deemed acceptable if it meant the destruction of the Strangers.
When Core agent Kel Boon observed six innocent children murdered during an attack by his side, his anguish and outrage leads to the unimaginable for a dedicate agent; he quits. He goes to the village of Pavmouth Breaks where he is known as Kell the Woodchopper and loves the witch Namior Feeron. A brutal storm hammers the coast. When the torrent ends, a new island Komadia is nearby. Kel has a bad feeling as visitors from the island arrive at the sleepy fishing village. He wants to make sure the newcomers have no gills so that the villagers he cherishes will not be harmed. No gills or tendrils are evident by the Strangers but he fears they do not belong to Noreela. He and Namior begin to learn an inconvenient truth when they visit Komadia to find out what the islanders want with Noreela; a truth that could destroy civilization as he knows it.
Tim Lebbon provides readers with a spellbinding horror-fantasy tale from the moment the ISLAND appears and never loosens its grip until the climax. His world is filled with magic as anyone can become a Practitioner, but Kel has become wary of something he does not understand. Ironically, he runs ways from a situation only to run into a scenario even potentially more gruesome. He knows he must make a stand; even his beloved expects him choose fiight over flight. Fans will be hooked wanting to know why he ran away from his Core values and like the lead couple readers will want to know what Komadians want with Noreela. Mr. Lebbon cleverly blends two genres with a refreshing romantic subplot into a sleepless night of reading.
The Geometry of Sisters
Still reeling from the deaths of her husband and oldest daughter Carrie during a storm off Mackinac Island, Maggie Shaw obtains a job teaching English at the prominent Newport Academy in Newport, Rhode Island. Her two other children, the well adjusted sixteen years old Travis and the deeply disturbed fourteen years old Beck-accompany her on the move from Ohio.
In Newport, Beck meets and befriends fellow math prodigy Lucy, who hopes to create a computation that will lead to her late father visiting her. Beck on the other hand turns to math for solace as principles don't leave. Travis struggles with two girls; the one in hand vs. the one he left behind. Meanwhile as Maggie readjusts to New England, having been at the academy before, she prays for a miracle as Carrie's body was never recovered.
This is an engaging look at grief as Maggie seeks solace by retuning to a place that she was happy in her past. She is not there for her two teens who have issues as she can only deal with herself at this time. The story line is character driven as the three surviving Shaw family members each cope (or not) in their own unique way. However, when the plot takes a spin that most readers will see coming, it loses some of the acute angles that make up THE GEOMETRY OF SISTERS.
Heather and Rose MacDowell
Erin Edwards loses her job as a New York marketing manager. Needing work, she pleads with family and friends until her dad and his golf pal Harold use their connections to obtain her a job waiting tables at Manhattan's exclusive Roulette restaurant in spite of having never worked as a waitress in her life and the owner having doubts higher than the Empire State Building.
Chef Carl Corbett wants the marketer out of his restaurant as does Steve the owner; they plan to make her life as a waitress miserable. Gay waiter Cato the wannabe actor gives her tips while steady customer Daniel the television show producer is attracted to her. Erin takes her new position one day at a time as she considers becoming a mass murderer starting with dad and Harold while wondering whether she will survive the attacks by the chef and the owner.
This is an engaging Manhattan chick lit tale that is at its best when the action is inside the restaurant because of the support cast either working there or dining there. The story line is fun due to secondary players like hyperactive Gina, commandant chef Corbett, and kindhearted Cato wrapped in purple. Erin is obstinate, but obviously is unsuited to work at Roulette; so her travesties there add to the fun. However, when she (and readers) steps outside the restaurant, the story line loses its humorous look at glitz and gourmet turning somewhat inane. Still turning pets aside, The MacDowell sisters write an amusing tale of life inside a top Manhattan restaurant.
The Painter of Battles
Still haunted from his coverage of war, photographer Andrew Faulques hides from the world. As a catharsis of the atrocities he witnessed and photographed, he paints a mural in a tower that provides the human face to the horrors of combat.
A stranger arrives informing Faulques that he plans to kill him. He blames the photographer for commemorating him as a Croatian resistance fighter during the Serbian conflict when he was captured in a sniper's position. Instead of glory, he feels his life ended with that picture because he knew he could never live up to the fake image. As calm as his visitor is discussing death, Faulques explains his side to his assassin including his seeing his beloved die while they worked a war ravaged nation.
THE PAINTER OF BATTLES is a refreshing unique war thriller starring two antagonists who "see" the battles differently. The sniper insists he may kill his enemy with a bullet, but Falques kills much more as his photos affirm a picture is worth a thousand bullets. Their debate spins from just the merits of war to what are atrocities and cruelty and in a war environs can there be real love. Fans will be fascinated by this tale though the action is somewhat muted as the two lead characters provide a deep dissertation on what war is good for and to whom starting with a photographer who became famous by thriving on hostilities.
The Last Secret
Mary McGarry Morris
Shaye Areheart (Crown)
Seventeen year old Nora Trimble spends eight dangerous days with her psychotic boyfriend Eddie Hawkins that ends in violence. Nora moves on and marries wealthy Kendall "Ken" Hammond, whose family owns the Franklin Chronicle newspaper in Franklin, Massachusetts newspaper. They have two kids and their life together is near perfect.
Twenty-six years have passed since the horrifying incident and Nora has all but forgotten it. However, her idyllic world collapses when the two men in her life hammer at her psyche with revelations. Serial killing Eddie by simply returning to blackmail her and Ken by informing her he has had a four year old affair with his teen girlfriend sweetheart Robin Gendron, the wife of his best friend. Eddie finds an additional reason to hang around as he obsesses over Robin.
This engaging family thriller is fast-paced once Eddie returns and never slows down as secrets almost three decades old and present are revealed. The cast is fully developed to the point that the audience understands them and to a degree sympathizes with every one of the key players, even psycho Eddie. Though the events and people may have changed, Mary McGarry Morris makes a case that history repast itself if one fails to learn from the previous mistake. Fans will enjoy the aptly titled THE LAST SECRET as several beleaguered souls fight to regain some equilibrium while considering Paradise Lost will never become Paradise Regained.
Laura Rider's Masterpiece
Grand Central (Hachette)
In Hartley, Wisconsin, after dozen years of marriage, Laura and Charlie Rider are comfortable with each other though their relationship has become nonsexual. They enjoy working together in their Prairie Wind Farm nursery business and especially enjoy good storytelling.
However, something subtly changes between the couple when Charlie and radio show host Jenna Faroli begin exchanging emails encouraged by Laura who thinks that will enable her to write a Jane Austen quality romantic masterpiece. Laura persuades Charlie to jointly write fanciful and flowery intimate messages to lure the town's most famous person into "The Project". However, the game they play spins out of control when Charlie begins to desire Jenna; jealous Laura believes she is working on a masterpiece; and Jenna finds herself wanting and loathing Charlie as the "author" of those romantic emails.
This is an interesting but strange triangle as each of the prime trio has wants and flaws with a sort of modern day gender bending Cyrano take of who is writing the poetic romantic emails. Throw in Jenna's supportive buddy Dickie into the mix to further complicate the already convoluted relationships. Amusing yet profound, LAURA RIDER'S MASTERPIECE is refreshing and original although the audience will feel Jane Hamilton could have went even further outside the conventional story line.
Hungry Woman in Paris
The suicide of her cousin Luna shakes Los Angeles based Mexican-American journalist Canela to her bone marrow. She needs to escape so she leaves behind her family, her fiance Armando and her job to find passion, something that has mysteriously vanished form her life. She goes to Paris where she enrolls in the internationally famous cooking school Le Coq Rouge and rents an apartment.
Canela has a string of lovers and makes friends with other students. Though she does not quite retain the passion that died with Luna she moves on in her grief for her cousin and feels her soul healing. Upon graduating from the culinary school, Canela returns to Southern California, but her life before Luna's death is no longer enough.
This is a fascinating character study of a young woman who seems to have everything only to feel she has nothing and must do something about the void in her soul made self aware by her cousin's suicide. Canela is a wonderful lead character who provides a profound first hand account that is entertaining and engaging as she uses elan and sass to hide her inner doubts. Fans will appreciate Josefina Lopez's terrific contemporary while rooting for Canela to make it.
Men, Money and Gold Diggers
In Houston African-American investment banker Caleb Peterson wonders why he always meets gold diggers. Recently, there was cheating Kendra; before her was Vanessa who used his credit card to buy boobs for her mom; and before her was Liza who still drives the Mercedes. His latest Asia proves the opposite but she is too nice, uneducated, and Josephine six-pack. He pulls a stunt with "Water Melon" to dump her.
In Houston, former model Paisley Terrell has been with Bobby for a year and a half, but thinks he is stepping out on her. She arranges for the "Busted" reality TV show to prove her claim and they do. She ends it on the air.
Caleb and Paisley meet at a club with most nursing their latest relationship failures. They hit it off and become engaged, but their friends warn each of them over whether to have a pre-nuptial agreement or not. Meanwhile Dedra ends her abusive relationship with violent Marcus while also falling in love with Caleb while Paisley's ex sports agent Bobby Trumane is back in town ready to pick up where he left with Paisley.
This novelization of the author's play is a well written tale of love that though the reader will know is an adaptation will appreciate anyway due to the cast. The lead couple is a fascinating pairing as each is going through relationship-karma as they learn what love is all about. With the exception of Dedra, the support cast is never fully developed though they play key roles. With a terrific final spin on what's love, Je'Caryous Johnson provides an engaging novelization of his play MEN, MONEY AND GOLD DIGGERS.
The town of Santa Olivia lies in between the United States and Mexico in a sort of no "flag" zone except the American military owns this isolated wasteland. Santa Olivia sprung up around a military base where human reengineering and other experiments are conducted that would be illegal in both countries.
The goal of the "Wolf Man" is to genetically alter humans to make them Captain America-like super soldiers. One of these Wolf Men impregnated a normal female who gave birth to aptly named Loup Garron. To keep her safe from the scientists, her mom and brother hid her existence, but her father was forced to flee. When her mother dies, she is forced to live with other orphans at the nearby church. Though the other kids are normal humans, they not only know she is a half-breed they go out of their way to help her hide her paternal heritage. The orphans know her secret and help her to conceal it, while they also try to make Santa Olivia a better place to live. However when her brother dies in a camp boxing match, Loup vows to challenge the winner though that will surely expose who she is to the commander.
Using a Dr. Moreau like science fiction background, Jacqueline Carey provides a deep well drawn coming of age character study of a half-breed offspring of an experiment. The exciting story line finds its groove once Loup joins the other orphans, as they accept her as one of them although they recognize she is radically different and protect her secrets from the military who would exploit her. Like her "peers", Loup seeks her mate for life; knowing the danger she places any male in especially a purebred human when the day of reckoning she expects finally comes. This is a terrific romantic sci fi thriller starring a wonderful heroine.
Up at the College
Michele Andrea Bowen
Yvonne Fountain Copeland is distraught when her husband PH.D Dr. Darrell dumps her for his peer, arrogant as he is, Dr. Bettina Davidson; Instead of moping Yvonne turns to the Lord who helps her get through her marriage break-up and even his idle threat of obtaining custody of their kids high school aged D'Relle and middle school aged Danesha. She returns with her children to her hometown of Durham, North Carolina where she obtains an adjunct professor position at Evangeline T Marshall University.
Yvonne meets religious "Eva T" U Collegiate basketball coach Curtis Parker who enjoys his bachelor lifestyle. He had no plans of marrying anytime soon until he falls in love with Yvonne. However, as he has problems with reconciling what his work requires for him to be a success with what his soul demands, Yvonne remains at his side helping him understand what matters.
Well written with an interesting lead pairing, the overwhelming premise of UP AT THE COLLEGE is with Jesus throwing assists, you can slam dunk through life. Faith is how the audience will define Yvonne while her ex is a sort of King Solomon filled with knowledge but lacking passion. The most interesting character is Curtis who has a struggle between what his job requires and what the Lord requires of him. Although the abundance of preaching slows down the fast breaks, Christian romance readers will enjoy Michele Andrea Bowen's fine contemporary.
The entire state of California remains in shock with the disappearance three months ago of teenager Michael Campion, son of a former governor (see THE 6TH TARGET). San Francisco Police Detectives Lindsay Boxer and Rich Conklin lead the local official inquiry as the FBI conducts a national search; neither makes any progress until a credible tip leads the SFPD detectives to a house of ill repute in the nice Russian Hill neighborhood. The hooker twenty-two years old Junie Moon nee Myrtle Bays claims Michael paid her for sex, but died during the tryst; she dumped the body. ADA Yuki Castellano files murder charges, but the case takes an odd spin even as the media stalks everyone's actions.
The two cops also work on a serial arsonist killer case that has left several wealthy couples dead in affluent neighborhoods. Clues seem to lead nowhere and the culprit is getting increasingly brazen with each new inferno.
While Lindsay and her police partner predominately work together on the Campion disappearance, she her Women's Murder Club friends target the arsonists before more people are killed. Ironically the fire killers are also closing in on Lindsay and company. Filled with twists and non-stop action the latest by the numbers Women's Murder Club thriller is another exhilarating James Patterson suspense thriller.
The Alexander Cipher
In Alexandria, excavation of a site to construct a new hotel reveals the ruins of an ancient tomb. Construction manager Mohammed el-Dahab shuts down work to notify the authorities of the find as proscribed by Egyptian law. The Feds send archeologists to catalogue the tomb. The professionals quickly determine the artifacts come from the age of Alexander the Great. As a side consequence of an Alexander age discovery, there is renewed interest in finding the tomb of the Great Macedonian conqueror.
As the fervor arises Daniel Knox works on a dive vessel in the Red Sea until his chivalrous nature gets him in trouble when the Good Samaritan rescues a woman from a sexual predatory mobster with money, connections and anger. Forced to flee, he rushes to Alexandria where he has a haven to hide in with an archeological friend Augustin until the Red Sea incident becomes forgotten. Daniel gets inside to see the new Alexandria tomb and realizes the greatness of the discovery because there are clues to where Alexander the Great was buried. He soon meets ancient Egyptian language expert Gaille Bonnard, who is part of a team working on an Alexander dig to the north. Before he knows what happened Daniel is in love and searching for Alexander's tomb.
Although overwhelmed with too many subplots, THE ALEXANDER CIPHER is a terrific thriller that cleverly interweaves historical tidbits of Ancient Egypt and Macedonia during the Alexander era into the contemporary adventure. Readers will root for Knox, a sort of modern day Indiana Jones, who gets into one hot water situation after another until the audience assumes he is an over cooked hard boiled egg. Fans will enjoy his escapades in an entertaining brisk archeological thriller.
God Only Knows
The four African-American women (Julia, Toya, Cassie, and Teri) met when they attended the same almost all white Christian Light School in Dayton, Ohio two decades ago. Each has found success in their chosen field, but what unites them is a tragic memory from their days at the school. Eddie Walker attacked one of the girls, but with he lp from the others, he was the one who became debilitated.
Now Julia Turner is coming home to become superintendent of Christian Light School. They hid the truth, but Eddie's brother Police Detective Peter Whitlock still investigates the accident. His efforts prove fruitful when he finds links to Cassie; forcing Julia to decide whether she must reveal the truth of what happened when she was thirteen years old, but owes her three friends an opportunity to voice their opinions as to whether the truth will set them free.
This is an entertaining contemporary character study starring best friends dealing with a traumatic incident twenty years ago that haunts each of them differently. Their lives and that of others (besides obviously Eddie) like Pete were shaped by that tragedy and their immediate actions. Each of the foursome know if they remain silent nothing will happen to them; however Julia's conscience makes her question whether silence is right especially when an obsessed Pete goes after Cassie. Although the final denouement seems unlikely detracting from an interesting tale, fans will enjoy Xavier Knight's deep look at how one major disturbing event as a teen shapes the adult even though two decades have past.
When a judge awarded her cheating husband half of her considerable earnings, she refused to pay it (see SHOP TILL YOU DROP). Defying the court order, she left the state, changed her name to Helen Hawthorne, and ended up in Fort Lauderdale at the Coronado Tropic Apartments where she becomes friends with the landlady Margery Flax. She accepts dead-end jobs with her latest at Miguel Angel's salon where she receives tips and minimum wage for running errands, making drinks, and sweeping floors.
Miguel and Helen go to the house of Honey's fiance to fix her hair and make-up so she can marry a privileged old billionaire Kingman Oden who writes the Stardust Gossip blog that tell all about celebrities. Honey is pregnant and refuses to marry Kingman if he insists on a pre-nuptial. One hour after they exchange vows, the "King" is dead, a homicide victim. Miguel is the prime suspect because he was seen arguing with the victim and issued a loud death threat at the King. Helen refuses to accept that Miguel killed Oden; so she seeks evidence to clear him while trying to get all the details finished for her wedding to Phil. However, increasingly everything so far hangs Miguel.
The latest Dead-End Job mystery (see CLUBBED TO DEATH) is an exciting whodunit made much more fascinating by the fact that the victim is an unsympathetic character who had enough enemies to fill the Miami Orange Bowl (pre- demolition that is). The King royally pissed off his ex-wife, his former mistress, his ex business partner and much of the Southern Florida population. The support cast adds a key degree of plausibility to this fine amateur sleuth, but it is Helen with Phil's help who owns the plot as she does her best to exonerate her boss; her efforts lead her into interesting scenarios.
Patterns in the Sand
Sea Harbor, Massachusetts is a place where people from all fields of art live and work. The village has its own artists' colony and the serenity has enabled many residents to get their creative juices flowing. Late at night fiber artist Willow Adams comes to town with no place to sleep. She breaks into the Seaside Knitters Studio falling asleep at the window facing the street.
The police arrive, but the store's owner Izzy Chambers refuses to file any charges. Willow tells her and Seaside Knitters Nell, Cass and Birdie that she came to see them to discuss her fiber art. She also wants to meet her biological father Aiden Peabody who allegedly deserted her mother before she was born. However before father and daughter meet, Aiden is found dead, a poison victim. As the main benefactor of Aiden's will as well as desertion issues, she is the prime suspect of the police. However, the Seaside Knitters club members think otherwise and encouraging one another they plan to prove she is innocent by finding the real killer one stitch at a time.
The second Seaside Knitters amateur sleuth tale (see DEATH BY CASHMERE) is an exciting tight knit whodunit that emphasizes life in a small Massachusetts town in which art is the focus of the community. Told by Nell, the ambience of the art colonies and the tension of the investigation make for a fine one sitting read. Similar in tone and location to Anne Canadeo's WHILE MY PRETTY ONE KNITS, Sally Goldenbaum entertains with this strong thriller the knitting mystery crowd; who have a high quality bar set by Monica Ferris' Minnesota Crewel World and Maggie Sefton's Colorado House of Lambspun.
The Cat, The Quilt, and the Corpse
Ten months a widow, Jillian Hart obtains solace from her three cats who she loves with all her heart. Jillian comes home from an overnight business trip to hear Chablis sneezing, which means his allergy to humans was triggered by a trespasser. She searches her house until she finds a broken window near a busted door. The only thing apparently missing is her Abyssinian Syrah; Jillian calls the police, but catnapping is not high on their list of crimes.
She finds a clue when she visits the animal shelter run by Alison and Shawn. They believe Flake Wilkerson abducted her feline because he was always looking at purebreds; additionally some of their sheltered cats, also purebreds, are missing. Jillian visits Flake's home, but finds nothing. On her second trip, she sees Syrah leaving out the open from door, but also sees her go back in. She tries to catch her cat but instead she finds Flake on the floor with a knife protruding from his gut. The cops assume Jillian is the killer as she had motive, means, and opportunity until evidence leads to another suspect. Jillian is happy her cat is home with her but disagrees that the suspect in custody is guilty. She wonders if her South Carolina town is home to the Keystone Cops. She investigates and wastes one of her nine lives almost getting killed by the culprit.
Cat lovers will empathize with the grief the heroine feels when one of her felines goes missing. Already somewhat a recluse since her husband died, Jillian forces herself to rescue her beloved Syrah. Thus the catnapping leads her to make new friends and to start living again though she will feel incomplete until the killer is in custody. Fans will enjoy her amateur sleuth investigation though wonder why she risks her life to prove the suspect is innocent.
Dead Before Dark
Wendy Corsi Staub
The Night Watchman serial killer was as infamous as any back in the sixties; but abruptly the murder spree ended. Now thirty-five years later, the only person who knows personally what happened to the Night Watchman all those years ago is released from Attica. Three and a half decades is a long time between kills, but he is back and quickly knows who his final victim will be though he has a few other murders to make on his trek across America before he completes his final masterpiece. He chose psychic detective Lucinda Sloan as the last victim after seeing her on television as he finds her skill to "see" murders fascinating.
The Night Watchman needs to prepare the last one for death by engaging her in a game of cat and mouse. He sends her cryptic notes that he also gives to her friend Cam Hastings, who still has not recovered from her daughter's abduction last summer or for that matter the murder of her sister years ago (see DYING BREATH). Finally the egotistical killer sends the same notes to former FBI agent Vic Shattuck, who is writing a true crime nonfiction about the Night Watchman. None of the trio can quite figure out from the strange missives who is next, but the Night Watchman is narrowing the field as his great finish to his grand tour is coming.
Although serial killers sending clues to the cops have been around for quite a long time, DEAD BEFORE DARK is a terrific thriller starring an evil, efficient and effective psychopath and the three people he chooses to spice up his second coming. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the reader meets the Night Watchman, who knows his first task as a free man is to kill. Sub-genre fans will appreciate this fine saga as Lucinda realizes by the third homicide that the serial killer is playing chess with her.
When His Kiss Is Wicked
With the death of her father, Colette Hamilton takes over running the family bookstore in which she supports her mom and four sisters. However, her uncle and mother are appalled with her working as they want her to marry wealth and sell the shop; Colette prefers work over marriage.
In 1870 an earl, Lord Lucien Waverley stops at the bookstore to buy books for his father. He and the shopkeeper are attracted to one another as he begins to understand the adage "You can't judge a book by its cover" and she "The family that plays together". However, though they see each other at social events, their potential courtship is derailed over a philosophical difference about whether women should be allowed to own and run a store as he wants a throwback to the Regency era and she reminds him of who runs the empire.
The strong gender war over the role of women in Victorian society makes for an amusing, entertaining yet profound historical story. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the beloved enemy combatants meet in her family bookstore and never slows down as they fall in love while debating whether women should be allowed in business. Sub-genre fans will relish the first Hamilton sister tale and look forward to more engaging mid nineteenth century romances.
The Lady and the Libertine
In 1908 Englishman Nigel Wallenford is a womanizing thief until he regains his birthright as a titled earl. He vows to change his scandalous rascally ways once he has the wealth to live as an earl should live. He knows exactly how to achieve his goal with little work. He will go to Egypt to steal a fabled ruby that will lead him to a hidden treasure.
Illegitimate Anne Mitchell was born and raised in a workhouse until her father exiled her to Egypt. There she became a member of the Bedouin Khamsin tribe, an honor that has given her incredible self esteem after being a nothing back home. Using the name Karida, she is guardian of the ruby that Nigel has come to steal. As they end up on a long journey, she knows he is her one, but though attracted to her, he rejects her love as he knows that emotion only hurts.
Moving forward a couple of decades from her late nineteenth century Egyptian romantic suspense thrillers (see THE SCORPION and THE SEDUCER, THE FALCON AND THE DOVE, and THE COBRA AND THE CONCUBINE, etc), .Bonnie Vanak provides another fabulous historical. The story line stars two battered souls who reacted differently to their pasts; whereas Anne overcomes her childhood turning into a Bedouin heroic guardian; Nigel engulfs his past with debauchery and thievery. Their gender war over love and ownership of the ruby makes for another great historical adventure romantic epic.
Texas Hold Him
In 1870 in New Orleans, Dyer Straights is one of the city's best cardsharps and almost as famous for his skill with the ladies. However, gambling and women are not his passion; he lives for one thing: vengeance.
Southern belle Lottie Mason is in desperate need of money in order to keep her sick father out of prison. She enters a riverboat card tournament expecting to win though she has no idea how to play. She asks Dyer for some lesions. He has no time for a loser even one so beautiful so he asks for payment of her sleeping with him for tutoring lessons. He assumes she will flee back to whatever haven or hovel she has left; but she shocks him by calling his bluff.
TEXAS HOLD HIM is an enjoyable lighthearted historical frolic due mostly to the antics of Lottie and the reactions to her exploits by Dyer; the interaction between them sort of reminded this reviewer of Solo and Leia (Episode IV). Poker is a metaphor for their relationship as the ante is the heart, bluffs are tried, countered, and called, and a royal flush straight cannot trump their strange romance. Lisa Cooke writes a wonderful Post Civil War game of chance in which the stakes are love and broken hearts.
The Civil War left Rowena Dowell with nothing forcing her to live at her uncle's logging camp in Arkansas. While the war forced Rowena to relocate, half-breed Cherokee Chief Tall Moon was also forced to move; he takes his Bird Clan people from Georgia to the forests of Arkansas.
By 1871, Tall Moon becomes concerned once again as the Whites encroach on his tribe's land. Making things even more painful is the leader of the encroachment is his father, who exiled him to his mother's people. He also sees Rowena at the logging camp and feels an attraction. When they meet, each realizes they have found their soul mate, but her cousin has plans for her that excludes a half-breed in the way of progress.
As always with a Cassie Edwards' "Savage" Indian romance, the story line is well written and fun to read though similar to the numerous previous tales. Tall Moon is a fascinating lead character, having been rejected by his white father; whereas Rowena is the stereotype C. Edwardian heroine as a white person who sees the noble kind heart of the Indian chief and the dark withered soul of her family. Still fans of Ms. Edwards will enjoy her latest historical.
Mary Jane's Grave
In March 1898, four men killed her infant son, raped her and her daughter Madeline, and burned her as a witch. With her last breath, Mary Jane Hendrickson using her gift and cursed the men and the grounds where they committed their atrocities. The sexual assault of Madeline left her pregnant. In the present, the grave of Mary Jane was buried by a tree in the middle of an old cemetery where teens fool around scaring one another.
Sargent CeeCee Gallagher is called to the Mount Olive Cemetery because the murdered body of Keri Sutter was found on Mary Jane's grave. She had been separated from her friends who swore they saw an old woman and heard the scream of a baby crying though no infant was seen. CeeCee assumes one of the students killed Keri and used the Mary Jane witch tale to frighten the others. Elder Willie Morris suggests CeeCee look up the history . The detective does and learns that twenty years ago another teen was stoned to death on the grave-site; the culprit got away with murder. CeeCee continues investigating into Mary Jane's life and death tracking ancestry and descendants onto the present in order to prevent more homicides.
A CeeCee Gallagher police procedural is always a treat (see THE DEVIL'S CLOSET) as the sergeant gives her readers a deep look at how she runs an investigation and why she takes some of the key steps that she does. The audience also receives glimpses of her love affair with FBI Agent Michael Haggar while he deals with a treacherous former wife who will do anything to get him back. The who-done-it is terrific with its ties to the late nineteenth century atrocities as Stacy Dittrich provides a unique voice with a fresh brisk thriller starring a heroine who resonates with readers.
The Weight Of The Mustard Seed
This is an interesting biography of Iraqi Special Forces General Kamel Sachet, who worked closely under Saddam Hussein. Dedicated to Iraq, Sachet was a war hero during the Iran conflict of the 1980s and led the invasion of and commanded the occupying army in Kuwait prior to the first Gulf War. His story is fascinating as he struggled with the Baath Party excessively and with his boss' ugly turn to torture; in fact he discouraged his sons from joining the military or the government. When the Desert Shield allies kicked the Iraqis out of Kuwait the general became disillusioned with all the unnecessary d eath caused by a violent megalomaniac; he already had fallen out of favor as someone had to take the fall for the Kuwaiti embarrassment. He turned to the Koran for guidance as he felt THE WEIGHT OF THE MUSTARD SEED on his soul. In 1999, Hussein had Sachet executed.
This is an insightful biography that explains how a caring person in a high level position struggled with an out of control abusive dictator. Readers will be fascinated as Wendell Steavenson provides a deep portrait of a general, a people, and a country in strife.
Belong To Me
Marisa de los Santos
After recognizing that LOVE WALKED IN to their lives, Cornelia Brown and oncologist Dr. Teo Sandoval married. Following a miscarriage and the 9/11 tragedy, the couple leave Manhattan for the suburbs of Philadelphia.
The urban Cornelia finds adjusting to the burbs quite difficult as the problems of the natives seem insignificant after 9/11. Cornelia cannot stand her disparaging neighbor Piper, unhappy wife to Kyle and mother of two, who is the vicious self-proclaimed leader of what is acceptable behavior. On the hand she seems to get on with single mom Lake whose son Dev believes they left California to be near his dad, an absentee father who vanished thirteen years ago. However she reconsiders her initial impressions and stereotyping the two women. Piper voluntarily becomes the caretaker for cancer victim Elizabeth and subsequently when her "patient" dies keeps providing support to the grieving family even as Kyle walks out on her. The brilliant young teen Dev uncovers the truth about his father.
Though the ending will not shock anyone, the complicated roads travel by the various support staff and Cornelia is deep with detours potholes and ruts making for a profound drama. Cornelia like readers will reassess her classifications of Piper and Lake; she sees the former proactively nurturing a neighbor and her family irregardless of the gossip, and the latter concealing truths from her son. Fans of contemporary family dramas will enjoy the big city immigrant struggling to adapt to life in a foreign land, the suburbs.
The Cardboard Universe
The late Phoebus K. Dank was a copious author of mostly science fiction. His collective work was not highly regarded by critics as his plots were simplistic proof that the shortest distance between two points was his storylines from start to finish. Yet somehow anything Dank wrote was published and his loyal fan base would have bought his copying the Hemlock phonebook.
After his death, an encyclopedia of all things Dank and dirty appears. Primarily two men debate the merit of Dank. Professor Bill Boswell who did his thesis on Dank conducts a class in Dank Studies at Hemlock in California; Dank's housemate Owen Hirt is renowned in Dank circles for more than rooming with the author as he is famous for murdering him. They represent the polar opposites with both sharing the thought that Dank would have abbreviated them.
This is an odd brilliant premise that satirizes the self proclaimed experts on the works of a writer, but could be any topic like TV business and financial reporters. The book has an encyclopedia feel to it as it serves in many ways more like a biography than a novel in spite of the clever murder mystery that runs throughout. Although at times the tale is difficult to read as "encyclopedia" sections require filler to insure the concept remains valid, fans will enjoy this often amusing lampoon summed up with the ironic twist that Phillip K. Dick appears in a Phoebus K. Dank story.
Intent To Kill
Twenty-four year old Pawtucket Red Sox pitcher Ryan James is heading for the majors in nearby Boston. He is making his last start for the Triple A "PawSox" before leaving Rhode Island for Fenway. His wife Chelsea and their infant daughter Ainsley are coming to watch him pitch. However, behind schedule, an apparent drunk driver crashes into the car Chelsea drives. She dies, but thanks to the child restraining seat in the rear two years old Ainsley lives. The other driver vanishes without a trace.
Ryan's life shattered that night. Instead of being on the big league mound, almost three years later he co-hosts a morning sports-talk radio show in Boston. Still grieving his loss, he never sleeps while trying to be the best single dad in the world. He remains outraged that the hit and run driver never was caught and his beloved's case is colder than a New England winter. Suddenly on the third anniversary of the day his life ended, an anonymous tip claims "I know who did it." While PPD heats up the James case, Ryan makes a paradigm switch from DUI accident to homicide and believes his autism spectrum disorder brother-in-law Babes is the tipster, but he has vanished. Ryan begins a search for the truth with the help of prosecutor Emma Carlisle.
Though the conspiracy that Ryan and Emma start to unravel seems over the top of the Green Monster, the story line is a gripping thriller as an increasingly cold case of a deadly vehicular accident turns into premeditated murder. Fans of James Grippando will enjoy the tale, but leave the plausibility index in the dugout.
The Last Testament
The election for President of the United States remains a close one with a few weeks to go. Anything could trigger victory for either side.
Meanwhile scorned former diplomat Maggie Costello mediates a final Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. At the same time the Israeli Prime Minister appears at a peace rally to show his support to the agreement. Renowned academia right winger Shimon Guttman approaches the PM reaching into his pocket to take out a note to deliver to the PM; but Israeli security forces react instantly as they assume he grabs a weapon killing him. Fearing the incident could derail the peace talks, Costello obtains the cooperation of Guttman's son to try to learn what Shimon wanted to tell the PM.
This is an intriguing thriller with ties that go back to Abraham starring a career diplomat who fell from grace a year ago with her humiliation in Africa, but has a second chance as the United States sees her as the "Closer" of hard negotiations. The story line is fast-paced as Costello and Guttman quickly realize that RIGHTEOUS MEN of America, Israel, and Palestine want control of Shimon's "secret". Although the web confession climax seems ludicrous, readers will enjoy this exciting Holy Land thriller which connects the twenty-first century feud to the Old Testament.
Thanks For The Memories
Joyce Conway lies at the bottom of the stairs after falling. When she next awakens she is at a hospital, having miscarried. Her father is there, but her husband Conor remains away on business. She lost so much blood, she received a blood transfusion. After her release from the hospital, she goes to live with her dad as she and Conor are divorcing. Joyce begins having odd visions, speaks Latin, and knows trivia tidbits re European architectural design and Irish history. None of these oddities were known before her tragic accident.
American Justin Hitchcock is a visiting professor at Dublin's Trinity College, where he lectures on European art and architecture. He gave a pint of blood at a nearby hospital and mused afterward that some anonymous person owes him. He is mystified by his constant running into a female he never met and his attraction to this stranger, who muses over how she keeps meeting a male stranger she finds so appealing.
This whimsical contemporary romance is a fun tale, but ironically the prime relationships are not between the lead couple; instead the top guns are Joyce with her father and Conor with his family. The cast is strong with the secondary players providing insight into what motivates the lead couple; Joyce feels the pain of her miscarriage and not much re her divorce while Conor seeks to do something meaningful. The blood destiny never comes off the ground as much as the other interactions, yet fans will relish this engaging tale of fate mindful of Cusak-Beckinsale in Serendipity.
This is a fascinating memoir of a woman who had no idea what she wanted out of life until Suzie Gilbert took a position at a animal hospital near her Hudson Valley home. Ms. Gilbert began her quest to save birds by bringing the wounded to the animal hospital. Soon she converted her home into Flyaway, Inc., a nonprofit wild bird rehabilitation center. Her bewildered spouse and their kids shared their home with squawking parrots who ruled supreme the roost and unknown species sharing the bathroom with the human intruders. The hardest thing for the author is to do is letting a healed guest go home to the wild. Encouraging people to pursue your dream regardless of the oddity or what others might think, Suzie Gilbert provides a tender passionate autobiography filled with humor, pathos and caring.
The Moonflower Vine
In the 1950s near Renfro, Missouri, retired teacher Matthew Soames, his wife Callie, three of their adult daughters and their one grandson gather at the family farm. Each is happy to see one another.
The youngest daughter Mary Jo is a TV producer living in New York City; she hates to come home to the dirt of Missouri. The oldest child Jessica feels good about her life though her father feels her choices were stupid as he believes she could have been much more. The patriarch Matthew feels the world is passing him by as he wants to go beyond Missouri to see firsthand what he reads; but feels strongly he could never leave Callie behind. Though he hides his anger, Matthew believes his out of control daughter Mathy is God punishing him for his transgressions; his salvation he feels lies with her son. His other adult child Leonie is the one who most honors her parents by obeying their demands; however she loves a man her father will reject if asked. Callie is the oddity amongst the five as an illiterate who adheres strictly to late nineteenth century morality as if two world wars never occurred.
This is a reprint of an early 1960s family drama that captured the essence of living in Missouri in the 1950s. The story line is character driven as the audience obtains mostly through Mary Jo's observations how each of the others perceive their respective lives; ironically Mary Jo has no section to call her own, but her lens cutting across the family brings her into focus. In some ways a novella collection as each member has their own chapter; THE MOONFLOWER VINE is a fascinating mid twentieth century historical tale.
Winter in June
Kathryn Miller Haines
In 1943 wannabe actress Rosie Winter and her friend Jayne are getting ready to sail on the Queen of the Ocean, which will take them to the recently cleared of the Japanese militarily important Solomon Islands. While waiting in line to board the ship, a shot is heard and the body of a woman floating in the water is seen. Passengers panic, but USO Camp Show performers Jayne and Rosie remain eager to entertain the troops. They look forward to meeting the rest of the troupe especially top Hollywood star Gilda Devane, a wild child just released from her contract.
When they arrive at Tulagi, the main U.S. base of operations in the South Pacific, they find out that the dead woman was Captain Irene Zinn, a WAC with an MGM contract. Rosie has another reason for coming to the Solomon Islands; her former boyfriend Jack was here and she wants to know what happened to him. They learn that someone is stealing medical supplies, but so far no one has been able to catch the perpetrator. During a performance, one of the dancers is wounded and another killed. Rosie thinks the murder here is linked to the death of the WAC. She also finds out that Jack is missing, had used an alias, and is impossible to trace. Rosie determines the missing medical supplies, the homicides, and Jack tie together leading to heartache for her.
Mindful of Bob Hope shows in Viet Nam, this vivid WWII mystery depicts life as a USO entertainer as Kathryn Miller Haines provides depth to her insightful look back to the war in the Pacific. Rosie is a strong willed independent person who places herself in danger while performing for the military. The mystery enhances an engaging glimpse of Hollywood goes to war.
In 1518 Sir Michael Devereaux is sent from Ireland to the Tudor Court to participate in the annual Order of the Garter tournament. At about the same Michael arrives, Princess Renee de Valois of France is forced to go to the Tudor Court to spy on King Henry VIII.
Soon after their separate arrivals, Renee hears of a plot to kill the monarch and that is followed by several murders. Cardinal Wolsey asks Michael to investigate the homicides. As Michael begins to connect dots between England, the Vatican and Ireland, he leaves out one key mark from his past until he is injured and he suffers from ugly visions of murder. He soon fears for his sanity as he ponders a supernatural killer while falling in love with Renee who reciprocates; but neither trusts the other leaving both vulnerable to a clever killer.
This is a fascinating spin on the reign of Henry VIII using real events to bring alive the aptly titled tale. The action-packed story line combines a whodunit with supernatural implications and a romance starring two wonderful protagonists. However Michael makes ROYAL BLOOD brisk as he fears he is going insane between his nightmares and his paranormal conclusion as to what is killing the blue blooded regal retinue.
Sexy Beast VI
Kate Douglas, Anya Howard, Lydia Parks
Chanku Honor" by Kate Douglas. The Wolfpack begins to turn into a Chanku family led by Logan and his lover Jazzy Blue along with four others; as they start to discover their shapeshifting legacy and sexual prowess.
"Wings of The Swan" by Anya Howard. Deep in the northern Germanic woods, the Saxon chief sees the daughter of the Goddess come from behind a waterfall, but knows she must not be human as no mortal could be that beautiful.
"Animal Instinct" by Lydia Parks. Rachel investigates the serial killings that look like a sentient animal as the culprit. Her inquiry leads to Siberia where she works with shapeshifting Russian detective Nikolai, whom she is attracted to but fears he knows more than he is telling her about the predator.
These hot erotic paranormal romances are entertaining tales though the novella format never enables the full loving relationships to gel to the point that the fantasy elements seem real. Still series fans will relish the latest "Sexy Beast" torrid tales as once again the heat is on amidst the mystical legends.
Man After Midnight
Guardian of the Light Witch Dani Wallace seduces the hunk who oozes forbidden darkness to her that she cannot resist. However, she is clueless that he is Prince Casedren who comes from an underworld where Lucifer's offspring thrive. He teaches her passion and demands her surrender as his consort, but though tempted and craving his touch, she refuses to obey his order.
Casedren also refuses to back away as his slightest caress sends her into ecstasy and him with an out of control libido; he knows Dani will be his royal mate once he seduces her soul like he has her body. As they play their gender war of lovemaking and denial, his younger twin tries to usurp the throne from him, but with Dani and the sex magic they create, he believes they can save her world and his realm.
MAN AFTER MIDNIGHT is an excellent romantic fantasy due to the powerful fully developed star-crossed lead lovers. Dani is spirited and brave while Casedren knows what he wants and goes after her. His chip off the old block twin brings skillful sinister malice to a terrific tale that will have readers rooting for the heroes and craving for more entries in the dark paranormal romantic world of Devyn Quinn.
Devyn Quinn, Jodi Lynn Copeland and Anya Howard
"Personal Possessions" by Devyn Quinn. During a drug deal, Nikki is shot. When she awakens she is in bed naked with nude hunk Jackson who welcomes her to his Helle.
"Captive Heat," by Jodi Lynn Copeland. The explosion knocked Leia out. When she regains consciousness she finds herself naked and tied down by vines in the underground abode of Sebastian. He plans to wakes up naked, underground and bound with vines as Leia's captor teaches her acceptance as he explores her sensual boundaries
"Liaison" by Anya Howard. Marcel tries to keep his beloved Carina safe from the ancient vampire using a magic collar; while the villagers, as they for ages, perform sexual rites to restrain the evil that resides in their monastery.
These three romantic fantasy novellas are dark well written heated thrillers, but not for everyone as the hunks in the Quinn and Copeland tales teeter on the line between mutually accepted bondage and abuse; on the other hand that also makes them seem plausible as they somewhat remain in character even when they find a love mate. This also leaves the Howard entry different as the lead male is a pure hero fighting a pure evil over the woman he cherishes. Sub-genre fans will enjoy the DANGEROUS TIES that bound the lead characters to one another.
Flipping The Script
Brian has left Del Rio Bay to attend Duke University on a scholarship. His Del Rio Bay High School junior girlfriend Mina misses him. However, as he acclimates to freshman life at college while playing ball, he communicates with her less and less. As she thinks of Brian and wonders WHO ARE YOU WIT? she panics that she is losing her boyfriend to a cheerleader, but though he wants to remain faithful, her uncertainty and lack of trust are driving him crazy.
Michael is euphoric but also frightened. He has an opportunity to spend time away from Del Rio Bay in DC attending a creative arts program that fits his fashion dreams. However, he fears going so turns to a friend Rob the dancer for guidance. Meanwhile Rob's hanging around the jocks upsets star athlete JZ whose latent homophobia ignites. He struggles to control himself as he wants to beat sense into Rob, but knows the trouble he could get into including kicked off the team and besides he wants Jacinta; who is uninterested in him.
The latest coming of age Del Rio Bay teen drama, FLIPPING THE SCRIPT, adds immense complications to the relationships with geography and sexual preference causing difficulties for everyone. The recurring cast has matured considerably since the days of SO NOT THE DRAMA, but so has the issues they face. Fans of the series will enjoy the continuing adventures of the crew; newcomers will appreciate this fine young adult novel while seeking out the previous four escapades so they DON'T GET IT TWISTED as to how far the group has come.
The Ocean Inside
Kensington, Apr 2009, $15.00
On Pawley's Island, South Carolina, Emmet and Lauren Sullivan raise their two children in a wonder loving home. However, their idyllic lifestyle takes a horrific blow when their youngest daughter nine years old Ainslie becomes critically ill.
Emmet and Lauren try their best not to neglect their teenage older daughter Sloan, but cannot help their focus has to be on Ainslie. Sloan feels increasingly like an intruder filled with anger, resentment and remorse as even their grandparents ignore her while taking a zillion photos of her ailing sibling. She begins to turn to reckless actions like swimming in the ocean at night alone and falling for her boyfriend Cal's pressure in order to gain some attention from her parents.
THE OCEAN INSIDE is a profound look at what happens to internal relationships when a trauma crashes the lives of a happy seemingly well balanced family. The Sullivan foursome is fully developed with each having a unique personality so that the audience can see how they react differently to Ainslie's health crisis. Lauren dives into charities; Emmett worries about paying medical bills; Sloan feels deserted; and Ainslie turns reflective as she knows how her sister, her parents, and the islanders feel. Janna McMahan provides a thoughtful contemporary tale that will leave her readers pondering how we would act.
It's Hotter in Hawaii
Cassie Montgomery is upset over the death of her half-brother Dan Rutledge that was ruled an accident. Her feelings are not just grief, which she has in abundance; it is her belief that her sibling's death was no accident.
She is in Dan's Hawaiian home on a remote part of Kauai snooping around for proof when a thug tries to break in; only to be caught halfway through the window with a gun aimed at his head. Caleb Wilson persuades the she-warrior holding the gun that he is Dan's friend. He is shocked when she tells him Dan is dead. He agrees with her assessment that his death is highly suspicious in spite of the official position of local law enforcement especially with Dan's house trashed. As the pair team up to uncover the truth, he has a new overarching objective: to make love with his late buddy's sister.
IT'S HOTTER IN HAWAII is an enjoyable humorous romantic suspense starring two individuals whose matchmaker is a dead man. The lead couple is a wonderful fun pairing as each wants to know the truth of what happened to Dan and also want to get the other in bed; their debates at times feel like a 1930s screwball romantic mystery comedy, but much hotter. Although at times the romantic subplot supersedes the amateur sleuth inquiry, fans will enjoy following the antics of the sister and the friend go Hawaiian.
When she worked for LAPD, Maya Black was known as a tough cop. Now she adds mean to her adjectives ever since she became a vampire, a change she did not want and still does not appreciate. Still kicking felonious butt, her targets are no longer human scum; she cleans Los Angeles of the paranormal dregs.
Adam Brody needs specialized help to rescue his abducted niece Cammie from a vampire horde that plans her to be a wake up snack for their master who has been asleep for ages. He is told to beg Maya to take on the job as no one else would be macho stupid or capable. Though vampires are the king and queen of liars, he is so desperate he offers his blood as payment for her saving his niece. Neither Adam nor Maya expected the attraction between them.
The romance between the lead characters is excellent as he distrusts vampires and she distrusts anyone who breathes. The suspense is terrific as Maya and Adam attempt the rescue mission. However, what makes this enjoyable urban fantasy super is the paranormal species all contain differing personalities, which makes the world of Eden seem plausible. Sub-genre readers will appreciate IMMORTAL DANGER as the protagonists struggle with the attraction for one another while fighting lethal adversaries.
In London her late husband would relish what is happening to his design for the Crystal Palace at the 1851 Exhibition in Hyde Park. There Queen Victoria will receive the renowned diamond Koh-I-Noor provided to her by East India Company representative Isambard Bellamy. The monarch and her agents are unaware of Bellamy's secret agenda; he plans to replace the monarch with himself.
Lilly Clarence Hampton's euphoria for her deceased spouse's success turns to acid when Bellamy's henchman, former English Agent Julian St. Martin, extorts the Crystal Place architectural designs from her as he uses her secret re her marriage against her. As Julian seduces the widow she wonders whose side is he really on and what can she do to thwart the villain.
DANGEROUS GAMES is a fast-paced Victorian Era action-adventurer thriller that grips the audience once the key three players appear. Lilly is a solid lead female who is falling in love with Julian, but fears he is betraying their country. Julian is an enigma to the widow he desires and the audience who like Lilly ponder if he is a seductive traitor. However, though his appearances are limited, the obsessed villain steals the show with his plan to destroy the British Empire replacing it with him as the dictatorial ruler.
Freelance writer Jaine Austen (no descendent of you know who) is thrilled with a week-long Mexican cruise in return for giving a writing class. She should have known better that the oceanic trek from Los Angles would turn horrific from the onset; Prozac her cat hid in her trunk undetected until it was too late to do anything but bring the feline on board. Jaine cuts a deal with Samoa the steward to allow Prozac on board secretly and in return she will edit his 900 page plus thriller manuscript.
Jaine is seated with the Pritchard party whose elderly single matriarch Emily is dancing with gold digging escort Graham Palmer III. He showers her with attention and soon Emily is in love. In spite of his engagement to lounge singer Cookie Esposito, Graham and Emily agree to marry over the objection of her family. Soon afterward, Graham is found dead murdered with a stolen ice-pick. The prime suspect is the dumped Cookie, but Jaine does not believe the singer killed her former fiance. Jaine investigates with Prozac's help while trying not to fall for Emily's nephew Robbie who makes it clear he wants her.
The latest Jaine Austen amateur sleuth (see KILLING BRIDEZILLA) is a laugh out loud KILLER CRUISE that readers will want to join. Jaine spends much of the time extracting herself from one awkward mess after another. The whodunit is clever and her investigation fun, but what makes this terrific tale refreshingly brisk is Samoa and his tome that has nothing to do with the mystery, but plenty to do with a great read.
An Indecent Proposition
In 1812 Widow Caroline Wynn learns about the notorious bet over who is the better lover between two notorious rakes, best friends Derek Drake and Nicholas Manning. Everyone understands they need an impartial female who is intimate with both of them. Caroline, who vows to never marry again after a horrific first experience, sends the duo a challenging unsigned note in which she insists they prove to her that sex is not boring. The lords are interested although Derek expects to lose the wager as his heart is not in it. Instead he has fallen in love with his Uncle Thomas' ward Annabel, but he broke her heart; she is engaged to nice Lord Alfred Hyatt.
At the inn Caroline explains her terms and they agree. Nicholas goes first for one week followed by Derek. Nicholas and Caroline meet at one of his remote estates. They talk and she explains she likes to read and hates her family which includes her father and her late spouse. She says she will never marry again as each agrees no strings. He kisses her and is surprised she lacks experience and is afraid. He asks her if she prefers to leave, but she says no. He kisses and touches her until she has the first orgasm of her life; he has a boner, but tells her he can wait until later. Instead they walk and talk. As they fall in love, Caroline wishes it was real, which panics Nicholas who leaves for London as it is now Derek's turn.
This is a fun Regency romance as the concept of a wager is refreshing due to the reactions of the four fully developed lead characters. Although the villain is pathetic, the two romances are entertaining yet different.
Fifteen years ago in Crow's Creek, Kansas, a vicious killer decapitated Joleen Donovan and murdered her ten year old son Johnny and seven years old daughter Jennifer. Sixteen year old Allison stepped off the school bus to open the door to the horror of her family slaughtered. She fell into a coma. Her father Hank was arrested and convicted of the homicides.
In the present Widow Allison Clemmins teaches school while raising her twelve years old son Sam alone. She spent a year at a mental hospital where her mind healed by compartmentalizing the tragedy into the forget category and did likewise when her childhood sweetheart died one year after their marriage. However, Hank's lawyer Seth Walker arrives in town to prove his client never killed anyone and that the real killer remains free. He tries to persuade Allison that her dad is innocent, but she initially ignores his plea for her to look back at what she knows. When the killings start again, Allison wonders whether a new predator is on the loose or could Seth be right.
This is a fast-paced romantic suspense thriller from one of the sub-genre's top guns (see EVERY MOVE YOU MAKE). The story line hooks the audience with the opening gruesome scene and accelerates once Seth arrives. Although the new killings add incredible layers of suspense, they detract from the overarching premise that the daughter believes her dad is the killer and his lawyer deems otherwise. Filled with numerous suspects who easily could be the Butcher of Crow's Creek, Carla Cassidy provides an exhilarating tense thriller.
Take Me Two Times
Art recovery agent Gwen Davies is proud of receiving her license and excited when ARTemis, Inc assigns her first client to her. Jaworski Labs CEO Quinn Lawson wants her to retrieve a valuable stolen gold Borgia Venetian mask imbedded with jewels and a reputation for a curse. Though anyone but Quinn as her client would have made her first case perfect as he is her ex husband, she conducts her business and proves successful.
However, her euphoria turns to excrement when Quinn informs her she recovered a fake; a brilliant replica but still a fake. The previous CEO Ed Jaworski holds his replacement Quinn accountable so the beleaguered Lawson turns to Gwen for help to extract him out of trouble by finding the real mask. Their inquires take them from Miami to Venice where an unknown adversary with insider information wants them dead and the mask's curse seems to abet this lethal enemy's efforts. As their attraction reignites, both know they must unmask the killer or become part of the mask's deadly legend.
The latest ARTemis romantic suspense thriller (see TAKE ME IF YOU CAN) is a fun tale that takes readers from South Florida to the old canals of Venice. The story line is fast-paced once Quinn realizes his former wife stole a fake and really takes off in Italy. Although recovery is too fast from the various endeavors and injuries, readers will enjoy this second chance at love if the lead pair can stay alive long enough to pursue try number two.
Atlas of Unknowns
In Kerala, India, their father Melvin with help form his mother raises his two daughters Anju and Linno Vallara when his wife and their mother committed suicide. Crippled Linno turns to painting and proves to be a talented artist. However, Anju steals the work as hers and obtains an art scholarship in New York while the real painter remains behind expecting to be a servant to her father for life.
However, Anju's deception collapses when she shows not one iota of talent. Disgraced, she flees with her only friend being Bird, who is connected in an enigmatic way to her late mom. While Anju hides from her family, Linno becomes an artist of renown. She has forgiven her sibling and wants her to come home.
This is an interesting family drama that vividly compares life in India with immigrants in New York. The sisters are fascinating as opposites in personalities yet in spite of deception and betrayal; there remains a flicker of sibling loyalty. Tania James provides a deep look at two sisters whose conflicting dreams has divided and united them in the past, but where will it take them if Linno pulls off the reunion has the sibs and readers wondering.
Bruno Chief of Police
In rustic Perigord, France, Police Officer Benoit "Bruno" Courreges is very popular amidst the villagers mostly for his lifestyle; he lives like they do in a shepherd's cottage and shopping at the local market. As a cop he has arresting authority, but never uses it as his presence leads to guilt and everyone behaving. He assumes his most significant job is to protect the local merchants and farms from the European Union pests.
However, a homicide of an elderly French WWII veteran from Algeria upsets the former soldier turned village cop. The murder is bad enough, but the swastika carved on the victim's chest angers Bruno. As he investigates a horde of homicide detectives and crime experts from Paris try to take over the case from him, but he refuses to allow them to lead. Initially members of the violent anti-immigrant National Front are the prime suspects, but soon with a help of a scholar, Bruno begins to look back to WWII for the culprit.
The second Porigord thriller (see THE CAVES OF PORIGORD) is a super investigative cozy that brings to life a small rustic village. The villagers including Bruno are priceless as their eccentricity and their outlook towards the EU as unwelcome intruders forcing the local heroes to be "smugglers" enhance the clever whodunit. Martin Walker cleverly links five decade old transgressions to a modern day homicide as fans will say oui oui to BRUNO CHIEF OF POLICE.
Just Take My Heart
Mary Higgins Clark
Simon and Schuster
Several years ago Jamie Evans was seeing a married man Jess; her roommate Natalie Raines suggested she dump him because he will never dump his wife for her. A few weeks later, Jamie dies in what the neighbors and cops thought was a robbery turned ugly. Natalie thinks otherwise as she believes Jess either killed her or arranged it.
Over the next few years Natalie becomes an acclaimed Broadway star. Following a great performance, admirers come to her dressing room to congratulate her. She recognizes one of them calling him Jess as Jamie did. Fearing for her life, Natalie flees to her New Jersey home where he waits to kill her. She is found near dead with a bullet in her chest. Her soon top be ex husband Natalie's theatrical agent Gregg Aldrich is the prime suspect having been accused of stalking her. Still the evidence remains weak and loosely circumstantial until two years later convict Jimmy Easton insists Aldrich tried to hire him to kill Natalie; he offers insider information that supports his proclamation. ADA Emily Wallace is assigned to prosecute the case against Aldrich. As she works the case and the verdict comes in, Emily has doubts that reach deep into her transplanted new heart that warns her to beware of her friendly new neighbor.
Though the premise of a transplanted heart providing memories and messages from the original owner to the new owner is not new having been in books and movies (Hoskins-Washington film Heart Condition) numerous times, fans will enjoy this tense thriller. The story is told from Emily's perspective as she shows an inner strength moving past the death of her spouse and adjusting to her heart transplant. She works the case brilliantly but has doubts even after the verdict. Fans will relish Mary Higgins Clark latest suspense as the killer of the two roommates will come as a hard to believe shocker
Howard (Simon and Shuster)
Lawyer Camille St. James works for the Truth Project, an organization whose mission is to get innocent people off death row and out of prison. Their latest success story is Chester Pelham, a man with low intelligence who was convicted of killing socialite Stephanie Hill in Blue Bayou New Orleans. After new evidence surfaced, the Louisiana Governor pardoned Chester. However during the news conference, a reporter blindsides Camille with the news that Chester was arrested in the death of Luanne Richard.
To make matters personal, the victim is Camille's former sister-in-law. She has not seen her former husband Jack in seven years, but heads to Blue Bayou to make a condolence call. Jack has come a long way from driving drunk and running over Camille's student as he is now a pastor. He blasts her for freeing Chester, but she defends herself and furthermore insists he is innocent. She intends to prove Chester did not kill Luanne. Someone makes two attempts on killing Camille, which shakes Jack up as he agrees to help her find the real culprit. As their love reignites, she does not have his faith and has doubts about ever forgiving him for what he did to them even as the killer waits for the right moment.
BLOOD BAYOU is an exciting suspense thriller with a romantic subplot that fits perfectly into the main storyline. The heroine is dedicated to insure justice occurs as she works for what is the equivalent to the Freedom Project; however that same obstinacy that is so helpful in her vocation prevents her from forgiving Jack who desperately wants a second chance. Although the theme of a stalking killer in the lurk is old, Karen Young refreshes it with the Truth project, strong characterizations especially the star-crossed lead pair, and a terrific whodunit rivaling the suspense of Mary Higgins Clark.
Mother of the Believers: A Novel of the Birth of Islam
Washington (Simon and Schuster)
In the seventh century in the Arabian Desert, Muhammad has surfaced as a prophet who is gaining a loyal following. He envisions a woman as his wife and arranges with her father to marry Aisha, who may be his youngest wife, but by far the most intelligent and spirited of Muhammad's dozen. She is his favorite, but loses her place when the other wives accuse her of adultery to the Prophet. She tries to prove her innocence, but he receives a revelation from God that regains her position. When Medina is attacked, Aisha's bravery and leadership help save the day, but the Muslim men prefer docile women so she earns some respect but also perhaps more loathing. Muhammad becomes more than just a prophet as he becomes the Prophet uniting the Arabian tribes. However, God works in mysterious ways as soon after he succeeds in conquering the holy city of Mecca, Muhammad dies.
His nineteen year old youngest widow Aisha earns a position as advisor to the Caliph of Islam pushing for universal civil rights. Aisha becomes a teacher and a commander as perhaps the most powerful known female in the Muslim Empire. However, her efforts for the rights of women lead to civil war.
This work of biographical fiction is a great historical tale that brings insight to the early growth of Islam, the Muslim Empire, and the role of women in that society. Aisha is a brave person who does what she believed is morally right; which led to the "least" wife becoming the most spouse through conviction and courage. Ironically as Islamic women placed her on a pedestal as their champion, Aisha had become less confident that she chose right and suffered remorse for those who died for her cause. Readers will appreciate this excellent historical fiction that depicts the key Muslim woman during the cradle years of Islam.
Katt's in the Cradle
Ginger Kolbaba & Christy Scannell
Howard (Simon & Schuster)
In Red River, knowing they always must be on super exemplary behavior, the four pastors' wives desperately meet once a month for a couple hours at Lulu's cafe figuratively as a MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH to share what they cannot with others. The quartet has an opportunity to release emotions as they let their respective hair down.
Felicia Lopez-Morrison's family is flying in from L.A. to help her though she prefers they stay home. Their feud is not endearing and could cause problems for her spouse Dave with their First Baptist Church congregation.
Mimi Plaisance's alcoholic father has joined the overcrowded household already including his daughter, her spouse Mark and their four preadolescent kids. He refuses to abide by the house rules causing conflict with his family and the neighbors.
Jennifer Shore feels sandwiched as she struggles with being a mother to her adopted eleven month old baby at a time when her mother suffering from bi-polar is mentally deteriorating. She balances all that while working part-time at the Red River Community Church where her husband Sam is pastor.
Parents of two teens, Lisa and her husband Joel are caught in a church feud that looks ready to split the flock of the Red River Assembly God apart.
Once again the quartet meets to release some tension and reduce stress caused by being DESPERATE PASTORS' WIVES sharing with one another (and readers) their trials and tribulations. Rotating perspective over the month of April between the four women, fans will gain insight as to how a pastor's wife sees their role especially from inside the fish bowl with the flock outside looking in at them. Once again well written, the latest lunch at Lulu's Cafe is an entertaining character driven tale that is more a series of vignettes than a novel, but fun and informative as talking to peers drowning in a similar sea helps keep a person afloat.
The Lost Quilter
Simon and Schuster
Master Quilter Sylvia Bergstrom Compson cherishes her special an antique quilt with an incredible history. Some call it "Birds in the Air" based on the design; others call it the "Runaway Quilt" after the runaway slave who sewed it; and finally "the Elm Creek Quilt" where Joanna the slave reached having ridden the Underground Railroad in 1859.
Slave catchers caught Joanna and brought her back to her owner, Josiah Chester in Virginia, but she left behind with the Bergstrom family, her son. Hans and Anneke Bergstrom and Aunt Gerda raised the child as their own; concealing his true identity. In the present Sylvia searches Gerda's diary and Joanna's quilt for clues as to the identity of the runaway slave who stitched a masterpiece.
The best Elm Creeks Quilt tale in years, THE LOST QUILTER answers many of the questions raised in THE RUNAWAY QUILT. The story of Joanna to include her punishment following her recapture makes for a fresh tale with much of her early saga sewed into the quilt. Fans of the series will relish Joanna's tale of bondage and liberty; as she as THE LOST QUILTER wants the freedom for her and her loved ones to soar like the birds in the air of THE RUNAWAY QUILT.
While My Pretty One Knits
The tiny New England coastal village of Plum Harbor contains two knitting shops. Amanda Goran owns the Knitting Nest; while the Black Sheep Knitting Shop is owned by Maggie Messina. To Amanda's chagrin, Maggie's operation though newer is doing better. Amanda will do anything to take customers away from her competitor to include spreading lies that are so preposterous no one believes her. Maggie does her best to stay above the gutter as she knows there is room for two knitting shops to thrive in the area.
The day before Maggie has her former student Cara Newhouse over for a book singing, Amanda arrives acting friendly and looking as if she had a make-over. She tells Maggie she is happy to be at the lecture and signing. The next morning, Amanda's soon to be ex husband finds her dead. The coroner rules it a homicide. The police believe Maggie is their best suspect especially when the murder weapon is found in her store. However, the cops do not have enough evidence to arrest her. Her weekly knitting group the Black Sheep Knitters try to cheer up the depressed Maggie, but one of them Lucy Berger goes further; she investigates the murder seeking a different suspect.
The Black Sheep Knitters meet every week to work on their projects and gossip; they have become close knit friends who each needs to keep Maggie's falling spirits up. The killer hides in plain sight making it nearly impossible for Lucy and the reader to notice the culprit. Fans of Monica Ferris' Crewel World will enjoy this engaging amateur sleuth as much for its salute to friendship as to Lucy's inquiry made one stitch at a time.
The Devlin Diary
In 2008 historian Clare Donovan is exhilarated with attaining her goal; albeit even if the assignment is temporary. She is a history lecturer at Trinity College in Cambridge. Clare plans to enjoy every moment at least in the classroom; as she finds academia filled with backstabbers who make Parliament debates look like preschool squabbles.
The professors react differently with the news that charismatic Professor Derek Goodman was murdered while grasping in a death grip a page from the encrypted diary of seventeenth century physician Hannah Devlin. As they did with their search for THE ROSSETTI LETTER, Clare and Andrew Kent investigates the death of Goodman only as it connects to the more intriguing baffling death of Princess Henriette-Anne, sister to King Charles II and sister-in-law to King Louis XIV.
Although the overall premise is similar to that of THE ROSSETTI LETTER, the second Donovan-Kent dual investigation is a fresh tale that combines a modern day whodunit with a seventeenth century romantic royal mystery. The two subplots are deep especially the look at the times of Princess Henriette-Anne. Fans will relish the delightful DEVLIN DIARY while wondering what twofold mystery next will send Clare on the cases.
Kiss of Darkness
Jennifer St. Giles
The recent victory cannot be celebrated as the Shadowmen and their allies continue their vigil as their lethal enemy persists on their assault. One mistake could cost them their lives as the malevolent demons and vampires keep the pressure on.
A vampire bit her husband Eric six years ago in England taking him to the dark side and leaving clairvoyant Emerald Linton alone in fear for her now eleven year old daughter Meggie and a need to relocate and conceal her heritage from everyone. In Twilight, Tennessee human Sheriff Sam Sheridan knows Emerald, who resides there with Meggie, is hiding something, but he fails to get her to open up to him. She knows what a vampire bite can do and he was bitten when Cinatas and his evil minion arrive. Preferring flight rather than fight, reluctantly Emerald has no choice for Meggie's sake except to turn to Sam if she can heal him somehow.
The latest Shadowmen romantic urban fantasy (see TOUCH A DARK WOLF and Lure of the Wolf) is a fabulous action-packed thriller from the opening prologue in Wiltshire, England six years ago to the final naked truffle epilogue. The lead couple is a strong pairing of two people banging heads even before the vampiric invasion. Fans of the saga will appreciate the tale as the clairvoyant and the bitten sheriff battle evil in small-town Tennessee.
A Husband's Wicked Ways
In 1809 on the streets of London, Colonel Sir Greville Falconer breaks convention by introducing himself to Widow Aurelia Farnham, a single mom raising her six year old daughter Franny. He tells her he was a friend of her late husband Frederick, a First Lieutenant and has a letter from him for her.
She is shocked that Frederick wrote he was spying for England in Spain and the Colonel was his friend as well as an espionage agent. The Colonel further explains her spouse did not die three years ago as she was told by the War Ministry, but this year at the Battle of Corunna. He also says he needs her help to ferret out a Spanish espionage ring working in England. She proves worthy from the onset and hides their spying endeavor by pretending a courtship. They soon fall in love, but his mission has changed somewhat as keeping Aurelia and Franny safe move to the top of the list.
The third "wicked" Regency romance (see TO WED A WICKED PRINCE and A WICKED GENTLEMAN), is a fabulous historical espionage thriller with two strong lead characters. The tension grows throughout until the final confrontation as does the attraction. Filled with war intrigue, Jane Feather provides sub-genre fans with a thrilling Napoleonic Era romantic suspense.
Tall, Dark and Deadly
Ten years ago Grace Jordan fled from her life as a sex slave after completing a five-year brutal sentence to her abusive Master Rick by setting him on fire before he could kill her infant Rachel and ultimately her. Grace's sudden surge of courage comes from a mother's instinct to protect her child from a predator. Finally with her daughter to raise as a single mom, Grace becomes a police officer in Rockville, South Dakota so her child can grow up in a safe environment.
However, her dream of Rockville being safe turns false when someone assaults and kills young women. FBI agent Justin Reece is sent in to help the locals with apprehending the serial killer before others die. Grace and Justin team up on the investigation, but someone who knows of her captivity is sending her messages that she fears target her daughter as well as herself. To keep Rachel safe, Grace knows she must trust Justin, but she distrusts all males as men believe women are sluts or wives or so she thinks.
This dark police procedural opens with drying a washed T-shirt setting the stage of the dark grim world of Lorie O'Clare. Grace is incredible from the onset as an abused sex slave knowing her Master will kill her, but accepting her fate until she concludes he will also kill Rachel; she brings the light of hope in this extremely ugly and dangerous land even a small town in the Badlands with a minor crime history. Justin has seen the evil men do live on long after they are interred through the survivors like Grace who he is falling in love with. A great surprising final marital twist enhances a dark and deadly thriller.
In the first century, those opposing the ever expanding Roman Empire are either killed or brought into the arena to serve as gladiators. The spectacle does not care about gender as female gladiators are a welcomed sight.
Nineteen year old Athena priestess Lysandra of Sparta is taken prisoner after a shipwreck. She is sent to combat school to learn to fight in the arena. She soon enters the combat zone owned by slaver Lucius Balbus and proves capable winning her battles. Her goal and that of her lover Secunda Eirianwen are to win their freedom. Whereas he battles a foe in a war to the death she enters mortal combat with an equally lethal adversary.
This is an intriguing action-packed ancient Rome thriller that puts a gender bender spin to classic movies like Spartacus and Gladiator. The story line is action-packed from the opening sequence when the tall thin Lysandra defeats her short stocky barbaric opponent and never slows down. Readers will have mixed feelings towards her as at times we will root for her and in other times incidents are against her. Although a lack of a sense of being in the first century Roman Empire (minimal background information to anchor time and place) detracts from the interesting "sports" fiction, Russell Whitfield provides the audience with an exciting tale of survival in the arena.
An Accomplished Woman
Years ago Lydia Templeton caused a scandal when she rejected her neighbor Lewis Durrant's offer of marriage as filled with pride she preferred her studies though she knew prejudicial society scorned a single female choosing learning. She since serves as her widowed father's host and eludes her married brother's efforts to find her a spouse. Now thirty, Lydia's godmother Lady Eastmond asks her to do a favor as her Henry is ailing. She wants Lydia to chaperone her ward Phoebe Rae through the treacherous waters of high society in Bath. Unable to say no to the kind elderly woman, Lydia rel uctantly agrees.
Mr. Allardyce and Mr. Beck try to court Phoebe Rae, making Lydia's chaperone lifestyle even more unbearably boring as the twit won't choose between the suitors insisting she loves both of them. Worse Durrant is in town seeking a wife while his wastrel nephew Hugh Hanley the heir is also in Bath insuring his patron wealthy uncle does not do something foolish by marrying and begetting an heir. When Lewis and Lydia meet, they make a bet over her chaperone duty and his bridal chase.
With obvious homage to Jane Austen, AN ACCOMPLISHED WOMAN is a delightful romantic comedy of errors filled with humor and twists as nothing quite works as expected for seemingly everyone. The cast is solid even tertiary players like the stereotype moms of the suitors. With a wonderful fast-paced story line filled with spins, Jude Morgan provides an amusing nod to Pride and Prejudice as the heroine's time in Bath makes her wonder whether she truly is an unaccomplished woman as nothing goes according to plan.
You're So Vein
The European Council of Vampires has sent Vladimir "Dima" Rurikovich to America to find the rogue vampire serial killing humans. Although she hates the monsters of the Others, Ava Markham is fortunate that Dima arrives in time to rescue her from the assault of the predator he seeks. However, he failed to arrive in time to prevent her draining and biting.
Ava is changing and Dima helps her by giving her his blood. Instead of euphoria, Ava awakens in rage as he has changed her to what she detests most in the world. Almost as bad is her attraction to the eight hundred years old vampire who knows he has found his soulmate, but she prefers ripping out his heart. However, the worst as far as the fledgling is concerned is the demand by a royal vampiress that Ava pledge her loyalty.
If a reader was trapped on WALK ON THE WILD SIDE and had to fight an eight century old vampire or the tyro to survive, we would go after Dima. Few characters are as ferociously angry as the heroine, who makes the tale fresh with her shove it up your butt mentality. The arrogant alpha Dima figuratively and literally loses a few gallons of blood while alos having his esteem trashed trying to mentor his "Nenaglyadnaya", but knows it is worth every ounce as he will never grow tired of her. Fans will appreciate this super Others urban romantic fantasy.
The Naughty Book Club members (Naomi, Kennedy, Mira and Tyler) are each unhappy. Naomi's husband Jacob remains a player though married as he cheats with a horde of women. His sister Tyler ends her lesbian relationship with her partner and moves in with her sibling and his spouse who loathes her gay ways. Flight attendant Kennedy meets Nigel in the skies and wants him to join her in the Mile High Club. Mira finds herself attracted to Tyler although she hesitates to act on her desire.
Soon the four females and the two males will have their innermost secret revealed to each other. Each has doubts where the revelations will lead only they share in common a need for SEDUCTION, a sense of BETRAYAL and a desire to see what is HIDDEN behind their individual BLACK DOOR.
Although there are too many major players seemingly at times tripping over each other's desires, NAUGHTY is a heated erotic dysfunctional relationship drama that hooks the reader who wants to know whom will end in who's bed (and a few other spots) together. Each of the ensemble cast is fully developed with distinctive steamy personalities from rough to velvety smooth as the libido rules the roost as always when one crosses through the Black Door.
Suffering from several unexplained illnesses, twelve year old Josy Larenz vanishes while visiting her twenty-second medical expert Dr. Grohlke. No one saw her disappear and no evidence as to what happened surfaces. As the case turns cold, Josy's father psychologist Viktor Larenz searches the most minute clue that could lead him to the whereabouts of his daughter as he remains hopeful, but would even settle on the closure of her corpse. His obsession destroys his marriage to Isabel whom he admires for her inner fortitude that he now knows he lacks and costs him his TV show. For all his efforts, he fails to find one iota of a trace of Josy.
Four years later, Viktor intellectually knows he remains in the denial stage of grief, but cannot move on as psychologically he is still devastated. He has fled society choosing to live as a hermit on an isolated North Sea island. Anna Glass arrives to talk to him. She claims to be a writer of nonfiction whose characters come alive; though no longer practicing psychology, Viktor believes the beautiful stranger suffers from schizophrenia. However he becomes intrigued when Anna discusses her characterization of a preadolescent girl suffering from an unidentified illness before vanishing. She knows she needs help and Viktor grudgingly agrees to provide therapy even as he wonders who Anna Glass truly is and is she the first clue to finding Josy.
This is a deep psychological thriller as the two prime characters are emotionally unbalanced and the third key player is the missing girl. Readers will sympathize with Viktor and empathize with his ex wife though she has limited appearances. Anna is an enigma as the audience wonders whether she is a crazy person, a con artist, or a killer. Fans will be hooked by the translation of Sebastian Fitzek's powerful character driven tale with a fabulous climax.
The Way We Were
In the late 1970s in Cornwall, England, pregnant Tiggy, still grieving the loss of the father of her unborn, arrives at the home of her best friend Julia. Kindhearted naval wife, Julia takes her pal into her home where she already raises three children while her spouse is mostly at sea as a naval officer. After Tiggy gives birth, she and her son Zack remain in Julia's home as part of the extended family.
In 2004, as Zack waits for the birth of his first offspring, Julia looks back on her life. She still is irate with her husband for his affair with her enemy Angela while Tiggy tries to help her move on. Meanwhile Julia worries about her daughter Liv pining and whining how she left the love of her life marry someone else.
This epic family drama looks deep into the friendship between two women who are always there but especially help each other through traumatic situations; of which there is a ton. The story line gracefully moves through the three decades highlighting major events and enabling the reader to understand the prime players. However, the women are female Jobs suffering from so many traumas that none of the cast members come across as fully real.
In 77 AD Rome, Marcus Didius Falco is an informer, a combination policeman and private eye who sometimes has as his client the Emperor Vespasian. However, it is not on the Emperor's orders that he and his extended family are going to Alexandria. It is because his pregnant wife Helena Justina wants a vacation to see the Lighthouse and the Great Library. He is staying at the home of his Uncle Fulvius and his lover Cassius.
At dinner they meet the Librarian Thean, a good man who mumbles about disappearances he is helpless to prevent. The next day Thean is found dead in his office with the door locked from the outside. The autopsy proves he ingested poison from the flower leis Fulvius gave to all his guests. Falco is asked to investigate the Librarian's death and he has to deal with the Director of the Museum, who officiates over the Library, Zoo and a few other noted departments. The people in contention to replace the deceased Librarian all have motives and each in addition to the Director is a nasty backstabber, but Falco believes one is literally a backstabber.
Nobody describes the Mediterranean region of the Ancient Roman era better than Lindsey Davis consistently does; her latest fabulous Falco whodunit brings to meticulous life Alexandria, a thriving city. Falco is at his best as an acerbic cynic suspecting everyone except perhaps Helena who assist him on his inquiry. The investigation is entertaining and cleverly devised so that fans of ancient era mysteries like those of Steven Saylor and John Maddox Roberts will relish Ms. Davis' strong whodunit.
The Last Child
In rural North Carolina, twelve year old Alyssa Merrimon was going home from the library when she vanished. Police Detective Clyde Hunt led the failed investigation and marshaled the townsfolk to search for the child, but she was never found nor were any clues of foul play uncovered. The case has since turned cold with people feelings sorry for the Merrimon matriarch and Alyssa's twin; the father simply left soon after his daughter disappeared.
Although everyone else has given up on finding Alyssa as the assumption is she is dead, her twin brother Johnny refuses to end his search though one year has passed since she disappeared. He walks every street going door to door and even confronts known sex offenders. Hunt worries the two Merrimon have lost their minds as Johnny obsesses and his mom has mentally withdrawn in a breakdown. Johnny gains renewed hope when a second abduction occurs as he believes the same culprit took his sibling.
Obstinate Johnny as THE LAST CHILD searching for his missing twin brings pathos and tension to this exhilarating small town thriller. Slowly step by step he begins to uncover secrets that place him in danger; but though he knows his life is at risk he refuses to give up his quest. Fans will not just root for the brave boy, but accompany him all the way as a small town that looks idyllically rustic conceals danger lurking behind the serene facade.
In the Shadow of Gotham
In the summer of 1904, the steamship General Slocum catches fire in the East River. Many die including the fiancee of NYPD Detective Simon Ziele who also lost the use of his right arm. Distraught, Ziele quits the force, leaves the big city, and accepts a law enforcement position in rustic Dobson in Westchester County just outside the Bronx.
However, the quiet community is shocked with the violent murder of Columbia mathematician Sarah Wingate. The culprit in a rage slashed and bashed the graduate student numerous times in her home. Ziele's investigation is superseded by an inquiry by criminologist Alistair Sinclair, who swears he can identify the killer, but must prove it.
Readers will understand why the engaging IN THE SHADOW OF GOTHAM won the first Minotaur Books/MWA Best First Crime Novel award. The story line provides the audience with a superb police procedural anchored strongly in early twentieth century Westchester County with entries like the General Slocum calamity and other tidbits. Ziele is a terrific lead character still grieving his loss of his fiancee; so though he ran away from NYPD he buries himself in the investigation. Stefanie Pintoff provides a wonderful historical mystery.
Louis Klein and Sam Blackwell were partners on the Philadelphia Police Department. Knowing how dangerous their jobs were, they not just had each other's back, they vowed to take care of each others dependents if something happened to one of them. Sam ultimately committed suicide while Louis left the force.
Sam's widow Sarah begs Louis to help her. Her teenage daughter, Carol Ann has disappeared somewhere on the streets of Philadelphia. Mindful of his vow to Sam and having a free spirited daughter of his own, Louis begins the search for Carol Ann, but soon finds out some sleazy information about the Blackwell family.
Though some of the crime scenes detract form an otherwise terrific investigative Noir as they have been overused in books and movies, FATHER'S DAY will hook readers once Klein works the mean streets of the City of Brotherly Love. Klein makes the tale work as he is propelled to find Sam's daughter as much from their joint vows as from the nightmarish thought that this could be his late partner searching for his offspring. Fans will agrees FATHER'S DAY is a worthy winner of the Minotaur Books/PWA Best First Private Eye Novel award.
In New York City, Royal Navy Intelligence Officer Lieutenant Commander David Trevellyan has completed a mission when he sees the corpse in an alley. A bum has six bullet holes arranged in fastidiously geometric order in his chest. David calls 911.
The police immediately look at David as the prime and only suspect. However, before they can investigate, the FBI takes control of the case; as the victim is the sixth undercover agent murdered in such a manner in recent months. The Feds also look at David as more evidence surfaces that tie him to the murders. He knows his British intel agency must disown any knowledge of him, as standard operating procedure requires; so David knows he must find the predator with insider information setting him up to take the fall.
This is an exciting thriller with a few super twists including tidbits about David's past that will keep and maintain the audience's attention throughout wondering what comes next. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action as David and readers rarely get a respite before something else occurs. Andrew Grant writes a fabulous tale as as the beleaguered Intel officer knows he is being set up for the fall and has no safety net from his agency; leaving it to him to extract himself from the frame before some agent decides to permanently make him the culprit by killing him.
Kathryn R. Wall
In Hilton Head, South Carolina private investigator Bay Tanner struggles with two difficult inquiries that are personal. Heart wrenching she needs to find rather quickly one of the long lost sisters of Joline Eastman, whose child Kimmie needs a bone marrow transplant from a suitable match donor before she dies from leukemia. Her other case is not life-threatening, but matters a great deal to her. She reads her dying father's will in which he mentions Julia Simpson, a half-sister of whom Bay she never knew she had.
Bay is stunned when Joline's friends and family refuse to cooperate in spite of the clock ticking on Kimmie's life. On the other hand she is not stunned that Julia's guardian has doubts and cocnerns about whether she should agree to the half-sister meeting. As her dad retired judge Talbot Simpson nears death, Bay also must decide whether she will actually marry her fiance police sergeant Red Tanner, the brother of her deceased husband.
Both of Tanner's cases hit her gut with the fury of a Tsunami. Frantic from the start she personalizes saving Kimmie's life especially when no one who might have a clue cooperates, and obsesses over meeting Julia. Ironically though fans have waited for her decision whether to marry Red, in COVENANT HALL that feels minor and intrusive when compared to Kimmie and to a lesser degree Julia. Fans will relish Bay's latest cases as each gets personal.
Dead Man's Puzzle
Bakerhaven, Connecticut police chief Dale Harper asks crossword columnist Cora "the Puzzle Lady" Felton to solve a crossword puzzle found at the death bed of nonagenarian cancer victim Herbert Overmeyer. However Cora is the front as her reticent niece Sherry Carter is the real Puzzle Lady, but she and her husband Aaron Grant are away on their African honeymoon.
Needing help, Cora asks her friend corpulent puzzle maker Harvey Beerbaum to assist her. As he solves the puzzle, which seems to offer no help to the death, the autopsy reveals Herbert died from arsenic poisoning. Dale and Cora go to a remote cabin where they find a gun that ties Herbert to a five decade old Alabama convenience store robbery. Sherry's former husband Dennis investigates in an effort to get his ex back, but his mouth on TV may have led to the murder of Herbert's next door neighbor. A third related homicide also occurs.
Besides the usual fun crosswords and sudoku puzzles, the latest Puzzle Lady whodunit is one of the strongest entries in recent years as Cora seeks alternative solutions. The story line is action-packed, but driven by feisty Cora who teams up with Dale to investigate the first homicide that has ties to a crime fifty years ago and leads to more murders (complements of Dennis). Readers will enjoy puzzling through the mystery and newcomers will seek to solve previous cases (see THE SUDOKU PUZZLE MURDERS).
Philadelphians Gregor Demarkian and his longtime significant other Bennis Hannaford prepare for their upcoming wedding. However, in Snow Hill, Pennsylvania someone batters nonagenarian Ann-Victoria Hadley; the elderly woman clings to life, but is in a coma.
Skipping the egomaniac state police, Snow Hill Police Chief Gary Albright asks former FBI agent Gregor to investigate the attempted murder. He readily agrees so he can escape the last second wedding preparations as he did recently when he fled to Margaret's Harbor in New England to conduct an investigation (see CHEATING AT SOLITAIRE). He begins his inquiries seeking who might want Ann-Victoria dead. He learns she just became a member of the school board after she co-filed in court a civil lawsuit to prevent the teaching of intelligent design in the town's public schools. Two other plaintiffs in that lawsuit are soon killed. Gregor fears a creationist is behind the assault until additional clues make him consider a detour outside the intelligent design debate.
The prime plot, the whodunit investigation, is superb as always in this great series. This entry is enhanced by a look at the Intelligent-Design-Evolution education debate as Jane Haddam insures the arguments of both sides are lucid and each side's supporter sharp. However, Gregor's inquiry remains the focus even with a deep look at the dispute over what should be taught as part of a public school science curriculum.
Jane K. Cleland
Portsmouth, New Hampshire antiques dealer Josie Prescott becomes concerned when her always responsible assistant Gretchen Brock fails to come to work two days in a row and does not call. This is so out of character for the reliable Gretchen, an extremely concerned Josie goes to her assistant's apartment to see if she is all right. Instead of finding Gretchen, Josie finds the corpse of an unknown thirty something bloodied male lying on the sofa.
Josie believes Gretchen is innocent of at least the homicide though she wonders about a missing valuable vase no longer in the apartment; but also realizes she knows very little about her assistant who has worked for her for four years. The police consider the vanished woman as the prime suspect in the murder. Adding to the mystery is Josie's two friends deny knowing where she is or much about her past and the missing Meissen vase appears in the shop's safe. Finally reporter Wes Smith claims Gretchen obtained her current Social Security number four years ago. As she traces the vase back to a Denver homicide and robbery, Josie realizes who the victim was, how that person was related to Gretchen, and who her assistant was prior to her hiring her. However, if Gretchen did not commit the homicide who did remains out of Josie's reach.
The latest Josie Prescott Antiques mystery (see ANTIQUES TO DIE FOR and DEADLY APPRAISAL) is a superb amateur sleuth invigorated by who is the focus of the heroine's inquiry. As always readers obtain an interesting look at antiques interwoven into the exciting story line. Josie is at her best as she believes deep in her soul that Gretchen is no killer, but the evidence is damning. As Josie connects the dots between the Meissen murder and the current homicide, readers will enjoy a strong brisk New England cozy.
In Phoenix, Arizona, HandsOn Emergency roadside emergency service operator Jessie Dancing receives a frantic call from developer Darren Markson, whose car was rear-ended in the Tucson area, but the background noise led her to believe someone is killing him. She calls the police, but breaks company regulations by also following up on her own time by visiting his wife Emily who insists he is alive and well to her shock.
Jessie lived in Tucson until three years ago when she was arrested for the murder of cruel Walter Racine, who had abused his niece, her friend Catherine Chandliss, and apparently targeted his grand niece Katie. Jessie was not convicted in court and moved away. However, when teenager Felicia Villalobos, whom she meets at the site of the Markson accident and is a witness to the incident, dies in a car explosion, PPD Detective Len Sabin and Tucson DA Ted Dresden salivate as they have a second chance at the Queen of Liars Anonymous who they feel got away with one homicide.
Jessie makes this a vigorous unique thriller as the police and the DA plan to throw the book at her, not so much for the current homicide, but because they strongly feel she got away with murder a few years ago. Though Jessie has issues and somewhat wilts under the pressure, she also gets stronger and feistier. As the violence surges, with a great final spin Louise Ure provides an excellent tale of a woman in trouble from both sides of the law.
She Shoots To Conquer
On a foggy evening while driving along the Yorkshire moors, Ellie and Ben Haskell and their housekeeper Mrs. Roxie Malloy end up lost. They manage to reach Muckelsfeld Manor where they hope to stop for the night. French director Georges LeBois is in residence producing a reality TV show Here Comes the Bride in which six contestants will vie for the role of wife to Lord Aubrey Belfrey, owner of the estate.
A car accident leaves the show short a contestant so Georges persuades Roxie to participate. When they learn Ben is a highly regarded chef, Georges and Aubrey convince him to prepare the meals as the help cannot boil water. Aubrey is stunned by Ellie's looks as she resembles the second wife of his late older brother allegedly vanishing with a fortune in jewels just before her spouse died. As the other ladies work on Belfrey's affection, Ellie investigates the stolen jewels and the driveway accident that she thinks is a homicide.
This is a fun over the top of Big Ben (and perhaps across the Channel) Ellie Haskell amateur sleuth tale due a zany cast staying at aptly named Muckelsfeld Manor. The story line focuses on Ellie as her two traveling companions suddenly have jobs so she fills in her time by sleuthing. While the support mostly provides amusing asides, Ellie investigates the potential crimes though she fails to look closely at the reality show, which means Here Comes the Bride is underdeveloped. Fans of the series will enjoy the heroine's exploits in a lighthearted romp on the moors of Yorkshire.
Love In Bloom
Thirty years old Hope Walker physically survived breast cancer, but mentally the mastectomy has left her doubting she is a complete woman; consequently Hope no longer dates. Instead, she hides in the Changing Seasons Floral shop she owns; enhancing her lovely flower arrangements with beautiful written poetry. When contractor Jason Wells enters the florist, Hope realizes he is the first man she has found interesting since the operation. However, she knows she has no chance after he meets her whole sister Bobbi.
Septuagenarian widow Millie Baldwin moved to Heart Lake to move on with her life and assist her acrimonious recently divorced daughter Debra and two grandchildren. Also newly arrived in town is Amber Howell seeking to start over at a time when she feels she has nothing. These newcomers and Hope meet at a community garden plot project and becomes friends nurturing one another as they struggle to start over.
Bobbi is attracted to Jason's friend Duke whom she meets after she starts dating Jason. Millie meets the younger Altheus and encouraged by her two garden buds over the objections of her offspring, decides to see him. Amber struggles with her depressed husband Ty, whose feelings of failure after their restaurant went bankrupt leaves her alone to raise their son and bring in income while he wallows his life way.
This is a profound character study of three females at different points in their respective lives summed up nicely by Millie who poignantly realizes that strangers make her feel needed and wanted more than her family does. The ensemble cast is fully developed so everyone matters. With plenty of metaphors between gardening and living, fans will relish the adventures of the three amigas as all kinds of relationships blossom when LOVE IN BLOOM is flourishing.
In the Dark
Three decades ago in Duluth, then high school students Jonathan Stride and Cindy Starr fell in love. On the Fourth of July holiday, they made love for the first time. However, that joyous occasion is marked by grief and heartache instead of a fond memory of the beginning of their strong relationship; that same night someone brutally murdered Cindy's older sister Laura. The case was never solved with the cops concluding a drifter killed Laura.
In the present, the case remains unresolved, but Laura's best friend Tish Verdure has come home to write a true crime expose book about the homicide. Tish knows the inner secrets of those who were close to the victim including Cindy, the late wife of police lieutenant Jonathan; who died five years ago from cancer so cannot defend herself from accusations to her stunned husband who was kept IN THE DARK about some of her secrets. Adding to his mental upheaval is Tish has the dirt on his current girlfriend former Las Vegas cop private investigator Serena Dial. Though reeling with revelations, Stride only decides to investigate the cold case murder of his sister-in-law when a witness to the Laura murder attempts suicide.
This excellent police procedural is made brisk and refreshing by the intriguing concept that no matter how much you think you know your loved ones; there remain segments in which you remain IN THE DARK. Thus besides a delightful investigation, the underlying philosophical tone enhances the characterizations especially Jonathan who cannot do his normal strong stride through whatever garbage he must investigate. Brian Freeman will leave his audience pondering what they do not know about their spouse.
In Detroit Karen Delaney gave $300,000 to her boyfriend Samir Fakir, who runs a book joint. However, when she ends their relationship, he refuses to give her back her money. Upset, she has no way of regaining her cash.
Several months later, Bobby and Lloyd break into Karen's house planning to rob the place. Instead she catches the bumbling pair and offers them a deal. She will give them a share of the loot if they rob Samir's safe. Though the plan does not go as smooth as Karen's silky skin, they succeed with the theft. However, several people are interested in the stolen cash. An ex cop who plans to retire on the money; Samir's nephew owes a ton in gambling debts that will mean a knee if he is lucky; Samir's debtors want payment yesterday or they will test the resistance of his joints, other hitmen who want a windfall profit; and of course those incompetent thieves Bobby and Lloyd. Everyone seeks Karen who has disappeared with the money.
This is a zany out of control crime caper in which the twists are actually missteps by the competitors. No one comes across as particularly likable as everyone is pulled by avarice and most have the IQ of the Three Stooges. Still fans of Leonard style wackiness will enjoy paraphrasing President Reagan TRUST ME since I'm not government I'm here to help you; that is after I kill you.
Until It's Over
In London Astrid Bell loves her life as a bike messenger and living with six roommates in a dumpy house on Maitland. She especially likes her flatmates who are best buddies to her though she knows each one of their flaws and idiosyncrasies.
Riding her bike on her way home from work, Astrid collides with the car door of a neighbor Margaret Farrell. Her pals assist a somewhat battered Astrid home. Soon after the collision, someone kills Margaret, beating her to death in what the cops believe was an out of control rage. The police question the seven mates, but each has an alibi. Soon a second homicide tied back to Astrid occurs followed by another. The police suspect a stunned Astrid who has no explanation as to why someone would kill for her over minor indiscretions.
The tale is broken into two interrelated segments with the first setting the stage mostly starring Astrid and the second how the acts were performed by the killer. Readers know early on who the serial killer is and why; yet the beauty of Nicci French's talent is that the suspense keeps intensifying until the end. Astrid is a terrific young woman whose life turns upside down from the moment she collides with the car which was unknown at that time to her or her buds. That incident apparently set in motion the murdering spree. Fans will enjoy this engaging thriller wondering UNTIL IT'S OVER what will happen next to a beleaguered Astrid.
Shadows in Death
In the Mojave Desert, Bureau of Land Management Agent Frank Flynn investigates the murder of two poachers; near their corpses are dead wild burros that give the crime scene the appearance of someone who assassinated the two men for murdering the wild animals. Frank believes a radical animal rights group MDG led by Seth Parker killed the victims to end their shooting the burros as sport. Whereas he understands the extreme of the Parker crowd, FBI Agents Ellis and Novak assume Frank is an idiotic bureaucrat as they believe those opposed to hunting for sport are anti-American "animal rights terrorists."
Flynn thinks the opening of an affluent hunting club with imported prey will prove a fetching challenge to Parker. Although he emphasizes with the radical's goal, he abhors the means. Each takes steps closer to a final conflict as Parker, dying from an illness, plans to change the exotic hunting target to "The Most Dangerous Game"; collateral damage is acceptable.
With homage to the great Richard Connell short story, readers are hooked from the first carcass to the last in one of the most exciting thrillers of the winter. The story line is action-packed and never slows down. Parker and Flynn come across as genuine individuals making the anticipated High Noon that much better; while the FBI agents are a bit stereotyped. With a strong sense of place and purpose, SHADOWS IN DEATH is a great thriller that sill send newcomers seeking Flynn's previous BLM tale (see SHADOW OF THE RAVEN).
Strong Enough to Die
A fifth generation Texas Ranger, Caitlin Strong knows law enforcement is part of her DNA makeup. That is until the border incident near El Paso in 2004 left Caitlin with doubts about law enforcement after her sixty year old partner and family friend Charlie Weeks died and she barely made it in a nasty shootout with mules. She was so traumatized by the episode she becomes the first member of her proud family to quit.
Five years later, Caitlin remains haunted by the border ambush. She feels guilt for letting down her family and for simply surviving. Finally seeking closure, she investigates the incident that destroyed her life. The first stunner she uncovers is her spouse Peter Goodwin is alive living in a special hospital that treats only torture victims. She soon begins to uncover a sinister diabolical plot involving super-patriot Harmon Delladonne and his security firm MacArthur-Rain. When her efforts place her on Delladonne's endangered species list, she turns to her former enemy, outlaw Cort Wesley Masters as Delladonne has ties to Mexican Mafiosi chief Emiliato Valdez Garza.
This is a strong thriller that cleverly ties the Global War on Terrorism in the Middle East with the human, drugs, and weapons smuggling back and forth between the USA and Mexico. The story line is fast-paced and Caitlin makes a remarkable heroine. Although the climax seems to have too many purposes besides tying up this tale like setting up a sequel, fans will enjoy Jon Land who always provides an entertaining thriller.
Aftershocks and Others: 19 Oddities
F. Paul Wilson
As the Contents and the subsequent "The Secret History of the World" shows there are two ways to catalogue AFTER SHOCKS AND OTHERS: 19 ODDITIES. First the Contents uses the standard to break down the entries by the year they were published with the earliest in 1990 and the latest in 2005. The Secret History uses the F. Paul; Wilson's classification system, which separates the tales by "The Past", three distinct years before Year Zero, and of course "Year Zero" the "end of civilization as we know it". The compilation is terrific with Repairman jack having an "Interlude at Duane's" where he deals his style (mindful of MacGyver) with a robbery. "Aftershock" is a Bram Stoker Award winner; yet, all the entries are super due to the key characters even in short form feeling developed to the point of understanding them as each deals with twisting plots. Fans will enjoy tales like "Offshore" in which Mr. Wilson extrapolates a segment of our current health system to a rationing of medical services in which money buys health and Frankenstein's "Dreams" as he remembers his pre-monster life and personality. This is another winner as this great author displays his skills in short form with this super compilation.
Karna Small Bodman
During a particularly wintry cold spell in Oklahoma, a natural-gas pipeline explodes leaving one person dead and thousands without heat. White House Deputy Director for Homeland Security Samantha Reid leads the investigation in determining the cause.
More explosions occur to the pipeline leaving many to wonder if terrorism is the root cause. When Reid meets the pipeline's company GeoGlobal Oil & Gas Vice President Tripp Adams, she immediately wants him. He appears to reciprocate. When he vanishes without a trace while on a business trip in Venezuela, Reid dumps her work and goes AWOL to rescue him.
This exciting political romantic suspense thriller takes off from the onset as the temperature in the home of a Sooner couple drops to 30 degrees and never slows down until the final energy segue in the State of the Union address. The story line is fast-paced especially when Reid and Tripp meet for the first time. Although readers will doubt a high ranking political appointee would abandon her post even for love and use her body to gain access on her quest to save Tripp, fans will appreciate this exhilarating tale as Karna Small Bodman once again combines strange bedfellows; romance and politics (see CHECKMATE and GAMBIT).
In Pyongyang, top Chinese intelligence official General Ho Chang Li heads to a meeting with Kim Jong Il when two people wearing North Korean police officer uniforms assassinate him. The surveillance camera tapes catch the entire incident. The Chinese leaders are furious while the North Korean President strongly denies any ties to the deadly snipers. China prepares for war while Jong II threatens to nuke Beijing, Seoul, and Tokyo if the Chinese army takes one step into North Korea.
Meanwhile leveler heads hope to prevent a disaster. North Korean intelligence Colonel Pak Hae knows his nation did not kill Li, as he has captured one of the snipers who under a torturous interrogation confessed to working for the Russians. Still Hae needs help to fully prove no North Korean involvement so he travels to the Florida where former CIA Director Kirk McGarvey is a visiting professor. Stunned by the request to assist the enemy, McGarvey agrees to investigate.
Exciting and fast-paced from the opening assassination until the final confrontation, THE EXPEDITER is still a straight forward by the numbers espionage thriller. The action-packed story line grips the reader throughout, but offers few glimpses into North Korea (see James Church's Inspector O police procedurals) or China (Qiu Xialong's Inspector Chen police procedurals) for instance how leaders perceive their relationship. Nonetheless readers who appreciate action to the nth degree will enjoy David Hagberg's latest McGarvey's retirement adventure (see DANCE WITH THE DRAGON).
Twenty-one year old Odell Deefus is enlisting in the army. However, the thirty years old car he drives to take him to the recruiting center from his home in Wyoming breaks down on a remote back road somewhere near Callisto, Kansas. The big dumb hick feels fortunate his heap expired by a home. He knocks and enters when no one responds. A few moments later Dean Lowry ask him what he is doing here. Dean does not get much friendlier implying Odell, with his black man's name, is a fool to want to fight the Jihadists in Iraq.
However, Dean is not a Good Samaritan. He has studied Islam with a jihadist's fundamentalist attitude, been involved with his Aunt Bree's disappearance and is connected to a nasty sort named "Donnie Darko." When Odell accidentally kills Dean with a bat and finds Bree's corpse in the freezer, he calls the police. The FBI conducts a massive search while also blowing away his claim that Dean with someone named Darko was plotting homeland terrorism; instead they assume he is the key member of a home grown terrorist cell and take him to the tropics for interrogation.
This is an engaging wild look at the Americanization of terrorism through the eyes of a naive "Yearling". Odell, with his innocence and misunderstanding of subtly even those hammered into his face. He keeps the tale going as he is engulfed by cynics starting with Dean, Lowry's sister and the Feds; even his worship from afar of Condoleezza Rice becomes tainted. Although the story line is action-packed and at times overwhelming, readers who appreciate a well written satirical thriller will appreciate Torsten Krol's indictment of the unnecessary loss of innocence as a result not of 9/11 and the subsequent waste of global good will, but both caused by the American reaction to 9/11.
In 1183 Moydenshire, England, Aldwin Treynarde, son of an earl was playing with his friend Ward Ransley when they tied up the latter's younger sister Leona. Their game turns dangerous when a bee hive is shook and the bees attack Leona. Aldwin saves her life, but his irate father exiles him for un-chivalrous behavior though he is just eleven years old.
Owing his liege Lord Geoffrey de Lanceau for a terrible wrong he committed, Aldwin volunteers to find a stolen family heirloom before it falls into the treacherous hands of Baron Sedgewick and his evil wife Lady Veronique as someone is offering it for sale to the highest bidder. Aldwin hates the deceitful glib Sedgewick so he agrees to go alone in case of a trap to meet the woman who claims she possesses the pendant. Lady L recognizes Aldwin though she has not seen him in twelve years, but he does realize his hostess is Leona. He believes she is toying with him so abducts her hoping to get her to give him the pendant. As they fall in love, danger mounts; but to survive they must protect each other's back.
The third Lord de Lanceau romance (see KNIGHT REWARD and A KNIGHT'S VENGEANCE) is an exciting action-packed medieval romance. The story line is fast-paced once Aldwin begins his quest in 1195 and never slows down. Fans will enjoy the gender war between the immovable object and the irresistible force who when they team up battle the odds. Catherine Kean provides another knightly winner.
Reality television producer Terrance Carlton believes the ratings are everything. Thus he is euphoric with the concept of two teams consisting of six kick butt experienced mountain climbers on each competing to reach the summit of unconquered 19,492 feet Kuk Sur in the Tibetan Himalayas; the first person to reach the top of the inaccessible peak with the world's biggest and deepest canyon Tsangpo Gorge to add to the improbability of success receives $2 million.
Millionaire Preston Child agrees to finance the event on the condition he and his daughter Malika are participants though the pair refuse to explain their rationale for climbing the mountain. Veteran mountaineer Conner Michaels has a personal reason to climb, he seeks the lost corpse of his brother Tucker who died on Kuk Sur six years ago when the siblings were one day from attaining the summit. Others have agendas mostly involving fame, fortune or both. Carleton arranges for each person to hoist a camera on their shoulder so the audience can see everything live. Between the treacherous mountain, the horrific climate, the deadly gorge, and apparently a yeti, no one on the mountain is safe. However, the most dangerous element is the humans especially those hidden in the mists.
The climb up the mountain is fast-paced and exciting from the onset and never slows down as unforgiving nature and even less sympathetic humans ballet for the grand prize. Instead of being fully developed characters, each climber has a personal agenda that mostly defines who they are; this works as the most complete "player" is the main antagonist, the mountain. Fans will enjoy trekking up the impenetrable Kuk Sur alongside the participants of DARWIN'S RACE.
The Good Father
In Port Clara, Texas, Jane Selwyn cannot believe her marriage is over with the final straw being her husband's reaction to the flirting by Remington Agency CEO Max Remington. She needs a job to support her and their three years old daughter Kaylee since she asked for little from Scott, but with a resume so thin a wafer looks obese she has no hope of gainful employment. Her last chance is to persuade Max to hire her as an artist at his advertising agency.
She reminds him that Scott was going to drag Max's name in the mud at a time he needed a positive reputation if she asked for a large settlement. He agrees to hire her on a trial basis since she lacks any experience. Jane proves herself as the right choice, but though extremely attracted to her and liking her precious preschooler, Max sticks to his policies that sex in the work place is a mistake and don't get involved with single moms.
This is an engaging contemporary romance starring a stay at home mom suddenly thrust into the workplace if she finds a job. Although Jane settling for less in the divorce especially with a child due to a threat that Scott could not prove seems inane, fans of the Port Clara series will enjoy watching Max trying not to fall in love. Newcomers will feel overwhelmed as stars of the previous novels in the Second Sons' saga (see THE PREGNANCY SURPRISE and RELUCTANT PARTNERS) make critical appearances.
Kissing The Man Next Door
Devon Vaughn Archer
In Cheri Village, Vermont, Mackenzie Reese actually feels pretty good about the empty nest when her fifteen years old son Ryan moves to Los Angeles to live with his father Brent and stepmother. She looks forward to enjoying life with no relationship entanglements especially fostering her career as a jazz singer while feeling Brent will be good for Ryan who needs a male role model.
Leaving Westport, Connecticut, Ian Kelly accompanied by Otis the Labrador move next door to Mackenzie. The DJ at KRDQ, the jazz all the time radio station, Ian is attracted to Mackenzie and likes the idea her son moved out as he never dates any female with children. As their lives are jazzed up by their attraction, Ryan returns home with am angry chip on his shoulder; he hassles his stressed out mother. His ugliness forces Mackenzie to choose between her love for Ian who reconsiders his wisdom of no child left behind with him and her son who she still cherishes but has been difficult since returning to New England.
The "triangle makes for an interesting contemporary romance as the teen nukes the relationship between his mother and his enemy next door. Ryan makes the tale as he comes home filled with anger and resentment as he takes his ire out on his mom and indirectly her lover. His actions force the lead couple to decide whether love is enough. Although Ian is never fully developed, fans will enjoy Mackenzie's heart breaking dilemma between KISSING THE MAN NEXT DOOR and dumping the man next door.
Home At Last
Her sisters forced the third triplet jewelry designer Fiona McInnes to come home to Spruce Lake to help them with their late Pulitzer Prize winning father's estate. This is the one place she does not want to be as she loathes her famous father and still nurses a broken heart though she denies it though she has avoided veterinarian Jackson Grant for five months while worrying and something is wrong with her business as her manager Barb has vanished apparently with her funds.
Babysitting her nephew Charlie while her triplet sister goes on a honeymoon, she runs into Jackson who comes to her family home while she is having a tirade over her father's picture as she hated her dad. He is looking for his two kids Logan and Lindy. Jackson remains irate with Fiona who deserted him years ago to flee for New York, but admits he never got over her as he still wants her. As they consider a second chance at love, both have issues to work through and then there is Lindy.
The third McInnes Triplet contemporary romance (see A PLACE CALLED HOME and NO PLACE LIKE HOME) proves you can come home if love is there. The support cast is solid, but the tale belongs to the lead couple as Jackson must get over his ire and intense feelings of betrayal while Fiona must overcome her fears of commitments. Fans will enjoy this second chance at love due to the strong characterizations.
The House Of Secrets
The previous family, the renowned affluent Brewster clan who has a Baltimore street named for them, owned the dilapidated Oak Hill house. The large Brewster mansion was built in 1904 and remained used by the family for decades until a death drove them away. Perhaps the finality to her on and off for four years relationship with Brad represented by the house is the impetus, but designer Alissa Franklin is intrigued with the tale of those occupants.
Her contractor Daniel Pierce assists Alyssa on her investigation into the Brewster clan, but he hides from her his real reason in assisting her. As they fall in love, each conceals truths that if revealed could end their relationship while both realize there is a lot more to a deadly accident than they first realized while putting together the puzzle of the Brewster family and what was once their magnificent house.
This is an enjoyable contemporary romance with an engaging amateur sleuth investigation into the history of a house and its previous occupants. The story line works on both levels; that of a tale of love and secrets, and a mystery of love and secrets. Elizabeth Blackwell provides an entertaining novel as the hunk handyman and the delightful designer bring love back to the HOUSE OF SECRETS.
The Mistake She Made
In Arizona Artist Tori Amhearst is stunned when DNA proved Linc Crusoe is not the man who raped her. She is appalled as her testimony put him behind bars where he stayed for a decade. To make matters worse, just before he is to be freed, he is badly injured in a prison assault that rushed him to Scottsdale Trauma Center for emergency treatment; when he regains consciousness from the medically induced coma, he suffers from amnesia.
His only visitor is Tori who feels strongly she owes him for her wrongful accusation. He fails to recognize her so she explains she is a friend from college. As she falls in love with him, she knows she owes him the truth, but fears once aware of who she is he will rightfully end their relationship. She also knows he probably will regain his memory or someone will recognize her and tell him who she is.
THE MISTAKE SHE MADE is a fabulous romance starring a heroine who knows she cannot take back her error but wants to do whatever she can to make it easier on her victim. Linc is simplified by his condition, but the tormented Tori more than makes up for it with her anguish. The story line has a neat twist involving what really happened and a condemnation of states quick to convict with while ignoring DNA evidence as is Linc's case (until another criminal offered additional information). Fans will relish this second chance at life between the accuser and the accused.
More Than Words Volume 5
Heather Graham, Candace Camp, Stephanie Bond, Brenda Jackson and Tara Taylor Quinn
"If I Were Queen Of The World" by Heather Graham. They met and shared a game of "If I was Queen or King" at the Care for the Children Hospital in Pittsburgh when she was a teen patient and he a twenty-one years old visitor seeing his sister. They both become dedicated to helping ailing kids like Toys.Calm does and meet five years later because of their passion.
"Breaking Line" by Candace Camp. Nicole starved herself for dancing, but wonders whether the price is right especially since she believes her best friend has anorexia as described by The Alliance for Eating Disorders Alliance and her love of her life shares her passion for photography.
"It's Not About The Dress" by Stephanie Bond. When the groom breaks off the engagement the bride donates her customized dress. When the groom calls on the wedding, the bride goes to retrieve her dress which is for sale by a charity like Windfall Clothing Service. She volunteers to get back her dress but falls in love with another volunteer.
"Whispers Of The Heart" by Brenda Jackson. They meet over his plans for his daughter's party and are attracted to one another, but he rejects her concerns about his daughter's asthmatic condition. After his daughter is hospitalized, he and his daughter join the Allergy & Asthma Network that the party planner belongs to.
"The Mechanics Of Love" by Tara Taylor Quinn. At the garage, they both come from dysfunctional families so expect to remain single. However, he begins to fall in love with her. She distrusts intimacy as a former abuse victim, but she knows he is tender and caring as a supporter of shelters like Strengthen Our Sisters.
The latest romantic homage to community volunteers is a terific anthology that focuses on neighborhood heroism with a love story to sweeten the plots. Everyone but die hard scorning Republicans will appreciate this fine salute to those who try to help others with action more than words.
She's Got It Bad
In 1997 in Melbourne, Australia when Zoe Ford was fifteen years old, seventeen year old Liam Masters moved into her family home following the death of his mother. Zoe fell in love almost instantly with the new border, but though attracted to her, Liam knew this was not right at this time. Instead, he left the Ford home as soon as he could so as not to betray his guardians or his friend her brother Tom.
A dozen years later, Liam is a self made millionaire who creates customized motorcycles. He obtains a nude painting of Zoe and decides to find her as he still wants her. When they meet up, he is shocked that the cute sweet teen who could turn him hard with a look is long gone replaced by a tattoo artist; apparently she fell apart after Liam left her hot and bothered. They remain attracted to one another, but will that prove strong enough in their late twenties when it failed when they were teens as her goal is to make him need it worse than she did then and does now.
This is an exciting contemporary Australian romance starring two refreshing lead characters and a strong support cast that brings the locale alive. Zoe steals the show as a unique female star with her prickly yet caring personality. Liam knows he did the right thing twelve years ago although it was the hardest (pun intended) choice he ever made, but still regrets leaving her as he never foresaw the consequences on her. Readers will appreciate this brisk second chance at love.
Out Of Control
Nashville police detective Jack Riley is investigating a drug case, but changes venues to rescue mechanic Alexandra Morgan from the date from hell. Following the murder of her brother, Alex has come to town seeking sexual freedom having worked under the close thumb of her father at his garage in Dahlia, Tennessee.
Without exchanging names, Jack and Alex have incredible sex before going their separate ways. She returns to her hometown as a good girl while he goes back undercover working the drug case. A lead takes him to the Dahlia Speedway where his love of fast cars enables him to pretend to be a race-car driver. When they meet up, each knows the attraction remains strong. However, both share the same mission of finding the cold blooded killer who murdered her brother and his police partner.
OUT OF CONTROL is fast-paced in the bedroom, the race track and several places in between as Jack and Alex prove the body can go from zero to ninety in nanoseconds. The police procedural romance is filled with suspense and tension as each investigates related homicides until they team up as he fears she will be next if she remains OUT OF CONTROL; that is outside his touch. Although the shared allure between the cop and the amateur sleuth never fully shifts into gear, readers will enjoy this heated romantic suspense.
In 1939 affluent Lady Eve Marlowe, following the death of her spouse in Cairo, rejects widows clothing. Instead she comes to London to enjoy sexual escapades that she obtains at the wealthiest clubs. However, Eve admits that American pilot Chuck Dawn is the best lover she ever had though she expects to be bored with him soon. Due to an incident involving crazed hardened Nazis, Chuck and Eve are separated.
Chuck wants to see his English lady soonest especially after the near lethal encounter in 1941 just outside Berlin, and reading her journal that he possesses only adds to his need for her. Following her trail, he goes after the woman he madly adores even as he knows she is wearing the ultimate enticer CLEOPATRA'S PERFUME.
This is a wild fun erotic historical romance that brings a unique perspective to WWII. Chuck is a brave aviator, but this heated war drama is owned by the audacious heroine as she brings danger and humor to the bedroom and a several other locales. Fans will relish the misadventures of Lady Eve as uses CLEOPATRA'S PERFUME to entice war secrets from the Nazis in Cairo, Berlin and London, and to lure her American flyer into her honey.
Edge of Hunger
Before his mom Elaina died five months ago, Ian Buchanan and she were somewhat estranged as she wanted him to be a perfect southern gentleman and he preferred being a rebel without a cause. He does not hide the fact he is not grieving her.
In Henning, Colorado psychic Molly Stratton informs Ian that his mother has contacted her because she wants to speak to him. Ian is scornful of Molly's claim that his mom sent her to warn him someone close to him will die if he fails to heed her. He also tells Molly he has no reason to listen to his mom when he didn't pay attention to her when she lived. Ian's mom is worried about her son as she failed to warn him about his Merrick supernatural blood that he must accept without any doubts. Several centuries ago, his ancestor fought, defeated, but could not kill so he exiled the evil Casus. However, Casus escaped banishment and has returned with the intent of killing Ian and his loved ones. Ian's girlfriend Kendra is killed and the culprit targets a feisty psychic whom he recently met through his dead mother while he dreams of discussions with his mom.
The first Primal Instincts urban fantasy romance will grip the audience from the moment Molly accosts Ian and never slows down as the heroine struggles to persuade Ian of the danger. The keys to this fine opening tale are Byrd land seems genuine as evil arrives due mostly to Ian's initial reactions of being attracted to a psychotic and the romantic subplot simmers with attraction, but never supersedes the danger. EDGE OF HUNGER is a terrific thriller starring a reluctant hero, a fascinating psychic, and a chilling malevolence who calmly kills as if he is biting into a sandwich.
Montana Creeds: Tyler
Linda Lael Miller
Still reeling from her estranged husband Burke purposely crashing his small private plane into a bridge last year, widow Lily Ryder Kenyon, accompanied by her six year old daughter Tess returns home to Stillwater Springs, Montana to care for her septuagenarian father Hal. Also returning to town is her former crush Tyler Creed, who trades his Cadillac for a dilapidated ten year old truck; he plans to ignore his two brothers Dylan and Logan, who he detests.
Tyler meets teenager Davie, who he believes may be his son; he provides a home for the apparently abused lad. He also finds himself attracted to Lily and her precocious daughter. Lily shares his feelings, but prefers to ignore him as he is unsafe for her heart at a time she must focus on being the sandwich generation caretaker.
The final Creed brother Big Sky romance (see MONTANA CREEDS: DYLAN and MONTANA CREEDS: LOGAN) loses some of the freshness of the previous story as the prime plot is similar in tone to the previous entries especially that of Logan. The support cast is solid especially how Lily's curmudgeon father and precocious daughter team up on her. However, the freshness is in the anticipated battle royale between the Creed siblings
A Mother's Heart
Sharon Sala, Isabel Sharpe and Linda Cardillo
"The Promise" by Sharon Sala. In Azalea, Tennessee on Sammy's eighth birthday, his single mom Liberty is injured in a car accident. While his mom heals in the hospital, Sammy seeks his unknown father Sam using the web to help him.
"You Belong to Me" by Isabel Sharpe. Suffering from stress that borders on burnout, executive Maggie visits her biological mom Clara who gave her up at birth only to find her first love Grant lives next door.
"A Daughter's Journey" by Linda Cardillo. Reporter Melanie takes her adopted daughter Tien, whom she rescued back in 1975 when she was Newsweek and her child was an infant, back to her birth place then called Saigon to meet the child's family. To her delightful shock, Melanie meets Dr. Phil, who was her lover back in Nam in 1975.
These are three strong tales of various relationships tied together by love. Especially poignant is A Daughter's Journey as the contrasts of Vietnam is incredible.
In Mistletoe, programmer Chloe Malcolm envies her recently deceased sexagenarian Aunt Jane Walters who was the ultimate free spirit; the complete opposite of her "programmed" niece. Perhaps it was the asthma that Chloe suffered from as a child or her parents' reaction to it; only Aunt Jane made it seem inconsequential by nicknaming her "Wheezy". She wishes she could be more like her beloved late aunt.
Chloe's best friend Natalie Young convinces her to attend the ten year high school reunion. Also there is Dylan Echols, a former major league baseball player and the hunk she wanted back then, but was to shy to come out of her mouse hole; rationalizing it was an unrequited infatuation. Aunt Jane sent Chloe one last package, a sexy dress that shows off her assets. She wears it to the reunion and attracts Dylan. However, reticent Chloe cannot deal with it so adopting her aunt's confidence she tells him her name is C.J. He realizes C.J. is Chloe, but says nothing as he is curious and attracted.
The second Mistletoe contemporary romance (see MISTLETOE BABY) is an entertaining lighthearted frolic. Dylan is a terrific male lead, but the amusing story line belongs to the heroine who falls in love and believes he reciprocates but not with Chloe. Fans will enjoy his efforts to prove otherwise and her struggles to keep the personalities of C.J. and Chloe straight.
One Day at a Time
Her mother is Florence Flowers, a legendary author known for shallow best sellers. Her late father was Bernard "Buzz" Barrington, a legendary literary and dramatic agent. Her sister Jane is one of the top Hollywood producers of the past decade. With that DNA Coco Barrington wonders where she went wrong as she rusticates in Bolinas in Northern California as a dog walker far from "civilization" also called Los Angeles.
Jane and her significant other Lizzie are thinking of having a child. They ask Coco to dog and house sit for them; which she reluctantly agrees. However, she thought she only had to deal with the lord of the manor jack the dog; instead some guy named Leslie is hiding in her sister's house from a psychotic former girlfriend. As she and Leslie become acquainted, both feel a deep attraction. However, she refuses anything Hollywood and he is renowned British actor Leslie Baxter; then again his favorite beautiful companion is his six years old daughter Chloe and her mom is dating a stud two plus decades younger than her.
This is an engaging contemporary fiction tale that at times the readers feels they ride a merry go round as Coco's doubts vs. her love keep going round and round; Leslie is too nice a guy to have doubts especially if she loves him. The support cast is solid as her two female relatives who at first seem nasty, but actually are frustrated with her as they want Coco to come out of her self inflicted exile. Die hard fans of Ms. Steel will enjoy ONE DAY AT A TIME as Coco must learn to follow the title credo if she is to have any chance at happiness.
On a nearly vacant Manhattan subway train, former MP Jack Reacher notices the female passenger acting odd. She shows all the nervous signs of a suicide bomber as proscribed by the Israeli military, an occupation by definition always means first timer. The Israreli list of signs contains eleven points in common between the genders; this woman has all of them as the local train heads from Bleeker St. with stops in between towards Grand Central. Absurd as he thinks it is, Reacher follows his gut and calmly confronts her. In her bag is not wires, but a gun she pulls out and points at him before turning it on herself blowing away her head.
NYPD Detective Theresa Lee questions Reacher especially about the Israeli list that led to the "false positive" suicide. Detective Docherty offers a different scenario accusing Reacher of homicide, but the vet calls the cop dumb insisting they are stalling until the Feds arrive. When the FBI does they question Reacher before walking away. Leaving the precinct, he is accosted by four men wanting information and after that by the victim's brother, who insists his sister would not kill herself. Before long Jack finds himself pulled in two directions; one back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the other into the heart of the global war on terrorism; neither make sense, but Jack knows his mission is to kill the bad guys before they cause harm.
The opening sequence as poorly described above is brilliant as Reacher is pulled into an international mess one step at a time. The story line gets even better as the tension mounts as Reacher finds himself caught in the middle. Fans of the series will believe GONE TOMORROW is one of the best entries (that says a lot with the consistency of this series) while newcomers could not ask for a better introduction to the world of the nomadic former MP.
Alan S. Evans
In 1996 in Cheatham County, Tennessee Shane Carson believes he lives the perfect life. He loves his wife Jen, their preadolescent kids Jacob and Tina and the horses he raises; and loves his work as a horse trainer and has earned a well deserved reputation as one of the best
Mrs. Erickson drops off a feisty mare she bought at auction from a cranky owner. She asks Shane to "start" the spirited Mustang and when ready find the steed a home with caring people. Shane realizes the animal is part of the legendary Spirit Horse herd roaming the Shoshone reservation in Wyoming. After a tragic accident caused by a man running a light kills his wife and kids in a car crash, Shane drinks away his grief until he recalls the promise he made to his son to return the Spirit Horse to his home. He escorts the horse back to her Wyoming home and makes friends amongst the Shoshone especially Chief Tigee and his granddaughter Tara while making enemies when he helps the tribe with a danger that threatens them and the herd.
With a touch of whimsy, this is a great story of a man reeling from a sudden tragedy that wiped out his beloved family, but finds redemption with the horses he loves. The strong characterizations especially the support players like his mother-in-law and his friend a ranch hand enhance a deep look into the soul of a person who was living heaven on earth until the vehicle accident moved him into hell until he finds a second chance at life through his love of horses.
Decision and Destiny
By 1837, the dysfunctional Duvoisins family struggles with inner turmoil since the death of the patriarch Frederic's second wife frail Colette. Her twin daughters born in 1828 Yvette and Jeannette struggle with their mom's death and the almost immediate third marriage of their father to his late first wife's sister Agatha. Jeannette is especially hurting as she is closer in temperament to her mom than the somewhat wild Yvette. Their governess nineteen year old Charmaine Ryan has helped them adapt to their wicked stepmother as she protects them as best she can especially the youngest infant Pierre from Agatha's abusive anger.
However, Frederic has withdrawn while his two oldest sons, both born in 1808, the illegitimate Virginian Paul and his heir from his first wife John argue over business, family, and Charmaine. With treachery from within leading to tragedy, the Duvoisins family, already split due to the late Colette's ties to father and son, seems on the verge of total destruction; only Charmaine is the one person who might save them from themselves, but she is pulled between the two oldest sons.
The second Duvoisins historical saga (see AN OCEAN AWAY) is a terrific entry that uses humor and innocent events like a picnic or horse riding to somewhat defuse the overwhelming family strife. The story line is character driven with the ensemble cast coming across as fully developed especially their differing passions to include loathing. More of what caused the schism is revealed as the writing team of DeVa Gantt provides an interesting middle tale; however though newcomers will enjoy aptly titled DECISION AND DESTINY, they will relish the dynamic interrelationships and rivalries much more if they read the first novel.
Secret Life of a Vampire
Anyone with Casanova's blood flowing through his head should be a great lover. Alas the incredible paramour's son Giacomo de Venezia must have somehow skipped the seduction gene. Known as Jack, instead of scoring with any woman he wants with the sophistication of his sire, he cannot get to the plate to swing the bat let alone hit a home run unless he uses his vampire skills to propel the female.
At a bachelor party, Jack and human police officer Lara Boucher meet when she sees blood all over the rug. He considers telling her the truth that what she sees is Bliskey, synthetic blood used by vampires like him, but decides it sounds too far-fetched so he turns to his vampiric magnetism to make her forget. Instead she ignores his power stunning him as humans always "obey". Instead he tries his dormant Casanova DNA to persuade the cop he is attracted to that he killed no one. When a college coed goes missing, the evidence points to Jack. With Lara believing in him, they investigate together. As they fall in love, they realize there have been other recent similar disappearances.
The latest Sparks urban fantasy tale is an exiting investigative thriller starring a likable but flawed vampire and the courageous mortal who proves his equal. Readers will know Jack as he struggles to be a chip off the old block until he meets the suspicious Lara. Together they make a formable team as they investigate the vanishings with Malcontents sightings. With a super late twist, Kerrelyn Sparks will take a large bout out of her fans sleep with this enjoyable in a one sitting thriller.
The Immortal Hunter
In Canada rogue vampires kidnaps sisters Dani and Stephanie McGill and. Vampire Decker Argeneau Pimms is called back from R&R to mount a rescue of two the mortals. He extracts Danielle successfully, but fails to get her sibling from one of the scoundrels who escaped with her. To his shock he knows Dani is his life mate.
Dani is attracted to the strange hero, but distrusts him as too much about him remains murky. Besides she is worried about Stephanie. Decker will do whatever it takes to rescue Stephanie from the-fanger-less vampire, a sub-species thought extinct centuries ago, while also keeping his Dani safe
The latest Rogue Hunter romantic urban fantasy (see THE ROGUE HUNTER and BITE ME IF YOU CAN) is an exhilarating thriller enhanced by the hero rescuing his life mate but unable to protect her sister from being snatched. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing as saving Stephanie supersedes their love. Fans will enjoy this fine tale summed up nicely by Decker who struggles with persuading Dani they are mates and with rescuing her sister while he ponders what to tell his future in-laws (not as simple as meeting the Fockers and Byrnes or even Falk-Arkin's The In-Laws).
In Hallden, Georgia, Mrs. Faraday is accused of murder; leading poker player Fin Borders to return to her hometown to prove the charge is false and to uncover the real culprit. This is the one place she does not want to go to as her memories are overloaded with that brutal 1991 fiery incident that sent her and her other two orphanage musketeers, Kell and Julia, fleeing with a vow never to return. Like Kell (see RECKLESS), she is back.
Undercover FBI special agent Caleb Matthews is also in Hallden seeking a killer; he has a history that he, like Fin, would prefer to ignore. When Fin and Caleb meet they each feel an attraction that somehow ignores their respective demons. The pair also realizes that they must trust the other to watch their back as a killer lurks and watches in case someone gets too close to the truth.
DECEPTION is an action-packed romantic suspense thriller that sets the tone of the story line from the onset and never slows down afterward. The cast is strong as it brings to life small town Georgia even some players from the past and from beyond. However, the tale is owned by the feisty courageous yet vulnerable heroine who finds love with a person who calls her heart. With Julia's tale next, Selena Montgomery provides an exciting small-town Georgia thriller.
Sins of a Wicked Duke
Orphan Fallon O'Rourke is sent to the Penwich School for Virtuous Girls where forty or so young girls are routinely punished. Master Brocklehurst battered Fallen with a strap for removing her cap. The beating leads her to make friends with Evie and Marguerite who all make a wish on a shooting star.
Upon leaving the abusive school, Fallon finds work as a servant, but her beauty and unwillingness to be a sex toy for the males in the households consistently lead to her firing. Desperate and tall and solid at least for a female, she cuts her hair and dresses up as a male. She obtains a job as a footman working for Dominic "Demon Duke" Hale. However, Fallon never counted on falling in love with her employer who is renowned for his seductions. Meanwhile he wonders why the new footman remains in his head seemingly all the time until he realizes why and plans his next seduction.
This is a fabulous historical romance starring two individuals with deep scars caused by childhood tragedies. The theme of a woman masquerading as a man has been done many times (Shakespeare in Love for instance), but Sophie Jordan keeps it brisk and amusing through her lead couple who know life's prime lesson is you always walk alone; that is until now. Fans will enjoy this fun frolic as the Demon Duke falls in love with his "footman".
Taken and Seduced
Adam Hillard lives for one thing vengeance against the lord who murdered his parents and left him as a youth with nothing. He was fortunate that the League of the Blade took him in, raised and trained him.
In 1486 he feels he has the instrument to strike back at vicious Lord Becket when he kidnaps his enemy's youngest daughter Lady Florence as she heads for life at a convent. However, she shocks him with her courage rather than showing fear. As they fall in love, Florrie encourages him to go after his heritage as the Earl of Keswick in spite of the odds and the fact achieving his birthright means killing the villainous father of his beloved though he vowed to himself after meeting her not to harm her.
The latest League of the Blade fifteenth century romance (see SECRETS OF THE NIGHT, THRILL OF THE KNIGHT and ONE KNIGHT ONLY) is an enjoyable tale starring two fascinating lead characters. Adam is a super protagonist who quickly admires the woman he abducted. Florrie brings freshness as the disregarded offspring partly due to her limp. Fans will appreciate this gender bending Blades entry.
Confessions of a Little Black Gown
In 1814 the Crown's master spy Lord Larken is assigned to assassinate Dashwell the American pirate who just escaped incarceration. Though he hates the assignment as he and Dashwell were friends before the second war with the colonies erupted; to accomplish his mission, Larken pretends to be a bumbling somewhat reticent vicar, Ryder, a cousin to a duke.
The Langley sisters Thalia and Felicity (see LOVE LETTERS FROM A DUKE) helped Dashwell escape from prison. Thalia's luggage goes missing, but she receives someone else's trunk containing a little black gown that she puts on. When Thalia and the vicar meet, she rejects the notion this man is shy and clumsy; instead she believes he is hiding behind an image as she sees his gracefulness. He knows she abetted the pirate, but though he wants to arrest her he finds her arrestingly beautiful while she hides Dashwell from Ryder, a man who scares her because she is attracted to what he conceals.
This is a wild Regency romance in which the War of 1812 has made friends and lovers into enemies. Larken seeks the woman who possesses the black gown because she will enable him to expose Napoleonic agents. However, he ends up with the wrong female due to the luggage mishandling. Filled with spins and twists, the latest Bachelor Chronicles is a terrific amusing historical filled with a warm romance and pot "boyled" intrigue.
Some Like It Wild
In 1814 the impoverished half-sisters, actresses Pamela and Sophie Darby, seek a Highlander dolt who is all brawn and no brain so they can outwit him while using him to masquerade as a long lost British heir. When highwayman Connor Kincaid stops their coach, he is stunned by the audacious Pamela who instead of handing him her valuables; alas there are none except her and her sister's respective virtue, which is why they are in this mess; she offers the brute a deal.
Sill feeling like a moron, Connor accepts and soon he and the half sisters are in London where he will pose as the long lost heir. Nothing goes right from the moment they arrive at the city. Almost immediately Pamela finds herself living in the home of Connor's father somehow engaged to the dimwit. As they fall in love, both Pamela and Connor want their masquerade to be real.
The sequel to SOME LIKE IT WICKED is a bawdy entertaining Regency romance starring a wild Highlander who feels overwhelmed by hurricane Pamela, but cannot help wanting more of her insane decadence. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Connor wonders what happened to a simple coach robbery and never slows down as he turns to seduction and pleasuring to somewhat level the playing field with his feisty masquerading partner. Teresa Medeiros is at her best with this humorous battle of wits and passion that sub-genre readers will find wickedly wild and wantonly wonderful.
Piercing the Veil
A.P. Lee & Co., Ltd.
Twenty-six years old Anne Marshall and her dad dreamed of practicing law together as a father and daughter team, but he died at sixty-two from a heart attack. Although she misses him, she attends Compton Law School and works as a court reporter. However, when she begins hearing him, she fears for her sanity perhaps from too much work and she is still grieving after two years. The voice of her dad insists his acquaintance fiftyish Tim Sherman is a dangerous snake who has embezzled $10 million from his firm depositing it over time in off-shore accounts.
As she begins to believe her dad's ghost is trying to partner with her from beyond, Tim and his wife Isabelle are divorcing in the court where Annie works. Tim looks forward to breaking up their business and personal partnerships by vanishing without a trace. Tim also enjoys the concept that his affair with office manager Stephanie will end the same way his relationship with Isabelle will end. Mentored by her dad, Anne with the help of her study group, searches for legal evidence that Tim has stolen company funds while her boyfriend ADA Jason Perry worries about her recent behavior professionally and personally. When his mistress, a witness to the divorce proceeding, is murdered, Anne feels guilty, though her father, also feeling remorse, tells his angel that the murder is not her fault, but that of the snake. Feeling a need for justice, Anne, her other worldly partner, and her study group try to find proof Tim is a killer.
PIERCING THE VEIL is an engaging paranormal investigative legal thriller starring a likable but over her head heroine and her late dad, a true believer in justice for all. The story line is fast-paced from the first time Dad communicates with his shocked angel and never slows down. Although the climax feels abrupt, sub-genre fans will enjoy this entertaining tale.
A Trace of Smoke
In 1931 thirty two years old crime reporter for the Berliner Tageblatt Hannah Vogel visits Berlin's Hall of the Unnamed Dead. There on the wall is the picture of an unknown naked corpse whom she recognizes. The victim is her beloved gay brother Ernst, who could not harm a fly; he had no papers because he gave them to their Jewish friends to escape dangerous Germany for New York.
Outraged that someone would torture and kill her effeminate kind sibling, she knows she must remain silent re his identity or her "lost papers until their friends reach America. Still Hannah investigates using Ernst's sexual proclivity and his performing at the underground El Dorado cabaret as the starting points With the help of her dedicated lover and a young urchin claiming to be her nephew, Hannah makes her inquiries including the claim of the street kid that her obviously gay brother sired a child.
This is a powerful historical tale that looks deep inside the souls of the groups that make up the Weimer Republic at a time when Hitler is just starting to rise in power. The story line contrasts caring people from various religions vs. the brutal angry assaults of the Nazis. Not an easy read with no sugar coating, A TRACE OF SMOKE will have readers pondering whether this could happen in modern day America.
The Killing Way
In the fifth century after the Romans left Britannia, farmer Malgwyn ap Cuneglas loves his wife and child. However, when Saxons murder his spouse, he loses his grip on sanity. He leaves his daughter with his brother to join King Arthur's legion in order to kill Saxons. Malgwyn becomes renowned as Mad Malgwyn with killing rages in battle until his arm is severed. He wants to die but Arthur saves his life and turns him into a scribe. Instead of enjoying life, he becomes a drunk, who hates the monarch for saving his life.
Someone kills peasant Eleonore slicing her apart and leaving her heart in the home of Arthur's beloved former tutor and former advisor Merlin.. Although the evidence strongly points to Merlin as a mad murderer. Arthur rejects the concept. He orders Malgwyn to investigate, but before the one armed scribe can begin, a second homicide as brutal as the first occurs. The superstitious peasants believe Merlin used magic to kill the second female since he was incarcerated when she was killed. Finally a guard who witnessed Eleonore talking with a hooded person has vanished. As Malgwyn makes inquiries amidst anger and dissension, he concludes the motive is to keep Arthur from being crowned Rigotamo (High King).
Anyone who thought there can be no new spin to the Arthurian legend will need to revise that opinion as Tony Hays provides a refreshing radical twist with a terrific gritty fifth century Noir. Camelot does not exist; instead Britannia is a decaying dangerous place. Chivalry is nonexistent as backstabbers are everywhere. Arthur is pragmatic seeking power with the Saxons and Druids opposing him; Genevieve is a fallen nun who he loves but politically cannot marry. However, the tale belongs to its grim narrator Malgwyn who knows Britannia as a place where the broken Roman roads mirror broken lives. This is the powerful beginning of a Dark Ages mystery series.
Dare to Die
In Broward's Rock, South Carolina Max and Annie Darling are staying at the Nightingale Courts while their antebellum mansion is being renovated. The couple plans to host a picnic with their island neighbors celebrating the renovation. At the motel, they meet former islander Iris Tilford, a recovering drug and alcohol addict tied to a local overdose death and a suicide when she was a teen. Annie invites Iris to the party.
However the Darling gala abruptly ends when Iris' corpse is found; someone strangled her to death. Police Chief Billy Cameron demands a promise from Annie that she will stay out of the investigation that he (and his team) is conducting; she agrees. However, eccentric islander mystery writer Emma Clyde sees a novel coming from the Tilford homicide so investigates until she is knocked out of the game. When the unknown culprit appears to target the Darling duet, Death on Demand bookstore owner Annie and private investigator Max break their pledge to Cameron and begin snooping.
As always with the wonderful Death on Demand series (see DEATH WALKED IN), fans receive an engaging whodunit with many interwoven references to other mystery authors and their titles. The story line has an Agatha Christie feel to it in which almost any moment Inspector Poirot (instead of Annie and Max) will gather the suspects together and challenge each of their alibis in a group interrogation that brings out the past and present. Fans will enjoy the latest cozy as the Darlings try to prevent further killings especially their own.
In 2008, the most commonly prescribed drug in the United States is Vicodin. Not well known is that Vicodin shares a close "DNA" chemical imprinting with the illegal opiates. With that background, Dr. Stein provides a profound look at helping a Vicodin addict kick the habit, physically and psychologically. Twenty-nine years old Lucy Fields visited Dr. Field having become totally addicted to Vicodin after using it for years. Lucy is a college graduate coming from an affluent family. She is fully aware of her health crisis, which brought her to the medical school professor for treatment.
This terrific memoir filled with pathos and compassion will nuke the concept held dearly by talking heads who refuse to accept American pharmaceutical addiction as a health issue perhaps even worse than the illegal drug problems they prefer to rant about. Dr. Stein stays professional for the most part except for some minor well-earned pontification. However, Lucy puts a human face on medically treating legal addictions as readers will be spellbound by her real story.
The Vampire's Quest
When Otherworld Crime Unit bomb specialist vampire Kellen Falcon was diagnosed with the rare blood disorder Sangcerritus, he researched it to learn more about the disease that is killing him. He learned two doctors were considered experts and rumor of a cure. Thus Kellen left Necropolis and traveled to the Otherworlder European city Nouveau Monde because Dr. Bueller, one of the premier experts practiced there.
Kellen arrives at Nouveau Monde Medical Center for his appointment with Bueller. However, after stepping back into the reception area for a moment, he recognizes the ticking sound and covers the receptionist with his body when a bomb explodes killing several people including the doctor. Inspector Bellmonte leads the investigation and informs Kellen not to leave town, implying he is the prime suspect. He also assigns Lycan police officer Sophie St. Clair to drive Kellen to his hotel. They are attracted to one another, which surprises him since an alluring vampiress was standing next to Bellmonte. Somewhat cleared because killing the doctor meant Kellen was committing suicid e though still a suspect as the disease makes him grumpy and angry, he and Sophie team up on the investigation when other bombs also explode.
The latest Otherworld police procedural romance (see BLOOD SECRETS and DARK LIES) switches locale from the States to Europe, but retains the belief that Nouveau Monde like Necropolis is a real city filled with paranormals (and humans). By simply having the paranormals and humans interact in a progressive positive way, Vivi Anna distinguishes the two continents from one another. The story line is explosive from the opening scene and never takes a break on two fronts: preventing more terrorist killings and the death watch of the hero as he falls in love. THE VAMPIRE'S QUEST is a great thriller as ironically time is running out on the lead male when he used to have all the time in the world at a time he has found his life mate.
In Gunngar, witches are hunted as the lowest varmint on the place between worlds. Thus when witch Heather Moore finds herself trapped in Gunngar, she knows to rely on no one but herself as anyone could betray her. However, she also knows she has no prayer of escape and going home without help as the malevolent elf Marina wants all witches dead.
Wolf shapeshifter guardian Kerr Vik offers his protection when he finds her hiding place. Heather wants to accept but fears her attraction to her wannabe guardian might be obfuscating his real reason for tender protection. She knows he works for Marina; so either he is preparing to betray her or his evil employer. To his chagrin, Kerr finds himself bewitched by Heather making him willing to risk his life to keep her safe from the wicked elf.
The world of Gunngar comes across as a plausible dark grim place in which magic and the paranormal abound. Kerr is terrific as a champion caught between his duty and his love while Heather wants to believe her heart but all the facts point to one conclusion that her beloved will hand her over to Marina. Fantasy romance fans will appreciate Lori Devoti's latest Guardian thriller (see WILD HUNT, UNBOUND and GUARDIAN'S KEEP) as they along with the witch wonder if Kerr deceives Heather with a pretense of love as he has a greater mission to achieve.
Living With Your Kids Is Murder
Having proven that RETIREMENT HOMES ARE MURDER with the help of a close blind friend Meyer and an Asperger's sufferer Henry, octogenarian Paul Jacobson leaves Hawaii to live with his son Denny, his daughter-in-law Allison and his twelve years old granddaughter Jennifer in Boulder. Paul suffers from a short term memory issue in which he loses all recall of what happened once he falls asleep. Due to Meyer he knows to write down the highlight film in his journal to inform the old geezer what is going on.
On the plane he dozed off before jotting anything down that occurred in flight. When he awakens he pushes his row companion off his shoulder only to realize the man is dead. He is the prime suspect in the martial arts chop to the neck death of Daniel Reynolds, a sales representative for Colorado Mountain Retirement Properties. Paul visits the Centennial Community Center to hear a pitch from another Colorado Mountain Retirement Properties rep Randall Swathes. Afterward, he finds the man dead in his car. Paul is the prime suspect. Soon he becomes accused of several other crimes. With his granddaughter as his lawyer, Paul investigates the two homicides while struggling to remember the identities of the two "young" women in his life.
The second "Geezer-Lit" amateur sleuth is a fun tale as Paul overcomes his handicap and age through his journal and his courage to keep going while wisecracking all the way including taking shots at himself and his lawyer. The story line contains several crimes besides the murder that either Paul or Jennifer resolve as he seems to step in it all the time. Readers will enjoy this fine cozy summarized nicely by overworked Boulder Police Detective Launo who says Paul is a crime wave as the prime suspect in 25% of his case load and that does not include the homicide on the jet (investigated by Detective Hamilton).
To Hell in a Handbasket
In Colorado Springs gift basket designer Claire Hanover looks forward to the ski trip with her family. However, tragedy on the slopes devastates everyone when the sister of her daughter Judy's boyfriend dies in what is a homicide.
Claire vows to keep her daughter safe from the killer who knows Judy saw what happened and will come for her. However, Claire cannot prevent a murderer from killing others. As they remain alive while the body count rises, Claire knows the culprit is coming for her and her daughter, but to stop the adversary has proven difficult as he or she is one of them.
This is an entertaining amateur sleuth in which Claire risks her life to keep Judy safe. The story line is action-packed, but the serial killing becomes too obvious rather early in spite of some interesting spins. Still in her second Hanover Colorado mystery (see A REAL BASKET CASE), Beth Groundwater provides an interesting thriller as the killer is coming.
Embarking on Murder
Sue Owens Wright
To celebrate her fiftieth birthday, Tahoe Tattler reporter Elsie "Beanie" MacBean goes on a Fourth of July cruise accompanied by her significant other Cruiser the basset hound, her boyfriend Sheriff Skip Cassidy and her adult daughter Nona who came from San Francisco to celebrate with her mom. She is having a great time sailing on Lake Tahoe aboard the luxurious Dixie Queen.
However, she is not the only one celebrating a milestone on the cruise. Frank and Ivy Diggs are on the ship with his children from a previous marriage celebrating their wedding anniversary. To Frank's shock, Ivy informs him she no longer wants to be a trophy wife for him to show off so she is filing for divorce. Soon after her announcement, Ivy vanishes and though no one reported anyone overboard and no corpse has been found, the crew believes she fell into the lake after imbibing too much alcohol and drowned. Skip thinks otherwise as he believes a murder occurred. His belief propels Beanie to investigate with her loyal significant sidekick at her side.
This lighthearted amateur sleuth is a fun Lake Tahoe tale starring an intrepid middle aged heroine who knows to stay out of an investigation after her dangerous escapdes in SIRIUS ABOUT MURDER and HOWLING BLOODY MURDER, but dives in head first anyway. The characters drive this entertaining tale as eccentrics like Professor Blayne researching the famous Tahoe Tessie lake monster, Nona and Skip bring depth to the murder mystery. However, the tale belongs to that fabulous couple Beanie and Cruiser who navigate the enjoyable cozy.
In 1814 following the death of her husband in the Peninsular War against Napoleon, impoverished Countess Elsbeth Mercer moves into the home of her uncle, his wife and two daughters. Everything is fine until a painting of her is found. Upset, Elsbeth seeks out the artist, Dionysus, of whom she has never met, but fell in love with his landscapes years ago; he tricked her into thinking Mercer was the artist.
Marquess Nigel Purbeck refuses to divulge the identity of the artist to the demanding irate Countess who wants the artist to tell the Ton she did not pose for it. Still he is attracted to her and seduces the widow. However, his actions leave her in danger and he too from apparently a friend accused of smuggling while she struggles between her long time love of the artist and of the reclusive Marquess.
THE NUDE is a wonderful refreshing Regency romantic suspense starring two fully developed fascinating lead characters. Elsbeth is a delight as she demands the Marquess introduce her to the painter who has scandalized her. Nigel is the more mesmerizing protagonist as the audience will wonder why he is a semi-hermit with the influence he obviously has amidst the Ton. The artist comes alive mostly in the minds of Elsbeth and Nigel making for an entertaining historical triangular romance.
Something felt wrong and woke the Boy up while the rest of the tribe slept. He began running partly out of fear and partly to know what is happening. When the earth moved, the Boy is fortunate to have survived on an island that has sprung up in the middle of a river where no island or water had been. On the island the Boy meets an injured Mur (Mastodon) he names Murgatroyd. They get off island, but his tribe is battered by the phenomena none understand and his failure to come back make them accuse him of cowardice ignoring his explanation. He is a pariah without rights; only his ten summers keep him from exile.
The Boy does chores when ordered. Most of the time, he is free to be by himself to explore and invent. He finds a strange place with a human statue finely carved and where metal exists. The Boy befriends the other tribe outsider, the cripple Nado who has a useless a hand so can never be a warrior. Together they share adventures and are adopted by a strange bird. The Boy calling himself Daryl wants the Shaman's daughter Parlan as his wife, but has no chance as he is a nonentity even though she as the tallest female towering over many males combined with her father's position will limit those asking for her.
The first mastodon tale is an exciting prehistoric thriller that paints an intriguing tribal culture. Boy's wise mother explains that group truth is not necessarily an individual's truth; as what happened is outside the knowledge and lore of the tribe so the clan must find a way to make it fit even when that ignores the person who most knows the facts. The story line is engaging, but mostly sets up the future tales in what looks like it might be an alternate history based on what the Boy found. Fans will appreciate James Strauss' interesting opener that and look forward to the sequels in what should prove an entertaining saga, 25000 BC.
In 1901 Immigration Commissioner Powderly selects Joseph Hannegan as Superintendent on Ellis Island because of the man's reputation being "the only honest Irishman in New York". Joseph's mission is root out corruption especially from the top as Assistant Commissioner McNabb is on the take.
Irish immigrant Maggie Flynn arrives on Ellis and pulls out a gun shooting her fiance Michael Finnegan in front of a zillion witnesses. She is quickly apprehended while Michael is rushed off the island by two cops and a doctor to a nearby hospital. McNabb knowing Hannegan's real mission keeps him busy so he has no time to interfere with his extortion and bribery business; thus heeding the advice of his assistant he assigns Hannegan to investigate the hot potato shooting.
Hannegan tabs women's matron Rachel Bonner, a member of a socially prominent family, to help him. However, the injured man vanishes as does his luggage, and Maggie refuses to tell them anything. Making no progress they follow a clue to Rivington Street where Maggie was to be employed, but barely make it out alive. As the inquiry is going nowhere, Hannegan has issues with his father over the older man's fierce support of the Irish Free Rule group Clan na Gael while ignoring the country who gave him a chance to earn a living. He also has issues with Maggie who he is attracted to, but detests her superiority airs of what is best for the masses especially when she befriends his sister.
This is an intriguing Ellis Island mystery that looks deep at the European immigration at the beginning of the twentieth century. However, the plot remains undecided between a historical mystery and a historical thriller; for instance the social and political issues like corruption on Ellis Island and at Tammany Hall, and first generation pining for the old country while second generation is assimilated overwhelms at times the investigation. The clever Finnegan scenario is deftly handled inside an interesting look at the immigrants who moved to New York to start over.
Dining with Devils
On Tasmania, a visiting gundog trial judge is shot by an apparent blind man who was participating with blanks firing at clay pigeons. At the scene as a civilian is police Sergeant Charlie Banes holding obvious Bluey the dog before he takes charge of the murder scene. His friend Canadian author Teague Kendell, who wrote the true crime thriller THE SPECIALIST and American novelist Tex Henderson are there too; the deadly bullet grazed Rex's ear.
Meanwhile renowned caver Kirsten Knelsen, who saved Teague's life on Vancouver Island from the Specialist, is inside a cave with several locals when they find a displaced knife that they take back with them to give to the cops. That night Dr. Ralph "the Specialist" Stafford thought dead in Canada, uses a post hypnotic spell to easily kidnap Kirsten. Stafford looks forward to serving Knelsen as dinner. Teague's ex-wife Rose Chapman and sniper Ian Boyd arrive at the same isolated cabin that Stafford holds Kirsten. Rose was his nurse and Ian a patient so Stafford has no problem controlling them. A frantic Teague tells Charlie that Kirsten is missing. Nothing adds up as he believes Stafford lives, but if Charlie cannot crack the case soon, Stafford will enjoy his repast Kirsten.
The sequel to the SPECIALIST is an exciting Tasmanian thriller in which the real devil is Dr. Stafford, an obvious take on Lector. The story line is fast-paced from the opening murder and never slows down until the final climax when justice is served cold. Bluey provides comic relief as well as heroism. Fans will enjoy DINING WITH DEVILS but would have appreciated more insight as to how Stafford not only found his way out of a cave, but killed a deadly cougar. Still Gordon Aalborg provides an exciting thriller as time is running out for Kirsten and Teague as Stafford plans to serve them as gourmet delights.
The Marigold Mafia
In London, American public relations executive Lucille Anderson is walking in the perfectly manicured garden of the stately English home of Sir Montague Taylor-Scott when she sees the grotesque sight of a man's head hanging from a trellis. Initially she thought or perhaps hoped some idiot was playing a dumb ruse on the Yank, but upon closer inspection she realizes her host is hanging from his trellis.
Freelance reporter Richard Meek implies to a shook up Lucille that eco-terrorists dubbed "the Marigold Mafia" for stealing priceless seedlings from an African tribe to sell them on the black market is probably behind the homicide. Meek also warns Lucille that this insidious group is going after her client Allgood Foods for allegedly doing genetic product modification; her lover Braxton "Brack" Clark is the CEO. She questions Brack who warns her not to get involved as he claims this group is deadly, but the feisty Yank encouraged by her lover's sister Caroline and disturbed by his reaction ignores him. Her inquiries take her from London to Cornwall where immigration agent Patrick Bourne tells her to be careful even as he shows an interest in her.
The second Anderson American in England cozy (see NO JUST DESSERTS) is a fun entertaining whodunit as Lucille investigates the murder, the stolen seeds, and the group that connects all the dots. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Lucille sees the grotesque sight and never slows on the sleuthing or personal fronts. Sub-genre readers will enjoy this fun amateur sleuth though may be a bit taken aback from some profanity; though they fit the characters and situations still shocked me to see curse words in a cozy.
In 1852, on the lam from the law as he is wanted in several states, Sam Ransom arrives in the gold camp town Muddy Flats, an apropos name for a place with mostly tents at the foothills of the Sierras. He buys dinner at Zee's Stew Kitchen where he gets a kick out of observing the feisty petit woman order the big men around like they were her children. Sam also saw the "Help Wanted" sign so applies for the job. Zee Gray is reluctant to hire him as she learned the hard way that handsome men are lazy or bullies. Still she gives him a job without consulting with her partner and only true friend Chinaman Lee Yung.
That night, a frantic Caleb arrives at Zee's tent needing her help as his woman Sue Ellen is in labor and not looking good. Zee and Sam arrive to save the baby Mary but Sue Ellen dies. Zee takes the newborn with her while Sam assists her by constructing a bottle nipple and offering a shoulder for a bereaving Caleb whom he just met. As they fall in love, Zee knows she must tell Sam about her family ruled by a Massachusetts martinet brimstone preacher who tossed her out; Sam knows he must tell Zee his full name is Sam Ransom Glover, part of an outlaw family.
This is an engaging California Gold Rush romance starring two caring likable protagonists with each containing a family history that makes a relationship difficult for either to fathom. Sam is the more fascinating character as he believes he is not worthy of his beloved, but his actions with two babies, and tweener Pauley prove otherwise as does his work ethic. Although there are no major conflicts between the lead couple even when his outlaw past arrives in Muddy Flats shaking her nerves because he never told her, fans will enjoy this vivid look at life in a California gold camp town.
In California, Hayworth gives Petey $10 for a valuable pre WWII SteelMan comic book. He got away with his transaction because mentally-challenged Petey is an adult with the brain of an elementary school child while his caretaker brother Max an alcoholic was on a binge. With the help of their pal Moose, a bank investor they rob Hayworth's convenience store three times in two days; as Max wants to harass Hayworth to return the comic book or give him $5K.
At about the same time, Kristy and Kevin go on a honeymoon in Hawaii leaving their three kids watched by their former sister-in-law Connie. Her ex TV newscaster Derek arrives to take the oldest five year old Chris fishing though he apparently mixed up the dates. He invites Connie to join them as well as the fourteen month old twins Andy and Abbie. When they run out of gas, they walk back to a nearby house they noticed. Inside are the three robbers who kidnap them. However, they are made to feel at home as Petey and Chris become playing buddies, Moose enjoys watching the twins, and Max appreciates Derek's great cooking. While Derek is working on one master recipe to win back his Connie, she has SECOND THOUGHTS about their divorce and first thoughts about stealing the purloined comic book for Max and Petey.
This is a madcap romantic suspense thriller that the audience will relish as long as they understand they will have to ignore the plausibility gauge; the fast-paced story line is fast-paced but stratospherically over the top of the Sierras. The five adults and Chris have distinct personalities while the changing relationships between the kidnappers and the victims are fun to follow as Connie and Derek adopt the siblings' quest as their own. Fans will have no second thoughts about this comedic screwball contemporary as zany is the name of the game.
Berkley, Apr 2009, $15.00
Dayle MacKay calls his daughter Janey telling her that her brother Natches was hurt. Although she detests her father, she loves her brother whom she was never allowed to see as a child. She rushes home from California to Kentucky only to have her dad and her Aunt Nadine drug her. Janey knows she must show no pain although her aunt touching her breasts nauseates her. She expects her neighbor Major Alexander Jansen to save her. Alex kills Nadine and Natches subdues his traitorous father who sold missiles to the enemy. Alex kisses Janey before he vanishes.
Six months later, Janey owns MacKay's restaurant in Somerset though most people think she is a traitor like her dad and unlike her heroic brother. Alex visits Janey for the first time since he saved her life and demands a kiss although he knows if Natches catches him he is dead. He tells her he wants her wet with desire for him. She tells him to leave, but he says it is too late. Alex learns Janey received three warning notes telling the traitorous slut to leave. He informs the MacKay males who confront Janey. She says she is staying and Alex can play night guard. As the couple fall in love, he must focus on keeping her safe and not just her cute buns.
The latest "Naughty Boys" contemporary romantic suspense is an exciting tale starring a strong paring and supported by the return of stars from the previous tales (see NAUGHTY DREAMS and NAUGHTY BOY) who play major roles in the plot. The action is fast and heated from the onset. Although it feels implausible that the villain who comes out of nowhere outfoxes the trained military men, the heroine's family and FBI agents, fans will relish the love story of Janey and Alex, two deserving people who encourage readers to forget plausibility.
A Year On Ladybug Farm
Though widows Cici Burke, Lindsay Wright, and Bridget Tyndale have each other while living a gentle middle class suburban lifestyle, each feels their lives are unfilled now that their kids have moved out and their husbands are gone. The trio decides they need something different so they buy a rundown mansion in rustic Shenandoah Valley with plans to renovate and grandiose dreams centered on an art school and a winery with lush gardens. They are greeted on their dilapidated newly purchased estate by a zillion lady bugs, liberated livestock and hints of a comedic ghost
The amigas move to their new home dubbed the Ladybug Farm shocking their adult offspring with the decision. However, fixing up the house and estate proves daunting as nothing goes right. Over time each begins to have doubts about their decision to uproot their lives from comfort to disaster, but the trio sticks it out through thick and thin as they begin to learn how to live life again as empty nesters.
This is an engaging tale of three best buddies who elected seven presidents and got involved in numerous causes coming together after the last spouse dies to find a new personalized mission now that the adult children are spread around the country. Their efforts make Murphy comparatively speaking into an optimist as nothing goes right yet everything goes right as long as friends are there for one another. Readers will enjoy the three musketeer-ettes as they provide humor, pathos, and logic to one calamity after another.
The Tory Widow
In 1766 in New York Jack Hampton, excited to hear of the appeal of the Stamp Act, kisses Anne Peabody. Although she enjoyed the kiss, nothing can come of it. She has no say as her father Amos saves his failing Peabody Printshop and keeps his son from becoming someone else's apprentice by selling her. He negotiates a deal with NYC based super printer to the carriage crowd Peter Merrick forcing his daughter to marry his friend, a man his age.
Living in New York, when he dies, Widow Merrick finds herself in dire straits. She takes over her late spouse's printing business, which spouts support to Tory causes in an attempt to make a living. However, in 1775, the Sons of Liberty destroy her press. Anne reopens as the Liberty Coffeehouse with one of the rebels who devastated her previous store Jack Hampton as her best customer. Having never been in love, Anne is stunned by her attraction to Jack; he believes he is falling for her based on the amount of coffee he consumes.
This is a refreshing look at the early days of the American Revolution from the eyes of a young widow eking out a living. Anna owns the insightful story line with her courage to survive regardless of who controlled the city. Jack is a super patriot, but allows his zeal at times to hurt innocent people like Anna though he insists collateral damage is part of any freedom fight. Christine Blevins provides an engaging American Revolution romance that sub-genre fans who especially value historical tidbits and strong characterizations will relish.
In the war-ravaged Palins, Lord Marshal Orrin Blackhart knows his guilt and remorse will remain with him long after his bones are interred as his loyalty to his late Lady High Baroness Elanore was misplaced. Whereas she created evil Odiun warriors causing death and destruction, he ignored the dark magic she used to bring these killers to life. Following Elanore's death, Orrin, in spite of having captured the Chosen One High Lady Priestess Evelyn, turns himself in to the rebel opposition to insure his loyal men are not killed or imprisoned.
Ironically, Evelyn claims his life as hers; Orrin is grateful to the Chosen One not because she saved him, but she has given him time to somewhat atone for his transgressions though he realistically knows he will never wipe the slate clean. He vows to Evelyn and himself that he will eradicate the Odium roving the countryside. Although the Chosen One can claim almost any bounty, High Priestess Evelyn struggles with a powerful archbishop with a personal agenda.
With the devastating wars allegedly over (see Chronicles of the Warlands trilogy), the aftermath and dark evil remain throughout the Palins even as malevolence has been killed (see DAGGER STAR). The beloved enemies Evelyn and Orrin were powerful leaders of opposing forces in the vicious hostilities war that still has the people of the Palins reeling. Fans will appreciate the clever twist that Elizabeth Vaughn writes in WHITE STAR as the latest return to her Warlands saga is a welcome entry in one of the best romantic fantasies of the last few years.
The Oakland Diocese asks self-taught shamaness Aisling McConaughey to help rescue an affluent VIP constituent's mistress Elena Rousseau. She would prefer to say no, but knows she has no choice as Elena will be sacrificed otherwise and so will the orphans and Geneva that Aisling loves. Aided by Aziel her spirit guardian disguised as a ferret, Aisling enter the dangerous Ghostland where spirits dwell.
She knows she needs help to accomplish the quest so she summons demon Djinn Zurael en Caym to her side. He is outraged, but helpless as she has him bound; however, Zurael vows to kill the shamaness the moment he completes his mission which will end her summoning spell. However, as they work together, these natural enemies fall in love.
The vivid description of a post apocalyptic world that followed The Last War is dark, grim, but vivid; yet interwoven into the strong story line. Aisling is a terrific heroine who finds her already complicated mission becoming even more multifaceted and convoluted as she wonders why Elena is neeed as a ritual sacrifice and how love intrudes on her life. Zurael anchors the supernatural making the paranormal seem natural. Urban fantasy readers will relish GHOSTLAND and look forward to more escapades in Jory Strong's new California (and beyond).
Morganen, the last single brother of four sets of twins born two years apart, has observed each of his siblings reach their part of the fulfilling the Curse of Eight Prophecy; at times with his help. In terms of the big Destiny, everything has gone the way it is supposed to, but the biggest quest is left; his and he knows not one of his siblings or their respective soul mates can help him achieve his destiny and complete the prophecy.
His beloved Hope comes through the portal from the dimension ruled by Queen Kelly. However, what Morg expected about his soulmate proves false. Instead Hope is the Duchess Haupanea of Nightfall, who vanished without a trace two centuries ago. As their enemies try to thwart the siblings from achieving their goal of Nightfall declared a kingdom, Morg knows his beloved is the one weapon the enemy can use to declare their efforts null and void; as she is the Duchess of Nightfall.
This is an excellent ending to a great saga as the key overarching thread that ran through the seven siblings' books reaches a crescendo climax. Jean Johnson proves she is the Mage as romantic fantasy fans will salute one of the best sagas in years and if anyone is as fickle as this reviewer is will ask what next?
Tempted at Midnight
In London Lady Emily Stapleford needs money or she will end up in the poor house. Her choices are to sell her novel or marry rich. She prefers the effort to sell her book starring a female vampire. She is stunned when her publishers reject her work.
Still choosing to lesser of two evils; selling her novel over marrying, Emily decides on a desperate ploy to garner interest in her heroine. She appears as a strange female wandering the night like a vampiress. The Ton is agog with everyone wanting to know who this woman is even as Emily sells her novel. Visiting American businessman Logan Jennsen knows a scam when he sees one and believes Emily has pulled a ruse. As he is beset by a series of accidents, he plans to take advantage of Emily's scheme to further his business, but neither he nor his authoress expected to fall in love.
The latest Mayfair Ladies Literary Society tale (see SEDUCED AT MIDNIGHT, CONFESSIONS AT MIDNIGHT and SLEEPLESS AT MIDNIGHT) once again will keep the audience up past Midnight an amusing late Regency romance. The whimsical story line is fast-paced from the moment Lady Emily decides on direct public relations with the nocturnal appearance of her vampiress. Logan is her perfect opponent as he plans to take a bite out of the schemer's plot for his use. Jacquie D'Alessandro provides a delightful Mayfair Ladies Literary Society historical.
Vision in White
Mac, Parker, Emma and Laurel have been friends forever so it is not a shocker that these buddies formed a business together; nor that their company Vows provides wedding and event planning, as they used to play at bride and groom as kids. When Parker's parents died, she renovated the house so her friends could comfortably move in with her as well as be on site at all times for the business.
During the planning of a wedding, Mac (short for Mackenzie) runs into classmate Carter Maguire; he had a crush on her back in their school days. Mac fears relationships ever since her father abandoned his family to marry someone else and her mother's marriages turned her trepidation into a phobia. While Carter courts her thinking long term, she prefers a short fling. Meanwhile Mac's mother Linda makes a zillion selfish demands on her, but that does not disturb Mac as much as her feelings for Carter do.
The first book in the Bride Quartet is a deep contemporary tale that contains the profundity expected of a Nora Roberts story. Mac is still hurt by her mother, but hides from understanding what is happening because she is expected to love her mom right or wrong. Carter has the patience of a saint as he tries to be there for his Mac and demonstrate love does not mean abuse. Ms. Roberts provides a deep relationship drama starring a wedding photographer caught on the one hand in a dysfunctional relationship with her mom and if she reaches out with the other hand a warm caring sharing with her beloved.
A Corpse for Yew
Joyce and Jim Lavene
The drought in North Carolina is so severe that Lake Whitley dried up leading to historical preservationists looking at the beds including a graveyard. While the profits at Peggy Lee's The Potting Shed has dried up too, she joins her mom and the other members of the historical society on the dry mud search. Genevieve Curtis steps on a body of a fellow member who had bright red lips. The victim is Lois Mullin, who arrived early without informing anyone.
The autopsy reveals Lois had yew in her system, which means she was poisoned. The Police Chief turns out to be the dead woman's nephew and he dropped her off at the site before going to work. Everyone wants to believe a horrific accident occurred, but many questions remain unanswered. Peggy thinks the woman was murdered and the female members of the Historical Society persuade her to investigate as she has solved homicides before (see PERFECT POISON). She agrees, but finds an over abundance of suspects to include the nephew, the artifact thief, and members of the society.
Putting aside why Peggy the amateur sleuth would investigate, Joyce and Jim Lavene prove once again they are an excellent writing team as they provide a quality regional whodunit. There are numerous suspects even beyond those described above so picking out the killer is difficult and as puzzling. The question that needs to be answered first is why murder a seemingly harmless elderly woman. A CORPSE FOR YEW contains lighter moments like the heroine hiding her lover from her parents even though she is fiftyish widow, but it is her investigation that makes for a fun Garden mystery.
In Maryland Costa Rican-American private investigator Renata Cordona works undercover trying to capture the killer of female realtors. She waits with a gun for a client to arrive at an empty house for sale. When she steps outside, six dogs menace her until a wolf arrives and the sextet leave. The wolf leaves immediately after Renata steps back inside. Jacob introduces himself to Renata who knows he is a famous animal handler, but she is unaware that he can talk to the animals.
Frustrated Questabaze the demon knows his canine ploy failed leading to these true mates meeting. Renata and Jacob are attracted to one another and past lives together flash in their mind. Renata is upset because Jacob reminds her of her loved ones like her parents and her two boyfriends who died in accidents; she keeps her distance from people. That night Jacob watches her house when she is asleep she steps outside naked performing a strange ritual. Renata awakens to see a wolf; she fires at him as he flees. Jacob cannot believe she shot him in the shoulder. Later that night Jacob and Renata share the same dream of making love together; she calls him Jalerak. Questabaze is upset as he sees the dream as things not going right this time; he plans to fix that while Jacob knows Renata is his life mate and she fears her attraction to him.
The relationship between the lead couple is terrific as they are attracted to one another, but she calls the cops on him anyway while the villain is terrific as a demon and his human disguise perfect. Readers will enjoy a brief look at the other world that includes the return of lead couples from previous tales. Though a twist involving Renata and Questabaze makes the otherwise brilliant demonic tactician look dumb as he had much easier methods to employ, fans will appreciate the widening of the Moon pantheon.
Detective Sergeant Cynarra "Cyn" Malva knows she has found her mate in special-ops sniper Rio Rafael, but likes the relationship as is because she does not have to deal with issues if she pushes for more besides she doubts he would want to with her. Commitment means estrangement with family, friends, and work peers as she is a mage and he is not; meaning he is less than her.
However, she kicks the can re whether to increase her obligation with Rio as she hides behind difficult police matters. Not only has a dangerous gang of mages caused havoc, a serial killer is on the loose with Cyn on the list of victims. With Rio having her back, Cyn tries to take down the killer before the predator takes her down.
Fans of erotic romantic police procedural fantasies will enjoy this engaging thriller (ENTICED and ENTANGLED). Although the identity of the serial killer is ironically known by readers long before the cops do, the use of magic to find clues and heal will remind readers of M.R. Sellars' Rowan Gant paranormal mysteries (just hotter except for his hellish scenes). Cyn and Rio are a wonderful pairing as he risks his life to save hers, but is still unacceptable to her family. Fans will appreciate Kathleen Dante's star-crossed lovers in her latest nth degree paranormal suspense thriller.
After the fiasco that almost killed her in Chicago, reporter Pepper Malone leaves the Windy City financially broke and more critical spiritually broke as she broke the journalist rule by getting too close to the story; under the covers is too close. She goes to her mother's hometown of Bailee, Texas near Dallas. Realistically Pepper knows she cannot face the music of Chicago or start over i n Dallas. New publisher Michael McCulloch hires her as a reporter for his family paper the Bailee Bugle.
Mike knows his journalist dreams were buried with his late father and older brother as the family paper needs him to survive. However, someone obviously wants the Bailee Bugle to fail and is willing to kill to achieve the goal. Pepper believes the threats are aimed at her, but Mike thinks otherwise.
With a nod to screwball journalist comedies like The Front Page, His Girl Friday and Teacher's Pet, but with a much more serious tone, Jodi Thomas provides a strong thriller. Fans will say we like Mike who shows passion and tenderness as he sacrifices his dream, but wins a greater prize: the love of Pepper; that is if they survive. Pepper is much more complex, but readers will admire her courage as she considers flight rather than fight like she recently did, but with Mike's support and love stays. REWRITING MONDAY is a superb journalistic romantic suspense.
Riding on Instinct
In New Orleans rookie DOJ agent Shadoe Grayson is assigned her first undercover mission as a stripper at the Wild Rose Club where a DEA agent is tipping off the Columbian cartel whenever a sting is set; she will identify the betrayer. The rogue has insider information so DEA has gone outside to expose him or her. Wild Riders operative Spencer "Spence" King, who will also work at the club takes one look at his new partner Shadoe and tells his boss General Lee, she is no stripper as her clothes look like prim and proper justice department while strippers wear less to church.
Shadoe shocks Spence when she proves a natural on the stage. As she gives him private lap dances, they fall in love; but nether understands what love means as Spence and Shadoe never was the recipient of this emotion before. Still the case comes first as one slip of her stiletto could mean death.
The latest Wild Riders romantic suspense thriller (see RIDING WILD and RIDING TEMPTATION) is a fun tale that starts off with quite an opening sequence as Spence strips skin off of Shadoe when he insists she is no stripper. Their volatile relationship takes off from there at times overwhelming the mission. Shadoe proves to be quite the competent stripper although her professional skills at striptease seem unrealistic yet entertaining. Still fans will enjoy the undercover duo working together to expose the DEA traitor while struggling to comprehend the alien feeling of love as each wants to know who possesses their mind and heart; they know who possesses their body.
The Seduction of a Duke
In 1880 her mother ignores Newport heiress Francesca Winthrop desire to marry someone she loves as inane because social status is everything. Instead mom arranges a marriage for her daughter with an impoverished English duke.
William Chambers prefers to marry for love or not at all, but has no choice except to accept the Winthrop's social climber's offer for her wealthy daughter. Bitterly he accepts his title for her money.
William and Fran meet at a masquerade ball and each is attracted to the other. He gores so far as thinking marriage to an American if it is her will be okay; she thinks similar thoughts. However, both are anxious leading to a great misunderstanding they misconstrue what is happening until Fran reads a courtesan's diary; given to her a few months ago when the American was in Paris by her former tutor. She applies the tips and soon has William out of control with desire. However, her past surfaces and threatens the marriage between the heiress and the duke.
The sequel to THE EDUCATION OF MRS. BRIMLEY, THE SEDUCTION OF A DUKE is a wonderful Victorian romance starring two likable protagonists who fall in love while she applies the courtesan's diary to their relationship. The story line contains droll double entendres, a staple of Donna MacMeans. With a strong support cast and plenty of wit, sub-genre readers will enjoy this intelligent amusing historical.
A Flickering Light
In 1907 in Winona, fifteen year old Jessie Ann Gaebele loves to take pictures of in Minnesota's beautiful landscapes. Neither her family nor her peers understand the teenage girl's obsession with photography. No one except that is professional photographer F.J. Bauer who feels an affinity with the young girl as he loves picture taking too. He hires her as his apprentice.
Jessie Ann proves adept at all the workings involving photography including the use of dangerous toxic chemicals in the backroom and the flash powder used as lighting. However, she feels out of her league as a woman and loaded with guilt when she falls in love with her married mentor as she knows his somewhat difficult wife Jessie is not a bad person. Although he knows not to act on his wants, Bauer finds himself increasingly desiring his apprentice especially her unabated enthusiasm for what he cherishes too, photography.
Reaching back to her family tree, historical novelist Jane Kirkpatrick provides readers with a terrific "biographical fiction" of her grandmother as a teen at the turn of the previous century breaking the gender barrier. The key to this super tale is that the prime three players based on real persona are not over the top nasty people; instead the audience will empathize with each. Readers will also obtain a deep look at the danger of photography in the first decade of the twentieth century and cannot help compare it with "danger" of the digital age; as exposure has different connotations. Ms. Kirkpatrick provides a profound look at an era when women were given limited options yet Jessie Ann refuses to allow societal restraints from preventing her from being what she wanted to be and open-minded Bauer encourages her.
Saints in Limbo
In Echo, Florida Widow Velma True struggles to go out her door. Her agoraphobia has been getting worse as going to the mailbox is an incredible quest that she never achieves. She traces her fear of outdoors to when her beloved Joe died.
On her birthday, a stranger arrives at her door to give her a gift that does not look like much. However, somehow the mysterious present from this baffling stranger has Velma looking back over her memories with Joe and their son Rudy. She begins to appreciate what she had and still has through her memories though her reminiscences on the river of her life include some depressing moments. She begins to find herself pulled between her desire to have what she once had before Joe died and Rudy grew up, and what she has now. Finally her adventure into her mind leaves her vulnerable to a malevolence that wants the gift and will take away what she cherishes to steal her birthday present.
SAINTS IN LIMBO is a whimsical tale mindful of It's a Wonderful Life with the addition of a nasty essence wanting to steal her gift. Filled with regret and remorse, Velma is fabulous as she goes on her adventure inside her mind. Although to many subplots that are left unresolved detract from this overall fine thriller, readers will enjoy accompanying the heroine as she tours her soul.
Prodigal Recovery Agency Nick Shepherd wonders how he got into his current personal mess. Besides the fact that he owns one third of a failing bounty hunter business inherited form his late dad, his two siblings Steven and Marti denote dysfunctional, his mom is in an Alzheimer's nursing home, his former wife Jessica tortures him with her demands and their daughter Krystal is rebelling. Still his agents like Matt Connor and Rafe Constanza are the best especially with watching each other's back
Though he has doubts about taking on the search for the runaway hooker meth addict Zeena Bantham, Nick agrees as he needs the money and the firm needs the reputation as the business is falling apart. While on the case, Nick meets Zeena's sister, cancer victim Anne McNamara who insists on being part of the hunt. However, as he comes closer to finding the "tweeter", someone abducts Krystal and unaware of that moment threatens Marti as Nick's past has returned with a vengeance to disrupt his already screwed up present and probably destroy his at best shaky future.
This fast-paced crime thriller focuses on the life of a bounty hunter as his work intrudes on his family turning his once loving wife into a shrill and his once adulating offspring wondering if he will ever be there for her. Filled with action from the onset and a felon in plain sight, fans will relish this fine thriller as W.L Dyson shows she has the right stuff.
The three young girls meet at a posh Beverly Hills high school because they are the outsiders; undesirables not good enough to mingle with the rest of the affluent student body. Thus Texan Sally Lassiter, Englishwoman Jane Morgan and Jordanian Helen Yanna form their own pact to help each other survive the bullying barracudas and harassing sharks. However, finances force Sally and Jane to drop out and Helen is packed off in marriage to live in the Middle East.
Over the next few years separately all three obtain business success with Sally a designer, Jane a corporate officer, and Haya (formerly Helen) an international carpet seller. A decade later, the trio meets in Los Angeles; where they concoct a concept to combine their skills to open up a luxurious shop GLAMOUR. While the store is extremely successful, the partners never recapture the level of friendship they had as teens and drift in separate directions while taking potshots at one another.
The obvious homage to Sex and the City is throughout this intriguing character study, but Louise Bagshawe puts her own spin on affluence and trysts. The three prime players contain differing personalities. As teens they need to bond with someone in similar dire straits, but as late twenties with professional success, they no longer need one another. Although there are some cul de sac scenes that feel like padding, fans of women's modern fiction will enjoy following the exploits of three women in Los Angeles.
Hold Love Strong
Matthew Aaron Goodman
Touchstone (Simon & Schuster)
In 1982 in the Ever Park project in New York City, thirteen year old Jelly Singleton gives birth to Abraham on the bathroom floor of her grandmother's apartment while her mom thinks her daughter is having a gas attack. The rest of the family that includes his nine year old Uncle Roosevelt, his Aunt Rhonda and her brood especially the oldest four year old Donnel are at the movies watching ET.
Over the tweener years, Abraham dreamed of becoming a member of the Huxtable family in Brooklyn while his mom turned to crack and Roosevelt went to prison. During that period grandma kept the family together. When Donnel, who was more like an older brother to his younger cousin, goes to prison, Abraham is ready to give up. However, his girlfriend Kaya keeps the pressure on that education is their tickets out of the projects. His hope for a scholarship resides more on his basketball skills than his classroom success, but with encouragement he tries to improve his academic standing.
HOLD LOVE STRONG is a powerful look at inner city life and survival in the projects as a poor family struggles to overcome addiction, deaths, incarcerations, and broken dreams. Grandma is the key to keeping her family together and giving hope to all even addicted Jelly and Donnel who through away an NBA career. Character driven, Matthew Aaron Goodman provides a profound family drama of living in the projects where daily existence easily snuffs out the hopes and dreams of those who want the life of the Huxtables.
I'm Perfect, You're Doomed: Tales from a Jehovah's Witness Upbringing
Kyria Abrahams was raised as a Jehovah Witness, which she explains means humans are divided between the have and have nots; the have true believers will live forever in a new Eden on earth while the "worldly" will be shunned though ironically the Jehovah's Witness extended community pray for their salvation. She did not celebrate Halloween or her birthday except with thank you prayers to the Lord. Every night she would go to bed expecting the end so had her end of the world pack ready for expeditious movement. She shunned a friend for having a devil's device, an Ouija board. However, when she married as a teen she began to have doubts as she hated her spouse and turned to drugs and alcohol. When that failed she went on line where Ms. Abrahams discovered a whole new world out there including adultery. Now in her twenties, she is a shunned fallen one having kicked Jehovah out of her life and having the Jehovah Witness "fire" her.
This is a well written autobiography that provides insight into the lifestyle of a former member and her family. The keys to this intriguing account are that the author uses humor and clearly remains fond of her apparently dysfunctional family and even the religion; she avoids acrimonious nastiness. The memoir changes in tone from semi-humorous to totally serious at the point Ms. Abrahams married as she quickly detested her husband and turned to escapist self destructing activity. Although the author seemingly has turned her life around as evident by this fine book, she fails to explain how and what helped her overcome two plus decades of upbringing. Still Ms. Abrahams provides readers with a profound anecdotal look of growing up as a Jehovah Witness.
The Book Of Love
Maureen Paschal has become a bestselling novelist after writing a so called fictional account of her recent quest in search of and uncovering the secrets of Mary Magdalene (see THE EXPECTED ONE). However, instead of basking in her glory, she receives a strange package with a symbol and a medieval letter from a Countess Matilda; she also suffers from dreams that interfere with her sleep; Jesus directs her to find the Book of Love.
Knowing not to ignore messages, Maureen travels to France to discuss this with her lover Berenger Sinclair. He explains the supposed manuscript has never been proven to exist, but allegedly is the gospel as written by Jesus. They both receive enigmatic clues that send them to search for the eleventh century true believer in the existence of the gospel, Countess Matilda of Tuscany. As they follow Matilda's wandering in Western Europe with the help of Maureen's Jesuit scholar cousin Father Peter Healy, some Vatican officials want the truth to remain buried; if that includes burying Maureen and Berenger so be it.
This second "Magdalene Line" thriller is action-packed from the moment the heroine travels to France and never slows down as the race for the Jesus Gospel takes off even with its obvious Brownian connection. The story line intermingles the present subplot with Matilda's adventures, but each feels a bit overloaded with in fairness insightful Christian cryptic canon that adds to the readers understanding of religious dogma a millennium ago vs. today but also slows down the pace. THE BOOK OF LOVE is a deep exhilarating novel.
The President's Henchman
Ascot Media Group
1610 South. Pine St. . Cabot Arkansas,72023
When his wife is elected president, Jim McGill becomes America's "first" First Man. A former Chicago homicide detective, Jim was working on the homicide of Patricia Darden Grant's husband. When he married Patricia he did not expect them to relocate to the White House for her job. He is offered the position of FBI chief, but declines. Instead he obtains private investigator license.
His first case involves a stalker threatening a White House press corps member as Jim wants to make sure the loose cannon does not go after his wife. Jim also gets involved in an adultery charge against a female colonel stationed at the Pentagon with the possibility that could devastate his wife's new administration.
THE PRESIDENT'S HENCHMAN is an enjoyable refreshing political noir starring America's First Man who refuses to hide his roots as a former Chicago cop, but does so in an intelligent tough guy manner. The story line is fast-paced though one must wonder how the Secret Service Agents plan to protect Jim when he has clients; surveillance for instance might prove messy and awkward. Although the plot does not dig deep enough into the impact of Jim working as a P.I. on POTUS protection detail and other considerations, Joseph Flynn provides fans with a brisk political thriller starring the First Noir sleuth in the White House.
The Trouble with Demons
On the Isle of Mid is the most advanced magical college in the known world. The island is considered a neutral sanctuary though different factions want control. Raine Benares has come there because she has become the bond servant of the rock known as Saghred, who feeds on souls while granting immense power to its minion. She hopes the mage-professors can either destroy the rock or at least rip asunder her bondage. The battling groups each seek to use Raine as an expendable tool to gain Isle and world supremacy.
Two men are especially interested in Raine. The dark horse Tamnaisn Nathrach is a mage coming back from the darkside of magic into the light; and Paladin Mychael Eiliesor who is the head of Conclave Guardian. The acting archmage Carnadius Sylnanius wants Raine executed as he claims she is demon tainted at a time when traitors on Mid open a Hell's Gate enabling demons to cross over in exchange for more power. The demon queen wants the soul of her husband released from Saghred captivity; and once he is freed she wants him placed in a new chosen body that is special. Raine as a seeker is the best person for the job; with her "marital" bond mates Michael and Tam, she begins a quest, but her agenda is to save Mid from the demonic invasion.
Romance, danger and magic combine to make an enchanting fantasy. For a Switzerland type location, Mid is filled with treason, double and triple dealings, deadly intrigue that place the heroic trio in jeopardy as the answer to whom do you trust is no one; everyone has an agenda. Raine is a fascinating lead character who holds the plot together as an elf who does not want the goblins to obtain the Saghred as that malevolent species would use it to eradicate the elves. Constantly under fire, the heroes struggle to save the island while new enemies keep surfacing in a sort of Escape From New York way.
Fall of Light
Nina Kiriki Hoffman
She is magically gifted as are her siblings and her mother, but Opal LaZelle is the only one to leave the family nest to begin a career that uses her talent. She becomes a make-up artist, but she uses magic to create illusions of changing an actor's face or if the situation calls for it actually changes the feature for real. She is now in Lopez, Oregon working on the film Forest of the Night, but has only one person to work on, converting actor Corvus Weather into the Dark God
The area where much of the movie is being filmed contains an opening in the woods in in which an ancient stone alter sits. When Opal walks on the ground near it she feels energy as if something is trying to wake up from a long sleep. However what frightens the make up artist is Corvus; whenever she changes him into his costume, his personality changes too as if he is possessed. He finally insists she call him by another name Phrixos and that he needs her help to fully awaken what lies in the woods. She wants to refuse as she worries about the day of because she does not know what the sleeping god really wants from humans.
The latest Nina Kiriki Hoffman paranormal thriller (see FISTFUL OF SKIES, PAST THE SIZE OF DREAMING and A RED HEART OF MEMORIES) is sure to bring much acclaim to the author. FALL OF LIGHT is a fascinating urban fantasy with powerful horror elements threading throughout the exciting story line. Opal is a great heroine as she knows she is out of her league yet cannot walk away from the catastrophe she finds herself in the middle of as the immediate danger to the crew is stratospheric. This is another winner from a super writer.
Dead and Gone
Telepath Sookie Stackhouse works as a waitress at Merlotte's Diner in Bon Temps, Louisiana. When Japanese scientists invented synthetic blood, vampires came out of the coffins and introduced themselves over TV. Although the new world needs some getting used to and help groups form, life for the most part have somewhat settled down as people realize vampires have been part of the assimilated population for centuries. It is now the shapeshifters turn to come out into the open.
However, some humans react violently towards the news. The owner of Merlotte's stepdaughter almost kills her mother. Female shifter is crucified in Merlotte's parking lot; she is the estranged wife of Sookie's brother. Sookie's great grandfather Niall is at war with an enemy who wants to kill and Sookie is sought by his adversaries as a potential hostage; several attempts to either abduct or kill her occur. Having a brother who is a were-panther means he will protect her but Sookie underestimates the threat to her and her loved ones by an ancient evil species more powerful than weres, vamps and humans combined.
True Blood is the TV show based on the Sookie novels and like this tale and previous entries are great urban fantasies. With all the different species surfacing who previously were assumed to be myths, Sookie and one other person are the only known telepaths in the United States. Although a bit less action oriented than other books in the series, Readers get to know the characters better and Sookie finally has some romance in her life. Charlaine Harris is one of the best urban fantasy worldbuilders writing today.
The Lost Fleet Relentless
A century ago the Syndicate Worlds attacked the Alliance who fought back. Captain John "Black Jack" Geary's ship the Meron was destroyed but he escaped in a pod in suspended animation; only to wake up a hundred years later to learn he is a legend and that the war continues unabated. The Alliance sends a fleet into the heart of Syndic Space, but due to a series of dreadful circumstances, Jack becomes the commander.
After some fierce battles, the fleet is ready to use Jump Points to return to Alliance space. Jack and a few others learned the Syndicate worlds were manipulated into going to war by a mysterious race of aliens who want the two combatant groups to destroy one another. It is urgent that Jack and his crew return home because they possess the Syndic hypernet key that can be used as a weapon. While fighting and eluding the Syndic fleets, Jack tries to convince those who have admired him that he dos not want to be the leader of the Alliance and explains to his supporters he is a warrior not a politician.
This exhilarating action packed outer space military thriller will remind the audience of the battles in Star Wars. Jack is terrific as he realizes his past glory can carry him so far with his demi-god celebrity status, but he caught in a conundrum of what his fame means to the Alliance and what he has learned while in Syndric Space about the true enemy. Many believe he is the only one who can end the hundred year war though he has his doubts as to what should be done next.
Sins & Shadows
On an alternate earth, magic is taken for granted although government agencies and private investigative firms exist to fight evil users. P. I. Sylvie Lightner of Shadows Inquiries is ready to quit the magical sleuthing business to go mundane after she breaks up a Satanist ring during a ceremony and now has a group of Satanists ready to kill her. Her perilous escapade emphasized that death is not necessarily the final safe frontier and
Everyone near her is now in danger.
However, she cannot refuse a special offer from an extraordinary new client who asks for her help. The Greek pantheon God of Justice, once a mortal, wants Sylvie to find his lost lover Brandon Wolf. If she says no, she places her friends, family, and perhaps the world in danger from the wrath of an angry god. Sylvie receives some assistance on the case from the three Fates especially Erinya. She discovers that Lilith is behind what has become of the lover as she wants Bran's power, which would make her the leader of the gods and enable her to retaliate against Jehovah for kicking her out of Eden. However the sleuth remains in the dark as to the whereabouts of Bran and how to help him while Justice and Zeus fight.
Lyn Benedict uses as her background Greek mythology to provide an excellent investigative fantasy thriller. This other earth comes across as genuine with its government bureaucracy the ISI as much as the strong characterizations while Sylvie works the case. She learns it is becoming easier to kill malevolent monsters and humans; the latter a path if she explores would make her one of the monsters. She depends on her best friend to pull her back from going over that cliff. Sylvie turns SINS & SHADOWS intro a fascinating spellbinding work.
Tired of unchecked adult supervision holding them back, especially her family's political power, teenagers Moth and Fiona flee from the highest city in the world Calio where anyone can become anything except their elders hold the young back. Leaving the city on top of the mountain, they climb across the foggy Reach until they reach a strange land with strange beings.
The Skylords greet the outsiders with hostility. They also realize Moth carries a gizmo that once belonged to them until a traitor fearing their growing power stole and hid it. They want their device back even as Moth remains ignorant how to utilize it. Making matters worse for the teens, Fiona's grandfather, the governor of Calio, arrives in a dirigible warship that the Skylords attack with their flying minions as they reject sharing the skies with anyone especially lowlife humans.
The attitudes of Moth and Fiona make each an endearing realistic thirteen years old as they want to be treated by their elders as adults with the accountability of tweeners so when that fails to pass, they run away. Their adventures in the Reach are exciting especially when they encounter the malevolent Skylords. However, so much side plotting occurs that fans will have difficulty keeping track of the prime focus. Still this rambling fantasy sets up the Skylords saga in which young adult readers will want to follow the escapades of those two teen courageous explorers.
The paidhi-aiji interpreter between the native Atevi and the stranded humans, Bren Cameron remains worried though the Atevi civil war has ended at least for now and his side victorious (see DELIVERER). He fears human technological and other intervention assimilating and ultimately destroying the Atevi lifestyle.
At the same time, there are still supporters of the vanquished usurper Murini and those loyal to the current regime claiming that Cajeiri, the heir to the Western Association leader, has spent too much time living with humans in their environs and is therefore no longer pure Atevi. Ironically the young heir fears what mankind offers as he knows how easily this could be adapted and ultimately would supersede their culture especially with its potential intrusiveness into the Atevi communication system. Cameron agrees with Cajeiri, but as he eludes assassins from both species, he struggles to keep his young obstinate friend from overreacting at the wrong time increasing hostilities.
The latest Foreigner science fiction thriller is a superb entry in a strong chronicle. Character driven by mostly Cajeiri and Bren, fans will appreciate the complex Atevi culture threatened by the potential human assimilation. Although newcomers will be lost in space as CONSPIRATOR is a direct sequel to DELIVERER, which in turn is a direct sequel to PRETENDER, etc., once again C.J. Cherryh provides an interesting tale of a human living in an alien culture; however, the additional spin of the impact on an Atevi youth having lived in a human culture for a couple of years refreshes the saga.
The Magicians' Daughter
The wicked Wizard Fornoch turns his attention from destroying his former student the magician Reiffen and his enemy's mage wife Ferris to their ten years old offspring Hubley. At least that is what Reiffen believes the last wizard, who once abducted him, (see REIFFEN'S CHOICE) plans. Reiffen turns so obsessive in his efforts to keep his daughter safe, he drives his spouse and child crazy while they wonder if he is going mad with his paranoid fixation.
However, his over protection leads to a frustrated Hubley suddenly finding her magical skills. Still she, her mom, her father's friend Avender, and others try to keep her safe from the evil Fornoch and even more so from her insane phobic father. Avender has his own issues as he loves the queen who is married to a close friend. All this preoccupation is going on while the manderstone expands in Issinlough.
The premise of Reiffen losing his mind is a terrific concept as heroes never mentally fall apart, but the story line feels somewhat padded especially with a bittersweet romantic triangular subplot. The Stoneways fantasy has moved on with the next generation title character playing a major role (and not as her increasingly demented father's fear for her - keep in mind the paranoid can sometimes be right). Fans of the saga will enjoy the finish that started as a coming of age thriller (REIFFEN'S CHOICE) became a morality drama (QUEEN FERRIS) and ends with a psychological save the world thriller.
The Empress Of Mars
After terraforming a moon colony into a mega profit, the British based Aerean Company has done likewise on Mars. However, unlike the great success on the moon, the Martian project has run into financial trouble as the profits have not been anywhere near the projections. Unable to retain the current workforce, Aerean downsizes many of the colonists, who have no alternatives once they are terminated.
Those unemployed must create work like Mary Griffith did as owner and brew-master of the only bar on the forth planet from the sun, The Empress of Mars. Others do likewise as Cochevelou forms an agricultural cooperative and Crosley establishes a casino-dental clinic. Others residing in the Martian Motel must find work as life on the aptly named Angry Red Planet for those discarded by the company is to generate a profit making cottage industry or die; Darwin is proving to be right as most of the stranded survivors know big business, Great Britain and mega religion except perhaps to the Ephesian Goddess worshippers are irrelevant.
With the Company taking a needed R&R, Kage Baker provides an intriguing look at a cast of outcasts struggling to survive, but those who do so throw away social convention (as defined by Aeran Company and Great Britain) in order to apply unconventional means. Rebellion seems impossible as the fired employees have no major market to buy weapons (this is not the Mexican cartels crossing into the United States and ironically applying their second amendment rights). The prime players have differing personalities yet share in common courage to make it; their mantra ought to be if I can make it on Mars I can make it anywhere even Manhattan. With a vast history hinted at like Luna terraforming and Great Britain winning the space race, fans will enjoy toasting these unlikely champions with a beer at the Empress of Mars.
In 1750 in Bedfordshire, England, in Lord Drummand's garden Comtesse Rosemarie Edenberg kills an evil ogre, who has been dining on servants. However, she did not expect the late culprit Sir Walter Pithwater to have other members of his ogre tribe to arrive. Vampire Lord Gareth Barrows assists her in killing the ogres. The winners enjoy a post game tryst.
Rosemarie's Fey de la Nuit partner and advisor for the past century (ever since she was rudely awakened without the necessary happily ever after kiss before completing her hundred year nap) is fey Ambrose Minuit. He is outraged that she is seeing the rakish Gareth. However, as the two males compete for Rosemarie's love, she begins to see the world differently as if her rose colored glasses were removed. Before she can explore her new wisdom, Rosemarie and her Fey de la Nuit group must learn why the ogres after behaving the same stupid way for a century have changed their patterns radically.
This is a wild spin to Sleeping Beauty that turns the classic fairy tale into a historical urban fantasy. Rosemarie is an interesting protagonist as a female soldier in the ogre wars who a bit grumpily (her nap was interrupted not in the fairy tale way) has always followed orders until Gareth enters her life to introduce her to the more pleasing adventures of sex. Fans will want to follow the escapades of Annaliese Evans' not so Sleeping Beauty as the heroine balances the two hunks who each pull an arm of hers making a wish that she belongs to him.
Some Girls Bite
At a time when vampires have come out of the closet to announce they are real and twelve vampire houses in the States exist, a rogue attacked University of Chicago graduate student Merit ripping her throat. She knows she is fortunate to be alive (no pun intended); her life is saved by the Cadogan House master vampire Ethan.
Four centuries as the "Lord o' the Manor" has Ethan expecting the fledgling to grovel in gratitude. However, the feisty Merit is not only upset she had no choice and still irate over the assault, bowing goes against her personality especially since she can no longer sunbathe. As she adjusts to her new nocturnal existence, Merit finds she loves the nightlife until she realizes her undead life is threatened by an evil vampire who is killing girls and has unfinished business with the one who got away.
With a sardonic light chick lit first person narration that ironically contrasts the true danger facing Merit, Chloe Neill provides her readers with an enjoyable urban fantasy. Loyalty and respect are big issues between Ethan who expects total reverence without regard and Merit who claims you earn both with deeds and not just a birthright passage. Fans will relish this strong opening entry as Chloe continually surprises her "sire" with her behavior even as danger stalks her.
In the Dallas suburb Oak Cliff, chief editor of the e-zine ultra popular Heat, Leah Reece covers the hip 69 Club that caters to any cravings of affluent swingers. While in the club, she meets the owners' bodyguard, Quin Perez, who admits he enjoys her column especially her imagination. She modestly gives credit to everyone else, but he cuts her off saying he reads her column not the magazine.
Both are attracted to one another, a feeling neither wants. He understands the need to focus on his job and not a sexy editor; she understands the need to focus on her job and not a sexy bodyguard. However, unable to ignore the heat, they begin to fall in love, but end up working together under the covers and undercover as they investigate a sex auction.
The sequel to the police procedural erotic romance BAD GIRL is an intriguing erotic romantic investigative thriller. Sandy the voyeur and Zeke the cop, co-stars of the previous Dallas area tale, introduce Leah to Quin before they take off on their own escapades and sexcapades. Readers will enjoy the heat of Leah and Quin, which can intrude on the crime caper inquiry, but is fun to read as they discuss the "Adventures of Letterman" (nod to the Electric Company) whether a tattoo letter "P" should add one more diagonal line to it.
The Lost Hours
The riding accident that almost killed her and left her parents' dead mentally buried Piper Mills as her dream of riding in the Olympics was crushed that day. Though she mostly ran from her major disappointment and fantasized re her the deaths of her parents, she never fully moved on.
Following the recent death of her beloved grandfather, she inherits the farm; her grandmother died earlier in a nursing home having suffered from Alzheimer's. Strange notes from her grandma via their lawyer Mr. Morton remind Piper that as a preadolescent twelve years ago she buried a box in the garden with her grandfather. She digs up the box that contains stuff belonging to her grandma like a 1920-1930s journal, newspaper article about a dead infant, and a necklace with a charming story of its own. She begins to seek out those still alive mentioned in the journal to learn who her grandmother was.
This is an interesting look at family as Piper is elated to learn her grandma's story while alos feeling a bit remorseful she made no efforts to do so when her grandma lived; in fairness she was too young to appreciate mortality. The story line is character driven as Piper learns the meaning of forgiving (including herself) from the journal and her grandma's friends who are still living. Readers will enjoy this deep Savannah River family drama.
In 2016 in Barcelona, the religious fanatics still hold four hostages snatched several years ago. USAF Captain Lily Brooke, British military officer Piers Michaelmas, NASA scientist Gary Boyle; and Helen Gray are losing hope of ever regaining their freedom, but each vows to help one another through the ordeal and if they ever become liberated afterward. Affluent Brit AxysCorp security CEO Nathan Lammockson pulls off the impossible by rescuing the foursome after they were held for several years.
However, during their captivity, the world has radically changed as the water levels have reached pandemic flooding leaving whole countries beneath the sea and high points as exclusive property for those who can afford it and security. In a desperate gambit as he expects the entire land masses to go under the water, Nathan has moved his operation to the high Andes Inca capital of Cuzco where he has hired experts to build a new Queen Mary, he dubs Ark 3. He chooses who lives and who dies. In four decades, the ocean average depth above sea level rises exponentially as flood walls costly are overwhelmed. Nathan's dream of Britannia ruling the waves again may happen, but outside of Ark 3 there may not be a human alive much longer as the end is near.
Obvious extrapolation of global warming and a theory on the mantle containing more water than the crust and with a nod to Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, FLOOD is an exhilarating rapidly rising cautionary science fiction thriller. The section titles tell much of what is happening as the mean sea level of 1.5 meters in 2010 rises to 1800-8800 meters above sea level between 2041 and 2052. The cast is solid with an ensemble of many more critical players than the five above. Though somewhat repetitive as cities and countries constantly drown, Stephen Baxter hooks his audience with his no hope for humanity tale; as the bible turns out to be a false prophet re the pledge to Noah never again by sea.
Magic in the Blood
Magic is locked into a series of pipes made of metal and glass kept underground making it easy for a practitioner to tap into. Allison Beckstrom is a Hound, who can trace a spell back to its creator. Every time she does this, she pays an exorbitant price with migraines, fevers and head colds as well as some memory loss because magic charges quite a personal cost.
Following a difficult case, Allison falls into a coma. When she awakens she has suffered a major memory loss especially involving Zayvion the man she loves. On a bus, she meets Lon Trager, a man she helped put in jail. He uses blood magic and steals her blood which results in binding her to him. He wants her to bring Martin Pike, whose granddaughter she saved from Trager to him if Allison wishes to live. While seeking a way out of her predicament, there are those who want to use her also; especially an organization she previously was unaware existed. Allison better learn what is going on and how to extract herself from the growing messes she finds herself in if she is to live.
Devon Monk is a fantasist fans need to keep on the look out for because the author's books are superb. MAGIC IN THE BLOOD is a highly original fresh tale, starring strong characters, especially the lead, who makes this world feel real. The protagonist is independent and obstinate to the point that migraines, memory loss, and more powerful nastier people do not prevent her from acting; albeit placing her in danger. The sequel to MAGIC TO THE BONE is a fantastic urban fantasy.
In Minhorne, Tercelle Amberley arrives at the home of Darkborn mages Dr. Balthasar and Lady Telmaine Hearne to beg a favor. They are reluctant to assist Tercelle, who used to be engaged to his missing brother, but her connection as the fiancee of ducal heir Ferdenzil Mycene gives them no choice.
Tercelle explains she is carrying the illegitimate offspring of a Lightborn father shocking her Hearne hosts; as they know the curse makes Darkborn shun the light and the Lightborn shun the dark so they never mix. Bal helps her give birth to twin boys, who shockingly can sees as Nightborn are always blind. Almost immediately afterward Tercelle flees leaving her offspring behind. Thugs arrive demanding the infants be handed to them; Telmaine takes off the gloves to keep her beloved safe from a third ancient enemy of both races.
This is an intriguing romantic fantasy in which readers will believe in the curse that has split the residents of Minhorne into two distinct groups that are supposedly unable to mingle; thus the story line contains a fascinating underlying mystery. The aristocratic Hearne couple is a strong pairing as their relationship evolves with the changing threat. Although more insight into the origins of the curse would have been appreciated as the paranormal blight is just there, but with so much influence on society, fans will relish a visit to the divided city of Minhorne.
Class and Race in the Frontier Army: Military Life in the West, 1870-1880
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, Oklamoma73069
9780806139814 $34.95 800-627-7377 www.oupress.com
I am always impressed to learn that officers live in relative opulence, while the enlisted man suffered abuse, poverty and neglect. Some things never change.
Professor Adams has done his research. The bibliography is impressive. His use of old diaries, letters and military records gives solid grounding for his tilt in the makeup of the Frontier army from ethnicity to class. Adams reads easily!
"Class and Race in the Frontier Army" is the best treatment of the Frontier army since that great tome, "Forty Miles a Day on Beans and Hay," John Rickey, Jr., University of Oklahoma Press, 1963.
Not Without Honor: the Nazi Pow Journal of Steve Carano
Edited by Kay Sloan With Accounts by John C. Bitzer and Bill Blackmon
University of Arkansas Press
159 Pages including diary and narratives of Steve Carano, John C. Bitzer and Bill Blackmon and bibliography
Thanks to the University of Arkansas Press for remembering the service of our men and women in World War II.
32,730 Army Air Force personnel were shot out of the skies of Europe from 1942 to 1945. Some completed their tour of duty in a Nazi POW compound. "Not Without Honor" gives us an up close and personal look at three of those men, Steve Carano, John Bitzer and Bill Blackmon, prisoners of war in Stalag number 17/B, deep in Germany.
They all kept log books, issued by the Red Cross and distributed through the YMCA. Some kept day-to-day journals of their incarceration; some drew pictures of their barracks mates, while others dreamed of freedom and home. The log books helped pass time which seemed to pass slowly.
These men lost their freedom, but gained insight and learned how to survive. They are certainly not without honor.
Fighting Admirals of World War II
Naval Institute Press
219 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402-5034
9781591142690 $39.95 www.navalinstitute.org 800-233-8764
David Wragg, lives in Edinburgh Scotland, author of several World War II naval histories gives us in "Fighting Admirals" a brief and able overview of all the major naval campaigns of the Second World War and biographies of the key naval commanders from the US, the Royal Navy of Great Britain, the Royal Netherlands Navy, and the French Navy, and the German, Italian and Japanese Navy.
The biographies are concise and accurate, covering the careers of Admirals Fletcher, Halsey, King, Nimitz and Spruance from the U. S. Navy and Admirals Pound, Ramsey, Cunningham, Horton, and Somerville from Great Britain. Representing the Axis are three German commanders, Raeder, Doenitz and Lutjens while representing the Japanese Navy are Admirals Yamamato, Nagumo and Koga, and two French Admirals, Darlan and de la Borde.
(Things not noticed by Spell Check… This fine World War II book is marred by several printing errors, picky, picky, like page 152. "On 7 December 1940, the day of the attack on the U. S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor…)
But enough! David Wragg turns a fine phrase, and writes an interesting history. I look forward to his next.
Jack Hinson's One-man War: a Civil War Sniper
Tom Chase McKenney
Pelican Publishing Company, Inc.
1000 Burmaster Street, Gretna, Louisiana 70053-2246
Katie Szadziewicz (promotion)
9781589806405 $25.95 504-368-1175 ext.331
This is a landmark book about the Civil War in Tennessee and certainly a complete biography of one Jack Hinson, farmer, father, fighter, friend and one man army with a specially made rifle, to atone for the deaths of his sons by Union occupation troops on his land. This is when the war became personal to Jack Hinson.
Author and researcher Tom C. McKenney has raised the bar on this biography and has succeeded in telling a hell of a story about the passing of an era. There are a host of characters, Rebel and Union, friends at war, passing through the State of Tennessee.
McKenney, a retired infantry officer and parachutist in the United States Marine Corps, and veteran of the Korean conflict and the war in Viet Nam knows how to write about combat. Make no bones about it; this is a fine product of the Pelican publishing people.
The Second Tour
Terry P. Rizzuti
22 Vestry Road, Co. Down BT23 6HJ, UK
9781906755010 $9.00 www.spinetinglerspublishingcom
This is truth masquerading as fiction. Viet Nam is the scene. The players are members of Second Battalion of the 26th Marine Regiment. "The Second Tour" is that period time between two realities, the then and the now. The secret is to find a way to accept one reality and live with another. Mr. Rizzuti has described his time in Viet Nam very accurately. It's one hell of a story. I hope he has worked over his First Tour and has it behind him. It is a heavy burden to carry alone. Welcome home!
Faithful Warriors: a Combat Marine Remembers the Pacific War
Lt. Col. Dean K. Ladd, Usmcr (Ret.) And Steven Winegartner
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402
9781591144526 $29.95 www.nip.org
If you are fascinated by personal narratives from World War II, you had better put on the coffee pot, and settle down to one hell of read covering the Guadalcanal Campaign and landings at Tarawa, Saipan and Tinian islands in the battle for the Pacific Theater.
Dean Ladd was a young enlistee in the Marine Corps at the onset of .World War II. Commissioned on the battlefield, he fought as a junior officer though out the war. Ladd served in the Marine Corps Reserve following the war, rising to the rank of Lt. Colonel.
In a thoughtful 21 page retrospective, Ladd reports on visits to the former battlegrounds, often with old mates and old enemies. Like old veterans of the Iron Brigade at Gettysburg or the Doughboys in Mousse Argon in World War l, these veterans share one thing in common; they lived through the ordeal of war and remembered the battles all the days of their lives
What we have left from these adventures are the personal narratives which will live as long as the printed word survives. Long live Colonel Ladd, and long live the Naval Institute Press, massage carriers of long ago days.
Richard N. Larsen
The Second Kingdom
9781933688138 $4.95 e-book download www.cantarabooks.com
Ron Singer's stories, essays, and interviews have appeared in literary journals, anthologies, and reviews too numerous to list in a review. His work here is often humorous, laced with irony, focusing on a diversity of human frailties. I found most interesting and intriguing the fact that his voice as a wordsmith changes effectively in each story.
"The Changing Woman Health Conference" is a delightful tale featuring a middle-aged Navajo woman braving college for the first time. Her life has been hard, but tough times have not dimmed her zeal for living and learning. The notice of a diabetes health conference posted on the college bulletin board grabs her interest. How will the conference presenters tie in diabetes information with the Navajo deity akin to Mother Nature, Changing Woman? The humorous heroine shares her thoughts on health, religion, and life with panache.
"The Key" introduces readers to the perils of international travel post 9/11. Dave and Judy are American tourists who inadvertently bring their Turkish hotel room key card home with them to the States. They loved their time in Turkey, embraced the people and customs, and established a friendly relationship with the hotel manager. Being responsible and considerate opens a huge can of worms for Dave, Judy, and the friendly manager. Soon, the Dept. of Homeland Security pays a call to the American couple, and the Turkish National Intelligence Organization investigates the hotel manager. The investigations and interrogations are frightening at first, but have humorous results when Dave, Judy, and their Turkish friends resolve the issue to their benefit. There's more than one way to foil a baseless investigation!
"The Parents We Deserve" is a modern parable, a cautionary tale in several parts based on Dante's Inferno. Ron Singer has fun with this one, and takes readers along for a wild ride. Paul and Paula are spoiled yuppies accustomed to living well, wallowing in materialism, and spending beyond their means. When both sets of parents die, they hunt for replacements who will continue to spoil them rotten and indulge their every whim. They hire Myron and Myra, providing perks and benefits to make such service worth the elder couple's time and effort. When their parental surrogates die, Paul and Paula are lost. The economic downturn has taken their jobs and preferred lifestyle. They decide to end it all and join all sets of parents in Heaven. Heaven isn't ready for this manipulative couple or their surrogate parents as both couples try to modify the new environment to suit their needs. Paul, Paula, Myron and Myra get sent to Purgatory to regroup and refocus their attitudes. Purgatory is not what they expected, either, so they make a deal with the Devil to reclaim their life on Earth. They end up in a scruffy, cramped, airless condo in Florida, driving a cheap car, poor and in failing health. I guess nobody warned them to read the fine print in any contract with the Devil.
Ron Singer's imaginative story telling is a joy. His stories are unique, so be prepared to be surprised and enchanted by his characters and unusual plots.
Marine Robert Warden
Bellowing Ark Press
P.O. Box 55564, Shoreline WA 98155
The poetry of Marine Robert Warden has been featured in so many journals and anthologies I don't have space to mention them all. The hallmark of his work is often beauty. He sees beauty in people and places, in the continuum of time and space, in life's mysteries, and brings those wonders to life through poetic thoughts for readers to share. Here, Warden remembers the beauties of youth, love, family, wildlife, wild or exotic places, and much more. All people, places, times, and seasons have their perfections in Warden's eyes, and his publisher shares that philosophy. The result is the ideal pairing - poet and publisher - and an exceptional reading experience for poetry lovers everywhere.
These excerpts from "My Father In Law Remembers the Argonne, September 1918" stayed with me, took me back to a time when war was not a daily TV news brief, to a time when unworldly innocence was the norm and not the exception:
it helps to be mad
to hear voices
to remember the men who crossed the field
and fell in rows like corn after hail
to look at photos of the dead rows
their faces are all beardless and innocent…
"On My Fifty-third Birthday" is a contemplation of present, past, and future, the changing and the unchanged. In this excerpt, Warden's eyes are on the skies:
the moon still talks
the vast machinery of stars
whispers a song in the night
"Mesa Verde" is a testament to what was, is, and will always be as long as man remembers. The haunting sense of deja vu here intrigued me:
they were here
men and women whose hands
touched stones like we do
you can hear them breathing
in the cedar canyons
the rising wind of their chants
from the sacred kivas
a ruin is more than a pile of stones
Life's continuum is a dance in Warden's memory. Forward and back, the mind travels. Some questions are answered, others remain mysteries. In "Two Steps Forward" the poet shares his visions. I chose my favorite excerpt for readers to consider:
all his life he had thought about God
not the God in the churches but the One
that Geronimo had spoken of on his way to exile
the God of all people and races
he himself had searched for this God
in science and mathematics and medicine
but it was all still a mystery
locked inside billions of galaxies…
Marine Robert Warden gives readers hope in this chaotic time. Time and space continue to follow a predetermined path. Love flourishes in battered hearts. Nature's power remains unconquered. Beauty lives, if only we allow our eyes to see it. This is a message we all need. Highly recommended.
Faces From The Land: Twenty Years of Powwow Tradition
Ben and Linda Marra
Harry N. Abrams
115 West 18th St., New York, NY 10011
9780810983359 $30.00 www.abramsbooks.com
"Faces From the Land: Twenty Years of Powwow Tradition" is a stunning, full color, photographic essay collection of North American Indian powwow dancers in full ceremonial dress. Photographic documentary team members Ben and Linda Marra compiled formal photographs and personal stories of dancers at powwows across North America since 1988. At each ceremonial event, photographer Ben Marra sets up a temporary studio and invites dancers to be photographed while Linda records the individual's story of the costume and regalia and the dance celebrated, as well as some personal history. Family, heritage, tribal traditions and customs, all are reflected and woven in to each narrative with pride. The result is over 173 pages of beautiful portraits and narratives. In addition to spectacle and color, a great deal of sacrifice is included and honored in each dancer's appearance. Many friends and family have labored many hours to create the full effect of each complete costume. In fact the costumed dancers are sacred representations of ancestral dreams and traditions or connections. Thus the photographs of both the dancers and the dance are documentaries of spirit and spiritual awareness. It takes a fine degree of sensitivity to even begin this daunting task. There is an underlying tone of reverence that permeates the documentary. It is haunting, and beautiful, warm and very human. "Faces From the Land" is a collection that transcends art and cultural or individual history. It's central offering enriches our awareness of human spirituality and life. It is a magnificent offering.
Term Paper Resource Guide To American Indian History
Patrick Russell LeBeau
Greenwood Press, an Imprint of ABC-CLIO
130 Cremona Drive, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116
9780313352713, $65.00 www.greenwood.com
The "Term Paper Resource Guide to American Indian History," by Patrick LeBeau, is a concise listing of 100 of " the most significant topics in American Indian history from first contact to recent years." The ultimate goal is "to have those topics serve as signposts to point and lead students to a greater and richer knowledge of the story of American Indians rather than to tell the complete story." Because there are over 550 federally recognized American Indian tribes living in the United States as of 2008, the limiting of topics to 100 was daunting but crucial. The guide is meant to be used by high school or undergraduate students writing term papers on Native American issues and history. Each separate selection in the guide contains an event title, narrative summary, term paper suggestions, and alternative paper suggestions, followed by primary, secondary, World Wide Web, and multimedia sources. Brief descriptions of the four categories of source materials catalogued in the introduction to be helpful. There is an emphasis on use of on-line and other resources to present and investigate a Native American viewpoint.
The topic suggestions are arranged chronologically, in so far as is possible. The topic summaries are brief and to the point, inviting further excavation by the student. "The Term Paper Resource Guide to American Indian History" is both a scholarly assistance work and a thumbnail sketch of Post -Colonial American Indian history. It makes no claims of being comprehensive, but rather achieves its aim of providing key jumping off spots in the complex tangle of different American Indian tribal history narratives.
Reincarnation Beliefs of North American Indians
Soul Journeys, Metamorphoses, and Near-Death Experiences
Native Voices (Book Publishing Co.)
P.O. Box 99, Summertown, TN 38483
9781570672125 $15.95 email@example.com
"Reincarnation Beliefs of North American Indians" by Warren Jefferson presents a fascinating assortment of meticulously documented spiritual legends, beliefs, stories and experiences of near death, soul travel, metamorphosis, and reincarnation held by different North American Indians. These stories and examples are taken from primary sources of information, anthropological records, and traditional belief origins. Jefferson asserts that such beliefs have much of value to offer today because of their purity of pre-existence, or pre-modern religious insight capacity. Accounts include a Hopi story of A Journey to the Skeleton House, Ohiyesa's (Charles Eastman's) story, the Ghost Dance Religion of the Lakota, the Gitxan Reincarnation Case of Rhonda Mead, and many more. Authentic, historic, sepia or black and white photographs of North American Indians are interspersed lavishly throughout the chapters. A list of references and resources is indexed at the end of the book. Altogether,"Reincarnation Beliefs of North American Indians" presents a new compilation of ancient knowledge that is most precious to modern humans, for it is key to the ever recurring questions, "Why are we here? Where did we come from? Where do we go when we die (p. 191)?"
Yellowstone Treasures, The Traveler's Companion to the National Park
Updated Third Edition
Granite Peak Publications (distributed by Independent Publishers' Group)
1542 San Antonio Avenue, Menlo Park, CA 94025-3129
9780970687333 $23.95 http://www.yellowstonetreasures.com
"Yellowstone Treasures: The Traveler's Companion to the National Park" by Janet Chapple is a magnificent catalogued resource to the full enjoyment of a huge national park and area known as Yellowstone. The author has extensive knowledge and experience in exploring the beauties of the area. She says, "I hiked on all the trails I recommend, some of them several times... they are ways to get away from crowds and enjoy the Yellowstone that not everyone sees." Also contributing to the geological history chapter as well as the many informative geological sidebars of "Yellowstone Treasures" is Bruno Giletti, Professor Emeritus of Geological Sciences at Brown University, and also Chapple's spouse. "Yellowstone Treasures" is divided into road logs and destinations by six sections: the Northwest Section (containing the famous geyser Old Faithful), the Bechler region, the Southern Section, the Eastern Section, the Northeastern Section, and the Northern Section. Each chapter has large and clearly illustrated colored maps, as well as copious color photographs of stunning sites. In addition there follows follow chapters on Natural and Human History in Yellowstone, with a Chronology of Yellowstone since 1800, and Living Things: a Yellowstone Sampler. Chapple helps the reader contemplate the enormous task of navigating the logistics of the park, a staggeringly huge area, by recommending 58 short walks, listing facilities in Yellowstone, campgrounds, and recommended Yellowstone books and maps.
Altogether, Yellowstone Treasures fills an ongoing need for new generations of park explorers and appreciators. She has spent much of her life becoming better acquainted with the riches of the area and she is generously sharing her knowledge with this beautiful guidebook. It is not to be missed.
Dyval: Hell Unleashed
38964 Webb Court, Westland, MI 48185-7606
9781574571653, $24.95, www.amazon.com
The eleventh volume in Palladium Books outstanding 'Rifts Dimension' series of role-play gaming books, "Dyval: Hell Unleashed" by Carl Gleba is a compendium of illustrated information about Dyval, a realm with multiple dimensions known as the planes of Hell. Each of the Seven Layers of Dyvalian hell are mapped and described in detail. Included are descriptions of their inhabitants including Deevils of all descriptions, Deevil hosts, war steeds, chrysteel weapons, soul gems, skin armor, and so much more. Enhanced with encounter tables and adventure ideas, as well as statistics and conversion notes, "Dyval: Hell Unleashed" is a 'stand alone' source book that will enable gamers to immerse themselves in a Minion War as Hades invades Dyval Prime with the goal of dimensional conquest and the subjugation of the Deevils of Dyval. "Dyval: Hell Unleashed" is a welcome and highly recommended addition to role-gaming enthusiasts' reference and source book collections.
Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc.
P.O. Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007
9780313349874, $85.00, www.greenwood.com
Little recognized by the general public, but well known to professionals in the botanical and zoological sciences, we are in the midst of one of the world's great extinction events with animal and plant species dying out due primarily to human activities. Nicely illustrated by Renata Cunha and Phil Miller, "Extinct Animals: An Encyclopedia Of Species That Have Disappeared During Human History" is a compendium of just such animal species as compiled by zoologist, independent researcher and natural history enthusiast Ross Piper. Organized chronologically into seven sections beginning with 'Fewer Than 100 Years Ago' to 'More Than 50,000 Years Ago', each of these individual chapters list now extinct species that ranging from the better known Passenger Pigeon, Great Auk, and Dodo, to the more obscure Horned Turtle, Australian Thunderbird, and Megatooth Shark. Of special interest is the information presented concerning the extinction of the Neanderthal and Homo Erectus (two competing hominid species that having survived for millions of years became extinct within a millennia of encounter Homo Sapiens -- us -- between 10,000 and 12,500 years ago). Enhanced with the inclusion of a Glossary; a Selected Bibliography, a listing of Selected Museums in the United States, Canada, and Worldwide; and an Index, "Extinct Animals" is a remarkable and highly recommended work of scholarship that is fully accessible to the non-specialist general reader, as well as academia.
The Entrepreneur's Guide To Raising Capital
c/o Greenwood Publishing Group
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
9780313356025, $39.95, www.praeger.com
Never was a 'how to' book on raising venture capital so timely as David Nour's "The Entrepreneur's Guide To Raising Capital". The latest addition to the outstanding 'Entrepreneur's Guide' series from Praeger Publishers, "The Entrepreneur's Guide To Raising Capital" is specifically organized and designed to provide aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners with the informational tools necessary to successfully attract financing to launch and/or expand a business enterprise of any kind or category. Author David Nour (founder of Relationship Economics and managing partner of The Nour Group Inc.) draws upon his many years of professional experience and expertise to show how to create a credible financing request; select the ideal funding source; identify and avoid 'capital source' risks; plan for the right kind of financing throughout the life of the company; and get the consistently highest possible returns from capital investment. Of special note is the practical advice on avoiding the most common mistakes entrepreneurs tend to make when engaged in raising capital investments for their enterprises. Enhanced with the inclusion to two appendices ('The Ultimate Resource Library' and 'Google's S-1 Filing'), and an exhaustive index, "The Entrepreneur's Guide To Raising Capital" is an invaluable and enthusiastically recommended addition to personal, professional, academic, and community library Business Resource reference collections and reading lists.
The Resqueth Revolution
Mark H. Phillips
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440109539, $20.95, www.iuniverse.com
Sometimes the true enemy isn't known until it's too late. "The Resqueth Revolution" is the tale of Steve Marks, a man who has recently lost his credibility as a physicist. When monsters begin crossing into this dimension, he fears he must be the one to stop them; but it seems the monsters have allied with the one power that could stop them through force - the U.S. Military. Steve must find a way to overcome his own weaknesses to somehow save himself, his love, and his world. "The Resqueth Revolution" is a sci-fi novel based on personal change, highly recommended.
Josi S. Kilpack
Deseret Book, Deseretbook.com
Josi S. Kilpack hails from Salt Lake City, where she was born and raised. She is a baker; traveler; canner; and has a deep faith. She won the Whitney Award in 2007 in the mystery/suspense category for her book SHEEP'S CLOTHING. LEMON TART is her ninth published mystery.
Sadie Hoffmiller is a culinary virtuoso. She lives in a tight community with her brother, Jack, living beyond the black walnut tree that gives both homes a degree of privacy. But Sadie is well known in her community, and she also has a deep, abiding interest in the "goings on" around her. So when another neighbor, Anne Lemmon, is found murdered and her son, Trevor, has turned up missing, Sadie goes into action. The police try in vain to stop her, and one particular officer, who has recently transferred into their town, seems particularly hostile. And, he is well connected:
"'The name Madsen - doesn't it ring a bell?'
Sadie thought hard. Madsen - Marlene Madsen had been a girl in Sadie's graduating class, but Sadie didn't think that's what Susan meant.
'Think upper levels of the Colorado state judicial system,' Susan prodded, a half smile showing her amusement.
Sadie's eyebrows went up. 'Madsen as in Barney Madsen, attorney general of Colorado?'
'Bingo,' Susan said, leaning forward across the desk with a glint in her eye that Sadie knew too well - gossip was on its way. 'Barney Madsen has one son - Sterling.' She said 'Sterling' as if she were a serpent, elongating the S and letting the rest of the name seep out from between her teeth. 'He was a second-year cop in downtown Denver, maybe you remember how our distinguished AG made a big deal about his son finding the criminals and Barney prosecuting them.'"
LEMON TART is an enjoyable mystery with a well hidden culprit and an unlikely heroine in Sadie Hoffmiller. She comes off as everyone's grandmother, but Kilpack endows Sadie with logical hidden talents that come in handy at just the right moment.
LEMON TART contains great recipes the reader will enjoy as much as the creative plot.
Out of Tune
Lorie Ham is a professional gospel singer and mystery author. She's had an interesting life as part of a family gospel touring act which had exposure on television and radio. She is well versed with what "living on the road" means, and incorporates it into her mystery writing.
Alexandra Walters, an alter-ego of Lorie Ham, has been rebuilding her life after her divorce and her last mystery. She lives with her little girl in a fair sized house with a couple of boarders. Her family is close, except for Grandmother Edna Harms, who has summoned the family for a memorial service for her husband, who ostensibly died in Africa. Edna is a negative and abusive woman, and the family tries to tread lightly. But accidents begin to happen, and Alex is pulled into yet another investigation. Her current boyfriend, a handsome private detective, is vying for her hand in marriage. But there is a cop with an expressive moustache who keeps turning up:
""Because this wasn't how I wanted our lunch to go. Shoot, I didn't even want it to be lunch, I wanted it to be dinner, but sometimes this stupid job just makes a personal life impossible.'
I searched his eyes for the answer I wanted. 'Personal Life?'
'Yes, usually a date is considered personal.'
He stepped back like I had slapped him. 'You thought this was just business? What a fool I am. You're that PI's girl. I should have known better. It's just, well, the way you look at him.'"
Ms. Ham concocts a sweet and sophisticated whodunit, tinged with the angst of "having to choose,'" Alexandra Walters is a straightforward sleuth who seems quite good at tracking down murderers and loving her little girl. She is a likable heroine who is wrapped in the cocoon of her family, which isn't always a good thing. Her faith and her common decency shine through in this religious-tinged whodunit. Lorie Ham makes the reader feel as if we are all in this life together as she pulls together the various threads of her life to create a tangible direction. Characterization is well defined, and Ms. Ham includes plenty of action. All in all, a very good read.
The Judas Window
Rue Morgue Press
87 Lone Tree Lane, Lyons, CO 80540
The "Locked Box" mystery genre confounded mystery lovers for generations, and Carter Dickson was a master of the craft. For more than forty years Mr. Dickson delighted readers with the magician-like plots. Beginning in 1930, Dickson Carr, aka Carter Dickson began his run with IT WALKS BY NIGHT, followed by HAG'S NOOK in 1933. Dickson trotted out Sir Henry Merrivale in THE PLAGUE COURT MURDERS a year later. Merrivale, or H.M., is sleuth with a medical degree and a law degree. He also holds one of the oldest baronetcies in England. He is a socialist, which is intended to be amusing. Carr himself was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania on November 30, 1906. He graduated from Haverford College in Pennsylvania, but resisted his family's desire that he attend law school. He also wrote a biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame.
Young James Answell makes a trip to London to meet his future father-in-law, who greets him well enough, if not exactly enthusiastically. They meet in a room with locked windows; a collection of arrows on the wall; and a sideboard with a decanter of whiskey. Answell has a drink, passes out from an unknown mickey in his drink; and when he comes to his host has been murdered. Enter H.M. Merrivale, barrister extraordinaire. Even as the prosecution smugly presents an apparently unassailable case, Merrivale is working to discover actual events from the night of the murder:
"'Me lord; members of the jury. You're probably wonderin' what sort of defense we're here to offer. Well, I'll tell you,' said H.M. magnanimously.
'First of all, we'll try to show that not one single one of the statements made by the prosecution could possibly be true.'
Sir Walter Storm rose with a dry cough.
'My lord, the assertion is so breathtaking that I should like to be quite clear about it,' he said. 'I presume my learned friend does not deny that the deceased is dead?'"
If THE JUDAS WINDOW, number eleven of thirty-one H.M. Merrivale mysteries, is any indication, hopefully the Rue Morgue Press will republish more. For mystery lovers who enjoy not only a great whodunit, but a clever howdunit, Carter Dickson rocks.
Southern Fried Trouble
Highland Press Publishing
PO Box 2292, High Springs, FL 32655
Katherine Deauxville is a romance writer with 30 published novels to her credit. The bestselling A CHRISTMAS ROMANCE was featured in Good Housekeeping magazine and was produced as a CBS Sunday Night Movie starring Olivia Newton-John and Gregory Harrison. She is consistently on the bestseller list. Highland Press Publishing is new to the publishing scene and will specialize in novel length romances.
One of the entertaining aspects of romance novels is the settings of the characters. As in the hit series, DALLAS, Deauxville plants her characters in Florida, as twin investigators. Well, at least Ace Hannaford is a PI. His twin, Deecey, helps him out from time-to-time, which in this case means she is climbing through bushes with a large camera to get shots of an errant billionaire in a flagrant position with his newest escapade. Deecey then has an improbable encounter with a Russian actor, who is later found drowned. In the meantime, Senator Hannaford decides to throw a pubic relations party, and commands Deecey to act as the hostess. Throw in Deecey's handsome boyfriend, Troy Whitfield; a pet croc at the Senator's; a band of gypsies; and continuous mayhem, a little ESP, and you've got a Katherine Deauxville sparkler:
"Mrs. Harris had already told Ace the family had another pressing problem. Her granddaughter, Nita, was sure she was being shadowed when she delivered the weekly cash from the palmistry parlor to Uncle Drogo, the Gypsies' treasurer, who lived in Bonita Springs and owned a safe. Nita made the trip every Thursday because the Harrises, like most Gypsies, didn't believe in keeping their money in commercial banks. Uncle Drogo collected the week's take from each of the Harris family's palmistry parlor locations and kept the accounts."
Deauxville manages to keep layers of action going at the same time, as well as providing plenty of sizzling chemistry between Deecey and her beloved Troy, for the reader's entertainment. She is the priestess of guilty pleasures, and she is also able to weave a fascinating whodunit at the same time. Deecey, her brother Ace, and boyfriend Troy provide plenty of glamour, and one could easily imagine this little story being turned into another blockbuster television series. We can't get enough of these characters.
The Fein Story Behind The Pictures
The Nat Fin Collection Inc.
4 Woodward Road, West Nyack, New York 10994-2911
Growing-up in the area that the famous photographer, Nat Fein, worked in drew me to review this outstanding book by author, David Nieves. For those of you who do not know, Nat Fein, let me give you a little background on the man. Nat Fein was born in New York City in 1914. He had a talent for music, but his love was photography. Through a turn of events he secured a job for the New York Herald. His photos were not the norm, but with each one that he took he truly put thought and heart into, often using props to enhance the moment. Very ingenious. He was truly a man with exceptional talent and one who gave much to our world by way of photos.
As I turned the pages of this intriguing book I was truly lost in the images before me. Some locals were familiar which only drew me more into the viewing. However, knowing the locals or not, each photo was unique and seemed to tell an entire story without a word. I viewed them over and over again before I even read the accompanying writing. Page upon page I was spellbound as I feasted upon photo after photo of animals, events, people, that told many stories of the past without a word. Photos of the famous are among the midst, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and her dog, Fala, Jackie Kennedy, and the famous Babe Ruth, a photo you will not soon forget. Wonderful! My favorites however, were all the animal photos that were included. I absolutely loved them. I was particularly impressed with the photos of the sleeping elephants, and in some photos of elephants I could actually see the sadness and weariness in their eyes. It took my breath away at the capturing of the very soul of those animals that, Nat Fein, achieved. Wonderful job! Top all of this off with interesting stories of the man behind the photos, stories of making of a great photo, stories of the people or animals, and photos of events and people important to our history, and you come up with a book that every American should have in their home.
A true keep-sake of times, events, animals and people passed, yet not forgotten. A beautiful book, honoring, Nat Fein, and his photos that are a part of our heritage, a reminder of where we have been, and perhaps a smile at how far we have traveled. A book that will be treasured from generation to generation. Definitely a must have, a work that will be enjoyed over and over again, and I am proud to give it my highest recommendation.
Camp Creepy Time
Gina Gershon & Dann Gershon
G.P Putnam Sons
345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
To most children going to camp is an exciting time. The thought of exploring woods, toasting marshmallows and roughing it for a change with other children sounds great, but not so for Einstein, our main character in this tale. Oh no! Surely his parents just wanted to get rid of him for a while, after all he had caused them some problems in the past few months to warrant such an action. He didn't want to go, he was happy staying in his room busy on his computer, doing what he did best. However, he had to follow his parents wishes so off he went. As he boards the bus for 'Camp Creepy Time,' all of the children are dressed in costumes of monsters, that is all except, Einstein, and Einstein begins his camping experience being taunted and rebuked for not having on a costume. Great way to start a trip.
Once he arrives at his camp, which is in the middle of the Mojave Desert, he comes face to face with down-right evil counselors, who turn out to be aliens. Weird? Oh yes! How much worse can it get? Try this on for size. Poor Einstein ends up with only two 'friends' that can help him save the day, and one is a ghost, the other an alien. Can they outwit the evil counsel aliens whose plans for all the children do not include a cozy marshmallow cookout? Or will Einstein and the rest of the campers end up as the stars at an intergalactic zoo? Time will tell.
I enjoyed this read because it was different and fun. I liked Einstein as a character, yes he was a nerd, but when the chips were down he knew how to come up fighting. I also liked the other players, the bully of the group, Billy Armstrong, who ended up needing to be saved by Einstein, and all the other campers that plotted along not realizing what was happening to them or where they would end-up until it was almost too late. It was a fun read, scary and definitely creepy in some parts, but also there were a lot of giggles along the way, especially when it came to the food they had to eat given to them by Curly the Cook. Yuck! Talk about gross. And my favorite character, the terrible, Nurse Knockwurst, the nurse of fear definitely added a lot of spice to the read. What a horror. This nurse is not someone you would want to take care of you if you were ill.
I believe this book delivers exactly what you would expect. It is a story about a 'creepy' camp with everything you would expect to be there, and more, and the plot goes along with that theme nicely. The main character definitely became the hero and showed that even a 'nerd' can muster up the courage to fight for what is right. You have adventure, mystery, creepy events, creepy people, and ' creepy things,' problem solving, evil characters, friendship development, and a victorious ending. I believe young and old will enjoy this read and I'm sure there are more adventures coming our way.
10940 S. Parker Rd, Parker, Colorado 80134
Autumn Knight is a marine biologist. She works at an aquarium in Chicago. Autumn carries with her a lost love, one Cory Perkins, who ended a relationship with her that she thought was heading towards marriage. Unfortunately she also witnessed his death, or so she thought until one night at the aquarium she pulls out the body of a man who had been stabbed, only to discover it was Cory. How could this be? He was already dead, wasn't he?
This is just the beginning of a web that weaves around one intense and interesting storyline. We meet Boris, a wealthy man who is also interested in marine life and has the largest collection of unusual specimens anywhere. There is a pearl, only one in the world, that belonged to Boris, one that was stolen, and he wants it back. It seems that Cory was involved in the stealing of this pearl and now all eyes are on Autumn, whom they feel certainly must either have the pearl or knows where it is. Now her life is in danger as she tries desperately to figure out how Cory was involved and why, and who killed him.
There are many characters in this tale, from a very likeable, smart detective, Eddie, to several, suave, beautiful women in Boris's life, a humorous couple, (or are they?), a fascinating roommate of Autumn's, a young runaway girl, and a would be star named Noah, to name some. All somehow connected to the truth, if the truth is ever found. It seems one answer to a mystery just takes you to another mystery, which was a good thing.
The story takes you to Chicago and Hawaii and the author did an outstanding job in describing the locals of each. The mystery is definitely one that has layer upon layer with each character somehow playing a part and I found that each character brought a deeper depth to the story, and added quite a bit of color. Although there were a few that I was left wondering what happened to them at the end.
I enjoyed this read, it keep me going and wanting to know the final conclusion. However, it is one that you will need to give your full attention to because of the many players, but I believe it holds a very good storyline and mystery. I also learned some things about marine life, which was a plus.
All in all, a great mystery, with interesting characters and locals. A very good read.
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, Michigan
In this wonderful book you will get a great insight into your personality. The author breaks down personality types into four groups: Popular Sanguine, Perfect Melancholy, Powerful Choleric, and Peaceful Phlegmatic. Wow! That's a mouthful isn't it? Don't let those titles scare you off, this book is easy to understand and has a lot of insight.
Inside you are able to take a simple test that will help you to find out which group you belong to.
That was a lot of fun and I shared this with numerous people, we did it as a group. It was amazing how accurate it turned out to be with each person.
The author explains each personalities strengths, and weaknesses, tells what type of a parent they are, and how they are as a friend. It was amazing how accurate our results turned out.
But it doesn't stop there. Our author takes you further and helps you to know ways to better understand each personality type, work with them, and be productive one with another. The information also helps you to understand yourself.
This is a great book, easy to read, understand, and just down right enjoyable. I highly recommend it. What type are you? Find out inside this outstanding read.
Cutting Through the Knot - a novel
9780615258744 $12.95 www.lulu.com
In this world we all fight battles, not all battles are the same. Some of these battles take place on a field of blood, others take place within our very being. It is this type of battle that you will experience in this book by, Josh Greenfield.
We are taken on a journey of a man's battle against the enemy that lives inside. This young man is overcome with anxiety and compulsive behavior that begins to cause his life to unravel. It is a tale told in first person as this warrior shares his fears, triumphs, failures and victories as the war rages within him.
This story is compelling, and disturbing, fascinating and frightening, enlightening and humorous, all woven together giving you quite a snap shot of the life that is being lived. I found this story very interesting. It was perhaps the first book that laid bare the emotional rollercoaster that many in this situation ride. It is written in a way that allows you the feeling that you are actually accompanying him on this ride. It was told in a frank, yet often humorous way and the ending was fulfilling, definitely leaving you with the impression that victory was waiting. Well done.
Ralphina The Roly Poly
4500 College Boulevard, Overland Park, Kansas 66211
I don't know about you but as a child with my sisters we always loved the Roly Poly. It was always a joy to find the little creature rolling around in mom's garden on a warm summer day. We would watch them roll up in a little ball with amazement, and of course mom always told us not to hurt them, so we would sit and wait and see what they would do. These little guys gave us hours of entertainment. I was thrilled to see a book that brought to life in such a fun, interesting way.
Inside this book we meet, Ralphina, an adorable roly poly who is lonely and wants to befriend the little boy, Alec, who lives in the house by her garden home. She isn't quite sure how to get his attention and her mom gives her some advice that works. Soon Ralphina and the boy become friends and she beings to share with him her life. How interesting it is to learn facts about the roly poly and what a charming way it it is done. The illustrations are big, bold and colorful bringing the story with brilliance to the mind's eye, definitely holding your attention from page to page.
This book is more than a children's story. Through the colorful illustrations and wonderful words, the reader learns about finding a new friendship and sharing that, and learns facts about another of earth's creature that we share this world with. This is a beautiful book, one that we can all relate to, one that will touch on memories from childhood for those of us who have moved on in life, and one that we can share with our own children and grandchildren the friend who awaits them right outside in their own yard. Well done, one I am proud to recommend.
Along Came You
Illustrated by Estelle Corke
5300 Patterson Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49530
Excitement always fills the air around any couple who are about to bring a new life into the world. Often, if it is their first child, they have no idea of how their lives will change. Oh they hear of no longer being able to sleep late, or finding smudged finger prints all over their beautiful wallpapered kitchen wall. The list of negative and almost fearful comments goes on and on, often casting a shadow over the miracle of this new life. However, author, Karona Drummond in her outstanding book, "Along Came You," truly shows what a blessing a child will be.
Inside the pages of this work you will find brilliant, lifelike illustrations, boldly proclaiming through sight the words you are reading. The author does not put forth that a parents life will not change, but what she does is turn every negative into a positive. Let me give you an example of the words you will find:
Before you, my home was decorated in style.
After you, my home is decorated in love.
Before you, I read books with a thousand pages.
After you, I read your favorite book a thousand times.
In my opinion this book indeed brings to light that the presence of a child in our lives will change it. However it shows that sharing everyday existence with another is a God given joy and one to be embraced. I loved this book. I loved the illustrations and the message it left in my heart, and the memories it stirred in my spirit. For I too remember about my own children, so very long ago that:
Before you, my world was quiet. After you, there is joyful noise. (and for me that joyful noise is one that I want to hear everyday of my life.)
Very highly recommended. A book that will be treasured for years to come, and a reminder that truly children are a gift from God.
Bones of Betrayal: A Body Farm Novel
An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishing
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
We find out in this read that, Oak Ridge, Tennessee is packed full of history. Perhaps it is not history that many remember, or care to remember, but it is the home of a place that rocked history by what they made, and changed the world. At this place, men came together and created the atomic bomb that was dropped on Japan. A Dr. Novak headed the project, and now he is found dead. What has killed him? That question needed to be answered and the answer was shocking. Radiation, that was somehow placed in his body and was discovered during an autopsy.
Questions fly, and there is a race for the answers as others lives are on the line due to the exposure of radiation. Those of the doctor performing the autopsy, Dr Garcia, Miranda, graduate assistant to Bill Brockton, who is the founder of Body Farm. A name that fits the farm where dead bodies are stored and studied. Were they exposed to the point of dying? Was this an act of terrorism, or a personal crime of hate? How did the victim ingest radiation without knowing it? As the story unfolds the FBI and other special units are brought in, and the players begin to unravel the mystery before them.
The author layers character upon character to bring a rich mix into the read. He intertwines their part in the story skillfully, and builds a bond between them in a very short time that sets the story in perfect form, and motion. Emotions are laid bare as the search is on for the killer and the reason behind such a terrible crime. The author also adds personal touches within the lives of the characters. Deep mysteries, past traumas that surface, romance, and some shocking conclusions concerning certain characters await you. Great job!
The story is deep in details that were not boring but fascinating. The local was well described as the past and present began to surface revealing the truths that were never spoken before, yet played a part in the history of the world. I was glued to the pages. This is an extremely well written, fast pace, whirl of a read. Excellent character development and exceptional storyline. One you will enjoy reading a second time and will definitely recommend to a friend. Well done.
The Joy of Spooking
Margaret K. McElderry Books
1230 Avenue of the Americans, New York, NY 10020
Joy and her family live in Spooking, a town that has been almost lost as most of the inhabitants moved out long ago. It is not your usual town but is one that is rich in history and mystery, a perfect place for our imaginative Joy to live. Joy loves anything dark and creepy, and reads over and over the writings of E.A. Peugeot as she tiredly researches the legend of the bog fiend. Things that go bump in the night for Joy are not something to run from, but are to be explored. However, sadly for Joy both her and her brother, Bryon, must attend school in nearby Darlington, the perfect American town that simply cannot understand why anyone would live in Spooking. The children are anything but kind to them and both Joy and her brother must endure name-calling.
The story heats up as the author begins to layer mystery upon mystery as we meet some top players in this read, like Mr. Phipps who appears to have many secrets all surrounding Spooking, and the loveable Madame Portia, who lived in the bog with her late husband and is bursting with knowledge that Joy simply must tap into. However, when Darlington wants to do away with Joy's bog and put in a water park the action really beings, as you clearly see this will be a war to the finish.
I liked this book. The characters were very well mixed from likeable to detestable, funny to scary, kind to evil. The locals were very well defined and the story was packed full of adventure and ran smoothly, building up to the ending with one mystery following another. The cover is perfect and definitely leaves you feeling, 'creepy,' and wondering just what you will find between the pages of this book. I look forward to the next two books in author, P.J. Bracegirdle's trilogy.
Enjoyable and well done.
Liam knows What To Do When Kids Act Snitty
Jane Whelen Banks
Jessica Kingsley Publishing
400 Market Street, Suite 400, Philadelphia, PA 19106
In this story we meet ,Liam, a young boy who enjoys showing off neat things he can do. Unfortunately they are not always met with as much enthusiasm as he expects, and Lima does not understand. He is confused when kids are 'snitty' when he shares his feats with them. Does their reaction mean they don't like him or what he has done? Why are they acting that way?
I read and re-read this book and gave it quite a bit of thought before writing this review. I understand that some are not pleased with the context of this book or how it was presented, but I think the author was pretty much putting forth the way things are in the world, and often the way children interact with each other.
She showed that many times others will not applaud your feats, whether they are good or bad. She also explained that children have not yet learned to be polite in situations. They have not learned 'social graces,' so to speak. I think a few more issues could have been added to bring her point across a little clearer. For example, perhaps included that at times other children are jealous of your feats, and angry that you can do something they cannot, or really just don't care what you can do and that should have no bearing on you or your feats. Children are also at times very honest and if they don't think you did something well enough they will tell you point blank.
I believe on page 23 where the young man is sticking out his tongue should have been explained further. He was responding with being 'snitty' himself, which of course was not a good thing. However, perhaps the emotions he was feeling at that time should have been explained a little further.
Also on page 26 where the young boy said "Whatever," really was not a bad thing. The author was showing that you have to know how wonderful you are inside and be sure of yourself no matter what others say about you. She was trying to show that you don't base your worth on others' praise. The book also showed that sometimes we are praised for things that we haven't even tried to receive praise for, such as Liam's writing on page 30.
What is the author really trying to put forth in this book? All in all, I believe the author is trying to show young people that praise should not be sought after, but it will come at times when we least expect it. If we chose to share a feat we can do, we need to understand that not all will like it, praise us for it, or appreciate it. Perhaps a few ideas need to be changed around in this book, but I do understand where the author is coming from and where she is trying to go. I felt the illustrations went along quite nicely with the book. The illustrations were basic and how a child would draw, this bringing the book down to their level, which is a good thing.
Birthday Vicious (The Ashleys, Book 3)
Melissa de la Cruz
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York,NY 10020
9781416934080 $9.99 256 pages
Ashley Spencer is every young girls nightmare and dream of being. Rich, pretty, and powerful this is one young lady that will not take no for an answer in any situation.
Ashley is about to have a birthday and of course Ashley will have the most expensive and top-notch party her school has ever seen, or will she?
It appears things are not running as smoothly for Ashley as they have in the past. After all, how could she ever tell her friends that her boyfriend dumped her, her mom just revealed some terrible news (at least for Ashley it is), and her party may be canceled? Horrors upon horrors.
To top it off someone had started a terrible blog trying to pit her best friend against her? Surely no one could take Ashley's place as the most popular, prettiest girl in town, could they?
You get the picture I'm sure.
In this work young readers will see, hopefully how life doesn't always play out the way we want it to. The author weaves in problems, even in this have it all young girl's life. Perhaps Ashley has learned some important life lessons, but I'm not totally sure of that. We will have to see.
This was a good book that young girls will enjoy. It is written on their level and gives some insight into situations they may well have to handle. It also shows how some people are not able to handle popularity and how it actually brings out the worse in them instead of making them better.
All in all this was a very enjoyable read.
Preacher Creature Strikes On Sunday
Illustrated by Jared Lee
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
Inside the pages of this enlightening children's work we are given a peek into the mind of a child as they are about to experience their first day at church. I had never given much thought to the subject matter of this book and I am thankful to author, Mike Thaler, for reminding me that children's perception of people, places, and things, that they have never seen, been to, or experienced, can be quite different than what they really are.
As we start our story journey mom is taking her son to church, and her little boy begins to imagine what is going to happen, as only a child can. I laughed out loud at some of his thoughts, such as: getting a good work-out by standing up, sitting down and kneeling a hundred times, getting to say "Almonds," during the sermon, and making you pay for singing (the collection), instead of them paying you. What a hoot!
Traveling on our little guy recounts some of the Bible stories he has heard, such as: a guy who went on a cruise inside a fish (love that one), and another guy who wandered in the desert leading other people, who should have stopped at a gas station and asked for directions. Too cute!You even get a little taste of his thoughts about God and Heaven. Finally off he goes to be with other children where he makes new friends, plays games, learns Bible stories and has a great time as a whole new world is opened up to him.
I liked this book. The illustrations are big and bold and brought each page to life. The story is told in a fun, light way that is sure to bring a chuckle to all that read it, along with a learning experience. I believe this book will help parents to better understand how a child may well think about their first experiences with church-going, and will help a child to see there are a lot of good times ahead for them at church. It will also open the door for children to discuss different happenings at church with adults so they may have a better understanding of what is going on. Very well done.
The Values Pursued Life
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781419691966, $13.99, www.booksurge.com
Potential lies in everything; whether it is used is another story entirely. "The Values Pursued Life: Excellence and Greatness from Within" is a guide to finding greatness in oneself through clean and moral living and ethics to turn oneself into a better member of society. Inspiring and enlightening, "The Values Pursued Life" is a good read for anyone striving to pull themselves up to a higher standard.
The People's Gallery
The Bogside Artists
The Bogside Artists Studio
What goes into these huge brick wall murals? "The People's Gallery" is a look at what went into the creation of twelve murals situated in Derry of Northern Ireland, done by the arrangement of three artists: Tom Kelly, Kevin Hasson, and William Kelly. These murals have become major tourist attractions, and the reasons behind their creations as well as how they were created are discussed at length. Featuring full color photographs, "The People's Gallery" is of interest to any collection focused on public art and murals.
Game Days Extravaganzas
1425131913, $15.95, www.traffordpublishing.com
Few things pass time between friends more effectively than bombarding one another with sports trivia. "The Playbook: The Premiere Sports Trivia Challenge" is a book packed cover to cover with sports trivia to entertain, enlighten, and educate readers and their audiences. Claiming a video game-like design in the trivia game itself, "The Playbook" presents nearly nine hundred questions to keep things fresh. "The Playbook" is a solid and highly recommended book for the sports fan who wants to (or acts like) they know it all.
From Me to You!
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533159840, $8.95, www.vantagepress.com
Sometimes the slightest little tweak will make a world of difference. "From Me to You!: A Collection of Original Poems" is an anthology of work by author Sid Gove, who wrote his collection with an aim to welcome non-poetry readers back to the world of poetry that they may have ignored since they were children. "From Me to You!" is a fine collection of verse which is sure to give readers much to enjoy. "Toothpaste": Toothpaste/Toothpaste! ... Toothpaste!/Here I come!.../Brushing teeth and/brushing gums.//If, I hold my head,/just so.../ up my nose,/some toothpaste goes!//Will I scream?/Or, dare I cough?/If, I do.../Mum's mighty cross!!!
When you think you know everything about the one you love, you don't. "Julie's Gift: Memories of London" is a husband's devotion to his wife, immortalized to the world. Author Kevin Kirsch tells of a trip to London for his fifteenth anniversary, where he and his wife Julie traveled through the historic city. Having an epiphany, he hopes to reveal his feelings to his wife in a particularly special and quaint way. "Julie's Gift" is something that will warm many a couples' heart.
No Girls Allowed (Dogs Okay)
1230 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416975922 $14.98 www.SimonSaysKids.com
"This chapter has nothing to do with my pants." So begins the story of Scab McNally, a fourth grader with a mission. Part inventor, part daredevil, Scab is determined to let nothing get in the way of convincing his parents to let him buy a dog -- especially his "smart times ten" twin sister, Isabelle. When his newest invention, a sister-repellent spray (aka Isabelle's Smell), becomes a hit with the guys, Scab hatches a plan. He'll earn enough selling Isabelle's Smell to buy a dog, and then his parents will have to say yes, right? But one broken bottle of the mega-stinky concoction brings major disaster, not to mention a hazmat crew. In the midst of his self-pity, Scab realizes that his drive to get a dog has hurt the people he cares about most. Will Scab be able to set things right? Readers ages 4-8 can't help but want to find out in author Trudi Trueit's laugh-out-loud novel introducing the irrepressible Scab McNally to the world.
American Girl / Pleasant Company
8400 Fairway Place, Middleton, Wisconsin 53562
9781593694906 $17.95 www.americangirl.com
American Girl does it again with this gift-packaged, 64-page cookbook, packed with ideas that teach girls how to turn everyday treats into dazzling desserts. Young bakers will find colorful step-by-step instructions for fancy treats that are as fun to make as they are to eat. Plus, this kit includes cookie cutters and a section filled with pastry decorating tips. 64 pages. For girls ages 8 to 11, who can't get enough of the American Girl empire.
Funky Felt Crafts
American Girl / Pleasant Company
8400 Fairway Place, Middleton, Wisconsin 53562
9781593694869 $9.95 www.americangirl.com
There's no shortage of felt crafts books on the market, but American Girl gives the tried-and-true arts and crafts material a genuinely original twist in the line's new "Funky Felt Crafts" do-it-yourself guide. This book will inspire girls to create more than 20 funky felt crafts - many things you haven't seen before, and most with a cheery sense of humor.. Easy, step-by-step instructions and full-color photos will show girls how to turn a simple piece of felt into accessories to wear, great gifts to give, characters to cuddle, and more, including faux cupcakes and cinnamon buns that look good enough to eat. For girls, ages 8 - 11.
Stand Up for Yourself & Your Friends
American Girl / Pleasant Company
8400 Fairway Place, Middleton, Wisconsin 53562
9781593694821 $9.95 www.americangirl.com
This simple, direct and friendly book helps girls learn how to spot bullying and stand up and speak out against it. Quizzes, quotes from real girls, and "what would you do?" scenarios give readers lots of ideas for dealing with bullies, including clever comebacks and ways to ask adults for help. "Stand Up for Yourself & Your Friends" includes an anti-bullying pledge for girls to sign, plus tear-out tips to share with their parents. A nice, accessible guide for girls 8-12 to help them deal with bullies and bossiness, and find a better way.
In The Cards Life
Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9780689876585 $16.99 www.SimonSaysKids.com
All Syd has ever wanted is to keep her family (human and animal) and friends safe and sound. Shy and quiet, Syd hides from the spotlight, despite her talent on the piano, and is happiest when she's with her best friends or her cat, Beesley. Syd's always been in the middle between Anna and Eve, and she's never had a problem with that until now. Because now Syd really needs someone to listen to her, but it doesn't feel like anyone's paying attention. Eve can't think about anything other than her upcoming TV audition, and Anna and Nelson's relationship seems to be imploding before it even starts. Frustrated by the fact that her two best friends are growing away from her and frightened by her dad's mounting illness, she decides to consult the tarot cards for a look into her future. But what Syd sees scares her more than any fight with Anna or Eve ever could, because as her final card, Syd draws Death. What do the cards have in store for her? Is it possible for Syd to change her destiny? Recommended for middle school readers dealing with their own lives.
The Amaranth Enchantment
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781599903347 $16.99 www.bloomsburyusa.com
When Lucinda Chapdelaine was a small child, her parents left for the royal ball and never returned. Ever since, Lucinda has been stuck in perpetual servitude at her evil aunt's jewelry store. Then, on the very same day, a mysterious visitor and an even more bizarre piece of jewelry both enter the shop, setting in motion a string of twists and turns that will forever alter Lucinda's path. In this magical story filled with delightful surprises, Lucinda dances at the royal ball, falls under the Amaranth Witch's spell, avenges her parents' death, and - quite possibly -- captures the heart of a prince. "The Amaranth Enchantment" is a charming fairytale by new author Julie Berry.
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385733403 $16.99 www.randomhouse.com/kids
When her father loses his job and leaves India to look for work in America, Asha Gupta, her older sister, Reet, and their mother must wait with Baba's brother and his family, as well as their grandmother, in Calcutta. Uncle is welcoming, but in a country steeped in tradition, the three women must abide by his decisions. Asha knows this is temporary -- just until Baba sends for them. But with scant savings and time passing, the tension builds: Ma, prone to spells of sadness, finds it hard to submit to her mother- and sister-in-law; Reet's beauty attracts unwanted marriage proposals; and Asha's promise to take care of Ma and Reet leads to impulsive behavior. What follows is a firestorm of rebuke -- and secrets revealed! Asha's only solace is her rooftop hideaway, where she pours her heart out in her diary, and where she begins a clandestine friendship with Jay Sen, the boy next door. Asha can hardly believe that she, and not Reet, is the object of Jay's attention. Then news arrives about Baba . . . and Asha must make a choice that will change their lives forever.
The Beef Princess of Practical County
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385735841 $16.99 www.randomhouse.com/kids
After years of waiting, it's finally Libby Ryan's turn to shine at the Practical County Fair. Libby is filled with excitement as she and her granddad pick out two calves for her to raise on her family's cattle farm, in hopes of winning the annual steer competition. Against her father's advice, Libby gives the calves names, even though both steers will eventually be auctioned off. After a few months of preparing for the Practical County Fair, Libby finds that she is growing closer to her steers with each passing day, and the pressure to win Grand Champion is mounting. Luckily, Libby can count on her best friend to get her through most of the county fair chaos. Yet once reality sets in and she realizes that her steers will soon be sold to the highest bidder, the chaos in Libby's heart becomes too much to bear.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385736817 $16.99 www.randomhouse.com/teens
In Mary's world there are simple truths: The Sisterhood always knows best; the Guardians will protect and serve; the Unconsecrated will never relent; and you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village…the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But slowly, Mary's truths are failing her. She's learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future -- between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?
King of the Screwups
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
9780152062583 $17.00 www.HarcourtBooks.com
Liam Geller is Mr. Popularity. Everybody loves him. He excels at sports; he knows exactly what clothes to wear; he always ends up with the most beautiful girls in school. But he's got an uncanny ability to screw up in the very ways that tick off his father the most. When Liam finally kicked out of the house, his father's brother takes him in. What could a teenage chick magnet possibly have in common with his gay, glam rocker, DJ uncle who lives in a trailer in upstate New York? A lot more than you'd think. And when Liam attempts to make himself over as a nerd in a desperate attempt to impress his father, it's his "aunt" Pete and the guys in his band who convince Liam there's much more to him than his father will ever see.
Crows & Cards
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
9780618883950 $16.00 www.hmco.com
When it comes to his new book "Crows & Cards," author Joseph Helgerson has three tongue-in-cheek warnings for readers who hate surprises: beware of slivers, and gamblers, and aces. His protagonist Zebulon Crabtree found all that out the hard way back in 1849 when his mother and father shipped him off to St. Louis to apprentice with a tanner. Too bad he had serious allergies to fur and advice from his parents. Hearing the beat of a different drummer, Zeb takes up with a riverboat gambler who has some special plans for him, crosses paths with a slave who turns out to be a better friend than cook, and learns that some Indian medicine men can see even though blind. And then there's the Brotherhood -- the one that Zeb can't seem to get out of . . . Lucky for us, the price of living in turbulent times is often a good story, and Zeb spins an unforgettable one.
Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
9780547076652 $17.00 www.hmco.com
"Dormia" features Alfonso Perplexon, an unusual sleeper. He climbs trees, raises falcons, even shoots deadly accurate arrows, all in his sleep. No one can figure out why. Then one evening a man arrives at Alfonso's door, claiming to be Alfonso's long-lost uncle Hill. This uncle tells a fantastical tale: Alfonso's ancestors hail from Dormia - an ancient kingdom of gifted sleepers - which is hidden in the snowy peaks of the Ural Mountains. According to Hill, Dormia exists thanks to a tree known as the Founding Tree, with roots that pump life into the frozen valley. But the Founding Tree is now dying, and in a matter of days, Dormia faces an icy apocalypse. Dormia's salvation lies with the Great Sleeper, who possesses the special powers to enter a sleep trance and grow a new Founding Tree. Hill suspects that Alfonso is just such a person. In fact, Alfonso's sleeping-self has already hatched this tree. Now the question is: Can Alfonso and his uncle deliver it in time? They must hurry, but they also must be careful not to be followed by Dormia's age-old enemy, the Dragoonya, who are always hunting for one of the secret entryways into Dormia. Alfonso agrees to take the tree to Dormia, and thus begins one of the greatest adventures a twelve-year-old boy could ever wish for. As he woke up from a late afternoon nap, Alfonso blinked open his eyes and discovered that he was perched at the top of a gigantic pine tree - some two-hundred feet above the ground. The view was spectacular. Alfonso could see for miles in every direction and he could even make out his house in the distant hamlet of World's End, Minnesota. Unfortunately, there was no time to enjoy the view. The small branch that Alfonso stood upon was covered with gleaming snow and creaked dangerously under the pressure of his weight. Icy gusts of wind shook the entire treetop. Alfonso looked down grimly at the ground far below. If he fell, he would most certainly die. "Oh brother," muttered Alfonso to himself. "Not again." A wonderful, epic fantasy for middle grade readers, particularly fans of DJ McHale's "Pendragon" series.
Lucy Long Ago
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
9780547051994 $18.00 www.hmco.com
Illustrated in full color throughout with stunning computer-generated artwork and with rare paleo-photography, this story of scientific sleuthing invites us to wonder what our ancestors were like. From the discovery of Lucy's bones in Hadar, Ethiopia, to the process of recovering and interpreting them (a multidisciplinary approach with contributions from paleontologists, paleoanthropologists, archeologists, geologists and geochronologists), this book shows how a pile of 47 bones led scientists to discover a new -- and, at 3.2 million years old, a very very old -- species of hominid, ancestral to humans. Scientists involved include: James Aronson, geochronologist at Dartmouth, NH John Gurche, paleo-artist at Cornell, NY Donald Johansen, scientist at Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University Owen Lovejoy, biological anthropologist at Kent State, Ohio Dirk Van Tuerenhout at Houston's Museum of Natural Science, Texas.
Little, Brown and Company
1271 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9780316024549 $15.99 www.twbookmark.com/children
In Emiline's world, there are thousands of species of mice, some rarer than others. Mousehunters travel the world collecting the rarest and most special breeds, from the wily and deadly Sharpclaw Mouse to the dog-sized Elephant Mouse and the quick-as-lightning Comet Mouse. For Emiline, a mousekeeper in the employ of wealthy Isiah Lovelock, there is no greater dream than becoming a famous mousehunter. So when she is given the opportunity to join the hunt for the legendary pirate Mousebeard, she sets off on the most dangerous, most thrilling, most swashbuckling adventure of a lifetime. "The Mousehunter" is an extremely accessible, dark and thrilling story, featuring original black & white illustrations, maps and character portraits.
Philomel / Penguin
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399250613 $16.99 www.penguinputnam.com
From best-selling author Anthony Horowitz, comes a Groosham . . . make that gruesome .. . . new adventure for kids: the horror-lite novel "Groosham Grange." Sent to Groosham Grange as a last resort by his frustrated parents, thirteen-year-old David Eliot quickly discovers that his new boarding school is very peculiar. New pupils are made to sign their names in blood, the French teacher cancels classes on days there's a full moon, and there are chilling secrets hidden in the assistant headmaster's office. What's the meaning of the black rings everyone wears? Where do the other pupils vanish to at night? Suddenly, his biggest problem isn't staying in school…it's getting out alive. A fun thriller for "Alex Rider" admirers and for the millions of kids who grew up on the "Goosebumps" books and who are now looking for bigger chills.
One Giant Leap
Robert Burleigh, Mike Wimmer
Philomel / Penguin
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399238833 $16.99 www.penguinputnam.com
The words are instantly recognizable: "That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind." Spoken by Neil Armstrong moments after he became the first human being to set foot on the moon, they have come to represent all that is possible when man's determination to achieve the seemingly impossible results in success. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of this extraordinary moment in human history, Robert Burleigh and Mike Wimmer have created a breathtakingly beautiful picture book tribute that transports readers to the stars, where they will experience the moon landing just as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin did.
Hansel and Gretel
Putnam / Penguin
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399250286 $16.99 www.penguinputnam.com
Caldecott Honor winner Rachel Isadora gives readers a stunning new interpretation of this classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale, setting the infamous witch's cottage deep in a lush African forest. Hansel and Gretel's plight feels all the more threatening as they're plunged into the thick, dark jungle of Isadora's rich collages. Illustrator Isadora's African-inspired theme, patterns, and art style naturally developed when she lived in Africa over a ten-year period - a time that inspired her to create fairy tales in an African setting, such as her previous picture books "Rapunzel," "The Fisherman and His Wife," "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" and "The Princess and the Pea." She received a Caldecott Honor for "Ben's Trumpet," and has written and illustrated numerous other books for children, including "Peekaboo Bedtime" and the "Lili at Ballet" series. She lives in New York City.
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375814693 $18.99 www.randomhouse.com/kids
In Tamora Pierce's second epic novel about Beka Cooper, "Bloodhound: A Tortall Legend," Beka Cooper is finally a Dog -- a full-fledged member of the Provost's Guard, dedicated to keeping peace in Corus's streets. But there's unrest in Tortall's capital. Counterfeit coins are turning up in shops all over the city, and merchants are raising prices to cover their losses. The Dogs discover that gamblers are bringing the counterfeit money from Port Caynn. In Port Caynn, Beka delves deep into the gambling world, where she meets a charming banking clerk named Dale Rowan. Beka thinks she may be falling for Rowan, but she won't let anything -- or anyone -- jeopardize her mission. As she heads north to an abandoned silver mine, it won't be enough for Beka be her usual "terrier" self. She'll have to learn from Achoo to sniff out the criminals -- to be a Bloodhound.
City of Time
Wendy Lamb Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375839122 $16.99 www.randomhouse.com/kids/
It's been only year since Owen's battle alongside the Resisters against the Harsh, who tried to destroy time itself. Cati, the bold Watcher who stands vigil over the Resisters, returns from the shadows of time to summon Owen and the ingenious Dr. Diamond, because inexplicable and frightening things are happening. The moon is moving too close to the earth, wreaking havoc with weather, tides, and other natural cycles. People fear that the world will end. To discover what has gone wrong, Cati, Owen, and the doctor make an astonishing journey to Hadima, the City of Time, where time is bought and sold. There Owen begins to understand his great responsibility and power as the Navigator. Eoin McNamee is also the author of novels for adults as well as "The Navigator" and "City of Time," the first two books in the Navigator trilogy. He was awarded the Macaulay Fellowship for Irish Literature.
The Time it Snowed in Puerto Rico
Shaye Areheart Books/Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780307460073 $19.99 www.randomhouse.com/kids/
This is a coming-of-age story that has a rare blend of sincerity and tenderness -- it follows eleven-year-old Verdita through two tumultuous years in the 1960s. Having lived all her life in a sleepy mountain town in Puerto Rico, Verdita longs to escape to the mainland States where she dreams everything is better, happier, and near perfect. Her feelings are intensified by her American cousin's visit, and a trip by President Kennedy to San Juan. When she learns her mother is expecting a new baby, she realizes she'll never again be her father's favorite. Although she knows she's no longer a child, she doesn't feel ready yet to be a señorita. She struggles with resentment for her parents, especially her mother, and experiences for the first time the rush of disobedience and the thrill of first love. This sparkling debut by Sarah McCoy is filled with grace and honesty -- a poignant story about the growing pains of coming to adult understanding, filled with vivid descriptions of the setting. The author draws on her own memories of her mother's Puerto Rican family and spending each childhood summer on the island, transporting her readers to a lush tropical paradise.
Chasing Lincoln's Killer
James L. Swanson
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780439903547 $16.00 www.scholastic.com
Based on rare archival material, obscure trial manuscripts, and interviews with relatives of the conspirators and the man-hunters, "Chasing Lincoln's Killer" is a fast-paced thriller about the pursuit and capture of John Wilkes Booth: a wild twelve-day chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., across the swamps of Maryland, and into the forests of Virginia. "This story is true. All the characters are real and were alive during the great manhunt of April 1865. Their words are authentic and come from original sources: letters, manuscripts, trial transcripts, newspapers, government reports, pamphlets, books and other documents. What happened in Washington, D.C., that spring, and in the swamps and rivers, forests and fields of Maryland and Virginia during the next twelve days, is far too incredible to have been made up." So begins this fast-paced thriller that tells the story of the pursuit and capture of John Wilkes Booth and gives a day-by-day account of the wild chase to find this killer and his accomplices. Based on James Swanson's bestselling adult book "Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer," this young people's version is an accessible look at the assassination of a president, and shows readers Abraham Lincoln the man, the father, the husband, the friend, and how his death impacted those closest to him.
The Book of Tormod: A Templar's Apprentice
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545056540 $17.99 www.scholastic.com
In Scotland, circa 1307, thirteen-year-old Tormod MacLeod stands out from the others. He is different for the reason he knows things before they happen. Even his own brother treats him differently, and all Tormod can do is bide his time until he's old enough to leave the village and make something of himself. His chance comes sooner than expected when a Templar knight asks him to deliver a secret message. But Tormod's efforts end up endangering both their lives. What follows is a desperate journey to escape the army of King Philippe le Bel of France. If he is to survive, Tormod must learn to harness the powers within. Part one in what appears to be a new historical-fantasy series for middle grade readers.
My Brother Abe: Sally Lincoln's Story
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416938842 $15.99 www.SimonSaysKids.com
What was it like to be the sister of the boy who would grow up to become president of the United States? Sally Lincoln's voice has never before been heard. Now she tells her own story of an unsettling time for the Lincoln family, which changed and influenced both children forever. Forced to leave their home in Kentucky, the family begins anew in Indiana territory, only later to be devastated by the death of Nancy Hanks, Sally and Abe's adored mother. When their demanding father journeys back to Kentucky to find a new wife, leaving eleven-year-old Sally in charge of nine-year-old Abe, the children have to face the hardships of the frontier alone. In a novel full of the power of adventure and the poignancy of family love -- and in time for the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth - author Harry Mazer gives voice to a girl who helped shape the life of one of this country's greatest presidents.
The Secret Life of Prince Charming
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416959403 $16.99 www.SimonSaysKids.com
Maybe it was wrong, or maybe impossible, but I wanted the truth to be one thing. One solid thing. Quinn is surrounded by women who have had their hearts broken. Between her mother, her aunt, and her grandmother, Quinn hears nothing but cautionary tales. She tries to be an optimist -- after all, she's the dependable one, the girl who never makes foolish choices. But when she is abruptly and unceremoniously dumped, Quinn starts to think maybe there really are no good men. It doesn't help that she's gingerly handling a renewed relationship with her formerly absent father. He's a little bit of a lot of things: charming, selfish, eccentric, lazy...but he's her dad, and Quinn's just happy to have him around again. Until she realizes how horribly he's treated the many women in his life, how he's stolen more than just their hearts. Determined to, for once, take action in her life, Quinn joins forces with the half sister she's never met and the little sister she'll do anything to protect. Together, they set out to right her father's wrongs...and in doing so, begin to uncover what they're really looking for: the truth. Once again, author Deb Caletti has created a motley crew of lovably flawed characters who bond over the shared experiences of fear, love, pain, and joy -- in other words, real life.
Up Close: Harper Lee
Viking / Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780670010950 $16.99 www.penguinputnam.com
Nelle Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" was published in 1960 and became an instant bestseller. Two years later it was an Academy Award - winning film. Today it remains standard -- and beloved -- reading in English classes. But Lee never wanted "the book" to define who she was, which explains her aversion to any kind of publicity. Kerry Madden conducted extensive research for this new addition to Viking's extensive "Up Close" biography series, which reveals Lee to be a down-to-earth Southern woman who enjoys baseball games and playing golf -- and whose one and only published book happened to win the Pulitzer Prize.
Up Close: Babe Ruth
Viking / Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780670063055 $16.99 www.penguinputnam.com
Babe Ruth is still regarded as perhaps the greatest baseball player ever to step on a diamond. Born into a poor family in Baltimore, George Herman Ruth Jr. was sent to a Catholic reform school at age seven, where he learned how to play baseball. Initially a talented southpaw, the Babe went on to shatter every home-run record on the books -- and when fewer games were played in a season and a heavier ball was used. In this engaging and fast-paced biography - a new addition to Viking's interesting "Up Close" series of 20th Century biographies -- award-winning author Wilborn Hampton shares with readers The Babe was also a man of big heart, temper, and appetite.
Gramercy Park Press
The things people will do for power. "Santopia: Santa and the Lost Princess" is the story of the realm of Santa Claus, Santopia. Santa's son is born, and prophecy states the next girl born in the land after him will inevitably be his queen. A Baroness's daughter is born soon after, but when she finds that a peasant girl beat her daughter into the world, she pursues the possible baby queen in rage. A charming fantasy story using one of America's most cherished fictional figures, "Santopia" is a fine tale for Santa lovers, enjoyable year-round.
A Little Guidebook for the Servant-Leader
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432727000, $15.95, www.outskirtspress.com
To be a leader is to be a servant. "A Little Guidebook for the Servant-Leader" is a Christian manual for Church leaders; it states that to become the best at what they do, they must become servants of the people they lead. Christ served his followers as much as they served him, and author Charles Weber believes modern Christianity may be losing sight of that. "A Little Guidebook for the Servant Leader" is a fine and recommended delve into what it takes to be a good Christian Church leader.
Art of Islam
1501 E. Hillside, Bloomington, IN 47401
9781933316659, $32.95 www.worldwisdom.com
Titus Burckhardt has written over 20 books on art, religion and spirituality, and his ART OF ISLAM: LANGUAGE AND MEANING is one of his best, packing in over 350 color and black and white illustrations to accompany a historic, spiritual and artistic survey of Islamic art. It was originally published in London in 1976 and appears here fully revised with new illustrations - highly recommended for spirituality and art libraries alike.
A History of Horrors
4720 Boston Way, Lanham, MD 20706
0810841894, $36.95 www.scarecrowpress.com
Denis Meikle is a film critic and graphic designer turned author, and here provides a fine biography of some of the best-known British fantasy and horror films. College-level film studies collection will find this documentary a vivid survey of the changing British film industry, with chapters considering both major productions and industry trends. Film studies collections with a special focus on British film will find it a fine addition.
18 East 48th Street, New York NY 10017
9781557048363, $19.95 www.newmarketpress.com
Simon Beaufoy's screenplay is captured in its entirety in a fine film survey suitable for any library strong in film and media studies, or drama. This fine script presentation includes not just the complete shooting script, but extensive discussion with the film's director Danny Boyle, color photos, and complete cast credits and details. Perfect for film libraries.
26410 - 84th Street N.E., #D, Box 442, Lake Stevens, WA 98258
9780979214103, $20.00, firstname.lastname@example.org
"Thin Threads" is a complex, unique, deftly written novel whose first 355 pages present an engaging story of memorable characters involved in a kind of psychic relationship. Author Gaylinda Gardner interweaves bits of quantum theory and paranormal phenomena to color her tale of commitment, self-discovery, and unexpected adventure transforming the lives of ordinary people into something truly extraordinary. While the font-size of the text might be a bit too small for aging eyes, "Thin Threads" is nevertheless highly recommended reading and a welcome addition to any personal or community library contemporary fiction collection.
Paul T. Vogel
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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