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

MBR Bookwatch

Volume 5, Number 11 November 2006 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Dunford's Bookshelf Kaveny's Bookshelf Klausner's Bookshelf
Laurel's Bookshelf Mary's Bookshelf Paul's Bookshelf
Shelley's Bookshelf Shirley's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf
Vicki's Bookshelf    

Dunford's Bookshelf

Ham It Up
Stephanie Quinn
Quinn Entertainment
7535 Austin Harbour Drive, Cumming, GA 30041
0977309916 $19.95 1-770-356-3847

Written by Stephanie Quinn from her years of experience holding summer acting camps in a performing arts studio, Ham It Up: How To Start Your Own Acting Camp for Kids is an in-depth guide to running a fun, safe, and creative program for young people ages 8 to 15, the better to cultivate their performing talents, and includes an exciting performance to produce for family and friends. Black-and-white photographs illustrate these plain-spoken instructions for interacting with parents, leading kids in theater preparation and warmup exercises, and a detailed five-day planner filled with activities for kids to learn about everything from scriptwriting to body positioning to dress rehearsal and curtain calls. The most valuable aspect of Ham It Up is that its curriculum has been thoroughly tested and put into practice, allowing the teacher to focus upon instruction itself rather than fine-tuning lesson plan mechanics. Enthusiastically recommended especially for summer camps, summer school instructors, community theater groups, and Sunday school groups in need of a quality week-long acting camp.

Rethinking High School Graduation Rates & Trends
Lawrence Mishel & Joydeep Roy
Economic Policy Institute
1333 H Street, NW, Suite 300, East Tower, Washington DC 20005
1932066241 $13.50 202-775-8810

Written by Economic Policy Institute (a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank) members Lawrence Mishel and Joydeep Roy, Rethinking High School Graduation Rates & Trends is a serious-minded re-examination of modern statistical data. In an increasingly knowledge-driven and globalized economy, people without a high school diploma are at a disadvantage - but modern scholars disagree upon the precise rate of graduation in U.S. high schools. Rethinking High School Graduation Rates & Trends scrutinizes current sources of statistical data on high school completion and dropout rates, taking into account the findings of the Census Bureau Household Survey, historical trends, the General Education Development (GED) issue and more to draw mixed conclusions. On the one hand, graduation rates are unquestionably in need of improvement; on the other, they are higher than presupposed, and getting better. An extensively researched guide devoted to clearly defining the extent of the troubling national problem of high school dropout rates, without overstating its volume or understating its importance.

Edited by Robert Emmet Long
Continuum International Publishing Group Inc.
80 Maiden Lane, New York, NY 10038
0826418058 $14.95 212-953-5858

Edited by Robert Emmet Long, Acting: Working In The Theatre is a compilation of the insights of more than one hundred create theatre performers, from Ian McKellen and Tony Randall to John Lithgow, Elizabeth Franz, Lynn Redgrave and many more. The paragraph-long tips, insights, and observations are grouped according to subject matter - from auditioning to working in an ensemble to theatre and cinema vs. television - and cross-referenced by means of an index. A superb source of inspiration for anyone pursuing amateur or professional theatre. A sample quote from noted theatrical performer and Star Trek star Patrick Stewart: "Someone once defined to me craft - or technique as I've always thought of it - as being what you use when you don't feel it anymore."

Michael Dunford

Kaveny's Bookshelf

I called my editor-in-chief Jim Cox a while ago because I was concerned about the length of Kaveny's Bookshelf. Jim assured me that there are no page counts in cyberspace. Therefore, I am going to take him at his word, and review a play, Elmer Rice's (1892-1967) 1923 play The Adding Machine. And an educational Video DVD, for which I am working as part of a project here at University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, for Dr. Selika Ducksworth-Lawton on media images of African Americans in the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st, century. I will also include two parts of my three-part article on my experiences as a student and radical at U.W. Madison in the late 1960's.

But before this, I would like to make brief not of the revolution that has taken place in educational technology since the advent of high-resolution, low-cost Video DVDs a handful of years ago. The biggest thing they do for a humanities scholar like myself is to add new light to the 20th century culture, and to apply new theoretical viewpoints to subjects which may have seemed to be closed. This is in addition to the wonderful job that they do as a classroom supplement, but only as a supplement. There is no substitute for a human teacher who makes education more than simply watching the history channel, as wonderful as that is.

I was finally able to give the PBS Video

Paul Robeson: Here I Stand (1999)

my full attention, and I must say by the end of it I had tears in my eyes. To me, the most powerful aspect of his life is the way he used his art to become political, and transcend white expectations. I am also am proud of him for his fight against Fascism in the 1930's and the late 1940's, and how he was willing to pay the price for what he believed. Robeson (1898-1976) suffered a kind of house arrest when his passport was revoked in the 1950's. In a sense, within The United States he became artistically invisible and suffered in some sense the fate of W.B. Dubois. One can sense the power of an African Prometheus unbound as he reforms his art in an authentic African-American voice and pays the price in doing so. Maybe I have the introduction to a term paper here, and for class I will focus on him in the 40's and 50's.

Though I have a wall full of advanced degrees, I am in the process of getting a second B.A. here at U.W. Eau Claire. It is a part of a lifelong process of intellectual retooling. For the last thirty years I have written reviews and literary criticism, some which I have been paid for. In addition, I have taken advanced criticism from a number of academic departments. Yet I have never taken aesthetics from a philosophy department until now. I am taking Philosophy 325 from Mr. Myer, who is half my age, and receiving the tools and historical grounding which hopefully shows in my following work to re-think my critical approach.

Let me start with this analogy. Aesthetics is to criticism as mathematics is to science. Once you know the math you can do what you want with it, as long as you are consistent. I am sad to note that this play is not available in Media format. It is available in paperback book format, but see the play if you can.

The Adding Machine
Elmer Rice
Kessinger Publishing
ISBN: 1425470890 $14.95 48 pages

A delightful UW Eau Claire Theatrical Production. Had Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) been in the audience at the Kier Theater, here at UW Eau Claire, last Thursday night Oct 12th for the production of Elmer Rice's (1892-1967) 1923 play The Adding Machine, it would have delighted him just as it did the rest of the audience. Delighted seems, I know, a very strange word to use in conjunction with one of the most brutally pessimistic German philosophers 19th Century.

Arthur Schopenhauer was the first European philosopher conversant with Eastern Philosophy to reject The Enlightenment, and with it the corollary that things are getting better. He adopted a worldview that life was nothing was more than foot-slogging along on a treadmill of endless suffering, towards oblivion. Sadly, we are driven by the slave master of the insatiable passions of our senses. Within this realm of suffering the satisfaction of our worldly passion is like salt water to one dying of thirst in the desert. However, Arthur Schopenhauer holds out one ray of hope. This hope is expressed in the revelatory power of art to make us a disinterested stranger to our passions, to be free of them, if only for the duration of the instant by the articulation of artistic genius.

Had Arthur Schopenhauer been among the audience, he would have seen his view of the world validated with a level of dramatic execution and technical excellence which I last saw when my wife and I attended the British National Theater in London's production of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, in December, 2005. Pullman's play was based on his trilogy of children's books, The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and the Amber Spy Glass. In the two-day seven-hour production of His Dark Materials, the British National Theater took a metaphysical wrecking ball to the grounding assumptions of the three Great Abrahamic monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Elmer Rice, in a strange kind of a time warp, picks up where Philip Pullman left off, which is a bit strange since The Adding Machine was first written and performed eighty years before His Dark Materials. Just as an aside in a weird and wonderfully backhanded way, Elmer Rice gives a bit of substance to the claim of some postmodern philosophers that postmodernism, in fact, preceded modernity.

The Adding Machine is set in 1923 and is about Mr. Zero, a man who has been reduced to a cipher and spends his days working as a human computer in large factory. He is filled with unresolved and hostilely articulated sexual tension between himself and his co-worker Daisy, who meanwhile amuses herself with an internal dialogue in which she envisions ways to commit suicide, as they tabulate seemingly endless numbers on interminable scraps of paper.

At the end of the day Mr. Zero returns to home to his shrewish, self-centered and unattractive wife, who has just deprived him of the only, tiny guilty pleasure of his life. Mrs. Zero has forced him to call the cops on exhibitionist Judy O'Grady, who used to titillate Mr. Zero through the window by parading around her tenement apartment across the adjoining alley wearing nothing but an undershirt. Mr. Zero was forced by his wife to have Judy O'Grady busted and sent to the workhouse for six months.

The next day, at the end of his shift, Mr. Zero is collared by his boss and told that his reward for his twenty-five years of service to his company is that he is to be fired, and replaced by a high school girl running an adding machine. Mr. Zero sees red, which fills the set and the stage with rage larger than can be contained in any video, or for that matter flat theater screen, and kills his boss with a paper spike through the heart.

For those of us whose imaginations have become flaccid from watching too many video or movie screens, it must be remembered that when properly executed on the theatrical stage the show has the depth, human presence, and power of twenty-five centuries of western history behind it, and the nuance of millions of years of primate communicative gesture driving it. This is wonderfully realized as Zero address a dozen stone-faced jurors, not with what he wishes to tell them, but with chaotic ramblings of his own interior dialogue, which reminds one of marbles rolling around inside a coffee can. Yet at the same time his interior dialogue gives us a brutal insight into the dark side of modernity and the human condition.

Yes, Mr. Zero is found guilty, legally executed, and finds himself in a place quite different from heaven or hell where Charles (a kind archangel of the sadistic catharsis), explains that Zero is in a kind of repair shop for souls. Zero's soul will be wiped clear of all memory and sent to earth a thousand times a thousand more times, until his evolutionary drive will be culminated as he operates an adding machine as a large an office building with only the pressure of his little toe. At first Zero, just like a contemporary computer geek, thinks that operating a machine that big would be kind of neat. But then he realizes in classic style, just like Oedipus in Oedipus Rex, the horror that he has become. For Zero there is no release, no opportunity for the grand theatrical gesture of gouging out his eyes. Zero is left chasing after the cruel illusion of a cute little trick whose name, Charles says, is Hope, as his soul proceeds down its evolutionary ramp though endless reincarnations. Granted this is not much of a catharsis for Zero, but the audience certainly felt at lot better afterwards. A wonderfully bright nineteen year old red-haired man told me afterwards, "I'm embarrassed I know nothing about this wonderful play; where has it been my whole life?"

Arthur Schopenhauer would have felt, I think, two things. First I think he would seen his view of the world realized perhaps even more completely than he had thought, by this 1923 play produced in the 21st century. Second, he would have loved how modernity and the Illusion of progress fell to it like a paper tiger to a fire hose, in this outstanding theatrical production. Yet he would have also realized that it was the genius of Elmer Rice's play The Adding Machine, executed and enhanced by The University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, which takes us at least briefly to where art must take us. We share in what German novelist, poet, and Nobel laureate Herman Hesse (1877-1962) called, "the laughter of the gods", which frees us as it must at least for a little while, so we then go on again, and again, and again, just like our hero, Mr. Zero.

I would add that The Adding Machine, which is set and first performed in 1923, is more about the present and the future. If you don't believe me, ask anyone who has recently lost a high-tech job because they were downsized, or is facing a future in telemarketing, or working telephone customer service, where every key stroke is counted, and three errors in any given quarter may lead to summary dismissal. Perhaps, this is why the play spoke so well to my brilliant nineteen-year-old red-haired friend.

UW Madison in the Late 1960's, Part I

I was there at U.W. Madison in the late 1960's, both as an undergraduate and graduate student. That is to say, I was there until I was asked to leave graduate school for writing the F word on most of my final exams. I was not formally booted out; I was only told that I would have to talk to a committee before I re-enrolled, which I did not do until 1990 when I re-enrolled and later completed two different graduate programs.

If you think this article is going to be about drugs, sex, and rock 'n' roll, well, sorry to disappoint you. This article is about the shared experience of a certain members of the "baby boom" generation that found a powerful contradiction between loving justice and loving our country at the same time. This article is also about some of us who tried to do something about this apparent contradiction.

The 1964 presidential election is as good a place to start as any. I was a junior at U.W. Madison, majoring in political theory, foreign policy, and economics and comparative government. At the time I thought I was on a career trajectory which would lead me into the Foreign Service or teaching when I finished. Even with the Kennedy assassination in Nov. of 1963, we were a generation, at least in Madison, who took John F. Kennedy's phrase "Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather ask what you can do for your country" very seriously. "The New Frontier ", The Peace Corps, The Space Program, and surely the Civil Rights movement were the government's business, as we saw it. We also thought it was the government's business to give every American a shot at a better life.

In the fall of 1964 I was taking Macro-Economic theory, the United States was experiencing an adjusted GNP growth rate of around 3.5%, and "The War on Poverty" seemed winnable. The question that concerned us was not whether the War on Poverty was do-able , but whether it was ethical for the government to lift people out of their poverty and give then a chance at a better life. My Macro-Economic Theory professor pointed out that we could have both Guns and Butter, since the whole defense budget could be paid for by real economic growth.

However, there was the shadow of Vietnam on the horizon. We were studying Vietnam in my Major Problems in American foreign policy course, taught by a young Harvard Hot Shot and student of Henry Kissinger. I remember in class we analyzed the madness of Barry Goldwater's Vietnam policy that would commit three hundred thousand troops Vietnam, bomb North Vietnam "back to the Stone Age "and defoliate the entire country. L.B.J., we were told, would have no such madness and would use limited force to achieve a stable and democratic South Vietnam, with American troops serving only in advisory capacities.

I must add that, as willing as we were to discuss Barry Goldwater's Madness, we were unable to recognize our own. We were less than two years from the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, which by all accounts (even those by the major players like former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara), brought the world to the brink of nuclear Holocaust. Yet we talked about limited Nuclear War as if it were a viable policy alternative. Furthermore, we read the work of theorist Herman Kann, author of Thinking the Unthinkable, who rationally compared nuclear war outcomes in which thirty to forty million American and Soviet citizens were killed as if working out chess problems. I am certain that at least some of my classmates must have risen to the fields of power as I did not, and perhaps it was their ability to put a human face on these horrible figures that lead to a nuclear stand down and end to the cold war.

About this time in 1964, a graduate student Bob Cohen and a number of other radical sociologists from New York were starting to do "TEACH-INS" at U.W. Madison. In these teach-ins, the idea that Americans were always the good guys in the foreign policy arena was held up to rigorous scrutiny. We were the generation of American baby boomers that had just come of age. We were a generation whose fathers and Uncles who had fought in "good war" WW II to save the world from the fascism of Nazi Germany, Italy, and Imperial Japan. This was also a generation who had sent some its best members to the American South to work on voter registration. We thought we were the good guys.

What I remember about the first Vietnam protest and teach-in I attended was Bob Cohen standing on Bascom Hill mall at U.W. Madison, with a large map South East Asia set on an Easel next to him. He yelled for me and a bunch of my friends to come over to look at the map. He then took his pointer and pointed to South Vietnam, and said, "You guys should get to know this place, since lot of you are going to die there."

I remember at the time I was a six foot one, two hundred and sixty-five pound college heavyweight wrestler, and self-proclaimed foreign policy expert. After all, I was a political science major. Funny how little has changed in forty years.

I told Cohen that he did not know what the hell he was talking about. I said,

"America is following a restrained and rational policy of democratic nation building in Vietnam with a very limited use of force. And America will never slip into the madness of Barry Goldwater; our country is for certain going to elect L.B.J., who promised a reasonable and prudent Vietnam policy."

Further, I added that I knew this because, after all,

"I am a junior at U.W Madison, majoring in political theory, foreign policy, and economics and comparative government."

Cohen, who was about half my size with a full and very curly beard said to me,

"If you think America is doing such a great job why don't enlist in the Army as a Tank."

I responded with semi-simian cleverness, by offering to use him and his beard to clean my cannon barrel, if I did enlist.

By April 1965, everything had changed. Johnson had won the election handily but we had now had half a million troops in Vietnam. Worst of all, everything we studied in theory became real, and grades became a life and death matter.

Here I need to mention that for the last forty years I have been a serious tournament chess player, not a great one but a player. This brought me into contact with a lot of bright people in the science and math departments, who seem to gravitate toward the game. Gradually they became my friends an drinking buddies, and I fell away from my former wrestling buddies, some of whom I would meet on the wrong side of fixed bayonets a few years later during the student riots, but that's getting ahead of myself.

Around that time my friend Rich Jensen, a calculus TA, showed me a final exam blue book he was grading next to a pitcher of beer we were sharing in Lorenzo's, which was a campus bar a lot like "The Joint" on University Avenue in Madison. The guy was about a handful of points short of a D minus and had left this note on the last page of his exam along with a drawing of a skull and crossbones. The note said, "If I don't pass this course I will get kicked out of school and lose my student draft deferment. This means I will get drafted and probably get killed in Vietnam."

I told Rich if he gave the guy a D minus, I would buy the next pitcher of beer. Rich went over the exam again, found the guy a few extra points, and passed him.

UW Madison in the Late 1960's, Part II

In order to help you make sense out of this article, it is necessary that I make a slight digression. Forgive me if I move ahead forty years and interject just a little bit of the postmodern philosophy I am presently studying here at U.W. Eau Claire as it relates to language and reality.

In doing this, I am not going to do any philosophical name dropping; because even the concept of me as a knowing subject is verboten in the most radical reiterations of postmodern philosophy. This is a field where it becomes a leap of faith on my part that to think I can write a sentence, in which I communicate even the shadow of my intention to my readers. Further, all meanings are said to exist only in a positional sense as they relate to other language. Therefore, the idea of a referent, that is to say a meaning, and even an idea which underlies, and perhaps even exists outside of any given, language system is trivialized in the most brutal sense, within this discourse.

Yet as I write this article a term asserts itself in my consciousness. This term has affected all aspects of my life. I learned it about ten years ago from my dear friend, and philosophy professor Dan Pekarsky, when I was a graduate student at UW Madison in the late 90's. Dan (a white male with a Doctorate from Harvard) was reflecting on his lifetime of scholarship and being a beneficiary of "white male privilege". Dan reflected that this privilege is invisible to those who have it, and glaringly obvious to those who don't. Further, those who have it assume with the best intent that it is a universal and inalienable human right. In operation what it means (if you have it) is that there is an easy button that you can hit to realize those things you want to achieve. Access to that easy button has a lot to do with the accident of your birth, your skin color, gender, sexual preferences, and social economic reality. Perhaps the simplest example is someone who gets into Harvard because they are legacy; that is to say, they don't have to pass entrance requirements because one of their parents went to school there. In my own life experience it meant that I graduated towards the top of my high school class and got into college rather easily, even though I flunked six subjects in ninth grade. This was because I finished the rest of high school in two years as an honor student, so my principal chose not to certify my junior high school, and my father was sort of connected.

Well my rub with Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) and the rest of the Francophile critical theory enterprise (which has become emblematic of radical postmodernism) is that they would deny the existence of this privilege in any sense that transcended language. I on the other hand argue based on the validity, and generalizing from my and a generations experience that white male privilege was the real deal. It was a real deal before we had a name for it. In the Vietnam era, white male privilege existed in a life and death manner which shaped my generation. Whether we had it our not was literally a life and death matter, even when it did not exist in language.

White male privilege has been with us probably at least as long as writing, and much longer than any contemporary social system, though it seems to manifest itself through all of them. It manifests itself sometimes in simple and didactic ways, and sometimes with mind-boggling complexity. It is so prevalent that it is almost ignored.

It appeared in The New Testament in the form of the apostle Peter's and Paul's Roman Citizenship, which meant that they were granted some semblance of Roman due process rather than being summarily tossed to the lions in the Coliseum. Two thousand years later, it meant that I could be part of a group of students who occupied the Vice President of UW Madison's office for eight hours with him inside, to know with very high degree of confidence that a S.W.A.T. team would not be called in. For that matter, I could stand in front of the National Guard unit patrolling the grounds of the State Capital in Madison, and with some degree of confidence act as if I were bulletproof, along with thousands like me.

It also meant that the cops and The National Guard responded very differently to the Student Riots at U.W. Madison in the late sixties than they did to Watts Riots in Los Angles in 1965. Sections of the African American section of L.A, in which the riots were contained, are still empty lots. Though, I would add that privilege as a student was not a sure thing. There is a bronze tablet and a tree behind the Davies Center here at U.W. Eau Claire, dedicated to the students that were killed when the Ohio National Guard fired on student demonstrators at Kent State in early May of 1970. It is something that makes me very proud to be a part of U.W. Eau Claire. For clarity, I must also add that a crowd of African American Students were fired upon at Jackson State University in Mississippi; at least one was and killed and more than a dozen were wounded.

As one moves to a national level, it is obvious that our last two presidents had white privilege. What this meant was that it bought them time; one had it the form of deferments and one in the form of a National Guard Commission, which kept them out of combat in Vietnam. But in the case of most of us Vietnam Era males who did not serve in the armed forces, it worked a little bit more subtly than that and involved access to knowledge of the appropriate alternatives, and perhaps even more important, access to the necessary language to pursue them. For me this was not necessary because I was classified 1-Y, unsuitable for military service according to the draft board's standard, as I found out shortly after I was sent down to Milwaukee for my draft physical in 1967. I remember an army doctor smiling and telling me I was too short for my weight, even though I was six foot one. He said that according to his chart, someone my weight has to be seven foot six inches tall. I never planned it that way, but it certainly made things easier for me at age twenty-three.

Here I must say something about the fifty-six thousand American men and women who died in combat in Vietnam from the perspective of how I felt then, and how I feel now. As I do, one of the last things that Bill Clinton said publicly in the very early morning, before the polls opened in Maine on Election Day of 1992, comes to mind. It went something like this:

"I loved my country, but I hated the War in Vietnam."

There were a lot of reasons for hating the War, which ranged from the cold, harsh cost-benefit analysis of foreign policy experts, to the transcendent ethical considerations of what was a just war that some theologians raised, to the horrible, disruptive, and costly effect that the war had on American and Southeast Asian Vietnamese generations.

But that does not mean that the American men and women who fought and died from their sense of duty, or over-riding necessity, died for nothing. They died trying to keep themselves and their buddies alive, just as soldiers have always died since there were soldiers, and this is not a small thing. It is a thing I was able to choose not to be a part of. Though three of my friend's names are on the Vietnam War memorial in Washington D.C., I will not go there, though I think it is a sacred thing. I have been to Arlington National Cemetery, which is also hallowed ground. It's hard to say why I won't go past saying that the memorial is not meant for me, it's for them.

Those who died included at least three members of my Madison East High School wrestling Team, where I wrestled as varsity heavyweight at 180 pounds. One was our Junior Varsity 127 pounder Dave Ackerman. Dave had the kind boyish sweetness that you are always surprised you find in a soldier. Robert Caspersen Junior, our 154 pounder, was perhaps the finest, most compassionate man I met in my life. Bob was from a self-made Madison family of Norwegian Lutheran tool and dye makers. When he was brought home in 1967, all of us who served as his pallbearers later helped his father put up a forty-foot flag pole in front of the house, with a dedication to him on a bronze tablet. Our names were written in the cement that held the flag pole. I would add that Bob most reminded me of Joseph Conrad's character "Lord Jim" from his novel of the same name. I bet some of you are still required to read it for your English Literature classes.

Both Bob and Lord Jim went to their deaths, for reasons known only to them. I would in all seriousness say that Bob used to often visit me in my dreams, looking just as he did when he was blond, blue-eyed and twenty-three. I wrote a play about the sense of loss that I felt for all them in 1980. It will be performed in the Hibbard penthouse for Dr. Rowlett's religion and literature class Monday Oct 23rd at 6:00 P.M. The public is invited and refreshments will be served.

I would add that in 1975, Bob's father Robert Caspersen Senior found out that President Gerald Ford had pardoned President Richard M. Nixon after Watergate; he hung the American Flag upside down from that same flag pole. I found this out from my very close friend our Varsity 127 pounder Neal Hauser. Neal died in 1995 of a brain tumor, probably related to exposure to Agent Orange carcinogen that was used to defoliate large areas of South Vietnam in order to remove cover for Guerilla Vietcong Operations.

As I write this, I just realized that I need to write another installment of this article, because of conversations I had today with two U.W. Eau Claire faculty members. Much as I had not intended to, it is necessary for me to write about music, and about "the sexual revolution" from my standpoint living through the late nineteen sixties at U.W. Madison. In the early years of the sixties, among my crew of single males, the prevailing attitude was that sex was something that men got, and women hated. Further, homosexuality was treated at best as a mental illness, until 1973.

Phil Kaveny
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

Star Brigade: First Renaissance
C.C. Ekeke
Llumina Press
7915 W. McNab Road, Tamarac, FL 33321
159526387X $21.95

In 2403, POW fighter pilot Habraum Nwosu is freed having been captured during the Ferronos Sector War. He does not know what to expect in terms of an assignment except probably some desk job when he comes home to Cercidale though he knew he would receive heroic accolades from the leaders of the Galactic Union of Planetary Republics. Instead to his shock he, because of his training and genetic engineered skills is placed in charge of a new elite unit, the Star Brigade consisting of the most experienced best of the best to fight invincible ever changing enemy terrorists. Almost a decade later a weary defeated Habraum goes home to mourn his wife's death in a horrific cargo freighter incident and to wallow with guilt as a sneak attack wiped out his Star Brigade unit. He takes full responsibility for the latter as she should have been prepared so he plans to rusticate while raising his son as a single dad. Without him, the Star Brigade cannot function so when the Korvenite Independence Front (KIF) begins assaults on Union planets, the leadership asks Habraum to rebuild his unit with mostly soldiers not battle tested to fight the deadly KIF, users of WMD. Though somewhat overwhelming as author C.C. Ekeke combines too many subplots (easily could be three interrelated novels), FIRST RENAISSANCE is a fun military science fiction that sub-genre readers will enjoy. The story line is loaded with action and adventure (much more than described above as there still remains for instance the Kedri Imperium-GUPR trade negotiations) that never ends from the moment that the new Star Brigade is formed that serves as the basis of readers believing in the Ekeke twenty-fifth century universe. Habraum is a fine star figure holding this future together even as he struggles to hold him self together. This is an interesting tale making sub-genre readers want to join the Star Brigade.

In Every Flower
Patti Hill
c/o Baker House
PO Box 6287 Grand Rapids MI 49516-6287
0764229397 $12.99

Several years have passed since her spouse died in a biking accident. Mibby Garrett, owner of Perennially Yours Garden Design and mother to fifteen years old Kyle, feels it is time to move on. She accepts the proposal of Larry, who is kind to her teenage son, after they discuss what marriage means to one another. Both feel ready as they know what to expect. After the ceremony, they go off on their honeymoon leaving Kyle with Larry's mother Connie. However, when they return home to set up housekeeping, neither had anticipated the impact of their marriage on their extended family. Connie not only redid the kitchen, but she is over every moment offering unsolicited advice and being hurt when that advice is ignored. Kyle struggles with no longer being the man of the house as much as having a new father. Others are almost as intrusive leaving the newlyweds to wonder if it was worth it. Mibby asks God to help her by guiding her through the chaotic loving interference of others. Book three in the Garden gates tales (see LIKE A WATERED GARDEN and ALWAYS GREEN) is a terrific realistic look at second marriages mostly from the perspective of an intelligent, deeply devout caring person. Indirectly by how they behave to the beleaguered Mibby, the audience also sees how Larry, Ky and Connie react. Still this is Mibby's tale (and trilogy) as she feels so overwhelmed by the actions and reactions of others she wonders whether living in sin would have been a better option before turning to the Lord for guidance. This is a solid character study miniseries that deeply follows a woman from mourning to re-dawning of her life.

I'm Dreaming of Some White Chocolate
Rhonda Rhea
Revell/Baker Book House
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
0800731360 $10.00

Broken into eight parts with five subcategories in each, Rhonda Rhea provides an insightful amusing anecdotal look at the Christmas season in which many find themselves overwhelmed by the demands. The author provides insight into the real traditions and how they help to overcome the "Christmas Busies" that start in some places before Thanksgiving and makes the season feel like a trek through the "Jungle All the Way" until the New Year arrives as a refresher. Not just for Christians, readers will appreciate this rich look at Yuletide with and without kids. Inspirational with discerning looks at the spirit of the season especially the sharing through the authors humorous personal adventures and quotes from Biblical passages representing varying Bible interpretations (sort of religiously correct), I'M DREAMING OF SOME WHITE CHOCOLATE is a fine reminder of why Christmas can be a merry jolly season for all; just make mine a chocolate bell from the Bronx bakeries.

Lorena McCoutney
0800731387 $12.99

Senior citizen Ivy Malone and her young traveling companion Abilene are on their way to Arizona when their RV breaks down outside the small town of Hello. Ivy is on the run from a criminal family the Braxtons, as her testimony is sending one of them to jail. Abilene is on the run from an abusive husband who has vowed to kill her. When they arrive in Hello, the resident mechanic tells them the vehicle needs a new engine. Unable to pay for the repair, Ivy gets a job at the library and Abilene obtains work training to be the vet's assistant. Lawyer Kelli Keifer invites both women to stay at her uncle Hiram's home now empty since he was murdered two months ago. The townsfolk believe she is the killer but Ivy who has taken an immediate liking to the attorney decides to find the real killer because she believes Kelli is innocent. There are plenty of other suspects with strong motives. Readers who like a warm, entertaining, small town cozy with no blood or gore will definitely enjoy STRANDED. The small town welcomes the new visitors and people go out of their way to make them feel at home. The support cast is well developed and fleshes out the ambience of the small town yet the focus stays on Ivy who demonstrates getting old doesn't mean immovable rocking chairs. The mystery itself is well crafted and readers should be very surprised when they learn who the killer is.

Twilight of the Dead
Travis Atkins
Permuted Press
0976555964 $14.95

The world as humans has known it no longer exists. Flesh eating zombies are in control; once bitten a person becomes deathly ill immediately, but twenty-four hours later is reanimated. In Florida, Courtney Calvin's mother has been bitten; her spouse will not leave her, but the National Guard arrives to take them to safety. Only Courtney goes. The group is attacked with everyone left dead except her as a soldier rescues her and brings her to Camp Rigero near Carson City. While at the post, a Black Beret teaches Courtney how to survive and supplies her with equipment to fight the creatures. When the camp is overrun, Courtney is the only survivor. She follows the signs that normals write directing her to the walled in city of East Pointe along with six Black Berets. When Dane, a scientist, arrives after working on the cure for five years he announces he has found the Cure. He gets the Berets to accompany him to a ship where he can obtain the Cure to save the people of the city. However, Dane is not quite what he seems to be placing Courtney back in danger. Zombie lovers will want to read TWILIGHT OF THE DEAD, a tale somewhat similar to the Romero mythos but containing a few surprises from the Atkins diet. The protagonist keeps to herself until she is needed for instance to help get the cure. At those moments she does not hesitate, which explains her survivability rate when everyone in her circle seems to get converted. Travis Atkins provides a refreshing spin to the Zombie movement.

Valley of Silence
Nora Roberts
0515141674 $7.99

The Goddess Morrigan tasked the sorcerer with traveling through space and time to gather together the people who would fight for the life of humanity. Hoyt gathered Cian the vampire, the shifter Larkin, Blair the demon hunter, Glena the witch, and Moira the Scholar princess. Through the dance of the gods they travel to Moira's homeworld of Geall, a medieval like pastoral place that has never known war to make humanity's last stand against Lilith, the vampire queen. If the circle of six and the people of Geall lose, all humanity in all the worlds will be destroyed. The final battle will take place in the Valley of Silence and Moira, who pulled the sword out of the stone that rests upon a fairy mound, is now the queen whom will lead her people. Cian, who was turned against his will by Lilith, sides with the humans even though most fear him. Moira sees him for what he is and loves what she sees; so when she goes to Cian he is helpless to fight his feelings as well as hers. Both know that there is no future in their relationship but for a little while, both will know a love so powerful that it is beautiful to behold. As the battle looms, the circle of six uses innovative battle methods since the vampire horde out numbers them four to one. This concludes The Circle Trilogy and it is by far the best series Nora Roberts has ever written as the author addresses the themes of free will, good vs. evil and the power of love to sustain and strengthen people so they make ethical choices. The tale concentrates on the characters of Cian and Moira, two star-crossed lovers who find solace in each others arms for the present. She is a magnificent warrior queen in the tradition of Boudica and he is the dark gothic hero who puts his lover's needs before his own. VALLEY OF SILENCE is a fantastic work of romantic dark fantasy.

Calling the Dead
Marilyn Meredith
6470A Glenway Avenue, #109, Cincinnati, OH, 45211-5222, USA
1594263523 $11.00

In Bear Creek, California, Felicity Pence calls Pastor Hutchinson because her spouse Arthur is badly ill. Hutch, his wife Deputy Sheriff Tempe Crabtree and her son form her first marriage eighteen years old Blair arrive at the Pence home. However, Arthur is dead. Two teens report finding a body in a nearby river; Tempe investigates and finds Doreen Felton dead. The teens give a fake name and leaves before the detectives Richards and Morison arrive. They assume that Doreen's lover Jimmy Patton killed her. Hutch believes that Felicity killed Arthur so he asks Tempe to investigate though her superior Sergeant Guthrie warns her to stay out of the investigations. Tempe learns that Felicity has had two previous husbands die and soon begins to uncover evidence to support Hutch's contention. She also seeks to prove that Doreen committed suicide though the detectives have two suspects; the only seemingly means to learn what really happened is a paranormal interview of the deceased, which in of itself would never hold up in court. The latest Crabtree police procedural (see JUDGMENT FIRE) is an excellent tale in which the hero investigates two cases that could cost her job even if she proves to be right. Ironically, in the Arthur scenario, Tempe tries to prove murder when natural cause has been ruled; in the Doreen inquiry, she tries to prove suicide when murder is the official position. Readers will enjoy this delightful investigative mystery starring an intrepid heroine seeking justice for the dead and the living.

Until Death Do Us Part
Karen Wiesner
Whiskey Creek Press
PO Box 51052, Casper, WY 82605-1052
1573746970 $5.99

Head of Operations at the crime fighting top secret Network Angelo Pluzetti has proof that his immediate superior, Giles Jameson, the liaison between field operations and the oversight commander Shannon McKee, is a dangerous traitor. Insuring McKee is safe; Pluzetti plans to bring down his boss, who has apparently vanished. If Jameson implements his scheme, the Network will be exposed and subsequently no longer exist. Meanwhile the Network Alpine field team leader Kirsten Ulrick and first position operative Ash Barnett are assigned to go undercover as a married couple to keep witness reporter Raven Harris, who found the evidence that exposed Jameson, and her husband Casey safe from the former Network manager. The two field operatives observe Raven and Casey struggle with their relationship, which was shattered by the death of their child in an accident that is now suspect. Neither Harris trusts in love, but need each other to survive their ordeals. Kirsten and Ash understand how this pair feels because they too love one another, but also fear their hidden affection could prove costly on a mission as duty must come first. The second Incognito book (see NO ORDINARY LOVE) is a fabulous romantic suspense that keeps the intrigue at stratospheric levels throughout without diluting the key players' personalities. The fast-paced story line is character driven as Kirsten and Ash are attracted to one another, but know their mission comes before their desires while the subplot involving the Harris's couple estrangement and grief augments the tale as neither has been able to turn to the other for solace since their child died yet need one another badly even while Raven's exposing of Jameson put them at risk. Karen Wiesner is a sure shot to entertain her audience, which UNTIL DEATH DO US PART will enhance her deserved reputation as one of the sub-genre's consistent best.

Balancing Act
Kimberly Stuart
1600060765 $12.99

Following steak and stitches at that gourmet spot the "birth suite" of St. John's Hospital to celebrate her giving birth to a girl, Springdale High School Spanish school teacher Heidi Elliott returns home to raise her infant with her spouse of five years Jake, owner of Elliot Paints. Six months later Heidi is near a breakdown from the demands of motherhood, teaching, neighborhood, and a few other hoods. Nothing seems the way it was before the birth of baby Nora. Nora is 24/7 smelly no matter how hard Heidi tries to keep her clean for a nanosecond. Meals are late and half cooked while Heidi drops her subscription to National Geographic as she compares her pathetic helplessness to mothers in the Amazon. At work, substitute teacher Ms. Stillwell feels like a failure, Jake seems to spend more time with his new client Jana van Fleet, and Heidi's former live in lover Ben Cooper has moved into the neighborhood while the new parents have no sex life and less and less of a relationship between them. A desperate Heidi joins the Mom's Group where she meets strong females ready to devour outsiders (males and females with no offspring) This is an interesting look at how much having a baby nukes the lifestyles of the parents. The delightful character study centers on mostly Heidi's woes as she finds her world off kilter since giving birth. Teaching is not the same as her students wonder if her humor was removed along with the placenta. Jake is not the same as he prefers time at work over time with his two special girls. Finally Ben is not the same man she remembers though he remains more than just a distraction. Readers especially working mothers will appreciate this well written deep look at a woman's BALANCING ACT failures.

Bad Idea
Todd & Jedd Hafer
Think (Navpress)
1576839699 $12.99

The parents of eighteen years old Griffin Smith are divorced. His mom remarried Maxwell the "Mediocre" novelist; they live on a nonworking farm in Wyoming. His father is engaged to Rhonda the younger woman cliche right out of a novel. The other member of Griffin's extended family is his younger five year old brother. Everyone assumes Griffin has adjusted to separated parents living in two states, but he has not as they are too busy with their own troubles and rationalizations to truly care about him or realize he lives a "secret life". Thus he disciplines himself quite harshly when he believes he has done something wrong like getting drunk. Now Griffin is heading to California to attend college. Dad insists on a road show consisting of Griffin, dad, the cliche, the younger brother Cole, and the best friend Colby. All Griffin wants is to fly to Lewis College to meet his cross country teammates and his pen pal the Carrot, but instead will receive five life lessons while on this bad idea road show from his traveling companions who one turns out to be a Judah, his estranged mom, and most of all the angry coyote he ran over. BAD IDEA is a terrific coming of age tale starring an interesting teen who has big issues but neither of his parents seem aware that he has any problems. Griffin tells the tale of his escapades as he heads west and gains five lessons he will use as solace for the rest of his life starting with the coyote. Readers will empathize with him as he struggles with life and learns from his adventures. The story line is well written, often amusing, but always gripping, as Todd & Jedd Hafer provide deep messages inside a poignant tale of a troubled offspring of divorcees.

Robert Liparulo
WestBow/Thomas Nelson
0785261788 $22.99

The creator customizes his creation so that this strand of the Ebola virus will give a cold to some, but those individuals, whose DNA contain specific readings, will die a painful bloody death; for those the virus seeks will find their insides turn to liquid in a few days. The terrorists who plan to use this new weapon of mass destruction anticipate ten thousand deaths that represent all types of the population as religion, age, gender, or social status mean nothing; DNA decides a minor inconvenience or a painful death. Near CDC Headquarters in Atlanta, FBI Agents Goodwin "Goody" Donnelly and Julia Matheson are meeting Despesorio Vero who has seen first hand what the disease can do. The two men in one car on the interstate are attacked and separated from Julie. She obtains the help of physician Dr. Allen Parker, as they try to track back the virus to ground zero so as to prevent a terrorist attack that will surpass 9/11 in its body count and geography. The technical background data makes the exhilarating story line seem plausible in this action-packed thriller that starts off with a gory death, goes through several surprising twists, and never slows down until the final confrontation. Julia's desperation as she knows the clock is ticking adds to the feel that this could easily happen. Readers who appreciate plenty of confrontation with blood, guts and death everywhere on top of a tense premise will want to read GERM though the tale can prove difficult to follow as there are numerous subplots to follow.

In Pursuit of Anna
Natasha Rostova
Black Lace
0352340606 $7.99

In San Jose, Jump Start Computers CEO Richard Maxwell has his daughter Anna arrested for stealing money from the company's Los Angeles office. His other daughter Erin makes bond for Anna, but hides what she did from her dad and her stepmother Cassandra. Erin should have known better as her bad girl sister Anna jumps bail leaving her to hold the bag. Bail bondsman Gus Walker offers Bail Enforcement Agent Derek Rowland twenty percent if he brings in Anna. He accepts the job even as his protege Freddie James works another case. Derek easily finds the nymphet by following her known sexual habitats. However, Anna persuades Derek that she is innocent and he agrees to help her even as Freddie believes he is using his wrong head. Freddie also has a new lover Gavin who knows how to please her, but her true desire remains hidden as she lusts after Derek who she assumes sees her as a kid sister; that is far from the truth as he is jealous of her new stud. The heat is on and never cools down as seemingly everyone's libido comes into play with this delightfully torrid erotic romantic suspense thriller. Sex is the key relational ingredient to this scorcher, but the bounty hunter (make that bail enforcement agent) chase subplots provide a strong support story line as well as the impetus for the trysts. Fans who appreciate an ultra hot intrigue will vibrate with excitement from the foreplay to the climax.

The Master of Shilden
Lucinda Carrington
Black Lace
c/o Powers Promotion
24165 IH 10 West, # 217-424, San Antonio, Texas, 78257
0352331402 $7.99

In London interior designer Elise St. John changes her mind about seeing her parents; instead she visits her boyfriend Ralph Burnes, who is not happy to see her even when she offers to striptease and make love all weekend with him. He insists that he is attending a stag party, but she orders him on the bed and starts to roughly seduce him when Jemma Harrisford arrives. She informs Elise that he only used her to get a modeling contract before dominating submissive Ralph around as a hurt Elise leaves. Needing to get away from the city, Elise answers an ad in Plays and Players theatric magazine to design erotic rooms for guests at remote Shilden castle in Northumberland. When the job is offered she accepts. As she designs the rooms that turn her on, she finds two local hunks wanting to share her creations with her. She desires riding instructor Blair Devlin and the Master of Shilden Max Lannsen. Rather sooner than she is ready, as Elise fully enjoys the trysts with both men, she knows she must make up her mind and choose one leaving the other behind though loving the spoonfuls of orgasmic bliss each provides her. This is an exhilarating erotic romance that will not be for everyone as Lucinda Carrington provides an ultra heated tale that grips readers from the onset when Jemma grabs Ralph's erection forcing him to submit to her dominatrix control and never cools down as Elise finds her fantasies fulfilled. With all the erotica going on, surprisingly Elise is three dimensional and her two Northumberland lovers are full blooded developed characters who bring more than just their lower head to the tale. Sub-genre fans will want to read THE MASTER OF SHILDEN while wondering who will Elise end up stripping for, if either (perhaps old George instead), permanently.

The Hidden Assassins
Robert Wilson
0151012393 $25.00

In Seville, Inspector Jefe Javier Falcon investigates the brutal murder of a naked male, whose mutilated corpse was uncovered at the city's dump. The victim's face was removed by acid and his wrists surgically carved off. Falcon in spite of his mantra to stay distant struggles with the images. However, this makes him realize his not exclusive relationship with Laura must end because he wants restaurateur Consuelo Jiminez back in his life. At the same time the cop deals poorly with the homicide and his personal life, an explosion rocks the city. An apartment building and an adjacent kindergarten lay in ruins. Many die as first responders try to rescue those they can. The residents of Seville are in a state of panic when it is learned that in the basement of the rubble is a mosque. While the local and national law enforcement and media assume Islamic terrorism, Falcon begins to see a different venue that connects the bombing with the defaced corpse. Though alone, he soon begins peeling one layer at a time a monstrous conspiracy that if executed could devastate the west leaving many dead, but the clock is running out on him. In his third appearance (see THE SILENT AND THE DAMNED and THE BLIND MAN OF SEVILLE), Falcon is at his best as he struggles with the gruesome murder, the explosion, and has no time to repair his personal life. The investigation is top rate as the Inspector begins to slowly connect the dots that soon make him doubt the prevalent theory on the bombing and leads him towards a more horrific conclusion that something bigger is coming. Readers will appreciate his efforts to prevent a monstrous disaster in this tense conspiratorial thriller.

Glass Tiger
Joe Gores
01501011214 $24.00

The CIA and the FBI deem the threat real. Apparently legendary American assassin Hal Corwin, though dead for years, has resurfaced with the election of Gustave Wallberg to the Presidency. Hal sent a congratulatory note to his former best friend, the president elect, by simply mailing a note: "Congratulations to a dead president. Corwin." The FBI decides the best man for the job of stopping Corwin is retired Ranger and former CIA assassin Brendan Thorne, who swore he would do no more violence though he was selected from a special top secret data base because of his feral skills that match that of Corwin. Reluctantly, Thorne leaves his Kenyan home to hunt his elder but equal predator in order to prevent the murder of the next president, but as he seeks his prey nothing is quite like the way the Feds insist it is. Fans of action-packed thrillers that grip the audience from the onset and never let go until the final confrontation though throughout the readers knows that there are questionable plausibility gaps will appreciate Joe Gores' fast-paced tale. The story line never slows down as Corwin surfaces with his threat from Truckee, California. Mr. Gores' readers will enjoy the battle between two highly skilled killers (sort of like the first Ali-Frazier fight) not knowing what will happen next and who will remain standing.

The Good Nearby
Nancy Moser
Tyndale Press
1414301626 $12.99

Margery has two desires in life; she wants to be considered a loving equal by her spouse and she desperately wants a child. Angie loves her spouse, but his obsessive need to control her every action is driving her crazy; she just wants his love and trust. Gladys has been so independent and strong, no one has ever gotten close to her; now she is going blind and fears the darkness, her lost freedom, and no one to love her. Gennifer is so ashamed of her health problem she cannot tell her loved ones what ails her; instead her behavior is driving her spouse to another woman and her daughter seeking solace elsewhere. A bone weary Talia feels like Job had it made as her husband is dying unless he obtains a heart transplant; she needs to be there for him and their baby while also bringing in money and by the way is pregnant. Gigi feels all alone since the only person who loved her, Grammy died years ago; she ponders about being with the Lord and her Grammy as death seems her only salvation unless she learns her Grammy's message that all lives are sacred to the Lord who is always THE GOOD NEARBY. The beauty of this terific inspirational tale is in spite of the woes facing this ensemble crew, the story line never turns maudlin or soap operish although Nancy Moser goes deep into the fragile psyche of her female cast. Each of the key six characters are unique and fully developed so that even with so many players (including extended family members), the audience knows who's who. The message summarized by Grammy (when she was alive) to her beloved granddaughter is even in the darkest moment God is the GOOD NEARBY to help you.

Django Wexler
1020 Cedar Ave #2N, St. Charles, IL 60174
1932815716 $14.99

Sixteen years Lina was driving the car with her fourteen year old sister Sylph sitting in the passenger seat when the old man stepped in front of their vehicle. Lina tried to avoid him, but the car crashed leaving both Walker sisters dead. However, instead of going on to heaven, they end up in a cave of sorts. Frightened, the siblings step out of the hole in the ground into this strange landscape. Lina picks up a glowing sword and soon fights a female warrior. Word spreads that a woman has a magical sword and soon the ruling Archmagi, who dominate Omega, demand she provide it to them her or else. Sylph and Lina flee for their lives though they do not understand what that means having died once when they lived on earth. With no recourse, the siblings join the rebel Circle Breakers with the group insisting that Lina is their Liberator, who will free them. At about the same time fourteen earth years old Sylph, with no military or any fighting experience except sisterly squabbles, is named warleader and put in charge of the rebel forces just before they are to bring the war to the Archmagi. Losses on both sides will only "feed" the Lightbringer yet confrontation is imminent and neither sister feels confident they can do the job. SHINIGAMI (A Japanese legend somewhat equivalent to the Grim Reaper) is a fascinating fantasy that takes quite a sardonic view on the afterlife. The story line in some ways is a coming of age tale as the two siblings have to grow up fast when their deaths lead incongruously to life threatening situations on a world in which magic not science dominates. Readers will appreciate this complex ironic look at life after death on Omega.

K. Michael Wright
1020 Cedar Ave #2N, St. Charles, IL 60174
1932815465 $26.95

Known as the Blue Prince of Tollan, Topiltzin is asked by his subjects to take up the mantle of kingship since it is believed that his father Sky Dragon is dead. He has no desire to rule and instead goes south to learn how to play rubberball; over time he becomes a champion. He never thought he would become a warrior or participate in a war, but that is what happens when the Sorcerer King Smoking Mirror and his horde invade the Tolteca Empire. Smoking Mirror and his minion are cannibals who eat their victims in order to gain more dark magical power. The Sorcerer believes that the Tolteca people have turned away from the one God and according to the prophecy his horde will defeat his opponents. Topiltzin is fighting Smoking Mirror when he is mortally injured, but he is rescued by a shipload of women. For years they live together in Paradise raising a family until he knows it is time to return home to defeat evil and restore the empire. This is a complex historical fantasy epic filled with action and intrigue. The story occurs between 421 and 576 AD in South America where atrocities rival that of Pol Pot, Amin, and Hitler. The antagonists are imbued with supernatural abilities that make them very formidable while Tollen is a dilettante and idealist turned into pragmatic warrior by their horrible actions. K. Michael Wright gets the reader to believe they are in danger because they are there.

Finding Noel
Richard Paul Evans
Simon & Schuster
0743287037 $19.95

Mark Smart is extremely depressed. First he made all "A"s in his first year at the University of Utah, but due to cutbacks at the school his scholarship is dropped, his job at the Registrar terminated, and he cannot afford to remain there. His Alabama hometown girlfriend of four years sent him a Dear John letter informing him she is engaged to someone else. At work cleaning toilets at West High School, he is accused of stealing a CD player. These are minor nuisances that add to his anguish. Eleven days ago his beloved mom Alice died. Now driving at night in November, he plans to join her. In Salt Lake City during an early snowstorm, Mark's sixteen years old car dies. He enters The Java Hut coffee shop as they are closing the place down for the night. There he meets kind hearted Macy Wood, who lets him cry on her shoulders. They quickly become friends, and soon afterward Mark knows his feelings are more than just gratitude; he is in love. He proposes, but Macy says no. As he returns to Alabama to mend things with his estranged stepfather Stuart, another waitress Joette, who raised a teenage Macy, knows Macy loves Mark and plans to bring them back together even as his stepfather insists he go fight for what he loves. FINDING NOEL is a terrific allegorical tale that provides readers with encouragement to go after what you cherish and as a reminder that it is not the biological but the nurturing that makes love. Like Joseph raised someone else's child, Stuart and Joette were there to bring up a person not related to them by blood. Well written with a strong cast, Richard Paul Evans provides a wonderful life holiday tale.

Seeking Whom He May Devour
Fred Vargas
Simon & Schuster
074328402X $14.00

In the Southern Alps-Maritimes section of France, four sheep are killed at Ventebrune; nine at Pierrefort. The locals insist it is the brutal work of a feral pack of wolves led by a gigantic beast like none ever seen before. They believe this beast will turn to devouring humans soon. At Les Ecart five sheep belonging to Suzanne Rosselin are killed and three others badly wounded. Canadian Lawrence Johnstone works with wolves at the Mercantour National Park; he investigates the sheep killings and knows Suzanne through his live-in lover Camille. Suzanne accuses hermit-like Monsieur Massart of being a werewolf, but she dies when the giant beast attacks her. Johnstone thinks Suzanne was close to the truth, but Massart is not a supernatural creature, but has trained a wolf to do his killings. The local police still believe a large wolf is the culprit while everyone else concurs with the late Suzanne's theory of a werewolf on the prowl. As other people die, Commisaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg begins his inquiry though he is unhappy that his former lover Camille is here with the Canadian. He scans the police reports until he finds a clue that makes him believe he knows exactly what is happening. SEEKING WHOM HE MAY DEVOUR is a fantastic French police procedural starring an intelligent eccentric commissaire and a delightful support cast though support is a loose term in this superior thriller as Jean-Baptiste enters the fray later than usual for a hero. That will not matter as readers will join the locals debating who or what is the killer, wolves, werewolf, or human predator. Fred Vargas provides a tense gripping tale that readers will fully appreciate from start to finish.

Act of Treason
Vince Flynn
0743270371 $25.95

In Georgetown the motorcade carrying Democratic presidential candidate, Georgia Governor Josh Alexander and his running mate Senator Mark Ross is attacked by a daring plan that smells of al-Qaeda with bombs exploding and death seemingly everywhere starting with the potential First Lady. The country is outraged and filled with sympathy so two weeks later, Alexander and Ross win the election in a landslide; exit polling showed a strong feeling that a message was sent to the terrorists as much as grieving the loss of the First Lady. While the media and the FBI seek Middle Eastern terrorists, CIA Director Irene Kennedy and Agent in Charge Skip McMahon find evidence that leads to an alternative inside the Beltway scenario. Agent Mitch Rapp is assigned to uncover the truth though the CIA leadership fears where they think it will end up as they know that if their hunch is right it will take profiles in courage to insure justice occurs. Though some important secondary subplots seem implausible, fans will appreciate this action-packed political thriller reminiscent of the best of Clancy. The story line starts off with an explosive lethal onset and never slows down until the final drink of water. Vince Flynn is at his best with this exhilarating whodunit as everyone assumes t is foreign terrorists who did the deed except the CIA brass whose theory seem as far fetched as planes crashing the Twin Towers yet they still wonder if someone committed an ACT OF TREASON.

Embracing the Moonlight
Wayne Jordan
1583147810 $5.99

While recovering in the hospital from shots that nearly killed him, forty years old Bureau Agent Mason Sinclair feels survivor guilt as his partner for over a decade died in the case that went ugly. He knows his career is over as he is just beginning to relearn to walk. His jet setting mom fifty-six years old Carolyn comes to see her offspring to tell him the truth. His biological dad is not the late loving John, but instead his father is Joshua Buchanan who just died and that Mason has three half-brothers. Mason decides to visit his paternal family on Barbados once he is fully mobile on his own feet. Several months later as Mason begins plans to meet his siblings, Lianne Thomas is assigned to go undercover as a nanny to the son of Jason Clarkson, the star witness in the murder of Philip McMaster. Her job is to keep Jason safe so he can testify against the powerful Cordoni. When Mason and Lianne meet, sparks fly. However, as they fall in love in the Caribbean, she knows the mission comes first while he sees signs of a professional that make him wonder who she really is. The lead couple is a fabulous pairing as readers will like both these law enforcement officials while realizing right away they are soulmates. The setting is terrific as Wayne Jordan brings out the flavor beyond the tourist section of Barbados so that the audience obtains a real taste of the island. Though there is too many subplots to keep track of (several of which could easily be the basis for future novels), EMBRACING THE MOONLIGHT is a superb contemporary romantic suspense that sub-genre fans will enjoy and like not subtle Harriet want more Barbados tales.

More than Words, Volume Three
Susan Wiggs, Karen Harper, Kasey Michaels, Catherine Mann & Tori Carrington
0373836589 $13.95

"Homecoming Season" by Susan Wiggs. Miranda survived breast cancer partially due to the help of her family; now she needs to repay them by living life to the fullest. "Find the Way" by Karen Harper. The mugger left Miranda blind and feeling helpless. To regain some of the freedom she once had, she decides to obtain a seeing eye dog, who becomes more than an aide. "Here Comes The Heroes" by Kasey Michaels. Librarian Anna sees Forest carrying an upset blind little boy to her. The child teaches Anna how to open her eyes to the world. "Touched By Love" by Catherine Mann. Laura is so proud of her young teenage son who not only survived a liver transplant, but he tries out for a baseball team. However, when the coach out of fear for the kid's safety cuts him, Laura decides to pitch a new concept so he can swing the bat. "A Stitch in Time" by Tori Carrington. "But Mom" works long hours and loves her children, but feels empty until the handsome doctor teaches her there is more to life than a job. This anthology is as always one of the best inspiration collections on the market as the tales are well written heartwarming life stories while the intro to each is based on a real support organization. This year's worthy groups are Cottage Dreams (, Puppies Behind Bars (, Team Activities for Special Kids – TASK (, Seedling Braille Books for Children (, and Stitches from the Heart (

Sheer Dynamite
Jennifer Skully
0373771320 $5.99

Her family is known for their psychic skills yet Opal Smith and Grandma Blue are the only who have no talent. Her brother has a TV show and is internationally renowned, a chip off the old paternal block. Her mother is the choice psychic of the rich and famous; she cares for her golden son, but detests her daughters for their minimal or no talent. Opal and her sister Pearl co-own Bedazzled where Pearl reads tarot cards to satisfied customers. Opal handles the finances insuring the two siblings turn a profit. However, Opal wishes she had some talent so that she can feels like a real Smith. When Opal sees a phantom fall from an overpass, she excitedly hits her breaks causing the guy behind her Jack Davis to plow into her vehicle. She explains why and he assumes she is a lunatic. When she also says she will stalk the bridge to prevent someone form leaping, he thinks she is certifiable, but he cannot believe he has the need to keep her safe. As Grandma Blue matchmakes her granddaughter with Jack, who she claims is the late race car driver Dynamite Davis, they fall in love. SHEER DYNAMITE is a beguiling lighthearted romantic romp starring a horde of psychics and one bewildered "abnormal" (only in a Jennifer Skully tale could a regular person be considered abnormal) The escapade filled tale grips the audience from the dynamite moment when Opal slams on her breaks and never takes a respite until the final climax. The story line is an amusing satirical look at the sub-genre with several fine subplots such as the on and off and on romance between Pearl and the kinetic psychic Nile; all of which enhance the prime plot. The eccentric cast whimsically enchants contemporary readers with a charming romantic fantasy.

Kimberly Iverson
0373771347 $13.95

Just turned eighteen, Rhyddes ferch Rudd realizes that her father loathes her though she has always been obedient and hard working. When raiders arrive, he calls the names of seven of his children to help him defend their home; he leaves out only Rhyddes. Not longer after successfully defeating the Picts, her dad sells Rhyddes into slavery where eventually Gladiator Master Jamal buys her and renames her Liberty. She proves to be one of the best gladiators inside the ring as no one matches her ferocity and prowess. However, she remains a slave craving freedom and the love of the son of the Roman Governor of Britannia Marcus Calpurnius Aquila. They met because he also fights inside the ring as a gladiator though he volunteers unlike the woman he loves, a taboo for a Roman politician. LIBERTY is a more a historical tale than a romance as the deep tidbits bring to life the ancient Roman occupation of Britain. The story line focuses on the forbidden love between the female Celt and the male Roman, but that takes a back seat to the era. Based on a real archeological find, Kimberly Iverson provides an intriguing tale starring a woman warrior (now if Hollywood can find a female to Crowe about).

One More Time
Claire Cross
0425211983 $14.00

Leslie Coxwell is stunned to wake up and find her spouse Matt's side of their bed not slept in. She knows tongue twisting his tonsils will not solve what is bothering him though that has worked for the eighteen years they have been together. When she finds Matt he is drunk. Yesterday he lost the Laforini case to his brother James the prosecutor while his disappointed father committed suicide. Matt tells her she is no longer there for him and takes one last kiss before leaving. Stunned Leslie has to get their rebelling teen Annette off to school, save her job from Dinkleman the hot shot barracuda, and find a way to get back the man she loves, who left for New Orleans. Matt has two goals; neither involves competent Leslie though he admits he still loves her. He plans to appeal and get freed his client and he will fulfill his dream that he tabled to please his father by going to law school instead of becoming an author and writing a book. What Matt never factored into his giving up on his current life is Leslie who has not given up on the man she loves even if he is with his former fiancee. Though there is a legal procedural subplot, ONE MORE TIME is a relationship drama starring a middle aged man no longer willing to settle for anything less than his dreams even though he assumes that means giving up on the woman he has loved for almost two decades and still loves. Readers will empathize with Matt who cannot take it anymore, but also frown on his fleeing responsibilities as everyone cannot just walk away. Still they will root for him to regain his compassion for life while also hoping for a second chance at love for him and Leslie.

Never Kiss a Stranger
Madeleine Ker; art by Mayu Kasumi
Harlequin Pink
0373180039 $7.99

Popular but lonely romance writer Mamie Pendergast and her assistant Laura Golightly are in Nice, France where the author plans to write her next book. However, due to a hotel mix-up, the room she always uses has been given to a Mr. Ivan Actopal leaving an irate Mamie next door. Not long afterward Laura catches a thief wearing a mask in their room. She goes into protective mode, but the felon leaves. The next night at a reception, Mamie introduces Laura to her friend Caesar Labertov, CEO and chief designer of Aeromed Airplane manufacturing. Laura recognizes him from his eyes and voice as the thief who took nothing except a kiss. Laura and Caesar are attracted to one another and she shows her intelligence when she realizes he was seeking something from Actopal not Mamie. He explains that someone stole a CD with design data for the Churchill plane model and sold it to Actopal who plans to sell it to Caesar's rival Cyrus. As Laura and Caesar fall in love, she not only trusts him she risks her life to try to get back the CD. This is a cute tale that targets twelve to thirteen years old girls as Manga art is combined with a fun wholesome romantic suspense with less of a message than the previous Harlequin Pink tales contain. The art and text of this graphic book is excellent though readers will have to adjust to the right to left story line even with an instruction page included. As with NO COMPETITION and JINXED, a paradigm is needed to accept manga in romance instead of the usual fantasy, but worth the time as NEVER KISS A STRANGER is a well written and well drawn thriller.

Prince Needs a Princess
Barbara McMahon; art by Reiko Kishida
Harlequin Pink
0373180020 $7.99

King Gilliam III of Marik sends his loyal subject Clarissa Dubonet to bring home the heir to the kingdom, American Jack Brown. To her shock Jack refuses to meet his royal grandfather and rejects the crown. He explains that his grandfather disowned his father when he came from the small Pyrenees Kingdom to America where he died. She says he is the only hope to continue the centuries old line as his cousin and uncle died in a motorboat accident. When he learns his cousin was her fiance, Jack insults her by saying she just wants to use him to enable her to become queen. He feels bad about his comment and agrees to visit the kingdom to tell his grandpa no thanks. In Marik, Jack begins to see that the country needs economic development to help the people. He and Clarissa fall in love, but she refuses to leave her home and he wants nothing to do with his estranged grandfather. It appears there is no chance that Jack and his grandfather can find a way to end their estrangement or Jack and Clarissa can find a way to allow love to blossom. This is a cute tale that targets twelve to thirteen years old girls as Manga art is combined with a fun wholesome romance with the subtle message to respect all people regardless of one's lot in life. The art and text of this graphic book is excellent though readers will have to adjust to the right to left story line even with an instruction page included. As with NO COMPETITION and JINXED, a paradigm is needed to accept manga in romance instead of the usual fantasy; those who do will enjoy this fun somewhat too simplistic well written and well drawn tale.

Day LeClaire; art by Akemi Maki
Harlequin Pink
0373180012 $7.99

Industrial Toy Company President Steve Sinclair is upset with the unsafe practices of his R&D section. He informs his R&D Director Kit Mallory this will change or else. When an incident occurs involving his mother he accuses her of sabotage. She is hurt because she cares about the firm and loves her job. The next day he apologizes as his mother said she caused the problem and that he realizes Kit is valuable to the company. He persuades her to let him accompany her when she visits her family. They kiss and soon become engaged as both confess their love for one another. However, he demands she quit working especially after a child is born while she feels she can do both. His childhood with a workaholic mother leaves no room for compromise; Kit breaks off from Steve and quits the company. This is a cute tale that targets twelve to thirteen years old girls as Manga art is combined with a fun wholesome romance with the subtle message to treat people as individuals and not stereotypes though recognizing that the childhood experiences shapes the adult. The art and text of this graphic book is excellent though readers will have to adjust to the right to left story line even with an instruction page included. As with NO COMPETITION, a paradigm is needed to accept manga in romance instead of the usual fantasy. JINXED is a fun, amusing, well written and well drawn tale.

True Confessions of the Stratford Park PTA
Nancy Robards Thompson
Harlequin Next
0373881126 $5.50

Aunt Barbara invites her depressed widowed niece Maggie to move into the family home in Villa Magnolia, Florida. Needing a change and worried about her young daughter Maggie accepts the offer and does. Barbara hopes that having relatives will help her with her late in life Downs Syndrome child as her spouse is too busy chasing women to care about either of them. Their neighbor Elizabeth is a supermom and super wife, but her perfect life imploded when she learns she is pregnant. These three women have secrets that they hide from everyone. Slowly as they bond as sisters with their link being their daughters, this trio of mothers reveals to one another their biggest fears and strongest desires which does not include joining the Stratford Park PTA. This is a well written character study that rotates the first person point of view between the three females. The key to the tale is that the trio seems real with their secrets, their concerns and fears, and their relationships especially with one anther and their daughters, yet each has differing personalities. Nancy Robards Thompson provides a solid look at motherhood.

Once in a Blue Moon
Lenora Worth
Harlequin Next
0373881142 $5.50

In Shreveport, Louisiana, her friends assume that Lola Nelson has moved on since the death of her spouse because she seems so together. However, at night Lola feels alone and wonders if life is worth it. She needs a change to bring back the passion of life that died with her husband. So she decides to fulfill a childhood dream by buying a blue beach house in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Lola is accompanied by her beach bunnies pals the still married Shelby Harold, now single Emma Strickland, and Chloe Simons, whose mother is unable to take care of herself. The weary four over drinks share their disappointments in relationships when the horde that of three them left behind descend on them in need; for Lola the neighbor begins to fulfill her need. The tale starts off as a serious character study starring a lonely woman, but quickly turns into a deep amusing look at relationships as the four females escape the horde only to be invaded not long afterward. This is reminiscent of Groucho's cabin scene in A Night at the Opera. The humorous invasion adds to the glimpse of living not just surviving after a loved one dies as Lola sees the differences first hand. ONCE IN A BLUE MOON is well worth reading.

Which End Is Up?
Patricia Kay
Harlequin Next
0373881118 $5.50

Cleary her father's daughter, attorney Grace Campisi has always been a responsible person while setting goals for herself including earning money by doing hard work, dedication, and success at getting a partnership at her law form. Her sister Perry is more of a live life for today as she is more like their mother with no cares in the world as they let others deal with problems. Now Perry arrives at Grace's apartment nine months pregnant, pleading poverty and no father, her reluctant sister takes her in. Perry gives birth, but six weeks later she is acting as always: selfishly without a look back; Perry deserts her child leaving Grace to clean up more than just excrement. Grace must decide between her plan for success which means giving up her niece for adoption as her sister cannot be trusted to take care of anyone but herself or raising the baby. The comparison between the sisters make for an interesting tale as the audience wonders how the Campisi siblings came form the same house. The story line is filled with angst as Grace must decide what to do when Perry decamps. Though the ending is to ribbon tied happily ever after, readers will appreciate this superb tale of two sisters.

No Competition
Debbie Macomber; manga art by Yukino Hara
Harlequin Pink
0373180004 $7.99

Carrie the artists has always felt like a pale imitation of her twin sister beauty consultant Camille. When she does a portrait of the beautiful Carrie, critics think it is a masterpiece as it hangs in San Francisco's Daupe Gallery. However, no one seems to know that the model is her twin. Architect Shane wants to buy the painting and meet the artist. When they do meet, they begin to date until Carrie falls in love with Shane. However, when she sees him dancing with Camille, she knows another boyfriend has fallen for the beauty of her sibling, but this is the first time her heart has broken. This is a cute tale that targets twelve to thirteen years old girls as Manga art is combined with a fun wholesome romance with a bit of a message to believe in yourself and not waste time being jealous of others. Adults will appreciate both the art and text of this graphic book though we have to adjust to the right to left (probably take 3 or 4 pages) boxes while young adults will smoothly handle the transition. Though a paradigm is needed to accept manga in romance instead of the usual fantasy, NO COMPETITION is a fine well written and well drawn tale.

Secrets Between Them
C.J. Carmichael
Harlequin SuperRomance
0373713746 $5.50

Biographer Nick Lancaster has conducted intense research on his next subject, jazz singer Simone DeRosier, who was murdered at the height of her fame. He feels he has more than enough to complete the book if he can learn one more thing that bothers him. Who is the "one true friend" that Simone seemed to always turn to? Nick travels from New York to Summer Island near Vancouver to determine whether B&B owner Jennifer March is the elusive one. However, he finds himself attracted to the woman he is deceiving and believes she reciprocates. That is until she learns what a rat he is. Now he must convince her that his feelings for her have nothing to do with his work. This is an interesting contemporary romance in which the lead couple learns that even love may not prove strong enough to overcome deception. Nick knows that he owes Jennifer the truth, but fears what will happen to their relationship when he does. Jennifer is stunned that he "used" her to obtain information. Readers will appreciate this fine tale as Nick must find a way to persuade his beloved that he is a saint not a sinner.

Out of Control
Janice Macdonald
Harlequin SuperRomance
0373713789 $5.50

English biographer Nicholas Wynne crosses the ocean and the continent to write a book on renowned painter Frank Truman. The writer hoped that Fran's daughter Daisy would cooperate, but she wants nothing to do with any work involving her late father; besides which she has trust problems with males starting with her late dad and ending with her ex spouse. Her childhood was a roller coaster ride of great excitement in between vast moments of isolated loneliness. Nick's persistence begins to convert Daisy and soon she agrees to assist him. As their attraction grows, Nick uncovers a traumatic childhood secret of Daisy that he feels rounds out the complete picture of her dad, but could cost him the love of his life, who already believes that men lie. The key to this drama is the lead couple as readers see up front Daisy's vulnerability and Nick's driving ambition. When they fall in love, she expects him to fail her and he internally wars with the complete bio vs. love. Fans will enjoy this fine contemporary romantic tale in which a dead person serves as matchmaker and heartbreaker.

The Bad Son
Linda Warren
Harlequin SuperRomance
0373713754 $5.50

Waco family lawyer Beau McCain loves Macy Randall, but he has little hope of gaining her trust as she was burned badly in her first marriage. Adding to his unhappiness is that he believes she sees him as her big brother, someone's strong shoulder available when she needs one. When her troubled pregnant sister Delia comes home to give birth, Macy turns to Beau for strength as she knows that her sibling is incapable of nurturing a child. However, when her sibling abandons her newborn Zoe, Macy needs Beau even more so. He finally tells her he loves her and she says she cares too much to tie him down with a woman who cannot bear children. However, Beau has a new incentive to persuade his beloved that they can raise a loving family together staring with the baby left behind. THE BAD SON is an interesting contemporary romance starring two likable lead characters who readers know early on love one another, but seem doomed to never forging a relationship beyond friendship though the baby obviously serves as a matchmaker. In some ways Delia is the more fascinating character as the audience observes her destructive behavior and even after she leaves begins to learn about her legal issues on top of her behavioral problems. The fourth McCain brother tale is an interesting family drama.

Bourbon Street Blues
Maureen Child
Harlequin Hotel Marchand
0373389426 $4.99

At the bar in the Hotel Marchand, jazz singer Holly Carlisle recognizes Mr. Misery as she sang at his wedding. She goes over to say hello to businessman's Parker James, who at first does not recognize her until she mentions the wedding that he never should have said yes to ten years ago; now the messy divorce is all over the local papers as Frannie accuses him of sabotaging the import division of the family company that he gave his share to her as part of the settlement. He admits he came to the bar in the middle of the afternoon to hear her perform and ask her if she would be interested in playing in his new club Parker's Place. She accepts his offer, but soon Holly and Parker become lovers while Frannie makes life miserable for everyone associated with her ex. She goes so far as to sabotage his new endeavor interfering with shipments and continues her hate campaign to destroy Parker. However, when she turns her venom on Holly, she chose someone with claws willing to strike back unlike Parker who is ready to surrender. BOURBON STREET BLUES is an interesting character study inside of a contemporary romance. Frannie the mean queen is a fascinating manipulator who plays Holly and Parker like a virtuoso violinist. Courageous Holly is an ethical person who refuses to allow threats, extortion or bribes to stop her from achieving her life dreams. However, Parker seems shallow next to the dynamic females as he is ready the throw in the towel (or at least raise the white towel high) at every setback. Still fans will enjoy the latest New Orleans Hotel Marchand tale.

The Night We Met
Pamela Morsi, Karen Kendall & Colleen Collins
0373837283 $5.99

"The Panty Reid" by Pamela Morsi. In the 1950s, high school and college staff discouraged girls from studying advanced science curriculum. Dot knows that first hand, but loves science and is taking organic chemistry in spite of the scorn. During a panty raid fellow student Hank joins his male peers on lingerie larceny, but is caught by campus police. Attracted to one another, Hank wants the real Dorothy while Dot wonders if the man she loves means costing her dream of becoming a scientist. "Frame by Frame" by Karen Kendall. World Sophisticate Travel and Lifestyle Magazine Editor Addison warns super talented photographer Pete that he must stop terrorizing those involved with his on site shoots; to keep him in line she sends her assistant Natalie. To his shock, he is attracted to his "guard" while she reciprocates as the big bad wolf's bite is tender. "Three Wishes" by Colleen Collins. In 1971 San Francisco Chronicle junior reporter Christie is undercover working on an assignment on how it feels to be an antiwar activist. At the military recruiting station, she tries to get military recruits to sign her petition. Air Force Captain Mac demands she leave, but she refuses so he has arrested, but not before he kisses her. That night he bails her out so that she can spend Thanksgiving with loved ones, which turns out to be him. The three couples are on a tour in Thailand when they exchange the tales of their first meeting with their life mate. The authors provide solid contributions, but especially fascinating are the feels for the 1950s and 1971 as we've come a long way baby.

The Rake's Proposal
Sarah Elliott
0373294204 $5.50

In 1817 England, twenty-four years old Katherine Sutcliff does not want to marry as she prefers spending her time at the family shipyard than serving tea to suitors. However, she knows she has no choice but to find a spouse who will stay out of the way while she runs her late father's business, as his will demands that she marry or lose her inheritance. Her plan is simple: find some easy to control throwaway preferably smaller than her tall size and make him sign a legally binding prenuptial agreement. She turns to her brother Robert to find this paragon for her. However, instead she changes her mind and decides his best friend, rakish Benjamin Sinclair is perfect though he physically and emotionally does not fit her prototype. Since he wants no wife to interfere with his womanizing he is ideal except for one problem; she wants him. Ben avoids Kate like she is a shrew until questionable incidents occur as someone tries to abduct the spirited female. Now Ben feels obligated as a matter of honor to keep kissable Kate safe though marrying her was not his plan. THE RAKE'S PROPOSAL is an amusing regency romantic suspense thriller headlined by two likable protagonists who have successfully shunned marriage until now. Readers will enjoy the chick lit like asides from Kate and Ben that enable the audience to observe up front and personal their transformation to love. The intrigue not only plays a matchmaking role, but augments a fun historical that sub-genre fans will want to read.

The Goodbye Groom
Ellen James
Harlequin American
0373751400 $4.99

In New Mexico, Jamie Williams is at the altar waiting to say I do but the groom, Shawn Sinclair fails to show up. Her mother insists that he is like all men worthless, but Jamie cannot accept her explanation. Her answering machine has a simple apology from Shawn. Jamie demands an explanation so she travels to Shawn's hometown, Saint Anne Island, a Washington State barrier island. However, her groom is not there; instead she meets his brother Eric and his daughter seven years old daughter Kaitlin. Eric has no idea where his sibling has gone to hide, but has no interest in helping him this time as he has done too many times in the past. Jamie wants to wait a while assuming Shawn will show up here so Eric offers her a deal. He will assist her and even lodge her if she in turn brings smiles to his solemn little girl. Eric realizes he was a terrible father until Leah divorced him and left him with their offspring, but though he tries Kaitlin can cut him up with little things like making an appointment to see him. Though a distraction for him, he hopes Jamie can help him reach his believed little girl. Soon Jamie is thankful that Shawn jilted her as she has fallen in love with Eric and Kaitlin. Readers hearts will go out to the solemn little girl who steals the show with her reactions to the as "big as" theories on life and love. The story line is character driven as Jamie is sort of like a Mary Poppins with the magic of love as her enchantment. Ellen James writes a delightful tale in which three believable individuals begin to develop strong relationships that touch the hearts of the audience.

The Rebel
Jan Hudson
Harlequin American
0373751397 $4.99

On her way home after quitting the FBI and divorcing her cheating spouse Matt, Belle Starr Outlaw takes sick near the New Mexico-Texas border. She stops at a motel where she calls her brother Sam telling him to come get her as she is dying. Sam and his friend Gabe Burrell arrive to find Belle very ill. They take her to the nearest hospital where she is diagnosed with pneumonia. Upon release from the hospital, Belle needs a place to finish healing, but does not want her parents hovering over her. Gabe takes her to his home in Wimberley where his mother and sister reside as chaperones. As she considers her future while recuperating from her illness, she finds herself falling in love with Gabe, but though he feels the same way, both remain wary as he like her just got a divorce. THE REBEL is a congenial contemporary small-town romance starring two nice protagonists and a diverse somewhat eccentric support cast. The "conflict" between Gabe and Belle is caused by both having just recently become victims of the divorce wars so that both are wary to go for anything beyond the immediate moment. Fans of gentle modern day Texas romances will want to read Jan Hudson's warm second chance at love.

Asking for Trouble
Leslie Kelly
Harlequin Blaze
0373792840 $4.75

In Chicago, her five overly protective older brothers and her Italian parents are driving Lottie Santori crazy as they leave her with no breathing room. Being the only female and the youngest, she enjoys any opportunity to escape from their constant vigil. Thus she looks forward to her out of town work in Trouble, Pennsylvania to conduct on site research into a serial killer who owned Seaton House though she doubts she will find any sexual relief in the small town. At Seaton House, Lottie meets new owner Simon Lebeaux, who inherited the old hotel from his late uncle. She immediately revises her thoughts that Trouble means abstinence. However, several accidents occur including some near fatal ones as if someone wants to prevent Lottie from completing her assignment. Simon thinks the hotel is haunted, but Lottie believes a mortal person wants her stopped. The sequel to the amusing contemporary HERE COMES TROUBLE is a delightful investigative romance in which the lead couple explores the haunting of the hotel and their hearts. The story line contains plenty of action, but it is the lead couple who keeps it focused and entertaining as she knows what she wants (sex not a lasting love) and he knows she is trouble (he has enough tsuris without her). The trouble with this novel is that Leslie Kelly will keep her audience up late reading in one sitting.

The Pleasure Chest
Jule McBride
Harlequin Blaze
0373792859 $4.75

Eighteenth century artist and pirate Stede O'Flannery is cursed to live inside one of his paintings. Every once in while, Stede escapes his prison to live a week as a mortal. If he falls in love during one of his hiatus, the curse will end. New York artist Tanya Taylor finds an O'Flannery painting in a junk shop and buys it though she is not sure why or even if she likes the work. She takes it home only to have Stede step out of the painting and into her bedroom. Stede is attracted to the doubting female hostess, but Tanya who likes the hunk's built doubts his story as being to incredulously over the top. As she begins to fall in love with Stede, Tanya begins to believe him. She vows to help him find a way to overcome the curse while he realizes this week is all the magic he needs. The key to this fun time travel romance is Stede struggling to adjust to a twenty-first century technological world of convenience. Readers will appreciate his fumbling amusing efforts with modern gizmos, but also cherish his adeptness while making love. Tanya is a fine counterpoint though perhaps some will say she accepts a semi nude hunk showing up out of nowhere too easily even if this is New York. Jule McBride provides a delightful romantic fantasy in which the star-crossed lovers know if they conquer the curse, he still may return to his time.

Lord of the Beasts
Susan Krinard
0373771398 $5.99

In 1847 England, Donal Fleming can easily talk with the animals, but struggles to communicate in any way with humans. Donal understands what animals say and has used his talent by becoming a veterinarian to ease their aches, pains, and somewhat concerns. This need to ease the burden of the beasts places Donal in consistent trouble especially with those mortals who mistreat animals. Cousins Theodora and Cordelia Hardcastle tour the new Zoological gardens in Regent's Park along with other Zoological Society fellows. While most visitors including Theodora are in awe, Cordelia is concerned as she has seen the animals in their natural habitat. When Cordelia calms down a rogue elephant at the same time that Donal also soothes the maligned beast, they meet for the first time. The attraction is obvious, but it their mutual love and respect for the animal kingdom that brings them together. Now Donal must choose between human love and his destiny as the LORD OF THE BEASTS. The sequel to THE FOREST LORD, LORD OF THE BEASTS is a superb Victorian romance with some fantasy elements that delightfully enhance the prime story line of two animal lovers falling in love. Donal and Cordelia are wonderful protagonists but ironically as their love grows it brings out the beast in him forcing the hero to choose between his "powers" and his desires. Susan Krinard provides an enchanting historical with a touch of the whimsical to the delight of readers.

The Stolen Bride
Brenda Joyce
0373771843 $6.99

In 1818 Ireland, Eleanor de Warenne is about to marry Peter Sinclair, but instead of her fiance she thinks of her love Sean O'Neill, who vanished four years ago just after she kissed him. He was the boy she grew up with when their widowed parents married. Though she told her father that he should make her a proper match, which he did, Eleanor wonders if she made an error as she needs to know whether Sean is dead as most people assume. Still three hundred people have arrived in the towns of Adare and nearby Limerick for the ceremony so in spite of her misgivings she will not dishonor her family. As if by magic Sean appears out of thin air. He pleads with Eleanor to hide him, which she does as he explains he has been incarcerated and just escaped prison with his enemy in hot pursuit. Rested, Sean plans to leave, but Eleanor in her wedding dress forces him to take her with him. As the hardened Sean finds his heart melting for the former tomboy he has always loved, he knows he must prove his innocence if they are to share a life together as he thought when he first met the infant female brat he knew somehow was his destiny. The latest de Warenne Regency era romance (see THE MASQUERADE and THE PRIZE) is a wonderful suspense thriller starring an alpha female and a mentally battered male who suffers from a form of battle fatigue syndrome. The story line is loaded with non-stop action (a trademark of Ms. Joyce), but belongs to the lead couple especially the courageous heroine. THE STOLEN BRIDE grips the audience from the onset when a doubting Eleanor finds the reason for her misgivings alive, but not well and in need of help.

Girls Guide to Witchcraft
Mindy Klasky
Red Dress/Harlequin
0373896077 $13.95

In the Washington DC area, librarian Jane Madison dreams of a boyfriend who is committed to her; none have surfaced since her long time boyfriend Scott Randall dumped her nine months ago. Now she has a fantasy beau Professor Jason Templeton, her Imaginary Boyfriend. She even dreams of applying magic, as she tells her beloved Gran; perhaps with a wand or an instruction book Magic for Idiots she can change things like making Imaginary Boyfriend real. Her boss tells Jane that they will change the Peabridge into a colonial America interactive library by wearing costumes. Jane is appalled with the heresy as this facility contains the world's leading book and related paraphernalia collection on life in eighteenth century America. At the Peabridge, Jane finds a secret room filled with books including a tome Compendium Magicarum. She applies a spell to make her more attractive to men and a few others that come to the attention of Warder David who must stop her from getting out of control though he finds himself desiring her as much as she wants him when he is not a grouch. In some ways this is a terrific coming of age tale as the heroine goes from self pity to confidence in her skills though she believes the magic enabled her to do so. The story line is fast-paced as Jane balances her normal life as a librarian and family member with her bewitching new life that attracts males like Pooh Bear to honey. Mindy Klasky provides a beguiling enchanting chick lit tale a refreshing story line that casts a spell on readers.

Lucky Girl
Fiona Gibson
Red Dress/Harlequin
0373896069 $13.95

Paul Street Primary music teacher Stella Moon feels her world is collapsing when her boyfriend Alex dumps her and her dad Frankie the chef, once the star of TV show Frankie's Favorites has become a tabloid favorite for his embarrassing behavior. Even Robert stands her up on a lunch date. Although she feels like hiding, Stella's new neighbors Diane and her two young daughters Midge and JoJo who eat sugar on sugar for breakfast will not allow that` as they assault her yard and house at almost any hour. As the girls need Stella, she begins to feel wanted. However, the stranger that seems to show up all the time frightens her not because he will harm her physically, but because she is attracted to this Ed. This quartet encourages Stella to dive into life with the euphoria and chaos she had as a child when Frankie was renowned and famous instead of a clown even as she reassesses her father who wants to give her stability at the cost of his needs. Though Stella's sadness can become overwhelming at times, her self deprecating humor makes for an overall terrific character study of an introvert encouraged to come out of the dark by precocious people who care about her. Stella is the story as her neighbors will not allow her to hide from them and the stranger demands much more of her, which leads to her realizing how much her father has tried to protect her out of love for her. LUCKY GIRL is a fine English chick lit coming of age tale.

Eyes of Crow
Jeri Smith-Ready
0373802587 $17.95

At an early age Rhia almost died but she fought to live and was touched by the Crow Spirit Guide. As she got older, she knew when someone was going to live or die from injury or illness and she saw when death would finally take them. The first time she saw death it frightened her so much she wouldn't participate in the Bestowing, a ceremony when the spirit guide manifests itself to the person in the ceremony. When she sees her mother's death she finally accepts the Bestowing and the Crow welcomes her as the Crow spirit guide. She is sent to Kalindos to apprentice with Coranna. There she meets Marak a man with a wolf spirit guide whose guilt at the death of his wife and child causes him to become invisible during the day. Her new home is more pastoral and primitive than her hamlet of Asmeros but Rhia feels right at home in the tree houses and in Marek's arms. Armies from the south are on their way to conquer the people of the north and it will take magic and guile to defeat such a superior though magic-less foe. Rhia works behind the scenes of the battlefield, helping the dead move on, knowing who will live but when her enemies strike at her personally, she and a few friends fight back. This is a charming spellbinding fantasy where small hamlets and the people who live in them are close to the spirits and magic is considered common place. Much of the book is a coming of age tale but there is enough action to keep readers totally absorbed to the story. This is the first book in a new series and this reviewer can hardly want for the next one coming out in 2007

Second Hand Smoke
Karen E. Olson
Mysterious Press
0892960256 $22.95

In New Haven, reporter Annie Seymour is shocked to see the inferno engulf her favorite Italian restaurant Prego. Arson is suspected especially when a charred corpse is found in the wreckage. The police assume that the missing owner, Sal Amato, has been located or that is what is left of him. However, they quickly learn their error as the victim turns out to be the restaurant's hostess, LeeAnn Hayward. Annie wonders if the local mob is involved as LeeAnn had some connections to them or perhaps the deceased's violent prone boyfriend, Prego's chef, Mickey, who the police arrest for the homicide. Annie is confused as her father Sal who has come to town from Vegas and the FBI is investigating the arson murder for no apparent reason by either her dad or the Feds. Soon her father becomes the prime suspect so Annie joins already hired by Sal's wife private detective Vinny DeLucia to investigate the crime only to learn that the Prego owner ran a chicken tic-tac-toe gambling operation with no pay offs to the mob. In her second appearance (see SACRED COWS), Annie retains the same impish impudence that makes her a fun investigative reporter. Though some might balk at how often Vinny comes to her rescue, she is an intrepid person who daringly follows clues. The story line is action-packed as the audience begins to learn what really happened at Prego, to and by whom. This is one time that SECONDHAND SMOKE is fun to inhale.

Second Hand Smoke
Karen E. Olson
Mysterious Press
0892960256 $22.95

In New Haven, reporter Annie Seymour is shocked to see the inferno engulf her favorite Italian restaurant Prego. Arson is suspected especially when a charred corpse is found in the wreckage. The police assume that the missing owner, Sal Amato, has been located or that is what is left of him. However, they quickly learn their error as the victim turns out to be the restaurant's hostess, LeeAnn Hayward. Annie wonders if the local mob is involved as LeeAnn had some connections to them or perhaps the deceased's violent prone boyfriend, Prego's chef, Mickey, who the police arrest for the homicide. Annie is confused as her father Sal who has come to town from Vegas and the FBI is investigating the arson murder for no apparent reason by either her dad or the Feds. Soon her father becomes the prime suspect so Annie joins already hired by Sal's wife private detective Vinny DeLucia to investigate the crime only to learn that the Prego owner ran a chicken tic-tac-toe gambling operation with no pay offs to the mob. In her second appearance (see SACRED COWS), Annie retains the same impish impudence that makes her a fun investigative reporter. Though some might balk at how often Vinny comes to her rescue, she is an intrepid person who daringly follows clues. The story line is action-packed as the audience begins to learn what really happened at Prego, to and by whom. This is one time that SECONDHAND SMOKE is fun to inhale.

The Sinful Nights of a Nobleman
Jillian Hunter
0345487613 $6.99

Lord Alton Fernshaw hosts country parties that bring a who's who because they tend to turn into orgies. One of the guests Lord Devon Boscastle arrives with the notorious widow Mrs. Lily Cranleigh on his arm. He sees Lady Jocelyn Lydbury is also there so he assumes her brother escorted her. Unable to resist Devon greets Jocylyn though he knows she probably hates him. Four years ago her father invited Devon to dine with them as considered him husband material; Jocylyn was excited by the prospect. However, he not only failed to show up, he never declined the invitation. He rationalizes his poor behavior then due to the fact he was about to go to war and expected to die. Though he detests her womanizing father, he admits to himself that he admires Jocylyn's courage. He mischievously decides he wants Jocylyn to truly forgive him and not just say it though she is being courted by Adam Chiswick. He is determined that she really mean it so he begins THE WICKED GAMES OF A GENTLEMAN, never expecting to fall in love; Jocylyn has loved him even before he humiliated her four years ago. The latest Boscastle regency romance is a delightful historical tale starring a likable female who feels under siege as Devon begins his quest that abruptly changes into something much more ardent, loving, and lasting. Fans will enjoy following THE SINFUL NIGHTS OF A NOBLEMAN, at least the exploits of this lead male as he mounts his campaign winning battle after battle only to lose the gender war when he realizes he surrendered his heart.

Duty and Desire
Pamela Aidan
0743291360 $14.00

Fitzwilliam Darcy hides in London to be away from his obsession, Elizabeth Bennet. Still out of sight does not mean out of mind as he constantly thinks of her even as he decides he must find a lady suited to his lofty station. He spends the Yuletide holiday with his younger sister Georgiana who seems to be finally overcoming her long bout of melancholy caused by her poor relationship with Wickham. Darcy also feels good that Bingley has ended his courtship of Elizabeth's sister Jane though he thinks that his friend loves the girl and he ponders why there is something about these Bennet women.In his quest to find a wife equal to him, Darcy attends a country-house party hosted by his Cambridge classmate Lord Sayre. However, he finds rusticating with the Ton depressing as the males behave poorly and the women conspire to find either husbands or if not, married lovers. His host's half-sister turns Darcy on as he finds himself attracted to her, but Lady Sylvanie has her own woes and dark secrets.The second "Pride and Prejudice" offshoot, DUTY AND DESIRE is more Pamela Aidan's tale than the first book (see AN ASSEMBLY SUCH AS THIS) as the author takes Darcy on new adventures in his quest to get over his infatuation. Elizabeth for the most part never appears except in Darcy's mind. The story line brings to life the Regency era with its pompous caste system so that fans of the period will appreciate the country party at Norwycke Castle and Georgiana's turn to charity to lift her broken heart out of melancholia. Well written and fun to follow, however like many readers, this reviewer knows Jane Austen, Ms. Aidan is good, but she's not Jane Austen.

Trouble Magnet
Alan Dean Foster
Del Rey
0345485041 $23.95

The assignment is simple after all things he has gone through since his origin as a eugenics experiment gone bad. All Philip "Flinx" Lynx has to do is search the humongous uninhabited Sagittarius sector to find a planet sized ancient weapons platform built by the alleged extinct Tar-Ayim and then persuade it to help save the galaxy from the Great Emptiness. In exchange for finding and convincing the needle in this haystack, Flinx's injured beloved Clarity Held will remain on New Riviera healing amidst friends Bran Tse-Mallory and Eint Truzenzuzex.
Accompanied by Pip the mini dragon, Flinx begins his mission even as he wonders with friends like he has sending him on a fool's errand whether he should be wasting his time. He decides a detour is in order so that he can decide whether to to do the quest or not. He and Pip stop in the hoodlum controlled city of Malandere on Visaria. There he intervenes when a gang of thugs mug an insect looking alien. One of the young punks Subar sort of reminds Flinx of himself so he tries to help the lad until the gang robs mob leader Piegal Shaeb. Undecided whether to help the kid as this means battling with Shaeb's lethal lizard mercenaries, Flinx instead is sidetracked as he finds some information on himself. This is a terrific stand alone Flinx adventure however, the prime theme of the series, is the battle against the evil Emptiness remains at the status quo. Flinx is at his best as he dishes out his brand of ethical justice inside a fine story line. However, once again, his fans will be disappointed that he took another R&R side trip.

Star Wars:Darth Bane Path of Destruction
Drew Karpyshyn
Del Rey
0345477367 $25.95

On the planet Apatros, cortosis miner Hurst hated his son Dessel and raised the lad with his iron fist after the kid's mother died. Des survives six hours of constant cramping every day by dreaming of escape though he knows that will never occur. However, everything changes during high a stakes game with Republic soldiers. Des wins, but one of the losers takes exception and attacks him. Des, who has the untrained ability to use the Force, kills his adversary.
Forced to flee as no one escapes punishment for killing a soldier, Des enlists with the Sith's Brotherhood of Darkness that is at war with the Jedi Army of Light over control of the Force. He shows great skill that is honed amidst the Sith who send him to their Academy on Korriban as Lord Bane. Bane wants to be the best so he accepts special secret training from former Jedi Githany, but she betrays him. Her duplicity cements his final lesson to trust no one not even his allies as he rises to the top of the Sith Brotherhood. This is a terrific character study entry in the Star wars saga that will elate fans of the series. The action occurs about one millennium before the Emperor Palpatine's Galactic Empire with the Light (Jedi Knights) and the Dark (Brotherhood of the Sith) battling for supremacy of the Force and consequently the Old Republic. George Lucas will appreciate this delightful early in the timeline tale.

The Meaning of Night: A Confession
Michael Cox
W.W. Norton & Company
0393062031 $25.95

In 1854 London, Edward Glyver knows he needs to train before he conducts his assassination of Phoebus Daunt, the man who destroyed his life starting with the humiliation of being ejected from school to where he is at now, as a loser in a law factotum. To insure success, Edward kills the red-haired stranger before dining on oyster and pondering how easy the homicide was. However, his moment of euphoria turns ugly when he thinks of what Daunt has done to him and that he recently learned of his rightful inheritance stolen from him. He feels strongly that once Daunt is dead, he will gain all that he deserves starting with his inheritance, societal accolades and the lovely Emily Carteret. Yet somehow someone has seen his rehearsal. E.G. knows he must dispose of this insidious individual trying to take the little he owns and slowing down his quest to murder his real adversary. This is a fascinating "confession" told for the most part by the seemingly deranged E.G. The story line grips the audience from the onset when the lead character nonchalantly confesses that he has just killed a man for purposes of practice so that the reader senses of how insane E.G. really is. The story line never falters until the anticipated confrontation that will turn readers into fans of Michael Cox. Readers who want something different in their historical thrillers will need to read Mr. Cox's eerie "biographical" Victorian first hand account of a maniac on the loose in London.

Jack DuBrul
0525948821 $24.95

In 1937 Chester Bowie makes a startling discovery about how Alexander the Great conquered the world. He realizes the emperor had a weapon of mass destruction millennia before anyone heard of nuclear energy. However, on his trip from Europe to the United States to further his work, Chester dies on that fatal Hindenburg disaster, but he leaves clues about his discovery. In the present in the midst of the civil war that has caused death and destruction to the Central African Republic, Geologist Philip Mercer mourns the death of his girl friend. That is until he finds marooned CDC researcher nuclear energy expert Cali Stowe stranded in the middle of nowhere. She was on her way to the remote village of Kivu where apparently some unknown cause is deforming and killing newborns. He takes her to the village where she begins testing, but guerillas arrive and take the pair prisoners. However, warriors come out of nowhere to kill the guerillas, but European mercenary Poli escapes. As the couple flees to DC to follow clues left by Bowie, Poli comes after them. The plot may be implausible, but it sure is fun as the action never slows down whether it is 1937 or the present or in Africa or the United States. Philip (see HARON'S LANDING) seems a bit shallow as he goes in a nanosecond from grief to desire, but no one will care as the adventures and escapes never stop. Thriller fans will enjoy Jack DuBrul's HAVOC.

Crystal Green
Silhouette Bombshell
0373514263 $4.99

Unable to resist what seemed like a fun time, diver Katsu "Kat" Espinoza accepts the invitation of her wealthy mentor Duke to join him and his family on his yacht. Kat might have declined if she knew that her cheating former boyfriend Will Ashton is the captain and that Duke's family hates her because he named her as his heir. Still she vows to have a good time while avoiding Will and refusing to take crap from Duke's angry family members. However, when the vessel is shipwrecked, she, the crew, and much of the family make it to an apparently deserted island. There, as if out of a Christie novel in a Barrie setting, someone begins to kill the survivors one at a time. Taking And Then There Were None and placing it in a different milieu makes for a strong romantic suspense thriller that will have the audience along with the lead couple speculating just who the killer is. The action starts from the shipwreck and never lets up until the final confrontation. Will and Kat are a fine pairing though she has doubts because she believes he is a philanderer and thus untrustworthy at a time in which to survive they must depend and trust one another. Crystal green keeps the action and reader guessing throughout this strong fun tale.

Dressed to Slay
Harper Allen
Silhouette Bombshell
0373514239 $4.99

The oldest of triplets by a half hour Megan Crosse begins the walk down the aisle accompanied by her sisters Natashya and Katherine when her long lost thought dead grandfather interrupts the nuptials though she and her siblings agree their respective fiances fail to get their motors humming. Darkheart accompanied by shapeshifter Mikhail Vosteroff claims his triplet offspring are part of a family of vampire-slayers and are needed right now. He insists one of them is a slayer, another will become a healer, and the third will convert into a vampire. He returned to them because they are in peril from the same creature that killed their mother. The wedding is put off over the objections of the groom investment banker Dean as the triplets join their grandfather to fight a local nest of vampires. Meanwhile Megan finds Mikhail stirs her blood while he thinks she is his life mate. However, everyone fears that she is the one who will convert to a vampiress since as a child she was bit by one of the bloodsuckers. Supernatural romance readers will appreciate this action-packed romantic thriller starring a strong lead couples and fully developed support players. Readers will believe in vampires, werewolves, and oh my an assortment of other ilk; much of that reality suspension comes from the non stop escapes of the heroes, but also because of the amusing dialogue between the triplets and the sensual discourse between Megan and Mikhail. With Tash and Kat to follow, sub-genre fans have plenty to look forward to as Harper Allen provides a terrific opening tale.

Shadow Lines
Carol Stephenson
Silhouette Bombshell
0373514247 $4.99

From Damassine, Switzerland, her sister Yvette, a wealthy widow raising a child by herself, calls European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control epidemiologist Eve St. Giles claiming everyone in the town seems ill including her. When her sibling dies from a virus long dormant, Eve has no time to mourn as she thinks this was a man-made test. Eve begins her quest to locate the manufacturer before the deadly disease causes pandemic deaths. She uses her psychic skills and reluctantly accepts the help of her former lover, security expert Nick Petter. As the countdown nears the point of no return, Eve seeks the culprit as much as she searches for ancient healing practices that seem to have contained the lethal virus. The fascination in this paranormal thriller comes from the ease in which Carol Stephenson incorporates a historical subplot mostly through the research Eve does that takes her back to a thirteenth century victim of the French Inquisition. The story line is fast-paced from the moment a panicked Yvette calls Eve interrupting her field work on potential Mad Cow Disease and never slows down as the heroine and her beloved teammate Nick race against the clock. This is a one sitting romantic suspense tale.

Captive Dove
Judith Leon
Silhouette Bombshell
0373514255 $4.99

In Brazil, an apparent radical sect kidnaps ten American tourists. The CIA decide photographer Nova, code name Dove, Blair has the perfect cover to get close and hopefully rescue the hostages. They also assigns fellow agent Joseph Cardone to work closely with Dove as they have succeeded twice before on missions. Dove does not want to work with Joseph not because of any issues from their professional teaming. Her reasons are personal as they were lovers until she panicked over her feelings for him and left him without an apparent look back. Joseph wants to know why and whether she suffers regrets, but first they must complete the rescue mission that soon turns into something more conspiratorial and global before they can deal with their personal issues. CAPTIVE DOVE is a fast-paced romantic suspense thriller that takes off once Nova and Joseph head to Manaus, Brazil and never slows down as they soon switch from a local hostage rescue mission to a major potentially lethal global incident. The story line is filled with action in an area in which isolation is the norm as the only road in and out of the rainforest heads north to Venezuela. Though the spin into saving the world is a stretch, fans will appreciate Judith Leon's fun tale as they wonder whether the lead will survive and if so together.

House of Chains
Steven Erikson
0765315742 $14.95

In Northern Genabackis, the raiders leave the mountains to bring death and destruction to those lowlanders they hate residing in the southern flatlands. Amidst these brutal warriors is Karsa Orlong the Teblor who is unaware at this time he has just begun an odyssey that will spin into the middle of a future confrontation between the Malazan Empire and Sha'ik's Army of the Apocalypse. Meanwhile some time in the future, Tavore, the Adjunct to the Malazon Empress, arrives at the Seven Cities, the last Malazan stronghold of Seven Cities. Her assignment is to turn a force of twelve thousand inexperienced former civilians into a powerful fighting force prepared to battle with the overwhelming armies of her sister, Sha'ik. Tavore herself lacks leadership experience so fears she is not up to the job as the enemy is so much more powerful. However, she does have a few experienced survivors from Coltaine's march, who she depends on to shape her soldiers so that they stand a chance when the latest hostilities in the hundred years of war heat up in the Holy Desert. Series fans will be shocked by the long opening sequence as the fourth book of The Malazan Book of the Fallen stays with Karsa rather than the usual constant changing of the point of view. However, Steven Erikson reverts to form as the rest of the exhilarating story line is anything but linear. The key to this superior fantasy, as is the case with its predecessors is no one is 100 percent good or evil; instead readers understand motives on both sides of the conflict and feel for those caught in epic events. Though better to have read the previous entries, HOUSE OF CHAINS is a great entry in a terrific saga.
Jinx High

Mercedes Lackey
0765313197 $12.95

Derek Kestrel is cruising in his girlfriend Fay Harper's car with some of their friends when suddenly she gets angry and disappears. The teen in the back seat is trying to grab the wheel when an accident happens and she is thrown into the windshield. Fay reappears and they are all sent to the hospital where tests show nobody was drinking even though they all were. Derek's father senses something evil is trying to get their hooks into his son and he calls on his old friend Diana for help. Fay is a very powerful sorceress who for over three centuries has transferred her essence into that of her adolescence female child, retaining the knowledge from one jump to the next. When a school friend of Derek's is magically attacked by imps Diana believes that there is someone older and powerful working magic in the area. She doesn't see Fay as a threat or know that she is using blood, sex, and death magic to get even with those who cross her. To make matters worse, the area that Derek lives is a null zone because the gods don't want to wake the sleeping One Below who is being disturbed by the magic she senses in her dream state. This is the third and last Diana Tregarde urban fantasy and it stands the test of time as readers will love reading this dark fantasy that was written in 1991 before the author became famous. Although readers know who the villain is and what she does, the fun is in watching Diana trying to find and stop her before more lives are ruined. Teen-agers as well as adults will love this dark classic.

Reiffen's Choice
S.C. Butler
0765314770 $25.95

Twelve years old Reiffen is heir to monarchies the Kingdoms of Wayland and Banking, but lives with his mom Hern in Valing away from the intrigue of the courts. However, the three most powerful wizards decide that Reiffen is the perfect puppet for them to rule over both lands. They abduct the lad taking him to Ussene and warning him they have an offer he better not refuse. The trio will place him on both thrones and teach him to use magic, but he must pledge loyalty to them; if he refuses they will magically turn him into a puppet with them controlling his strings. REIFFEN'S CHOICE in either case is to become their pawn. A distraught Hern orders that great big rug, Redburr the shapeshifting bear to save her beloved offspring. Redburr recruits Nolo the dwarf and Reiffen's two best friends, Avender and Ferris to help them rescue the lad from the most powerful force in the countries. Somehow, the four of them must free Reiffen from the terrible Three. The first book in the Stoneway's trilogy is a charming young adult fantasy which for the most part follows the adventures of the rescuers as they travel through the upside down world of the mountain dwarves heading to Ussene. Thus the audience for the most part learns much more about the quartet than the title character. Though Nolo comes out of Lord of the Rings' casting 101, Redburr is an interesting leader whose roar is mightier than his bite except with his enemies. Avender and Ferris are somewhat interchangeable, but no one will care as young fans will trek with the travelers on their quest.

Blade of Fortriu
Juliet Marillier
0765309963 $27.95

Feeling more secure than ever, King Bridei of Priteni decides he must rid his land of the Gaelic invaders. To help him succeed, he informs his imprisoned "guest" Princess Ana of the Light Isles that she will marry Caitt Chieftain Alpin of Briar Wood to tighten their alliance. Ana may not like this, but knows she has no choice as she is a political pawn. As Bridei prepares for war, his most trusted men, especially his top bodyguard and assassin Faolan, escort Ana to her groom. However, all is not what it seems in Briar Wood. There she meets the lord's brother Druston, who wants her as does the secretive Faolan. Both know they cannot have her as the former is a cold killer who cannot understand why his heart suddenly beats and the latter has strange abilities that kill anyone who gets close to him. Still Druston must warn Ana that she must trust no one, not even the King's man, but especially anyone using the BLADE OF FORTRIU. His action leads to a dangerous quest by the trio that if they survive someone's heart, if not all, will be broken. Book one of The Bridei Chronicles the exciting THE DARK MIRROR contained a more somber purer fantasy tale than the BLADE OF FORTRIU does. In spite of the key subplot of the romance between Bridei and Tuala in the first novel, the second thriller is more romantic with a fascinating relationship triangle between the three major players. Sub-genre fans will agree that this is a delightful stand alone (though it would help to better understand Bridei to have read the previous story) in which the fully developed lead protagonists struggle to endure in a vividly depicted fantasy realm.

A Taste of Magic
Andre Norton and Jean Rabe
0765315270 $24.95

One morning Westeria, commonly known as Eri, goes out hunting deep in the woods and on her return her powerful Wyse magic senses death and bloodshed in her Village Nar. When she arrives at her home she sees that everyone is dead except for Alysen who was protected by a "do not see me" spell by the witch Nanoo Gafna. Alysen claims that the leader of the men Lord Purvis came to kill Eri because her father the food taster for the Emperor is dead as is the Emperor. The empress wants the magic of her line to die with her. Eri swears a blood oath to kill Lord Purvis but first she must get Alysen to the witches in Mardel's Fen protected by the woods and the earth magic that allows them to keep intruders out. Before they get there they rescue a trapped bird-like creature not knowing it is evil. It orders the two females to take it to a certain place but they destroy it before it can harm Eri and Alysen. After Alysen is put under the care of the Nanoos, their leader and Eri try and rescue Nanoo Gafna who saved Alysen. Eri is then free to complete her mission only she learns Lord Purvis is going to the village of Mardel's Fen; she races against time to stop another bloodbath. This is the last book Andre Norton started to write before she died; Jean Rabe using outlines, notes and a few written chapters written complete the fine fantasy which contains the same magical feel as all the great author's books seem to have. Readers will sympathize with the heroine who blames herself for the deaths of her loved ones. However the shocker that makes this a delightful read is to learn who her true enemy is.

The Sky People
S.M. Stirling
0765314886 $24.95

After the probes proved that people can live on Venus, a new space race was engaged between the Americans and the Russians. Both forge colonies on the second planet from the sun. The Americans Sky People and their western allies establish the U.S. Commonwealth base of Jamestown on the Gargarin continent while the Russians have their own settlement. However, there are also natives on the planet including dinosaurs and humans. In 1988 the Russian ship Riga crashes somewhat near Jamestown but in the heart of the deadly Neanderthals Wergus. Instead of dining on Captain Blinkis, they welcome him as one of them. The Americans led by Ranger Marc Vitrac, astro geologist Cynthia Whitlock and British anthropologist Christopher Blair search for the missing Russian at the same time that the Soviets led by the missing cosmonaut's wife Jadviga and the native Cloud Mountain People seek him too. This is a wild ride (with Mars up next) as S.M. Stirling pays homage to pulp fantasy and science fiction with this often amusing, somewhat politically satirical, but always fun alternate history in space. The story line is filled with action but it is the cast that makes the tale fast-paced as readers will wonder who will get the girl that is which girl. THE SKY PEOPLE is a terrific space opera that has a little of everything.

Peter Watts
0765312182 $25.95

As the twenty-first century nears its ending, Fireflies light up the sky. Scientists realize this strange phenomenon is sending signals back to something just outside the edge of our solar system. To learn more and to make first contact, the earth sends the spaceship Theseus captained by an AI, but the leader of the quest is genetically engineered vampire Jukka Sarasti. The chosen motley crew consists of biologist Isaac Szpindel, who has more machine parts than human parts and acts accordingly more machine than human, the Gang of Four,, a multiple personality disorder linguist disorder; Major Amanda Bates, a soldier who hates war; and Siri Keeton, whose half of a brain enables him to predict one hundred per cent accurately almost instantly what others will do in different situations though he has no idea why people do what they do. The team makes it to the rim of the solar system where they are met by an English speaking species on board some sort of odd vessel dubbed Rorschach. They cannot determine whether the newcomers are hostile so team leader Sarasti arranges to abduct two of them to study them close-up, but neither has a brain yet are capable of processing information leading to the earth crew to debate whether these are living intelligence as they fail to even recognize the basic I think therefore I am. This is a deep science fiction thriller that uses first contact to turn Descartes statement upside down into a question of what is intelligent life. The cast is solid especially the two abducted aliens Stretch and Clench, who will lead readers to ponder existence just like the earth characters do. The story line contains much more complexities than described above so the audience who prefer ET to go home may want to pass on BLINDSIGHT; however those fans who prefer deep thought provoking philosophical entreaties will want to read Peter Watts strong tale.

Variable Star
Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson
076531312X $24.95

Leaving Ganymede to seek his dream as a successful musician and composer, Joel Johnston meets Jinny Hamilton on earth side; they fall in love, but he is broke and must choose between a family with his beloved or his musical quest. Jinny rejects his either or theory as she informs him that she loves him and that she is the granddaughter of the wealthiest person in the solar system. Knowing he loves her not her money, she explains how his future will be. Heartbroken and betrayed, a drunken Joel leaves earthside and Jinny as he refuses to give up on his dream. He travels to start fresh on the new colony planet Brasil Novo 85 outside the reach of her grandfather. However, galaxy wide catastrophe beyond anything even of biblical proportions changes his quest from musician dreams to survivor. This is an interesting collaboration as Spider Robinson brings his view of the future and merges that seemingly contradiction with that of Robert A. Heinlein into a delightful coming of age science fiction tale. The story line is a journey on several levels as the hero tries to find himself on an emotional plane while wallowing in doubt and soon is in the midst of a survivor adventure. Though Joel adjustment from runaway musician with a broken heart to calamity champion seems too easy, fans of both authors will appreciate the tandem's fine futuristic thriller.

Cecilia Dart-Thornton
0765312077 $27.95

Asrathiel was born into a family that has known much tragedy. As a young girl, her mother slipped into an enchanted sleep unable to awaken. Her father left her in the care of his father to journey to the uncharted lands to find a way to break the spell. Rich in weather magic known as bri, Asrathiel is the youngest at nineteen to become a weathermage. She feels set apart from the rest of humanity because she is immortal and invulnerable. She wants to travel to distant lands and wield the pure magic sword Fallowblade that is her birthright though not all of its properties are known. She accepts a posting as a weathermage at King's Winterboune where weathermasters are still respected. The king of Slievmordhu Uabhar wants to be high king of Tir and he sees the weather masters as an impediment to his ambition. He has several people spreading lies about them to the population and many turn against him. When Asrathiel meets with him she doesn't trust him but she has no idea that he is about to plunge the world into civil war or has an ultimate plan for her and her colleagues. WEATHERWITCH feels likes an in betweeners book that is setting the stage for the last novel in the Crowthistle Chronicles. In many ways it is a coming of age tale as the heroine must decide what she wants as she outgrows her girlhood dreams yet yearns for something even she isn't sure of what it is. There are some cute scenes between the protagonist and the urisk, a seelie being of magic that attaches himself to her and vexes her as he well as amuses her and shares her immortality. There are many sub-plots left dangling which will hopefully be answered in Fallowblade.

The Android's Dream
John Scalzi
0765309416 $24.95

After his time as a war hero in some OLD MAN'S WAR, Harry Creek enjoys the anonymity of being a minor State Department employee who works with alien ambassadors assigned to Earth. However, a monstrous blunder has occurred when an earth diplomat kills a representative of the technologically superior Nidu race. They demand reparations or else they will turn earth into a wasteland for this affront. Harry is assigned to meet the Nidu demand of finding and delivering the Android's Dream, an electric-blue sheep needed for their coronation ceremony. The military on both sides wants the mission to fail so they can obtain an increase in funding at the cost of a few million or billion lives and be recognized as heroes. Department of Defense snipers and Nidu marines try to assassinate Harry, who has found one clue to the whereabouts of the blue Android's Dream. Pet store owner Robin Baker contains sheep DNA in her genes. Now all they have to do is escape earth, avoid space marines and the followers of the Church of the Evolved Lamb, and land on Nidu where he is unwanted and she is the guest of honor. With THE ANDROID'S DREAM and the OLD MAN'S WAR, John Scalzi is carving out a special niche in the military science fiction arena as he lampoons those leaders who sit back in air conditioned safety taunting the enemy with bring it while others do their fighting. The military on both sides of the conflict and religious groups want to prevent Harry from succeeding because those in charge seek personal affirmation and glory. Adding to the fun of the tale is the ironic self jab at a twenty-first century sci fi author writing about sacred sheep that in the future has become the foundation for a religious movement. This is a great satire by an author to watch unless you are the Commander in Chief, a VP to busy to have served, or a Defense Department general officer and their civilian equivalent/superior.

Jeanie London
0765354225 $6.99

Black operations specialist Roman Barrymore noticed the odd painting in the store that depicted a woman with two male lovers. However, not long afterward he is killed. On his way through the passage of death, Roman is given a choice to lead the Soul Retrieval Unit in the war over human souls. His first assignment is to retrieve Nina de Lacey caught by a deadly demon in the passage where she has remained in limbo with her two lovers Gray Talbot and Damien Hart. Nina has the ability to look deep into a person to ascertain their goodness. Roman knows this task will be harder than any he did when he lived, but Nina is needed to prevent a sinister plot by an arch-demon that if successful could devastate the side that former black ops exert supports. As with Jeanie London's "Temptation" novella from the anthology MIDNIGHT MAGIC (the Nina-Gray and Damien triangle formed) RETRIEVAL is an interesting character study that focuses on relationships in the afterlife. With Roman entering the fray, the trio becomes a quadrangle. The action is non-stop as the war between Heaven and Hell continues with individuals like Nina as a target by both sides; one to prevent a catastrophe of biblical proportions and the other to insure she cannot stop the pandemic from occurring. Fans of after death fantasies will appreciate Ms. London's stand alone creative spin that will be read in one sitting.

Brokedown Palace
Steven Brust
Orb/Tor Books
0765315041 $14.95

In the Kingdom of Fenario on the bank of the Faerie River, four brothers rule but compete for ultimate control. King Laszlo is considered a just and kind person, but most of his subjects especially his siblings think he is not all there mentally, which has led to his brothers usurping some of his power. Devious Prince Andor seems to care about only others who can further his ambitions; anyone else is meaningless and those who he allies with are disposable. Physically and emotionally Prince Vilmos is a strong person, but lacks intelligence and common sense. Finally the youngest obstinate Prince Miklos thinks his older brothers are too moronic to rule over the kingdom symbolized by the collapsed unusable West Wing. Miklos has been gone for quite awhile and assumed dead, as the remaining trio squabble while others stalk the royals with plans to displace them. Threats come for all walks of life as a wizard, a dragon and a horde of jhereg prepare to dispose of the siblings with some seeing them as royal dessert. Victory seems assured to the adversaries because the three remaining brothers are Mad, Shallow, and Stupid, as they still fight one another instead of uniting against a common cause. This is a delightful reprint of a mid 1980s fantasy that seems very apropos today due to the use of ironic symbolism like the crumbled West Wing and the personalities of the four brothers to lampoon know it all leadership. Readers will appreciate how the brothers have common enemies, but still cannot put aside their desires to be in charge, leaving them vulnerable to their adversaries. Steven Brust takes his audience to a broken down magical land set far to the east of his Taltos thrillers.

F. Paul Wilson
076531276X $24.95

Still not quite himself after the recent events with his brother the judge (see INFERNAL) Repairman Jack relaxes in Julio's Bar in Manhattan. Fellow regular Timothy asks Repairman Jack for a favor of finding his missing teenage niece Caitlin, a case that the police say is too early for their involvement. Jack agrees to check around as he knows law enforcement will not get involved until it is too late. Jack easily locates Caitlin, but this is not a case closed happy ending. Other people come to her rescue and meet Jack. They believe he is their otherworldly champion sent to defeat the supernatural fiend the Adversary; Jack knows first hand from his own history what the Adversary is. His enemy recognizes Jack too, but as a threat. This paranormal entity begins killing anyone associated with Jack to get at him; the threat includes Jack's pregnant girlfriend. Jack is at his supernatural best in this terrific allegorical thriller in which "allies" are not friends even if they make strange partners and betrayal is the norm. Fans of this top rate series will enjoy Repairman Jack telling his new pals (and us) about some of his personal history. The opponent is the right kind of Adversary for the enigmatic hero who turns to his mantra of trust no one with your life especially those who insist they have your back (with what).

Savage Tempest
Cassie Edwards
0843955341 $6.99

His father the tribal chief orders High Hawk to raid the nearby ranches for horses and to abduct a white woman to prove his prowess and worthiness. High Hawk objects to his father's advice, as stealing is unethical and kidnapping is an abomination; both activities would anger the whites. He reconsiders when he sees former Pony Express rider Joylynn Anderson and her stallion as he finds he covets both. He persuades her to come to his village. She agrees to do so as she has nothing amongst the whites. Having been raped by Mole an outlaw; most people blame her for his assault and her pregnancy that she has been hiding. At the Pawnee village, the brave Joylynn participates as an equal performing all tasks expected of a female. As High Hawk and Joylynn fall in love, his mother objects because she wants one of her kind as her daughter by marriage. When Mole leads an assault killing High Hawk's father, he and Joylynn lead the tribe to safer grounds while pursuing righteousness against a vile killer. The theme is identical with the gazillion Savage romances that Cassie Edwards has written and the lead trio are interchangeable with the previous stories yet in spite of knowing exactly what will occur, as always, fans of the author will enjoy her latest historical. High Hawk is a noble ethical warrior while the intrepid Joylynn sees the goodness in this man; on the other hand Mole is a vile killer. In other words this trio steps straight out of Edwards casting. Still readers will enjoy this fine tale of the good, the bad, and the beauty.

Death's Dominion
Simon Clark
0843954930 $6.99

The laws pertaining to coming back from the dead are simple: "Do no harm to humanity" and "Allow no harm to befall humanity due to your action or inaction". Those raised from the dead are placid individuals who serve the living. However, something emotionally changes amongst the living as increasingly mankind finds the revised dead an abomination. The government decides to act on what they wrought. They begin a systematic hunt to destroy the reanimated. Unable to fight back due to the "laws" of nature that bound them from causing harm, a small few escape the latest lethal raid. They meet up with a "newborn", who shockingly has blood on his hands. Dominion is one of them and not one of them as he is able to kill humans. With him as their leader, others follow this bewildered evolved dead as he takes over a castle waiting for the counter human assault not understanding the betrayal from within by those who still obey. When DEATH'S DOMINION concentrates on Asimov meets Frankenstein, the story line is a superb gory thriller; when a subplot focuses on the Holocaust and the Middle East it seems as bewildering as Dominion's brain. Still since the monsters are the prime theme, readers will appreciate this fun tale of just who is the monster.

Hawk's Pursuit
Constance O'Banyon
0843956364 $6.99

In 1865 reporter Jena Leigh Hawk believes in telling the truth to her readers yet hides her gender behind the male sounding name of J. L. Rebel. She does that because she knows men have a better chance of getting the story while she hopes this job enables her to complete her quest, finding her siblings. She also hides her beauty behind thick glasses and shabby oversized clothing as she does not want anyone to hit on her. Her current assignment is personal as she has found some clues that lead her to Galveston, Texas in search of her two brothers Whit and Drew. However, her efforts are made complicated by Colonel Clay Madison who rescues her from a union soldier and somehow seems to see past her drab garb to her beauty and her cynical exterior to the heart of the matter. While she investigates a prostitute's homicide and continues her search for her family, he insists on protecting the woman he loves who is now the target of a killer. The third Hawk tale (see HAWK and HAWK'S PASSION) is a terrific western romance due to the fearless fiery female who rejects male intervention and protection, which leads to stormy battles with, in her mind, overly protective Clay. The story line is action-packed as J.L. seeks clues to finding her brother, but the not so civil gender war makes the tale fun to read.

Carman Dog
Carol Emshwiller
Small Beer Press
176 Prospect Ave., Northampton, MA 01060
1931520089 $14.00

Something strange is going on as the psychiatrist explains to his new patient Pooch the dog that "the beast changes to a woman and the woman changes to a beast". Pooch the dog turned woman worries about the baby as the mother has become a snapping turtle while the father seems mystified about the changes, but not overly concerned. Things come to a head or perhaps a bite when the turtle-mother bites the baby and refuses to let go until Pooch takes a lit match to the neo-beast's neck. Since the father remains uninvolved, pooch decides to flee with the baby for the infant's sake. However, pooch has to reconsider her decision when they arrive in New York City when the Central Park Wolverine gang threatens them and the scientists at the Academy of Motherhood want to test her and throw away the baby. Men do what they do best; ignore the goings-on as dogs make better companions than women. Using personification to satirize relationships, especially gender stereotypes, Carol Emshwiller provides an amusing look at acceptable societal roles that stifle people. The story line is at its best when it skewers how humans behave and how we assume "beasts" behave. When it spins into mad scientists on the loose conspiracy, CARMAN DOG loses some of its acerbic bite as the bark becomes louder not keener. Still this is a deep swift satire that will have the audience laughing yet also thinking about its underlying warning that labeling and classifying negatively oversimplifies everyone.

Travel Light
Naomi Mitchison
Small Beer Press
176 Prospect Ave., Northampton, MA 01060
1931520143 $12.00

The new Queen took one loathing look at her dead predecessor's daughter and informed her spouse the King that the infant must go. The monarch not interested in female offspring or reminders of his late wife agrees so before she can crawl Princess Halla is tossed out of the castle to die. Her shapeshifting nurse turns into a bear to save her charge and takes Halla into the woods to live with her and her bear kin. However, no one is available to tend to the child during hibernation until an aging dragon arrives changing the youngster from Halla Bearsbairn to Halla Heroesbane. She soars with her dragon who takes the human child to the dragon lair where they teach her their ways including abducting maidens. As the years pass, Halla looks forward to her wings, but they never arrive so she knows she must move on though she loves her mentors especially after her beloved Uggi dies. As a new religion based on the teachings of the Christ begins to move across the continent, Halla's adventures continue. these enabling her to become human and more than human. Fans of Potter will enjoy this excellent reprint of a 1950s young adult fantasy starring a wonderful heroine and a terrific support cast who makes shapeshifters and dragons seem real. The story line is more a coming of age series of vignettes in the life of Halla with her fifteen adventures fun to follow especially soaring with dragons. Fans will appreciate this fine tale of a heroic child and the "heroes" who adopt her.

The Rose of York: Crown of Destiny
Sandra Worth
End Table Books
PO Box 682, 22870 S. Metate Forest Trail, Yarnell, AZ 85362
0975126482 $14.95

King Edward IV secretly marries Bess making her his queen. When he dies in 1483, Bess makes a bid to stay in power willing to kill Edward's siblings to do so. One such brother Richard was loyal to his liege and weary of the civil war that engulfed England. He just wants to stay home with his beloved wife Anne and their son Ned. However, the machinations of Bess allied with another royal brother, avaricious George, leads to the murder of Anne's father, the "Kingmaker" Warwick. Richard concludes he must protect his spouse and their offspring while also keeping the heir to the throne his nephew safe. Fate takes a new spin when Richard learns he is next in line to the throne. If he accepts his destiny, he might prevent civil war, but at the cost of his happiness; if he declines as he so much prefers to do, a new war will ravage the country as two adversaries lay claim to the crown. History will prove whether he chose correctly rather than quickly. CROWN OF DESTINY, the sequel to Love and War, paints a radically different picture of Richard III from that of a despicable villain to a reluctant ruler trying to be the heroic savior and who is a firm believer in blind justice. This historical biographical fiction is well written as readers see a caring person struggling with responsibility and revolts. Most interesting is to the victors goes the history books. Since the Tudors won the battle (Shakespeare wrote under the rule of Queen Elizabeth, a Tudor), they become heroic and the last Plantagenet king becomes a vile villain; yet Richard's blind justice becomes a key ingredient in modern day democracy.

Scrap Everything
Leslie Gould
Waterbrook/Thomas Nelson
1400071534 $12.99

With Dr. Ted Shelton leaving the military, his wife Elise and their two sons Michael and Mark know that their nomadic lifestyle is over. The family is moving from Fort Carson, Colorado to spend some time with his father John in his hometown of Forest Falls, Oregon before moving on to Seattle at least that is Elise's thoughts; Ted thinks his hometown is the best place in the world and no one will want to leave it. In Forest falls, Elise meets scrapbook store owner Rebekiah Graham, her spouse Patrick and their two children Reid and Pepper. They become friends though the newcomer thinks a scrapbook store is so inane. Not long afterward, Ted is recalled to duty by the Third Medical Command in Fort Gillem, Georgia, which means a tour of the war zone. As she struggles to cope, her oldest son begins to get into trouble. Meanwhile Pepper, the twelve year old who has a history of kidney trouble now needs a transplant. The townsfolk rally around both families who both pray to God for miracles. Though too much is going on in the lives of the two women, readers will appreciate this inspirational family drama due to a strong cast. Elise and Rebekiah, though two diverse personalities, are fine caring people who forge a sisterhood to help them cope with the dark days ahead. Though Elise's sense of guilt re her spouse and her sons seems unrealistic and unnecessary, she and her friend find inspiration in the support of the locals and with the Lord as both begins to believe in God's message of hope. On top of all this is a reference to the best kept secret in the army: Fort Gillem.

Calm, Cool & Adjusted
Kristin Billerbeck
c/o Pursue Righteousness Bibles & Books
1591453305 $13.99

Dr. Poppy Clayton is happy for her Spa Girls pals, but sad for herself. She is euphoric that Morgan (see A GIRL'S BEST FRIEND) and Lily (see SHE'S ALL THAT) have found their soulmates; both also are becoming mothers with the former to her fiance's son and the latter being pregnant. Poppy is a bit down because she is left behind single with no loving mate in sight. Poppy is also upset that her dad is leaving California for Arizona and that her two Spa del mar buddies do not trust her to wear the right clothing or bring the right date to Morgan's wedding. She also has mixed feelings for spinal patient Simon who repulse and excites her after three years of back adjustments. Then there are the male doctors who sandwich her at the office who would make a fine date. , Morgan and Lily find her a blind date for the wedding, but Poppy declines. Upset Poppy heads to the spa for a mental adjustment. CALM, COOL & ADJUSTED is a terrific Spa Girls tale as Poppy between health drinks begins to understand what life is all about as she suddenly has several men in her life. She is a fabulous protagonist, perhaps the best of the series, as she seems so real with her feelings of envy and joy towards her spa pals. Fans will appreciate Kristen Billerbeck's fine chick lit character study wondering all the way who, if anyone, Poppy chooses.

Dark Harvest
Norman Partridge
Cemetery Dance
132-B Industry Lane, Unit 7, Forest Hill, Maryland 21050
1587671976 $40.00

It is Oct. 31 and the corn has been harvested but the stalks are still in the field, desiccated and shriveled. They won't be plowed until November after the Run is completed. In the field is a vine and leaf scarecrow that has its roots in the land. On its head is a pumpkin. When the man cuts it down, he carves a face into October Boy and the thing comes to life. Male teens between the ages of sixteen and nineteen have been locked away in their rooms for five days and all want to take down October Boy for the candy he hides in his body and the prize of a new house with no bills for a year for the winner's family. The teen will be allowed across the Line able to leave the town behind while others are trapped. Here Pete McCormick learns who October Boy really is and those previous October Boys before him and is determined to stop the evil that holds the town in thrall. DARK HARVEST is a terrific horror story that would make a great movie Wes Craven style. The prose the author uses creates the gothic atmosphere and the mood of the town and the horror that lives there. There are a lot of action and killing scenes but this is not a slasher horror tale because each scene has a purpose, one that readers begin to understand as the truth is slowly revealed. Norman Partridge latest work will have readers going to sleep with all the lights in the house blazing.

Catherine Asaro
1416520813 $25.00

The National Information Agency Director of the Office of Computer Operations Lieutenant General Thomas Wharington is elated that the major threat to world domination by the malevolent genius Charon is over as the villain is dead (see SUNRISE ALLEY). However, he also fears the threat to mankind remains viable as Charon's "offspring" the super brilliant android Alpha still lives to carry out her master's plan. He needs to learn her secrets to neutralize her, but no sentient being can "read" body language as she can. This frightens and attracts Wharington, who finds his desire for the beautiful AI leading to mistakes. Alpha captures Wharington and takes him to Charon's secret island location. To his shock Wharington finds his worst nightmare awaits him. Though there is an abundance of too many unsolved subplots left dangling, ALPHA is a terrific science fiction thriller that fans of Catherine Asaro will appreciate. The story line is fast-paced and can stand alone as the back story is somewhat summarized in the opening sequence. The Wharington-Alpha confrontation is deftly handled as both finds an attraction interfering with their respective prime directive though the android deals with it better. Readers will enjoy this saga and look forward to the meshing resolution of other threads.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted
0385340311 $12.00

On New Year's Eve, 1898, spoiled Emma Smith resolves to be a better more understanding person especially of the less fortunate. Researching prison life for a novel, her husband John Smith recommends she considers corresponding with one of the convicts. She agrees and writes a letter to Chance Wood, an inmate of Hallowood serving a life sentence for killing his spouse. Chance surprises Emma by responding to her note. Soon they exchange letters and she begins to believe that she is a prisoner in a gilded cage; she also concludes that Chance treats her like an intelligent human while John sees her as his ornament. When Queen Victoria frees "sponsored" prisoners as a turn of the century good will gesture, Chance obtains his freedom and he goes to see Emma though he warns her to run from him. Instead they begin a tryst and develop a plan to kill John. None of the three characters making up the triangle are empathetic as each in their own way is extremely selfish yet their relationships make for a fine late Victorian thriller as the audience wonders who will be the last one standing. The story line is character driven as Emma finds excitement and freedom in the obviously dangerous Chance and compares that with imprisonment as an trinket owned by John. Though the spousal "incarceration" musings by Emma become a tedious rationalization, fans of historical dramas will want to read this insightful period piece.

Diary of a Narcissistic Bloodsucker
Lynda Hilburn
Wild Rose
9421 - 144 St., Edmonton, AB, Canada T5R 0R8
077832298X $3.00

In 2160 Paris, Zarafina "Zara" of Sherbrook realizes she overslept by over a century as the millenniums age old vampire learns what year it is. No matter, she plans to see the highlights of the night life so that she can feed and make love. However, first she thinks back to her last awakening in Boulder in 2004 where she meets the human musician Niven St. Clair at a club. He shows no fear of her and informs her he dreamed of making love with her until she would scream in ecstasy the name Jeran. She is stunned by his revelation, as Jeran is her late lover who converted her, but ultimately chose to die. Zara and Niven begin to make love when she realizes somehow Jeran has possessed the human's body. What to do about her former lover remains her dilemma. This is a terrific jocular E-book chick lit (Zara's first person perspective) vampire thriller that grips the audience early on with Zara's muses and the heat between her and Niven-Jeran and never lets readers go until the final shocking biting twist. Though a short story, readers will want to peruse future supernatural fiction by Lynda Hilburn as this is a superb paranormal short story thriller.

Extraordinary People
Peter May
Poisoned Pen Press
1590583353 $22.95

In 1996 Paris, Ecole Nationale d'Administration teacher and politician Jacques Gaillard vanishes without a trace. His disappearance has become a legendary cold case never resolved. University Professor Enzo Macleod left his wife Linda and daughter Kirsty behind in Scotland two decades ago to start a new family in Cahors. He has a second daughter Sophie, but remains estranged from Kirsty who accuses him of deserting her. He makes a bet with a friend that he can solve the mystery of Gaillard. He follows clues that seem to go nowhere and everywhere as he and his team travel to Germany and all over France finding body parts. Enzo's efforts bring him to the attention of cold blooded killers who want Gaillard to remain a legendary cold case. Though some implausible events occur, readers will appreciate this delightful western European mystery due in part to the solid cast especially Enzo and to the clues that tell much about the life of Gaillard just before he vanished. The story line is fast-paced as Enzo and his team follows the leads to Germany and much of France. The climax is a fabulous finale that will leave readers clamoring for more inquires by the Professor and his team.

The Ragtime Kid
Larry Karp
Poisoned Pen Press
1590583264 $24.95

Brun Campbell loves to hear and play music. In Oklahoma city he listens to some musicians in a music store playing a tune by Scott Joplin and knows instantly that is what he wants to learn how to play. He runs away from home at fifteen and hops a train for Sedelia, Missouri in the hopes that he can get Mr. Joplin to give him lessons. On the way into town he runs across the body of a woman strangled to death and he takes a musical money clip that is nearby and a locket on her neck. In town he meets businessman Mr. Fitzgerald who stakes him to a room at the YMCA and money to buy food while he looks for work. Someone who hears him playing music recommends he ask music store owner Mr. Stark for a job. Mr. Stark listens to him play and offers him a job on the spot. He also auditions for Joplin who agrees to give him lessons. When Mr. Fitzgerald is arrested for the murder of the woman Brun saw the first day he was in town; he knows the man didn't do it. The money clip which belonged to Joplin could implicate him and Brun in the murder. Brun decides to find the killer with the unwitting help of the townsfolk as he maneuvers them in the direction he wants them to go for information relating to the murder. As historical mysteries go, THE RAGTIME KID is one of the better ones. The author doesn't only write a good who done it, he shows the readers how the plight of the black man had changed very little since Emancipation back three decades earlier. Scott Joplin takes a big risk to be paid in royalties with his name as the arranger of the music, something unheard of in the 1890's. The protagonist has a touch of larceny in him that helps him get what he wants but he is so adorable, readers will root for him in spite of his faults.

The Do-Re-Mi
Ken Kuhlken
Poisoned Pen Press
1590583388 $24.95

In 1972, twenty two year-old Clifford Hickey gives it one last chance to live his dream of making it as a folk singer. However, though he admires his taciturn ethical private investigator dad Tom, Clifford would prefer not to follow his footsteps into law enforcement; he informs his father that if he fails this time in his music endeavor he plans to enter USC law school. Clifford is scheduled perform at Evergreen jamboree. He arrives in the midst of the redwoods to stay at the camp of his half-brother Alvaro. However, soon afterwards, cops assault the site with Alvaro fleeing into the woods while Clifford is incarcerated, but eventually freed. Clifford learns that Alvaro has been charged with the murder of a local law enforcement official's relative. He does not believe Alvaro would commit such a crime so taking a page from his sleuthing dad, Clifford notifies his father, but begins to investigate rather than wait for the clever private detective to arrive as time is critical. He soon finds every type of sub-group in town wants Alvaro to take the fall. The mantle moves on as the son takes center stage from the father (Tom was the focus of the previous books – all worth reading). The story line is driven by Clifford's discovery of social strata circa Viet Nam era California woods where hippies, bikers, Feds, and locals intermingle in a fractured peaceful coexistence. The whodunit is cleverly set up so that Alvaro looks guilty to readers and support cast with only his family believing otherwise. Ken Kuhlken provides flavor of the era inside a wonderful historical private investigate tale.

The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden.
Catherynne M. Valente
0553384031 $14.00

The female has been shunned for her exotic mystical presence starting with her birth mark tattooed eyelids. The other nobles assume she is a demon or at least a demon's offspring, but the Sultan could not decide whether she is or is not. Though she is an innocent child, she is to be ignored while being "incarcerated" in a palace garden, a place she is not to leave. She survives on scraps and rotting fruit tossed at her. No one will talk with her for fear of being tainted by her demonic connection or worse by others at the court. That is no one will speak with her except a curious brave boy who finds her fascinating especially as she begins telling him a fairy tale starring a Prince who killed a goose. However, her story is not finished when it is time for the lad to leave, but she is a Pied Piper as he returns and keeps coming back risking his place in the castle to hear more about magical quests. Obviously an Arabian Nights derivative, IN THE NIGHT GARDEN holds up very well in comparison to the classic. The tales are delightful and the accompanying art illustrated by Michael Kaluta adds depth. Besides the storyteller's enraptured audience of one, people of all ages will appreciate the colorful vivid tales that the lonely girl spins.

Queen of Swords
Sara Donati
055380149X $27.00

A year has past since the abduction, but by the summer of 1814, Canadian merchant Luke Scott and his Mohawk half-sister Dr. Hannah Bonner mount the successful rescue of his wife Jennet held in the French Antilles. Jennet informs her spouse and sister in law that their child was born while she was in interned, but that she got Creole merchant Honor Poiterin to smuggle their Nathaniel out of the Caribbean. The trio heads to New Orleans to retrieve their offspring and bring him to Montreal to live with them. However, the city is under siege as the British and American armies prepare for battle. Neither Hannah nor the Scotts realize how deadly the Poiterin clan can be when someone crosses them. Taking the infant is a major affront to the family matriarch, who calls for a family feud and sends her descendants to kill the "kidnappers" and bring home the baby. Though the ending is expected, readers will appreciate this fine historical tale that provides a deep look at the city on the verge of the Battle of New Orleans, the bloodiest engagement of the War of 1812 (ironically after the peace was signed in Paris). The story line is driven by personalities from the Scots and their half Mohawk sibling, the Poiterin kin, and city political leaders preparing for the worst. QUEEN OF SWORDS is a fine entry in the Bonner-Scotts early nineteenth century saga.

You Have the Right to Remain Puzzled
Parnell Hall
0553804189 $24.00

One day at the coffee shop, puzzle lady Cora Feldon is asked to construct a puzzle for Mimi Dillinger so that's she can give it to her husband Chuck when she tells him she crashed the car. She hopes he will forgive her, which he does. Mimi publicly thanks Cora for the role her puzzle played and the note and puzzle appearin the newspaper. However there is one minor problem. Cora did not create the puzzle; her niece Sherry Carter did and she purloined it from a book of puzzles though she changed the clues. The actual puzzle creator Benny Southstreet is livid that Cora plagiarized his work and when he challenged her she blew him off because she refuses to believe that Sherry would do such a deed. Benny plans to sue Cora so he breaks into her home and that of the Dillingers seeking proof. Earlier that day Mimi notices fifteen hundred dollars lying loose at her husband's desk so she puts the cash away. Chick calls the police to report a break-in, which leads to a series of events resulting in someone murdering Benny and Cora arrested for the homicide as all evidence leads to her. The latest puzzle lady mystery is a delightful whodunit complete with crossword puzzles that entertain and stimulate the readers with clues to the mystery. Cora is the star as she seeks to clear her name even while every clue she finds proves her guilt. There are many red herrings that the audience will not know across from down as Cora looks guilty. Parnell Hall provides his fans with a solid murder mystery that only by finishing the book can a reader uncover the identity of the culprit.

The Sense of Paper
Taylor Holden
0553803948 $14.00

War correspondent Charlotte "Charlie" Hudson may be home in England, but remains haunted by how close she came to dying while on assignment. Unable to focus on journalism and needing a distraction from her nightmares Charlie wrote about her haunting experience, Road to Rajak: A Day in the Life of Kosovo, but that failed to cleanse her mind. She turned to her husband Nick, but that proved dismal. Thinking of doing a book on the great early nineteenth century English romantic landscape artist JMW Turner, Charlie, on a whim to contain her internal demons, visits artist supply store L. Cornelissen & Sons. There she becomes fascinated with all the different types of paper on sale, mumbling out loud which paper JMW Turner would choose. Another customer responds saying none of these. He is highly regarded artist and Turner expert Alan Matheson. They talk over coffee as she thinks this is happenstance that they have met. As he encourages her paper chase, they begin to fall in love, but he has as many troubles as she does especially from live and dead females that lead to Charlie's need to know the truth. THE SENSE OF PAPER is an excellent modern day love story with a deep look at paper choices somewhat available today but especially during the nineteenth century and its importance to Turner. The mystery of the death of Matheson's daughter adds depth to understanding his ghosts and motives. Yet the core of this exquisite novel is the heroine who seeks something to affirm her reason for living; she may have found this as she begins to comprehend THE SENSE OF PAPER (read the novel to comprehend the subtly of the title) during her research with Alan at her side encouraging her.

From Black Rooms
Stephen Woodworth
0440242533 $6.99

In return for owning paintings from the masters, Dr. Bartholomew Wax agrees to use gene manipulation and DNA sequencing to create Violets for the North American Afterlife Communications Corps. Violets are mediums who use a touchstone belonging to a dead person so they can have that soul inhabit the Violet's body. When the consequences of his actions become too much for him, the Oslo scientist kills his subjects and commits suicide. His handler Carl Pancrit frees the Violet Killer Evan Markham who wants Violet Natalie Lindstrom; Carl promises to get her for him if he channels Bartholomew to complete his work. The NAACC wants Natalie back in their organization and they want to place her daughter Callie under their protection and at their school where she will get training in how to be a medium. Natalie left because she didn't want her or her daughter under their control and she is now working a living channeling dead artists who possesses her and paints masterpieces. Ex-Con Colin Criswell has undergone some of the treatments to become a Violet but he can't keep the dead from knocking at his mind. He goes to Natalie for help and the two artists are attracted to each other but the Violet Killer and Pancrit kidnaps them both to use as hostages to force Bartholomew to complete his work; only the dead can free them if they are strong enough. The latest Violet book is action packed yet characters driven. The heroine is trying her best to make a life for her and her daughter but their freedom costs them the enmity of the NAACC (they want her and the daughter under their control as they are both powerful Violets). Surprisingly, it is Carrie who makes a startling decision concerning her own life that impact on her mother and their future. This supernatural thriller is a stunning read with a knock-out punch of an ending.

Valley of the Soul
Tamara Siler Jones
0553587110 $6.99

Lord Dubric Byerly is a war hero who killed seventeen mages while his men slew forty more. He lives in the Castle in Faldorrah with his small group of men acting like police authorities catching criminals but his main mission remains the same: to kill mages. When he is called to Quarry Run to investigate missing sheep, he finds many of the beasts dismembered with their heads decapitated and wearing a mage mark. He also knows a man was recently murdered as the victim's ghost demands justice from Dubric. The evidence points to a blood mage, a unique creature who drinks the blood of its victims, which leads to the person in thrall to a new evil master. Dubric believes the mage is hiding in plain sight yet he fails to find him or her. When his cherished Maeve is possessed by the mage he seeks, Dubric realizes who the enemy is at quite a price; any direct move might cost his beloved her life and soul. He must find a way to cast the mage out without harming his lover. Tamara Siler Jones writes some of the better fantasy mysteries on the market today with her latest containing her trademark of plenty of action in a world filled with dark magic and its opposing force. The romantic subplot enhances the suspense as the hero struggles with how to save his beloved and destroy a deadly malevolent blood mage. Dubric's dilemma makes the tale as he is an honorable person who knows that mages must die for the better good of everyone, but to sacrifice the woman who means everything to him makes for a difficult situation. This compelling novel has cross genre appeal.

High Heels are Murder
Elaine Viets
0451219880 $6.99

Josie Marcus is a single mom who lives with her own mother for a reduced rent and has a job she loves even if it doesn't pay well. She is a mystery shopper, one of those anonymous customers who visit a store to learn why an employer gets too many complaints. An employer calls the firm Josie works for and her boss assigns her to investigate Mel, a salesman at Soft Shoe. When she follows him to the back room and sees what he is about to do sexually to her shoe she files a bad report and he is fired. A couple of days later Mel is found murdered at his palatial estate. Mrs. Mueller, Josie's nosy neighbor tells her that her daughter Cheryl has been questioned by the police because evidence shows she was there. Her neighbor hires Josie to prove her daughter is innocent. Josie finds Cheryl is a gambling addict, and is part of a slave fetish ring by Mel to make money for women who need extra money. When Mel's housekeeper is killed and Cheryl is connected to Mel's murder Josie finds her life in danger from a killer who is protecting someone else and doesn't want Josie finding out and revealing that secret. Elaine Viets has written one of the funniest amateur sleuth mysteries to come along in ages. Her protagonist is a thoroughly likeable person, a great mother, daughter and friend who does the right things for the right reasons, even when they make her uncomfortable. There is a lot of action in HIGH HEELS ARE MURDER but the strength and the freshness of the tale lies in the characters who are realistic and believable.

Rapid Fire
Donna Ball
0451219996 $6.99

Summer has come to her small Smokey Mountains town of Hansonville, North Carolina and local resident Raine Stockton finds herself so busy she doesn't have a chance to relax. Her kennel business is booming with more people coming in for dog training lessons and her part time job in the forest service keeps her so busy she doesn't have time to think. Raine has loved two men in her life; radical environmentalist Andy Fontana and the man she married Deputy Sheriff Buck Lawson. Andy has been on the run for close to fifteen years after he was linked to a bombing of a petrochemical plant that killed four people. The FBI believe that he went on to commit other acts costing more lives and they also think he is coming back home to dig up millions of dollars in diamonds he buried in the mountains to fund a mid-east terrorist organization. Raine doesn't want to believe Andy is capable of any act of violence. The FBI and Homeland Security are sure he is trying to see her so the authorities ask her to tell them if she meets with him. Raine needs to know if the man she once loved is capable of the acts he is accused of. If she meets with him, she will get her answers even if they aren't to her liking. Donna Ball has created one of the most delightful heroines ever to grease the pages of a mystery book. She is funny, loyal, stubborn and endearing. Although she isn't living with her husband, readers will not believe think that they will divorce. Readers get a real taste of what living in a small town mountain town is like. RAPID FIRE is a fantastic down home charming mystery.

Haunting Olivia
Janelle Taylor
Zebra Books
0821778919 $6.99

Thirteen years ago in Blueberry, Maine Olivia Sedgwick gave birth to a stillborn child. She never saw her offspring and was so distraught she never learned the sex of her baby. She left Maine vowing to never return as even the father of her child Zach Archer was not there for her. However Olivia is haunted by dreams of a boy and a girl, whom she assumes is a subconscious memory of her lost baby. When her father dies, his will contains a stipulation if she and her mother are to inherit anything. Olivia must live in his summer cottage in Blueberry for one month and everyday during her stay she must buy one item each at two local stores everyday. She wants to say no, but she knows her mom needs the money so she agrees to the terms set forth by the dad she never met and quits her job at Glitz Magazine. In Blueberry, accidents begin to happen as if someone wants Olivia to leave town. More haunting is seeing Zach with his daughter Kayla, whose age would be the same as the child they lost. Olivia soon realizes that her father lied about his granddaughter as her baby is now a young teen raised by Zach. As they try to clear up misunderstandings fostered by Olivia's late dad, someone wants Olivia and seemingly all the teen-age beauty contestants dead. This is a fascinating complex romantic mystery with a touch of the paranormal. Olivia is a terrific protagonist who finds herself stunned to learn her daughter lives and that she still loves Zach. He feels the same way, but has problems trusting his beloved though he realizes her father manipulated everyone. Though the beauty pageant killer subplot seems over the edge (Miss Congeniality aside) the sequel to Watching Amanda (Olivia's half-sister) is a wonderful second chance at love thriller.

Reason to Believe
Jessica Inclan
Zebra Books
0821780824 $13.00

There are two types of humans. The Moyenne are ordinary with no magical ability while Les Croyants possess magic and know how to use it. In the Les Croyant camp are two subgroups with differing visions. One wants to integrate their species with the Mayenne to the benefit of both races; their opponents insist they are superior and either want to rule or kill the mundane Mayenne, who during the dark ages murdered them. Once Caderyn Macara tried to create ties between the two worlds, but he vanished and later joined s with Quain who wants the Moyenne destroyed. Croyant Fabia Fair is assigned to track down Macara, which is an obsession for the powerful magician as she believes that the two races can live in harmony. One day she helps an amnesiac; she later learns he is a Croyant, who lost his memory due to a spell. Fabia is attracted to the man and says at his side as he slowly recalls who he is and what one of the minions of the sorcerer Macara did to him. When Fabia's twin brother is kidnapped, she, Rufus, and their allies mount a dangerous rescue. This urban fantasy romance is a beautiful charmer that describes a secret group of magicians who have their own laws and customs while living within a wider mundane world. Rufus and Fabia are believable lovers who know what they want, but are unsure how to make it happen. Readers will enjoy this strong bold couple who challenge more powerful enemies in their quest to be together. Jessica Inclan has written a wonderful adult fairy tale.

His Dark Kiss
Eve Silver
Zebra Books
0821779672 $4.99

Needing to escape her stifling avaricious aunts' home in Shrewsbury, Emma Parrish accepts the position as governess to her late cousin's husband Lord Anthony Craven. She comes alone though he sent money for her to have an escort; her aunts Cecilia and Hortons pocketed the extra money. Emma has trepidations though she knows there is no turning back so in spite of the rumors that her employer killed his pregnant wife Delia by pushing her down a set of stairs and the unborn died too, she enters foreboding Manorbrier Castle, whose walls speak of death. The servants add to her feeling that nothing is quite right at Manorbrier, which is compounded by a warning to stay out of the tower. She puts aside her fears to care for Nicholas, who she finds intelligent and loving. However, she learns that the position of governess at Manorbrier has no longevity. There have been twelve in four years as Nicholas explains they become sick, vanish or die. As Emma falls for Anthony who is kind to his son, she fears she might love a murderous monster. From the opening scene of Emma arriving at Manorbrier Castle in a nasty storm to the final confrontation, HIS DARK KISS is a fun gothic romantic suspense thriller. Readers will like the innocent heroine and will wonder if her employer is a serial killer or a misunderstood brooding dark hero struggling with life's curveballs. The support cast, especially Nicholas and the small servant crew augments the solid plot. However, throughout fans will wonder about the tower, if it is a place of evil or got a bad reputation through inane rumor. Eve Silver provides a golden intriguing tale that will keep the audience unsure of what next.

Sweet Revenge
Fern Michaels
Zebra Books
082177879X $6.99

In Washington DC architectural circles, engaged Isabelle Flanders and Bobby Harcourt are the rising power couple as both are talented and successful. However, everything changes when Isabelle's assistant Rosemary testified in court that her boss ran a stop sign that killed a family who had the right of way. Stunned by the betrayal as Rosemary was the driver, Isabelle takes a second wicked blow when her employee steals her designs claiming them as hers. Strike three occurs when she loses her architectural license and strike four happens when Bobby dumps her and marries Rosemary. The Sisterhood knows a series of injustices have occurred with Isabelle as the victim and Rosemary the culprit. They begin a campaign to right the wrong starting with getting Isabelle's license reinstated and obtaining clients for her. The second phase begins: to destroy Rosemary. They secretly let the media know the identities of Rosemary's lovers and begin sending her mail telling her they know the truth about the vehicular homicide. Bobby knows he made a big mistake when he dumped Isabelle for Rosemary. The plot is implausible, but fans of the Sisterhood series will not care once they as judge and the JURY decides that the VENDETTA is just and PAYBACK is now. Rosemary is a nasty villainess who has gotten away with every dirty trick until now. The Sisterhood is moving on as they still struggle with loss and new personal relationships. For fans of the series only as Isabelle savors SWEET REVENGE.

Furry Fantastic
Edited by Jean Rabe and Brian M. Thomsen
0756403812 $7.99

Before anyone decides this is too cute for fantasy, the editors remind the audience of the works of Beatrix Potter (Peter Rabbit), Richard Adams (Watership Down) and Robert C. O'Brien (Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH). However, the inspiration for the theme comes from Andre Norton's "Catfantastic" tales. The eighteen all new stories are fun though mostly lighthearted as the contributors have had a good time writing the tales. The stars range from the normal fur bearers like dogs and cats to the rodent breed like mice, weasels, possums and gerbils; while some of the tales contain supernatural magical creatures who soar in the sky or come back from the dead. In all cases, the headliner battles evil using enchantments and courage to protect loved ones including human pets. Readers of short personification fantasies will appreciate this delightful anthology while those from the WC Fields' thought of never co-starring with animals (natural or paranormal) will pass as humans for the most part play a support part in danger roles.

The Transformer Trilogy
M.A. Foster
0756403561 $15.00

The Morphodite. On the planet Oerlikon, the regime is a fascist dictatorship that rules by fear and wants no change in the way their world operates. They have created a bioengineered assassin Rael who can change his appearance, sex and age to aid him in seeking out the person who could start a rebellion. When his handlers let him loose, he kills an offworlder who is part of a group that studies this unique planet. They are also the lynchpins that keeps the status quo and to stop new ideas from emerging. Rael's act causes the government to topple as various factions fight one another. Rael and a female companion now just want to find a safe haven. Transformer: The Morphodite Phedeora, her lover and the children they care for have made a new life for themselves. When he was absent from the house, agents of Heliarcos bomb the house thinking Phgaedra is inside. The Morphodite changes into a twenty year old female Nazarine and realizes her original identity that of female Jedily Tulilly was an off worlder. Nazarine boards a ship to takeo Heliarcos to find answers about her existence. At all costs they want her stopped because she has the potential to destroy many worlds. However the solution Nazarine decides upon nobody would expect. Preserver. On the planet Teragon, a planet where ruthlessness is the norm, Demsing is a freelancer who takes jobs among the various squabbling groups who want him to take care of a problem involving their opponent. Even as a child, he has had hallucinations about fighting of other people but his foster mother won't tell him he is the Morphodite. He knows he is being watched although he has no idea what those who keep surveillance on him want. When they kidnap his lover, Demsing remembers all including how to manipulate reality. Demsing maneuvers events to insure that the people of Teragon follow a certain course of action. All three of these thought provoking novels are as innovative and exciting now as they were twenty years ago. Each novel smoothly follows into the next as if it is one giant epic instead of three science fiction thrillers. All three tales are full of intrigue, action, and heroic deeds by a being who is unlike any human on a colonized world. He has the power to rule but prefers to live in peace. Every time he makes a life for himself those who know of his/her existence comes along wanting to capture or kill him/her. He could wreck havoc on a galaxy but because he is a decent person he doesn't seek to conquer or be conquered. He only wants to make a life for himself/herself that has meaning. Readers will feel pity for this being that has no past or future only a present.

Goblin Quest
Jim C. Hines
0756404002 $6.99

Jig the goblin is blue, has fangs and is a cannibal like the rest of his race. In goblin land nobody trusts one another and Jig as the runt of the litter is always picked upon. When the captain forces Jig to do tunnel duty, he is kidnapped by adventurers that are hunting for the magical artifact the Rod of Creation protected by Straum the Dragon. His advisories consist of the human princes Barius and his younger brother Ryslind, the dwarf Darnak and the elf Riana. This is Barius' quest and he intends to use Jig to navigate the tunnels to find the dragon. First they must battle the necromancer's minions, then they must fight to the death the necromancer and finally they must find the tunnel that leads to Straum. It is not an easy road to travel because there are traps within traps and Ryslind is sinking into madness as he uses more and more of his wizardly magic. Jig needs to find within himself the courage to stop the adventurers from killing the goblins as they intend to do but first he must have a plan. The death of someone gives him the strength to do what must be done to save goblin kind. This humorous book about cannibalistic goblins, the lowest beings of the underground races, will keep audience's laughing while afterward digging for more tales by James C. Hines. The author uses the goblin nature to put his protagonist in situations that may not be funny to him but are hilarious to the audience. There is plenty of non-stop action in this enthralling fantasy land and the character development is superb. The adventures, Jig, the dragon and others have distinct personalities so that readers will want to join the tunneling quest.

Mercedes Lackey
075640391X $25.95

Kiron once known as the serf named Vetch was a captured peasant in the land of Tia, which was at war for years with his native Alta. He was Ari's dragon boy and stole a dragon's egg, caring for it until it hatched and then when it was grown enough he flew it to Alta where he taught the dragon riders how to bind their dragons to them with love not drugs. The Magi, an evil group of priests, were responsible for the war and the deaths that ensued in their quest to become the rulers of both lands. Kiron placed a significant role in defeating them. The dragons and their Jousters, the king and queen of Alta and Tia, and some others fled their destroyed land and moved into the city of Sanctuary, located in the desert. In time more and more people showed up so they the Jousters and their dragons were forced to move to the stone caved up of Aerie. Lord Kiron is the de facto ruler of the Jousters and he realizes that with the war at an end and the two kingdoms about to become one the Jousters will act more like a police force than an army. However, in a border town all the inhabitants disappear and through the use of magic it is discovered that an old and ancient enemy is preparing to war against the two lands. Only the gods can stop them if they choose to interfere with the Jousters taking up a vanguard position against the Nameless Ones. This is the fourth and probably the last book of the Dragon Jousters and readers have seen how Kiron has changed and grown into his power through the strength of his personality and his great leadership abilities. This is an exciting saga that shows prejudice can be overcome when former enemies work together for the common good. Mercedes Lackey has a unique voice and an ability to write tales that readers want to read.

The Cracked Throne
Joshua Palmatier
0756404037 $24.95

The White Fire caused pandemic destruction as it swept through the coastal city of Amenkor (see THE SKEWED THRONE). Rich and poor were impacted; few were immune to its devastation. Slum child Varis should have been an obvious victim of the carnage, but somehow the orphaned waif survived the lethal White Fire just like she endured the streets living as a thief and assassin. Fate twists further as Varis has become the Mistress of Amenkor; a city in ruin spiraling into further chaotic annihilation as civil war seems imminent but against who is unknown as some force keeps attacking the cargo vessels that bring food to the city. Most people lack the necessities of life because of food shortages; contaminated water and a lack of decent shelters. Varis must do for many what she has always successfully done for one, herself. Her hope lies with her precursor, Eryn who survived the White Fire, but apparently lost her mind while doing so. Sitting on the Skewed Throne provides Varis access to the collective wisdom of her predecessors, but only one of those before ever faced the aftermath of the White Fire and that long lost dead ruler had no organized insurrection to cope with. This terrific complex sequel continues with the premise of placing Lord Acton's warning that "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" even with a fresh idealist on the throne especially when a world goes from complacency to overnight crisis. The story line focuses on Varis' efforts to feed the people while coping with political challenges, the insanity of Eryn, a possible civil war and a need to stop those preventing the in coming shipments. Fantasy readers will appreciate this powerful condemnation of absolute power works absolutely terribly when it comes to easing a mass crisis.

The Body in the Ivy
Katherine Hall Page
0060763655 $23.95

On a privately owned New England island, bestselling author Barbara Bailey Bishop hires Faith Fairchild to cater a college reunion celebration. Barbara and her classmates including her twin Helene known as Prin attended Ivy school Pelham College in the late 1960s; her name back then was Elaine Prince. In 1970, Prin fell from a campus tower to her death in what the police ruled was a suicide the night before graduation. Faith has always felt otherwise that one of these eight killed her sibling who was universally desired and loathed. Now she has everyone who could have committed the act stranded on the island where she plans to learn the truth. The first death is considered an accident, but those that follow leave the dwindling survivors panicked as there is no escape until there is none. In the sixteenth Fairchild amateur sleuth (can Faith still be considered an amateur, pay aside?) Katherine Hall Page pays obvious homage to Agatha Christie by modernizing And Then there Were None. The story line is fast-paced and filled with rising tension as one by one the attendees are dying with no way off the island (a storm adds to their isolation). As Faith, the only outsider, investigates while trying to remain alive, readers will appreciate this superior tale that ends with a Christie style twist.

The Lightning Rule
Brett Ellen Block
0060525061 $24.95

In 1967 Newark, his boss does not trust rookie homicide cop Martin Emmett who he assumes is a quota appointment. His confidence in the newcomer is not made any better when Martin fails at his first case. He demeans Martin and hurts the youngster's already shaky confidence by exiling him to the records room. However, racial tension in the Central Ward is high so when a mutilated corpse of a black teen who worked for the mob is found with a missing a finger, Martin gets a second chance to redeem himself as his boss needs to send a black man to investigate. As riots explode, Martin begins to find evidence that a serial killer is on the loose as a second battered body is found. However, racism, the brass, his peers, and the mob want him off the case even as the riots obfuscate supporting evidence. THE LIGHTNING RILE is a terrific historical police procedural starring a likable protagonist who enjoys investigations though he detests what he often finds. The 1967 Newark backdrop makes for a superb locale as Brett Ellen Block describes scenes and real events so vividly the audience will feel transported in time. Beside the superior pictorial background ambience and the strong official inquiry, Martin makes this one of the better sub-genre entries of the year as he cares and does his best in spite of opposition from everywhere.

Bone Valley
Claire Matturro
0060773243 $23.95

Sarasota, Florida Attorney Lilly Cleary suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder that either drives people crazy except for those who benefit from her hyperactive sex drive or are the clients she defends at an incredible pace. Lilly agrees to legally represent environmental activist Angus John Cartwright, who is being sued by a Sunshine State orange grower for libel. The suit states that Angus John and his partner disparaged oranges with unfound claims of toxicity caused by pollution. Angus hides from Lilly that his partner is her weird former boyfriend, M. David Moody as she would not have taken on the case. However, not long afterward, M. Donald is found dead in a toxic waste lake in Manatee County. Following that death, Angus dies in an explosion. Lilly thinks she also is on the list of someone who is systematically making their opposition extinct. In her third zany appearance (see WILDCAT WINE and SKINNY-DIPPING), Claire's energy and enthusiasm provides a humorous counterpoint to a deep whodunit. However, the star of Claire Matturro's latest legal thriller is the geography as the audience obtains a deep frightening look at a global environmental problem as represented by Florida's BONE VALLEY where mounds of phosphogypsum causes harm to people. The story line is action-packed as the case twists from a legal matter to a self preservation scenario. Still with a strong investigation and a wonderful wacky heroine, the environment rules in this eye opening cautionary thriller.

Fragile Things
Neil Gaiman
0060515228 $26.95

FRAGILE THINGS is the third "short fiction and wonders" anthology (see SMOKE AND MIRRORS and ADVENTURES IN THE DREAM TRADE). The collection consists of thirty-one shorts and poems that run the gamut of creep, fear and scare. The best tale is the haunting shocker October in the Chair though some might insist the return of Shadow from American Gods in the short novella "Monarch of the Glen" or Holmes in "A Study in Emerald" are superior. Overall this is a fine compilation (the poems feel out of place as fans will say nevermore to them) with the theme seeming to out eerie Poe with speculative fiction that crosses horror, science fiction, alternate history, mystery and fantasy lines. Neil Gaiman's fans will want to read at least the short stories and the novella.

The Hard Way
Carol Lea Benjamin
0060539038 $23.95

Successful Owner of GR Leather on Fourteenth Street in Manhattan, designer Gardner Redstone is in the subway when he falls onto the tracks just as a train arrived. Seven witnesses inform the police he was pushed. However, they do not agree on much more than that the culprit was a tall homeless male. The cops fail to find the killer who they assume is a maniac. Gardner's daughter Eleanor hires dog trainer and private investigator Rachel Alexander to uncover the truth and identify her dad's killer. To do so Rachel goes undercover as Eunice a bag lady. However, at first she learns how to survive being homeless when a veteran mentors her. That does not help solve the case nor does interviewing the seven though their eyewitness accounts begin to unravel. At GR Leather she learns two employees recently died, which makes the sleuth and her canine partner Dashiell wonder if the killer's motive was not a loose maniacal frenzy, but a disguised cleverly handled homicide related to the upscale leather business. The whodunit and why takes a back seat to the comparisons between the two Manhattans; that of the wealthy vs. that of the street poor though a forced application of Thomas Carlisle's theory on the clothing of man takes somewhat away from the urinated formalwear compared with high quality leather. Rachel and Dashiell are at their very best when she meets the homeless Vet who though a bit off center teaches her the ropes of street survival. The murder mystery is fun to follow, but the interrogation of seven witnesses to the same event becomes a bit weary even if each sees things different. Still overall this is a fascinating tale as Rachel and the reader learns first hand what its like to walk in the ripped sneakers of a homeless person.

Pilate's Wife
Antoinette May
0061128651 $24.95

Claudia Procula grew up with two mothers; her biological one Selene and her second cousin Agrippina. Her grandfather was the Divine Augustus and her father was second in command to the rightful heir to the Roman Empire. In other words she grew up in a house of privilege and plenty of love. She also has the "gift" to foretell the future and secretly hides her deep fidelity to Isis. At twenty Claudia marries the Roman Magistrate of Jerusalem Pontius Pilate while back home her family falls from grace to disgrace. In hostile Jerusalem, the overly ambitious Pilate works on his position to better himself while his wife has a lover Holtan. Claudia sees the future of Jesus on the crucifixion and hears in her vision the words "suffered under Pontius Pilate", but has no idea how to prevent the tragedy even though she has access to the Jewish King Herod. Seeing does not mean changing. This is an interesting work of biographical fiction that brings to life the Roman Empire in the first century. The segment involving Jesus is the most fascinating as the audience sees a different perspective to the events leading to and after the crucifixion. However, the novelization is at its best when Antoinette May fills in unknown or less known gaps of the times. Still this is an excellent look at the Roman Empire at a time when organized religions are in various disarray.

Cruel Sister
Deborah Grabien
Thomas Dunne
0312357575 $24.95

In Somerset, period piece architectural expert Ringan Laine discusses with his girlfriend Penny Wintercraft-Hawkes, the wedding they just attended when her cell phone rings. It is her brother Stephen, who vanished two decades ago in Asia but now lives in London married to someone named Tamsin; he cuts off his stunned sibling demanding to speak with Ringan. Stephen asks Ringan to evaluate their plans to restore a Tudor home just across the Thames from one of the historical palaces of Henry VIII. Always excited to work on a restoration project and besides this is his squeeze's long lost brother, he agrees. However, on site, Ringan begins seeing unexplained happenings especially near the crater where a WWII bomb exploded killing a soldier. He observes a girl in a sixteenth century garb begging he assumes him for a haven from those with hounds chasing her while Penny is performing in Italy. If he fails to put the ghost that has assaulted his senses to rest in eternal peace, Ringan will be possessed. This supernatural mystery switches the possible possession from Penny to Ringan as a five hundred year old ghost demands he obtain satisfaction for her or she will haunt him forever. Ringan has no earthly idea how to proceed which adds to the fun as he fumbles before seeking help at Oxford and from Penny. Though the fascinating historical references and Oxford ground the tale in the mortal realm, the ghost steals the show in Deborah Grabien's fine fourth "Haunted Ballad" paranormal whodunit (see THE FAMOUS FLOWER OF SERVING MEN and MATTY GROVES).

Grave Writer
Mark Arsenault
Thomas Dunne
0312335962 $23.95

In Providence, Rhode Island Daily Pen obit writer Billy Povich knows his gambling habit has cost him plenty. His wife Angie left him before she died in a car accident; he feels grief and guilt as he shares a residence with his father and his son. He owes loan sharks plenty that a busted leg or knee cap will not come close to paying off his gambling debt. Feeling helpless, he plots to kill retired cop Charles Maddox, who he blames for Angie's death as he drove the police car involved in the deadly accident that claimed her life. However, Billy is sidetracked from his murderous musings when he is called to serve as a juror on the homicide trial of Peter Shadd, who allegedly killed criminal Garrett Nickel when they escaped prison together. Politically motivated Assistant District Attorney General Ethan Dillingham has a perfect case against Shadd until defense attorney Martin Smothers begins poking tiny holes in it. Billy starts questioning whether Shadd is being set up, but is stunned when the only other doubting juror falls to his death and someone stalks him as if he is next. Combining humor with an urban noir, Mark Arsenault provides readers with a delightful legal thriller mostly from the perspective of a juror whose personal problems seem overwhelming as demons own his mind. The story line is action-packed once Billy begins to believe Shadd, a punk who he believes deserves the worst, might be innocent of this particular crime and never slows down as the hero assumes he is targeted for death by those who want to insure Shadd is convicted. Readers will enjoy this fine twisting Rhode Island thriller.

A Safe Place for Dying
Jack Frederickson
Thomas Dunne
0312351682 $23.95

In Chicago a blackmailer stalks the affluent residents of Crystal Waters by threatening to blow up the multimillion dollar mansions of those who fail to pay his or her fee. Feeling safe behind their walled community nicknamed "Gatedville", the rich and famous who reside there ignore the threat as that of a crackpot. Not long afterward the extortionist blows up the home of the Farradays to the shock of everyone; no one was hurt as the owners were away. Crystal Water Chief of Security Stanley Novak asks Vlodek "Dek" Elstrom to join in as added security because he once lived there so he knows the place first hand and has investigative experience. He insists that he is the wrong person for the job as his residence was shorter than a cup of coffee so he does not know the community and that he has only investigated paper not humans. For some unknown reason Stanley hires him anyway. Dek accepts the case more for his desire to redeem himself with his ex-wife who he let down and still resides there than with the money he needs. However, Dek quickly realizes that the prime suspect is himself. The hero no longer has any confidence in his skills after badly messing up in business and in his personal life, but sees this as the first step to redemption. However, when he concludes that he is being set up, Dek wants to run away and hide, but puts on "Depends" in order to uncover who is framing him. Dek makes this a fabulous private investigative tale that sub-genre fans will fully appreciate and want more stories starring this fascinating hero.

Everybody Kills Somebody Sometime
Robert J. Randisi
Thomas Dunne
0312338627 $23.95

In 1960 Vegas at the Sands Hotel and Casino, Joey "Mascot" Bishop tells pit boss Eddie Gianelli that the Chairman of the Board Frank needs a favor from him. Eddie G, being from Brooklyn, fears Frank's reported connections back in Jersey so he declines. However, Eddie G's boss Jack Entratter suggests quite strongly he takes care of whatever Frank Sinatra wants. Eddie G meets Frank in the special Rat Pack steam room at the Sands. Frank says that who ever he talked to on the street, in any casino, or during the filming of Ocean's 11, everyone agrees if you need something in Vegas see Eddie G. Franks is concerned that his pal Dino is receiving death threats. With waitress Beverly as his date, Eddie G goes back stage after a Rat Pack performance where he meets Dean Martin and learns about the death threat messages. Eddie G asks his friend from New York private investigator Danny Bardini to help him uncover who is threatening Dino. A beating, several adulations, and a homicide has Eddie G reeling as someone wants to harm him for interfering with the Dean Martin affair. Targeting the baby boomers who will recognize the original Rat Pack, Robert J. Randisi pays homage to Frank, Dino, Sammy, and Joey; other card carrying members like Peter Lawford are treated as minor hanger-ons. The mystery takes a back seat to the celebrities as Mr. Randisi and Eddie G don't hide their fan reverence especially towards Frank and Dino. Fans will enjoy seeing a different perspective on Frank and Dino in this lighthearted homage to a bygone era (Sands was torn down in 1996).

Critique of Criminal Reason
Michael Gregorio
Thomas Dunne
0312349947 $24.95

In 1804 Prussian King Frederick Wilhelm royally commissions Procurator Hanno Stiffeniis to investigate four homicides that has terrorized the citizens of Konigsberg as the city's Procurator Rhunken suffered a stroke. There is no indication that the terror is over and in fact many believe the killings are the work of Napoleonic agents, whose military appears ready to invade. Realizing that the investigation is heading nowhere, Stiffeniis turns to the city's most famous person, philosopher Immanuel Kant, whose classic Critique of Pure Reason was published a decade ago to universal acclaim. Kant and Stiffeniis, who met back in 1793, team up using the former's theories on the human condition to what is either an enemy agent stirring fear in order to weaken the monarchy or a serial killer, Logic proves the masterpiece does not apply to the abnormal human condition. The whodunit takes a back seat to the insightful look at one of history's most important philosophical contributors, years after his famous work is released. Readers obtain a powerful glimpse at the aging Kant as he has demons of his own to subdue while he applies his pure reason model to the criminal mindset. Stiffen is a terrific sidekick albeit lead investigator as he and Kant critique criminal reasoning in a fabulous early nineteenth century murder mystery.

James Patterson
Little, Brown
0316159794 $27.99

Though has had much success in brining dangerous serial killers to justice one failed case haunts highly regarded forensic psychologist Alex Cross. Years ago someone murders his wife Maria. That culprit was never caught and her homicide became a cold case except in the mind of Alex. However, Alex has decided it is time to move past law enforcement and begin a safer practice so he can be there for his family. Michael "Butcher of Sligo" Sullivan once worked as a self-employed hit man for hire; the mob contracted many hits to this violent butcher. However, he feels betrayed so has declared a vendetta war with the mob. Collateral damage and rapes are just part of his lunacy. The FBI asks Alex for his help, but he refuses until they pull the ace from the deck. There is a strong tie between this deadly killer and the murder of Maria. Alex needs in, but he promised his family he was out. Alex is at his best in this cat and mouse battle with a diabolical sadistic psychopath as he has strong pulls from family members especially pressure from his offspring who remind him of his vow and want him out of the serial killer hunt. Sligo is a fascinating adversary in that total evil macabre way as the audience, though expecting the hero to remain standing at the end, would not want to bet against this clever butcher who knows how to play the psychological strings of his opponents like a violin virtuoso. James Patterson is at his best with the twelfth Cross thriller.

The Mission Song
John Le Carre
Little, Brown
0316016748 $26.99

Twenty-nine year old half-British half Congolese Bruno "Salvo" Salvador earns a lucrative living as an interpreter of several African dialects. He is married to an upper crust Englishwoman Penelope and is in demand by corporations and the government for his language skills in Swahili and lesser known East Congolese dialects. Salvo lives a comfortable life at the top of London thanks to his roots of a missionary father mating with a Congolese villager. However, he also feels shallow as he enjoys the good life while he ignores the plight of his maternal people. At a black tie gala honoring his wife, a renowned tabloid reporter, Mr. Anderson sends Salvo from the party to work a covert mission. Salvo flies to a remote island to serve as interpreter for a group of African nationals who apparently plan to overthrow the corrupt Congolese government and bring needed stability to the region. Frightened by what he hears and fearful the plotters may eliminate any witness, Salvo wants to decamp, but also wants to help his people, but is not sure what is best for them. This is a terrific thriller that condemns attempts to "westernize" other regions of the world especially Africa while at the same protecting western business interests at the costs of the locals. The story line is action-packed but also contains John Le Carre's biting humor as he lampoons those who insist western democracies will save the world; Mr. Le Carre pushes that first you must feed the person before you can teach them to fish so they can feed themselves. This is a great work starring a terrific protagonist with feet in two distinct words.

Hollywood Station
Joseph Wambaugh
Little, Brown
0316066143 $24.99

In Southern California between losing experienced cops to the military call up of the reserves and funding reductions by the same politicians who howl that the streets are unsafe, LAPD Hollywood Station cannot perform the mission. Learning from DC, however, no one in positions of leadership want to know any of that as all plans to fix shortages are strategic so that they come under someone else's future watch. In that mess, the cops are forced to work with street gangs, meth heads, the homeless, the rich and famous, and the Russian mafia. To survive under the intense view of the community seeking (and hoping for personal gain) to find abuse and errors the cops fake reports of interviews whenever they racially or economically need to balance their worksheets. The only thing that keeps the station from total collapse is the Oracle, a veteran sergeant, who can make a gourmet dinner out of chicken salad (some might say chicken excrement) as he works the partnering and beats of a motley crew. More a series of vignettes than a cohesive novel, the tale focuses on how a police station copes with experience issues, money problems, and neighborhood mistrust in Joseph Wambaugh's excellent look at life in LAPD. The cast is top rate as the police run the gamut of characters from wannabe actors to wannabe surfers while the streets are filled with crazies and deadlies. Police procedural fans will want to read Mr. Wambaugh's fabulous tour of HOLLYWOOD STATION.

Bleeding Hearts
Ian Rankin
Little, Brown
0316009121 $24.99

British assassin Michael "Demolition Man" Weston is setting up for his next kill, London TV journalist Eleanor Ricks though he has no idea who employed his services. However, he also knows that American private investigator Hoffer is seeking Weston. In the States Weston wrongfully murdered the wrong young girl; the father has retained Hoffer to bring Weston back to Texas for Lone Star justice. Weston completes his mission successfully with his sniping hitting his victim's heart, but realizes something went wrong as the London police almost catch him for the Ricks kill as his explosive diversion failed. He escapes, but they hunt him. He wonders if Hoffer set him up or if his client did. Concluding that he must uncover the identity of his last employer, Weston follows clues that take him back to Texas where an illegal weapons dealer is arranging a big pay off even as the professional hitman knows high noon is coming soon. This is a reprint of an early Ian Rankin antihero thriller with no Rebus anywhere in sight. The exciting story line is at its complex best when Weston is stalking and being stalked simultaneously, but loses some of its suspense when the confrontation occurs. Fans of Ian Rankin will want to read this different type of thriller than his usual Rebus investigations.

The Case of Emily V
Keith Oatley
Pleasure Boat Studio
201 West 89 Street, New York, NY 10024
1929355300 $18.00

Few situations if ever have come to light like this one uncovered by the author that enables the reader to draw conclusions on the thought processes of two famous individuals from almost a century ago. Keith Oatley has found three manuscripts from the late nineteenth century on the same subject, but with differing perspectives that shed a light on Sherlock Holmes as the investigation has been written up by Dr. John Watson and a psychoanalysis case study conducted by Dr. Sigmund Freud in his own words. The third entry enables the audience to determine even further the truth is a journal written by their mutual subject Vienna classics teacher Emily V. In 1904 Vienna Emily V cannot sleep due to evil dreams and who cannot eat due to delicious smells making her nauseous. She knows why as she killed Charles S. She has seen Professor Freud, the physician at the urgings of Sara and knows someone from England investigates. She ponders just telling everyone the truth that she suffers from guilt because she is guilty. THE CASE OF EMILY V rotates perspective between the title star, Watson's case description, and Freud's presentations and notes. The story line grips the reader from the start as a historiographic analysis of Freud and Holmes (in the sleuth's case through a Watson filter) makes their "meeting" genuine. The two celebrities stay in character throughout even when they learn they share the same case though one from a mental health viewpoint and the other from a homicide stance. Freud is arrogant as he pompously knows it all while Holmes is smug and moodily knows it all. Though the encounter has been written in THE SEVEN-PER-CENT SOLUTION, this is a more exhilarating novel as the audience becomes more enthralled with the minds of the characters.

Tell Me Everything
Sarah Salway
0345481003 $12.95

Her father's scandal leaves overweight and unhappy Molly broke and no place to stay. A married dirt old person (politically correct) Mr. Roberts offers her a room above his stationer shop if she works the shelves. She accepts though the stipulations disconcert her. He insists she climb ladders, tell her life story, and allow him to feel her large calves. Also obese is haircutter Miranda who lives up the block. She exchanges pleasantries with Molly, but both hides their overall unhappiness from one another and neither take a step towards a friendship. Liz the librarian suggests Molly read the Story of O while unhinged Tim spies on Molly as part of his belief that she is a secret agent. Molly fits right in as misery loves miserable company. This is a well written character study that star non-empathetic individuals. Each key player uses lies and deceit to mask their inner feelings from one another. Thus TELL ME EVERYTHING is an extremely deep look at people, but Sarah Salway's cast believe in protecting one's psyche at the cost of true relationships through a web of lies; not for everyone as it is difficult to find someone to care about, this is a powerful drama.

The Wrong Man
John Katzenbach
0345464834 $25.95

Boston art history grad student Ashley Freeman has sex with Michael O'Connell. Where she saw it as a one night stand, he saw it as forever. Michael obsesses over Ashley and plans to make her his though she insists she does not want to see him. He does not leave her alone being everywhere she is and running off anyone who spends time with her. He uses his computer skills to cause havoc for her divorced parents and her mother's lesbian lover as well as taking control of Ashley's life at school, her finances and in other ways. Her loving parents try to buy him off, but Michael ignores their efforts; they try to frighten him into leaving their daughter alone, but instead he scares them with his obstinate intensity. Nothing legally works so the desperate Ashley and her family decide to go after Michael with the same fixation he applied when he devastated their lives with illegal and amoral tactics. On the surface this may seem like an extended Fatal Attraction, but talented John Katzenbach brings his own spin to predatory obsession as Michael and Ashley's family go at it like champions meeting in a fifteen round bout. Each of the five prime players seem genuine and the reactions and feelings of Ashley's parents and the lover towards their beleaguered offspring feels real so that when the legal approaches fail, the audience will have no problem with their efforts to reverse the stalking. This is a one sitting tense thriller as readers will want to know who survived trench warfare.

Murder at the Opera
Margaret Truman
0345478215 $24.95

At the Kennedy Center's Washington National Opera, everyone is shocked when the corpse of the young Canadian Soprano is found there; the victim was killed by a prop going to be used in the upcoming production of Puccini's Tosca; horrifying the purists perhaps even more than the body. Amongst those in attendance are Georgetown gallery owner Annabel Reed-Smith, who was to be an extra in the performance; her spouse former criminal lawyer turned Georgetown professor Mackensie Smith and retired cop Ray Pawkins. Annabel begs Mac to investigate the homicide. Though he pleads that he is a professor he loses this argument. He and Ray begin investigating while the police conduct a parallel official inquiry. Soon the two opera lovers find a strange connection between avaricious talent agents and terrorists though which side is more dangerous is a tossup as opening night may need to be canceled as the threat to destroy more than just the performance is real with the tuxedo crowd including President Montgomery. MURDER AT THE OPERA is a superb Capital Crimes entry due to a deep secondary cast mostly those associated with WNO. The story line is action packed as Mac and Ray realize that a simple murder is much more as something nasty is coming soon, but nobody is sure what. References to Tosca add a high note to a strong Capital Crimes whodunit.

Luscious Craving
Cameron Dean
0345492548 $6.99

Ever since Ash almost drained Candace dry, she has hated and loved the vampire. Although she doesn't know why he stopped short of turning her, she wants nothing to do with him even though they both live in Las Vegas. He swears he will never let her go and she does her best to keep him at arm's length not always successfully. She is able to sense when a vamp is near and she uses her silver chopsticks to kill the human bloodsuckers. Las Vegas is a happening place for vampires and her boss at the casino where she works wants her to make sure the Shez is a vampire free zone. The Shez is hosting the No Limits Foundation Charity Poker Tournament and one of the participants is Senator Cabot Hamllyn, the most likely Democratic Party candidate for the presidency. The tournament culminates on New Years Eve and rumors abound about there being a con and vampires are involved in the scam. She also hears word of a vampire war and warns Ash, not realizing that the person who will feel scammed the most is she. This vampire thriller has cross-genre appeal. Readers who like romance, horror and paranormal tales will find LUSCIOUS CRAVINGS will satisfy most reading appetites. The audience will find out why Ash almost drained Candace dry and why he stopped and the answer will take readers totally by surprise. A fast paced plot, interesting characters and lots of action and romance make this a read for the genre connoisseur.

Passionate Thirst
Cameron Dean
0345492536 $6.99

Candace Steele and Ash met in a San Francisco pub a year and half ago; for both it was lust at first sight. As time passed, she realizes their relationship is very odd as they never see each other during daylight. She decides to surprise her lover so she goes to his office to offer him a picnic lunch, but is turned away to her chagrin. That night she confronts Ash; he leaves her, but soon returns to explain everything. Ash stuns her with his revelation that he is a vampire. Soon afterward during love making, he loses control and bites her neck. Candace nearly dies from blood loss, but recovers. She wears a tattoo cross to cover her scar and moves to Las Vegas where she joins the security team at the Star Hotel. One side benefit from Ash's bite is that Candace can uncover vampires, which enables her to kill those who drink human blood. Candace is a bodyguard to singer Temptatione McCoy, but her senses tell her that Dru, the entertainer's manager, is a human-blood drinking vampire. Ash suddenly arrives wanting time with her. However, though she desires him, a vampire's wife is not the life for her. When Candace's life is endangered, Ash tries to keep her safe in the hopes they will have a chance to be together forever. Most paranormal romances focus on the love story line, but THE PASSIONATE THIRST centers more on the action. This enables the audience to understand the heroine's ethics as a vampire slayer loving a vampire but changing over is repugnant to her even though Ash is her soulmate. The story line is fast-paced as Candace kicks butt, but it is her human morality that makes this tale several bites above the norm. Cameron Dean is a wonderful storyteller who will appeal to readers of many genres.

The Big Shuffle
Laura Pedersen
0345479564 $13.95

Eighteen years old card shark and graphic design student Hallie Palmer is enjoying life at the Cleveland Art Institute especially the partying when her summer boss Bernard Stockton arrives to tell her that her father is in the hospital having suffered a heart attack. Bernard and his lover Gil along with their adopted child take Hallie first to the hospital where she learns her mom is sedated having fallen into shock and soon after that her not quite forty dad died. Hallie takes charge of her eight younger siblings while the oldest Eric comes home from attending college in New York to help. After talking with Eric, Hallie realizes she must parent her brothers and sisters as Eric is on scholarship. She expects the next in line Louise to help, but she decamps to Massachusetts to live with her boyfriend. Hallie leaves school to raise the seven other Palmer kids with help from her friends Bernard, Gil Police Officer Rich and bookie Cappy. However the best help comes from former sailor Uncle Lenny, who brings discipline, order and humor into a shattered house. Switching from the middle class teen's amusing poker life amidst the wealthy (see BEGINNER'S LUCK and HEARTS DESIRE) to mothering a family in chaos loses some of the humorous sting that the first two tales contained. The much more serious tome of the story line focuses on the fiasco of a teen with help trying to bring order to her seven little Foys (make that Palmers). Hallie loses some of her spunk (who wouldn't) as she draws a losing hand that she has no choice but to play. Fans of the series will appreciate her efforts to run a full house instead of playing a full house.

A Christmas Secret
Anne Perry
0345485815 $15.95

Clarice and Dominic Corde are looking forward to reaching the tiny hamlet of Cottisham to take over as the temporary vicar because Reverend Wynster is taking a much needed vacation over the Christmas holiday. They are instantly charmed by the village and the vicarage which reflect a good, kind and godly man. The Cordes feel as if they have come home and returning to the church in London as a curate under the supervision of the meddlesome Reverend Spindlewood is going to be a big letdown. The feeling of serenity ends when Clarice finds the vacationing vicar's family bible, and supplies and winter clothes, things he would want to take on a trip. When she goes to the cellar to get coal, she finds the body of Reverend Wynster. The doctor believes it was an accident but Clarice and Dominic find evidence that points to murder. Both believe the dead clergyman knew someone would kill to keep a secret but since they don't know the parishioners, they have to rely on instinct, hunches and listen to the meaning behind what certain people say. Anne Perry has written an excellent mystery and a love story that focuses on a married couple who delight in each other's company. These are people who one would be proud to call friend because they are honest, dedicated and hardworking folks. A CHRISTMAS SECRET would make an excellent gift for Victorian cozy fans and readers who like the works of this author.

Bubbles All the Way
Sarah Strohmeyer
0451412273 $7.99

Bubbles Yablonsky is not having an easy time of it because she told her one time lover photojournalist Steve Stiletto that she will not marry him. Instead she plans to remarry her former husband Dan who she loathes; he is blackmailing her by threatening a custody suit over their daughter with their psychiatrist as a witness that Bubbles is an unfit mother. Bubbles cannot understand why Dan insists on marrying someone he knows hates him, but he does. While visiting at the local House of Beauty, Debbie Shatsky suddenly keels over and drops dead. The police believe that owner Sandy used the wrong glue (Debbie had an allergy to latex and needed latex free glue) to do the victim's hair instead of the one that Debbie brought with her. Bubbles believes this was not e negligent accident, but instead a murder by a cold blooded killer to make Sandy look guilty. She runs her theory by her editor who believes the official verdict while Santa stalks her. Death attempt incidents occur as someone wants Bubbles dead, but she has no idea why just like she cannot comprehend Dan's motive to marry her. A Bubbles Yablonsky mystery is always a treat to read and this installment is probably the best yet in one of the more superior series on the market today because the heroine is so clueless about the murder, the attempts on her life, and most unsettling Dan's motivation to marry her. Readers like this reviewer assume there is a connection between the three scenarios, but the pleasure of this mystery is to find out what it is and the only way to know that is to read this delightful novel. That is no hardship as BUBBLES ALL THE WAY is an amusing and exhilarating mystery.

Chill of Night
John Lutz
0786016353 $6.99

He retired from NYPD after taking a bullet while chasing down a serial killer, but former homicide detective Artemis Beam knows he really left because he no longer had the patience to deal with unctuous superiors who interfered, not helped, on investigations. However, retirement is tedious and with the recent suicide of his wife ennui has set in on top of the despondency and survivor He, in a dark mood, negatively muses on what he could have done different. Because of his well earned reputation for catching serial killers, Deputy Chief Andy da Vinci asks Beam to help the department capture the "Justice Killer"; this serial killer murders people who served as foremen on juries that freed the "guilty"; the culprit leaves behind a trademark red J drawn on the victim's body. Beam agrees to investigate, but quickly realizes the Justice Killer seems one step ahead of the police making him wonder if an insider is the murderer. The former cop concludes that the Justice killer has plans to leave a J on the task force hunting him or perhaps even her. CHILL OF NIGHT is a typical serial killer cat and mouse thriller except that talented John Lutz refreshes the sub-genre with a sense of the terror gripping the city and how much the J-killer debilitates the justice system. The suspense remains in the stratosphere from the moment da Vinci brings out of retirement Beam and never slows down until the final confrontation between the killer and the retired cop ends with a masterful twist that readers will realize afterward was in our face, but brilliantly disguised. Mr. Lutz's fans or anyone who appreciate a tense police procedural will appreciate this high octane thriller.

The Dragon Conspiracy
P. R. Moredun
0060766654 $7.99

In 1910 England, despondent fourteen years old James Kinghorn escapes from Drinkett College that he attends as a student to walk the sand dunes when he notices the commemorative looking "Sea Arch". He walks through it and finds he has entered a portal that leaves him in a world where magic is real, Eldaterra. He quickly flees a deadly dragon spider and the undead with the help of the twin dwarves Brothers Bandamire, and a talking dog and chatty bear as dragons disguised as humans and Kaiser Wilhelm's forces set in motion plans to defeat humans in both planes. He soon finds ties to his grandfather and serial murders fifteen years earlier. In 1895 British Chief Inspector Corrick and Foreign Office civil servant Harrington investigate a series of grisly murders. The victims are pregnant women pregnant, but their fetuses are reptilian. They struggle with the serial murder case that makes no sense for the answer lies in Eldaterra and a patient enemy establishing an axis in two worlds. The first book of The World of Eldaterra saga is an interesting historical fantasy that stars a young hero struggling to understand what is going on in spite of the overly verbose explanations provided by the Brothers Bandamire. The story line is action-packed as James and his new allies fight the evil alliance in between loquacious discussions on what is going on. Still the ties to history bring a semblance of reality to WWI fought on another front in an alternate realm.

All Acts of Pleasure
M.R. Sellars
Willow Tree Press
P.O. Box142414, St. Louis, Mo. 63114
0967822130 $14.95

Rowan Gant is a Wiccan, a witch who practices magick but he is also a medium who channels the dead and it is in that capacity he helps the St. Louis police department in solving homicide cases. When a prominent judge is killed, Rowan's wife freelance photographer Felicity, is called on to take pictures of the crime scene. Voodoo symbols are found in the motel room and there is evidence that S&M sex was going on before the judge was killed. A second victim, a police office is murdered in a similar manner with the same voodoo symbols in the room with the body. Felicity starts acting strangely and starts calling herself Miranda and her husband realizes she is possessed by a Lwa, an ancestral spirit. Now Rowen and Felicity are shut out of the investigation until his best friend arrests Felicity for the two murders based on DNA evidence. Since she suffered from blackouts when the Lwa committed the murders, Felicity isn't sure her body did the ritualistic killing. Before Rowen can act, the police let her go because the DNA was not a perfect match but close enough to be a female sibling which Felicity doesn't have. When the Lwa possess felicity once again, Rowen realizes that he must find the Lwa Miranda and battle her on the etheric plane. M.R. Sellars writes a fantastic mystery with a beautiful romantic sub-plot. This page turner is full of action yet the characters of Rowen and Felicity and their relationship is explored in great depth. Explosive secrets are finally revealed that gives answers but no solutions to getting rid of Miranda. Readers will root for Felicity to make it through her ordeal without psychological damage and hope Rowen finds the answers but alas, readers won't find out the answers to these questions until the next book in this great series which comes out in 2007.

Born In Death
J.D. Robb
0399153470 $24.98

In the year 2059, NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas is called to the scene of a particularly brutal homicide in which the dead woman was bound, tortured and killed. The victim, Natalie Copperfield, worked as an accountant at the firm of Sloan, Myers and Kraus as does her fiance Byson. When Eve goes to his abode to question him she finds him murdered in an almost an identical manner to that of Natalie. Eve believes the same person killed bottle of them and when she listens to recordings on their links she learns that Natalie and Byson discovered something irregular at their firm and were investigating it. As Eve investigates the accounting firm; her best friend Mavis, who is about to give birth, wants her to find her friend Tandy who is also about to go into labor. With the help of her sexy husband Roarke, a billionaire many times over, Eve finds the two cases are linked; if she finds the missing woman, she will also find the killer. J.D. Robb is a fantastic writer of futuristic police procedurals. Her characters have changed and grown over the course of this series and in this latest installment, Eve and Roarke have to overcome their own fears to help a good friend. The mystery is so well crafted that readers will not know who the killer is until the extraordinary climax occurs. BORN IN DEATH is filled with loads of action and an insightful glimpse of the protagonists' private lives. Ms. Robb has written another bestseller.

Time Meddlers
Deborah Jackson
LBF Books
9421 - 144 St., Edmonton, AB, Canada T5R 0R8
0977308286 $14.95

Sixth grader Sarah Sachs is not happy living in Ottawa with her father a member of parliament while her mother is back in Toronto working at the job she loves. Sarah also misses her friends but on the first day of school, she notices a boy who lives in her housing complex. They walk together but don't talk. When a car hits the boy, it goes right through him leaving him unharmed. At school he sits next to her and she learns his name is Matt Barnes. Sarah learns that Matt Barnes' father is a famous archeologist who has made new discoveries all across the world but he never comes home to see his son; Matt lives with Nadine, his father's cruel assistant. Later after much brainstorming, Matt and Sarah break in to his father's lab for some answers, but Nadine catches them. She tells them Matt's father is back in time in one of the universes of the multiverse and he can travel through time but can't come home. Nadine throws Sarah and Matt back in time to when the Algonquin and Mohawk tribes were at war with each other. They do their best to warn both tribes to be wary of the whites and what to do to preserve their culture. They want to find a way back to their own time and to extract Matt's father from wherever he is as they now know Nadine did to him what she did to them. Time traveling fans that enjoy history will take pleasure in the appropriately named TIME MEDDLER'S because the protagonists try to change history so that the Indians aren't taken advantage of by the Dutch, English and French. Nadine is a wicked villainess whom readers will love to hate as they root for the protagonists to find a way to achieve their goals including returning to their time. Deborah Jackson is a wonderful storyteller who draws her audience into her tale.

Master of Souls
Peter Tremayne
St. Martin's Press
0312348320 $24.95

The Ui Fidgente and the Eoghanacht of Cashel have been at war for centuries until the battle at Cnoc Aine when the Ui Fidgente leader was killed. He was replaced by Donennach who pledged fealty to the King of Muman because he wanted peace for his people. In the territory of the Ui Fidgente, a member of the abbey Ard Fhearta was bludgeoned; at almost the same time, six religious from the abbey along with Abbess Faife are making a pilgrimage when they meet a battered sick man.

He tells them that he was the victim of wreckers who deliberately destroyed his ship on the rocks during a storm and killed his men and stole his cargo. They give him the clothes of a religious to wear and while he is changing, brigands kill the abbess and takes the religious hostage. Ui Fidgente warlord Conri asks Sister Fidelma to help figure out the mystery while her brother orders her to do so in order to cement relations with their former enemies. Fidelma is accompanied by Brother Eodulf, who wanted to stay at Cashel with their son and get ready for their binding wedding but knows that he must help her in her inquiries. When they come close to getting some answers, Sister Fidelma's life is in jeopardy. Peter Tremayne writes some of the best historical mysteries due in part to his heroine, a woman living in an enlightened country when the rest of Europe is going through the dark ages. Her abilities as a dalaigh, an officer of the law courts, and her role as the sister of a king makes her a very powerful woman. The mystery is impossible to figure out as is the link between the death of the Venerable Cinaed and the disappearance of the six religious. Even the heroine claims this is the hardest case she ever worked on. MASTER OF SOULS is another brilliant Sister Fidelma who done it.

Requiem for a Dealer
Jo Bannister
St. Martin's Press
0312362110 $23.95

In Dimmock, England, Finder Brodie Farrell provides driving lessons to her friend schoolteacher Daniel Hood. However, they barely are in the car when a girl runs into their vehicle. Half hysterical, she accuses driver Daniel of trying to kill her, which seems odd to Brodie as the pedestrian raced out of nowhere into their car. The girl flees into the night leaving behind two bewildered people. Brodie mentions this incident to her boyfriend Detective Superintendent Jack Deacon, but he is preoccupied as a new designer drug Scram is inundating Dimmock. He must find the manufacturing plant/lab to shut it down before more deaths occur. His prime concern is to find the Scram factory and stop the drug at its source before more people die. When the girl who hit the car turns up in Dimmock General Hospital from a Scram overdose, Jack visits her to see what she knows. She is Alison Barker, a former show jumper until the death of her father, who allegedly committed suicide but she insists was murdered and that the culprits are coming for her. While Daniel accepts her word Jack thinks she lies; Brodie decides to learn the truth one way or another. Brodie's sixth mystery is a terrific mystery that focuses on the illegal designer drug industry that makes billions on the backs of teens and young adults. Brodie's investigation is more professional than amateur as her work as a professional finder is similar to that of a private investigator. Jo Bannister provides a delightful mystery enhanced by the romantic triangle.

Woman of Substance
Piers Dudgeon
St. Martin's Press
0312353405 $25.95

This biography takes a close look at popular women's fiction novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford, who has sold over seventy million books since her first novel, A Woman of Substance was issued in 1979. Ms. Bradford was born in Leeds over seven decades ago into a relatively modest background. Yet her mother, a nanny expected great things from her; pushing her to succeed way beyond the daughter of a laborer or a nanny. Ms. Bradford does quite well at Fleet Street before marrying Bob Bradford and taking New York by storm. A Woman of Substance is the acme of her success feeding a mass of sequels and TV shows. This is a fascinating biography aimed at readers who enjoy British romantic fiction. Though Ms. Bradford is an interesting author, her fictionalized characters take charge of her bio as Piers Dudgeon takes his audience on tours of locales used by Ms. Bradford in her novels and compares those to the writer's home locations especially as a child. With over fifty illustrations to augment the text, fans of the author will appreciate this fine homage while others will pass.

My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding
Edited by P.N. Elrod
St. Martin's Press
0312343604 $13.95

These nine short stories are amusing romantic fantasies that lampoons the sub-genre with chaotic weddings from hell. Star crossed lovers, wizards and enchantresses, vampires, ghosts, shapeshifters are either part of the wedding party or friends of the bride or groom. There is no telling who might show up as this anthology takes a lighthearted approach to nuptials amidst the paranormal. Sub-genre fans will appreciate this fun collection in which nothing is sacred. Accept the invitation to the weddings of the millennium, but don't complain about the seating as there is no telling what species from beyond will be at your table. This is a humorous compilation written by top authors worth reading by sub-genre fans.

Run Afoul
Joan Druett
St. Martin's Press
0312353367 $23.95

In 1838 the U.S. Exploring Expedition continues its mission this time in the South Atlantic Ocean heading towards Brazil. In Rio's harbor, one of the expedition's ships the Swallow collides with an American vessel the Osprey causing a major hole in the latter, but no one is hurt. Afterward, Osprey Captain Will Coffin, Sr. greets his son Wiki, a half Maori half American sailing as a linguist with the scientific expedition. Their elation in running into each other ends quickly, when William, Sr. is arrested on a charge of murder. Wiki, a sheriff's deputy, investigates believing his father would never kill anyone in cold blood as charged. With the verdict already in before the trial begins and the Expedition getting ready to move on, Wiki is running out of time and seemingly making no progress except that someone wants him backing off or else. The investigation takes a far back seat to the insightful vivid look at a bygone era when science is just beginning to take hold and Darwin's travel and work is recent to the fully developed cast. The story line is at its best when RUN AFOUL explores 1838 clashes between the US Navy officers, scientists, and the Brazilian government; the whodunit seems pale in comparison. In his third, adventure, Wiki remains a wonderful guide though this time he is a bit preoccupied with his father in deep trouble.

The Devil's Only Friend
Mitchell Bartoy
St. Martin's Press
0312340893 $23.95

In 1944 Detroit, racial riots have shaken the Motor City. Thus when "Negro" Jonah Walker visits his friend former police officer cop Pete Caudill in the latter's all white neighborhood he risks his life from the neighbors. Still Jonah needs to know who killed his younger sister Felicia and Pete's the man to learn the truth. Besides being an ex-cop, one-eyed Pete last year proved a Negro had been wrongly accused of a homicide (see THE DEVIL'S OWN RAGDOLL). Since the corpse was found in the Cleveland based auto manufacturing plant owned by intimidating Jasper Lloyd, Pete starts with the business mogul, whom he knows from shared events. Pete is stunned when he sees how frail Jasper has become and friendly offering his assistance because the elderly man retains the reputation of a barracuda. However, Jasper's secretary wants Pete to leave the man alone while Whitcomb, the heir to the mogul's empire is nasty and threatening towards Pete. The ex cop soon knows his inquiries is disturbing someone when he is beaten badly even as a second female murder occurs. Though new neighbor family man Ray Federle seems an unlikely investigative partner, fans will fully enjoy Pete's WWII Motown investigation. The story line is as much a historical, especially the deep look at race relations only sixty years ago and so dysfunctional, as it is a mystery. The cast is solid though Pete is the core of this dark 1940s urban Noir.

A Whole New Life
Betsy Thornton
St. Martin's Press
0312357591 $23.95

Jenny Wilson is a health fanatic who uses herbs, supplements and other items to keep in tip top shape. She is driving home one day when she feels ill, loses control of her car and dies. Her husband, Jackson thinks her bald tires caused the vehicle to spin out of control but he gets an inkling that something more is going on when the police do an autopsy and report she was poisoned. The poison was found in her probiotic herb and mineral mixture. The police serve Jackson with a warrant to search his house taking items like his computer and stuff from his medicine cabinet. They later arrest him; his mother in law writes a letter to the judge claiming ill health and that she will die if Jackson is released from prison. Jackson is denied bail but his lawyer finds interesting things about Jenny including the fact think she let a druggie into her home; she was having an affair with Jackson's colleague and has a brother who is alive even though she told everyone he is dead. Mara, the daughter he hasn't seen since she was three years old, has come to see her father and is asking questions in the hopes of learning information that will exonerate him. This is a very interesting and fascinating crime thriller because the defense and the prosecution have equal amounts of information that could either convict or exonerate Jackson. The protagonist feels like a fool because he tuned his wife out and wasn't aware of what has gone on around him. He is an honorable man but his disintegrating marriage is the reason the prosecution has so much evidence against him. This is a deeply satisfying reading experience due to the eccentric cast of characters and a fast paced plot.

Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank: And Other Words of Delicate Southern Wisdom
Celia Rivenbark
St. Martin's Press
0312339933 $19.95

These thirty-two essays, which divide into five parts (Kids, Celebrities, Vanity Flares, Huzzzbands, and Southern Style Silliness), are amusing satirical commentaries that use irony to lampoon "values". Whether it is the horde of politicians who share values with voters during election time (but not year round) or breaking bread with the Disney crowd, each entry humorously places the subject in a contradictory paradoxical light. Celebrity scent or slacker dads who are heroes when they put a toilet seat down, Celia Rivenbark rips the subject using lighthearted (sometimes right hooks ask morality drug czar Bennett losing millions at gambling, or the wannabe first lady "ketchup queen" meddling with the four year old, etc.) barbs. This is a terrific entreating commentary that reminds readers to "go Cheney" and look closely at the insincerity in life that leaves this reviewer thinking of changing the name of the Pygmalion Effect to the Bush Effect as he has made Iraq the center of the war on terrorism.

Touch of Desire
Susan Spencer Paul
St. Martin's Press
0312933894 $6.99

By 1823, the Earl of Graymar, Malachi Seymour, assumes he will spend his life with no one ever getting close to him. A bit sad, but not melancholy he believes he must avoid love or even a close camaraderie because he has a responsibility as the powerful Sorcerer, Dewin Mawr that supersedes love let alone friendships; secrecy is key. Popular author Sarah Tamony has arrived at Castle Glain to investigate the rumors she has heard about his Welsh clan having magical abilities. He tries to ignore her demands for an interview, but at night dreams of stubborn Sarah. She finds him fascinating and the more she hears about the mysterious Malachi the more she desires him. However, she demands and has always reported what she finds while he must hide the truth. As they argue, fuss and fight, the sorcerer and the author fall under the magical spell of love, but unless they find a compromise involving her findings, this enchanting relationship will fail. The newest "Touch: historical romantic fantasy (see TOUCH OF PASSION and TOUCH OF NIGHT) is a superb tale of love's enchantment. The story line is driven by the lead couple as he must prevent her from revealing what she uncovers in order to keep his clan safe while she cannot fathom how the truth could hurt. Love complicates their already complex relationship. The final spin is a tribute to one of the sub-genre's great authors as places both Susan Spencer Paul writes a fabulous Regency relationship drama inside a believable fantasy setting.

Village Affairs
Cassandra Chan
St. Martin's Press
0312337507 $23.95

Scotland Yard Detective Sergeant Jack Gibbons is heartbroken that Annette Berowne dumped him. Marla Tate suggests to Jack's best friend affluent Phillip Betancourt that they help the cop come out of the doldrums by surrounding him with attractive females. However, Jack has a court appearance so can not join his pal amongst the fashion models in the Cotswold. However, Jack and Detective Chief Inspector Wallace Carmichael head to Chipping Chedding in the Cotswold to investigate the death of Charlie Bingham, a successful inventor. The deceased apparently died from mixing sleeping pills with whiskey, but Jack has found anomalies like the body being moved by the fireplace that makes him suspect a homicide occurred. As he investigates what he believes is murder, his boss, his friend, a local cop, and a wannabe sleuth entangle the case with confusion, as what is evidence becomes difficult to filter from what is a red herring and a blunder. Though it lacks the Wimsey of Lord Peter's mysteries (as much of the key cast is stereotyped), the second Gibbons tale (see THE YOUNG WIDOW) once again reverently brings Dorothy Sayers into the twenty-first century with a delightful Cotswold cozy. The story line is fun as Jack finds the biggest obstacles to solving the case are the myriad of silly sleuths. Fans of Ms. Sayers will enjoy Jack's look into the wealthy businessman's VILLAGE AFFAIRS and other dealings.

Guilty Pleasures
Donna Hill
St. Martin's Press
0312354215 $19.95

Eva and Jake Kelly are considered the perfect power couple as they live an upper class Manhattan lifestyle and obviously love one another. Most people who know the pair envy their loving closeness while simply assuming the dynamic duo fund their standard of living via their respective successful careers. The loving part is true as Eva and Jake truly do and do not hide their affection. However, the affluence aspect is a bit different than anyone perceives as the Kellys employ a secret method to earn income way beyond their day jobs. Eve picks up affluent drunken businessman so that Jake can photograph them in embarrassing positions; blackmail pays the bills. However, this time they select the wrong victim as he refuses to fold over to their extortion. Instead he is coming for the Kellys who are caught in a wider con that could prove fatal. Ethics aside, this is a wild thriller in which whatever the Kellys do seems to go wrong placing them increasingly in danger from a no nonsense Type A individual. Surprisingly even with their extortionist victims funding their elitist lifestyle, readers will empathize with the lead duo when they select the wrong victim. Mindful of Fun with Dick and Jane, Eva and Jake are a fascinating married couple who combine love, sex, and larceny into a delightful suspense.
A Friend of the Family

Marcia Willett
St. Martin's Press
0312306644 $13.95

Felicity Mainwaring feels pretty good following the death of her naval officer husband Mark to cancer. Some might interpret that she is glad that her spouse no longer suffers, but instead Felicity expects her long time lover of two decades George Lampeter to marry her after the minimal "grieving" period. To her shock and chagrin, George begins seeing Thea though she is much younger than he is. They fall in love and marry, which sends Felicity over the edge as she refuses to accept this and tries to destroy the marriage. The kind-hearted Thea tries to be there for her new friend Polly though she has her own problems caused by the spiteful Felicity. Meanwhile Thea's loving cousin Tim tries to help her by arranging a meeting between his future father-in law and Felicity. They begin to fall in love, but something goes awry leading to the vengeful widow's death from mixing medication with gin and plenty of guilt for those left behind to ponder if they could have done something different. This sequel to FIRST FRIENDS is an interesting British relationship drama that contains an ensemble cast mostly two dimensional except for the devious seemingly over the edge Felicity and to a lesser degree Polly. The story line starts off as a "triangle" starring Felicity, but about half way in turns into a coming of age tale headed by Polly. Fans of the author will enjoy A FRIEND OF THE FAMILY as Marcia Willett provides her readers with a fascinating dysfunctional cozy.

Santa, Baby
Jennifer Crusie, Lori Foster, and Carly Phillips
St. Martin's Press
0312939760 $7.99

"Hot Toy" by Jennifer Crusie. On Christmas Eve, Trudy Maxwell seeks a Major MacGuffin figure for her five years old nephew, but none are in stock when Chinese Literature Professor Nolan Mitchell arrives at the toy store looking for the same item. He apologizes for not calling her after their three great dates. When she finds the toy, everyone is stunned with this magic miracle. However, she finds herself in trouble as that is a hot toy with an enigmatic past and future involving espionage and the sexy professor she adores. "Christmas Bonus" by Lori Foster. Eric Bragg has loved Maggie Carmichael for several years, but he hid his feelings waiting for her to graduate college first; he was not prepared for her father to name her as president of Carmichael Athletic Supplies, which makes her his boss so he still hides how much he wants her. She secretly loves him too. This Christmas perhaps with the help of a loyal matchmaking staff love will blossom under the office mistletoe. "Naughty Under the Mistletoe" by Carly Phillips. This Christmas associate attorney Antonia "Toni" Larson plans to seduce her boss whom she has been attracted to for quite awhile. Maxwell Corbin reluctantly attends the party tossed by his family, the partners at Corbin and Sons though he thinks the name should be Corbin and Complaint son since only his twin stayed with the firm and he is a suburban private investigator. Toni thinks Max is Stephen when she kisses him under the mistletoe burning both from their head to their toes. Though the weather outside is frightfully wintry, these three Yuletide romances will heat readers even Scrooges and Grinches with delightful contemporary romances starring likable protagonists.

Love at First Bite
Sherrilyn Kenyon, L. A. Banks, Susan Squires & Ronda Thompson
St. Martin's Press
0312349297 $6.99

"Until Death Do Us Part" by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Though bound as soulmates for five centuries, in Chicago, her husband Velkan the Dark-Hunter and his wife Esperatta realize that a fifteenth century Romanian foe has come to kill these two immortals. "Ride the Night Wind" by L. A. Banks. Jose and Juanita are vampire slayers who first met in his dreams. As they fight side by side against the evil, they fall in love, but slayers have no life expectancy so both fear their feelings. "The Gift" by Susan Squires. Major Davis Ware expects to die as he leads a counterforce trying to survive the assault of the Asharti vampiric minion. His only regret is that he will die without tasting the love of his Emma. However, she refuses to allow him to fail to acknowledge their feelings. "The Forgotten One" by Ronda Thompson. Merrick with the eyes of a wolf believes he has found his lifemate in Anne Baldwin. He believes she feels the same way, but he must go against his nature and act slowly to bring out all the passion he sees in her eyes. These are four heated paranormal romantic fantasies that grip readers with the first bite of love and never stops holding the audience's attention until the final morsel is tasted.

Seduced by Magic
Cheyenne McCray
St. Martin's Press
0312937636 $6.99

D'Anu Witch Copper Ashcroft remains trapped in Otherword where a failed magical spell she employed in her battle with the warlock Darkwolf sent her. Over a year with no signs of returning home, Copper meets up with another person thrown into this strange realm. Tuatha D'Danann warrior Tiernan has joined her. His mission is to abet the mortal witches in their war against the demonic Fomorii. She, on the other hand, sees him as the avenue home. Both know the magnetic attraction is all wrong as the timing could not be worse; yet desire is a powerful magic. However, as their attraction and need turn into an inferno, they must escape this prison called Otherworld because Tiernann's visions forecasts a lethal Fomorii plot to free the malevolent darkest God Balor. Anyone not seduced by the magic of Cheyenne McCray is obviously a Fomorii as this author provides some of the best romantic fantasies on the market today. Her latest precious magical Ashcroft saga (see FORBIDDEN MAGIC starring Silver Ashcroft) is a delightful torrid tale headed by a strong lead couple and supported ably by a horde of bad dudes. Fans who appreciate a strong fantasy will want to read the magnificent McCray mythos.

Wild Nights
Kate Douglas, Sharon Page & Kathleen Dante
0758214898 $12.95

"Camille's Dawn" by Kate Douglas. Camille seeks escape from the earthly plane while werewolves Tia and Luc reunite on Halloween Eve for a night of carnal sex. However, Camille believes the male shapeshifter may be her avenue to freedom while her beloved Ullrich willingly would do anything for her, his cherished soulmate. "Midnight Man" by Sharon Page. Varkyrian vampiric hunk Michael Rourke like most of his kind can have any female he wants as no mere mortal or bloodsucker can resist their lure. However, he has met his soulmate, Erin Kennedy, who he plans to share an eternity of pleasure with though he fears how she will react when he takes a nip from her neck. "Night Pleasures" by Kathleen Dante. On Samheim Night, master mage Alana MacArdry is on the run from Bryce, an evil earth magician necromancer, who plans to use and discard her, but not before he steals her powerful brooch. She hides in the Pleasure Quarter from his simulacra hoping that fire can contain earth. There she meets fire magician Colin Sheridan. This time she run towards love and passion even as Colin and Alana team up to battle her dangerous enemy. These are three ultra heated paranormal romances starring interesting lead characters though the jump on one another's bones at first sight will disturb some readers.

The Cop
Sasha White, Alyssa Brooks & Renee Alexis
0758215312 $12.95

"Arrested" by Alyssa Brooks. Sheriff Reid Walker stops the vehicle of Kirsten Montgomery as he has reason to believe the driver is a car thief. He cannot understand how much he wants her while she fears her own reaction to him. However, Kirsten knows that once Reid learns about her sordid past, nothing further will come from their attraction. Reid instead wants to keep her under his personal security especially in his bed. "Sex as a Weapon" by Sasha White. Police Detective Kane Michaels pursues the notorious Risque Robber, a beautiful thief, to a bondage club. Reluctantly he enters, but finds himself fantasizing about his masked escort who is going to provide him a special lesion in bonding between cops and robbers. "Detroit's Finest" by Renee Alexis. On a highway patrol Officer Davenport stops the speeding car to give the driver a ticket. That is until he sees the beautiful Tracey and decides a hands on search to insure she has no hidden weapons is appropriate. She offers much more as her weapons are on display. Though the mixing of duty with sex seems inappropriate these three arresting erotic romances with light bondage will handcuff readers with fresh looks at law enforcement.

Sharon Page
0758214707 $12.95

In 1818 Lydia Harcourt begins alphabetically blackmailing her lovers. When she reaches R she goes after renowned artist Rodesson Hamilton, whose rheumy hands do not allow him to paint anymore. Lydia knows his last two erotic art books; Tales of a London Gentleman and Gentleman's Pleasures were different from one another as if different artists painted each tome. Since his incapacity is a secret, she assumes that his daughter Venetia, a portrait artist, did the last erotica. Lydia plans to make money off of his secret. Someone has learned the truth about the shared secret of Venetia and her dad; that someone threatens to reveal the truth to the Ton if the Hamiltons fail to pay the exorbitant demands. Venetia thinks of her recent portrait subject, Earl Michael Wyndham, the first and only person to make her want another soul; she also believes he can help her deal with the family blackmailer. As he teaches her the world of sensuality, someone wants their investigation stopped and is willing to kill to achieve that objective. Though a sensual erotic Regency romantic suspense, Venetia and Michael are strong characters in and out of bed as their lust for one another goes deeper than the fervent carnal relationship. Their heat is the prime plot, but the investigative intrigue enhances a well written fascinating historical. It would be a SIN if sub-genre fans missed this delightful page turning tale.

All Night Long
Melissa NacNeal
0758214111 $12.95

Already on board the Caribbean fantasy cruise, Lola Wright finds her fiance not only failed to make it on board the Aphrodite for their erotic pre nuptial pre-honeymoon that was to end in marriage, he took her money and maxed her credit. She has no means to pay for anything and offers to work her way at sea. Pleased that her fiance failed to show up as he likes what he sees, Greek Captain Skandalis agrees that Lola can pay for her stay on the Aphrodite. However, he also says the only available job is spending the voyage as his sexual fantasy; he swears he will help her also with achieving her desires. Though her sea legs feel shaky, Lola agrees to earn her keep as Skandalis' cruising lover. Lola and the Captain are strong individuals who know what they want and go out to get it (why get cake and not eat it). However, in spite of their attraction from the start and her desperation, some readers will be turned off by their sex peddling deal that turns him into an opportunist "John" and her into his whore. Morality aside, they make a fascinating couple due to the encounters between two robust ardent characters in an interesting exotic locale as ALL NIGHT LONG is not enough for either of them. Fans of erotic romance will appreciate the steamy nights on the Caribbean.

The Matchmaker
Jamie Denton
0758210124 $14.00

Over two years ago, former FBI profiler Greer Garson Lomax's life collapsed. First there was the botched serial-killer case that led to the estrangement with her lover Agent Ash Keller. After quitting the Feds, she moved to Magnolia, North Carolina to start over by converting a dilapidated mansion into a bed and breakfast. However, to pay her renovation costs and other bills, Greer accepts a job as a deputy sheriff in a town where major crimes never happen. Because of her background with the FBI, Greer is assigned to investigate "the Matchmaker" case. . Greer believes funeral home owner Parker Hennessy is an escaped convict who lures females to his parlors so that they can accompany their lifemate, a dead man, into the afterlife. Greer realizes she needs help to bring Hennessy to justice and to keep her and her sister Vivien Lee from becoming soulmates of recently demised men; she asks Ash for help. THE MATCHMAKER is a terrific romantic suspense thriller that avoids going over the top as many serial killer tales do because of the anchor of the realistic lead pair. Greer is a wonderful protagonist, who wants to run away again rather than face her darkest fears after her last Fed case collapsed so badly, but she cannot leave as her sister and other women are in jeopardy. Thus she displays great courage. Ash is still angry with Greer for dumping him rather than turning to him, but he will never allow her to confront evil alone again. Together they make a formidable team battling a dangerous, clever and malevolent psychopath who ironically serves as a matchmaker for them. Jamie Denton is at her best with this gripping thriller.

A Very Merry Christmas
Lori Foster, Gemma Bruce, & Janice Maynard
0758215428 $14.00

"Do You Hear What I Hear" by Lori Foster. SWAT Police Sergeant Osbourne Decker and pet psychic Marci Churchill may love one another, but their relationship is in trouble. That is until they team up to rescue an abducted donkey stolen from a nativity scene with Marci as the suspect. "Bah Humbug, Baby" by Gemma Bruce. Marketing exec Allison Newberry takes time off for a week long skiing vacation in Good Cheer. She never expected to find her former boyfriend Lee Simpsonon to also be there. While she wants to avoid him as he has let her down too many times in the past, he wants a second chance with the woman he loves. "By Firelight" by Janice Maynard. Writer Madison Tierney is stranded and freezing when she fortunately finds the half buried mountainside cabin of reclusive artist Grant Monroe. Unable to resist the lure of first sight, they fall into each other's arms. However, both wonders whether morning sunlight will bring more lovemaking, doubts, or both. These three lighthearted yet sexually torrid romantic romps are fun to read as they leave the audience feeling that they have received an early merry Christmas.

Hot Night
Shannon McKenna
9421 - 144 St., Edmonton, AB, Canada T5R 0R8
0758205643 $14.00

In Silver Fork, Oregon Abby Maitland comes home from a date from hell when she realizes she is locked out of her home. She calls a locksmith while her date Edgar gets rough until the locksmith Alexander "Zan" Duncan shows up and fixes everything. Abby is working on a project to best display the new Spanish treasure exhibit at the Portland science museum. Unknown to the exhibit development manager is that someone plans to steal the gold and eliminate any witnesses. However, the predator delays implementation when Zan seems to always be around her. Abby is attracted to Zan and he reciprocates her deepest feelings. However, though her body and soul desires Zan, she has doubts about going out with the centerfold of bad boys. It is not just his black leather or the tattoos that scare her; it is also his fighting skills when someone attacks them that make her wonder what this locksmith used to do. Still as they fall in love, the culprit has revised the plan to eliminate two blockades to the gold. HOT NIGHT is a torrid romantic mystery as the audience like the heroine will wonder about the so called bad boy who seems to always be in the right place at the right time to either steal kisses or rescue the damsel in distress. Abby is a fabulous independent female who wants a caring man in her life, but though she desires Zan she is unsure if he is good for her. Zan is a bit of enigma at first, but fans will know quickly there is more to him than a pick and a tattoo. Shannon McKenna provides a heated XXX romantic suspense thriller.

The Dangers of Mistletoe
Theresa Alan
0758209940 $12.95

The Taylor sisters know their lives have taken diverse turns recently with the marriage of Emily while Amber remains single. However, both loathe the upcoming Christmas season. Emily has married the man she loves, but with him comes a load of stepchildren who resent the intruder. Amber is lonely as she has no one to date; the marriage of her sibling just made her loneliness that much more apparent though she is euphoric for Emily to have found love. As the countdown continues with less and less shopping days left, debacles and overall messes become the norm for the Taylor siblings. Still the two know they can depend on one another and with a cleverly placed mistletoe Emily and Amber believes they can turn constant calamity into good cheer for all as they remain optimistic that though life seems dark, everything will work out. THE DANGER OS MISTLETOE is a salute to a positive relationship between two likable sisters as they are there for one another though Emily and Amber are very different in personality and in their current respective lifestyles. The support cast, mostly the extended families, brings out the best and more often the worst in the siblings. Readers will appreciate this fine sensitive yet amusing look at two sisters helping one another make it.

Perish by Pedicure
Nancy J. Cohen
0758212240 $22.00

Hair salon owner and stylist Marla Shore is not having an easy week. Her fiance's in-laws from his dead wife are coming to town to stay in her home to check her out and insure she is right for being the stepmother of their granddaughter Brianna. She is also working for Luxor Products as an assistant hair stylist t at the Supreme Shows Conference. Marla hopes to gain experience, a better job, and an avenue to visit places she dreams of seeing. When Marla arrives at the convention center, she meets Luxor director Christine Parker, but notices that all of the employees seem openly to despise the head honcho. When an anonymous person sends Christine a drink, she takes some and soon feels ill. The next day she is dead, a victim of poison. Marla turns sleuth, but fails to uncover the culprit before another homicide occurs. Nancy J. Cohen has written a cleverly constructed and entertaining murder mystery starring a likable heroine who knows better, but cannot stop herself from sleuthing. In this case, the victim is so vile that a horde seems to have wanted her dead making motivation difficult to use as a means of weeding out the killer. PERISH BY PEDICURE is filled with hair splitting humor, unexpected nail biting twists, and a bad hair week caused by future in-laws while Marla cuts to the roots of the case.

Bake Sale Murder
Leslie Meier
0758207018 $22.00

Life in Tinker's Cove, Maine is changing and some locals believe not for the better. Next door to Lucy Stone's home is five modular houses that make up Prudencea Path development; the old Pratt home used to be there before he sold the property to standoffish Fred Stanton. Fred's wife Mimi is unpopular because if someone fails to do what she demands, she complains to the proper authorities causing that person some trouble. Lucy meets her new neighbors when she invites them to join a bake sale to raise money for charity. Mimi fails to show up at the bake sale so the others "deputize Lucy to find her. When she enters her home she finds Mimi dead with a knife protruding from her chest. In her role as a reporter Lucy investigates; in her role as a mother Lucy worries about her cheerleading daughter who seems troubled. Lucy thinks the latter has something to do with the high school senior football players; their coach Buck Burkhart allows them plenty of freedom. Rumors abound that he encourages them to take liberties with the cheerleaders and to haze others; he and the administration deny this. At Mimi's funeral, Lucy sees a homeless man, whom she later links to the coach. Not long afterward, the intrepid reporter finds she is in a dejà vu scenario as a determined killer wants her dead. Leslie Meier's mysteries are quaint down home amateur sleuth tales (though Lucy is a journalist so has some experience) starring a protagonist who juggles being a mother and wife with being a reporter. Her desire to see justice served always places her in danger; luck has been on her side which is why she still lives. BAKE SALE MURDER is a fine who-done-it combined with a strong family crisis with Lucy solving the murder and taking care of her loved ones in her unique fashion leading to an enjoyable family oriented mystery.

Death in the Orchid Garden
Ann Ripley
0758208197 $22.00

Louise Eldridge is euphoric as she takes her DC based PBS show, Gardening with Nature, to the Hawaiian island of Kauai for a special shoot at the National Tropical Botanical Garden. Louise has scheduled a panel of expert guests to discuss horticulture. However, she finds the egomaniacal quartet (nursery owner Dr. Bruce Bouting, ethnobiologist Dr. Matthew Flynn, environmentalist Dr. Charles Reuter and Pacific Island expert Dr. Tom Schoonover) so obnoxious she looks forward to leaving paradise for home. While strolling on the nearby beach, Louise finds the battered body of Dr. Flynn that she quickly concludes was a homicide. Police Chief Randy Hau leads the official investigation, but a second homicide occurs. Unable to heed her spouse's warning to stay out of the dangerous water, the plant lady begins an inquiry as she seeks the root cause of this homicide. The Gardening Mystery (see SUMMER GARDEN MURDER) crowd will enjoy the change of milieu because Louise feels a need to uncover the botany version of Ten Little Indians. The whodunit is fun to follow as Chief Hau and amateur sleuth Louise separately work the case. Fans of the series will root for the plant lady as Ann Ripley provides a fun tropical cozy.

It's About Your Husband
Lauren Lipton
Warner 5 Spot
0446697842 $12.99

Thirty-one years old Iris leaves her husband in Los Angeles to move to New York where she starts a new job as a research marketer. However, her new position fails to pan out and she is fired. She barely survives on unemployment checks as long as she stays on a low cost diet. Vickie offers Iris a chance to earn money under the table; she wants Iris to trail her spouse Steve, whom she believes is cheating on her. Iris accepts the job, but fails as a sleuth as Steve catches her. Outraged at the lengths Vickie went to, Steve blackmails Iris to do his bidding or else he will cause her trouble like she has never seen. He expects her to help him enact a sweet revenge scenario to shake up his spouse. Though over the top with the premise that Vicky would hire an amateur and Steve could "blackmail" the amateur, fans will still appreciate this insightful look at starting over. Iris is a fascinating character as she will remind readers of the Doors' song People are Strange; the audience will empathize with her fears and especially her loneliness. Iris makes IT'S ABOUT YOUR HUSBAND worth reading as a sad sack sleuth struggles at being the stranger in the strange town.

The Collectors
David Baldacci
044653109X $26.99

CIA agent Roger Seagraves has opened up a gun for hire business. He calmly assassinates the Speaker of the House the Honorable Robert Bradley. For obvious reasons he has shaken the country and put fear into the hearts of the DC leadership especially chicken hawks used to others dying on their behalf, but to Roger it is one less "bloody politician". The four wacky Camel Club members (the leader with no past named Oliver Stone, a rare books expert at the Library of Congress, a former Jeopardy champion, and a former Defense Intelligence operative) begin investigating the homicide. Due to their connection to the Library of Congress, they quickly link the Congressman's death to that of the Library's Rare Book Collection Director. As the sleuths struggle with uncovering and stooping the killer, con artist Annabelle Conroy sets in motion a scheme to scam thirty-three million from Atlantic City casino owner Jerry Bagger. As Annabelle and her crew succeed in their con, she has to follow-up in DC where she meets the Camel Club who unofficially makes her a member as the quintet search for a killer who knows his or her way inside the corridors of government. The sequel to the madcap CAMEL CLUB centers more on the killer and the con artist than the dysfunctional behavior of the quartet. The two subplots are filled with action that never slows down, but the tying of them into one story line seems overly extended lacking probability. Still fans of David Baldacci will enjoy THE COLLECTORS as the cat and mouse battle with Seagraves augmented by the addition of a female into the miscreant male group makes for a fine suspense thriller.

Twilight Magic
Shari Anton
0446617555 $6.50

In 1145 London Lady Emma de Leon is frustrated with King Stephen as she petitions him to allow her younger sister Nicole to come home from Bledloe Abbey to live with her married other sibling Gwendolyn. The monarch has no time for Emma as he is fighting a civil war. The King's brother Bishop Henry offers strong circumstantial evidence that accuses Flemish mercenary Darian of Bruges of killing Edward de Solis. Darian provides no alibi so Stephen says he must be executed. However, Emma says he was with her last night. Henry is irate and insists she lies; but Emma describes scars on him. She knows Darian intimately though they never met before as he has been the man this witch has made love with in her dreams. He wants nothing to do with her, but Stephen forces them to marry. They flee the city for Kent though Darian plans to investigate who framed him for murder starting with which friend betrayed him. The second de Leon "magical" medieval romance is a fun tale that hooks readers from the moment Emma speaks up and never slows down until the final confrontation with a sly villain. As with the first novel (see MIDNIGHT MAGIC), readers obtain a taste of the impact of the English civil war between Stephen and Maud. On the top of a whodunit, the relationship between the witch and the mercenary make for a superb historical as she knows he is the one and he knows she is the one he must avoid as she bewitches him.

Lord of Seduction
Paula Quinn
0446617822 $6.50

In 1084 England, Lady Tanon Risande is to marry her childhood bully Earl Roger de Courtency in a few weeks as a political move arranged by her father Commander Brand Risadne and King William. However, just before a tournament, her childhood rescuer, Welsh Prince Gareth ap Owain arrives to claim her as his bride based on a peace agreement between the Welsh King Rhys and William. Roger is irate and so is Brand as he does not trust the Welsh. Still a deal was struck and William, like Rhys, wants peace at the Borders. Showing his skill at the tournament, Gareth claims his prize a reluctant Tanon as his wife. In Wales, several people prefer blood to flow between the two nations; they see Tanon as a useful pawn since she is an outsider, a hated Norman. Gareth has loved Tanon since they were children and vows to gently prove how much he cares for her and win her heart as he did as a kid. However, though he makes some progress, the schemers not caring innocents will die manipulate the couple so that he must choose between his love and vow to protect her and war. Paula Quinn's latest Conqueror romance (over a decade past since LORD OF TEMPTATION and LORD OF DESIRE) is a delightful tale starring a heroic lead male and a courageous female. The villains are a bit stereotyped as their Macbeth-like thirst for power is their only trait. However, no one will care with this exciting story line. Readers will wonder what love Gareth will choose as he must select between his love for his wife and his love for his people.

Must Love Dragons
Stephanie Rowe
0446617679 $6.50

Over two hundred years ago, sexually permissive Theresa Nichols took a drink from the Goblet of Eternal Youth. That swivel changed her from a human to a dragon. Her only consolation over the two centuries has been her friendship with the Goblet's guardian Justine. However, even that is changing as Justine has fallen in love with Vic of Vic's pretzel (see DATE ME, BABY, ONE MORE TIME). Theresa is happy for her friend, but lonely except for Vic's Pretzels and her cyber affair with Zeke Sicardi. With Justine on her honeymoon, Vic's brother Quincy keeps forgetting to bring her food making her look emaciated. She also wants real time with Zeke and some nights enjoying Manhattan, but dragons do not have too many clubs they can visit. Zeke wants to meet her too which could prove a damper to their relationship. Still she agrees so she cuts a Faustian deal with Satan to give her back her human form and in exchange she will help the devil make it with Justine's mother Iris. However, being human proves even more heart wrenching when she learns Zeke is a three plus century old dragon slayer, her eighteenth century lover wants her dead, and NYPD believes she killed a TV evangelist. This is a fun romantic fantasy that shows that a sequel does not have to be a pale imitation of the original. Theresa is a fabulous unique damsel in distress and males line up to help her, even Satan. However, though good intentions their help seems to be the road to hell as she is soon in deeper trouble than not having a supply of Vic's pretzels as someone wants to kill her. Stephanie Rowe writes perhaps the ultimate star-crossed romance as the dragon and the dragon-slayer fall in love.

Pink Jinx
Sandra Hill
0446616524 $6.99

Lawyer Veronica Jinkowsky wants nothing to do with her estrange grandfather Frank who had no time for her when she was growing up so when he orders her to see him at his New Jersey home, she prefers to say no, but a sense of duty forces her to see him anyway. He tells her he is broke and gives her his treasure hunting company, Jinx Inc. Finally Frank informs her that her first job as the owner is to salvage the Sea Witch that went down off the Jersey shore carrying a fortune in pink diamonds; the clients are Mafia widow Rosa Menoti and her two mobster children Tony and Steve. Pink hates the water, but is not sure how she was conned to join the search. Adding to her misery is her ex husband four times Jake Jenson, a professional poker player, is an investor and coming along for the ride. Unbeknownst to Veronica is that Frank wants his granddaughter happy, which he thinks means being married for the fifth time as he believes Veronica and Jake belong together. Just because Jake is or isn't engaged to Dr. Bimbo is not an issue. This is an amusing contemporary romance with some late suspense that showcases why Sandra Hill is the queen of comedic love stories. The lead pair is a delightful couple whose marriages symbolize the humorous dysfunctional "relationship" tale as they dubbed them: "Sappy", "Cowboy", "Tequila", and "Insanity". Fans of lighthearted jocular modern day novels will as always appreciate Ms. Hill's wild sea ride.

The Raven Prince
Elizabeth Hoyt
0446618470 $6.99

In 1760 the Earl de Raaf, Edward, returns home for the first time in two decades; he has avoided this place he loved as a child because the deaths of his beloved family members made Ravenhill haunted. Still he knows it is time to move on. Widow Anna Wren needs employment to support her mother-in-law, their "servant" and herself. She learns from Edward's estate manager Felix Hopple that he needs a new secretary as none stay very long out of fear of his bark. She applies and accepts the job though a female is normally considered unsuited. As she performs her duties exemplary, Anna falls in love with her employer, but he seems not to notice her except as his drudge. Instead he turns to Aphrodite's Grotto for his pleasure; Anna vows to make him take notice that she is a woman in love even if it means meeting him at the brothel he seems to frequent. THE RAVEN PRINCE is a terrific Georgian romance starring a fascinating heroine who defies the era to bring bread on the table for her and the two females who depend on her. Edward is interesting also as his childhood tragedy still traumatizes his thinking until he falls in love with his secretary. Readers will enjoy their brothel courting.

The Second Mouse
Archer Mayor
0892960728 $24.99

Vermont Bureau of Investigation Field Force Commander Joe Gunther heard the dispatch as he was driving by so he stopped to see if he could help Vermont State Police Detective Doug Matthews. Though their law enforcement units are rivals, the two senior cops have a respect for one another and welcome the assistance. The victim is Michelle Fisher, whose longtime boyfriend Archie Morgan died seven months ago and had been in a dispute ever since with Archie's father Newell over ownership of the former schoolhouse she called home. While on the surface it looks like a natural cause death as there is no sign of a struggle, Joe finds some anomalies that disturb him especially the missing cat and Archie obtaining an eviction notice. He decides to visit Newell in upper crust Bennington, but waited to hear from Doug as to what the ME determines, which turns out to be natural causes after years of substance abuse. No one would care if Joe dropped the case as the victim is a nobody who took drugs and alcohol, no one that is except conscientious and ethical Joe who begins an inquiry to find a missing cat who he believes will lead to a killer. Though this reviewer is not sure how Joe found the time to investigate in terms of case workload, readers see the dedicated cop at his best as he makes inquiries into the death of a woman who more likely committed suicide than was murdered. The investigation is terrific as the Morgan crowd refuse to cooperate beyond the specificity of the inquiry as they believe Michelle got her just desserts. However, Joe makes the mystery work with his need to follow his hunch that someone has gotten away with murder.

Ghouls Just Want to Have Fun
Kathleen Bacus
Love Spell
0505526948 $6.99

Grandville Gazette tyro reporter Tressa "Calamity" Jayne feels she needs to stop making the news (see CALAMITY JANE and CALAMITY JANE RIDES AGAIN) instead of reporting the news. She vows to follow insipid events to keep out of trouble and avoid psychos, lunatics, and cops. Tressa interviews 6 foot 2 inch sarcastic homecoming queen candidate Shelby Lynne, who challenges Calamity to obtain an interview with reclusive New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Courtney Howard. The writer quietly has arrived in Iowa. Tressa accepts the gauntlet deciding to interview the author as the young journalist assumes no trouble can come of that. However, the writer goes to incredible lengths to elude the obstinate Tressa starting with staying at haunted Holloway Hall. However the intrepid reporter with the towering female student taunting her soon gets involved with the strange events at Holloway Hall. The third Calamity Jayne tale is an amusing lighthearted mystery with a touch of the paranormal. Readers will enjoy the antics of the heroine who wants to cover fluff, but from the opening face to upper torso battle between the two sarcastic female warriors until the final showdown at Holloway Hall, calamity follows every step Tressa takes. Readers will just have fun with Kathleen Bacus' humorous romp.

Heat Lightning
Colleen Thompson
Love Spell
0505526719 $6.99

In Houston, an assailant wanting to silent Voice of Poverty spokesperson Luz Maria Montoya assaults the woman, who ends up hospitalized. Police Investigators Grant Holcomb and his relatively new partner Billy Devlin investigate the attack on the community activist. Grant detests Luz Maria who he blames for the suicide death of his former partner John Zeman when her accusations of his being a rapist stuck; Grant cannot accept that a family man like Zeman would attack crack females. Luz Maria tells Grant to forget her case since he has an ax to grind. He vows to remain professional, but finds that difficult to maintain as he wants the woman whose cold actions led to his former partner taking his life. Still the consummate cop, Grant with Billy's odd help begin to make inquiries into a sociopath who knows Luz Maria intimately with the assumption being that her former lover wants her dead. Grant will risk his life to keep the woman he once hated but now loves safe. Luz Maria's return (see FADE THE HEAT) is a solid romantic suspense thriller with the emphasis more on the changing relationship between the cop and the activist than on who is stalking her. Readers will know who the culprit is early on by simple elimination as there are few if any other potential competitors. Still this is a well written fun damsel in distress thriller because of Grant's attitude towards the woman he must protect.

Love on the Ropes
Pat White
Love Spell
0505526662 $6.99

DEA selected Agent Jason McBride is to work undercover as a professional wrestler because he is a big guy with muscles and his quietness makes folks assume he is all brawn and no brain when he is actually a deep thinker. Thus he scores a job as Jack the Stripper at BAM as he investigates a link between the wrestling association and high school steroid use. His prime suspect in BAM is physical therapist Sandy Ryan. However, Jason finds he has mixed emotions about her, as he wants her and really likes her though she refuses to have anything to do with him. Sandy's policy is to not fraternize with the wrestlers although she has considered making an exception in the case of the Stripper. Pat White's latest wrestling romance (see RING AROUND MY HEART) is like its predecessors a fun upbeat gender mat battle. Her latest is an amusing tale as Jason and Sandy struggle with their attraction for one another that neither desires, but both are struck by Cupid's arrow. LOVE ON THE ROPES is a fast paced tale that will have the audience wanting another fall (perhaps starring an Amazonian female wrestler who ties her civilian lover's heart in knots.).

The Rules of Seduction
Madeline Hunter
0553587323 $6.99

Lord Hayden Rothwell demands that banker Timothy Longworth see him. His cousin Alexis Welbourne insists Timothy is ill, but he has no choice but to see the visitor. Hayden informs Timothy that he knows that the man has been extorting funds from the bank which is how his two sisters (Rose and Irene) and he live comfortably. He demands Timothy resign, leave London, and pay off his debt. He vows not to reveal what he knows to anyone so with no choice except the gallows Timothy agrees. Later Timothy tells his sisters and cousin that Hayden withdrew his money leaving them bankrupt. Alexis knows she can no longer stay under his protection so she decides to find a job as either a governess or a hat maker. She thinks Hayden is a monster as she watches her loved ones leave. Hayden gives the house to his impractical Aunt Henrietta and her daughter Caroline. Alexis tells him he is cruel as Timothy told her he bankrupted them by removing his money. Angry, he sticks to his pledge of revealing nothing. Hayden offers Alexis the position of governess to Caroline; needing employment she accepts. As she begins to become better acquainted with Hayden, she revises her opinion that he is a beast. As she falls in love with him, Alexis realizes there is more to the bank situation than she knows and plans to learn the truth. The strong lead couple is ably supported by a delightful secondary cast especially their extended families. The relationship between the lead couple is terrific because it changes over time as they get to know one another. Though the displaced sisters, Rose and Irene, seem too prideful, the fast paced story line and its terrific final twist will elate Regency romance readers.

Sugar and Spice
Leda Swann
0061123617 $13.95

"Obsessed". Adam has never forgiven his wife Gwendolyn for tricking him into marriage. Though he wants her he treats her with disdain. Desperate to show her love for him, Gwendolyn persuades Adam to spend time at Mrs. Bertand's Sugar and Spice Health Spa for Married Couples. "Enslaved". Felix believes his wife Lillian is frigid so he has turned to a lover for warmth in bed. Cora joins him for a week of sex at Mrs. Bertrand's spa only Felix turns livid, humiliated and jealous when Lillian arrives with Cora's husband Gareth. "Exposed". Gareth confronts Cora as to why she married him when she is so cold to him and so apparently hot with her lover. Cora hides her deepest secret out of shame, but Gareth plans to seduce the truth out of her. These three Victorian erotic romances are hot, but also contain strong lead characters whose marital relationship is at best strained with the estrangement seemingly permanently impenetrable and unmovable.

Nip, Tuck, Dead
Lori Avocato
0060837047 $6.99

Wanting a career change, former nurse Pauline Sokol now works as an insurance fraud investigator for the Scarpello and Tonelli Insurance Company. Her latest job is to investigate Highcliff Manor, a plastic surgery and spa clinic in Newport, Rhode Island. They have suddenly submitted a big increase in health claims and the company's client thinks fraud is involved. Pauline goes undercover as a private nurse (talk about typecasting) caring for her friend Goldie who is really getting a nose job at the manor. When they arrive at Highcliff, Pauline gets right to work snooping into employee Ian's computer, asking questions and looking in desks for evidence. Her nemesis Jagger, is staying at the same inn where she took a room and drives her crazy with his sexy come-ons and unwanted advice. When she finds Ian's body, she is certain his death is linked to the fraud even though the police think he committed suicide. Between taking care of Goldie who is not the easiest patient she ever dealt with and going home for a weekend to say hello to her mother who has a broken arm, Pauline starts investigating in earnest and almost ends up becoming murdered by a killer who hid in plain sight. Readers who like the Stephanie Plum series will want to read the Pauline Sokol tales. The heroine is similar to Plum, who is in a job that she isn't really qualified for while Jaguar is similar to Joe Morelli who watches out for the damsel in distress who never thinks she is in danger. Of course there are many differences between the two humorous crime caper series because Lori Avocato has her own distinct style and humor with characters who feel like the reader's next door neighbors.

Billionaires Prefer Blondes
Suzanne Enoch
0060875224 $6.99

In New York City, former cat burglar Samantha Jellicoe adheres to her vow that she made to her billionaire live-in lover Richard Addison to stop the thieving. In between heating their Manhattan apartment with their sexual encounters, Sam and Rich attend a Sotheby auction. He buys a highly regarded painting while she is stunned when she sees her father at the sale. Her father Martin, who mentored her burglary career, died three years ago. Martin also showed interest in the Hogarth that Rich bought. Not long afterward, someone breaks into Rich's townhouse and steals the Hogarth. The police suspect and arrest Sam, who tracks down her father to demand to know why he shammed death and to return the painting. Martin counters with a deal of the century robbery that Sam agrees to assist, which makes Rich fall in with the plan too. As they begin the escapade, not everything is quite like it seems. The third Sam and Rich cat caper (see FLIRTING WITH DANGER and DON'T LOOK DOWN), is a fun somewhat zany entry in a wonderful lighthearted series. The humorous story line is fast-paced whether in the townhouse heating the sheets or on the heist. Sam is stupendous while Rich is in awe of her not so marketable skills (at least since Nixon was retired). A twist involving her father adds to a delightful mix in which fans will want the fourth "life" of a not so retired cat burglar and her lover.

The Earl of Her Dreams
Anne Mallory
0060872950 $5.99

After an afternoon tryst, Christian Black stops at night at the Dragon's Tale Inn only to be told by the proprietor that all the rooms are taken. Not wanting to go on, he persuades the owner to allow him to share a room occupied by an orphaned tailor's apprentice Mr. Kaden on his way to London to find work. However, Christian, who enjoys solving puzzles, realizes his night's roommate is female. Kate Simon fled the odious machinations of her brother Teddy, who wants her fortune and is willing to do anything to gain control of it including a forced disgusting marriage. Christian immediately asks "Miss Kaden" her real name. Besides hiding from her sibling until she can reach her solicitor, she finds she must hide her desire for her new roommate. Unable to resist assisting the damsel in distress, Christian fails to inform her he is an earl. As they fall in love, a storm strands them and others at the inn with one of the guests being a killer. THE EARL OF HER DREAMS is a wonderful brisk Regency romantic suspense thriller with a delightful investigative subplot into the homicide. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action from the moment that Christian challenges Mr. Kaden's masculinity and never slows down until Teddy is put in his place. Fans will appreciate this fine historical as the sleuthing augments a fine romance so much so that readers will demand more cases by the newly formed Canley Investigations; perhaps with a secondary player Anthony as the lead sleuth.

Too Great a Temptation
Alexandra Benedict
0060847948 $5.99

The Ton thinks that wealthy Damian Westmore is a wastrel, labeling him "The Duke of Rogues". However though he enjoys females, he is on a mission of vengeance. Pirates killed his younger brother Adam at sea so he plans to even the score. For two years he learned what he could about sailing until by 1821 in New York he feels ready to act on his hard earned knowledge and find the culprit. Damian becomes the navigator of the Bonny Meg, a pirate vessel captained by the Hawkins brothers. Also on board is Mirabelle Hawkins, sister to the vessel's leaders. As Damian and Mirabelle fall in love to the dismay of both of them, he finds circumstantial evidence that his employers, his beloved's siblings, killed his brother. TOO GREAT A TEMPTATION is a superb Regency romance due a strong story line enhanced by a several fathoms deep cast and the predominantly oceanic setting (readers will feel the motions of the waves). The lead couple is a typical era star-crossed pairing, but the rowdy support crew especially her brothers bring out Damian's dilemma often in a comedic way. Sub-genre fans who have not discovered Alexandra Benedict (see A FORBIDDEN LOVE) are missing out on a top new talent; worth the sea cruise.

Finding Your Mojo
Stephanie Bond
0060821078 $5.99

Lorey Lawson grew up in a happy home in Mojo, Louisiana until as a teen, a hitman killed her father in front of her and warned her that if her mother Maggie testifies against Bernard Riaz they all will die; no matter how long it takes to find them. Lorey and her mom are buried in the Witness Protection Program as Maggie testifies in the racketeering and money laundering case. Years later Lorey using the name Gloria Dalton hangs her attorney shingle in Mojo. However, she finds a voodoo doll someone left behind that looks like her paralegal, Steven Chasen. Not long afterward, a car crashes through her office window injuring Steve. He is rushed to hospital, but dies on the way. As shocking as that is, Chief of Police Zane Riley leads the inquiry. He was her high school boyfriend at the time she vanished; she never was given time to say goodbye to him. He has become cold especially to her. She shows him the voodoo doll, but he blows it away as inanity until more appear with corpses. Zane assumes Gloria is a killer while she believes Riaz's associates have found her. Readers will find they are IN DEEP VOODOO with Stephanie Bonds return to Mojo, Louisiana. The story line is a fast-paced lighthearted paranormal romantic mystery reminiscent of the 1930s romps. Fans will have no trouble FINDING YOUR MOJO as long as Ms. Bonds escorts them.

The Girl's Almanac
Emily Franklin
006087340X $12.95

Though she still mourns the sudden death of her fiance, Lucy tries to get on with her life though her mom remarrying makes it more difficult. Jenna, a baker, loves her vocation more than people so when she is not baking she feels lonely and lost. Her mother raised her after her parents divorced, but Gabrielle the doctor only recently has been able to reconcile with her father as both regret how much they lost. As these three thirty something lonely women become friends, they also begin to meet other people, have boyfriends, and grow closer to their parents. Each realizes how debilitating being alone truly is, but with one another that should not happen again no matter what curve ball life pitches at them. Overall this astute character study collection is more a series of relational vignettes. Readers will enjoy the growth of the three dimensional females when something goes awry or is perceived as going wrong; on the other hand the two dimensional males start out pathetic and remain pathetic. The three amigas learn that everyone needs someone when life turns rough. Unwanted poetry aside, Emily Franklin provides a profound look at living not just surviving life.

Sugarplums and Scandal
Assorted Authors
0061136956 $6.99

"All I want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" by Lori Avocato. Medical insurance fraud investigator Pauline Sokol is determined to get the dentures an elderly man paid for to his dentures for the holidays. She believes the dentist is practicing fraud but there is more to the story than meets the eye "The Lords of Misrule" by Dana Cameron. Christmas Eve in London 1722 is chaotic to say the least. A missing gift, a murdered footman and an attack on a maid put the daughter of the house in the position of finding what links these events and to whom. "The Ghost of Christmas Passed" by Mary Daheim .B&B owner Judith McMonigle Flynn is having her whole eccentric extended family over for Christmas dinner. Her only worry is that her mother insists she saw a ghost, her who disappeared decades ago. The truth is the best gift of all. "Partners in Crime" by Cait London. Someone is breaking into Cecilia's home messing it up and preventing her car from working. She's afraid to go to the sheriff because she thinks he's behind these crimes but a stranger in town attaches himself to her as her protector even though he might be the one she needs protecting from. "Holly Go Lightly" by Suzanne MacPherson. Holly is a ghost who won't pass on until she undoes a great wrong. Somehow she must find a want to get Nick to travel to the house of her best friend Carol where a great surprise is waiting for him. "A Very Vampy Christmas" by Kerrelyn Sparks. Vampires have their own television network, Digital Vampire Network and one of the shows produced on it is As A Vampire Turns starring Maggie O Brien and Dan Orlando. When Maggie realizes her leading man is not a Don Juan but a man suffering from amnesia her heart opens up to him and she vows to find out whom he was before he turned. Avon authors from the mystery, romantic suspense, romance and paranormal genres give readers a special holiday treat with tasty tales that demonstrates each author's considerable talent.

I'm in No Mood for Love
Rachel Gibson
0060773170 $6.99

In her thirties, romance writer Clare Wingate thinks nothing of it that her live in lover Lonny has a low sex drive until she came home unexpectedly to see him making love with a Sears technician; a male technician that is. Stunned she still has to wear a pink bridesmaid dress as she has her best friend Lucy's wedding to attend that night. Unable to not down the champagne though she knows better from bitter experience, Clare drinks too much. The next morning she wakes up stunned in a hotel room with a stud sleeping next to her, an act she had not done in years. Even more shocking he calls her Claresta, a name only her mom uses. She recognizes that she slept with her childhood friend investigative reporter Sebastian Vaughn, who always challenged her to games and won all their contests. They are attracted to one another, but she is embarrassed by her actions and he is not sure whether he wants a friendship or a romance as he believes you cannot have both. I'M IN NO MOOD FOR LOVE is an amusing contemporary romance in which the lead couple's doubts about what type of relationship to forge seems forced as both have the hots starting with her drunken binge through the morning after until the climax (pun intended). The lead duo is a likable pair as they struggle with their careers, their romance, and her truly martinet mother. Fans of lighthearted tales, in which the "Maytag man isn't the loneliest guy in town" will want to read this delightful humorous romp.

Miss Understanding
Stephanie Lessing
0061133884 $12.95

Publisher Dan Princely thinks highly of his sister-in-law's concept to renovate Issues magazine from its non cerebral past of shoes and shopping to focus on female empowerment. He hires his wife's sister sartorial-phobic Zoe Rose to revamp the magazine. The under 5 foot under 100 pounds dynamo Zoe changes the name from Issues to MISS UNDERSTANDING, but fails to sell the staff with the concept of an unentertaining how to get ahead "technical" manual. The staff loathes the concept and detests the aggressive Naopleanette. Separately each vows to destroy Zoe and get royal Dan to fire the royal pain in the butt. Soon battle lines are drawn between the stylish staff and Dan's queen mother vs. the ranting anti frilly Zoe supported solely by her as righteous sibling Chloe. Satirical though humorless, MISS UNDERSTANDING focuses on the war between the "always right morally correct" (in their minds) and "my way or the highway puerile" (sort of sounds like the political parties). As the attacks on Zoe rise, she turns even more obstinate and self indulgent claiming the moral high ground while her enemies become more vindictive, which embellishes the spiral as no one heard of compromise and consensus. Fans of out of control office war character studies will want to read Stephanie Lessing's sequel to SHE'S GOT ISSUES as this time the sister has the issues.

The Vampire Who Loved Me
Teresa Medeiros
0060763035 $6.99

In 1826, seventeen year old Portia Cabot saved the life of vampire Julian Kane. However his kiss has left her carving only his touch, but, though he wants her, Julian leaves her because he believes he can only deserve her innocent love if he can find his soul stolen from him. He vows to return to her. However, when they next meet up five years later in London, Portia still wants Julian though he is nothing like the courteous courageous person she saved. Instead his failure to find his soul has left him despondent and turned him into hedonistic dissolute drunk. When evidence from serial murders point towards her beloved so much so that his sibling Adrian believes he is guilty, Portia fears that the man she loves with all her soul no longer exists; instead a killing monster has taken his place. Yet in the darkest of night, instead of killing her with his bite, he tries to send her away from him leading Portia to think he still has some human elements inside his vampire shell. She plans to reach the inner soul of Julian by offering herself as a lure not comprehending the danger that awaits her at night. The sequel to AFTER MIDNIGHT (Adrian's tale) is a superb historical vampire romantic mystery that cleverly blends the supernatural, a whodunit and a love story into a fabulous tale that showcases the talent of Teresa Medeiros who entertains her fans with a one sitting winner. The story line is action-packed as the heroine, the brother, and the readers believe that Julian has finally gone over to the killing dark side with only Portia's love leaving her with an iota of hope. THE VAMPIRE WHO LOVED ME is a terrific tale of the goodness of love battling evil.

Deliciously Wicked
Robyn DeHart
0061127523 $5.99

In 1892 England, the owner's daughter Meg Piddington and new employee Gareth Mandeville are accidentally locked inside her father's chocolate factory after the Piddington Confectionary facility closed. Not long afterward, he is arrested for stealing boxes of chocolate. She is his alibi as he was with her without a chaperone when the crime was committed, but the cost is her reputation unless they marry. Gareth prefers prison then a life sentence in marriage to any woman. Meg is attracted to Gareth, but also is curious as to who framed the handsome stranger. Being a card carrying member of the Ladies Amateur Sleuth Society, she and her cohorts in "crime" investigate to learn Gareth's secrets and to prove someone else committed the crime while also trying to convince Gareth that marriage filled with love is not leg shacking; instead it frees the heart. The sequel to the fabulous A STUDY IN SCANDAL is a wonderful Victorian romantic mystery starring two interesting protagonists ably supported by the Ladies Amateur Sleuth Society, which delightfully means future tales of love and mystery. DELICIOUSLY WICKED is a fun historical from the moment the lead duo is locked inside together and never slows down until the final blithely sweet exchange. Fans of confectionary cozies will enjoy this lighthearted romp.

Secrets of the Highwayman
Sara Mackenzie
0060795522 $5.99

He died in 1814 shot down while allegedly trying to rob a coach. Now almost two centuries later, the Sorceress decides Nathan Raven should return to life so that he has an opportunity to right the wrong that his ignoble murder caused to his family. The Sorceress instructs Raven to locate mortal Melanie Jones and persuade her to help him in his cause; no further instruction as to why this woman is provided. Foyle, Hoddack, and Williams legal firm sends solicitor Melanie Jones to remote Ravenswood in Cornwell to inventory the estate once owned by a notorious highwayman. She arrives late at night because the ever pragmatic Melanie wants to begin first thing in the morning. However, a large hound reminiscent of Arthur Conan Doyle's canines greets her followed by a strange man who insists he was unfairly accused and murdered in 1814; finally Raven demands she help him. Though trying to initially figure out how to flee the lunatic, practical Mel soon works at Raven's side as she believes him, but the adversary may not just be inhuman but an immortal supervillain. SECRETS OF THE HIGHWAYMAN is an exciting romantic fantasy with some time travel elements that grips fans from the opening prologue when the enigmatic Sorceress decides for no apparent reason to "awaken" the Raven and never slows down until the return to the tomb where others sleep awaiting their turn to change history. The action never slows down once Raven and the solicitor meet as they fall in love while battling a seemingly invincible opponent. Sub-genre readers will enjoy this thriller, want to obtain the previous Novel (RETURN OF THE HIGHLANDER) if not already read, and look forward to the next entry, PASSIONS OF THE GHOST.

Prince of Twilight
Maggie Shayne
0778322793 $6.99

Five centuries ago, Lady Elisabeta "Beta" committed suicide; her surviving spouse Vlad Dracul was shocked and despondent as he felt life without her would prove unbearable. Thus he managed to save some of her soul inside a ring with the prayer that a ritual involving planetary alignment will enable him to bring back his wife using a descendent as the vehicle. Now five hundred years of anguish waiting has finally ended as the planets begin to properly align for the Count to start the process. He plans to use the body of Tempest "Stormy" Jones as the container to hold Elisabeta's soul. However, as Dracul becomes acquainted with Stormy, he finds he desires her, but wonders could he love this modern day woman more than his late wife. At the same time he faces his dilemma of the heart, Stormy begins to realize that she has some of Beta's memory and that the past is battling with the present for the future of her soul. Since he started the ritual, he cannot stop or both will die; will Vlad go for what he had and lost or what he can have? The latest Maggie Shayne "Twilight" thriller is a terrific vampire romance that grips fans of the series once Dracul and Stormy meet. The story line is action-packed but character driven as the Count realizes he has an extremely difficult decision to make. Fans will read in one sitting to learn who survives, if either; newcomers should first peruse the previous tales (see TWILIGHT HUNGER and EMBRACE THE TWILIGHT) to fully savor the bite of this superior paranormal.

Nine Lives
Sharon Sala
0778323528 $7.99

When Cat Dupree was thirteen, a tattooed assailant slashed her throat and murdered her father. She recovered, but the culprit escaped and the case became cold. As a result of the assault, Cat lets no one get close to her and she became a bounty hunter to bring some miscreants to justice. The lone exception for the Dallas based Cat is her only real friend private secretary Marsha Benton. When a pregnant Marsha suddenly vanishes without a word, Cat believes her friend's influential boss, a CEO, wanted to end their affair without any baggage and had her killed. Cat plans to uncover the truth as she feels she owes it to Marsha. Bounty Hunter Wilson McKay is attracted to Cat and decides he will help her on her quest though she objects. She hates the feelings of desire she has for him so hides behind a work only attitude that he seems to be able to penetrate. As they work together on the Marsha disappearance with clues leading to Mexico, they fall in love, but Cat fears caring because people die. NINE LIVES is an exciting romantic suspense thriller that focuses more on the investigation and related escapades than the romance, but the feelings of love between the lead couple is always a heartbeat away. Readers of both genres will appreciate this fine tale. Cat is terrific as the center of the tense story line while Wilson shows patience and impatience with her efforts to shut him off. Though the final spin seems off for this superb bounty hunter saga, fans will enjoy Sharon Sala's solid suspenseful story.

Cold as Ice
Anne Stuart
0778323560 $6.99

Walter Fredericks of the Manhattan based law firm Roper, Hyde, Camus and Fredericks sends junior partner Genevieve Spenser to deliver legal paper to philanthropist Harry Van Dorn on his yacht, the SS Seven Sins before the young woman begins her vacation in Costa Rica. However, Harry insists she stay on board, which Genevieve prefers not to do, but has no choice as he takes them out to sea. Harry's unctuous personal assistant Peter "Iceman" Jenson also wants her off the vessel as he knows how evil and perverted his employer can be. In fact Peter and the crew work for a secretive organization that prevents deadly things from happening. Their assignment is to kill Harry, head of the Rule of Seven terrorists group planning to cause massive attacks on civilian populations. He detests that he probably will have to kill Genevieve as collateral damage; not jus because he is very attracted to her, but he is proud that he has never killed an innocent in all his assignments including assassinations. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Anne Stuart provides a fascinating intrigue starring a nice woman whose chances of survival are nil as Iceman never fails and Van Dorn cannot afford any witness to his perversity if he survives the assassination attempt. The story line is driven by Genevieve's plight as Peter does not want to kill the brave female yet his associates say he must; the Peter Principle is do the job completely. Fans will enjoy this fin romantic suspense as the COLD AS ICE hero is thawed by the warm blooded love of the innocent caught in the middle.

Everything Must Go
Elizabeth Flock
0778323234 $21.95

In the late 1970s, Henry Powell's future looked bright. He had a great high school senior year playing football earning him a college scholarship that will enable him to leave the dying New England town Baxter. However, dreams die as Henry knows first hand. He went off to college only to have to come home due to a family emergency, while his older brother Brad skipped town without a look back. Fourteen years later, Henry works at the same men's clothing store he worked in when he was in high school. He has no future feeling humiliated whenever someone from his glory days enters the shop. His only escape from nothings is fantasy where he pretends he is a rock star or being interviewed by a renowned biographical author for a book starring him. Now Henry's only means of income the store will shut down on September 10, 2001. How will Henry react is anyone's guess as EVERYTHING MUST GO especially the employees. Elizabeth Flock is gaining a reputation for deep psychological character studies (see ME & EMMA) that shake up a reader's comfort zone. Her latest tale EVERYTHING MUST GO is not an easy read as the audience, through perhaps too many flashbacks, learns how much Henry has lost by being responsible towards his family. This book is not for everyone as this for the most part is a depressing yet realistic personal saga even with a future that looks brighter than the immediate past (at least since he dropped out of college); still readers who appreciate a deep dark look at a man just surviving not living will want to peruse Henry's disheartening bio.

Off the Record
Bonnie Hearn Hill
0778323579 $6.99

The murder of Kathleen Fowler, Half Moon Blooms landscaping founder, should have been covered by San Francisco reporter Geri LaRue, but she snuck out early and missed the call. Instead columnist Doug Blanchard covered the story. Her editor Marie is upset with her, but not for running off with the reporter Steffen Kim for a Christmas drink though that was unprofessional; she is upset because Kathleen Fowler named Geri her sole beneficiary and she never said a word to her boss especially since the murder. Geri insists she never met or even heard the name Kathleen Fowler until Steffen read her Doug's article. Marie gives Geri time to learn why a stranger changed her trust fund three weeks ago naming the journalist as the person inheriting a fortune. Geri, whose mother is missing, plans to do more than just learn why; she will seek out her mom and also investigate the homicide as she feels she owes it to Kathleen to uncover the identity of her killer. Though Marie insists Doug interview her, Geri refuses; instead she heads to Half Moon Bay seeking the truth, not realizing the animosity she will receive from family members and the danger she has placed herself in from a killer who will target her for murder. The third journalistic investigation (see IF IT BLEEDS) returns Geri LaRue in the spotlight (star of the first novel, CUTLINE) as she inquires into why a total stranger left her a fortune and who murdered her. The fast-paced story line switches perspectives with Geri being the first person lead in most chapters, but others mostly Half Moon Bay locals at times providing a different perspective. On the record, Bonnie Hearn Hill makes it three for three with this strong character driven thriller.

A Marked Man
Stella Cameron
0778323587 $24.95

New York plastic surgeon Max Savage flees the city after being acquitted of the murders of two of his former girlfriends. He needs to start over in a place as far from his current practice. Thus he opens up a facility in Toussaint, Louisiana. However, his past follows when a local female applying for work at his clinic disappears just after the interview. Local authorities suspect Max, but his alibi exonerates him though nothing can relive his mind that the nightmare has trailed him to this Cajun Parrish. Annie Duhon arrives in Toussaint from nearby St. Martinville to start over as she has not recovered from a brutal rape that occurred ten years ago. She and Max meet with both attracted and interested, but she fears commitment not just because of the rape, but because she also she has visions that anyone close to her will soon die in an inferno. Still they go to her hometown for lunch not realizing this innocent lunch date places both in danger from each other's "stalker" as Cajun seer Wazoo warns them time after time. Fans will appreciate the return to Toussaint home of several Stella Cameron romantic suspense thrillers (see A GRAVE MISTAKE). The lead couple is a likable pairing of two fearful protagonists, but Wazoo owns the plot with her often amusing asides. The suspense builds up as murders occur in between the explicit sexual interludes, which makes this more romance (some will insist erotica with notches on the penis) than a suspense thriller although there is plenty of tension. Though the culprit is obvious, Ms. Cameron's Bayou Bengal boosters will enjoy her latest steamy sex and death romance.

Christmas Letters
Debbie Macomber
0778323498 $16.95

Her sister Zelda knows that Katherine "K.O." O'Connor has a full plate. Besides working as a medical transcriber and searching for a better job, K.O. writes Christmas letters for other people. Z knows K.O. is so good, her side business at the French cafe on Blossom Street in Seattle is booming. Famous child psychologist Dr. Wynn Jeffries thinks Christmas is a commercial lie. He believes kids should know the truth about Santa. K.O. thinks otherwise and that kids should have some whimsy in their life. He got her tossed out of a local bookstore and now wants her removed from the French Cafe though he admits to himself he enjoys their debates over his "Free Child" methodology. She accuses him of being Dr. Frankenstein causing the change in her formerly precocious angelic nieces into cold monsters so she wonders why she cherishes their arguments. This is a fun holiday romance as Debbie Macomber warms the hearts of her readers with this fine Christmas cheer. The two lead combatants make for a nice coupling as she really believes in the magic of the holiday while he literally writes if off as a bah humbug waste of parenting. Fans will enjoy how these beloved enemies find the way to each other's heart.

In Plain Sight
Tara Taylor Quinn
0778323080 $6.99

In Arizona Chief Prosecutor Janet McNeil offers twenty-two years old white supremacist Jacob Hall one deal or face potentially thirty years behind bars; she demands he give her names. Places and dates that would enable the State to get Bobby Donahue and his leaders that run Ivory Nation. A calm Jacob smiles and gives her the finger before walking back to his cell. Not long after the failed plea bargaining and the subsequent court appearance, Jan becomes the target of stalking and harassment. She assumes that minions of Ivory nation are using tactics to scare her off. Though she hides the fear in her stomach, she knows the hate mongers are impacting her especially when her past surfaces. Thus she relishes that her next door neighbor former FBI Agent turned writer Simon Green keeps an eye on her. He has his reasons, one being he is attracted to the no-nonsense attorney while the other being he understands from personal his own experience the need to stop the dangerous hate bullies. This tense romantic suspense thriller showcases how much harm racial hatred can do to innocent people. The action-packed story line is character driven as the lead pair hides their fears, but as the heat rises from the enemy, they struggle to survive. A subplot involving a little (perhaps too precocious) girl adds depth to a strong tale in which Tara Taylor Quinn makes a strong argument that the whole of hate crimes is greater than the individual parts as these cause much more damage to the psyche of society than the act itself.

Lucy Gets Her Life Back
Stef Ann Holm
0778323447 $6.99

It has been two years since the divorce and their father never sees his two offspring. The older brother, sixteen years old Jason has been in trouble at school recently caught with marijuana so chef Lucy Carpenter takes her two sons (the other being twelve years old Matt) and relocates two hours from Boise to Red Duck where she plans to cook meals for her new wealthy neighbors while the trio reside in a "teardown". Former Los Angeles Dodger's star Andrew "Drew" Tolman knows his seventeen years old daughter Mackenzie hates him although he tries to make up for never begin there before. He never believed the late Caroline Taylor when she told him that she carried his child. Now he does and regrets his immaturity as he was irresponsible. When Lucy and Drew meet, both are stunned by the reaction that could ignite the entire state. However, neither can believe that love would come to them in their forties, but two angry teens and a mischievous preadolescent insures that their adults need one another to cope with their actions. Stef Ann Holm writes a wonderful contemporary romance starring two likable protagonists, their troubled children, and a horde of eccentric support players. The cast makes the tale work as they nicely balance real issues like teen marihuana use, absentee fathers, and single-mothers with humor that enhance the feel of small-town life yet also brings focus to the big concerns confronting the two prime adults and their offspring. Readers will fully appreciate LUCY GETS HER LIFE BACK as Ms. Holm amusingly blends a delightful romance with the scenario that it takes a caring village to raise a child.

Keeper of the Keys
Perri O'Shaughnessy
0786290897 $24.95

Ray Jackson has withdrawn into himself, spending his nights in the basement reconstructing the places he lived in as a child. There were many of them and his mother never gave him an exploration why they moved so much or when his father left them. His obsession began when his beautiful beloved wife Leigh asked him about having a child. On the night she disappeared, they had a terrible fight and he doesn't know if she is ever coming back. He has the keys to all the places he lived as a child and he gets into some of them finding cassette recordings of a man threatening his mother who won't discuss the matter with him. As the days go by and Leigh doesn't contact anyone, her parents begin to wonder if he did something to her and they report it to the police. When they question him, he lies to them, not telling them about the affair she had with his partner. Kat; a former friend of Leigh's wants to make peace with her and helps Jackson look for Leigh even if Kat isn't sure her husband is telling her the truth. When Ray finally leans the truth, he has a terrible decision to make one that could either destroy him or be the making of him.

The Lizard's Bite
David Hewson
0385339550 $22.00

The fire in the Archangeli family glassmaking factory on the Island of Morano off Venice led to two deaths that of Uriel Archangeli and his wife Bella. The local police want to write it off as an accident, but some insist a murder suicide occurred. Rome Police Detectives Nic Costa and Gianni Peroni are sent to Venice to rubber stamp either "truth". Instead the pair finds evidence to the contrary especially when seeking a motive as to why Uriel would kill Bella or for that matter visa versa especially torching their beloved glassworks factory; an accident has been relegated to the realm of fantasy. The sleuths soon learn that Isolo di Archangeli glassworks was in the middle of a somewhat hostile takeover bid with Uriel as the toad in the road. Could someone wanted to remove the obstacle to the sale and is that the motive for a double homicide? In their latest Italian police procedural, Costa and Peroni get in trouble with the brass for doing their job of running a valid inquiry. Fans of the series will enjoy the top rate investigation into whether an accident, a suicide, or a homicide covered up by arson occurred. Newcomers will become engrossed with this superior thriller and seek out their previous caseload (see THE SACRED CUT).

The Physician's Tale
Ann Benson
0385335059 $24.00

With the pandemic destruction over the last eight years of the DR SAM bacteria, few safe havens remain on the North American continent. One such place is a small sanctuary in Massachusetts founded by married couple Janie Crowe and Tom Macalester. They are still safe for now but both realize that the deadly disease is still spreading and could reach them at any time. Janie studies the seemingly valuable journal of fourteenth century physician, Alejandro Canches, who explains how as the medical practitioner at Windsor Castle, he battled the bubonic plague ravaging Europe and threatening to do likewise to England. She believes the elixir to stopping this modern day plague lies in the journal that claims communication between then and now. At the same time, Tom and others collect specimens and survivor information from those living outside their Massachusetts colony while these aliens demand medical help especially from Janie. Meanwhile back in medieval times Alejandro and the son of his foster daughter Kate live in hiding. However, King Edward III has decided to acknowledge that Kate is his offspring and will marry mean-spirited de Coucy. Only the king's secretary Geoffrey Chaucer can save Kate from a terrible fate but he fears intervention. This is an excellent science fiction tale in which two medical practitioners six hundred plus years apart and their friends and loved ones are at war against a deadly enemy the plague. The two prime subplots are fast-paced as in each era the clock is ticking away while the heroes struggle to save the day. Fans will want to read the previous related novels (see THE BURNING ROAD and THE PLAGUE TALES) and Ann Benson's other works (see THIEF OF SOULS) as few if any authors offers better comparative eras (historical vs. present) than this author consistently provides in her multifaceted thrillers.

G'Day to Die
Maddy Hunter
Pocket Books
1416523790 $6.99

Travel escort Emily Andrews is once again on tour, this time in Australia with her Senior center group that she knows from her Iowa hometown. Her grandmother is on the tour as are the two men who want to marry her, Swiss police inspector Etienne Miceli and tour director Duncan Lazarus. They travel together so that Emily can figure out her true feelings about both and decide whom she loves. Of course a tour with Emily wouldn't be complete without a death. The body of botanist Claire Bellows is found by photographer Guy Madelyn as he and Emily are walking on a trail in Port Campbell National Park. A picture her grandmother took of a native plant thought to be extinct is found near the body. Emily wonders if Claire was looking at the plant and one of the other botanists on the Australian Adventures tour killed her to claim it for their company. She has plenty of suspects and when another tourist is killed by a drug Emily is sure that she was poisoned. Her natural inquisitiveness puts her in danger from a very determined killer who wants certain secrets to stay buried. In G'DAY TO DIE the support cast is eccentric, argumentative, and colorful while adding much humor into a tension filled storyline. There is enough romance to appeal to fans of that genre as well as mystery readers who enjoy a good old fashioned mystery that has plenty of action but no violent scenes. Maddy Hunter provides an amusing yet tense amateur sleuth tale filled with daring exploits.

I'll Be Home for Christmas
Linda Lael Miller, Catherine Mulvany, Julie Leto and Roxanne St. Claire
Pocket Books
074344227X $7.99

"Christmas of the Red Chiefs" by Linda Lael Miller. Her husband's sudden death has devastated Sarah Wagner, who has financial woes and a twelve year old stepdaughter Marlie who resents and hates her. The only light in her life is her secret attraction to music teacher Joe Courtland, who is writing a tribute to his late wife while raising twins. "Once Upon a Christmas" by Catherine Mulvany. Growing up, Hailey Miller was in love with Kennedy MacCormack, but he never gave her a second look as she was the daughter of help on his family ranch. A few years later, Kennedy wants to make love with Hailey, who thinks he is the answer to her prayers until his twin Thomas catches them together. It will take a few years, and a loving spirit for her to get past her youthful humiliation. "Meltdown" by Julie Leto. The not for profit organization board tasks public relations manager Isabel Ruiz to soften the hard-nosed image of CEO Simon Brennan; if she fails both will be fired as that is a key element of his position. Simon believes this is foolishness as he cares what happens but is professional about it; still Isabel wants to make him smile in the boardroom and bedroom. "You Can Count On Me" by Roxanne St. Claire. Bullet Catcher employee Raquel Durant is elated that she is finally assigned field work alone. Her assignment is to protect eight years old Kristina Nyekovic. The task is deemed simple and safe for a rookie to handle. However, someone steals a valuable object belonging to Kristina's dad followed by the snatch of the child. Raquel plans to retrieve both safely. These are four fun Christmas romances that will have readers home to finish a novella a night.

Death Waits For You
Donna Anders
Pocket Books
1416514864 $7.99

Savannah Blum left Kansas City to move into her grandmother's apartment in Jersey City so she will be closer to the New York publishing industry. She wants to write a book; to do that full time she needs to have a job that will allow her the time to get her book finished. Her grandmother, who believes in her, introduces her to the wealthy Hawthorne family who lived the American dream, going from rags to riches when they immigrated to America. They are willing to pay her thirty thousand dollars to write their history. She will have access to all the documents they have and will be able to interview the entire family. They are an eccentric lot with one person being a recluse, one a religious fanatic who doesn't want to have anything to do with her, a so called psychic who tells her she is in danger, and a sexy host who makes her forget about her boyfriend Tom. Someone fears she is getting too close to a family secret and they try to scare off by stalking her wearing a black cape, sending threatening letters and making malicious phone calls. A series of women are being tortured, mutilated and killed in the same manner as the slayings that occurred in 1979 with a Hawthorne victim being the last person the perp killed. Now many believe he is back and his target is Savannah who is getting too close to uncovering a dark truth. Anyone who loves fantastic psychological suspense in the vein of Joy Fielding, Mary Higgins Clarke and P.J. Tracy will thoroughly enjoy DEATH WAITS FOR YOU. Even the most brilliant amateur sleuth won't know who the killer is or how the latest series of homicides relate to the ones over three decades ago. Donna Anders is one author who deserves an award nomination and should be on all the best seller lists.

Accidental It Girl
Libby Street
Downtown (Pocket Books)
0743499247 $13.00

In New York City, as pushy paparazzi Sadie Price knows that all the celebrities she follows think she is lower than swamp scum, but she is good at what she does; stalk and photograph the famous. Still she once in a while dreams of being a top rate journalistic photographer who her subjects love not hates and has fans that enjoy her art not her subject. In other words one day she would like to be a news photographer in a less intrusive line. When she tries to take pictures of superstar Ethan Wyatt, he becomes outraged and vows to teach the pest a lesson. Ethan begins to stalk Sadie so that she can become the subject of her odious peers who take photos of her in any situation. She detests the feeling of her every move being watched which curtails her freedom. However worse is that she is attracted to Ethan although he brought the Paparazzi Plague onto her. He, in turn, reciprocates, but like her, hides how he feels as a star and a paparazzi make the ultimate star-crossed lovers. The ACCIDENTAL IT GIRL reads like a 1930s romantic romp brought into 2006 Manhattan to the delight of contemporary readers. The amusing gender war is fun to follow as Ethan turns the tables on Sadie by making her the subject of the hunt. Fans of lighthearted stories will want to read Libby Street's battle of the sexes.

The Velvet Rope Diaries
Daniella Brodsky
042520782X $13.00

Anna Walker loves writing so when the perfect job is offered to her she jumps at it though she has some concerns. The topic frightens her as she knows nothing about the New York nightlife yet that is what Anna must cover. Gritting her teeth and leaving the popcorn and cable movies behind, Anna begins her quest to conquer the New York night scene, as she must not just survive; she needs to write about it. Anna also hopes the job will help occupy her mind as she suffers form survival guilt in that she manages to get out of the fire that killed her father. As she meets men including Ray from her past, her peers and some of her so called friends want her to fail out of envy, but though she is unaware of it the fire has strengthened Anna's resolve. This is a terrific chick lit tale because the not so prime time player seems very real due to her doubts about diving into a different pool filled with the rich and famous and that frightens her. Anna's growth from hiding in the shadows to increasingly confident woman, as her asides depict, make for a wonderful coming of age story that sub-genre fans will appreciate.

Erased from Memory
Diana O'Hehir
0425212165 $23.95

In Northern California, Carla Day takes her octogenarian father Edward, a renowned Egyptologist suffering from Alzheimer's father to see his greatest find, an ancient coffin lid housed at Egypt Regained Museum. While there, a man collapses to the floor; Edward rushes to his aid starting with loosening the victim's tie. However, security yanks him away as they assume he is choking the man to death. Local police arrest Edward charging him with strangulation, but the man lives lying in a coma in a nearby hospital. At the hospital, the comatose man apparently got up and left. Not long after he vanishes, he reappears as a corpse with an ankh in his mouth. Edward keeps arguing that they came here to see his coffin lid though he has visited it several times while Carla tries to uncover the truth about the dead man, not realizing how much danger she and her father are in from an unknown assailant who prefers to remain anonymous. The sequel to MURDER NEVER FORGETS plays out on two levels as readers obtain a first hand look at the ravages of Alzheimer's on the victim and his daughter inside a cleverly design whodunit. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Dr. Day intervenes until the final unnerving shocking final confrontation. Diana O'Hehir provides readers with a terrific Egyptology mystery combined with a strong personal look at senior health care issues.

French Fried
Nancy Fairbanks
0425213080 $6.99

Toxin expert Professor Jason Blue and his wife food columnist Carolyn are in Lyons to meet with members of the university who will be attending a science conference in Avigon sponsored by the Chemistry Department. While Jason heads to the university, Carolyn returns to their hotel room to nap, but is shocked to find a man on her bed making a funny noise. An ambulance takes him to the hospital where he is pronounced dead. Carolyn believes he was a poison victim and plans to prove it. Neither Jason nor Carolyn can think of anyone who would want them dead as they assume they were the intended victims. The next day while Jason is running, a black car ties to hit him; his reflexes save his life. At about the same Carolyn is thrown down a flight of stairs and left battered with a concussion. At the conference, some shoots Jason's graduate student. Carolyn, still recuperating, vows to uncover the identity of the assailant trying to kill them before he or she succeeds. In spite of the serious undertone of the plot, there is much humor in FRENCH FRIED, a terrific amateur sleuth mystery starring a heroine who marches to her own drummer. Some of the situations she marches into are amusing, but her astute mind enables her to see the bigger picture as she ponders who has a grudge so large that innocents are hurt. Nancy Fairbanks's delectable who-done-it is a one sitting treat.

The Bargain
Julia Templeton
0425214052 $14.00

In 1069, William's most trusted vassal merciless Renaud de Wulf is leading a force through Northumbria burning all the villages and destroying anything in their way. Saxon Aleysia Cawdor is despondent because she and her twin brother Adelstan had come so close to regaining the family hold, Braemere, from the Norman butcher Baron de Pirou who killed their parents in cold blood, but now there is no hope, as Renaud never fails. When his men capture Adelstan, Renaud is shocked as he is a teen who looks pretty not masculine making him wonder how this lad killed de Pirou and retook the fortress. Renaud accuses Adelstan of treason when an arrow is shot past his head. He goes after the twin only to find "Temptation" pleading with him for mercy for her sibling as she explains why de Pirou was killed and that her Scottish fiance Laird Duncan Macmillan will come for her. They make a deal her body for her twin's life. As they seal their deal over the feel of the flesh, they fall in love, but neither wants to admit how much their beloved enemy means to them until it seems too late as the Scot led by Duncan and the Danes assault Braemere. THE BARGAIN is a heated historical that brings to ardent life the Conqueror era. The novel is refreshed by the erotic relationship that eventually turns to love between the lead adversaries even as Renaud works to strengthen his control. Fans of late eleventh century romances with torrid love scenes will enjoy the star-crossed tale.

Robert Masello
0425212807 $7.99

In Iraq, Saddam Hussein and the affluent mysterious al Kalli family share an uneasy truce. However, at a state dinner, Hussein poisons all the members except for Mohammed and his son. They escape while all the others are dead. The duo takes their most prized possessions, the animals pictured in the illuminated manuscript the Bestiary known by some as the Beasts of Eden. They move to Los Angeles, but the creatures of myth and legend are not thriving in California and al Kalli fears they may be dying. A desperate al-Kalli contacts art curator Beth Cox at the Getty Museum to restore the Beasts of Eden Bestary. He hopes the book will enable them to heal the ailing beasts by giving them some ideas how to achieve this lofty goal. He also talks with Beth's husband Carter, a paleontologist who recently found an identical male skeleton at the La Brea Tar Pits. He persuades Carter to work with him to restore the animals to health; faced with such an amazing discovery, he agrees. However, there remains a human serpent who places the Bestiary, Carter, and his family in danger. Using historical facts from the times of the First Crusades, Robert Masello weaves a tapestry of events into a magnificent story line complete with creatures that were said to have resided in the Garden of Eden. Part psychological suspense and part horror the novel is filled with many unexpected spins that will appeal to readers from different genres. Whereas Beth and Carter are dedicated to their respective jobs, they also love one another; while the other characters are fascinating as even the antagonists have redeeming qualities adding to the complexity of the thriller.

Jack McDevitt
044101433X $24.95

The earth is in trouble as global warming doomsayers of the early twenty-first century prove right. Space has proven a big expensive failure as the costs overshadow the few benefits. However with pandemic ecological disaster hammering the home world, space is a viable option to save humanity. Many scientists feel it is too late to resuscitate earth though some people like reporter Gregory MacAllister insist Earth-first movement is the best chance to rescue the populace as space means only a select few might survive. However, the debate abruptly changes when UFO sightings dubbed "moonriders" occur circling the Pleiades. Since this is the first possible encounter with an alien race, especially one that is technically advanced, Academy leader Michael Asquith sends a ship to investigate. Much of the crew having been in space remains as skeptical as MacAllister is that they will find any sentient extraterrestrial. Still operations chief Priscilla "Hutch" Hutchins, pilot Valya Kouros, public relations expert Eric Samuels, MacAllister and teenager Amy Taylor head to the moonrider sighting. Thus when a sighting of two moonriders occur, everyone on board the earth vessel is stunned especially when it looks as if these aliens are planning massive destruction, but why remains as elusive as to how to prevent this from happening. Jack McDevitt's provides an interesting futuristic space ODYSSEY filled with a delightful twist involving the motive of the enigmatic moonriders. The story line set in the same universe as CHINDI takes its time to paint the dismal picture of a dying planet with choices confronting humanity (an extension of today's debates between environment and development, and space vs. earth). The cast feels a bit odd for a first encounter (a PR, a teen and a reporter), but fans of Mr. McDevitt will appreciate his cautionary tale that we better do something today or pay an exorbitant amount tomorrow that spins into an outer space opera.

Christmas to Remember
Thomas Kinkade, Katherine Spencer
0425211843 $23.95

Just a few days past Thanksgiving in Cape Light, Sara comes to see her grandmother, who fails to respond to her knock or her entrance. She finds Lillian unconscious on the floor of her bedroom. Sara quickly calls 911. Lillian has pneumonia. While lying on the floor, Lillian was dreaming back to 1955 when she was an assistant curator at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. That summer she was visiting her cousin Charlotte in Newburyport when she met Oliver Warwick at a yacht club gala. He courted her as he thought she was beautiful, strong, and filled with an elan for life. Oliver loved her and though at first she rejected his advances, she soon loved him too. She continues her muses thinking about the mistakes she has made, how much she loves her daughters, and Sara who returned into their lives just a few years ago having been given up for adoption. Lily wonders when did she turn from a spirited happy person into a matronly scrooge, She ponders whether it is too late to regain what she once was emotionally starting with this yuletide season as she begins to realize how much joy her life has been surrounded by loved ones. The latest Christmas Cape Light inspirational tale (see CHRISTMAS ANGEL and A CHRISTMAS PROMISE) is a fine character driven story starring an elderly angry miserable person who upon becoming ill reflects on her life to her loved ones. Lily is an interesting character as she knows how ugly she has become especially when she thinks back to the salad days with her beloved Oliver. Though her transformation seems too simplistic, fans of the series will enjoy her reflections on her life.

Dating Game
Beverly Brandt
0425211819 $14.00

Fifteen years ago Lainie Ames left Naples, Florida following her high school graduation feeling that she was a loser, but dreamed she come back a major success. Instead she returns the way she left believing she remains a loser. The Seattle hi tech company went bankrupt and her former spouse Ted ran up gambling debts. Her half sister and their father believe she came home for some rest until she starts anew as they assume she is wealthy with a computer science degree due to the three lies she told them. Instead she came home because she had no other place to go.
Jack Danforth hires Lainie to work at his detective agency because as he says to himself he is an idiot for thinking with the wrong head. He wants Lainie, but she seems to desire some hunk from her high school days, football captain Blaine Harper. You don't know Jack if you think he will allow Blaine to get his Lainie as he knows he loves her. Though Lainie is in her thirties this is a coming of age story that is summarized by Blaine when he says "your value as a person is not dependent on who wears your letterman jacket", a lesson that the lead female must learn. Chick lit fans will enjoy Lainie's escapades as Jack keeps jacking up her dating while she assumes she cannot compete with the likes of Shay though the two men competing for her would say that Shay cannot compete with her. Beverly Brandt provides a delightful humorous look at the modern day DATING GAME.

Death of a Musketeer
Sarah D'Almeida
0425212920 $6.99

In 1625 in a Paris tavern, Athos duels with a child D'Artagnan while the other two Musketeers, Portos and Aramis watch when their rivals, five of the Cardinal's Guards arrive. Their leader Jussac wants to arrest the Three Musketeers for breaking the Cardinal's ban on public dueling, but having faced humiliation earlier, the trio agrees to die here. They tell D'Artagnan to leave, but he refuses claiming in his heart he is the fourth musketeer. They defeat their opponents and go off to celebrate only to see another musketeer who runs from them. They give chase, but when they catch up to him in an alley, they find him dead. However, when they look closer at the corpse, they realize the murdered victim is a she who looks extremely like Anne, the Queen of France. They debate what to do because if the deceased was killed because she is the Queen's double, then they need to uncover who committed treason; if she died because she was in a bad place, then the gendarme should handle the case. Deciding one for all and all for one and agreeing D'Artagnan earned his musketeer status, they begin to investigate who killed the queen's double? This is a fun swashbuckling historical mystery starring the four musketeers of Dumas fame. The story line is filled with action as the heroes investigate the homicide while adhering to their original personalities. Though the number of suspects remains a bit low, musketeers and seventeenth century whodunit fans will enjoy this changing of the guard from thriller to mystery while retaining the heroic got your back essence of one for all and all for one brotherhood.

Cooking Up Murder
Miranda Bliss
0425212912 $6.99

The last year has not been a good one for thirty-five years old Arlington, Virginia bank teller Anne Capshaw. Her husband of eight years left her for the bimbo who works at the dry cleaners and her self-esteem is at an all time low. Her cooking skills, never much to begin with, hit rock bottom when she tries to boil water and ruins the pot. Her best friend Eve enrolls both of them at a cooking class at the upscale Tres Bonne Cuisine. On the first night of class, Annie and Eve witness an argument between fellow student Beyla and a man named Drago. Later that night when they return to the classroom to find the watch Eve left behind they discover Drago's dead body in the parking lot. They call the police; the girlfriend of Eve's former boyfriend is the responding officer. Beyla denies ever knowing Drago even though they both witnessed the fight and locate a picture in the newspaper of them together. When Eve's ex-fiance talks to the class to find out if they know anything he also tells Eve to butt out of the investigation because he believe Beyla didn't know the murdered victim. That is enough to propel Annie and Eve into high gear not realizing that will put their lives in danger. This charming serio-comic amateur sleuth investigation is the first cooking class mystery and readers will love it due in part to the protagonists, who are great friends and surprisingly realistic detectives. They follow the clues where they take them and although the pair takes chances, they are calculated ones so the audience believes they could do such an investigation. Miranda Bliss lives up to her surname as she writes a blissful who-done-it that is filled with some very funny scenes and characters who care about each other.

The Ghost and the Dead Man's Library
Alice Kimberly
0425212653 $6.99

Rhode Island book store owner Penelope Thornton-McClure obtained a rare collection of Edgar Allan Poe works; however she learns that the seller died just after their deal was consumated. Not long afterward she sells her first volume only to learn the buyer died in a car crash soon after the sale. When someone attacks Penelope, her store's ghost Jack Shepard, a private investigator before he was murdered at that location in 1949, takes exception. He believes that someone thinks that the tomes contain a code that will lead to a hidden treasure. Unable to stay out of it, Jack decides Penelope needs his help to uncover an apparent killer whose motive is ownership of the Poe books, but also cleverly disguises homicides as accidents with the book store owner on the list for elimination. Though a paranormal cozy, the story line like the rest of the Ghost and … series (see THE GHOST AND THE DEAD DEB and THE GHOST AND MRS. MCCLURE) feels more like a time travel tale because of Jack's vernacular is out of the classic 1940s pulp detective stories. The Poe mystery is cleverly devised so readers know the crimes (murder, assault, and robbery) and the motive, but will have no idea who the felon is. THE GHOST AND THE DEAD MAN'S LIBRARY is a terrific supernatural who's doing it starring an offbeat combo of a mortal amateur sleuth and a spectral professional sleuth.

Ivy Cole and the Moon
Gina Farago
0425212564 $7.99

Ivy Cole believes in an eye for an eye. If someone wrongs her, she has the physical ability to enact revenge when the first full moon rises following the affront, which she does. Ivy leaves behind the mutilated remains of those she has judged and executed as a warning to others
In the North Carolina Mountains, Sheriff Hubbard and Deputy Melvin Sanders investigate the violent murder of Clifford Hughes with the early evidence pointing towards Ivy as she and the victim had a dispute just before he was found brutally murdered. As the two cops find further proof that Ivy killed Clifford, they begin to also think she is not human as a person could not have done the deeds they believe she has performed. Still to his chagrin Melvin is attracted to Ivy; so his heart and soul prays she is not the culprit while his brain believes not only she is but that she is a shapeshifter. However, soon new proof arises that indicate a second deadlier werewolf is also residing in the mountains, who might just be a rogue killer seeking Ivy.
IVY COLE AND THE MOON is a fantastic werewolf thriller starring a moralistic heroine who provides her own brand of justice to those people whom she believes is evil. Ivy is a fascinating protagonist as she goes about her monthly business while Appalachia will never seem the same as the vivid chilling descriptions of the geography (and the kills) add to the overall haunting feel of doom coming to Ivy. This powerful supernatural tale with subtle references to Hollywood insures readers will know howling in the Tarheel state has nothing to do with Dean Smith and all to do with Gina Farago proving werewolves are on the prowl.

Slay Bells
Kate Kingsbury
0425212009 $13.00

Pennyfoot hotel manager Cecily Sinclair is hustling a Christmas children's party for those who reside in Badger's End, England. She doesn't anticipate any problems because it has been a year since there was a murder or any inexplicable happenings. The man who is portraying Father Christmas is going to come down the chimney but as time passes, Sid Porter fails to show up. The footman Roland who was to help Sid get down the chimney is found on the ground with a broken neck. At first everyone thinks it was an accident but when Sid's body is found in the chimney knifed to death, Cecily believes Roland witnessed the murder and that is why he was killed. While Cecily starts asking questions, much to her husband's displeasure, a clown is seen by the servants who think it is a ghost and furniture goes missing but is found in strange places. When another person is found murdered at the Pennyfoot, Cecily is determined to find the killer but is almost killed by a person she thought she could trust. Anytime a Pennyfoot hotel mystery is published is a time for rejoicing. The workers at the hotel are like a family and many are eccentrics who in the name of friendship help their boss who they adore. It is hard figuring out who the killer is because they are so many suspects who could have done it. The protagonist is a strong-willed assertive woman who lets no one, including her husband, make her decisions for her. Kate Kingsbury writes a charming cozy that is entertaining and will appeal to readers who don't like violence in their mysteries.

Murder Most Frothy
Cleo Coyle
0425211134 $6.99

Multi-millionaire David Mintzer "hires" Clare Cosi, manger of the historic Village Blend coffeehouse, to train the staff at his new Long Island restaurant. In return, Clare will spend the summer at his Ottium cum Dignitate mansion in the Hamptons with all her expenses covered. A no brainer, she leaves hotter than a matchstick Manhattan for East Hampton accompanied by her daughter Joy and her former mother-in-law, Madame. At David's first bash of the season, a Fourth of July gala, Clare works the coffee bar where she whips up her special iced choco latte. Clare goes to find David, but instead sees a corpse whom she initially thought was her employer; the victim is employee Treat Mazzelli who easily could be mistaken for his boss because both have similar short body types. While the local police are arriving, Clare does a bit of snooping as her theory is the culprit targeted David. The latest Coffeehouse Mystery (see ON WHAT GROUNDS, THROUGH THE GRINDER, and LATTE TROUBLE) is a terrific amateur sleuth tale that showcases the heroine at her best. This time, unlike her previous brews in which the coffee gourmand knows that NYPD Detective Mike Quinn has so much more experience with homicide than her; Clare assumes she is the veteran vs. the local cops who she believes do drunks. Still they treat her like an idiot, which only propels Clare to uncover the killer's identity before she makes her next latte.

Bond of Blood
Diane Whiteside
0425207749 $14.00

For seven hundred plus years, Spanish knight Don Rafael Perez has been a vampire and now he leads the Texas Oklahoma chapter. Madame Celeste head of the New Orleans contingent warns Rafael to cooperate or her assassins will take care of business. He knows that means the evil Diego, a former agent of the Russians who wantonly kills and enjoys torture; Rafael knows that first hand. Now Rafael plans to destroy his foe, who murders anyone in his way as collateral damage is road kill to this malevolent person. However, Rafael's world spins out of control when he meets Texas Hill Country Raptor Center veterinarian Grania O'Malley; his shock is less than hers as she recognizes him as the hunk that has starred in her lustful dreams. As they become acquainted and begin to fall in love the mortal animal doctor is stunned further when she realizes her beloved is a vampire, whose prowess thrives on sex; something she gladly offers him. Celeste and Diego know how to destroy their enemy as Rafael has an Achilles' heel, Dr. Grania O'Malley. BOND OF BLOOD is an exhilarating heated vampire romantic suspense thriller that makes the world of the undead alive through the political power struggles. The action-packed story line stars two courageous ethical star-crossed lovers who know their heated chemistry is taboo. The villain is an evil killing machine who brings the non-sexual intrigue and tension to Diane Whiteside's terrific paranormal romantic suspense thriller.

Hard Evidence
Pamela Clare
0425212602 $7.99

Denver, reporter Tessa Novak stops for coffee at a gas station when a hysterical teenage girl rushes inside pleading for help in Spanish. A car drives by shooting the girl through the window. She dies in Tessa's arms. Though stunned Tessa notice the man in the leather jacket who she believes is the killer, but is gone before the police can react. Former FBI Agent Julian Darcangelo cannot believe the witness spotted him though he is not the killer; instead he is undercover as pervert Dominic Conti. Tessa provides a detailed account to include describing whom she assumes is the culprit: Julian. Meanwhile he hopes to finally catch master criminal Burien who escaped a sting three years ago because the Fed tried to save some young female civilians at the cost of two agents and a wound to his then lover Margaux. This time he allowed the innocent to die so as to not interfere with his obsession to stop Burien before other teens are kidnapped, abused, and killed. Julian frightens and warns Tessa to back down before kissing her; she asks who he is and he insists he is a good guy. As he struggles to keep her safe and catch the bad guy, they fall in love, but a betrayal leaves their lives in jeopardy. This a superb romantic suspense starring a courageous intelligent hero who has to work the case because of guilt over not being able to help the teen who died in her arms and a dark protagonist who never expected to fall in love. The return of characters from the previous novel EXTREME EXPOSURE and the rest of the support cast especially the Denver Police Chief add depth to the exciting story line. Though the motive for the betrayal seems a stretch, fans will appreciate this strong thriller.

Beverly Jenkins
Harper Torch
0060818999 $6.99

At the Madrid conference on alternate energy sources, Dr. Adam Gary's presentation was an eye-opener as he explained his revolutionary breakthrough on fuel cells that require plentiful and cheap carbon to replace expensive rarer metals like gold and platinum. However some listeners decide they want Adam and his invention so they send thugs to attack him in his room, but he surprises them when he fights back. To protect Adam, the Feds place him in a safe house in Michigan, but he limits security to no one. Thus the government sends ex marine security specialist Maxine "Max" Blake as a housekeeper to keep the "brother" safe. When she arrives, he is unhappy because he expected a male Max not a tall beautiful sister who he does not think sibling thoughts about as he stares at her starting with her Stetson hat and continuing slowly down to her cowboy boots; her two companions, Ruby and Ossie, don't make it any easier on the scientist as even rottweilers should not be so mean looking when they stare at him and so loving when they look at her. As they fall in love, an emotion neither wants as his work is his sweetheart and she has failed twice with marriage, those who want control of Adam's research try to abduct him with only mad Max and her canines in the way. The lead couple makes for a delightful contemporary romantic suspense as each is competent, likable, and brave with only love making them fearful. The story line is action-packed from the opening attempted abduction in the Spanish hotel and never slows down as the unknown enemy makes several attempts to snatch the genius until the final encounter in the Lincoln Room. Though Adam is too capable as a warrior, fans will appreciate Beverly Jenkins coupling especially a kick butt heroine and her Einstein beloved.

Motor Mouth
Janet Evanovich
0060584033 $26.95

At Homestead-Miami Speedway Stiller Racing driver Sam Hooker finished second at the track (and first in some woman's bed). Much of the accolades for his fine showing go to the pit crew, but the majority to his spotter, Alexandra "Barney" Barnaby, whose guidance was perfect. However, Barney may have gave directions when to ease and when to speed up to Sam, but something disturbed the spotter about the winning car driven by Spanky Bonnano of Huevo Motor Sports though she is not sure what that is. Stiller spotter Gobbles Warner calls from a cell phone to ask Barney to get him out of the truck containing the winning race driver as he is locked inside and fears asking for help from the Huevo crew. After looking over the situation Barney with Sam's assistance steals the truck. However, that proves a minor felony because inside the vehicle along with the trapped Gobbles is a dead Oscar Huevo, an apparent homicide victim. Though neither wants to deal with a corpse in a stolen truck, the driver and the spotter know they must solve the murder before the police decide they committed the crime. As with METRO GIRL, MOTOR MOUTH is a delightful caper that will lead readers to think Stephanie Plum goes NASCAR. The story line is fun and zany as everything that could go wrong does with Barney believing that she makes Murphy look like an optimist as he had no St. Bernard, corpse, stolen vehicles, and the queen of fruit to contend with besides a killer and the racing circuit. Alas, this is all part of the life of a NASCAR spotter.

Vince and Joy
Lisa Jewell
0061137464 $14.95

In England thirty-something year old friends were discussing the time they lost their virginity. Vince explains that he was nineteen years old when he met eighteen years old Joy seventeen years ago in 1986 at the Hunstantan camp site. His stepfather Cliff pushed them together and they eventually made love. The next morning, she and her parents were gone; a note that he concluded was a Dear John letter was left behind, but most of the writing washed away in the rain. The only clear statement is "I am so ashamed", which he assumed meant about their lovemaking. Years later Cliff mentioned that he had to beat up Joy's dad because the punk was fondling his wife, Vince's mother, over her objections. Vince realizes that Joy was not embarrassed by them but by her dad. As he searches for her, he has good and bad luck; he finds her, but she is marrying someone else. Though he has married and divorced and has a child he loves, Vince believes Joy is the only one for him and destiny has failed him once more. This is an interesting contemporary romance starring two likable protagonists who fall in love at first sight, but fate seems to dictate they stay apart though they meet up several times over the next two decades or so. The story line is mostly told from the perspective of the lead male as he tells his tale of love discovered, love lost, love re-found, love re-lost, etc. Because this is a deep British character study, some of the vernacular will seem strange to the American audience, but sub-genre fans will still find joy in Vince's fine jewel of a story.

The Shape Shifter
Tony Hillerman
0060563451 $25.95

Though retired from the Navajo Tribal Police force, former Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn occasionally helps out his former peers when they ask him to investigate unusually difficult cases. This time it is Joe initiating the inquiry. He visits his friends newlyweds Jim Chee and Bernie Manuelito just back from their honeymoon to get their opinion on a cold case that he and his former FBI partner Mel Bork investigated. Mel sent Joe a page from a magazine Luxury Living that contained a picture with an ancient hand weaved rug that looks like the one that was reported destroyed in an arson fire at Totter's Trading Post. That blaze allegedly took the life of an FBI most wanted killer; Totter recently was reported dead and buried in a VA cemetery, but that proved false. His efforts to contact Bork fail and soon Joe learns his friend has been murdered; he assumes he is also on a diabolical killer's list to eliminate potential witnesses who could identify him. Jim and Bernie insist on joining Joe in going after the predator. Grandmaster Tony Hillerman is at his best with this excellent thriller that ties several seemingly unrelated subplots (beyond just what is above) into a cohesive cat and mouse tale that never slows down from the moment Joe meets with the honeymooners. The action-packed story line is filled with twists that will surprise readers yet are plausible as Joe struggles with Granny's stolen buckets, FBI, Vietnam War, arson, murder and being the rodent in a game orchestrated by a clever leopard who can change spots. The climax will add to Mr. Hillerman's reputation as one of the all time mystery writing greats.

Dean McLaughlin
Five Star Books
1594143501 $25.95

Isak is a scribe who has traveled the world looking at the six orbs in the sky. He consults the priests' records and comes to some conclusions about the orbits which can be seen in the daylight. When he arrives in the city of Center, he consults the temple records and through advanced arithmetic comes to the conclusion that at a certain time that he names darkness will spread across the land. The people and the priest don't believe what he says about the gods and the high priests want him killed before he can spread this foretelling. Isak takes shelter in a merchant's house and comes to care for the pregnant daughter who was gang rapedby the priests who masquerade their actions as a religious rite. Isak comes to learn that the ruling theocracy is corrupt and when he is offered the chance to chase them out of power when the foretelling proves correct, he takes it. Members of a secret rebellion use Isak as their spokesperson and as each day passes he wins more converts. He is still in danger from the priests who want to capture him and he has doubts he will have enough to overthrow the priest hood. There is no magic in this tale nor is a spell cast yet this is a fantasy story of a feudal world who believes suns and planets are gods and people worship them. Many fantasies that don't have magic feel flat but DAWN is not one of them because of the atmosphere the author creates that is imbued throughout the storyline. The protagonist is a combination of innocence and pragmatist who does what he believes is right for the people of his world. He is a hero in the bardic sense of the word.

The Pressure of Darkness
Harry Shannon
Five Star Books
1594144702 $25.95

LAPD decided that horror writer Peter Stryker committed suicide while staying at the Universal Sheraton under the alias of Dan Ira Palski. His daughter Nicole Moberly disagrees as she insists her father feared death and defiantly would not have used a surgical knife to peel his skin. Homicide detective Scottie Bowden, a Delta team "Brother" from their Black Ops days in the 1990s, sends her to private detective Jack Burke to investigate. She hires Jack, who takes the job because he needs money to pay is ailing wife's medical bills. Jack obtains help from wheelchair bound coroner Doc Washington, who was crippled on their last mission together; Doc provides him information from the autopsy. As Burke assisted by Scottie and Doc begins to dig, he realizes that Nicole is right that her father was brutally murdered; the evidence begins pointing towards a cult wanting to bring Armageddon upon the world now. Though somewhat over the top, THE PRESSURE OF DARKNESS is an action-packed thriller starring an interesting hero who like his Brothers in Arms has not recovered from his last combat mission. The story line starts off as a femme fatale whodunit but morphs into a cult prepared to release a biological weapon of mass destruction in the name of God. Fans who appreciate non stop action and adventure will want to follow the exploits of this retired Delta team survivors as they go on one last mission of life and death.

Playing Nice
Kit Daniels
Five Star Books
1594145393 $25.95

Mod store manager Jessie has the role of Audrey in the Uptown Players' off off off Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors. Her best friend, Tracy sends Jessie over to help set designer Michael "Mick" Fielding, but Jessie assumes that her pal has fallen in love for the god zillionth time so she interrogates the hunk. She soon revises her opinion as she thinks Tracy sent her over to match her with Mick. They seem to hit it off until he pushes her aside making her wonder about his odd behavior and whether they did not or he is crazy; he explains that he is being stalked by his former girlfriend Victoria who thinks they are soulmates. As Jessie and Mick fall in love, someone tries to harm them off stage and someone tries to sabotage her performance on stage. Though Victoria is the obvious suspect, no one can figure how she can get inside the theatre without being seen. PLAYING NICE is a delightful contemporary romance starring two likable protagonists and a solid support cast mostly the troupe. Victoria is so fatally attraction deranged readers will write her off as too over the edge. Still Jessie is a fine star (on stage and off) while Mick ponders whether he needs to drop his beloved in order to keep her safe from a sociopath.

Karen Fenech
Five Star Books
1594145237 $26.95

In 1122, William Norris dies in combat after betraying an ally. He leaves behind his pregnant wife Lady Katherine Stanfield, who would prefer the odious man, went to hell, but for the sake of her soon to be born child she gives him a Christian burial. Less than two weeks later, Katherine gives birth to twins with her daughter dying in childbirth. At about the same time Lord Ranulf invades the keep with plans to make Katherine his wife. She flees leaving behind her dead child so Ranulf will not know that a son lives. Her loyal Commander Sir Guy takes her son into hiding while she asks her former betrothed De Lauren for help. He agrees on the condition she marry him right then. He retakes Stanfield keep, but the slaughter of innocent people and the destruction of property are horrifying. De Lauren buries her daughter because he does not want the woman he loves but mistrusts to see that Ranulf decapitated the infant. As Katherine realizes she too loves her spouse like she did when she broke off their engagement five years ago, Ranulf plots to assassinate De Lauren and make sure his enemy's loyal brother Stephen thinks Katherine betrayed them again. Though Ranulf is a too over the top psychopath (asks his late wife as he literally bled her dry), medieval romance readers will welcome this fine twelfth century tale more so because of the hero, who seems so realistic especially his code of justice. The excitement in the entertaining story line resides in anticipating the confrontation and learning why Katherine broke off with De Lauren and defied her father to marry an odious Norris. Karen Fenech writes a fun historical romance.

Strength of a Promise
Sarah Storme
Five Star Books
1594145172 $26.95

Widow Diana Duncan gave up her nice apartment and her successful catering business to leave New York to open a B&B in Hillton, Texas because a gang of teens assaulted her eight year old child Carrie. However, her nana's beloved "palace" is in disrepair starting with a leaking roof. She hires local Thad Crowley to make repairs. This is his first real job since he came home from California last year because his mother needs him; Thad left Hillton almost two decades ago over a scandal in which he promised to say nothing. As he shows kindness to a still somewhat traumatized Carrie, Thad falls in love with Diana. The two Duncan females reciprocate his deepest feelings for them. She learns somewhat about the scandal and though he wants to tell her the truth, he adheres by his vow. He knows that it might cost him everything that matters, but if he breaks his honor, his beloved would never see him in the same light. Readers will feel for Carrie whose fears are obvious and admire Diana for her sacrifie to insure her daughter feels safe, but the tale belongs in many ways to the honorable Thad, who seems like a throwback to a different era when one's word means one's bond even at a deep personal cost. The story line is character driven as the townsfolk loath Thad and by association begin to not like Diana and consequently Carrie. Fans will want to know what the secret is all about as Thad risks a chance for happiness with the two Duncan females because he concludes to break an oath would coast him Diana who expects a high code of ethics.

First Murder in Advent
Sharon Wildwind
Five Star Books
159414527X $25.95

In 1972 Fort Bragg, Captain Elizabeth receives a call from her friend former Special Forces Sergeant Benny Kirkpatrick that their mutual pal Military Police Captain Avivah Rosen and he were involved in a gun fight in Central Park when she went after a thief. He also says they are going away to hide at the Convent of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Crossmore, North Carolina on the other side of the state from Fayetteville, Bragg's home station locale. Elizabeth agrees to meet up with her best friends. At the Convent just before Advent, Elizabeth sees a strange combination of people welcoming her besides her two friends including the mysterious Major Darby Baxter with his zillion AKAs, who she assumes is an undercover agent of sorts, but not sure for which agency. However, a friendly reunion turns ugly when someone using a garrote murders another guest Gary Dormouth who had accompanied Avivah when she came down from New York. The three soldiers begin to investigate the homicide as they hope to uncover the killer before he or she plays Agatha Christie's ten Little Indians with them. The latest Viet Nam era mystery is a superb tale that showcases how difficult returning to the States were on the soldiers and how little official recognition was accorded females who served in the war zone. The whodunit is cleverly set up so that there is a myriad of suspects so that historical mystery readers will appreciate the story line. However, as with SOME WELCOME HOME, it is the cast especially the two female officers who seem real as they adapt to returning to an unwelcoming world.

Season of the Burning Souls
Ken Hodgson
Five Star Books
1594144826 $25.95

In 1943 Silver City, New Mexico, mentally deranged Phil the Prophet is having a drink at a bar when he erupts into flames. Sheriff Sam Sinrod and Grant County Coroner Dr. Bryce Whitlock are stunned especially when the town's undertaker insists cremation takes some time not a couple of minutes. Not long afterward a second such incident occurs involving arson investigator Roan Walker at Madame Miller's Pussy Palace. Fire Chief Bates says he never seen anything like this before. When a banjo player in a traveling show is next, everyone thinks of Dickens' Bleak House. The state sends two law enforcement officials Diego and Black, whose jobs are to kill anyone who they deem causing problems for the governor and his associates. Their first target is strange Silver City Times Editor Henry Fossett who blames the fiery deaths on a secret Nazi weapon. As more die from spontaneous combustion and weird neighbors Tasker and Wesley pilfer the wrong thing, Sinrod and Whitlock struggle to stop a panic, keep the two outsiders under control, and go out on dates while trying to solve the mystery. This is a strange police investigative tale that brings to life law enforcement in New Mexico during WW II. The fast-paced story line grips readers who wonder about the sudden outburst of spontaneous combustion that even includes a rodent, but the tension is also somewhat abated with comic relief by characters like Tasker and Wesley. Historical mystery fans will enjoy this fun 1940s tale as Sam and Bryce struggle with solving the bleak remains from a rash of fiery deaths.

A Mass for the Dead
Susan McDuffie
Five Star Books
1594144893 $25.95

In 1373 Scotland, oyster digger Alasdair Beag finds the murdered corpse of the Oronsay Isle Priory Crispinus McPhee on the beach. Crispinus' brother Gillespic informs his nephew Muirteach that he must report the death of his father the Lord of the Isles John MacDonald. Muirteach has mixed feelings about his late father who called him "My bastard son, the cripple", but travels to the see MacDonald regardless so he can inform him. MacDonald assigns Muirteach to investigate and uncover the identity of his dad's killer; the Lord of the Isles knows he must tell his father King Robert II, but decides to wait until the homicide case is resolved before informing the Pope that one of his key churchman is dead. Muirteach returns home accompanied by physician Fearchar Beaton and his daughter outspoken Mariota. He begin his inquiry starting with Beag and then with his father's handfast mistress and her brothers. As he continues to dig for clues, he learns a much wider truth about his father than just who killed his father and why. Historical mystery readers will want to peruse A MASS FOR THE DEAD, an exciting tale that brings to life the political intrigue of fourteenth century Scotland where Church and State intermingle to the benefit of leaders at the cost of followers. The story line is fast-paced but driven by Muirteach, a fully developed individual with likes, hates, and resentments as he is forced to satisfy the whims of his superiors by investigating the death of his loathsome father. As he uncovers the truth with the help of Mariota, sub-genre fans will want to join them on their amateur sleuth caper.

Defending Violet
Jennifer Louise Jefferson
Five Star Books
1594145369 $25.95

Family lawyer Ginger Rae Reddy left the Port Grace District Attorney's Office because she detested working crime cases. Thus when a former domestic violence victim nineteen year old Violet calls that she has been arrested and charged with child endangerment, she agrees to help because she believes the young single mother would never harm her baby Teddy. Ginger Rae questions Violet who says she took a nap, but when she awakened Teddy did not. She took Teddy to the hospital where he remains in a coma and seems to be an apparent abuse victim due to infant shaking. The attorney becomes upset when she learns that Violet is still seeing Western State Prison Guard AJ, prone to violence as a court order to stay away from her and their child states. The prosecution puts its top gun Eduardo Fortunato, who Ginger Rae worships as the mentor who taught her how to work a criminal prosecution, on the case. However, when Teddy dies, the DA goes for a murder conviction as Ginger Rae struggles to provide the best defense for a client whom she begins to believe is guilty. DEFENDING VIOLET feels like a gripping true crime tale more than just a legal thriller as Violet and to a lesser degree AJ seem real. The story line is character driven by Ginger Rae who initially believes AJ is the villain while her client is a stupid innocent, but begins to have doubts. Legal thriller fans will appreciate this strong tale from start to final deal.

James Clemens
0451461134 $24.95

Tylar Ser Noche has been called many things in his life including Shadowknight, murderer, and Godslayer amongst the kinder epitaphs. Warden Fields pursued hum until he caught him and sold him into slavery; there Tylar was broken in body and spirit. He healed as he provided comfort to a dying goddess who put her naethryn inside him so that his humors flowed with Grace (magic). Now he returns to the stronghold of the Shadowknights where Fields and Tylar's treacherous ex-lover live in order to be inducted back into the Shadowknights. When Tylar and his entourage arrive at the stronghold of Tashijan, everyone inside knows they are trapped. Ulf the God of Eyrie sends a storm that will kill everyone unless they hand over Tylar to him. He believes that Tylar is an abomination because a mortal must never carry a God's Grace. At the same time in the underground beneath the building is the former castellan who has joined the dark, who wants everyone inside Tashijan dead so she can rule as the First Land. Tylar is the tug of war between godly forces that could devastate a world. HINTERLAND is an action oriented sword and sorcery saga as James Clemens creates an intricately detailed fantasy world that readers will easily visualize. Similar to Greek mythology, the realm is an interesting place where gods live and interact with humans on a daily basis. The protagonist and the key support cast are fully developed and critical to this fine tale. It is easy to understand what motivates them though at least Tylar is quite a deep character. As the audience learns who is arranging for a full second God War, questions left dangling concerning the plot should be answered in the next Godslayer Chronicle.

Faith Hunter
0451461088 $14.00

A hundred years ago the winged seraph arrived on earth, which to the faithful meant the end of days. However, instead of the apocalypse as predicted by the religious tomes, the war between the angelic seraph and the demons of hell continues with no end in sight. The earth is enthralled in an ice age like none before and plagues released by both sides have devastated the populace in an eerie pandemic collateral damage though mortal religious wars have flared up. New beings surfaced: entities with the ability to perform magic. These mages live in affluent prisons used and abused by their hosts. One stone mage Thorn St. Croix has remained hidden amidst the humans after escaping from a maximum confinement facility that though luxurious drove her crazy. Thorn crafts jewelry for a living, but hides her magical prowesses knowing that if even her friends' find out she would be exposed and punished for her escape with death. However, she has little choice but to use her untrained power as the forces of the Dark have kidnapped her former spouse while police officer Thaddeus Bartholomew accuses her of the abduction and probable murder. The cast is incredible as the audience believes in the existence of seraphs, mages, and humans barely surviving in a world dramatically changed (not sure how the web survives) by the seemingly eternal Apocalypse war. The story line is filled with amateur sleuth action while the raging hostilities add to the excitement as much as mage-heat does. Fans of post apocalypse fantasies will appreciate this superb interpretation of the endless end of days (in human terms) as centuries and probably millenniums mean nothing to immortal combatants.

Kris Longknife: Resolute
Mike Shepherd
0441014534 $7.99

The Wardhaven's United Sentients and Greenfield's Confederacy are too evenly matched to go to direct hot hostilities, but that does not restrain the latter from trying to annex planets or from the former trying to stop them in a galaxy cold war. Navy Lieutenant Kris Longknife is also a princess since her grandfather is the king and her father is the prime minister. Some will say her new assignment as the Commander of Naval District 41 is due to her royal connections, but those who know her believe she has earned her position with hard competent work though the brass place her out of harm's way due to her royal lineage and her tendency to get into trouble. The nearest planet not part of the Confederacy is Chance and she must somehow keep it that way while also checking on pirate activity and jump sights. Kris finds and goes through ones she discovered that lead to an unexplored part of space. She soon finds an alien planet with technology that neither she nor her crew have ever seen before. The orb could prove a gold mine, but instead the Confederacy is coming to the space station and Chance to take over both. Kris must prevent that plus she has a more personal war to contend with from the Confederacy commander. Fans of the Honor Harrington escapades will welcome the adventures of another strong female in outer space starring a in a thrill a page military space opera. The heroine's dry wit, ability to know what she is good at and her faults while keeping her regal DNA in perspective especially during a crisis endear her to readers. The audience will root for the determined, courageous and endearing heroine as she displays intelligence and leadership during lethal confrontations.

Dragon's Teeth
James A. Hetley
0441014313 $14.00

Stonefort, Maine is an unusual town because of the two prominent families that live there. The female Haskells are witches and The Witch is Alice who lives in the House, a living entity that has rules, changes form and influences the actions of people who live there. The Morgans are selkie shapechangers who possess the magical dragon and gives a tear to those Morgans it deem worthy. The tear is magic in its purest form and allows the Morgans to communicate with each other. When Alice's lover Kate is driving through the woods, she finds a body in a stone circle with its heart cut out, Kate, who doesn't believe in magic even though she used magic to help kill, feels the stones strengthen her. Another corpse in the same condition is found on Ben Morgan's grave even though Ben is alive. He is fascinated by a Peruvian artifact that is dark magic and wants to get a hold on him. Kate is seeing the body of her dead daughter Jackie whose body was never recovered. When someone near and dear to Kate disappears and will be sacrificed Kate must suspend her disbelief, retrieve the artifact and stop the killer. This sequel to DRAGON'S EYE is a magical urban fantasy that combines loyalty, trust, love and acceptance into a plot that is filled with enhancements, dark and white magic and sorcery. The people who populate the town listen to Alice because they know Haskell witches can help them and never will tell because of the Morgan shifter. There is danger in trying magic and love and learns that on a life of their own. James A. Hetley is an extraordinary writer who writes a very original and entertaining story.

Half of a Yellow Sun
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
1400044162 $24.95

In the late 1960s civil war devastates the Igbo people who formed the independent nation of Biafra having broken away from Nigeria. Thirteen year old peasant Ugwu has survived so far even being forcfully conscripted into the shabby Biafran army; currently he works as a houseboy for Professor Odenigbo.At the same time the lad endures life and death, a savage slaughter of the affluent leaves twin sisters Olanna and Kainene without any other family member left alive. Both choose similar paths to safety; the only ones available to young orphaned females. Olanna becomes mistress to Professor Odenigbo, who loathes the Europeans for what their occupation has wrought to his homeland; Kainene, on the other hands, selects British writer Richard, who is writing a book on the civil war impact on the Igbo, as her protector. Ugwu and Kainene form a relationship, but she becomes outraged when he spends a drunken night with her twin, putting all three at risk. Readers will feel and "see" the impact of war on the innocent in this superior historical novel. Using the Biafra civil war of the 1960s as the influence that directly impacts her three prime characters and to a lesser degree the two support players, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie paints a vivid condemnation of war in which peasants below the fray easily become collateral damage and survivability is everything. Readers (except VP Cheney, who would find a connection to 9/11) will appreciate this powerful look at real world surviving.

Nature Girl
Carl Hiaasen
0307262995 $25.95

In Florida, the tourist Jeter Wilson died of a heart attack following a snake bite leaving Everglades airboat owner Sammy Tigertail stuck with disposing the body, which he does in one of the swamps. At about the same time that Sammy struggles with the corpse, Honey Santana is irate with telemarketing realtor pitchman Boyd Shreave, who made ugly obscene sexual comments when she rejected his pitch. Honey decides to get even with Shreave as only she can. She begins a scheme to hurt him in the shorts enlisting her former husband Perry Skinner and her preadolescent son Fry and getting Boyd to come to Dismal Bay in the Everglades. He does with his girlfriend Eugenie Fonda at the same time private investigator Theodore Dealey working for Shreave's wife hopes to catch him with his shorts down. As she implements her plan, Sammy is caught in the middle still trying to get rid of Jeter's pesky spirit. Before anyone can blink all hell has come to the Everglades as these and others run amuck. Less biting satire and more a zany face, Carl Hiaasen provides an amusing slap stick thriller that paints a wild picture of the Everglades in which the two legged animals are the beasts. The story line loosely contains a plot of revenge at it core though myriad of subplots converge because everyone is at the wrong place at the wrong time. The cast is classic comedy with people tripping over one another all because Honey goes berserk when Shreave interrupts her dinner with obscenities; from there it is all down hill as everyone wants to sell but not buy swampland.

Three Strikes and Your Dead
Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain
0451219678 $19.95

Hudson County, New Jersey Family Division Superior Court Judge Jack Duffy and his wife Meg are in Mesa, Arizona to watch their foster son Ty Ramos play shortstop for the Rattlers, the local AA minor league team. Their friend Jessica Fletcher is also in town visiting the Duffys and rooting for Ty. Jessica learns that Ty and the owner's son Junior Bennett have competed for the shortstop position all season. With the championship on the line Ty pinch-hits for Junior. Though he hits the winning homerun, owner Harrison Bennet is irate with manager Buddy Washington. That night as the team celebrated their triumph, Ty and Junior get into a public fight at the dinner. The next day Junior is found dead as someone swung for the fences using his head as a ball. Sheriff Hualga arrests Ty based on circumstantial evidence including his juvenile past on the streets of Jersey City. While the Judge and his wife are in shock, Jessica cannot believe this capable in control young man lost his temper and in a fit of rage killed his rival. She plans to not only prove otherwise, but to uncover the culprit. The latest Murder She Wrote mystery takes the heroine out of New England to Arizona where she becomes embroiled in a local baseball murder case. The story line is fun to follow as a lighthearted cozy that fans of the series will value. Jessica is her usual logical self as she unpeels secrets beyond homicide in her attempt to exonerate Ty. The plot is the usual stuff in this long running series yet remains enjoyable light reading.

When Gods Die
C. S. Harris
0451219686 $23.95

In Brighton in June 1811, the Prince Regent hosts a fete at the Royal Pantheon when he finds the woman he planned to make his mistress dead with a dagger in her back. The Prince falls apart so it is up to LordJarvis to learn what happened. He asks Viscount Sebastian St. Cyr to find out who killed Marchioness Guinevere Anglessey. St. Cry declines until he sees the necklace the victim is wearing. The last time St. Cyr saw the necklace his mother wore it on the day she died at sea. The dagger belongs to Prinny, but Guinevere actually died from arsenic poisoning. Many English believe the Hanover dynasty is tainted with madness and assume the crazy Regent killed his latest whore; some go so far as to believe the country would better off with a Stuart restoration. Civil war seems imminent as St. Cyr considers how Guinevere fit in a highly charged political picture as she didn't dabble in affairs of state only in affairs with heads of state and had no connection to the Stuarts except the necklace. C. S. Harris cleverly uses words to paint vivid colorful pictures of a decadent era symbolized by its hedonist prince and a country divided like a checkerboard in many chaotic ways. The hero is intent on solving the mystery of the necklace perhaps more than the homicide though he knows uncovering the killer might give him clues as to how Guinevere got his mother's death jewelry. The cast brings out the ambience of the era inside a realistic entertaining whodunit.

Queen of Shadows
Edith Felber
045121952X $14.00

At twelve French Princess Isabella marries King Edward II of England. As she matures, she agrees with the assessment of Parliament that her spouse is weak and easily manipulated even by a relatively young female though his preference is male. When Parliament demands the monarch share the throne with the Earl of Winchester, Edward is ready to acquiesce, but Isabella objects. She assumes her homosexually inclined pathetic (at least in her mind) husband is willing to co-rule because he is attracted to the Earl's offspring, Hugh. Tired of her husband's failures, Isabella through her lady-in-waiting Gwenith meets Welshman Baron Owain de Rhys who in turn introduces her to Lord Roger Mortimer held in the London Tower. With the help of Owain and Gwenith, who hates Edward for slaughtering her family, she begins seeing the prisoner for sex and intrigue until she smuggles him out of the Tower and country to France where they complete their plot to overthrow Edward and place her son on the throne by 1326. Edith Felber provides a strong fourteenth century historical fiction tale that is filled with political intrigue but also has a somewhat biographical feel to the novel and a secondary romantic subplot (between the plotters) to anchor the fine story line. Fans of the author, if they recognize that Ms. Felber is historical romance writer Edith Layton will appreciate this well written tale of the QUEEN OF SHADOWS whose son became Edward III.

What Matters Most
Nicole Bokat
0451219481 $12.95

Feeling as if she must have been adopted as everyone else in her family is doctors, Georgia Merkin dreams of becoming an author. Her laid-back attitude and her chosen vocation as a wannabe author upsets her mother who believes women should pursue real professional careers like physicians. However, Georgia suffers two blows to her mental stability. First her beloved dad Adam, who always encouraged her to be what she wanted to be, dies, and her ex-husband's latest girlfriend is moving in with him. Though she does not want anything permanent with her former spouse, she did enjoy occasionally getting together with him. Despondent, she and her mother talk as Estelle grieves too. As they finally find common ground, Estelle reveals secrets to her offspring that could end their relationship just as it seems to finally gel. This is an interesting relationship drama in which the death of the one person who kept the family together leaves the two grieving survivors to choose between finding solace with one another or widen their rift. All three Merkin family members seem genuine though Adam is, through flashbacks, perceived mostly by Georgia. Readers who enjoy an interesting mother and daughter tale will want to learn how Nicole Bokat answers WHAT MATTERS MOST.

The Secret Heiress
Judith Gould
045121966X $23.95

With the death of her father, Nikoletta "Niki" Papadaki takes charge of Papadaki Private Holdings Limited, an international firm with factories all over the world. However, the pampered Niki only cares about the bottom line, which angers environmentalists and other activist groups. One particular extremist faction decides to take matters in their hand by harming perhaps even killing the egomaniac. Company executives are concerned that their image especially that of hedonistic Niki could cause PPHL troubles resulting in financial losses. They decide they need a more responsible person at the helm. They turn to Ariadne, Niki's twin sister, given up for adoption years ago. Though she knows nothing about her biological family or her late sire's firm, Ariadne brings common sense and an appreciation of social and geo-reasonability of a major company. She also begins to fall in love with her bodyguard Matt. The dramatically opposite personalities of the twin sisters make for a fine contemporary romantic thriller though finding a former throw away twin is too simple of a solution and the climax is to neat of a wrap up. The story line is fast-paced as the PPHL board changes leadership hoping that a responsible look alike puppet (Ariadne) will save their reputation that spoiled Niki has devastated with her let them eat cake attitude. THE SECRET HEIRESS is an interesting look at how nurturing shapes the personality.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Caldera Cafe
Amy Christenson and Stephen Mead
Blue Scarab Press
P.O. Box 4966 , Pocatello ID 83225-4966
No ISBN, Chapbook at $3 plus $1 shipping

Blue Scarab Press calls the Pocatello Blend chapbook series "rare beans harvested from this strong writing community." Caldera Cafe is the twenty-third chapbook in the series. Each chapbook features five pages of work each by two southeast Idaho writers. Amy Christenson is an active member of the Caldera Writers Community. Stephen Mead is co-founder of the Caldera Writers Community. Both Cristenson and Mead are regular contributors to the Family Living Magazine section of the Idaho State Journal. Together, they create a rare blend and a fine cup of figurative coffee.

Amy Christenson's poetry is contemplative as she integrates moments of her life into a patchwork of the natural beauty that is Idaho. "I Can't Remember" is one example, a poem I quote in its entirety:

So much touch that we have blurred.
I can't remember you
with clean edges –
crisp for lack of me.
Holding yourself completely in –
defined by quiet boundaries.
Knowing you enough to guess, but not to ask,
an interpretation of your thoughts –
they lie under
spare words
as an aquifer under the August riverbed.

"What I Have Left" is another Christenson poem, about a woman who has never actually left anything, but has been left in ways that spark metaphor and memory:

I've been left in public and in private –
on streets julienned with late winter sun,
in hallways marked by the knee high smudges
from my children's fingers.
Maybe I am still there, in those places.

Stephen Mead's poetry questions and considers life's disappointments. He examines his life, and the lives of others, with a curious spirit. "Stella" is both humorous and poignant:

She has calluses on her smile
from falling in love so much.
I've seen her go for weeks,
sometimes days,
sometimes between meals without falling in love.
But then it always happens.
Suddenly, without warning,
she starts tap dancing in present perfect tense.

She's been like this for several years,
ever since she stopped drinking coffee
and stopped staring out the kitchen window
and stopped reading the letters
that had stopped coming in the Summer of 1998.

Mead's poem "Fast Forward" intrigued me. I read the first verse several times because of its memorable metaphor:

Wondering, aimlessly,
my thoughts hung out to dry
like prayer flags
in the early morning breeze

Each Pocatello Blend chapbook is a unique representation of the featured writers. Like the twenty-two rare blends before it, Caldera Cafe is clear proof that southeast Idaho writers are exceptional. Maybe it's the rarefied mountain air.

Taylor Manse
C.H. Foertmeyer
2021 Pine Lake Road Suite 100 , Lincoln NE 68512
0595410839 $13.95

C.H. Foertmeyer is the author of ten previous books. He favors fictional stories about the unknown, the mysterious, time travel, and the courage of honorable humans. With Taylor Manse he incorporates all these but adds a new, frightening twist: a hair-raising battle between good people and the ultimate Evil.

Wade Robinson is a skilled craftsman who buys, rehabs, and resells houses for a living. In the tiny hamlet of Buffalo Brook, Vermont he finds the ideal fixer-upper, a 19th century Victorian home named Taylor Manse. Several months into the project, Wade is beginning to suspect his wife Anne is "nesting." She's tired of moving from project to project and hopes to settle down in Taylor Manse for good. Two occurrences convince Wade that living at Taylor Manse is not in their best interest. First, locals at his favorite pub share the mansion's dark history: every 25 years on December 27th, gruesome murders and vanishings occur. And second, before Wade has time to investigate the mansion's history, his renovations uncover a trap door to nowhere in the center of the living room floor. At least, he THINKS it goes to nowhere.

The twenty-fifth anniversary of the last gruesome murder is fast approaching. Wade needs to finish rehabbing Taylor Manse so he and Anne can move on before December 27. But strange findings in a crumbling carriage house on the property distract him from the renovation. The impossible and unimaginable threaten his life and Anne's, and even moving thousands of miles across country can't protect them now.

In all his books, Foertmeyer writes about good vs. evil. In Taylor Manse our hero learns that once evil takes hold of a life, it does not let go without a fight. A supernatural, ancient horror stalks them and Wade must be the one to stand against it.

I've read every one of C.H. Foertmeyer's books and thoroughly enjoyed them all. All are imaginative, entertaining, and sometimes scary, but I think Taylor Manse may just be his best so far.

A Paratrooper's Panoramic View
Robert L. Wilson and Philip K. Wilson
1663 Liberty Drive Suite 200 , Bloomington IN 47403
1420854291 $18.49

The subtitle of this fine book hints at the content: Training with the 464th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion for Operation Varsity's "Rhine Jump" with the 17th Airborne Division. Paratrooper Robert L. Wilson lived the experiences in this book. It tells of a pivotal operation during World War II that abruptly ended German-Nazi domination of the European continent. Historically, Operation Varsity was overshadowed by Patton's push across Germany. Wilson and his co-author son give full credit to those courageous ground troops commanded by Patton and Montgomery, but the focus of this book is on the lesser known paratroop action.

In December 1942, Robert L. Wilson joined the Army. Like most young men back then, this Kansas farm boy volunteered to serve, was proud to serve. At that time, Parachute troops were a fledgling group. Paratroopers earned $50 a month hazardous duty pay, effectively doubling monthly pay. When approached to join this elite group. Wilson agreed. The training was rigorous, but young Wilson fully ascribed to the Parachutist's creed, which said in part: "I realize that a parachutist is not merely a soldier who arrives by parachute to fight, but is an elite shocktrooper and that his country expects him to march farther and faster, to fight harder, to be more self- reliant, and to soldier better than any other soldier."

In March 1945, the 464th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion – named Branigan's Bastards – joined several other Paratroop divisions in an unprecedented airborne drop into Germany. No enemy force since Napoleon had effectively crossed the Rhine River but Operation Varsity changed that. The paratroopers had been told to expect a 50% casualty rate because the Germans knew they were coming. Wilson and his mates jumped with 75# of necessities strapped to them, prepared to battle Nazis. That day, 17,122 paratroopers landed en masse to do battle with the Germans for control of their territory. What a sight it must have been for General Eisenhower, Field Marshall Montgomery, and Winston Churchill who looked on from a distance.

Paratroopers and planes faced heavy artillery flak, anti aircraft cannons, and small arms fire. On the ground, under grueling artillery fire, the 464th swiftly assembled Howitzers airdropped with them. They were the first airborne artillery unit to fire a Howitzer east of the Rhine, and surely earned their place in history that day. Meter by meter the Paratroopers and their Howitzers blasted a path through the Germans dug in along the battle's perimeter. Man to man and hand to hand, for one full day then two, paratroopers who survived hacked their way through the German lines. The paratroopers had been advised to take no prisoners, but hesitated to kill first hundreds, then thousands of surrendering German troops. Instead, they utilized German prisoners to pull cannons and dig foxholes. This continued until all fighting ceased and thousands of Nazi soldiers lay face down at their feet in a posture of surrender.

Robert L. Wilson's first hand report of his training stateside and in France, culminating with the Rhineland battle, is a fascinating story. This is a precious history of unsung American heroes from an aging generation of warriors. High school students and young Americans need to read this book. What truly magnificent men these were! I highly recommend A Paratrooper's Panoramic View to mature readers of all ages.

The Hidden Assassins
Robert Wilson
Harcourt, Inc.
15 East 26th Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10010
0151012393 $25.00

Robert Wilson is a best selling author whose work is a pleasure to read because he is both wordsmith and consummate story teller. His characters are multi-layered and intriguing, the plot richly detailed and smartly developed. Critics who dub Wilson "master of literary fiction" did not exaggerate.

Spanish Detective Inspector Javier Falcon is a quiet protagonist accustomed to his solitary life. When a mutilated male corpse is discovered, followed swiftly by an explosion that rocks Seville, the clues lead Falcon to believe these two incidents are connected. Falcon is a man who trusts in logic, who investigates each case systematically. This time, the truth is buried under so many layers of illogical trivia he may never find it. The two cases combined become a religious, political, social, cultural, economic and forensic nightmare. The bombing is immediately attributed to Islamic terrorists, but tangled threads of the investigation point to a much larger conspiracy. Falcon begins his investigation with what he knows for sure: a man has been ritualistically murdered by person or persons unknown; a bomb has destroyed a mosque in the basement of low income housing, near a day care center, killing innocent people. He and fellow investigators trace leads to illegal immigrants, committed radicals, ruthless Christians, treacherous politicos, and hapless dupes. He fears the Seville bombing is a decoy to lead his investigation away from larger targets.

Into this main plot line, side stories are brilliantly intertwined. Falcon's ex-wife Ines is married to a powerful judge overseeing the investigation. Her husband is not the suave, accomplished man he seems on the surface. An ex-lover, Consuelo, nearly loses herself to dark explorations. Poor man Fernando Alanis becomes a media darling with friends in high places after losing almost everyone and everything. Every subplot, however, leads readers back to Falcon and his investigations.

Thanks to Robert Wilson's intelligent, precise writing style, The Hidden Assassins goes far beyond genre fiction. Readers must think, process the information, and follow leads along with Falcon. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

Remembering the Truth
Janice Krasselt Tatter
Temenos Publishing Company
303 Rice Street, Little Rock AR 72205
0978564812 $12.95

With this exceptional poetry by Ms. Tatter and beautiful cover art by Mitchell Crisp Patterson, Temenos Publishing launches books by Arkansas writers, illustrated by Arkansas artists. Temenos is a division of A Way With Words Writing Workshops in Little Rock. Remembering the Truth is Ms. Tatter's debut book.

Ms. Tatter spares herself nothing and crafts her words with knife-edge honesty. Whether remembering family rituals or the emptiness of a childless marriage, raw emotions emerge to touch and tantalize readers. In "The Day Lulls in Anesthesia" for example, Ms. Tatter relives the days she suffered migraines.

…I see yellow lights change to white knives
like a murderer piercing everything in his sight,
the eye, the brain, the flesh
in rhythms of flashing neon lights,
skin clammy, hands shaking, face pale
as winter, the clock movements
too slow or too fast like a bad dream…

Black onyx is the stone of discord. In the poem titled "Black Onyx," the poet remembers her husband before their divorce:

My husband smoked cigars
and there were always words
like his curls of smoke whiffling
between us hinting disaster….

"Bruises" is a haunting poem that quietly details fear and pain, past and present with chilling effect:

The first time his thin hands groped
for her throat, his eyes narrowed
like dried vines and she remembered
the rustle of sheets
quietened with the dampness
their bodies created. The second time
she remembered her mother
mute when Father ran away that summer
when moonvine choked itself and smoldered
on the trellis.

Ms. Tatter's work is shattering in its honesty and intensity. Her poetry is appealing and memorable, infused with "orgasmic anger / in ghostly echoes." If Janice Krasselt Tatter is an example of what readers can expect from Temenos Publishing, then I can hardly wait for future releases.

Crossing Nebraska
James Hobbs
Bellowing Ark Press
P.O. Box 55564, Shoreline WA 98155
9780944920541 $12.00

James Hobbs is a native of York, Nebraska, now living and working in Colorado. His writings are inspired by Frost, Stuart, Ginsberg, Steinbeck, and of course, Willa Cather. Like Cather before him, Hobbs understands that humans are "a part of something bigger…" That something bigger is Nebraska, a place of open spaces where "...the land seems to stretch and breathe," a land Hobbs reveres in heart and spirit. That reverence for Nebraska is gloriously memorialized through poetry and prose in his debut book.

Nebraska weather has often been the butt of jokes from folks in other places. Hobbs sees changing seasons in the Great Plains with loving eyes. In "A Son of the Great Plains," for example, he shares the fall season as it has been in the plains for millennia:

I am from quiet October, Indian summer and
the blood-red harvest moon.

With humor typical of native plains dwellers, he remembers Nebraska winds in "Crossing Nebraska Summer 2004:" wife remarked that the wind was bending
some tree tops almost to the ground, and I told
her about the old folktale about how "the wind
stopped blowing in Nebraska one day, and all
the chickens fell over..."

Yes, the wind blows through every season in Nebraska, carrying with it the ghosts of ancestors, native people, and bird migrations that have not changed for thousands of years. "March Across Nebraska 2002" is best read and contemplated in its entirety. I quote one excerpt here:

There is always the fearsome wind blowing
the russet prairie dust, like flecks of blood,
to grind into your cold, draping clothes
as you stand under March skies filled with the
overhead cries of cranes circling, getting ready
to land as they have done for centuries and centuries
coming home for a stay along the Platte River…
and if you drop your gaze from under these early
Spring, snow skies, you can follow the slanted
sunset light against the river bank, the water blue
in the channel and the river bushes burning gold…

In ancient times, Nebraska was an inland sea. Seas of waving grasses replaced broad waters, but memories of primordial tides linger in the earth. This excerpt from "Merciful Lord of Poetry" is a stunning reminder of Nebraska's cumulative past and present:

I feel these sounds, the rhythms, the recurring breakers of the sea,
the waving fields of wheat, the pull of emotions, and I believe this
is what vibrates in me as I bend to the sounds that come to me –
whether they hallow or haunt me, they elevate my soul, just like
the wind of a thunderstorm beats down a tree, then releases it like
a tuning fork with a shudder of flying pellets of fierce rain…

Nebraska is a land of river highways, carrying native tribes, early European explorers, and finally settlers in search of freedom. What stories the Platte River could tell as it meanders slowly and peacefully across this land of flat waters. Hobbs memorializes the Platte in "Another River Bend:"

......When you've seen it, you can
taste the Platte – you know that river, its mark and
look...and it's a recurring picture of that ox-bow
in winter, shallow snow and ice-clog heap, and
you know that river in spring, the water rushing
lush green in the channels and the chestnut
sandbars shining like loaves of fresh baked bread –
and you know that river that is ever there...

James Hobbs' writing here is personal, powerful, and profound. Crossing Nebraska is a stunning paean to home, family, friends, love, loss, and a state outsiders imagine being flat and featureless. Hobbs' intimate recollections of his home state are beautiful, and highly recommended.

To Skin a Cat
John Robinson
River Oak Imprint
Cook Communications Ministries
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
1589190769 $13.95

Whoever said this book is "super suspense rivaling any secular novel" understated its impact and appeal by a country mile. Without reservations, I declare Joe Box to be one of the most appealing protagonists ever created. He's the quintessential Christian hero of our modern time – struggling but strong when the chips are down, rough-edged and the product of a hard life but determined to walk in faith. Joe's grandma didn't raise a weakling. Yes, he's tough and hard to bluff, but Joe Box is also devoted to his fiancee Angela and his old cat Noodles. Beneath his battered persona lives a loving heart and courageous spirit. There's nothing this transplanted Kentucky gentleman hates worse than evil. And he's prepared to fight it with every weapon in his arsenal – the grace of God, a .38 Smith and Wesson, fists, prayer, and a sling shot if need be. With steel in his eyes and a prayer on his lips, Joe wades in this time to fight what he considers to be one of life's ultimate evils.

When a representative of Cyrus Alan Tate – better known as CAT – tries to hire Joe Box Investigations, Joe declines. Tate has built an empire of pornography and Joe wants no part of it. Billy Barnicke, a competitor, accepts the job and turns up dead. Against his better judgment, Joe investigates. Tate's latest project is PornUtopia, a five story building without windows, perched on the edge of a small Ohio town. Sunnyvale seems pleasant enough on the surface with a small town look and feel. A tingle at the base of his spine warns Joe early on that he's in for a battle. Posing as a janitor, Joe gets hired on at PornUtopia, planning to uncover Barnicke's killers. What he finds is horrifying beyond imagination. Tate has taken porn to a new level, providing virtual reality porn of every kind. Worse, he runs a sex slave operation to a shadowy world that will pay any price for children. Will a Christian man with guts and God on his side be enough to bring down Tate's sordid empire? You'll have to read the book to find out.

John Robinson could easily write secular mystery-action novels with the best writers around. He's that good. Instead, he chooses to champion an everyday hero, a flawed Christian man who does his best to walk the walk in difficult situations. Joe Box is an exceptional character because he could be any one of a million good men who do the right thing every day without fanfare. This book should appeal to male or female readers, Christians and non-Christian adults. It has my highest recommendation.

Shadows on the Wall
Ed Galing
The Poetry Collection
3435 Mill Road, Hatboro PA 19040
no ISBN $5 chapbook, 17 pages

I'm always happy when a chapbook from Ed Galing shows up in my mailbox. Mr. Galing is the official poet laureate of Hatboro PA and that honor is well deserved. At the age of 89, he's experienced joys and sorrows beyond the younger generation's imagination and shares these sights and sounds through poetry. Whether thinking back fondly on a marriage that lasted 68 years, or remembering his first view of Dachau during World War 2, Ed Galing's words strike a chord with this reviewer.

"Play it Again, Sam" memorializes the poet's love of music. This excerpt makes his passion clear:

between the poetry
there is the harmonica,
i carry it everywhere,
in my pocket it nestles
ready to stab the air
with notes taken from life,
tunes picked up on the
radio, or in my dreams.

"Implosion on a Sunday Morn" reveals Galing's thoughts so clearly that I could not bring myself to quote it in anything less than its entirety:

They stand
tall and empty
in the morning fog.
Four hi-rises,
shells of the past,
now will come down.
Dynamite expertly placed
will do the job,
a one-second jolt in time,
erasing memories.
Some who lived there
watch with tears,
not of joy,
but sadness,
as the tumbling
produces clouds of dust, erasing
as if they
never were.

In "Day Care" the poet reports what he sees every day at the adult day care center. This poem, even in excerpt, is powerful in its simplicity:

…the cadre in charge
run here and there,
catering to the desires,
playing childish memory
games, to
remind them of a past
life of another time,
long forgotten in the
struggle of life.

Ed Galing casts revealing light on times from the past that must be remembered. He also shares his vision of the present with humor and hope. This poet laureate of Hatboro PA deserves a wider recognition. I hope he finds it.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Mary's Bookshelf

The Dark Side of The Moon
Varujan Ughurlyan
VA-Vision, Inc.
12439 Magnolia Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA 91607
9994101471 $45.00

Edited by Marion Burns, "The Dark Side of The Moon" is a showcase compilation of poetry, prose, and art by Varujan Ughurlyan, documenting the impressive imagination, verbal skills, and artistic talents of a remarkable poet/artist. This enthusiastically recommended 313-page, coffee-table art and poetry book documents Varujan has a remarkably unique and versatile talent. 'The Pole': Beyond the rules of time and space,/In a vague, unconscious span,/Where substance,/Space and time/Merge into One/By th ecosmic law of love./Lived the Word.//The Word was crucified,/And bore alone/the burden of Truth...

The Making Of A Baltimore Album Quilt
Frances Benton
River City Publishing
1719 Mulberry Street, Montgomery, AL 36106
1881320456 $16.95 877-408-7078

Written by Frances Benton, The Making Of A Baltimore Album Quilt is not a "how-to" book, but rather a celebration of a quiltmaking master's finest work. The Making Of A Baltimore Album Quilt consists of compiled letters of expert quilter Frances Benton, written during the year and a half that she dedicated to creating the twenty-five blocks of the Baltimore Album quilt despite her own severe physical pain, alongside full-color photographs of each of the quilt's blocks. The finished quilt celebrates life with the colorful symbols of flowers and birds, exquisitely handmade and balanced. A message of passion for the craft, from the "Everyquilter" to all quilters, The Making Of A Baltimore Album Quilt is especially recommended as a giftbook for quilting enthusiasts.

A Collection Of Recipes From The Best Cooks In The Midwest
Nellie Ogan
Privately Published
1201 West 19th Street, Apt. 115C, Higginsville, MO 64037

A rare find for any dedicated cookbook collector, "A Collection Of Recipes From The Best Cooks In The Midwest" is a spiral bound compilation of delicious and 'kitchen cook friendly' recipes Nellie Ogan has recruited from cooks around the American Midwest. There are recipes for beverages ranging for a 'Pink Lady', a 'Perfect Eggnog', 'Mulled Cider', 'Punch', 'Russian Tea', and an 'Irish Cream' that alone would make this cookbook a prized addition to any cookbook shelf. Add the recipes for Candy, Cookies, Pies, Cakes, Ice Cream, Quick Breads, Yeast Breads, Salads, Desserts, Vegetables, Meats, Pickles, and a section of miscellaneous recipes called 'This-N-That' ranging from a 'Part Mix', to 'Swiss Cheese Eggs', to 'Finger Paint', and more, then what you have is a splendid 'home-made' cookbook that will quickly become a favorite for family meals and holiday dining.

Desert To Dream
Barbara Traub
Immedium, Inc.
PO Box 31846, San Francisco, CA 94131
1597020036 $29.95

A resident of San Francisco, Barbara Traub is a photographer and multimedia artist whose work has been exhibited at venues ranging from the San Francisco Arts Commission, to Cooper Union in New York, to the Museum of Neon Art in Los Angeles, to the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute, and so many other distinguished places around the world. In "Desert to Dream: A Decade of Burning man Photography", Barbara Traub has compiled a collection that represents and presents a photographic record of a decade of Burning Man celebrations at the Black Rock Arts Festival held annual in the dry alkali flats of northwest Nevada's Black Rock Desert which runs for about a week and culminates over the Labor Day weekend. From the infancy of the pop-culture art fair to its present universal status for artists from around the world, "Desert To Dream" pictorially lays out the entire history of this unique event with more than 150 color and b/w captioned photographs – and would make a welcome addition to personal, professional, and academic library Photographic Studies collection.

Cinderella and the Death Quota
Winfred Hamner Ph.D.
Tagacious Press
111 Grafton Avenue, #503, Dayton, OH 45406
0976903709 $39.95 937-222-2108

Written by Vietnam veteran Winfred Hamner Ph. D, Cinderella and the Death Quota is a sober examination of humankind's "death-centered" existence - the preoccupation with denying mortality, and the popularly held variants of the "death quota" myth, that death will not strike oneself down if another dies in one's place. Delving into fairy tales, parables, and creation myths to explore humanity's obsession with death and inability to grasp the meaning of nonexistence, Cinderella and the Death Quota goes a step beyond abstract conceptualizing to reveal the harm that such death-centered thinking can bring: a death quota obsession fuels violent behavior facilitating or perpetrating bringing death to others for the sake of exempting the self from the fictitious quota. A serious-minded treatise written to help the reader better focus his or her life on positive goals rather than morbid obsessions, as surely as it is a dissertation of philosophical perspective, Cinderella and the Death Quota is highly recommended.

Mary Cowper

Paul's Bookshelf

Afloat Again, Adrift
Andrew Keith
Aliform Publishing
117 Warwick Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414
0970765282 $15.95

Avid outdoorsman Andrew Keith presents Afloat Again, Adrift: Three Voyages on the Waters of North America, a travelogue of three of his canoeing trips: one down the Mississippi River; one through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to Hudson Bay; and one through the Great Lakes to the St. Lawrence Seaway. A reflection of solitude and the joy of experiencing the wilderness and the sight of animals ranging from common game to wolves and polar bears, Afloat Again, Adrift embraces the explorer's spirit. Especially recommended for armchair travelers due to the vivid and thoughtful descriptions.

Miss Alice Merriwether's Long Lost Cakes & Further Inducements to Wonder
Barry Aitchison
Velluminous Press
Llwyngwyn/The Old Post Office Penybanc, Llandeilo SA19 7SU, Carmarthenshire, Wales, UK
1905605056 $10.49

Written by Barry Aitchison, Miss Alice Merriwether's Long Lost Cakes & Further Inducements to Wonder is a most unusual and fantastic novel about a small, close-knit American town, the inhabitants of which are about to have their lives transformed forever. No one in the town can remember when Quentin Coriander first arrived, and he is not one to engage in excessive conversation. Yet while no one pays much attention to Quentin, he is always watching them - aware of not only their troubles and misfortunes, but also of possibilities beyond the townspeople's comprehension. When inexplicable events begin to occur, and troubled townspeople disappear, some accuse Quentin of murder; only a few suspect the truth might not be that simple. A captivating mystery with equal moments of serious contemplation and lighthearted fun.

Voyage of the Prairie Falcon
Ralph W. Kiesling
Publish America
PO Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705
1413798691 $21.95 301-631-9073

Written by Navy serviceman and World War II veteran Ralph W. Kiesling, Voyage of the Prairie Falcon is a science fiction novel in which protagonists fleeing the hostile "Family" must escape into the emptiness of space. They befriend aliens, accidentally crash landing on their new allies' home planet; together they work to protect and aid the mysterious yet imperiled culture, and learn of an ancient lost city. A saga of adventure, discovery, courage, and unknown challenges, Voyage of the Prairie Falcon presents new suprises with every chapter and is a welcome addition to science fiction collections and reading lists.

Yesterday's Falcon
Tim Newman
Brighid's Fire Books
PO Box 41, Sidney, NY 13838
0971327831 $19.95 607-428-0521

Written by Tim Newman, "Yesterday's Falcon" is a high fantasy epic set during the era of Camelot. When the valiant knight Gawain succumbs in his quest against enemies of Camelot, the young druid Rhiannon, still mourning the loss of her husband, takes him in. Together they must find the Terran Stone, a relic of the vanished Far Druids. Their difficult tests their faith in each other, yet their quest is critical to rekindling hope for a menaced and dying world. A richly detailed saga of medieval heroes and villains, "Yesterday's Falcon" is entertaining and recommended reading for action/adventure fantasy enthusiasts.

Windmaster's Bane
Tom Deitz
Ingalls Publishing Group Inc.
197 New Market Center, #135, Boone, NC 28607
1932158723 $17.95 828-297-7127

Originally published in 1986, Windmaster's Bane is a beloved fantasy novel for all ages, now updated and lightly rewritten by author Tom Deitz in a new collector's edition. When a chance occurence gifts an ordinary teenaged boy with the Second Sight, he learns that the world of Faerie - one that he knew only through Irish myths - is dangerously real. When his brother is stolen and his beloved uncle is struck down by faerie magic, he and his two closest friends must band together in a quest to save lives. A wondrous high fantasy adventure, filled cover to cover with magical charm and challenges.

The Hiveborn
Paul Collins
Bohemian Ink Publishing
PO Box 627, Andover, KS 67002-0627
0972605185 $24.95

The third installment of Australian author Paul Collins' "The Earthborn Wars" series, The Hiveborn is an exciting science-fiction adventure. In a post-nuclear disaster Earth, human factions hunt one another. One survivor of two worlds - raised as a Skyborn, befriended by an Earthborn militia, only to later discover that his Skyborn existence was saturated in lies and deceit, an outcast Welkin Quinn and his confederates, called "the family", are caught in the midst of a new threat from the stars. The Hiveborn, an alien race controlled by the unifying force of the Hivemind, seeks to crush not only human autonomy but that of all life in the universe. A terrible war for survival threatens "the family" as surely as the human factions that have tried to exterminate it, in this exciting and fast-paced saga of conflict. Also highly recommended are the previous two volumes of "The Earthborn Wars" series, "The Earthborn" and "The Skyborn."

Paul T. Vogel

Shelley's Bookshelf

The North Shore
Gunnard Landers
North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.
PO Box 451, St. Cloud, MN 56302
0878392254 $14.95

Gunnard Landers is a resident of Altoona, Wisconsin, and has written a series of novels about game wardens. His prior books include: THE DEER KILLER, THE VIOLATORS, THE HUNTING SHACK, and PIONEER VIGILANTE: THE LEGEND OF JOHN DIETZ. His story of John Dietz is interesting, because John Dietz stood alone against the lumber barons who razed the forests of Wisconsin. Landers writes of heroes who are rebels, who love nature, and who rail against big business and the law.

Favor Martin is an ex-cop from Minneapolis, originally from the Iron Range of Minnesota. After his partner is killed and Favor disfigured by a bullet to the face, his wife leaves him and he settles on the gorgeous North Shore of Minnesota. Favor has developed friendships, but blood is thicker than water. When the 20 year old skull of a young woman is found, it is Favor's job and his quest to find the murderer or murderers. Little does he know that every connection he has painstakingly developed over the past six years will be endangered as the people he loves are running scared:

"Irina drove fast, seventy miles per hour down to County Highway Three and then back up away from the lake. Grant and France had purchased a small, gray ranch set on five rocky acres of red clay that was covered with thickets of aspen, birch, and ash. France, tomahawk in hand, met her at the door. She wore blue-flowered pajamas and a worn blue bathrobe. Her hair was dull, uncombed. Her eyes were large, and she silently handed the tomahawk to her mother. The simple act, like a child giving his parents a wounded bird, seemed to relieve her of all responsibility."

Landers pulls no punches in his writing, which flows as beautifully as Lake Superior. His characters are so real that the reader feels like they are in the room, and the plot runs around in a complex labyrinth. His tone is plodding and mystifying, and his knowledge of human nature is uncanny. THE NORTH SHORE is a whodunit in which the end is as complex and tantalizing as the first chapter. Landers knows how to entertain, and he also knows how to shake up his reader. This is a beautiful and haunting tale.

The Scout Master
Luisa Buehler
Echelon Press
9735 Country Meadows Lane 1-D, Laurel, MD 20723
1590804759 $14.99

Luisa Scala Buehler originally hailed from the Chicago suburb of Berkeley, Illinois, on Victoria Street. She was a Nancy Drew and animal aficionado and spent time in both the public libraries and Brookfield Zoo as a Docent. She wrote for the Proviso West High newspaper in Hillsdale, IL, but had problems with deadlines. She's been involved with her son Christopher's Cub Scout pack and continued with scouting, even as her writing finally took off. Her first book is entitled: THE ROSARY BRIDE.

Grace Marsden is a female Monk. She has violet eyes like Elizabeth Taylor; a handsome and devoted ex-spy husband named Harry, and oodles of loving family members and friends to watch over her when her mind fragments, which often happens. When a crate is found in the spooky Robinson Woods with "Property of the United States Army" stenciled at the side, many people immediately take interest. The box contains the bones of a dead cat and various other trinkets, bringing to mind visions of Satan worshipers who at times inhabit the woods. But when Grace is attacked after taking her nephews into the woods and two bodies are found in an old hole, Grace's husband, Harry Marsden has his hands full indeed looking after his wife:

"I heard them before I saw them. I started to rise and the strangest thing happened. It was as if an occult hand held my shoulder for the briefest of moments. Then the pressure lifted. In those moments, I realized the noise I heard came from the wrong direction. I stayed still, thankful for my woods-colored clothing and dark hair. Thank God I'd silenced the metal detector. I still had a problem; they were on the path behind me coming straight at me."

Luisa Buehler weaves a fascinating tale, full of men who haven't forgotten the chivalrous ways and the power of family; with a dark narrative that constantly takes the readers through a woods which is probably haunted with the ghosts of past wrongs; strange chantings; and holes full of the bones of ghosts that appear before Grace's brilliant but tortured mind. Her characters crackle with life and love; and the nasty guys brim with evil and malice. THE SCOUT MASTER is hard to put down once started, and the reader will find themselves up until the wee hours pouring through Grace Marsdens' adventures. A wonderful read!

Snow Angels
Jane Whitney-Clark
P.O. Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705

Jane Whitney-Clark hails from northwestern Ohio's farmlands. She graduated from college in Cincinnati and launched a management career with the state. Her writing features picturesque regional features of Ohio to add to the charm of her tale. Reilly Cross is a librarian at Elijah County Library, but the death of her beloved Aunt Penn has produced an unbearable pain and sense of loneliness in her quiet life. Aunt Penn specified in her will that Reilly should join her spoiled sisters at Stoneyhill Inn in Grandville, Ohio for a week in which there might be a "sit down" talk to mend fences. Reilly meets up with an old flame, whose ardent attentions seem forced and out of place. She and her sisters agree to look into the death of a young, beautiful nun who died mysteriously, and Reilly meets up with the man of her dreams. Strange lights and chance meetings with what might be ghosts light up this whimsical tale of romance and intrigue:

"I soon lost track of how long I actually sat there, emptying my soul at he feet of the statue, and my face was still in my hands when I heard a young woman's voice at my elbow. I turned just enough to see that it was a nun; pretty and Hispanic-looking, in the long black veils and robes of the Sacred Blood order. I quickly turned away again and swiped at my eyes, embarrassed that she had caught me like this. 'You miss her terribly, don't you?' she asked softly. I nodded. In my sadness, I must have called out Aunt Penn's name."

Whitney-Clark uses a combination of love; mystery; family rivalries; and gentle ghosts to whip up a tale that is intriguing, entertaining, and as compelling as any London fog or Egyptian mystery. Whitney-Clark pays attention to the names of her characters: Reilly's soul mate is Mace Calder; her spoiled sisters' names are Bree Ann and Margie. The use of horses and an old nunnery give the perfect backdrop for a mystery with a beautiful and tragic victim without a family to help her. Whitney-Clark's writing is as spot-on as her understanding of her complex characters. She uses constant action to keep the reader engrossed in this most excellent mystery. SNOW ANGELS is a haunting and beautiful story that seems effortless in its entirety. An astonishing read!

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Erik Rees
5300 Patterson SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
031027009X $19.99

I am going to tell you right off the bat that if you are a Christian you simply must have this book. I don't care if you have been in the ministry for years this book and the information it contains will surely bless you. Erik Ress, author, takes you on a journey with your Spiritual walk to help you reach the height that the Lord wants you on.

Are you searching for your purpose in God on this earth? Do you already know your purpose but wish to sharpen your skills? This book is for you. In this work our author helps us to define what is important to us and why. He helps us to see what gifts are working in our lives, how our personality supports those gifts and helps us understand that they are God given. He shows us pit-falls, explains how we can get off into trying to walk in something God has not called us to walk in and does it all in an easy to understand, down-right fun manner that you will have no problem in understanding and you will actually enjoy learning.

In this work you will truly realize how important you are to God and His plan on earth and the part that you play. You will learn how to use your God-given talents, gifts and abilities to the fullest which is the heart-desire of all true Christians. I absolutely loved this book and I have shared the information with many people that I have ministered to since reading it. I recommend to all of them to get their own copy, read it and apply what they learn and I recommend the same to you. It is an interactive book that will bring you higher in your Spiritual walk and cause you to be more productive in the Kingdom of God. It just doesn't get any better than that. Thank you Pastor Rees, well done and much appreciated! This book is truly kissed by God.

Me & You Too Catalyst
Bob Harvey
Synergy Books
2100 Kramer Lane, Ste.300, Austin, Texas 78758
1933538384 $21.95

I must admit when I received the specs on this book for review I had no idea what the following statement was about and I quote, "Catalyst" breaks new ground in illustrative storytelling as the first novel produced in the Kaleidoscript (TM) layout. With various colored and patterned backgrounds on each page." Needless to say I was intrigued and simply had to know more.
Upon receiving this book I was captivated as I opened it up and scanned each page. Greeting me were words written in white, black, some red and yellow on backgrounds that caught my attention and often with different fonts. Such a treat! But this was just the beginning for within this book was one whooper of a read.

Our story begins when a mysterious fire erupts in a town home complex. Here we meet for the first time a cat named, "Me Too," who is instrumental in saving lives. More amazing than that, it seems he has an agenda that to me was boarding the supernatural in these people's lives. As the story unfolds after the fire, many of the now homeless people whose lives were touched by Me Too in one way or another befriend each other .We have an archaeology Ph.D, an ex-boxer and his deformed wife, a deaf Marine nurse, a TV reporter and Justin Eagleton who will become head the group as their destiny unfolds. Wondering where they will now live the idea comes to them to buy the property and create the first Eco-co-housing-Homestead where no one may live without a pet. This would be a place where nature, animals and humans may live in harmony. Sounds like a great idea but as you will see there was a sinister plan behind the fire that took their homes and their idea of buying the property was not going to set well with the ones behind this illegal scheme. The plot thickens.

The story takes you into each of their personal lives, the problems and victories of their project and twists around the mystery behind the initial fire . We have action, suspense, romance, supernatural, humor and even some knowledge of living in harmony will be achieved in this book. What a read! Just the layout itself of this book was an adventure and top it off with one outstanding storyline and you have a book beyond excellent. I can highly recommend this work both for the visual and for the outstanding story. This is one you do not want to miss.

Journey Out of Darkness
Jean Darby
Synergy Books
2100 Kramer Lane, Suite 300, Austin, TX 78758
1933538414 $14.95

Cassandra' grandmother taught her many things, one of those was how to be a witch and Cassandra learned her lessons well. Taken and left by a man, she gave birth to triplets, one died and two little innocent girls who she named Rita and Maureen began a life that few children have had to live. Where other mother's would show love, Cassandra showed hate, where others would cuddle, she would beat, where others would teach the love and care of animals; she would allow them to love and then destroy the thing they did love. Cassandra was truly evil using the powers she had learned to call upon to destroy lives around her. Pain and evil brought her pleasure and more power and hurting her children gave her ecstasy. We are taken through years of abuse and sorrow as these young girls become teens and their lives begin to change. Through these years another power seemed to be lurking and calling to Rita and although it would take her years to find this power, who is the true God, she would find Him and hopefully bring her sister to His saving grace.

Author Jean Darby does an outstanding job in her novel in showing you the supernatural power that witches call upon to achieve their goals. She shows the manipulation that is used, the lying, cheating and deception that is common place among those who call the Dark One lord. This novel was chilling and intense, and unfortunately although fiction brought to light many of the horrors that some children must endure that few of us ever see. I enjoyed this read; the only drawback I had was the years that went by when Rita was with Christians who never told her the good news, even the woman who became her Godly mother. I know it is a work of fiction and that was the storyline, but I would have liked to see Rita being witnessed to or taken to church by these people at least once or twice, even if she rejected it. However, this fact does not take away from the storyline and all in all this is one dramatic read that will keep you turning the pages from beginning to end.

His Dark Kiss
Eve Silver
Kensington Publishing Corp
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022
0821779672 $4.99

In this outstanding novel we meet Emma Parrish, a strong yet tender woman who is offered a job as governess at Manorbrier caring for Lord Craven's son, Nicolas. What was she leaving behind? Two aunts that merely saw her as a burden and used her as a slave, to her this was a dream come true; or was it to become a nightmare. The opening of this novel is dark and creepy, good job Ms. Silver, get the blood going and the mind geared to continue on in expectation.

Emma meets her boss and her young charge and knows instantly that things are not as they seem in this household, even the servants are mysterious, and as for Lord Craven she is confused, as one moment she sees him as tender, caring, the next he is someone Emma does not understand. What is driving him? Rumor has it that he killed his wife and Emma struggles within herself as her emotions draw her closer to him as a man despite her best efforts that it not be so.

Could she be falling in love with a murderer? Let me tell you this is one dark castle mystery read that you don't want to miss. Our author brings her characters to life by drawing upon their emotions and flashing them before you, giving you just enough of their inward thoughts to keep you wondering just what is going on within them and who is hiding a secret that may well be deadly. I have to say I was totally taken by surprise at the twist in this storyline, finding out who was behind the mysterious happenings, deaths and other chilling events that were woven into this read shocked me; I honestly did not expect the final outcome. What a ride! What a read! You have mystery, romance and adventure that lends itself to a great mix, you do not want to miss this one.

Married In Metropolis
Lonnie Cruse
NaDaC Publishing
P.O. Box 24, Metropolis, IL 62960
0978588029 $12.95

If you follow any of my reviews you would have to know that I think Lonnie Cruse is one top-notch mystery writer and I absolutely love her series on the life and happenings of Sheriff Joe Dalton. I was thrilled to be able to review her new book in this series, "Murder In Metropolis."
Joe's son is getting married and you would think this event would be wonderful, happy and full of exciting memories, not so. Who would have ever thought that the brides mother, not a very likeable person, would end up face down in the river even before the reception begins. Now that's a bummer and a real turn-off for any wedding party, won't you think? How in the world is our beloved Sheriff Joe Dalton going to minister to his new daughter-in-law, her family and his son, who of course are all suspects, plus lead the investigation? Besides all of this, Joe is stressed at home with his nosy and pushy mother-in-law as a house-guest. How much can a man take? As the investigation moves along more deaths occur within his new daughter-in-laws family and suspicion rises on all sides. How will Joe ever untangle this mystery?Are you interested yet? Well, you should be because this is one roller-coaster, high flying ride of a mystery.

I believe I enjoy Ms. Cruse's writing so well for the simple fact that her characters are down-to-earth and realistic. It is no problem identifying with them and being caught up in the middle of the action, that's great and makes for reading ecstasy . Yes, we always have a murder but they are never simple but always packed full of twists that keep your mind racing around trying to figure out 'who done it,' and usually coming up totally shocked by the answer; and the great part is our author always brings in the human element and that makes for a realistic read. I'll tell you the truth, our author does a bang-up job in everyone of her books and this one is no different. If you love mysteries that have heart, endearing characters that you quickly identify with, turns and twists that keep you guessing and a satisfying ending you will love this book and this series. I give it my highest recommendation and applaud author Lonnie Cruse for yet another gold star work. Well done, and just when will the next book be out? I'll be waiting.

The Man Who Was Hanged Twice
Bill Monday
Taylors Ridge Publishing
PO Box 743, Armurchee, GA 30105
097593094X $19.95

As we begin this read we meet Sam Rayburn, a returning soldier of the Civil War now ended, who is beginning a mission of his own that will change his life forever. Sam has made two promises that must be kept. One is to find out who killed his parents and bring them to justice and the other is to visit the family of his fallen comrade of war, neither is an easy task. We soon learn that although the war has left some scars in Sam's heart his honor, faith and commitment to friends and family has never wavered; I immediately liked Sam Rayburn.

Stopping first in Cedartown, Ga where the Indian family of Tommy Longbow, his fallen comrade live, Sam meets and falls in love with the lovely lady of the local boarding house, Mary. The problem however is this, does Sam dare to allow this love to bloom when the promises he has made simply must be kept, promises that may well involve him killing those responsible for stealing the lives of his beloved parents. And to complicate matters more, when Mary knows the truth of his past, that Sam Rayburn is really Mark Campbell and the plans for his future, will her love for him be strong enough to last? Unbeknown to Sam, Mary also carries some secrets that she harbors in her own heart and too questions will Sam still want her when he knows about her past. The plot thickens as the author develops layer upon layer of suspense, drama, love and mystery; I loved it.

In this read you will find all the elements needed to keep you glued to the pages. You relive some of the ravages of war, taste the tenderness of love and experience the pride of loyalty and commitment to keeping ones word to another. You find yourself cheering for the good, hating the evil and you will even experience some supernatural intervention along the way as you travel the journey of Mark Campbell. The characters are alive, their personalities screaming at you from the pages and merging you into the very essence of their lives. Great character development for sure, but there is more, the author brings into play animals and elements of nature that have a strong bearing upon the storyline and in my humble opinion this brings cutting edge writing to a pinnacle and that sets Mr. Monday's work above the rest.

Let me say this, keep your eye on author Bill Monday, I have had the honor of reading and reviewing several of his books and I have never once been disappointed. He is one author that is definitely going places with his talent. Again, well done Mr. Monday, well done!

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

The Medical School Interview
Jeremiah Fleenor MD, MBA
Shift 4 Publishing
PO Box 18916, Denver, CO 80218
0977955907 $19.95 www.shift4publishing

Written by Jeremiah Fleenor, MD, MBA (a member of the Health Care Careers Committee at the University of Colorado at Denver), The Medical School Interview: Secrets and a System for Success is a no-nonsense, "how-to" prep guide for the number one factor and challenge for admission into medical school - the interview evaluation. The Medical School Interview teaches aspiring students how to put a positive spin on answers to common questions, offering numerous actual interview examples of what to do and not do, more than 30 actual questions used by admissions committees, a checklist for sorting through the personal information one will need to ogive a foundation, witty personal testimonies from other interviewees, and much more. An absolute "must-have" for anyone seeking admission to a medical school.

Career Mechanics I
Thomas W. Morris III, CMF
Bramor Distributing
1717 K Street, NW, Suite 1200, Washington DC 20036
1884298745 $16.95

Written by Thomas W. Morris III CMF, Career Mechanics I: Solutions to Common Career & Employment Problems is a solid advice and employment guide written for all sides of the hiring table. Divided into four parts offering guidance to career seekers, employees, human resource managers, and career coaches respectively, Career Mechanics I covers everything from interviews, resumes, and first impressions to the value of networking and, for human resource managers, how to deal with a new employee who just doesn't measure up. Presenting its points in plain terms and bite-sized paragraphs, Career Mechanics I is a thoroughly accessible guidebook and highly recommended for its practical wisdom and expertise.

Keep Up Good Coverage
Alan Fraser Houston
Peter E. Randall Publisher LLC
5 Greenleaf Woods Drive U102, PO Box 4726, Portsmouth, NH 03802-4726
1931807493 $24.95

Keep Up Good Coverage: The Correspondence of Cpl. Lewis Q. Smith of Sandwich, New Hampshire, Fourteenth Regiment, New Hampshire Volunteers 1862-1865 collects the correspondence and diaries of an ordinary man who, along with half his small New Hampshire town, volunteered to fight in the American Civil War. Author Alan Fraser Houston offers far more than just an assembly of transcribed writings; his narration places each letter or entry in explicitly detailed context of both historical events and personal happenings in Smith's life. Endnotes, an extensive bibliography, and an index round out this intimate portrait of the Civil War and its repercussions from a ground soldier's eyes. An invaluable contribution to Civil War reference shelves.

Authoritative Revelations on Tipping
Edwin F. Jablonski & Barbara R. Wohlfahrt
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403 (publisher)
Prime Consultants Inc.
PO Box 1935, Wausau, WI 54402
1420869426 $13.95

Written by the founders of the consulting firm Prime Consultants, Edwin F. Jablonski and Barbara R. Wohlfahrt, Authoritative Revelations on Tipping is an in-depth guide to just how much to tip, when and where. From guidelines in how to act when leaving a tip, to precise means to deduce the proper tipping amount, to public attitudes and controversies about tipping, the history of tipping, and legal issues, Authoritative Revelations in Tipping covers it all. Enthusiastically recommended especially for travelers, vacationers, and gourmets who eat at fine restaurants, but also for anyone who is simply curious about how tipping really works.

Railroaded in Cooperstown
David K. Butler, Sr.
JGB Properties Inc.
140 Main Street, Richfield Springs, New York 13439
0615132790 $19.95

Written by David K. Butler, Sr., former Chief of Police for the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway, Railroaded in Cooperstown is the true story of the author's quest for social justice and responsibility in the village of Cooperstown, New York. When Butler investigated a double fatality train accident, he uncovered corruption and incompetence leading to needless deaths, yet was stymied at every turn by greedy and bureaucratic interests as he struggled to defend the public. Railroaded in Cooperstown is as much a cautionary tale about the mire of politics and power as it is a defiant saga of human determination to do what is right, and is a singularly compelling read from first page to last.

Rusty B. Wilson
Songbird Publications
4616 Orange Grove Avenue, Orange, CA 92869
8978711718 $14.95 1-714-348-3740

"Iraq: The Story You'll Never Get From The Media combines a compilation of columns written by Rusty Wilson for the 'Orange County Register' while he served on a Forward Operations Base in an Iraqi war zone, (and which ran between July and December 2004), with a brief historical review of Iraq's history, how civilian contractors got work in war-torn Iraq, the stories of soldiers on the line, the Iraqis encountered, and Wilson's afterthoughts on his experiences and observations once he had returned to the safety of United States. It was Wilson's job to provide 'Morale, Welfare, and Recreation' services to the American soldiers stationed at Camp Speicher (near Tikrit) which landed him right in the middle of the infamous and lethal Sunni Triangle. "Iraq: The Story You'll Never Get From The Media" is a vivid, engaging, informative, exceptionally well written, and occasionally unsettling eye-witness account that deserves as wide an American readership as possible and adds descriptively insightful and strongly recommended information to the ongoing national debate currently underway about the war in Iraq.

Our Little War
John Thulin
Leathers Publishing
4500 College Boulevard, Overland Park, KS 66211
1585973874 $14.95

John Thulin, a veteran of America's war in Kuwait and the first Gulf War, presents Our Little War: The 1139th Military Police Company in Baghdad, a soldier's no-nonsense description of his front-lines service from the September 11th attacks to 2004. Yet Our Little War is also take on why the United States under President George W. Bush never should have invaded Iraq, and what desperately needs to be done instead. Thulin is not a pacifist, as his service record and the experiences he relates in sharp detail prove; rather, he is a realist who recognizes that the misguided war weakens America's position of world leadership and drains its resources. In order to keep America safe from terrorist threats, Thulin argues, its intelligence services must be re-tooled to deal with jihadists; increased emphasis must be placed upon teaching American operatives the language of the enemy; there must be a concentrated campaign to win over the hearts and minds of the Arab world; the war against terror must be battled in a more concentrated fashion with every financial, military, diplomatic, and legal means available; and perhaps most important of all, America must create an energy policy to free itself from dependence upon Middle Eastern oil, an addiction that effectively funnels money to its worst enemies. Our Little War balances its vivid impression of daily life in a war zone with a sharp and well-reasoned political statement, and is highly recommended.

John Taylor

Vicki's Bookshelf

Sports Secrets and Spirit Stuff
Therese Kauchak
American Girl / Pleasant Company
8400 Fairway Place, Middleton, Wisconsin 53562
1593691076 $17.95

This sporty gift package for girls ages 6-11 shouts its team spirit with a package designed to encourage girls to shine in any sport. The Cheery, colorful gift pack includes a 64-page advice and idea book, a 40-page sports A-Z guide, an 18-page Sports Pages memory book, a mini notepad, two mini posters, six sheets of mini-stickers, one sheet of temporary sports-themed tattoos, an elastic star headband, two pieces of star ribbon, and ten mini good-luck cards to share with teammates. Like most of the American Girl gift packages in this line, the total price is considerably higher than the sum of its parts. It's the American Girl name and the bright, candy colors that are so irresistibly enticing. The company would be wise to offer more bang for the buck if it wishes to maintain its reputation for books of substance.

Our World: A Country-by-Country Guide
Millie Miller
Scholastic Reference
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
0439550041 $16.99

"Our World: A Country-by-Country Guide" is a simply clever, first introduction to the countries of the world and the seven continents. "Our World" makes it fun and easy for elementary school readers to discover more about the world around them. With hundreds of colorful illustrations, clearly labeled maps, and interesting facts and statistics, this unique atlas will provide hours of entertainment and expand readers' understanding of the countries around the world. Topics covered include food, customs, languages, sports, climate, animals, music, architecture, and more. Best, of course is the high-interest facts and trivia, such as: one our of every five people in the world are Chinese; blue jeans were first made in the United States, and all trash must be flown off the continent of Antarctica.

Dino Poop
Jane Hammerslough
Tangerine Press / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
0430852781 $9.99

From huge piles of million-year-old dinosaur dung to perfectly-preserved woolly mammoths, from gargantuan animal guts to nature-made mummies, "Dino Poop and Other Remarkable Remains of the Ancient Past" explores some of the strangest stuff on earth and the amazing ways we are able to study it today. This is a lively and fun guide to the places we find ancient remains like peat bogs, tar pits, amber mines, frozen tundra, and yes, even in fossilized vomit. Good stuff, especially if you're a curious 7-10 year old. In addition to fascinating facts, quizzes, timelines, and maps, you even get your very own piece of coprolite (a.k.a. "dino poop"). Washable vinyl cover makes this perfect bathroom reading material.

The Adventures of Marco Polo
Russell Freedman
Arthur A. Levine / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
043952394X $17.99, 64 pages,

Was he the world's greatest explorer? Or was he the world's biggest liar? Marco Polo claimed to have seen rocks burn, heard sorcerers sing sharks to sleep, and met bandits who could conjure sandstorms at will. Marco shook Europe with descriptions of the world he said he'd visited on his epic journey from Italy to the court of Kublai Khan in far-off China. But some questioned whether Marco Polo had ever reached the "Roof of the World" in Central Asia or ridden waves on the Indian Ocean. They claimed he was a fake who saw nothing more than the conjurings of his own inventive mind. With "The Adventures of Marco Polo" Newbery Medalist Russell Freedman explores the question "was he a heroic explorer or a charlatan?"

The Sleeping Giant: A Tale From Kaua'i
Edna Cabcabin Moran
BeachHouse Publishing, LLC
PO Box 2926, Ewa Beach, Hawai'i 96706
1933067209 $14.95, 24 pages,

An enchanted fish is caught by a fisherman on the island of Kaua'i in this indie imprint picture book. To all the villagers surprise, the fish grows and grows, his scales fall, his fins turn into arms and legs, and he becomes a giant. Hungry, the giant eats all the poi in the village. Everyone scrambles to make more poi, but still, it's not enough. A kahuna is called in to help. Upon his advice, oli, or chants, are offered up to help the giant ease his hunger. But only one young girl, named Pualani, can tame the giant with her oli. The Sleeping Giant is a tale explaining the existence of the mountain Nounou on the island of Kaua'i which looks like the outstretched body of a sleeping giant.

Max Goes to Mars
Jeffrey Bennett, illustrated by Alan Okamoto
Big Kid Science
175 30th St., Boulder, CO 80305
0972181911 $16.95

In "Mad Goes to Mars," author and astrophysicist Jeffrey Bennett takes readers on a science-adventure journey to Mars. The main characters are Max the dog and his pal, a young girl named Tori. Max is called to join the human crew searching for microscopic life on the mysterious planet Mars. What will Max and the crew find? Each page is beautifully illustrated and includes Big Box "science fun facts." The fictional story is the second in a series of science-adventure stories – following "Max Goes to the Moon" -- designed to teach real science. Putting his money where his mouth is, the author has donated more than 8,000 copies of Max books to public elementary school libraries nationwide. Bravo!

Mike Klaassen
Blue Works/Windstorm Creative
7419 Ebbert Drive Southeast, Port Orchard WA 98367
1590921712 $14.99

Sixteen-year-old Bodie McCann is on a youth-rehabilitation outing in the vast Ozarks of Arkansas when earthquakes rock the Mississippi River Valley. The adults are killed, and Bodie finds himself stuck in the wilderness with four other troubled teens. Bodie must draw on his survival skills, strength, and resourcefulness to deal with one obstacle after another in an attempt to escape the forest - and the other boys. Along the way, he discovers something about himself and a lot about life.

Castles Old Stone Poems
J. Patrick Lewis & Rebecca Kai Dotlick
illustrated by Dan Burr
Wordsong / Boyds Mills Press
815 Church St., Honesdale, Penn. 18431
1590783608 $18.95 www.boydsmillspress

Castles are monumental, in real life and in our imaginations. They represent the power – and folly – of kings and queens, and the legends that surround them are the stuff of dreams. In these old stone poems, Rebecca Kai Dotlick and J. Patrick Lewis explore the castles of history -- and fantasy -- that have fascinated people for hundreds of years. Blending fact and fiction, history and fantasy, they capture the wonder that castles evoke in young and old alike. Dan Burr's vibrant painting light up the pages while depicting the humanity of these monuments. Included are Medieval Minutes, filled with facts and legends; a timeline that places the castles in historical perspective; and a bibliography.

The Man in the Moon-Fixer's Mask
Jon Arno Lawson
Wordsong / Boyds Mills Press
815 Church St., Honesdale, Penn. 18431
1932425829 $14.95 www.boydsmillspress

Creatures both real and imagined are at play in these 45 humorous and witty poems that puzzle the mind and tongue. Aimed at both the ears and the eyes of readers of all ages, these whimsical poems – about everything from a simple snail to the Great Snoth of Snitch-on-the-Snotch -- beg to be read aloud.

The Printer's Trial: The Case of John Peter Zenger and the Fight for a Free Press
Gail Jarrow
Calkins Creek / Boyds Mills Press
815 Church St., Honesdale, Penn. 18431
1590784324 $18.95 www.boydsmillspress

The foundation for America's freedom of the press was laid on an August day in 1735 in colonial New York. In a hot, crowded courtroom, a jury found printer John Peter Zenger innocent of the charge of seditious libel against the British royal governor. "The Printer's Trial" tells the dramatic story of Zenger's arrest, imprisonment, and trial. Combining narrative with quotes from primary sources, Jarrow details the conflict between individuals that led to this momentous trial. The jury's verdict established the political precedent for the right of people to criticize their government in print. After the trial, British governors realized that colonial juries would likely refuse to convict printers fro libeling a royal official, and they avoided prosecuting the crime. The result was a remarkably free press that attacked British authority during the pre-Revolutionary period. Benjamin Franklin's "Pennsylvania Gazette" declared in December 1787, "The case of Zenger at New York…was a popular cause. The Liberty of the Press…depended on it." The Zenger trial influenced attitudes toward the press that more than 50 years later helped shape the country's Bill of Rights.

Clarice Bean: An Exceptionordinarily Good Boxed Set
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
0763633321 $15.97

Lauren Child's wacky wit and eccentric visual energy fill her two award-winning full-length adventures about Clarice Bean: "Utterly Me, Clarice Bean," and "Clarice Bean Spells Trouble." Now fans can fill their own Clarice Bean notebook with original drawings, doodles, writings, scribbles, and whatever their imagination desires. Featuring quirky spot quotes from Clarice Bean on lined, gridded, or blank pages, this exceptionordinary notebook is tucked into an acetate case with a pencil and paperback editions of the first two best-selling Clarice Bean novels. I particularly love the funny run-on box set title, even if my reviewer's copy was missing the pencil.

Encyclopedia Prehistorica Sharks and Other Sea Monsters
Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
076362229X $27.99

Pop-up gurus Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart are back with a second installment of the best-selling "Encyclopedia Prehistorica" series. Even before dinosaurs roamed the land, massive prehistoric sharks, giant sea scorpions, and colossal squid cruised the ancient oceans with only one thing in mind: eat or be eaten! In this companion volume to the bestseller "Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs," the pop-up stars now explore the awesome and terrifying prehistoric underwater world, the creatures that inhabited it, and the scientific advances that have led to their discovery. Impeccably researched and engineered with a level of care and ingenuity that takes the pop-up genre to new heights, the book features more than 35-in tricate pop-ups and fascinating facts on more than 35 different prehistoric underwater creatures. Inside this amazing compendium, claws, spikes, and a whole lot of attitude jump off the page as the reader comes face-to-pincher with the monstrous pterygotus, a seven-foot armored nightmare scorpion that patrolled the ocean floor, and with the bus-size predator megalodon, which springs out in a full-page flourish of teeth. Beautiful, fascinating and lavish, "Encyclopedia Prehistorica Sharks and Other Sea Monsters" is a stunning tribute to these incredible ancient ocean dwellers that stirs the modern imagination.

The Queen of Cool
Cecil Castellucci
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
0763627208 $15.99

On the outside, Libby Brin is the most popular girl in school. She has the hippest friends, the hottest boyfriend, the trendiest clothes, and the most easygoing parents. But on the inside, Libby is dying – of boredom. And then one day Libby surprises everyone, including herself, when she signs up for an internship at the Los Angeles Zoo. Her friends think the zoo is for losers, but for Libby, at least it's something to do, something different. Unfortunately, working as an intern is not exactly glamorous, and worse, it means Libby has to team up with two nerds – Tina (aka "Tiny"), a Little Person and aspiring actress, and Sheldon, an introverted boy with a brilliant, inquiring mind. But what happens when Libby realizes she actually enjoys working at the zoo…and may ever like Tina and Sheldon? Will the Queen of Cool have to give up her crown?

The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl
Barry Lyga
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
0618723927 $16.95

For most of his life, Donnie's followed his mother's advice, given when he was first picked on by bullies in grade school: "ignore them." He lives mostly under the radar, both at school and at home, sailing through classes and working on his graphic novel, "Schemata." His life sucks, but at least he knows what to expect. "The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth girl" relates what happens when someone notices him – really notices him – for the first time. The book's appeal is tremendous. Not only does it respectfully cash in on the growing teen interest in comics, but it hones in on the sometimes agonizing teen experience, and celebrates the inner geek in all of us. Highly recommended, especially for reluctant teen readers, and also for adults who've lost touch with what it means to be painfully young.

The Best American Comics 2006
Harvey Pekar and Anne Elizabeth Moore
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
0618718745 $22.00

"The Best American Comics 2006" features a diverse, exciting selection for contemporary comics fans and newcomers to the often severe genre. This inaugural volume includes individual stories culled from graphic novels, pamphlet comics, newspapers, magazines, mini-comics, and the web. Guest editor Harvey Pekar is a particularly good choice to head this collection, as he's the author of the graphic novels "Ego & hubris" and "The Quitter," and was the subject of the film "American Splendor." His American Book Award-winning series of the same name has been illustrated by artists such as Robert Crumb, Frank Stack, and Joe Sacco. Crumb and Sacco are featured in the collection, along with Chris Ware, Ben Katchor, Kim Deitch, Jaime Hernandez, Alison Bechdel, and Lynda Barry, plus such newcomers as Justin Hall, Esther Pearl Watson, and Lilli Carre. For young adult and adult readers.

Horns & Wrinkles
Joseph Helgerson
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
0618616799 $16.00

There appear to be two Mississippis flowing through the heart of the United States – one that is measured in miles, and the other in pages. The first is a river you can dip your toe in, while the second prefers to engage the imagination of its visitors. It's hard to say which has been more important to the development of our country, especially if you've had the good fortune to visit and explore both. "Horns and Wrinkles" is a middle-grade novel that takes place along the latter type of river – a spellbound stretch of river. When young Claire's least favorite cousin sprouts a rhinoceros horn, the adventure sets sail, and the story that unfolds is as twisty and unpredictable as the Mississippi itself. An unusual cast of characters – some human, some not – adds pepper to the pot in this nimble, sharp, funny story. For readers living on the Mississippi, "Horns and Wrinkles" will jumpstart a sense of wonder over marvels in their own back yard, and perhaps coax a story of two out of their parents or grandparents about days on the river. And for those who live beyond the Mississippi's banks, Joseph Helgerson's book will carry them down the waters of a magical world, with enchantment so vivid it feels as though the river is just a stone's throw away.

One Kingdom: Our Lives With Animals
Deborah Noyes
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
0618499148 $18.00

In ancient Egypt people worshiped cats, and in India the cow is sacred. Today in America we flock to zoos in record numbers and pamper our pets. Bur what do we really know about animals? And what do we feel about them in spite of it? Walking a mile in their paws, feathers, or fur is harder than it seems. Here Deborah Noyes embarks on a quest for understanding – struggling with science and love – attempting to distance, but also bring closer, the "other" kingdom. What results is a visionary mediation on how myth, history, an culture have influenced our view of animals and shaped out lives with them. Smart and unsentimental, Noyes' wide-ranging narrative and affectionate portraits raise difficult but important questions, challenging what we think we know about our animal fellows while forming new perceptions and realities. We are all – bird, beast, and boy – made of blood, bone, and beating heart. Where do they end and we begin?

Whatcha Mean, What's A Zine?: The Art of Making Zines and Mini-Comics
Mark Todd and Esther Pearl Watson
Graphia / Houghton Mifflin
0618563156 $21.99, 112 pages

This funky new book is a complete how-to guide to making your own "zine," giving instruction, inspiration, and encouragement for wannabe zinesters of all ages (but specially teens). A zine is a handmade magazine or mini-comic about anything you can imagine: favorite bands, personal stories, subcultures, or collections. They can contain diary entries, rants, reviews, interviews, and stories. They can be by one person or many, found in stores, traded at comic book conventions, traded with friends, or given away for free. With "Watcha Mean, What's a Zine?" readers will learn tips and tricks from contributors who have been at the forefront of the zine movement. Most interesting is the helpful insider information from zine masters including John Porcellino, Ron Rege Jr., Dan Zettwoch, Martin Cendreda, Dave Kiersh, and Allison Cole. Chapters include a history of self-publishing, an interview with the editor of "Bust," and a breakdown of zine genres. Great for creative teens and reluctant readers looking for a form of self-expression.

The Great Circle
Neil Philip
Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin
251 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10003
061815941X $25

First nations, Indians, Native Americans: they are all names for the first peoples to live in North America. These groups made their homes in different regions, spoke many different languages, and practiced a variety of religions. And each group had its own story – part of the larger story of the confrontation between the native people and the while European invaders. At the heart of the conflict was a vast difference in world views. The Indians thought of human existence as a great sacred circle, with cycles that repeated themselves endlessly, while the whites thought of it as a straight line, like a railroad track, carrying humanity from savagery to civilization. For the Native Americans, the idea ob buying and selling land was as absurd as the notion of buying and selling one's soul. But land ownership was the very basis of the white man's economy. How could these two views coexist peacefully? The human consequences of the clash between Indian and white values are vividly revealed in "The Great Circle," which is illustrated with classic photographs and engravings. Drawing on a range of documentary sources, Neil Philip has illuminated the story of the First Nations, from their beginnings to the arrival of the Europeans and the heartbreaking events that followed – and to the resurgence of Native American cultures today that promises to complete the great circle.

Water Shaper
Laura Williams McCarffery
Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin
251 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10003
0618614893 $16

Margot is a princess, but she is not beloved. Her mother died when Margot was very young, leaving behind only an undesirable legacy for Margot to remember her by – pale skin, dark hair, and a deep love of water – traits considered strange and suspicious in her father's landlocked kingdom. Her mother also left Margot a mysterious book -- passed down from mother to daughter through many generations -- that smells of saltwater and hides itself from those who seek it. When Margot meets Orrin, a foreign king from the coast who respects, even reveres, her affinity for water, she flees with him, hoping to at last find her place in the world. Bur all is not as she expected in Orrin's land, and when mysterious lights draw her into the Sea, Margot knows her search is just beginning. A convincing and beautifully realized world, a strong-minded princess, and elements of Celtic folklore mark this compelling fantasy.

The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless
Ahmet Zappa
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
0375832874 $12.95

In this endearingly bizarre book, Ahmet Zappa (the son of rock legend Frank Zappa) delivers a compelling adventure about a brother and sister who discover they are descendents of a long line of McFearless Monsterminators. It's just the thing you might expect from the son of rock legend Frank Zappa. Or someone named Ahmet. Or someone who's chosen to become an author after being functionally illiterate most of his life.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
John Boyne
David Fickling Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
0385751060 $15.95

"The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" is a cautionary tale is about two boys, one the son of a commandant in Hitler's army and the other a Jew, who come face-to-face at a barbed wire fence that separates, and eventually intertwines, their lives. In 1942 Germany, nine-year-old Bruno returns home from school one day and discovers his belongings are being packed in crates. His father, a commandant in Hitler's army, is transferred from Berlin to Auschwitz and the family must also move to this strange, dark place where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. He spends long days gazing out the window of his new bedroom, where he notices people dressed in striped pajamas and rows of barracks surrounded by a barbed wire fence. Bored and lonely, and not really understanding the circumstance of his new existence, Bruno sets out to explore the area and discovers Shmuel, a very thin Jewish boy who lives on the other side of the fence. An unlikely friendship develops between the two boys, but when Bruno learns that his mother plans to take her children back to Berlin, he makes a last effort to explore the forbidden territory where the boy in the striped pajamas lives. He finds that friendship sometimes has devastating consequences. "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" is the most important historical novel of the year, and one of the most heart-wrenching reading experiences.

Endymion Spring
Matthew Skelton
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
0385733801 $17.95

Two years ago, Matthew Skelton was homeless, with nothing to his name but a couple of suitcases, a PhD from Oxford, and an unpublished manuscript about a boy in a library where books were in danger. Today, Matthew is a rising star in the literary world. After being discovered in a slush pile, his novel, "Endymion Spring" is now one of the most talked-about books of the fall. Already heralded by booksellers and critics as "the Da Vinci Code for kids" "Endymion Spring" has been sold into 15 languages, and optioned for film by Warner Brothers. As hard as it is to ignore the hype, it's gratifying that this is the real thing, an absolutely mesmerizing read. Set both in present day Oxford and in 15th century Germany, at the advent of Gutenberg's first printing press, "Endymion Spring" tells the story of a young boy named Blake who discovers a mysterious, blank book on the dusty shelves of Oxford's Bodleian Library. Little does he know that the book dates back to medieval Germany where a young printer's apprentice named Endymion stumbled upon the same book. When words begin to appear on the tome's translucent pages, Blake realizes that this ancient book possesses a powerful magic, a magic which men have cheated and killed for, a magic which Blake must protect. "Endymion Spring" is a true book-lover's book.

Hattie Big Sky
Kirby Larson
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
0385733135 $15.95

In the grand tradition of great American historical novels such as "Oh Pioneers!" and "Little House on the Prairie," Kirby Larson's "Hattie Big Sky" shares an emotionally rich story that celebrates pioneer women and their indomitable spirit. Set on a homestead in rural Montana, Larson's tale poignantly captures the sentiments of those left at home during World War I with powerful insight and grace. Hattie Inez Brooks is an orphan who is sick and tired of bouncing between her relatives. Fed up with being Hattie Here-and-There, she longs for a place and home of her own. Upon receiving news that she has inherited her Uncle's claim in Montana, Hattie courageously decides to leave Iowa behind to "prove up" on her late uncle's homestead to establish the home of her dreams. Despite the countless hardships, Hattie stubbornly forges ahead. She chronicles her adventures in a series of articles for the hometown paper, as well as in letters to her dear friend, Charlie, who is fighting in France. Hattie's daily struggles to survive are balanced by the loving family relationship she develops with her German neighbors, the Muellers. As the war rages in Europe, the anti-German sentiment travels west to Montana forcing Hattie to decide what being a "loyal" American really means. In spite of all the obstacles and forces working against her, Hattie is determined to work the land until a tragedy causes her to discover the true meaning of home and family. Filled with the remarkable details of daily life on the homestead and the excitement and unpredictability of the frontier, "Hattie Big Sky" ably transports readers to another time and place long ago.

What The Moon Saw
Laura Resau
Delacorte Press Books / Random House
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
0385733437 $15.95

Laura Resau's debut novel, "What The Moon Saw," is a timely story about a Mexican American family that embarks on a journey of discovery that began by crossing the border, leaving behind friends and family in search of a better life. Fresh on the heels of the immigration debate that currently divides our country, Resau explores the feelings of the children and family members left behind in Mexican communities. Fourteen-year-old Clara Luna has never met her father's parents. She knows that her father crossed the border from Mexico illegally, but she doesn't know much else about his past. When a letter arrives inviting her to visit her family in Mexico, she reluctantly agrees. Upon arriving, Clara is horrified by the culture shock of rural, southern Mexico. She is befriended by a young goat herder, and the two set out to discover a magical waterfall that is only heard and never seen. Gradually, she also learns more about her father's childhood, and the sorrow of the parents he left behind. Filled with sympathetic characters and insights on what it means to be a privileged American, "What The Moon Saw" is an enchanting story about discovering one's true self in the most unexpected place.

Lynne Cox
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
0307264548 $16.95

At the age of seventeen, while training for a big swim (she had already swum the English Channel – twice), Lynne Cox encountered a baby gray whale off Seal Beach in Southern California. The baby whale had lost its mother and was following Lynne instead. Lynne needed to get out of the water to rest, but knew that if she did, the calf would follow her onto shore and die. The 18-foot gray whale, who Lynne named Grayson, was completely dependent on its mother's milk for food. How could Lynne keep the baby whale alive? How could she, as a single swimmer, possibly find the mother whale in the vast ocean? "Grayson" is the enchanting true tale of what Lynne discovered in her quest to reunite these two wondrous creatures. Pure magic. "Grayson" is a naturally spellbinding story told brilliantly.

London Calling
Edward Bloor
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers / Random House
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
0375836357 $16.95

"London Calling" -- the latest book by the author of "Tangerine" -- weaves the chaos of the 1940 London Blitz into a magical novel that combines time travel, ghosts, and mystery while exploring the dynamics of a father and son relationship. Martin Conway is an unhappy seventh grader trudging through life until a young British boy, Jimmy Harker, magically appears in his basement bedroom. Jimmy's presence thrusts Martin into a life changing adventure that transports him to the blitz-ravaged streets of London. He struggles to reconcile his vivid dream world and that waking world, but them one dream becomes two, then three, then four. As Martin follows Jimmy through the rubble in London, the fiery dreamscape thrills and frightens him. Maertin isn't sure what his purpose is, but as Jimmy's story unfolds, important lessons are learned while history plays out around him. Most of all, Martin begins to believe he can help his friend Jimmy. In "London Calling," author Edward Bloor blends themes or heroism, integrity, faith, and failure into a novel that is his most emotionally resonant book to date. Bloor succeeds in giving readers a startling and realistic look at World War II as well as in writing a compelling tale about time travel. For readers ages 10 and up.

The Looking Glass Wars
Frank Beddor
Dial Books
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014-3657
0803731531 $17.99

What if Lewis Carroll had it wrong? What if his story was a shallow and childish version of the truth? What if Wonderland really does exist? Readers might be surprised and horrified to learn its true story in this middle grade fantasy novel. Aluss Heart is an exceptional girl who was born into a world of unearthly delights. She would have grown up to become the most beloved queen of Wonderland if her evil aunt Redd hadn't shattered her fairy-tale life by brutally murdering Alyss' parents and forcing Alyss to flee. In their quest, Alyss, Hatter Madigan, the wise Bibwit Harte, and other loyal Alussians journey across the Chessboard Desert, through the Pool of Tears, and into the heart of Queen Redd's domain. The battle for Wonderland has begun. A dark, and wildly creative twist, "The Looking Glass Wars" is the first in a trilogy for readers 10 and up.

Roar of a Snore
Marsha Diane Arnold, illustrations by Pierre Pratt
Dial Books for Young Readers
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014-3657
0803729367 $16.99

"Roar of A Snore" portrays the Huffle family in a fun-loving, rhyming tale of one sleepless night an a search for the source of a noise. All the Huffles are fast asleep, except for Jack. He heard a noise that rocked the floor. He heard a noise that shook the door. Jack heard . . . a snore! Just who is making this racket? Unable to sleep, Jack and his dog go searching. It must be Mama Gwyn, whose huffs and puffs set her curlers spinning, but when Jack wakes her, the snore roars on! And so it goes with Baby Sue, the twins, Papa Ben, even the farm animals. At last the Huffles follow their ears toward a surprising culprit. This accumulative tale is told in effortless rhyme that invites kids to anticipate the refrains, while the colorfully goofy artwork complements the story's good-natured humor. A must-have for any family because, well, everyone snores. (Yes, even you!)

An Abundance of Katherines
John Green
Dutton Books
345 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014
0525476881 $16.99

John Green's second book is a comic novel about an aging child prodigy in search of his own "eureka!" moment and a relationship he can count on. When it comes to romance, 17-year-old Colin Singleton's type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped: 19 times so far, to be exact. On a road trip hundreds of miles from home, this washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a passion for anagrams, and an overweight, Judge-Judy obsessed best friend riding shotgun -- but no Katherines. Colin's on a mission to prove "The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability" which will predict the future of any relationship, transform him from a fading prodigy into a true genius, and finally win him the girl. Letting expectations go and allowing love in are at the heart of Colin's hilarious quest to find his missing piece and avenge dumpees everywhere. For ages 14 and up.

Firestorm: The Caretaker Trilogy, Book 1
David Klass
Frances Foster Books / FSG
0374323070 $17.00

Author and screenwriter David Klass brings together pulse-pounding action, adrenaline-pumping entertainment, and pertinent global issues in his eco-thriller "Firestorm," the first book of his new Caretaker Trilogy. When he finds himself running for his life, 17-year-old Jack Danielson discovers he has been sent from the future on a quest to preserve the planet and keep it safe from the destructive mission of the Dark Army, "a coalition of cyborgs and genetically engineered mutants who are willing to do anything to themselves or alter their environment in any way in order to live and prevail." Unwittingly immersed in uncertain and unfamiliar territory, Jack must act before the Turning Point occurs, the moment at which the environmental damage we have done to the earth is still reversible. With a funny, telepathic dog named Gisco and a ninja babe names Eko to join him on his quest, Jack quickly evolves from an average high school teenager to a catalyst for the world's salvation. The book's unique and timely ecological theme will strike a chord with concerned young adults.

Going Under
Kathe Koja
Frances Foster Books / FSG
19 Union Square West, New York, NY 10003
0374303932 $16.00

"Going Under" centers on teenaged brother and sister, Ivan and Hilly, and their relationship as well as their interactions with a third party, an unethical therapist whose breaching of client privacy and confidentiality is not only darkly creepy but dangerous. Hungry for material for his next book, the therapist manipulates the siblings, with Hilly especially vulnerable after the suicide of a friend. Hilly's journal entries become fodder for the deranged doctor, and threaten to tear the brother and sister apart. To tell their story, author Kathy Koja ("Buddah Boy" and "The Blue Mirror") draws on the myths of Persephone and Narcissus, a tale of life and death that serves as a compelling exploration of human behavior and the temptations that threaten to destroy us.

Harlem Hustle
Janet McDonald
Frances Foster Books / FSG
19 Union Square West, New York, NY 10003
0374371849 $16

Seventeen-year-old Hustle sees becoming a rapper as the only way out. After some harsh lessons about the nature fo the business he idolizes, he learns that self-expression is a powerful force, one that carries a lot of weight even if it doesn't come with a recording contract or the fame he thought would solve his troubles. Hustle has been through tough times: abandoned by his parents, he has shoplifted and fences stolen property to make money and, as a consequence, has done time. Subscribing to Darwin's survival-of-the-fittest theory, Hustle faces challenges, but his gift for rhyming helps him realize that he can survive and thrive, that he has options and a voice that can be used for positive ends. With the attentions of a smart, beautiful woman and the newfound confidence to stand up to a corrupt record promoter, Hustle finds a new way of seeing his future, and starts to believe in his ability to shape his own destiny.

There is a Flower at the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me
Alice Walker, illustrated by Stefano Vitale
Harper Collins
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
0060570806 $16.99

In a beautifully poetic and gently thought-provoking text, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker invited readers young and old to see the world – and our places in it – through new eyes. Glowing colors and radiant images accompany this joyous celebration of the connections and interconnections between self, nature, and creativity. Illustrated by Stefano Vitale ("When The Wind Stops" and "The Sleepy Book").

Lilly's Big Day
Kevin Henkes
Greenwillow Books / Harper Collins
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
0060742364 $16.99

In her latest picture book by Kevin Henkes, Lilly the toddler mouse has big plans: she's going to be the flower girl in her favorite teacher's wedding. Lilly has always wanted to be a flower girl. Even more than a surgeon or a diva or a hairdresser. But Mr. Slinger has already asked his niece to be the flower girl. What will Lilly do? For pre-kindergarten.

My Little Yellow Taxi
Stephen T. Johnson
Red Wagon Books / Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101 15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
0152164650 $19.95,

The "My Little Yellow Taxi" interactive novelty book invites children to take a spin in a shiny yellow cab. The book includes 16 interactive features that show eager young drivers what it takes to get a taxi ready to roll: the mirror need to be adjusted, the oil needs to be checked, the engine needs to be started, and there's more to do. A clock in each page counts down the minutes, introducing the concept of telling time. With its sturdy construction, the taxi is built to be "driven" again and again. This is Johnson's third interactive book featuring primary colors. I loved the first two hits – "My Little Red Toolbox" and "My Little Blue Robot" – but this one has perhaps even greater charm and more actively simulates imagination. If the $20 prince tag doesn't stall this taxi, hands-on toddlers will drive this one straight to the bestseller chart.

Life As We Knew It
Susan Beth Pfeffer
Harcourt Children's Books
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
0152058265 $17

Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions -- natural disasters are constantly in the news these days. In the new apocalyptic novel for teens, "Life As We Knew It," Susan Beth Pfeffer creates a frightening scenario in the not-too- distant future when these life-threatening disasters and the disease and deprivations they spawn dominate life on Earth. Sixteen-year-old Miranda is only mildly interested when scientists announce that an asteroid will hit the moon. Everyone in her Pennsylvania neighborhood goes outside to watch the collision. Within minutes, however, curiosity turns to fear as the moon is pushed closer to Earth by the impact. Soon tides are disrupted, huge tsunamis wipe out major metropolitan areas, earthquakes rock every continent, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun. One minute Miranda is a typical American teenager worrying about tests and the prom, the next minute she's fighting survival in a world where nothing can be taken for granted. Told in journal entries, "Life as We Knew It" is the heart-pounding story of Miranda's coming of age in a world where a can of beans is a precious resource, and life as we knew it may never come again.

Mary Poppins boxed set
P.L. Travers
Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
0152058699 $18.95,

Who can slide up banisters, banish naughtiness with a swift "Spit-spot," and turn a make-believe sidewalk drawing into a lovely day in the park? Mary Poppins, of course! From the moment the beloved nanny arrives at Number Seventeen Cherry-Tree Lane, everyday life for the Banks family is full of excitement. With the smash-hit London musical adaptation of Mary Poppins coming to Broadway in November 2006, this is the time for everyone's favorite nanny to find a place in the hearts of the next generation of fans--and the ideal moment for this boxed set, featuring three adventures in paperback: "Mary Poppins," "Mary Poppins Comes Back," and "Mary Poppins Opens the Door." Highly recommended for memorable gift-giving.

MAMA: A True Story
Jeanette Winter
Harcourt Children's Books
0152054952 $16.00

"Mama: A True Story" takes a look at one aspect of the devastating Southeast Asian tsunami of December 2004, by telling the touching true story of a baby hippo that was separated from his mother when the wave hit. After struggling alone for several days, the baby was rescued by Kenyan wildlife officers and brought to life in an animal refuge. There, all by himself, he adpted a new "mother": a 130-year-old giant male tortoise. And they've been inseparable ever since. Although "Mama" takes place against the backdrop of a terrible human tragedy, at the heart of this story is a moving and original tale of adoption, and of finding love and companionship in the least likely of circumstances. A beautiful book and a wonderful telling of a special true story.

May I Have The First Dance?
Sonja Paschal Linsley
illustrated by Paul Adam Linsley
Higher Ground Press
PO Box 729, Allen, TX 75013
0976606208 $19.99

"May I Have The First Dance?" is a sentimental illustrated picture book about a father-daughter relationship, though the effort is hindered by muddy art direction, production flaws (from typos and blank endpapers, to the unfortunate repetition of four pages), and downright scary illustrations. Since the author and illustrator are mother and son, it's clear that this is a personal project – perhaps even self-published -- with deep sentimental meaning but not much professional editorial direction. The exaggerated caricatures do nothing to enrich the thin story, though it's something the overly-simple rhyming couplets really need. The author is well meaning, the illustrator shows true talent, but together the sum is less than the value of its parts.

Part of Me
Kimberly Willis Holt
Holt Books for Young Readers
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0805063609 $16.95

"Part of Me" traces the emotional and literary journey of a Louisiana family from the 1930s until the present day. In her lush prose, author Kimberly Willis Holt reveals the powerful connections between four generations and the two constants in their lives: a deep love of reading and a deep connection with the land. Holt's first novel was "My Louisiana Sky," and she was awarded the National Book Award for "When Zachary Beaver Came to Town."

Amazing Grace
Megan Shull
114 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10011-5690
0786856904 $15.99

Gorgeous teen superstar Grave Kincaid has it all – an electric smile, million-dollar endorsement deals, and blond cover-girl looks. But what happens when America's "It" girl doesn't want "It" anymore? With the paparazzi stalking her every move, Grace quietly slips out of a Teen People photo shoot, ducks the press, and calls her mom from the boiler room of the USTA National Tennis Center. And right there, in her custom-made Nike warm-ups, tears streaming down her face, Grace says the three magic words that her mom told her she could say anytime – anytime this whole crazy life wasn't fun anymore. Three simple words and her new life begins. For the hottest girl on the planet, life's about to change. Grace gets a make-under, a new identity, and a new life in a rugged little town on the edge of nowhere, population 813…including one cute boy, one very cute boy. Teen chick lit doesn't get much better than this. "Amazing Grace" is amazing.

Innovative Kids
18 Ann Street, Norwalk, CT 06854-2258
1584764082 (Dogs) 1584764090 (Horses) $19.99

"Groovy Tubes: Dogs" is one of two new gift book packages by Susan Ring in Innovative Kids' award-winning series, Groovy Tubes. Kids can learn the basics about "man's best friend' in the enclosed 24-page book, and add to the fun with a round on the accompanying game board. But the first thing to catch your attention is the pack of miniature plastic dogs that are housed in the book's unique clear tube book spine. "Groovy Tube: Dogs" and "Groovy Tube: Horses" are two of eight Groovy Tube titles, each of which includes a tube with 15 collectable miniatures, a 24 page book, and a game board with instructions. The book describes the natural habitat of each animal, fun facts, and more. Other Groovy Tubes titles include: "Bug Blast," "Arctic Chill," "Africa Wild," "Dino-Might," "Raging Reptiles," and "Sea Splash." Each is a can't-lose gift choice for kids ages three-six, but may also interest older kids up to 10.

Pat Murphy, Ellen Macaulay, and the Exploratorium staff
Little, Brown and Company
1271 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
0316612812 $29.99

What kid wouldn't want to learn how to mummify a hot dog? Break secret codes? Launch a rocket? Detect counterfeit money? Build a motor? From physics to forensics, from the hugest clouds to the tiniest ants, from Isaac Newton to elephant dung, "Exploratopia" overflows with things you can explore using the simplest everyday objects. Everywhere you look, everywhere you go, you can make discoveries, figure out how the world works, unearth secrets that everyone else overlooks. It not only explains the ideas and background behind each exploration, it helps you figure out why something is the way it is and how to take an experiment into new and different directions, adding creativity to science and perception to fact. Utterly fascinating hands-on science that engages young minds better than any science book I've ever seen. Fantastic!

Peter Pan in Scarlet
Geraldine McCaughrean
Margaret K. McElderry / Simon & Schuster
1416918086 $17.99

Though Peter Pan characters have been licensed and spun off into "homages" before, "Pter Pan in Scarlet" is the first authorized sequel to J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan. In August 2004 the Special Trustees of Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, who hold the copyright in Peter Pan, launched a worldwide search for a writer to create a sequel to J. M. Barrie's timeless masterpiece. Renowned and multi award-winning English author Geraldine McCaughrean won the honor to write this official sequel. Illustrated by Scott M. Fischer and set in the 1930s, "Peter Pan in Scarlet" takes readers flying back to Neverland in an adventure filled with tension, danger, and swashbuckling derring-do. Plundering, however, goes on behind the scenes. The Simon and Schuster accountants will be too busy calculating royalty splits to notice that J.M. Barrie is rolling in his grave.

Animals Speak
Lila Prap
North-South Books
11 East 26th Street, NY, NY 10010
0735820589 $15.95

Did you ever wonder what animals say in different languages? In German a sheep says "mah" but in Spanish a sheep says "bee." Speaking of bees, in English they "buzz" but in Swedish bees say "surr." Complete with a pronunciation guide to animals languages around the world, "Animals Speak" is an irresistible read-aloud picture book pre readers will be happily uacking about.

Big Fat Little Lit
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
0142407062 $14.99

Gathered together in one volume for the first time are some of the most hilarious, award-winning, and profound comics, picture stories and games by 33 of the world's most beloved authors and artists, all in top form. A big claim? Yep., but editors Art Spiegleman and Francoise Mouly know what they're doing, and have the twisted sensibilities to do it. It takes guts, too, to combine the work of abrasively post-modern J. Otto Seibold and with the sweetly naive Crockett Johnson of "Harold and the Purple Crayon" fame. Other artists include Jules Feiffer, William Joyce, David Macaulay, Barbara McClintock, Walt Kelly, Maurice Sendak, and Harry Bliss. Having little in common but their own uniqueness, their disparate styles should have made this a messy hodge-podge. Instead, it's inherently fascinating, particularly intriguing artist-writer pairings such as Ian Falconer ("Olivia") and "Time" magazine Humorist of the Year David Sedaris, and Richard Sala ("The Chuckling Whatsit")and the black-humored (and fictional) Lemony Snicket.

Uncover a Frog
Aimee Bakken
Silver Dolphin Books
5880 Oberlin Dr. San Diego, CA 92121-4794
1592234569 $18.95

Frogs: They swim, they leap, they hop, and some can even fly. There are poisonous frogs, hairy frogs, singing frogs, albino frogs, and even glass frogs with translucent skin you can actually see through! Uncover the secrets of this amazing animal - that's anuran to you frog specialists - layer by layer, in this new title in the popular "Uncover It" series. Young frog fans will love dissecting all the weird and wild facts, pour over the cool illustrations and diagrams, and, especially, study the unique 3-D layered model of a frog. With every turn of the page, the frog is deconstructed before their eyes, as the model demonstrates the hidden workings of the frog's body. Perfect for curious youngsters, ages 8 and up.

Weird Stuff
Richard Tulloch
Walker & Co.
435 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
080278058X $16.95

Brian Hobble isn't much of a writer – he's more of a soccer player. (And sometimes he's not much of a soccer player either!) But one day he borrows a pink Easyflow pen from Nathan Lumsdyke during his favorite author's school visit, and suddenly he can't stop writing. Unfortunately for Brian, the pen only writes flowery, embarrassing love stories, even in his science test. Brian can't wait to give the weird pen back, until he realizes Cassandra Wyman is a lot more interested in writing than she is in soccer.

Vicki Arkoff
Senior Reviewer

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design