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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 8, Number 11 November 2009 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

Ballroom Dancing is Not for Sissies
Elizabeth A. Seagull & Arthur A. Seagull
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439210505, $18.99,

Good dancing can lead to good other things. "Ballroom Dancing is Not for Sissies: An R-Rated Guide for Partnership" is a guide for couples to increase trust in one another and improve their moves on the dance floor, and that these experiences will enrich the relationship both on the dance floor but in other areas of life. "Ballroom Dancing is Not for Sissies" is a read that may save many relationships.

So You're an Actor?! Prove It!
Canaan W. E. J. Robinson
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432740856, $25.95,

Actors shouldn't spend most of their careers bussing tables. "So You're An Actor?! Prove It!: Branding and Marketing for Today's Aspiring Actor" is an acting guide that encourages would-be actors to treat their career as a career in sales, but instead of selling a product, you're selling yourself as an actor. With a laundry list of things to avoid in one's career, "So You're An Actor?! Prove It!" is a read that every potential superstar should consider for their future career.

Investing for Retirement 101
G.A. Vickers
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432713621, $11.95,

Social security might not be waiting for you. "Investing for Retirement 101: And The Ten Minute Retirement Income Calculator" is a simple book that is specifically designed to help working people successfully plan their retirement and prepare for the future. Simply stated advice and knowledge, "Investing for Retirement 101" is a strong consideration for those planning their own retirement years.

Looking for Closure
Maria Stewart
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432730260, $14.95,

When you aren't satisfied with the answer, the only response is to dig deeper. "Looking for Closure: The Therasa Ferrara Story" is a niece's journey to find out the truth of what truly happened to her aunt over two decades ago. With a suspicious comment when she last saw her, Maria Stewart does not buy the simple homicide verdict she was given by the police, and offers a true crime drama that has to be read to be believed. "Looking for Closure" is a solid and recommended read that should not be missed by true crime readers.

Life in the Wrong Lane
Greg Dobbs
Rising Star
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Smith Publicity (publicity)
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781440152764, $13.95,

What compels people to dive right into the storm at its worst? "Life in the Wrong Lane: Why Journalists Go In When Everyone Wants Out" explores the journalistic tendency to go into the most dangerous areas in the planet in the name of the news. Telling the stories of these apparently insane journalists, Greg Dobbs presents a story of why these people do what they do and presents an entertaining book in the process. "Life in the Wrong Lane" is a read for anyone who ponders Journalism and the people behind it.

Marriage Separation Divorce
Kathy Elliot
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781438995236, $11.00,

A rough journey makes for beautiful poetry. "Marriage, Separation, Divorce: Regaining the Light" is a blend of poetry and memoir from Kathy Elliot as she reflects on immigrating to the United States only to be left a single mother who was forced to pursue a career. Telling quite the unique story through her poetry, "Marriage, Separation, Divorce" is an excellent read that should not be ignored. "Togetherness": I admire your zest for success/the strength you possess/the perfect, the imperfectness.//The special moments that we cherish/forget the bad/focus on the rest.//I have endless dreams/Levels of our happiness/The new, the unforeseen.//The caring, the sharing/the faith and trust/What we believe/We can achieve.//I have a vision/A unique mission/To say together, forever.

Act of Redemption
C. C. Cole
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Smith Publicity (publicity)
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781434379320, $14.49,

Overwhelming odds are designed to be overcome. "Act of Redemption: First Book of the Gastar Series" tells the story of young Shevata, tasked with the rough task of defending Gastar, one of the last outposts of humanity in existence, as they face off against the forces of Hell and the undead. "Act of Redemption" is a fantasy that genre fans will delight in, recommended.

Gina Cloud
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439236314, $27.99,

A truly mature woman is fine with her own body. "W.O.M.A.N.: A New Definition" is an inspirational text for women who want to take control of their own destiny and truly feel at one with themselves. Gina Cloud combines biology with motivational texts, and seeks to help women redefine what a woman really is for themselves. "W.O.M.A.N." is of strong interest for any who want to embrace their womanhood to its fullest.

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

The Chair
Jim Eller
Privately Published
9781615393268, $12.99

Questions can drive a man mad. "The Chair" is a thriller following Collin Tompkins as he finds himself alone and severely injured, only to ask the world why and ponder how he ended up like he did. An intriguing and thought provoking story, "The Chair" is a read that will please many a reader, recommended.

To Light a Fire
Arran N. Gimba
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439225745, $16.99,

Harsh reality is what no one wants to face, but has to at some point. "To Light a Fire: And Other Short Stories" is a collection of short fiction from Arran N. Gimba, on facing the cruel life we all often try to ignore. From dating games to dating Hollywood celebrities and facing death, his stories are varied and offer much food for thought. "To Life a Fire" is a collection that should be strongly considered by all general short fiction readers.

How to Score With a Woman
Marci Ronka & Pamela Dannyluk
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440149818, $10.95,

The desire that races through every man's head that is unspoken but always intended. "How to Score With a Woman" is a how to relationship side from the other team, as women Marci Ronka and Pamela Dunnyluk hope to inspire men to overcome their own insecurities and stop doing those things that more often repel the opposite sex than attract them. With a dash of science thrown in, "How to Score with a Woman" is an intriguing relationship guide that should not be ignored by the chronically single.

Portrait of Deadly Excess
D. Jeffrey Ostling
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781441507075, $29.99,

Art is a form of expression, but freedom of expression does not include murder. "A Portrait of Deadly Excess" follows private investigator Van Hazard as he finds his newest case of a chain of mysterious deaths. What he finds is a unique story where murder is his expression and his obsession. "A Portrait of Deadly Excess" is a fine spin on mystery, highly recommended.

The Kicker of St. John's Wood
Gary Wolf
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440125096, $15.95,

A rapidly changing world is most intriguing when one is on the front line to see it. "The Kicker of St. John's Wood" the story of Jayesh Blackstone, a key player in what may be the Super Bowl that changes the world as a whole, rather than simply the world of football. Controversially discussing gender, politics, and a new world order, "The Kicker of St. John's Wood" is quite the engaging novel, and is a strong consideration.

What Country is This?
John M. Weber
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161416, $14.95,

Even the greatest country can be plagued with problems from within. "What Country is This?" is John M. Weber critique of the countless problems that are plaguing the country from the growing corporate powers to the everyday American who seems to be becoming more self-destructive with every passing generation. An intriguing read that sheds some light on the problems that America faces, "What Country is This?" is an intriguing read that should be heavily considered.

Succeeding in High School
Joseph Adegboyega-Edun
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432712297, $13.95,

High School is where it really starts to matter. "Succeeding in High School: A Handbook for Teens and Parents plus a College Admissions Primer" is a guide for young adults who want to make the most out of their college educations and better prepare themselves for college and the rest of their lives. From making the most out of the first year to the importance of extracurriculars, there is no shortage of wisdom and advice within. "Succeeding in High School" is a solid and recommended read for any who want to use high school as a launch pad for life.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Calling All Boomers
Randall D. Howard
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432743581, $14.95,

The explosion of births in the 40s and 50s lead to a generation like no other. "Calling All Boomers: Reflect Now Before the Memory Goes!" is a born again Christian looking back a t the history of the baby boomer era, filled with constant chaotic events, social revolutions, and other life changing events that radically changed how the world turned. "Calling All Boomers" is a strong pick for any baby boomer who wants a spiritual nostalgia trip.

God is a Symbol of Something True
Jack Call
11740 Beverly Blvd., Whittier, CA 90601 (publicity)
O Books
9781846942440, $24.95,

God means many different things to many different people. "God is a Symbol of Something True: Why You Don't Have to Choose Either a Literal Creator God or a Blind, Indifferent Universe" is an exploration of what may lie in between. God may not be a person, but rather an abstract concept that manifests itself in a unique way. A new approach to spirituality and observing the universe as a whole, "God is a Symbol of Something True" is a recommended read that will give many something much more to think about.

The Grudge
Dennis Wesley Clark
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439223420, $20.99,

Respecting the veterans seems like a guideline instead of a rule for some. "The Grudge" is the follow up to 'Hard Way Home' following three former Vietnam Prisoners of War as they return home, but after decades of peace, an old grudge rears its ugly head. How do three respectful, law abiding citizens deal with the FBI, IRS, and other people after them? "The Grudge" is an intriguing thriller of good soldiers facing unusual odds.

Letters to the Lord
Don Reeves
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439245576, $12.99,

War is not waged with guns and bombs, but the heart. "Letters to the Lord: Learning to Live in My World of Wars" is written by a military man who takes a new, heart and mind based approach to warfare and suggests that there is much that faith and spirituality can provide to better understanding the current tactics of war as a whole. Calling for self-criticism and more creative ways to push the message of peace, "Letters to the Lord" is a fresh intriguing read that will give readers much to ponder.

The Peruke Maker
Ruby Dominguez
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road, Parker, CO 80134
9781432738884, $28.95,

Dozens of innocents were killed for no reason during the Salem Witch Trials. Someone will pay. "The Peruke Maker: The Salem Witch Hunter Curse" is a story of a curse of the innocents that ravages Salem hundreds of years later. Sarah, a twenty first century girl, is faced with the curse, and now she must end it or be just another victim. "The Peruke Maker" is an intriguing mystery and a highly recommended read.

Leviathan's Master
David M. Quinn
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440155352, $10.95,

The best stories have basis in reality. "Leviathan's Master: The Wreck of the World's Largest Sailing Ship" is drawn from the history of the T.W. Lawson, dramatized and fictionalized by David M. Quinn drawing on his great uncle's stories. The T.W. Lawson was the biggest oil tanker of its time, and Captain Dow was faced with guiding it across the Atlantic. But Mother Nature never goes quietly into the night. "Leviathan's Master" is quite the naval novel adventure, and is worth the read.

Successful Second Marriages
Patricia Bubash
Privately Published
9781589095632, $18.95

One failure doesn't mean the second will fail. "Successful Second Marriages: Interviews with Nine Couples Who Have Achieved Success in Their Remarriage" is a collection of essays from those who have faced failed marriages and found love once more and it seems to be working this time. Designed as an inspiration for those who have loved then lost, "Successful Second Marriages" is an inspiration to ex-husbands and wives everywhere.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

How Jill Learned to Read Using Phonics
Betty Davis
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432739430, $11.95,

Learning how to read is the most important skill young readers gain. "How Jill Learned to Read Using Phonics" is an educational guide to help young readers gain a better grasp of reading through innovative techniques from teachers. Filled with ideas and tips to help young people read, "How Jill Learned to Read Using Phonics" is certainly something to consider for educators.

An Unholy Alliance
Judy Nedry
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440142062, $19.95,

When everyone wanted to pull the trigger, it's hard to find out who actually did. "An Unholy Alliance" tells the story of Emma Golden, a fifty-something who thought she was getting a new life in the wine country of Oregon, but instead is dragged into an intrigue of the local wine growers when one of the most hated among them turns up dead. With fingers pointing everywhere, Emma feels charged to find the truth. "An Unholy Alliance" is an intriguing novel that explores the world of wine, recommended.

Lydia Rychner-Reich
1661 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595445530, $16.95,

The story of Anne Frank has touched the heart of many, but those around her have had stories of their own. "Desperation: Surviving Hitler's Intention" is the story of Lydia Rychner-Reich and her own recollection of the obstacles that the Nazi regime gave her as a young girl. Death marches, ghettos, and concentration camps, these tortures claimed her family but left her alone. "Desperation" is a solid addition to any holocaust memoir collection.

Hope: Lessons froma Hummingbird
William M. Cuccia
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439221365, $13.99,

Anger and depression are natural things, but when they control one's life, they become serious issues. "Hope: Lessons from a Hummingbird" is a self-help book from a self-expressed regular joe, a man who not all about the healing power of forgiveness and other new age concepts. Discussing hope, and how raw unfiltered positivity and carried him through depression and helped him become a better person, "Hope: Lessons from a Hummingbird" is a unique and highly recommended read, sure to please.

Disorder in the Classroom
Janice M. Hypolite
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd. - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432742591, $15.95,

When the substitute shows up, the real behavior shows up. "Disorder in the Classroom: Or a Firsthand Account of the Substitute Teaching in the Chicago Public Schools System" is one substitute's reflections on her time in Chicago. Stating that classroom behavior is a serious problem and the things she had to deal with were purely chaotic in multiple levels of the process. For a vivid glimpse of substitute teaching and the problems they deal with, "Disorder in the Classroom" is a read that should be considered for educators.

The Anthology of Stingy Bear's Adventures
Edward C. Whisenant
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
1425955932, $16.50,

If a bear is being stingy, are you going to be the one to speak up to it. "The Anthology of Stingy Bear's Adventures" is a story book meant to be enjoyed by both parents and children alike. Aiming to have the wacky antics of a money grubbing bear for the appeal of children, with satire of current events for more mature readers, "The Anthology of Stingy Bear's Adventures" is a treasure trove that all ages can enjoy, highly recommended.

Naked Escape
Maureen Parrella & Frank Alfred Parrella
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440149108, $18.95,

Evil can be at its most evil when it has a pretty face. "Naked Escape: The Race for Peace" tells the story of Ambrose Servent and Berthold Keintraub. Keintraub is lauded as a great peacemaker and the man to follow in coming years, but Servent soon realizes that everyone has flaws in character, and Keintraub has more than he would like people to know. Servent is faced with discrediting someone who can do no wrong, and time begins to tick away before it may be too late. "Naked Escape" is an intriguing spin on the concept of the anti-Christ and is a read that suspense fans will love.

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

A Princess of Landover
Terry Brooks
Del Rey
9780345458520 $26.00

Former Chicago based lawyer Ben Holiday has faced many of his fire breathing enemy and all kinds of WITCHES BREW in the courtroom and in the fantasy realm of Landover where he has become the monarch and his sylph wife Willow his queen. Magical foes prove easy to deal with when he and his spouse struggle with their half-breed fifteen year old daughter Mistaya, who has been suspended from her preppy school back on earth.

Desperate to teach his rebellious offspring a lesson on behavior, he sends her in exile to Libiris the royal library for her to rusticate. Instead Mistaya rejects her father's scheme and runs away only to end up somehow Libiris. She tries to hide from her parents, but Mistaya hears an odd voice from some creature called His Eminence begging her for help. She soon finds a dastardly plot to overthrow her parents so like any teen she charges ahead kicking demon butt in order to prevent a coup from happening.

The latest Landover fantasy is an exciting tale starring a chip off the old block teen heroine who brings freshness to the saga. The story line is fast-paced as Ben faces his greatest challenge of all: a rebellious teenage daughter. Fans will enjoy her adventures while newcomers will be able to join Mistaya's escapade with or without reading the fun previous books in this straightforward saga so different than Shannara.

Star Wars Death Troopers
Joe Schreiber
Del Rey
9780345509628 $24.00

The Imperial prison barge Purge is in a remote sector transporting five hundred of the most ruthless criminals ever known to their new home when the vessel breaks down. Nearby is a drifting Star Destroyer. The crew goes on board hoping to salvage parts needed to repair the thrusters on the Purge.

Not all return from the derelict ship, but those who manage to return are very sick bringing back a host of nasty symptoms that rapidly spread throughout the Purge even in the maximum confinement cells isolated from everyone and everything. The ship's chief medical officer Dr. Zahara Cody tries but fails to contain the disease. In incredibly short order, what was once thousands of people on board had dwindled to six survivors. Cody, Captain of the Guard Sartoris, the teenage Longo sibling prisoners completing their father's prison sentence because he died during a torture interrogation and two other inmates held in the utmost maximum confinement cell. This six are not allies as Cody and the siblings have an axe to grind with Sartoris while the other two have been kept away from people for either lethal or political reasons. The living sextet better unite because the dead crew and prisoners have reanimated and are coming for fresh meat.

Zombies in Star War space seems out of place yet it works as an entertaining thriller with connections to the original film trilogy. The story line is fast-paced and filled with tons of action even before the dead come back to life. Unique and refreshing in terms of Star Wars (zombies have become an "overkilled" species lately), fans will enjoy Joe Schreiber's horror science fiction thriller.

No Doors, No Windows
Joe Schreiber
Del Rey
9780345510136 $14.00

Greetings card writer Scottie Mast leaves his Seattle home to attend the funeral of his father in their hometown Milburn, New Hampshire. Already entrenched inside their parents' home are his brother Owen and his five year old nephew Henry. A wannabe novelist, Scottie finds a partially completed manuscript The Black Wing written by his late dad buried in a shed. His high school sweetheart, Sonia Graham persuades him to stay in town to finish the horror thriller.

Scottie soon finds the location Round House that his father set the story line in. He is unsure why he rents the abode that doesn't inspire him to finish writing the tale. At the same time he worries about Henry under the neglectful care of his drunken father. Scot begins to find information that frightens him of evil doings in the late nineteenth century and recently. When the theater where his mother and uncle died in a fire fifteen years ago is being torn down Scottie finds his muse to complete his dad's horror thriller, but nothing seems quite what it appears.

Exciting and filled with a foreboding atmosphere of doom, NO DOORS, NO WINDOWS is an entertaining ghostly amateur sleuth. Scottie is an intriguing loser until he finds his muse only his inspiration is not quite what he anticipated. Although the atmosphere overwhelms the plot at times, fans will enjoy Joe Schreiber's horror thriller as Scottie seems to CHASING THE DEAD.

The Cookie Christmas Club
Ann Pearlman
9781439158845 $24.99

In Ann Arbor, the twelve members of the Christmas Cookie Club meet on the first Monday of December as they have for sixteen years with a baker's dozen homemade cookies; one to exchange with each other and one for charity. Although the membership has changed over the years, it remains twelve stalwart females who also bring a covered dish and wine as they update one another re what has happened while Al Green sings about love in the background.

Marnie hosts this year's war stories gala. She tells them she is concerned about her pregnant daughter. Other relay their fears and worries about themselves and their loved ones. Each shares their deepest trepidations with the other Christmas Cookie Club members.

This is an enjoyable contemporary relationship drama that celebrates the bond of sisterhood. The anecdotal story line is engaging but the cast is too large as few of the entries go deep enough for the reader to care about most of the individuals. Still fans who appreciated Karen Joy Fowler's the Jane Austen Book Club will want to read about the supporting strengths of deep friendships.

The Gates
John Connolly
9781439172636 $24.00

Three days before Halloween in Biddlecombe, England, eleven year old Samuel Johnson of 501 Crowley Rd. accompanied by Boswell the Dachshund goes trick or treating to get a head start against the competition. At 666 Crowley Rd. Samuel debates Mr. Abernathy as to who or what or why they are trick or treating three days early than the official date.

Inside 666, using subatomic physics kicked, punted or booted (not being a scientist not sure which is the vernacular) inside a particle accelerator, Abernathy and three's company create two giant gates that prove to be a portal between earth and Hades. All hell has broken out on the planet as the first time since the original dot 13.7 billion years or so ago exploded into the Big Bang, demons cross over in what seems to be the beginning of the small crunch. Samuel the warrior kid fights the horde but fails to persuade adults including his parents that a demonic invasion has begun.

This lighthearted fantasy is an amusing tale of good vs. evil in a world of cynical disbelievers. Samuel and Boswell battle the adversary almost alone as ironically their only ally is a low life Nurd the incompetent sub-demon. Targeting young adults with puns, hyperbole, and Abbot-Costello slapstick starting with John Connolly's version of who's on first, older readers who enjoy jocularity in their quantum physics will appreciate the tweener and the canine save the world; although some might wonder why bother.

Pursuit of Honor
Vince Flynn
9781416595168 $27.99

Six days ago the country was rocked by the explosions in DC that killed 185 people and injured so many more. CIA Director Irene Kennedy orders counterterrorism operative Mitch Rapp to find the three al Qaeda men responsible for the attack and bring them to justice anyway he can. However, the sophisticated way the trio vanished is a shocker as terrorists have not been very good at hiding their footprints, which to Rapp denotes some insider support to have gotten to and away from the National Counterterrorism Center one of their targets that included several senators as victims.

First Rapp has to take care of "Deep Throat" wannabe CIA IG Inspector Adams. After that he and his teammate Mike Nash struggle with clues as Congress screams for increased oversight and no more illegal activity while his employer unofficially sanctions whatever it takes to keep the nation safe. He is unaware that in Toolesboro, Iowa are Hakim and Karim hiding on a farm that the former purchased through a New York lawyer. They rusticate overlooking the Mississippi before they make their follow-up move to the success of the explosions they set in DC six days ago.

With the arrest of terrorist suspects, the latest Rapp thriller is an exciting tale as the hero struggles with his PURSUIT OF HONOR while trying to take out some nasty folks who hide behind the skirts of young girls as the innocent are expendable in order to achieve their objective Rapp running on that very thin line between morality and security comes across much stronger through Nash's balancing act between his family and protecting his country. Ironically while the Congress and Executive Branch debate legal issues over domestic spying and torture, Rapp and Nash skirmish between personal ethics and national security as Vince Flynn provides a thought provoking gripping thriller.

Seaside Letters
Denise Hunter
Thomas Nelson
9781595542601 $14.99

On Nantucket, Sabrina Kincaid works at the Cobblestone Cafe where everyday she serves Tucker McCabe his coffee. Although attracted to him to distraction that she spills coffee, the only relationship she accepts is one in cyberspace as she was hurt badly once before when she lived in Macon, Georgia by her fiance and her cousin.

Tucker has fallen in love with his email pen pal Sweetpea, but though he believes she is attracted to him and even sent him a photo of her; she refuses to meet him in person. He has heard that Sabrina is good at puzzles so he wants to hire her to find his Sweetpea. Sabrina knows that would be extremely easy to achieve. The hard part would be to tell her beloved email buddy that he just hired Sweetpea to find his Sweetpea as the picture he has of her is actually that of her seditious cousin; so expecting rejection if she tells the truth she schemes to conceal her identity. She is unaware that Tucker is hiding information from her.

Sabrina is a fascinating character as she feels her transgressions compound her feelings of plainness so that Tucker and God will reject her. The more lies she weaves and he by omission, the more complicated unraveling the truth becomes though her friend Renny the wannabe writer insists honesty is the only policy. Fans of inspirational romances will enjoy the second Nantucket romance (see SURRENDER BAY; not read by me) even if the island community never comes into focus. Two people in love find redemption by taking a chance on honesty with themselves, each other and God.

Who Do I Talk To?
Neta Jackson
Thomas Nelson
9781595545244 $14.99

In Chicago, Gabby Fairbanks knew her husband Philip was upset, but did not realize how much so until he kicked her to the street by changing the locks on their penthouse, ripped up her credit and debit cards, canceled her cell and vanished with their sons PJ and Paul. She is homeless along with her elderly mom and their canine Dandy. Gabby can handle a lot and is not overly concerned about where they will live as she can stay at the Manna House women's shelter where she also works, but she is angry and despondent feeling betrayed especially concerning her kids.

Filled with grief to her bone marrow, Gabby tries to recover her sense of self worth as she now lives with her "clients". The Yada Yada Prayer Group and the residents try their best to encourage Gabby to move on, but also go after Philip as she has rights too especially since her children need her. Still she has no one, not God, her lawyer, her two sisters or her aunt, to talk to as the big hurt is deep inside her soul and will soon worm hole even deeper.

The second Yada Yada House of Hope tale continues the life crises facing Gabby as she has temporarily answered her previous question WHERE DO I GO? Now she mentally feels like a tsunami has passed through her brain as she wonders WHO DO I TALK TO? Readers will fully relish her tale of anguish and rage even at God as more personal catastrophes assault the beleaguered Gabby.

Melody Carlson
9781400070824 $13.99

Claudette never minded living on the edge of the LIMELIGHT as the wife to her beloved Hollywood legend, director husband Gavin Fiore. However, when he dies her heart breaks as she grieves her loss and fears being alone for the first time ever. She also learns she is bankrupt as all that money Gavin earned was misused by their thieving accountant.

Distraught Claudette tries suicide, but fails even at that. Despondent after her release from the hospital, she returns home to Silverton having no longer a house in Beverly Hills as that was sold to pay back taxes. Claudette has no skills whatsoever and being old means no longer can she use her beauty to get what she wants. She turns to her estranged sister Violet at the senior citizen home, but that proves fruitless as does her understanding Mother whose faith has never wavered. It is Gavin's letters that inspire Claudette.

This is an entertaining inspirational tale that deeply scrutinizes religious beliefs, and personal values through the strong elderly characters. In many ways the story line is a second chance at family. Claudette, Violet, Mother and the late Gavin as well as others make for a powerful look at what matters in life is how you treat others away from the limelight as you can teach an old dog new tricks if the goal is right; for the protagonist it has become hugs in Silverton and one day hugs with Gavin in heaven.

Chosen by Desire
Kate Perry
9780446541015 $6.99

Carrie Wood went from San Francisco to China in order to finish her thesis that claims the Scrolls of Destiny exist. Her goal to teach at Berkley foster her ambitions so she sneaks inside a monastery to take pictures serendipitously but quickly realizes the gig is up. Instead of fleeing gently into the night, she rationalizes that she borrows with plans to return what she takes; she steals the Book of Water.

Carrie misunderstands what she purloined as the scrolls make her a target for those greedy with the need for power even as she gains some from the Book she possesses. Meanwhile Metal Guardian Max Prescott is sent to retrieves the stolen artifacts. He hires the thief to translate selections of Chinese text from his personal collection. However, he is angry at himself and her because he has no time for his deep attraction to a burglar.

The Guardians of Destiny urban romantic fantasy (see MARKED BY PASSION) is a fast-paced action thriller from the moment that Carrie questions why she is stealing the scrolls and never slows down as a mutual enemy craves what she took. Max is a fun to watch his agony of falling in love with a person he considers a lowlife academic crook. The return of the stars from the previous entry enhances an entertaining often amusing taut thriller.

A Highlander's Temptation
Sue-Ellen Welfonder
9780446195300 $6.99

In 1350 Lady Arabella Mackenzie argues with her father the Black Stag of Kintail (see DEVIL IN A KILT - where it all began) that she must go to her new property the Seal Isles that he bestowed on her as part of her bride price. He calls it rubbish, but she is determined to have an adventure and find her true love like her younger sisters have; her plans is to visit the legendary Giving Stone.

Vikings attack her ship during a storm, but Arabella survives due to singing seals and Darroc MacConacher who takes her to his Castle Bane. Everyone at the castle hates her father especially Darroc whose clan has had deadly incidents with the Black Stag. However, sweet caring Arabella befriends all. As she and Darroc falls in love, he struggles to balance his need for the daughter with his desire to destroy her father.

This is an enjoyable medieval romance starring a wonderful heroine and a conflicted confused lead male. The story line takes off with the opening clash between father and daughter as the Black Stag shouts, busters, and silences his way to what he wants, but loses anyway as he would do anything for his oldest daughter except perhaps make peace with the MacConacher clan. The story line is owned by Darroc who feels schizoid between his love for Arabella and his hate for her daddy. Sue-Ellen Welfonder has written a wonderful historical romance that will make readers feel as if they have gone back to the past as the scenes are so vividly colorful and realistic.

The Christmas Glass
Marci Alborghetti
Guidepost Books
9780824947767 $15.99

In 1940 as Mussolini brings Italy into the European war on the side of Germany, the widow Anna runs a small orphanage that quietly has given shelter to Jewish children. Although she knows she is doing the right thing by allowing the Jews into her orphanage she has one regret. Anna fears the Fascists will destroy her family heirloom given to her by her mom, a dozen hand-blown Christmas ornaments, in retaliation for housing the Jews. Refusing to allow the kids to be kicked out, she carefully wraps the precious twelve and sends them to her married cousin Filomena, mother of twin toddlers. When the war ends, Filomena and her family leave Europe for America.
Over the decades, the glass ornaments are passed around the family so that twelve different people possess one each. In 2000 octogenarian Filomena fears her family has lost its way as nothing brings them together. As the matriarch and with a nod to Anna, Filomena demands the return of the twelve ornaments to be delivered in person by the family member possessing it. This will be a Thanksgiving to remember as a lovely reunion or the end of the tenuous ties.

This is an engaging family drama that feels relevant in today's shrinking world in which ironically extended families are moving further away from one another. The story line focuses a chapter each on the twelve possessors of the CHRISTMAS GLASS so that the readers learn what each person thinks with Filomena being the past owner. In some ways anecdotal rather than a linear plot, Marci Alborghetti provides a deep look at what denotes family just prior to the twenty-first century.

Terri Blackstock
9780310250654 $14.99

Widower Barbara Covington is worried about her addicted teenage daughter Emily and decides to intervene after her lockdown efforts fail and her offspring stole money using illegal credit cards she took out in her dead father's name. She takes her eighteen year old child to meet with a rehab center interventionist Trish Massey. However, the counselor is found dead and Emily missing. The police for obvious reasons assume Emily killed him.

Upset and despondent, Barbara searches for her missing oldest child with her other teen Lance advising her. She vows to find Emily and the real killer before the police lock her daughter away for a homicide Barbara knows in her troubled soul her teen did not commit.

This is a super inspirational thriller that is at its best when looking into addictive destructive behavior and at the mom-older teen daughter relationship. Barbara and Trish are fully developed characters; both at the end of their respective ropes, which each might use to hang themselves or the other. Fourteen year old Lance is too wise as if he is the interventionist guiding his mom (how old was Yoda?). The whodunit is well written, but more of a supporting device to force Barbara to personally "intervene". Fans will appreciate this profound tale while pondering whether addiction is a personal, family or even community illness as Emily's actions impact others.

Love Finds You in Revenge, Ohio
Lisa Harris
9781934770818 $12.99

Having been jilted twice after her father Isaiah abandoned her mom, her three younger sisters depend on twenty-seven year old Catherine Morgan who vows no more men in her life. Instead she pledges to run the family general store in Revenge, Ohio as a spinster on the shelf and contradictory find decent husbands for her siblings; that if there is such a thing as a decent male.

In 1884 Sheriff Corbin Hunter arrives in town seeking a bank robbing gang; he is one of the men who dumped Catherine, breaking her heart seven years ago. His evidence points to her sister Audrey's fiance as the brains behind the criminal gang who killed his father. Although she wants nothing to do with the one that broke her heart the most, Catherine decides to help him with his inquiry praying her sibling does not end up heartbroken like her. Corbin accepts her help though he vows to not allow the woman who broke his heart seven years ago do so again.

LOVE FINDS YOU IN REVENGE OHIO is a wonderful warm historical Americana romance starring two strong lead characters and a solid support cast. The story line is action-packed and contains several neat twists with each spin hooking readers further. Fans will root for sacrificing Catherine, whose anger with her father and to a degree her mother makes her selfishly responsible for her sisters whether they want her to do so or not; this also leads her to assume her beloved Corbin should not be saddled with her charges. Corbin is a terrific counterpoint as his love for the woman who hurt him remains strong but is it as powerful as his need to find his father's killer. This is a great inspirational late nineteenth century romantic suspense.

Dance In Shadows
Karen Wiesner
Whiskey Creek
9781603135672 $14.95

Years ago, Angelo Pluzetti's life changed when his beloved family was murdered. He joined the Network, whose mission is to obliterate criminals. He became Head of Network Operations as his passion and willingness to die yet protect his "family" of operatives have become so renowned; his enemies from powerful Revolutionary Echelon Defenders (R.E.D). need him eliminated.

He has one Achilles' heel, twenty-nine years old Dr. Celine Savage. She has loved him for what seems to her an eternity, but he conceals his deep regard for her from everyone especially Celine and his adversaries. However someone must somehow know because Celine is a target so he needs to keep her safe; not realizing when they are both captured by R.E.D. her inner strength gives him the extra courage he needs for both of them and their unborn to survive.

The ninth Incognito romantic suspense thriller is a great entry in a super saga. Angelo and Celine are a fabulous pairing as each is attracted to one another, but hide it for differing reasons (besides what is described above). Besides the enemy neither wants to face the wrath of their boss Shannon. Filled with action and sexual tension, fans will enjoy the lead couple as they DANCE IN THE SHADOWS rather than with the stars.

Leaving Yesterday
Kathryn Cushman
Bethany House
9780764203824 $13.99

When police Detective Thompson arrives at her door, Alisa Stewart almost has a heart attack as she fears the cop is here to inform her that her only surviving son Kurt is dead. However, the officer only wants to talk with Kurt to learn what he knows about the brutal beating murder of a dealer.

Still frantic with worry, she is finally relieved when Kurt calls her to tell her he is off the street and in rehab. She feels he is turning the corner and thanks the Lord for this miracle. Meanwhile as her spouse considers a divorce, she considers an affair, but soon has to think about second chances when the police arrest a perp for the drug related murder that she begins to fear Kurt committed, but sticks to her mantra of by pretending it didn't happen it will make it go away.

Although the trials and tribulations tests that Job faced may make him the only person ever to have more calamities tossed at them than Alisa, which can be overwhelming to the reader, LEAVING YESTERDAY is a fine family drama. Alisa holds the story line together as her worries about Kurt turn into a personal morality crisis of right vs. wrong with her fear being her son committed the killing and her concealing her belief goes against her Ten Commandment like ethics. Even her pretending he didn't do it does not ease her mind. Although her crises with her spouse and with her potential lover feels intrusive, LEAVING YESTERDAY is a strong look at personal morality in a world in which define is holds no one culpable.

Across the Endless River
Thad Carhart
9780385529778 $26.95

Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau was born during the Lewis and Clarke expedition in 1805; his mom was Sacagawea while his father Charbonneau was a French trapper turned translator. As an infant he made it to the Pacific; as a boy he went to school in St. Louis and at his mom's village. He learns several languages growing up in his divided lineage.

European naturalist Duke Paul Wilhelm of Wurttemberg is in the United States analyzing and classifying North American flora and fauna. Baptiste assists him and accompanies him back to Paris where he becomes the toast of the nobles though not one of them; only the Duke's cousin Princess Theresa understands his duality but she has a pragmatic outlook that excludes the mixed breed. Baptiste meets and falls in love with Irish expatriate Maura Hennesy. However, in his early twenties after five years on the continent he decides to go home with his Maura at his side.

This is an entertaining biographical fiction of the youngest member of the Lewis and Clarke expedition. Baptiste is a fascinating character whose bi-racial background makes him in at the highest levels of European aristocratic society and yet never really in. Fans will feel they are transported to the first half of the nineteenth century in Europe and Americas as the imagery is incredible vivid. Although more a series of anecdotal occurrences that bring to life time and place than a cohesive novel, ACROSS THE ENDLESS RIVER is a fascinating historical fiction that takes a fresh timely look at contrasting two worlds through a lead character who has a foot in both and in neither.

The Other Lands
David Durham
9780385523325 $28.00

Several years have passed since their father king of the Acacian Empire was assassinated and his kingdom splintered. His children went on diverse paths, but they won THE WAR WITH THE MEIN.

The late monarch's oldest child his daughter Queen Corinn rules over the Known World with a magically enhanced iron fist. She insures no one knows her mage secrets and uses magic and drugs to prevent uprisings and dissension. She sends her brother Daniel on what is perceived a dangerous perhaps suicidal mission to the unknown Other Lands. Corinn assumes Daniel and her other siblings are expendable pawns who live to keep her on the throne. Daniel is shocked with what he finds in THE OTHER LAND; as the ruling tribes are very powerful and pose a major threat to the stability of the Known World especially his sister's rule, but Corinn's overbearing imperative leadership has left her few allies and plenty of internal enemies ready to betray her.

Corinn is a powerful amoral monarch that keeps THE OTHER LANDS from being a typical fantasy as her view of the world is her subjects including her siblings are throwaways who live to enhance her control. Her dictatorial regime leaves her almost alone. Daniel's trek is more standard fantasy 101 although well written and fun. Fans will enjoy the return to Acacia as the next generation's oldest sits on the throne.

Hypnotizing Maria
Richard Bach
Hampton Roads
9781571746238 $18.95

Flight instructor Jamie Forbes was flying from Washington State to Florida when he is just north of Cheyenne and an hour from North Platte, Nebraska when he receives the panicked SOS from sexagenarian Maria Ochoa who says she thinks her husband is dead. Her spouse Juan was flying them when he collapsed into unconsciousness. Calmly Jamie talks Marie, who never flew before, through the steps to safely land the pl ane before finishing his own flight; as he did not stick around for his fifteen minutes of fame.

Afterward reporters question Maria, who insists a stranger entered her plane and hypnotized her into landing the plane before disappearing. Hearing Maria's commentary leads to Jamie contemplate what is real even as he meets his own angelic guiding stranger and learns how to truly teach is to guide but allow your students to do.

HYPNOTIZING MARIA is a thought provoking philosophical character driven thriller. The story line is a fast-paced one sitting novella as Jamie (and readers) contemplates what is reality and how does one truly instruct someone else when each has there own interpretation of what they sense is real. Richard Bach soars with this cerebral tale that will leave his audience pondering metaphysical questions and challenging Jamie's answers to them; wonderfully encouraged by the author to do just that as the right answer is personal.

My Wicked Vampire
Nina Bangs
9780843959550 $7.99

Sparkle Stardust welcomes botanist Cinn Airmid to the Castle of Dark Dreams. However Cinn insists she does not need the cheerleading team spirit pizzazz as she works with plants who are loners. Still Sparkle mentions her soul mate Mede who came close to being vampire fodder on the road to Galveston.

Although Cinn is sinfully good with plants and may have made a sentient species, she scoffs at vampires, demons, and cosmic chaos creators. However, she has to reconsider what she knows of the universe when she meets Dacion, who has played dead as an undead for almost six centuries to avoid his sire Stephen, who with his minion is coming.

The "Wicked" return to the Castle of Dark Dreams is filled with pleasure, fantasy, humor, and danger, as the cosmic trouble making duo are one night's bite from trouble as their overarching subplot takes quite a twist. The vampire and the botanist are a wonderful pairing of love with the paranormal minion converging on them. Fans of the saga will appreciate MY WICKED VAMPIRE while newcomers will enjoy this tasty tale and seek the wicked urban romantic fantasy backlist to learn how far Ganymede and Sparkle have come.

Black Horse
Veronica Blake
9780843961676 $6.99

The Ogala tribe adopted blonde haired white girl Meadow and raised her as one of them although she looked nothing like them. However, as she grows up into a beautiful squaw Meadow knows she is different and appreciates even more the tribe that took her in as a tiny child.

War Chief Black Horse visits the tribe and is immediately attracted to Meadow; she reciprocates. He obtains permission from the elders to spend time with her and to marry her. However The Canadian Mounted Police find the white woman living among the Indians and take her back with them; ignoring her wishes as they believe she is better off with her people. Meadow knows one life and one love so she flees her captivity only to be caught by the Blackfoot.

This is an entertaining Indian romance that fans of Cassie Edwards would appreciate. Meadow and Black Horse are fully developed likable characters as she displays courage throughout risking her life twice to save the man she loves. She and the Canada locations make for a fine nineteenth century historical as fans will root for this couple to make it.

Christmas Ball
Emily Bryan, Jennifer Ashley and Alissa Johnson
9780843962505 $7.99

"The Longest Night" by Jennifer Ashley. Nvengarian shapeshift Baron Valentin arrives at the ball to continue his pursuit of his beloved Mary Cameron, who has run away from love.

"My Lady Below Stairs" by Emily Bryan. Being a bastard means to Jane collecting the eggs from the henhouse when it is cold or impersonating your legitimate half-sister Sybil when she apparently elopes with a painter.

"Traditions" by Alissa Johnson. Prim and proper Casslebury plans to court Miss Caroline Meldrin, but to his chagrin is attracted to her wild friend Miss Patience Byerly.

Readers will enjoy attending the Hartwell holiday ball as sponsored by these three fine Regency romance authors.

Holiday Brides
Jewel Amethyst, Farrah Rochon and Stefanie Worth
9780843963199 $6.99

"From SKB with Love" by Jewel Amethyst'. Widow Venetta planned to stay home for Christmas and grieve her beloved MJ's death as she always does during Christmas; but her friend Kerina won the lotto and insistd they, along with two other BFFs, go to St. Kitts to escape the Baltimore cold. There she meets Sean, but as she falls in love Venetta fears losing the memory of her first love.

"No Ordinary Gift" by Farrah Rochon. Kemah worked hard to come a long way from her impoverished childhood while her first love Tyson grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth. She tries to give something back to the community working at the Darolyn Crawford Community Center. He is the director who cares about the children putting his money up. However, Tyson has another goal besides making the center a success; he wants Kemah before the Kwanzaa celebration ends.

"" by Stefanie Worth. Brenna and Evan have met all types of losers on line and off. Both seek a perfect everlasting relationship, but with each respective failed encounter they are ready to call it quits on dating. That is until matchmaking guardian angels pair them up for New Year's Eve.

These three African-American holiday romances are fun reading, as each contains a different holiday to celebrate. Although the women are fully developed, the men are not quite so, but fans will enjoy these hunks going after the women who make them want to celebrate the season and much more.

Mischief In Mudbug
Jana DeLeon
Love Spell
9780505527851 $6.99

After Helena the ghost makes a disturbing appearance during a client's visit, Mudbug psychic Sabine LeVeche learns from Dr. Breaux that her biopsy test affirms she suffers from acute myeloid leukemia; a type that with treatment most people go into remission especially if the person receives a bone marrow transplant from a close relative.

However, Sabine has a minor problem with the bone marrow therapy; she needs a relative, but knows of none in spite of her efforts to find kin. Private investigator Beau Villeneuve, her BFF Maryse and Helena help the stunned twenty-eight years old woman. However, their efforts are sidetracked by someone trying to kill Sabine and her attraction to Beau who feels the same way about her.

This is an engaging sequel, but the TROUBLE IN MUDBUG is that several key support characters (especially Helena) cannot stand alone without having read the previous book. Still Sabine's search for blood relatives takes a serious health turn that makes for a serious story line while her mutually shared feelings with Beau adds a naked romantic element to the recipe. The suspense subplot adds tension, but also takes a back seat to the health crisis and the attraction as Jana DeLeon cooks an interesting spin in Mudbug.

Santa, Honey
Kate Angell, Sandra Hill and Joy Nash
Love Spell
9780505527530 $7.99

"Ho, Humbug, Ho," by Kate Angell. In Holiday, Florida, Judge Hathaway sentenced Richmond Rogues baseball player Alex Boxer for speeding to perform forty hours community service as Santa at Wilmington Mall; the previous user of the costume recently died. Instead of celebrating the World Series win with his teammates in Miami he is stuck with kids drooling and wishing. Of course he wants to hit a walk off homer with local torturer Holly.

"Naughty or Nice" by Sandra Hill. Jessica Jones is so desperate she enters the Piggly Jiggly Supermarket wearing a Santa suit and carrying a gun as she plans a "stick-out". The Christmas Curse continues when her scheme fails and she takes the Brad Pitt in a Santa suit look alike Luke Carter as her hostage. He knows he could escape with ease, but tags along only to fall in love with the fruitcake that he ends up protecting.

"Christmas Unplugged" by Joy Nash. In New York, wannabe actress Emma catches her boyfriend tonguing another woman. To escape the city and her hurt, she persuades her sister, the "Minesweeper" expert to leave town on the vacation with her that she was supposed to take with cheating Todd. The siblings go to the Dutch Lodge in the Adirondacks. The sisters meet the owner's nephews with Emma and Jake, and Casey and Matt attracted respectively to one another

These are three warm Christmas romances starring wonderful protagonists; although the Sandra Hill tale is a reprint from the 1996 anthology The Night Before Christmas.

The Hunt
Anne Marsh
Love Spell
9780505528247 $6.99

At the Temple of Amun-Ra, Miu hesitantly enters the tunnels. Her quest is to save her sister and to complete a loyalty pledge she made to her employer the thief master Lierr. She must steal a powerful moonstone necklace from the crypt and escape the legendary Guardian warriors who are said to be shapeshifters; although she believes they are mortal warriors only everything she heard is no female ever escaped THE HUNT.

Jafar the Guardian notices Miu and concludes she will prove to be a pest as she refuses to undergo the standard virginity test. Amun-Ra orders Jafar to follow Miu to learn why she is here confident and disobedient unlike the other frightened females. Jafar does not know how much trouble she causes as he catches her stealing a necklace and begins to believe she is his mate, but she deserves a stiff penalty as he was betrayed once before by a female.

The moment Miu breaks the laws by entering the tunnels this exciting romantic fantasy gets its claws into the audience who go in with her and never let's go until the final confrontation with Amun-Ra. The key to the Marsh mythos is realm of THE HUNT seems genuine as the author provides enough lore interwoven nicely into the (too many) subplots for readers to believe in its existence. With a nod to Egyptian mythology and a strong support cast, fans will cheer on the lead pair through action to the nth degree while each has doubts about a relationship between them.

Cody McFadyen
9780553806953 $25.00

Near the beach in Los Angeles, Callie Thorne is marrying Sam Brady with most of the attendees being from or associated with the local FBI office. Both work for the Feds with the bride employed in the local branch of the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) and the groom on the SWAT. However, a car driving by stops for a nanosecond to throw out a bald headed emaciate female. The incoherent female has been missing for eight years and was a cop.

NCAVC local branch chief Smoky Barret, a matron of honor at the wedding, soon begins to put together the ugly picture of a psychopathic mercenary dubbed "Dali". Apparently husbands hire this maniac to kidnap no longer wanted wives to rid them from their lives; the abductor stores them in tiny dark cells for years as pieces of meat in case the need arises to demand remittance from a slacker client. The culprit receives half the life insurance or else extorts a lot more from those who renege on their fee. When Dali realizes Smokey is getting close to unraveling the motive for liberating the victim, the meat processor abducts her giving her a choice between her liberty and the death of a teammate.

Putting aside Smokey's abduction record (her face scarred and her spouse and preadolescent daughter murdered) and the text messaging taunting, Barrett's fourth FBI serial killer is a super cat and mouse game. The chilling brilliant psychopath, whose "meat packing" business is thriving in spite of the ecomony makes for a fast-paced story line from the moment the maniac text messages Smokey with a gift and never slows down from there. Fans of the series will relish Smokey's latest violent crime case (see SHADOW MAN).

Haunting Jordan
P.J. Alderman
9780553592108 $7.99

Jordan Marsh's husband died in a car cash because someone cut the brake lines of his vehicle. LAPD Detective Drake believes she killed her spouse but has no evidence to prove his theory. Sick of Drake's harassment, Jordan moves to Port Chatham, Washington; where she purchases a fixer upper Victorian, Longren House. To her surprise her new abode comes with two ghostly residents Hattie her teenage sister Charlotte.

When Hattie's husband died, she took over his shipping business and inherited his enemies especially amidst his allies when she decides to clean up his dirty dealings. This includes resentful Mike Seavey who is a power on the docks, her late husband's manager, and Police Chief Greeley who wants to marry Charlotte. As Jordan tries to solve who murdered Hattie back in 1890, she also has to deal with Drake who has new evidence and has come to the Pacific Northwest to see her arrested. Jordan's lawyer refuses to allow her to be expedited back to California as th e new proof would not hold up in court. Still someone wants Jordan in jail, but she has no idea who or why.

Readers will thoroughly enjoy this paranormal amateur sleuth because of the ghost who tells Jordan what happened to her back in 1890 as she tries to persuade the mortal to investigate the homicide in 2009. Looking into a cold case as a total amateur seems easy when compared to being a present day suspect in her husband's death as Drake is like Inspector Girard of the Fugitive. P.J. Alderman writes a scintillating supernatural whodunit as the spirits connect the past with the present.

The White Garden
Stephanie Barron
9780553385779 $15.00

American Jo Bellamy comes to England to study the famous White Garden at Sissinhurst Castle. The landscape designer has been hired by wealthy Long Island patrons to recreate the work of Vita Sackville West, lover of Virginia Woolf.

Jo conceals that her visit also contains a personal need. Her grandfather who worked at the White Garden committed suicide. The present gardener gives Jo a six decade old journal he found while rummaging in the tool shed; he believes Ms. Woolf was the author. Jo is stunned especially when the last entry occurs after Ms. Woolf died. She begins to follow the footsteps of Ms. Woolf seeking missing pages and answers to what happened in March 1941 when Virginia Woolf drowned in the Ouse with her pockets filled with stones.

Purposely loaded with hyperbolic stereotypes to accentuate the writings of Virginia Woolf, THE WHITE GARDEN is a terrific literary mystery that hooks readers from the onset and never slows down as Jo tracks her heroine's death. The suspenseful story line is fast-paced throughout, but driven by the insight into the late writer's life and works; these are seen through Jo's follow her not afraid of Virginia Woolf thread. Stephanie Barron allows Jane Austen a breather as she successfully switches to another writing legend.

Hell Hollow
Ronald Kelly
Cemetery Dance
9781587671869 $40.00

Over breakfast in Atlanta, his dad the corporate attorney and his mom the psychiatrist inform twelve year old Keith Bishop that he will spend four weeks with his nonagenarian grandfather on the old guy's Mcleod farm in Harmony, Tennessee. His parents plan to vacation in Europe while their son rusticates. Keith expects one month of boredom.

With not much to do, Keith and three friends (Chuck, Rusty and Maggie) he meets explore the woods near his grandfather rural locale. They find HELL HOLLOW hidden in the eerie woods; a place where back in 1917, Dr. Augustus Leech's Traveling Medicine Show stopped. The townsfolk lynched Leech whom they thought collected souls for Satan. However, most of those who were involved have passed on while the few who still live conceal the deadly deed by avoiding the area where Keith and company walk unaware that his wicked spirit lives. Soon the tweeners, an escaped killer, and a rape victim collide with the malevolence who has patiently waited for decades to steal more souls.

This is a terrific horror tale starring a solid ensemble of humans of all ages and temperament, and a vile evil able to live even after his body died. Readers will enjoy Ronald Kelly's one sitting suspense laden supernatural thriller as "the evil that men do lives after them" (Shakespeare).

Sergio Bizzio
Bitter Lemon Press
9781904738404 $14.95

In Buenos Aires, laborer Jose Maria and mansion servant Rosa meet and fall in love. However, they conceal their romance from her censorious employers Senor and Senora Blinder. When his foreman Dali calls him names, Jose confronts his boss and is fired he feels unjustly as his superior started the incident. In a rage, Jose kills Dali violently.

The police seek Jose who tells his beloved Rosa he must leave the city. However, instead of going far away from Buenos Aires, Jose hides inside the huge mansion in an empty area. He watches the owners and their son Alvaro to insure they treat his beloved appropriately while clandestinely stealing food. When Alvaro rapes Rosa, Jose in a rage kills him.

This is an odd but exhilarating thriller that sort of feels like taking Hitchcock's Rear Window and relocating it in Argentina. The violent hero is for the most part like a ghost or the comic book Watcher as he keenly observes the goings on inside his small world (self-prison) mansion. This is Jose's tale as his raging mind enables readers to ironically "view" the darker side of society.

Jocelynn Drake
9780061542886 $7.99

The naturi are preparing the end game assault with a special sacrifice that will destroy the barrier between them and the human-nightwalkers. Once Rowe completes the portal, his spouse the queen Aurora will lead her race as they cross over to devastate both species.

The only hope for humanity and the nightwalkers resides with Mira, who has special skills especially with the use of fire. However, she is realistic as she knows the odds are heavily against her unless an alliance is forged as has occurred between her and the vampire slayer Danaus. However they have new hope when they capture naturi Princess Cynnia who insists she opposes her sister's plan for the apocalypse.

The third Dark Days urban fantasy (see DAYHUNTER and NIGHTWALKER) is a terrific action-packed entry that is driven by partners forced into what both believe is an unnatural partnership. The characters make the story line feel genuine as Mira the fire starter vampire and Danaus the vampire hunter need to team up or lose to the naturi. With treason from within their ranks and seemingly within the nature, Jocelyn Drake complicates her overarching theme tenfold in what is turning into a magnificent saga.

The Monstrumologist
Rick Yancey
Simon & Schuster
9781416984481 $17.99

In 1888 twelve year old William Henry James lives with monstrumologist Doctor Pellinore Warthrop ever since his parents died years ago. One night a grave robber delivers a desecrated corpse to Warthrop. The doctor is somewhat horrified by the condition of the body, but not as much as his ward.

Warthrop insists the atrocity was done by Anthropophagi who apparently came from Africa bringing with them massacres and slaughters; they are cannibals who dine on man; competing with one another to be the first to rip off a head. As the doctor and his assistant investigate the latest bloodshed, the pair is also forced to look at their own ancestry, but most critical is to find a way to end the gruesome butchery before their town is destroyed.

Told entirely by Will in his diary who died in 2007, THE MOMSTRUMOLIGIST is a well written gruesome horror thriller that grips readers starting with the opening dictionary definition of the title and never let's goes as the twelve years old hero describes his and his guardian's exploits. The story line is vivid, but must not be read on full stomach as Rick Yancey holds nothing back yet also explores relationships between an adult and a child, and the ethical boundaries of science when death is involved. Gory perhaps over the edge to disgusting, this is horror at its worst, which means at its exciting entreating best.

Treason's Shore
Sherwood Smith
9780756405731 $25.99

Prince Indevan-Dal has regained his honor having warned his country of the Venn invasion and led the defeat of the enemy. He remains in the capital after years of exile and does his duty by pledging his allegiance to the ruler Evred and marrying Tdor although his lover when he lived at sea, the sorceress Dag Signi is unhappy with her relegated status.

Meanwhile the Venn war fleet returns home to recuperate. Commander Durasnir and his wife Brun hope the foolish youthful monarch Rajnir gives them and their sailors a respite; but fear the real ruler behind the throne Dag Erkric will not allow such. Their trepidation proves correct when Erkric abducts his ten year old son to use as a hostage. There is also a Blood Hunt directed at Signi, who is captured. The Venn are preparing for a second invasion but who shall lead the opposition Inda or Elgar the Fox becomes a controversial distraction.

The fantastic fourth and final Inda fantasy (see INDA, THE FOX and KING'S SHIELD) is a super ending to an excellent saga as the prime characters constantly must choose between personal desires and kingdom needs. The choices are not easy as loyalty to a king may prove treasonous to a kingdom. Complex with thriving cultures on land and at sea, TREASON'S SHORE completes one of the best fantasy chronicles in years as fans will want to visit the realm of stupendous Sherwood Smith; recommend starting at the beginning to better understand the motives of the prime time players.

The Storm Witch
Violette Malan
9780756405748 $15.00

In Lesonika, Partners Dhulyn Wolfshead and Parno Lionsmane of the Mercenary Guild learn they are accused of kidnapping and murder. They return to the Tarkin of Hellik's Court to prove their innocence. To achieve their objective, they must investigate the homicide and determine who the real killer is.

Dhulyn and Parno begin the probe, but are disrupted by something more perilous than a murder accusation. Long Ocean Nomads have abducted some friends at sea. Loyal to a fault, the duet set off on the rescue although Dhulyn has fears because she has had visions that Parno will die at sea so she fears this mission is doomed.

The latest Dhulyn-Parno escapades (see THE SLEEPING GOD and THE SOLDIER KING) are exciting high seas adventures with three major detours in the fast-paced story line. First they start investigating the murder accusation, but switch to a watery rescue before switching again to a strange land mission. Fans of the saga will relish their latest thriller summed up nicely by Parno when referring to the mercenary Guild says "What kind of problems can they give us? What could be worse than what we been through"? With this pair anything can happen to the delight of readers.

The Broken Teaglass
Emily Arsenault
9780553807332 $25.00

Billy Webb who just graduated from college begins working as a lexicographer at Samuelson Company publishers of an annual dictionary. Already employed there in a separate cubicle but in a similar editor assistant position is Mona Minot.

Mona begins to find some strange notes referencing a book THE BROKEN TEAGLASS. She shows her notes to Billy, but neither can find the tome. They conclude someone previously employed at Samuelson left the citations, but not why or what they refer to. As they dig deeper and begin to put meaning to the notes, they begin to believe a murder occurred and some of their cubicle mates may have been involved.

This is a fascinating mystery filled with suspense that hooks the audience who wonder along with the lead couple whether a homicide occurred and if some of the cubicle mates were involved. In some ways the story line is a coming of age transition tale as Billy struggles with the biggest life change hr has ever faced having just graduated from college. Fans will enjoy this cerebral amateur sleuth as two young lexicographers search for the seemingly nonexistent BROKEN TEAGLASS.

The Owl Killers
Karen Maitland
9780385341707 $26.00

In 1321, the English villagers of Ulewic are pulled in two directions. The Owl Masters demand a return to paganism while the Beguines Christian women want to be left to worship as they choose in peace. However, the tiny town has had several catastrophes from plague to flooding to famine so many residents blame the Beguines.

The village priest blames the disasters on those females living in the beguinage. The Owl Masters ally with the priest insisting the unnatural women have caused crop failure and sudden animal deaths because they are witches.

This is a fascinating look at a medieval conflict that has relevancy today with it's for or against dividedness. The story line focuses on religious disputes and indirectly sexism. Insightful although too abrupt with sudden changes of perspective, fans of medieval historical tales will want to read THE OWL KILLERS AS KAREN Maitland scrutinizes intolerance and partnering by people of influence in positions of moral authority for personal agendas.

Blood Kin
Maria Lima
Juno (Pocket)
9781439156766 $7.99

Keira Kelly belongs to Clan Kelly, a family of magic users who look human, but cannot breed with them. She is at Wild Moon Ranch in Texas with her lover Adam the vampire king of his tribe when she undergoes the Change. Normally that brings the person one paranormal power, but in her case the Change provides her with all the diverse powers her clan mates possess. This makes her the heir to the clan leader so she must leave behind her beloved vampire for a little while and heed her Great-Great Grandmother Gigi's call to head to Vancouver.

Gideon, Keira's evil ex lover, is dying. Gigi asks Keira to escort him to her mother's side if they can't heal him. A Sidhe Seelie Daffyd ap Geraint accompanies them. When they are sitting in a vehicle he disappears. Only Keira heard the song which means the Sidhe called back Daffyd. In Vancouver near the entrance to Faerie an Unseelie Sidhe is killing the homeless stealing their essence. Keira and her entourage hunt down the killer as she learns more about her heritage and Gigi's plans for her include uniting with Others.

This is a great urban fantasy as Maria Lima uses British Columbia to the fullest and cleverly keeps Gigi off the page until the end yet her presence seems everywhere. Gigi is a kind ruler whose strategic goal is the uniting of the paranormal species so as to end their hostilities; she believes her descendent is the key. Keira is terrific as the confused "coming of age" heroine who seems to be in ever paranormal being's crosshairs. Ms. Lima's tale is a special romantic suspense fantasy on a par with the best works of Laurel K. Hamilton and Kelly Armstrong.

Lynn Viehl
9780451412782 $7.99

Jessa Bellamy is a highly regarded job recruiting consultant. Her success is due to her special skill of being able to touch someone and journey into the SHADOWLAND where she learns the dark side of a candidate that they hide from an interviewer. She hides her ability, but also knows there are other Takyn like her.

GenHance CEO Jonah Genaro has learned of Jessa and tries to kidnap her. He wants to use her as he has others in an experiment to create a race of supermen via gene manipulation; no one has survived his tests. Mattias rescues Jessa; insisting he just wants to keep her safe, but he has secrets that he conceals from her while Jonah wants her back and some unknown adversary prefers both dead.

Expanding the world of the Darkyn with a SHADOWLIGHT into the Kyndred, Lynn Viehl provides her fans with an even more complex realm in her latest enjoyable urban romantic fantasy. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of suspense as Jonah plots to harvest Jessa's DNA while Mattias plans to protect her though he also has other secret plans for her. With a strong lead couple and a terrific in a macabre sense villain, SHADOWLIGHT unveils a dramatic thrilling twist.

Immortal Sins
Amanda Ashley
9780821780640 $6.99

Every night after work Karinna Adams visits the Underwood Art gallery as she is drawn to a painting "Man Walking in the Moonlight" by renowned artist Josef Vilinus. During every visit the man seems to be somewhere else in the picture as if he walks around the landscape. This time she hears him speak "help me"; frightened she flees.

Jason Rourke has roamed the landscape of the Vilinus painting for three centuries. Three hundred years ago Vilinus the wizard cursed him for taking his virgin daughter Ana; he also sent Ana inside another painting. Jason knows there are two ways he can be freed: a mortal female calling him to come to her or the wizard's death.

Kari takes the painting home with her to see if she might want to buy it. The next night Kari dreams of the man in the picture making love to her; Jason dreams of his fangs dining on her throat as he is a vampire who looks forward to tasting the sweetness of her blood. When she wishes he was real, the painting falls and the glass shatters. Jason is freed and Vilinus knows it. Jason tells her he is a vampire who was cursed and about Ana still trapped. Jason explains to Kari he needs her help to rescue Ana who is trapped in a Romanian museum. She agrees to help him although she struggles with falling in love with a vampire.

The lead couple is a strong pairing and the support cast is solid while the heroine's doubts about crossing over to become a vampire add tension between them especially enhanced by another coupling. Jason adapts nice and slow to the modern age. Although the confrontation is not quite as dramatic as the rest of this super urban romantic fantasy, fans will enjoy the vampire who fell from the painting into love.

May Earth Rise
Holly Taylor
9781933836577 $15.95

Warleader Havgan and his Corianans have captured the Y Dawnus druids and bards (see CRY OF SORROW). His victory has left Kymru High King Arthur ap Uthyr in deep trouble. Without these powerful supporters, he will fail at his quest to unite the kingdom under his realm. He and his followers must liberate them immediately, but have no hope of success as the mission is suicidal; yet without them they are dead anyway.

Havgan and his loyal wyrce-jaga witchfinders are systematically destroying all magic users except for the powerful traitorous Kyrmic witch, Arianrod, Havgan's mistress. The conflict widens with no one allowed to remain on the sidelines as many die; but increasingly the strife seems to be turning in favor of the warlord over the monarch.

The fourth Dreamer's Cycle Arthurian fantasy is a super entry filled with action, anguish, and strong characterizations. The humongous cast on all sides of the conflict makes the exhilarating story line seem real while also providing newcomers the back overarching theme (still worth the time to read the tales first). Readers who have not discovered Holly Taylor is missing out on one of the best fantasists today as her King Arthur saga is great.

Wild Magic
Ann Macela
9781933836997 $7.95

In Chicago, Irenee Sabel works as an event planner, but is also a witch who enforces the codes of magic usage especially those evil artifacts outlawed. She is assigned to destroy the cataclysm stone; her first solo major act.

Irenee attends a party thrown by an alleged ancient warlock Alton Finster whose safe supposedly contains an evil relic. She sneaks away from the gala using an invisibility spell to conceal her movement in order to break into the safe. However, she is caught by Department of Homeland Security Agent Jim Tylan, who is legally searching for financial records to attack Finster, the man he blames for his sister's death. Somehow he sees her in spite of her cloaking. As they team up, she believes he has some magic skills and is her soul mate, but first they must make the world safe from a malevolent mage.

The latest Defends & Swords Magic romantic urban fantasy (see YOUR MAGIC OR MINE?) is an engaging tale as Irenee is as stunned as Jim is when he sees the "glowing" handbag and the invisible sorceress holding it. Filled with magical and romantic mayhem, fans of Ann Macela's fun series will enjoy the latest entry as Chicago's historical Gold Coast is the focus of WILD MAGIC.

Michael Beres
9781605421056 $24.95

In Chicago, adult video store owner Ukrainian expatriate Viktor Patolichev dies in an arson fire at his shop. His wife of one month, retired stripper Mariya Nemeth cannot truly grieve until she knows whether her spouse set the fire to collect insurance money or if his human trafficking activity back in the Ukraine led to him being murdered.

Mariya hires private investigator Lazlo Horvath to obtain the stateside truths while he also employs Kiev-based PI Janos Nagy to learn more about her spouse's former Ukrainian partners. Two thugs beat up Mariya, making it clear they want the inquiries ended. However, the Ukrainian-American and her two detectives keep investigating which leads them inside the exclusion dead zone surrounding Chernobyl.

This dark investigative tale is a well written, very heated (literally that is) but depressing thriller that takes readers on a tour inside the dead zone that will shock readers to the core. The lead trio is a fabulous teaming as they investigate the death of a person with one hell of a history. Fans will enjoy Lazlo's return home to the place where his brother died when the plant exploded (see CHERNOBYL MURDERS).

The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart
Jesse Bullington
9780316049344 $14.99

In 1364 the grim brothers Hegel and Manfried Grossbart, knowing what flows in their ancestral blood, decide to join the family business so they can make a fortune robbing graves. Their plan is to keep robbing graves while they seek their family heaven the Gyptland crypts. On their quest across Europe and the Holy Land, they receive help from the Pope, the Crusades, and especially the Black Plague.

Along their journey they kill peasants and demons with no regard to either species. Still they march on as grave-robbers and slayers of the innocent and the monstrous. However, as they argue theological dogma, the siblings dodging bodily liquids will learn death can be kinder than life.

Not an easy read especially on a full stomach, this blood and guts and blood and vomit satirical medieval pilgrimage is a humorous over the top of the Alps fantasy thriller; just don't stay down wind from the slice and dice brothers. The grim brothers Grossbart are a gruesome pair with no redeeming qualities as their seemingly endless road trip is fueled by human liquid logistics, vividly described; sort of a 400 page story line version of the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the knight keeps fighting as he loses his limbs. For select fans who relish a high body count as the brothers grim learn there is much worse out there than death.

Tempest Rising
Nicole Peeler
9780316056588 $7.99

Rockabill, Maine is a small town that is home to the local pariah Jane True. The townsfolk hold her culpable for the death of her lover Jason, but not as much as she blames herself. She never told him that she can swim in the icy water and not feel the cold. During one of her nocturnal swims, Jason saw her and tried to rescue her but died in the whirlpool Old Saw.

One night while swimming, she rescues a body from Old Saw. When she brings the body out of the water she realizes the dead victim is Peter who came to town to write a book. When she goes back to her place on the beach she meets Nell the gnome, a talking dog Anyan and a kelpie. They explain to Jane that her mom is a Selkie who after six years on land returned to the sea and her seal form. An outside investigator arrives in Rockabil to inquire into the drowning death of Peter, a halfling like Jane. When she meets Ryu the vampire, they fall into instant lust. His assignment gets complicated when a goblin arrives to take over his mission but the goblin is killed as is her superior. Peter apparently was working on a halfling project; which Ryu feels is tied to the Alfar elves who rule the supernatural world, but Jane never expected to be thrust into the center of an eerie schism that could kill her and tear asunder the supernatural realm.

Readers who enjoy the Weather Warden series by Rachel Caine and the Sookie saga by Charlaine Harris will want to read the misadventures of Jane True. The two decades or so heroine copes with an inner strength with one tragedy after another, but the serial murders of halflings frighten her like nothing before. Although perhaps too much paranormal is introduced in this fun first urban fantasy whodunit, fans will enjoy the terrific TEMPEST RISING in the Pine Tree State.

Greg Bear
9781593154974 $25.95

The United States stands on the brink of a financial collapse much worse than the Great Depression or the Bush Recession. Axel Price, CEO of Talos Corp, sees an opportunity to take power and plans to seize it.

FBI agents including Rebecca Rose are pulled back from leave, Fouad Al-Husam working undercover at the Talos Campus in Texas may have been exposed, and Will Griffin stand in his way, but to Price they are gnats. Rebecca and others have their own issues having been tested to see what the effects of the ultra powerful drug Mariposa are. At the same they deal with the pending Price financial disaster and personal issues, the Feds struggle with Jones Zero supercomputer that seems to have gone rogue and only one of its creators Nathan Trace can stop Price from taking control, but the megalomaniac in turn knows who is the only real threat.

The amazing thing about this super thriller is the underlying technology explained throughout is effortlessly interwoven into the fast-paced never decelerating story line. Action-packed throughout with a strong cast, MARIPOSA is a terrific tale as the audience anticipates a High Noon showdown between the CEO, three Feds, and the supercomputer creator.

The Christmas Clock
Kat Martin
9781593155476 $14.95

In Dreyerville, Michigan, Teddy Winter is sad as his beloved grandmother, Lottie, who has raised him, is suffering from Alzheimer's; he watches helplessly as she rapidly loses her faculties. Lottie loves her grandson and in her lucid moments in between the fog, she knows what is happening to her; she is not concerned about herself, but worries about Teddy who will be an orphan living who knows where and with whom.

Meanwhile Teddy has one goal. He needs to find a way to buy a Victorian hand-painted clock that reminds Lottie of her childhood and even in the fog state gives her some peace. He persuades Joe the mechanic, to allow him to work in his garage station. Joe becomes fond of Teddy, but knows his prison record precludes him from taking care of the lad as he wants. He also knows he still has acrimonious feelings towards the person, his former fiancee, who he holds responsible for his drunken rage that led to his killing a man.

THE CHRISTMAS CLOCK is a fascinating Yuletide relationship drama as redemption and forgiveness are fostered by love and caring for others. Fans of uplifting holiday tales will appreciate this allegorical novella through three lost souls finding a small peace on earth with one another if they take a chance reaching out through the darkness to the shining light of love as symbolized by the clock.

What Remains of Heaven
C. S. Harris
9780451228024 $23.95

In 1812 Sebastian St, Cyr, Viscount Devlin is reestablishing a relationship with his father. Their rift was caused by a secret that came to light leading to the son ending his relationship with his beloved actress Kat Boleyn; whom he intended to marry. Now he wonders if his one night with Hero Jarvis, the daughter of his father's mortal enemy resulted in a child although she refuses to verify it one way or another.

Escaping his female woes, Sebastian is asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury to investigate the deaths of two men decades apart in an ancient crypt in a church. One of the victims is Sir Nigel, who vanished decades ago. The second corpse is the Bishop of London Francis Prescot, Sir Nigel's younger brother. Sebastian assumes the deaths are connected beyond the sibling link and believes the association harks back to the American Revolution. St. Cyr is taken aback when he finds a tie to his family. His father, Sir Nigel and Lord Jarvis went to the colonies to see if pursing the war would end up in England's triumph.

Viscount Devlin is a brooding hero in the tradition of Lord Byron as he distrusts everyone starting with his father who has kept a seemingly zillion secrets from him. His investigative methods are similar to that of a twentieth century police detective as he follows clues to wherever they lead. C. S. Harris has written a wonderfully constructed Regency mystery filled with concealment, red herrings, and misunderstanding that keeps the lead protagonist going down wrong lanes, but never giving up.

Killer Crab Cakes
Livia J. Washburn
9780451228369 $14.00

Her cousin Dorothy asks retired teacher Phyllis Newsom to manage her Oak Knoll Bed and breakfast in Fulton, Texas while she and her husband are in Dallas for the birth of their grandchild, the widow considers saying no as she knows nothing about a B&B. However Dorothy mentions the annual Rockport Just Desserts Competition so Phyllis says yes. Three other retired teachers, Sam Fletcher, Carolyn Wilbarger and Eve Turner join Carolyn j in the cooking contest, as she and Phyllis always enjoy competing against one another.

Sam and Phyllis go fishing off the nearby pier. Already there is grouchy B&B guest Ed McKenna. Sam taps Ed on the back and the man tumbles into the water. Ed jumps in immediately and though he struggles gets Ed to the shore. However Ed is dead and later the autopsy affirms he was murdered. Assistant Police of Chief Abby Clifton and Police Chief Dale Clifton suspect Sam and when more murders come to the Oak Knoll B&B now being notoriously dubbed "The Murder House"; Phyliss, who vowed no murder investigations by her on this trip, begins to investigate.

The forth Newsom amateur sleuth (see A PEACH OF A MURDER and THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE KILLER) is a wonder "fresh baked" mystery as Phyliss tries to stay out of the latest SLICE OF MURDER, but cannot as Sam is the prime suspect. KILLER CRAB CAKES is an entertaining whodunit starting with Sam's gentle pat on the back that has the related cops hone in on him and the other retires. With light bantering and recipes as Phyliss and Carolyn compete in a heated cooking rivalry between BFFs, fans will enjoy Livia J. Washburn's latest culinary homicide investigation.

The End of the Road
Sue Henry
9780451226044 $23.95

She usually takes her RV and her mini dachshund Stretch to the lower Forty-eight during her get away from Alaska's cold. However, this Maxie McNabb decides to stay home in Homer. All the snowbirds have fled south so when Maxie and Stretch walk on the beach she is surprised to meet someone else there. She invites John Walker to dinner with her and some of her friends and her son. Johne seems evasive about his life before he came to Homer.

The next day Maxie is sunned to learn John killed himself and he had no ID on him. When she goes to Anchorage Maxie sees a woman almost everywhere she goes, but the woman who seems to be following her makes no attempt at direct contact. Back home, Maxie sees her door ajar and smells perfume inside. A woman arrives soon afterward insisting she is John's sister Amy, but vanishes before Maxie can get her to talk with the police. Anxious with fear, Maxie tries to stay ahead of the woman because she has a bad vibe about her..

Alaska comes alive in this colorful amateur sleuth mystery starring an intrepid female sexagenarian who has the energy to light up the Arctic during the extended night. Saddened by John's death, Maxie moves on although events (and people) pull her right back into a deadly scenario. The support cast is solid, Stretch a darling and the heroine super, but Alaska is the superstar of Sue Henry's terrific THE END OF THE ROAD.

Huckleberry Finished
Livia J. Washburn
9780758225689 $22.00

Delilah Dickinson owns a travel agency in Atlanta that specializes in literary themes. She hopes the Samuel Clemens tour on a riverboat down the Mississippi will prove more relaxing than the Scarlett O'Hara plantation trip, which included a real murder (see FRANKLY NY DEAR, I'M DEAD).

The cruise does not get off to a good start when one of the customers Ben Webster throws a punch at a roulette dealer whom he claims was cheating. The captain holds Delilah culpable while the security chief orders Ben from the boat, but he disappears and his cabin is empty. He is found dead. The police refuse to allow anyone to leave the vessel until they find the killer. Delilah teams up on her investigation with an actor on board portraying Samuel Clemens, Mark Lansing. However he is really a private eye undercover trying to learn who killed pregnant Hannah Kramer a year ago on the same boat. The travel agent believes the current homicide and that of Hannah are related, but her inquiry almost makes her victim number three.

The second literary tour mystery is a special amateur sleuth tale as the spunky heroine makes for a fun "locked room" cozy. Hannah behaves in a believable manner while obtaining tidbits of information by asking questions of those trapped on board. HUCKLEBERRY FINISHED is a humorous, fresh (baked) dramatic whodunit that fans will enjoy and Mark Twain would have appreciated.

Razor Sharp
Fern Michaels
9781410417602 $6.99

Lily Flowers (her current name) is the madam of Happy Day Camp for Boys and Girls in Pahrump, Nevada; a brothel sixty miles outside Las Vegas. She is outraged when DC politicos in all three branches threaten to destroy her. She arranges to give copies of her records to Nevada lawyer Cosmos Cricket and threatens to expose to the world these outstanding righteous citizens who have been coming to her "summer camp" as clients for years.

However, someone took Lily's threat personally and kills her. Her cutthroat lawyer Lizzie Fox calls in a favor from the Sisterhood who owe her big time to take a close look at the homicide. The most likely suspect is someone inside the Beltway who got away with murder; but not if they can help it. However, the magnificent seven understand the cost could be the pardon from President Martine Connor as this inquiry leads to the White House, the Congress and the Supreme Court.

With a nod to the DC Madam, RAZOR SHARP is an entertaining Sisterhood thriller that is stratospherically over the top of the Washington Monument. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Lily leaves Cosmos with the sign of the V as he rightfully assumes means vengeance and never slows down. Although the key support cast is never RAZOR SHARP and the plot seemingly implausible, fans will enjoy the latest escapades of the stalwart sassy sister seven as once again friendship matters.

Kissing Santa Claus
Donna Kauffman, Jill Shalvis and HelenKay Dimon
9780758238849 $14.00

"Lock, Stock and Jingle Bells" by Donna Kauffman. Although her parents gave her their Christmas store, Holly Berry loathes the holiday season and having to return from London to Willow Creek, Virginia to run her place. However, this year looks promising as she will work alongside of her high school fantasy Sean Gallagher.

"Bah Handsome!" by Jill Shalvis. Hope O'Brien has no hope except for her first name as her B&B is failing and the debts make the federal government seem fiscally balanced. Her miserly stepbrother sends his accountant Danny Shaw to collect what his sibling owes him; not realizing that Danny and Hope find a gift with their attraction for one another.

"It's Hotter at Christmas" by HelenKay Dimon. Marissa Brandt came to Hawaii from Philadelphia for a holiday vacation, but never expected a hotel arrest by a hunk of a cop Ted Greene who wants to keep her safe from a thief who seems to have targeted her and hopes to persuade her to stay on Kauai with him for decades of holiday joy together.

These are three lighthearted holiday frolics that fans will agree bring joy to the reader.

According to Jane
Marilyn Brant
9780758234612 $14.00

In the mid 1980s in suburban Chicago, fifteen years old sophomore Ellie Barnett takes Mrs. Leverson's English Lit class where they are reading Pride and Prejudice. When Sam Blaine makes a move on Ellie, she hears a warning voice in her head. Jane Austen cautions her that Sam is her Wickham.

The voice remains with Ellie over the years as boyfriends come and go; but Jane remains advising her on relationships especially how to elude those sexy bad boys. The worst of the lot in Jane's mind is Sam who intermittently seems to always be there sniffing at Ellie. She, in turn, knows she is attracted to him and always has since high school lit. However, Ellie begins to think of Sam as her Darcy and decides perhaps even the great Jane Austen needs mentoring on love.

Just when you think Jane Austen could not appear in anything new, a refreshing reincarnation occurs as Marilyn Brant provides an engaging modern day take on the writer. Ellie is a terrific lead character as she adapts to the voice in her head while Sam is her nemesis. Although the abrupt scene shifts can be somewhat jarring, readers will thoroughly enjoy this fun contemporary romance that also provides insight into Jane Austen and her characters.

One Week in December
Holly Chamberlin
9780758214058 $14.00

Becca Rowan feels all alone, but her loneliness is compounded whenever she sees her sixteen year old niece, Rain. She knows she made a deal with her older brother David and his wife Naomi to raise Rain, but now she wants to tell her biological daughter the truth. Still Becca also knows if she does she will destroy her family as she acquiesced as a teen giving birth that her sibling and his spouse would raise her daughter as their own and telling her the truth when Rain turned twenty-one.

During the annual family Christmas gathering, she plans to tell Rain the truth and to bring her daughter home. When she does, all hell breaks out. She feels remorseful wondering how selfish she was to break her promise while her brother and his wife are irate and feeling betrayed and Rain is upset and confused. Only the next door neighbor Alex provides her some comfort and advice as Becca tries to repair the disaster she caused.

This is an engaging family drama although the key catalyst in causing the trauma Becca comes across extremely selfish and shallow rather than emotionally disturbed. The rest of the Rowan brood are developed to the point of being understood by readers in the way they react to Becca. Interesting and well written, fans will enjoy this contemporary tale but feel disappointed that Becca's mental anguish was not developed into crippling phobic loneliness way beyond her self-centered need.

Hounded to Death
Rita Mae Brown
9780345512376 $15.00

Septuagenarian Jane "Sister" Arnold is the highly regarded master of the Jefferson Hunt Club in Virginia. She is currently attending the Mid-America Hound Show, a major event in Kentucky, accompanied by her huntsman Shaker Crown and her apprentice Tootie.

When one of her American foxhounds is stolen, her initial inclination is that odious Mo Schneider abducted her prized animal. However, she soon finds her canine next to Mo's corpse. Back home, she takes her injured horse to veterinarian Hope Rogers, who soon afterward is found dead; the police rule suicide but Sister believes otherwise as she knew the vet too well. She plans to investigate, but during the Virginia Hound Show, a club member vanishes, leaving Sister stunned with what is going on.

This is a fun tale especially for pet lovers because her latest fox and hound personification mystery (see THE TELL-TALE HORSE) is an engaging amateur sleuth starring of course Sister and her allies (including her hounds). Although there are too many sidebar discussions that leave the story line idling in neutral at times, fans of the Sister foxhunting series will enjoy another visit to the Jefferson Hunt Club.

House of Reckoning
John Saul
9780345514240 $26.00

In Vermont, six months have passed since her mama died from cancer, but fourteen year old Sarah Crane has not had any time to grieve. She is too busy working on the farm while also caring for her grief stricken father Big Ed who uses alcohol to drown his sorrow. Every night he goes to bed drunk and she goes to bed praying to mama to help her.

After hours of drinking at the Fireside Tavern, Ed gets into a brawl with a man who called his late wife a whore. Ed leaves him dead before going home in his truck only to run over Sarah hurting her leg. While he goes to jail, social worker Kate Williams places Sarah in foster care with Mitch and Angie Garvey and their two teenage children Tiffany and Zach. She has almost no one as her new "family" is ice cold and treats her like a slave; while at school Sarah has become a pariah. That is except former mental patient Nick Dunnigan who hears voices and sees visions when he does not use his meds; and her art teacher Bettina Phillips, known in some circles as the witch of Shutters Mansion. The latter mentors Sarah to paint what she feels;: images of the mansion's dark past that matches Nick's visions and releases a power that may prove evil and vengeful.

Though nothing new except modern communication technology has been added to the story line of an outcast teen having paranormal power to enact revenge against those who hurt her yet John Saul provides an entertaining horror tale. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Ed runs over his daughter and never slows down until the final encounter. Fans will enjoy King's Carrie meets Barrymore's Ever After Cinderella as Mr. Saul writes a suspenseful horror thriller with several past, present, and hints at future twists.

A Lady Of Persuasion
Tessa Dare
9780345506887 $6.99

Wealthy Isabel Grayson arrives in London from the West Indies. She has her choice of almost male member of the Ton, but is attracted to the rake Sir Tobias Aldridge.

Toby pretends he reciprocates, but instead is using Isabel as a pawn. He seeks vengeance on her brother Benedict for stealing his fiancee Sophia Hathaway (see SURRENDER OF A SIREN). His plan is to seduce and dump the sister of the man he loathes. She rejects his efforts as she will only marry someone who argues against injustice in House of Lords. As he falls in love Toby the rake vows to change in order to win Isabel.

This direct sequel to the wonderful SURRENDER OF A SIREN is a terrific regency romance that can stand alone as Tessa dare uses Toby's ire cleverly to tell the back story (see also GODDESS OF THE HUNT). Isabel is a super lead protagonist while Toby who was a key secondary player in the first two novels easily takes a lead role. Sub-genre fans will appreciate this strong trilogy as frivolous Toby finally gets what he deserves, A LADY OF PERSUASION.

A Wicked Lord at the Wedding
Jillian Hunter
9780345503947 $6.99

In the first three years of their marriage Sebastian Boscastle was more away from home than with his wife Eleanor. Three years ago he vanished while on an espionage mission. Eleanor missed her spouse but moved on.

Now in 1816 Sebastian has come home; having recovered from injuries to reclaim his spouse. He has heard rumors about her so he serendipitously watches her sneak out at night in male garb. She masquerades as the Mayfair Marauder trying to steal letters from traitors planning on harming Wellington. Sebastian decides to join his wife on her mission so that he can seduce this "gentleman" to join him in his bed.

The latest Boscastle Regency romance is a fabulous historical filled with pathos and wit as the lead protagonist must court the legendary Mayfair Marauder in order to re-earn the trust of his wife; he knows he has one advantage, which is love. Fans will appreciate this engaging tale as the intrepid Eleanor may still love her husband, but believes he will leave again so kicks him to the proverbial Mayfair curb. The fun in this enchanting Boscastle gender war is observing the wicked lord refusing to quit on love.

Chasing The Cyclone
Peter Thomas
Pacifica TWST
9780975912348 $24.95

Paul Francesco has been successful in business, well liked by friends, and adored by his family. However, several years ago when Paul suffered from neurofibromatosis, he met D. Her nurturing led to a short marriage and Alex. After the divorce, D and Alex moved to Vancouver while Paul remained in Los Angeles.

Following a visit with a dying friend in Northern California, Paul tries to reach Alex but fails to make contact. He soon learns of a court date in British Columbia in which he failed to attend because he was unaware of it. D perjured herself to gain full custody. He begins an effort to regain access to his seven years old son only to find the Canadian court and police systems at best are indifferent. Instead of D being the criminal, they prefer to continue to label Paul as a dead beat absentee father. He soon meets other parents suffering from international apathy after the illegal abduction of an offspring left them legally with rights, morally with rights, and parentally with rights; but realistically with no rights. Paul is a hunter hunting the predators who took his child for he will never give up until he catches the cyclone he chases internationally even as he is made further to look like the insane criminal by the abducting party who actually are the one's who committed an assortment of crimes against both Paul and his victimized child.(Harriet, I hope you don't mind adding this extended line: it is what most Chasing Parents must deal with while the abducting party mounts a defense against their criminal actions).

Inspired by a true story that will shake the audience further, this is an exciting cautionary thriller that grips readers from the onset with the call Paul makes to the Vancouver Registry. From there, Paul's falls apart as he has a new issue to contend with, the international abduction of his child by the kid's mom. Overall fast-paced, there are some related advocating that somewhat slows down the incredible pace yet enhances the moral fiber of Paul's quest. With tips to avoid such a calamity, readers will be stunned by Peter Thomas' powerful condemnation of governments who ignore the global child abduction lucrative market.

Race for the Dying
Steven F Havill
9780312380717 $25.99

In 1891 new Dr. Thomas Parks leaves his Connecticut home to practice medicine in Port McKinney, Washington with family friend Dr. John Haines. However, upon arrival in the Pacific Northwest town, he is in a near fatal accident that leaves him temporarily in a wheelchair while he heals.

His host's daughter Alvina helps him recover. They are attracted to one another, but Thomas fears John runs a successful mail order elixir peddling business. Meanwhile Thomas finds western medicine means flexibility as he is a vet, a surgeon, a family practitioner and a coroner-medical examiner.

Far away in time and place from Posadas County, Steven F Havill provides a terrific cautionary historical tale that focuses on the late nineteenth century thriving mail order medical business with implications of similar Internet practices today. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the new Englander almost gets killed and never slows down as Thomas adapts to the expanded expectations by the locals and his fears his mentor is making money performing unethical practices; adding to his qualms is he is falling in love with his host's daughter. Fans will enjoy this fine Americana tale as retired Under-sheriff Bill Gastner and current Under-sheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman take a breather.

Americans in Space
Mary E. Mitchell
9780312372453 $24.99

In Boston, forty-two years old Kyle Cavanaugh suddenly died from an undiagnosed heart condition. He had been seemingly in perfect health even having a full head of hair when he passed away leaving behind a grieving stunned wife Kate, an equally shocked teenage daughter Charlotte and their two year old toddler Hunter.

Two years later, the Cavanaugh family has disintegrated as a loving unit though the surviving trio still lives together. A guidance counselor Kate remains a tired disbeliever scorning health providers for missing her lovely spouse's condition. Charlotte stopped butchering the violin and has become a sullen angry teen who cannot talk to her mother. Hunter's companion is Heinz ketchup bottles. The affluent techno linebacker next door kindhearted "Auntie Marge" is the only reason the deceleration into total collapse has been somewhat aborted. Deciding she needs to finally reach her two children, Kate takes them on a road show over the objection of her oldest and the bewilderment of her youngest.

Although a five tissue tear jerker, the four Cavanaugh members (Kyle through the memories of the older two) make for a profound look at grief when a relatively young seemingly healthy patriarch suddenly dies. Kate is terrific at the high school where she works and Charlotte attends but cannot communicate with her daughter without screaming and door slamming. Charlotte's brooding and ire are overdone yet enhance the drifting apart like Hubble's theory on an expanding red-shifting universe. However, the story line is owned by Hunter who will leave readers with plenty of empathetic tears.

To Try Men's Souls: A Novel of George Washington and the Fight for American Freedom
Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen
9780312591069 $26.99

The war is five months old, and all the rebels have so far is a series of defeats. The morale of the troops is at its lowest and shrinking. The leadership is in disarray as to what to do as their side is rag tagged amateurs while their opponent is the best professional army in the world enhanced by paid mercenaries. Every morning leaves the revolutionaries with less soldiers as desertion has become epidemic.

They are out of time as retreating from Long Island to Manhattan to New Jersey and now in Pennsylvania have left the revolt on the brink of failure. While Thomas Paine works on his latest pamphlet in Philadelphia, General Washington knows he must do something daring, but fears any act of desperation that fails will end the rebellion. At the same time private Jonathan van Dorn does not want to desert Washington's army, but fears for his brother who joined the British; his feelings echo many of those who have stayed the course. Finally, a doubting Washington knows further flight means certain defeat and decides on a daring raid across the icy Delaware where he leads an attack on Hessians stationed in Trenton.

This is an intriguing look at a pivotal moment in the American Revolutionary War through the eyes of three men. The story line captures the doubts and fears of Washington, the encouragement of Paine, and the further doubts and fears of fictional van Dorn. Fans will enjoy this terrific historical thriller especially the lead up to the raid of the Hessian forces so different from the famous painting; mindful of the HBO show Assume the Position, Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen provide a deep look at what truly went on beyond the legend.

JR Ward
9780451228215 $7.99

Before he died Jim Heron never thought much of the afterlife as a special unit soldier who could be killed on a dangerous deployment at any moment. However he never expected his demise would be at a construction site. Nor was he prepared for his new assignment as a front line operative in the "war" between angels and demons; which seem to echo his old work for the military. His afterlife job is to save seven souls; each with a different one of the deadly sins sinking the person. The magnificent seven represent mankind so Jim understands the consequence if he fails to win this weird wager as the stake is humanity.

The first soul on the line is avaricious business mogul Vin Di Pietro, whose future fiancee Marie-Terese Boudreau sold her soul to evil to save her son. All Jim has to do is save the soul of Vin while finding an escape clause for Marie-Terese without harming her offspring. A simple scenario for his handler to outline, but Jim knows how easy a plan collapses when dealing with humans only; throw in angels, demons, and who knows what else they hid from him and all he wants to do is ride away on his bike.

Moving from the exhilarating Black Daggerhood urban fantasy saga, JR Ward starts her new series The Fall Angels with a great opening act. Readers obtain enough of a taste of Ward world to understand how complex yet simplified it is. Jim is a fascinating champion who knows vengeance may be the lord's domain, but he understands that; saving souls is out side his job description. With a strong cast of lost soul humans, angels, and demons fans will enjoy the exciting COVET and look forward to six more deadly sins.

Seduced By Shadows
Jessa Slade
9780451228284 $7.99

Her life was never that good especially after her mother committed suicide and her father proved pathetic while her brothers fled the family. However, Sera Littlejohn's life became worse when she is crippled in an accident; now she lives every moment with unbearable pain and a struggle to get around.

Although she had not thought much of possession, the demon entices her with healing her battered body by taking it over, which also denotes damned. However, when she meets also possessed Ferris Archer, she finds her soul mate. He, in turn, has never met a demonic-possessed woman although he knows she is his if he does not have to kill her for what is inside her.

The key to the first marked Souls' romantic urban fantasy is the belief that the demon-angel war fought inside the bodies of humans in places like Chicago is real. Everything else flows from the belief that the Slade realm is genuine with each soul a battlefield. Sera and Archer are a fabulous pairing as each comes into their relationship possessed by demonic baggage. Fans will want to join in the war of souls fought one person at a time except when love brings two souls together.

Up Close And Personal
Carla Cassidy
9780451228277 $7.99

Kansas City homicide detective Jordan Sampson is a single mom struggling with a rebellious twelve year old daughter Mandy, who does not want to live with her even for weekends; preferring to stay with her dad Dane who has custody.

The former head cheerleader accompanies her "blackmailing" best friend Della Broadbent to their fifteenth anniversary Oak Ridge High School reunion. The highlight of the gala that she did not want to attend is seeing her former boyfriend, divorced coach Clint Cooper. However, the worst that happens is someone begins killing her classmates. Jordan investigates wondering if one of her schoolmates has turned into a serial killer.

This is an exciting romantic suspense thriller that feels in some ways like a teen slasher movie. The ending is abrupt and the motive for the killings over the top of the Liberty Memorial. Still fans will appreciate the lead cop as she struggles with her relationship with her tweener daughter, a case that should have been a sure shot conviction that went sour, a renewed relationship with Clint, and a serial killer. This is all in a day (or three) work for a homicide cop.

The Year Of Living Shamelessly
Susanna Carr
9780451225160 $15.00

Katie Kramer has loved Ryder Scott since they attended high school together. However, she knows her feelings are unrequited as he thinks of her as his best friend Jake's kid sister. Every year since high school she makes the same New Year's resolution to seduce him, but each year the sweet but naive Katie fails to even try as she cannot compete with the kinky competition that he seems to always have at his beck and call.

However, this year, the dynamics are changing. Ryder announces he is leaving town. This is probably her last chance. Katie must shed the good girl image and prove she can out kink the king of kink; unaware of why he is leaving town.

This is an engaging contemporary erotic romance starring two likable lead characters. Kissable Katie is terrific as the good girl who plans each year to tie up Ryder, but only gets rope burns; this is her last chance and she goes for it. Fans will root for the courageous heroine as she takes her last stand hopefully in her mind and libido lying down tied to Riley's bed posts.

He's No Prince Charming
LuAnn McLane
9780451228291 $6.99

At sixteen, Dakota Dunn was America's singing teen sweetheart. Almost a decade later, Dakota is a highlight of where are they now? In fact the answer to that question re Dakota is she is at her marina at Pine Hollow Lake living in a fishing cabin while trying to turn her singing career from teen to adult, but currently battling a killer spider who scares her into screaming.

Former champion bull rider Trace Coleman manages Willow Creek Marina. He is outraged that the owner Dakota Dunn has arrived at the property she owns. He wants her to leave because he is tired of rescuing her from tiny spiders and other dangers; as HE'S NO PRINCE CHARMING. However, mostly he hates how he feels about Dakota Dunn.

This is a fun lighthearted frolic with a secondary romance enhancing the prime relationship of a "chivalrous" hermit constantly rescuing his lady in distress. This is an amusing tale, starting with the killer spider crawling down Dakota's back. Fans will enjoy the romantic antics between America's former teen pop star royalty and her Prince Charming in denial whose song list is I'm Not In Love and Hit the Road, Jill.

Hot For The Holidays
Lora Leigh, Angela Knight, Anya Bast and Allyson James
9780515147001 $7.99

"Vampire's Ball" by Angela Knight. Single mom Kat Danilo learns two stunners. First she can become a majae magic practitioner and second her absentee father is a vampire.

"A Little Night Magic" by Allyson James. Single mom Naomi is taken aback when her former Navajo shaman lover Jamison Kee wants back in her life and that of their daughter.

"Sweet Enchantment" by Anya Bast,
Bella Mac Lyr's offers to marry mage Ronan Quinn in order to save his life, but he says no. Instead he escapes taking Bella with him.

"A Christmas Kiss" by Lora Leigh'. Someone wants Jessica Raines; only her life-mate Breed Hawke Esteban can keep her safe, but she rejects his protection and his need to name her as his out of fear for his life if the killer succeeds.

These are four strong fantasies starring containing deep casts with the holiday bonus of having a Breed and Mageuniverse tale included.

Urgent Care
CJ Lyons
9780515147056 $7.99

It has been two years since Charge Nurse Nora Halloran of Angels of Mercy Medical Center in Pittsburgh was tortured and raped. She survived her ordeal and never told anyone what happened to her. Concealing her dark secret has impacted her relationship with her lover. Seth as he knows she holds back. Nora glances at the cemetery near the hospital where she sees the corpse of a woman with graffiti etched on her naked body and her eyes glued shut.

The nurse shudders not out of seeing the battered corpse, but because she knows the WARNING SIGNS that her rapist has returned as this is what he did to her. Nora must do what she failed to do two years ago by telling others especially Seth before someone else dies. She turns to her BFFs for help. However, Amanda struggles to save the life of a child; Gina struggles with living her life or that of her parents; and Lydia struggles with friendships as she uses streets smarts to keep people at a distance after an abusive childhood that included the murder of her mother and a hit man coming to kill the witness, her.

CJ Lyons has written an adrenalin pumping medical thriller that fans of Robin Cook will enjoy. URGENT CARE continues to chart the lives of the four friends at Angel of Mercy, but the focus this is mostly on this book is Nora. Each of the women have major issues and traumas they must contend with that they faced alone, but are beginning to understand they can have comrades in arms if they reach out of the darkness that threatens to engulf them. Fans will appreciate this fine tale as the four female friends face fight or flight, but supporting one another makes the choice easier.

Under the Cajun Moon
Mindy Starns Clark
Harvest House
9780736926249 $13.99

A daughter of a renowned New Orleans restaurant owner Chloe Ledet is ordered home when her dad Chef Julian is hospitalized following an accident. Julian asks Chloe to keep his business running, which she agrees to do as this is the first time in her life her father asked her to do anything except take out the garbage.

However, she barely looks at a recipe or sets a table, when the police suspect her of murder. Chloe knows she is being set up with Cajun pizzazz by an unknown source. Not one to sit idly by and wait for a break, Chloe investigates the homicide with a former boyfriend at her side. To solve the murder, she must swim in bayous and dig through her spicy dysfunctional relationships with her famous parents.

This is an intelligent amateur sleuth mystery starring a spicy peppery heroine who is only in town to help her ailing dad, but soon finds herself drowning in Ragin' Cajuns. The story line is fast-paced but totally owned by the spunky lead protagonist who knows what she must do in the restaurant and to clear her name, but not with the man who offers to help her. If you have not read Mindy Starns Clark's Million Dollar and Smart Chick mysteries, you are missing out on one of the better whodunit authors as she returns to the Bayou State for a great mystery.

Fools Rush In
Janice Thompson
9780800733421 $13.99

Bella Rossi hopes to successfully run her family wedding planning business Club Wed with the retirement of her parents. However, her first client wants a Boot-Scootin' country-and-western theme. Bella knows she is out of her league as she only knows of the Italian heartthrobs like Frank and Dino, but no one sings heartbreak with a Texas twang though her Uncle Lazarro relocated the family from Atlantic City to Galveston Island years ago.

Bella needs a C&W DJ to take charge so she hires D.J. Neeley. However, while he assumes she employed him as a construction contractor she believes DJ means deejay. Soon Italy and Texas meet as D.J. and Bella are attracted to one another though his twang leaves a lot to be desired.

The first Weddings by Bella is a fun chick lit romance as Little Italy meets Little Texas. Bella is terrific with her commentary that turns the life of D.J. upside down as he learns to construct with heart and soul while she learns the Texas two-step. Fans will enjoy this lighthearted amusing frolic with an inspirational messages nicely interweaved into the story line.

Lucky in Love
Carolyn Brown
Sourcebooks Casablanca
9781402224355 $6.99

Single mom Milli Torres and her infant daughter move onto her grandfather's Texas ranch. However, Millie is a bit taken aback to find out who owns a nearby ranch. Two years ago she had a one night stand with Beau "Lucky" Luckadeau; he is the father of her child and her neighbor.

They are attracted to one another, but he is engaged to someone else; besides which for reasons he cannot fathom she keeps her distance from him. Needing to know why, Beau learns the greatest night of his life, which he thought was a drunken illusion, was with Milli and he is the father of her child. As they fall in love, he has to deal with his fiancee and she has to deal with what is best for her offspring.

This is an entertaining ranch romance starring two likable lead characters who have a second chance if they can overcome human obstacles. Although his fiancee reflects no redeeming value as she is an avaricious 24 karat gold-digger who compared to Milli is an easy to disregard person, fans will enjoy the country western romance as the hero feels his LUCKY IN LOVE charms are at the ranch next door.

Shadow Baby
Alison McGhee
Three Rivers (Crown)
9780307462282 $14.00

During a blizzard in Upstate New York, Tamar Winter's father rushes his pregnant daughter to the hospital. However, he makes a wrong turn in the extremely poor driving conditions and ends up in a ditch. Tamar gives birth to twins by herself, but one dies.

Twelve plus years later the surviving twin Clara winter, with a small w surname because she loathes the season of her birth, wonders whether her dead sister could have lived if they made it to the hospital and who her father and grandfather are; her mom refuses to talk about that incident or anything related to the past. Feeling isolated and perhaps a bit guilty for surviving, Clara makes up stories about people she knows. When she meets lonely elderly immigrant metalworker Georg Kominsky as he hangs up his hand-crafted lanterns in the woods, she feels they are soulmates. He too knows the power of winter when the lantern he gave his younger brother failed during a snowstorm leading to his death. Georg mentors Clara on turning throwaways into beautiful objects and to welcome her grandfather into her life; in turn the tweener hopes to reconcile her mother and her grandfather.

This is a terrific tale of lost souls finding one another with tragedies leaving survivors mentally fractured. Character driven with a strong lead youngster and solid support from her mom, her new BFF and her grandfather make for a fully developed well written story line as the key players bring angst, sadness and a need to help one another move on especially past the blame, regret and remorse.

Finding Their Son
Debra Salonen
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373715886 $5.50

His Lakota uncle sent Eli Robideaux to go out and find himself by completing Hanblecheyapi. Instead he arrives at Char Jones' Native American shop without a penny to his name. Desperate, he tries to rob her so he can go home, but fails at the attempt when she recognizes him as her high school boyfriend.

When Eli learns he left Char pregnant, he feels chagrin and remorse. He wants to find the child she gave up for adoption and persuades Char to accompany him on the search for their son. On the trek to California, they fall in love, but she fears he will desert her again.

This fine second chance contemporary romance stars a suspicious Entrepreneur and a young man struggling with his identity. Eli and Char are a terrific pairing whose quest is FINDING THEIR SON. Although the ending is too perfect even for the sub-genre, fans will enjoy the trek with this likable duo as guides.

Here To Stay
Margot Early
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373715893 $5.50

Dog trainer Sissy Workman loves her husband Elijah but hid one truth from him for years out of fear he will leave. Their first born is not his. Sissy jilted someone else before marrying Elijah, but learned she was pregnant after they wed.

Now he knows he did not sire their oldest when the child needed a transfusion and his blood type is unacceptable. He is outraged for several reasons including the omission she kept from him and he wonders what else she concealed. As their anniversary comes up, Sissy fears her failure will end their happy family as Elijah increasingly acts distant.

Using reverse engineering, Margot Early tells the back story of the relationship between Sissy and Elijah and to a lesser degree their children. Thus the story line is character driven as Elijah struggles with what he believes is a betrayal of their trust while he and his spouse look back over their time together. Although the technique adds freshness, the use slows down the present day plot of vying for the Westminster Dog Show or fleeing to lick his wounds.

The Baby Album
Roz Denny Fox
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373715862 $5.50

In Round Rock, Texas her husband Dane abandons pregnant photographer Casey Sinclair. She needs work so she applies at Wyatt Keene's photography studio in Austin, but conceals her delicate condition as she assumes no one wants to hire someone who will go on maternity leave in a few months. He tests her at a school and she does a great job so he hires her.

She soon learns that Wyatt's wife died a year earlier due to an ectopic pregnancy. Finding this out makes Casey feels guilty as she will soon reveal the truth and probably be sacked for concealing it. As they fall in love, Casey notices how Wyatt is hesitant even before he finds out she is carrying.

This is a super second chance at love starring two individuals with differing personal issues from their previous relationships. Casey still reels from abandonment while Wyatt grieves his loss. Each is tentative about their attraction for good reason as she fears her heart would break if she takes a chance and he leaves while he unsure he can ever deal with a pregnancy. Roz Denny Fox provides readers a wonderful contemporary romance.

Winning It All
Liz Allison and Wendy Etherington
9780373774029 $7.99

Former NASCAR champion driver Bryan "Steel" Garrison still recovers from the car accident injuries that ended his racing career. Emotionally that accident was strike two as his wife left him several years ago, which was strike one. Now the president of Garrison Racing, he reluctantly acquiesces to his family pressure and hires a physical therapist.

Widow Darcy Butler accepts the position. Upon their first meeting, he cannot see how the tiny blonde is going to be physically and mentally strong enough to bully him. He soon realizes she matches him in obstinacy and has a steel fortitude. As he begins to regain the condition he had when he drove the oval, Bryan finds he has finally moved beyond his emotional traumas as he wants his therapist, but she has issues too although she reciprocates his desire.

The third Garrison Racing romance (see NO HOLDING BACK and RISKING HER HEART) is a fun spin around the track as both of the lead protagonists carry plenty of personal issues that leave each distrustful of relationships. Character driven, he has learned how brittle steel can be while she has learned how brittle life can be. The return of the stars of the previous books mostly to yell at Bryan adds that sense of family to an entertaining straightforward (even around the oval) NASCAR romance.

All That You Are
Stef Ann Holm
9780373774036 $7.99

In Ketchikan, Alaska single mom Danalee Jackson runs her late father's jazz club, the Blue Note. She is lonely and struggling to balance managing the bar and raising her son, but loves living in this gateway city to the final American frontier.

With the death of his father, Mark Moretti finished their last job alone in honor of his dad. However after completing the downtown Boise project, he never had time to grieve his loss. Feeling a desperate need to get away, Mark goes off on a summer long fishing trip with no end in mind. In Ketchikan, Mark meets Danalee and her young son, who take away the blue feelings even as he goes back to work renovating her bar to meet the code.

The location and the eccentric Blue Note patrons add depth to an enjoyable relatively simplistic contemporary romance of two lonely people falling in love. The lead couple and her son are fully developed protagonists and the audience will want the best for each of them, but the city and its surrounding area steals the show as Stef Ann Holm vividly paints the landscape. Mark now knows the answer to the Beatles' tune "Where do all the lonely People go?" is Ketchikan.

Lucky Break
Carly Phillips
9780373774012 $7.99

In Stewart, Massachusetts with the deaths of the evil Perkins family and the incarceration of the few survivors, the witch powers they claimed proved false. However, although they apparently won the feud, the Corwin family, especially the older generation, believes anyone with a touch of Perkins blood is cursed with evil in their DNA.

Lauren Perkins comes home to prepare the family mansion for sale. Although she had nothing to do with the malevolence of her kin, everyone especially the Corwin brood assumes she is tainted. Only, Jason Corwin who never forgot the greatest summer of his life thinks otherwise. He wants to court Lauren, but his family is divided based on age between for and against. However, when the repairs to her house fall apart, Jason and Lauren revert back to what their families always have done: feuding.

The third Corwin Curse tale (see LUCKY CHARM and LUCK STREAK) is a fascinating finish to a fine trilogy as Lauren only wants to sell her family house and get out of Stewart while Jason only wants Lauren. Although the premise is a bit thin, Lauren is the jewel who can run away from love or embrace it and break the Corwin Curse.

How to Tame a Lady
Kasey Michaels
9780373773763 $7.99

In 1816 eighteen-year-old twin sisters Nicole and Lydia Daughtry have come to cold dark London for their first season in the "the year without a summer". Nicole's spunk and beauty catches the eye of many suitors. However, it is a collision with Marquess Lucas Paine that makes her reconsider her position on love as she is very attracted to him.

For his part, he reciprocates, but knows the timing is bad. He has a need for vengeance against the rogue who destroyed his family and so has no room for a perky duke's sister. However, in spite of his efforts to stay away he cannot, which places the woman he is falling in love with in danger from his archenemy and his mission in jeopardy of failure.

The second Daughtry family Regency romance (see HOW TO TEMPT A DUKE) is an engaging tale due to the relationship between the feisty female and the suddenly distracted avenging Marquess. The support cast is solid especially her family and his sorrowful mother. Although the plot device has been used frequently in historicals, Kasey Michaels provides her audience with an engaging tale.

The Heart of Christmas
Mary Balogh, Nicola Cornick and Courtney Milan
9780373774272 $7.99

"A Handful of Gold" by Mary Balogh. The handsome and wealthy heir to an earldom, Lord Julian Dare, seems to have everything so what do you get the man you love for Christmas who seems to need nothing Verity Ewing asks herself. You give your heart to him though the risk is that he will return it broken.

"The Season for Suitors" by Nicola Cornick. Because she is a pretty heiress, rakes and wastrels try to compromise Clara Davenport into marriage. She has been fortunate so far, but knows her luck will not hold out so she decides she needs a teacher to train her, an innocent, on how to fend off rakes. She turns to the poster boy of rakes Sebastian Fleet for mentoring and advice. However, the lessons between the teacher and the student turn into one of love.

"This Wicked Gift" by Courtney Milan. In 1822 Lavinia Spencer has saved money in order for her family to celebrate the holidays with a Christmas dinner. Four days before the gala, her brother James loses everything, leaving them in a debt greater than they can pay back. William Q. White, who she has adored from a distance, offers to make the payment in exchange for her innocence.

These three Regency romantic novellas are fun tales due to the assertive females who know what they want and take charge of achieving their respective heart's desires. Although the Balogh and Cornick entries are reprints from the anthology Christmas Keepsakes, this anthology is worth reading because of the strong women.

Queene of Light
Jennifer Armintrout
9780778326625 $7.99

Below Upworld where mortals dwell, in the sewers underneath the streets of Darkworld, half breed human-faery Lightworld assassin Ayla runs into the last thing she needs to meet a death angel. However, shockingly instead of collecting her soul, Malachai is poisoned by the human part of her blood. Even more stunning he is no longer is immortal.

Meanwhile in the faery realm Lightworld, Ayla and Garret plan to marry. However, she is unaware that he has ulterior motives as to why he needs to wed her that have nothing to do with loving or even caring about her; he wants Ayla so he can use her as a puppet ruler serving as his front when he takes the throne from his sister Queen Mabb. The arrival of Malachai places Garret's scheme in trouble as his fiancee is attracted to the death angel.

The first Lightworld/Darkworld romantic fantasy is an exciting tale filled with plenty of action, several intriguing spins, and a solid cast, who bring Jennifer Armintrout's multi realms to life. However, introducing the laws of physics makes the opening scenes moving somewhat slowly even with the lead couple's first encounter. Still once the base is set, QUEENE OF LIGHT turns into an enjoyable fantasy.

How Not To Make A Wish
Mindy Klasky
9780778327370 $13.95

The competition is fierce and cut throat as Fox Hill stage manager Kira Franklin sorts through the debris of dusty junk seeking an angle to save the dinner theatre. She finds a lamp that she assumes was from some long ago production and starts to clean it to see if there is any sale value.

However to her shock, her polishing releases Teel the genie. He tells her he will grant her wishes, but keep them reasonable as eliminating world hunger is outside his range though extinction would do the trick. Scornfully Kira fails to read the contract with its four wishes but instead sarcastically wishes for the job she covets and is stunned gets it as she now works at the Landmark Stage. However, that proves not to match her fantasy as her boss is an insane egomaniac; her other wishes turn out as poorly as her first one. Then again, the one wish she did not make involves set designer John McRae, but as she falls in love with him she knows he is leaving.

Fans will get what we wish for as Mindy Klasky provides a jocular over the top of the entire Midwest refreshing tale filled with poignancy as chick lit heroine Kira gives a first hand account of her desires, sneezes, and failed wishes; Murphy had nothing go wrong compared to her. Lighthearted, HOW NOT TO MAKE A WISH is an amusing contemporary as the audience and Kira wonder how can seemingly innocent wishes go so badly and she wishes she had no more coming.

Unhallowed Ground
Heather Graham
9780778326762 $7.99

In St. Augustine, Florida, Sarah McKinley is excited when she purchases the dilapidated historic mansion that has a history of residents disappearing due to the black magic witch. She plans to renovate and convert the abode into a B and B.

Construction begins, but the work crew finds the old bones of perhaps a dozen victims some apparently from the War of Northern Aggression concealed inside the walls. At the same time, private investigator Caleb Anderson is working a missing-persons case, Winona Hart who vanished from a party filled with stoned underage youths. He finds some fascinating clues and begins to consider if Sarah's house is tied to his search and begins to look into the history of the house. Caleb's efforts lead him to Sarah, who is in the crosshairs of a killer.

UNHALLOWED GROUND is an enjoyable paranormal romance starring a courageous lead couple and a killer who may or may not be a ghost. The story line is anchored by the historical references that are interwoven into the search for the missing people; as Caleb feels others besides Winona are somehow tied to the house. Although a key coincidence occurs late, fans will enjoy the romantic and investigative teaming of Sarah with Caleb as they try to learn the secrets of haunted Heritage House.

The Perfect Murder
Brenda Novak
9780778327257 $7.99

One year ago, former cop Malcolm Turner killed his wife and teenage stepson before committing suicide. However, investment banker Sebastian Costas, whose ex-wife and son were the two victims of her second husband, believes Turner faked his death to escape the law. Costas quit his job and has spent the past twelve month futilely trying to prove his theory.

However, Sebastian's efforts lead him to Last Stand victims' advocate wannabe investigator Jane Burke. She is searching for two abducted teens (Marcie and Leticia) whose older sister raised them; Jane believes Turner kidnapped them. Jane and Sebastian team up to try to bring down a "dead" killer who connects the pair chasing him and decides to end their pursuit. He failed to do his homework as Jane survived a serial killing husband so has no qualms about destroying Turner.

The latest Last Stand thriller (see THE PERFECT LIAR and THE PERFECT COUPLE) is a super tale that stars a strong cast which includes the villain who committed the PERFECT MURDER, but had not factored in the impact of getting away with the homicides; he has to accept menial jobs with no respect. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Malcolm stalks his high school sweetheart and never slows down. Although the romance between Sebastian and Jane is a requirement of the sub-genre, the subplot enhances the anticipated confrontation.

Black Friday
Alex Kava
9780778326519 $24.95

Looking forward to time off during the long Thanksgiving Day weekend, FBI profiler Maggie O'Dell receives an urgent call from the new assistant director Ray Kunze who replaced her mentor Cunningham after he recently died. Set up by The Project Manager, terrorists bombed the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota during the busiest shopping day of the year.

The case proves even more complicated and convoluted, but the Feds learn that college students carrying backpacks were seen just before the bombings. Soon afterward an anonymous tip provides the names of the suspected students including Maggie's half-brother, Patrick Murphy. They thought they were pulling a prank with jamming devices, but instead caused a massacre in which no group claims victory, but the Project Manager using the name Asante knows one of his carriers somehow survived. Still adjusting to a new superior with a different leadership style than she is used to, Maggie believes another strike is imminent as the wizard behind the prank remains an unknown John Doe, but evidence points to another attack imminently.

The latest O'Dell FBI thriller (see A NECESSARY EVIL and EXPOSED) may be the best case yet for the profiler as her stepbrother is involved making it personal and the brilliant mastermind remains out there plotting the next strike. The story line is action-packed, but it is the pace that hooks the audience as Maggie believes the clock is ticking towards the second series of explosions and for the only survivor. With a plausible premise that will have Tom Ridge screaming red, fans will read BLACK FRIDAY in one sitting.

The Fury
Jason Pinter
9780778326274 $7.99

New York Gazette reporter Henry Parker feels good as he leaves the office overlooking Rockefeller center because the obnoxious sports reporter got a well deserved "donkey-whupping". On the street, a homeless man accosts Parker begging to talk with him as he claims the city is burning, but the journalist is in a rush to meet Amanda Davies and besides has images of a donkey whupping on his mind; Henry tells the man to call him tomorrow.

Later the police inform Henry the man who approached him earlier is dead, a murder victim; and evidence exists that this Stephen Gaines was Parker's half-brother. They shared the same father though Henry had no idea he even had sibling. Unable to resist and feeling remorse for blowing away his apparent brother, Parker investigates the homicide starting with confronting his father, who the cops suspect is the killer.

The latest Henry Parker investigation (see THE STOLEN, THE MARK and GUILTY) is a terrific suspense laden thriller with a personal angst twist to the reporter's current inquiry. The super story line is fast-paced from the onset and never takes a breather. However, THE FURY is part one of a duology with THE DARKNESS coming out in December so fans might want wait for part two and read both one after another.

The Perfect Christmas
Debbie Macomber
9780778326823 $16.95

The personalized Christmas card from her friend shakes thirty-three years old Cassie Beaumont to her bone marrow fearing she will die alone. Seeing the photo of her buddy with a husband and child inspires Cassie to stop waiting for a miracle and make one by searching for her perfect mate.

She tries to hire matchmaking Dr. Simon Dodson but he has three stipulations she must accomplish before he agrees to assist her. She must collect money for charity, work as an elf at the mall and cook a holiday feast for her neighbors. She reluctantly agrees to his terms. As she meets his challenges, she finds her perfect match in the arrogant psychiatrist ready to introduce her to her perfect match.

Simon is the grump who brought Christmas cheer to readers as a refreshing lead male who is arrogant, difficult, complex, and inside his crusty Oscar of Sesame Street fame exterior beats a caring person. Cassie is shallow in comparison to Simon. Humorous with a touch of the Gift of the Magi whimsy, fans will enjoy Debbie Macomber's lighthearted frolic as all she wants for Christmas is the Grump.

Lakeshore Christmas
Susan Wiggs
9780778326892 $21.95

Prim and proper Willow Lake, New York librarian Maureen "Mo" Davenport relishes that she will lead the annual Avalon holiday pageant for the first time in her life; having been in a support role. She wants this year's gala to be one everyone will remember for years to come.

Her co-director is former child star Eddie Haven, who loathes Christmas. He had no choice but to agree to be a host because of a judge's order. Eddie and Mo battle over the celebration. Shockingly they begin to work together even as they fall in love. However, both fear taking a chance on a commitment having been burned before. It will take a Christmas miracle just like his claim to fame movie he starred in as a child.

The latest Lakeshore Chronicles (see SUMMER AT WILLOW LAKE, DOCKSIDE and FIRESIDE) is a sweet holiday romance kept from being to angelically sugary by the skeptic who scorned Christmas, Eddie. He brings a special flavor with his "shut up and sing the blues" attitude although he has met his match in Mo. Fans of the series will enjoy the spending the Yuletide season with the Willow Lake crowd complemented by cynical disbeliever Eddie and a kind but strange individual Jabaz.

That Holiday Feeling
Debbie Macomber, Sherryl Woods and Robyn Carr
9780778328377 $7.99

"Silver Bells" by Debbie Macomber. Philip raised his teenage daughter, but never expected her to find him a wife when he never wanted to remarry. However the chosen one Carrie makes him reconsider his stance on marriage.

"The Perfect Holiday" by Sherryl Woods. Aunt Mae decides Trace is the perfect holiday present for her single niece Savannah. She expects them to be engaged by Christmas.

"Under the Christmas" Tree by Robyn Carr. Hairstylist Annie stops to admire a Virgin River Christmas tree only to find eight newborn puppies underneath it. Obviously abandoned, Annie finds the town vet Nathaniel to help with the dogs.

These are three warm holiday romances starring wonderful lead protagonists.

The Evolution of Shadows
Jason Quinn Malott
9781932961843 $14.95

In 1995 in Sarajevo, American photographer Gray Banick vanishes. Years later, his former Chinese-American lover Lian Zhao receives a letter from Gray's interpreter Emil Todorovic who worked for the missing photographer asking about him.

Although she married someone more acceptable to her parents, Lian always loved Gray. She leaves Kansas City for Serbia hoping to locate him. In Sarajevo she meets Gray's mentor Jack MacKenzie whose family finally gave up on him when he spent more time in hot spots than at home and Emil. The three begin a quest to learn what happened to Gray.

THE EVOLUTION OF SHADOWS is a strong war drama that makes the case that those who see the horrors of combat even non fighters like reporters need bonds of friendship to emotionally survive; the US Army affirms this premise with buddies being a key element to prevent suicide amidst the troops. Each of the key cast members feel genuine even the missing Gray who is seen mostly though the flashbacks of his compatriots. Jason Quinn Malott provides a powerful character driven tale that avoids turning nostalgic or maudlin.

Paul Martin Midden
American Book Publishing
9781589824928 $24.95

When he served in the army, Senator Jake Telemark, the junior member from Wisconsin, was a sniper working cover missions. However, the guilt of collateral damage led to a nervous breakdown. With help he moved on and became a politician.

The daughter of former Senator Hathaway, Dr. Isadore Hathaway, asks for his help. Dora swears that a cabal of a dozen powerful people is making a bid to take over the United States. This group the Bookkeepers plan to establish a theocracy with them in charge. Although Jake initially thinks she is over the top of the Washington Monument, Dora makes a very persuasive case. Her evidence includes inexplicable deaths of First Amendment advocates and poisoned reservoirs. Sold, he returns to his sniper days with the enemy from within.

Mindful of Pogo's classic commentary that "we have met the enemy and he is us" in an over the top thriller. The story line is action-packed from the moment Dora convinces Jake and remains loaded until the final presidential call. Although a romantic subplot seems forced and the audience needs to ignore plausibility (though Jeff Sharlet author of The Family might argue otherwise), fans will relish this exciting thriller.

Until It's Gone
Karen Wiesner
9780578013688 $13.99

DEA undercover agent Mitch Taylor spent twenty years working his way up the ladder of the Ortega drug cartel until he became the right hand man to Carson Ortega, cousin of the untouchable top gun Mareno Ortega. To destroy the entire leadership, Mitch was arrested and convicted of drug trafficking; he was sentenced to thirty months, but served only nineteen. Los Angeles DEA Filed Office Assistant Special Agent in Charge Eric Bradshaw gets him released early so he can return as Carson's number one man.

However, he is tired of being a puppet pulled by two puppeteers and wants out as he also believes his only friend Snake should be able to vanish too. Mitch distrusts Bradshaw even more than Ortega. Now Brenda Bennett is at his house; the one person who could actually destroy him although she is out of his league. She shakes him to the core when she informs him he is the daddy of a ten month old daughter, Haylee Julia; a by-product of getting his beloved to hate him. Mitch now has two female reasons for wanting out, but neither the DEA nor the Ortega mob will let him just walks away.

This may be the best of the Wounded Warrior saga so far, which is saying a lot as that is a super series. Mitch is a terrific protagonist who has harmed innocent people as part of his realistic cover, but even before Brenda's pronouncement he had doubts about right vs. wrong as he reconsiders his side's values as they assume the end justifies any mean. Brenda has issues also, but this is clearly Mitch's tribulation with no hope for redemption. Fans will relish this powerful gritty entry.

To Know Evil
Stephen Gaspar
9780977191390 $17.95

In 999 AD at an isolated Benedictine monastery in northern Italy, Brother Ryan lies dead at the steps leading to a tower. Whereas renowned skeptic Brother Thomas of Worms believes Ryan is a murder victim as the Irish monk feared heights, the Abbot Brother Michael rules a tragic accident occurred. Because he broke a Rule by displaying personal ego and no humility, Michael assigns Thomas to do penitence by copying a passage of the New Testament in the scriptorium.

Brother Nicholas tells Thomas he found an arcane psalm book with palimpsest writings. They begin following clues left by the previous residents the Gnostic who imply they hid a Gospel. Soon other Brothers die in mysterious ways, but Michael insists Gedeon and Bartholomew from accidents while Thomas believes one of them is the killer. As he abetted by Nicholas searches for the lost Gospel and a serial killer, the Abbot warns Thomas to cease all intellectual pursuit or face exile and perhaps worse.

Mindful of Peter Tremayne's Fidelma of Cashel and Brother Eadulf, this is an intriguing look at life in a cloistered monastery at the turn of the millennium. The story line is fast-paced and filled with twists to disguise the brilliant villain from the prideful hero whose ego enables the killer to play him like a child playing the notation by the monk Guido d'Arezzo (circa 1000). Although the motive is weakened because of a seemingly time gap between arrivals and homicides and an unnecessary red herring, fans will enjoy Stephen Gaspar's fine medieval whodunit that brings to life 999 AD Christianity.

Detective Stories
Peter Washington (Editor)
Everyman's Library (Knopf)
9780307272713 $15.00

These are sixteen great short stories written as early 1844 (Edgar Allan Poe's The Purloined Letter starring M. Dupin) to an early Sara Paretsky's Warshawski. In between there is a Holmes' entry as well as Bret Harte (if you have not read this great short story nineteenth century author you are missing one of the all time best), Chesteron's Father Brown, Hammett's prototype tough guy, Chandler's Mason, and Christie's Miss Marple. There are no clinkers as not only are the authors a virtual who's who, their detectives are for the most part household names as the superstars of sleuthing. Although some of the selections will have been read previously such as the WWI era still timely morality classic A Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell, readers will fully relish each choice as we can compare Poe to Borges and Simenon's Maigret to Rankin's Rebus in what is a super compilation.

In the Falling Snow
Caryl Phillips
9780307272560 $25.95

Keith Gordon's parents came from the West Indies settling in England where he was born in the early 1960s. He was raised by his white stepmother and is therefore comfortable with both races. Keith married a white Annabelle, whose family excommunicated her due to her marrying him but after two decades together they have been separated for two years now.

Recently Annabelle has become increasingly worried about their seventeen year old son Laurie who will not talk to his father as if his dad is at fault for the teen being biracial. At work Keith heads the London unit of Race Equality, but the social worker is under investigation as a subordinate has accused him of harassment; not that it matters much anymore as he has begin to conclude his work is meaningless. Filled with despondency while pondering is that all there is, Keith even considers what to do about his estrangement with his West Indies' dad.

This is a super timely look at racial identification in a changing world as the EEO question of which race you belong to seems obsolete with the increasing number of bi-racial people. Keith is a terrific character who deliberates over his identity as a second generation Englishman who stands out in the snow white stereotype picture of his countrymen. His third generation offspring feels alienated and resentful even as his dad reflects who he is and is that all there is in life.

Blood's a Rover
James Ellroy
9780679403937 $28.95

In 1964 in Los Angeles, a Well Fargo armored car is shockingly robbed. By 1968 Howard "Dracula" Hughes moves in on the Vegas Strip with help from voodoo medicine and the mob. The same group behind the killings of Kennedy and King creates havoc in Chicago as Nixon must be elected president because the mob and J. Edgar Hoover know Tricky Dick is one of them, albeit a moronic one. The Mafia sets up casinos in the Dominican Republic to replace Havana with an advanced party Mesplede (of Grassy Knoll notoriety) and Tredow running heroin from Haiti to raise money for assaults on Cuba. The FBI's "Old Girl" knows Nixon will endorse spying, jailing and assassinating anti Vietnam rabbles, Black Militants like King, and women libber communists under the American dream BS.

The government-mobster-industrial complex easily prevents leftists like Karen Sifakis and Joan Rosen Klein from power through betrayal, back stabbing and legal robbery with the only cost being the democratic dumbing down of the masses. All those who actively rule pretend to be honorable with blood on the hands delegated to do those who do dirty jobs. In this mire of self righteousness FBI Agent Dwight Holly has an agenda radically different from either woman he manipulates. Yet the convergence of American apple pie at the earth mother Saint Joan began in 1964 when a milk truck accidentally rammed a Well Fargo armored car; although some might argue her roots are her communist ancestors.

The cynical final "Underworld USA" saga (see AMERICAN TABLOID and THE COLD SIX THOUSAND) comes full circle as the right wing real heroes (though hidden away in the closet as Reagan is more acceptable in public) Nixon, Hoover and Hughes seek salvation the American way: use chaos theory to manipulate the media and the public. The exciting story line is like the DNA matrix as subplots intertwine around one another leading to some repetitiveness when they conjoin, but impossible not to read as it has a tabloid exposing feel. American history comes alive with this fictional account of the Nixon-Hoover era as the shortest point between the back streets of L.A. and the White House run through Chicago, Vegas, Havana, and Hispaniola.

The Immortals
Amit Chaudhuri
9780307270221 $25.95

In the early 1980s in Bombay, classically trained by his father Apura Lal, Shyam is in demand by the affluent to tutor them or their offspring in voice. Shyam has come a long way from his famous father who sang only traditional classics while he teaches singing popular tunes mostly to wealthy women.

One of his better students Mallika Sengupta asks Shyam for a secret favor. She resents having to give up her chance for a musical career to marry a corporate exec so she wants to give her sixteen years old son Nirmalya a chance to make it in music. Shyam agrees to work with the rebellious Nirmalya, but the teen does not want to work with the teacher he scorns for selling out his soul for a few rupees; in fact the lad admires Apura for adhering to the classics; Nirmalya's preference.

This is an interesting look at Bombay through the eyes of two families (representing three generations) as music connects everyone. The story line is vivid with the sound of music, but the obvious conflict between parent and offspring feels muted. Still, in spite of the toning down of the clash, fans will enjoy this stylish refrain as "the magic is in the music and the music is in me" (Lovin' Spoonful) and you; just the preference differs.

The Haunting of America
William J. Birnes and Joel Martin
9780765313812 $25.99

The authors take a close look at alleged haunting in America going from colonial times to 9/11. There is a myriad of claims over the three plus centuries as the writers describe what allegedly occurred with the emphasis on the paranormal aspects of an event. William J. Birnes and Joel Martin evaluate the possibility as to whether black magic was actually practiced just prior to the Salem witch trials and a couple of George Washington tales especially several sightings at Gettysburg and other battle sights. Other presidents also receive focus like Jackson who testified at the Bell Witch incident and Lincoln who supposedly dreamed of his assassination. Filled with charming fakes like Margaret "the big toe" Fix and hypnotic charmers like Franz Mesmer, THE HAUNTING OF AMERICA is a fascinating look at the alleged paranormal history of the country. The book includes Houdini, Doyle, Edison and Rhine as the para intertwines with the normal whether it is the Ford Theater, Valley Forge, the White House or even the early evolutionary leap of ultra adaptive Cro-Magnan and even more adaptive Homo sapiens, perhaps seeded from an ET visit. This is a fun account to read; just leave behind the skepticism as the entertaining tome lacks any.

The Atlantis Code
Charles Brokaw
9780765315311 $25.99

Cardinal Stefano Murani and his allies believe archeologist Thomas Lourds has found a priceless artifact in Alexandria, Egypt that they want and plan to take from him. Apparently Lourds has found a relic that links the lost continent of Atlantis with the Old Testament.

Meanwhile TV reporter Leslie Crane interviews Lourds for a documentary. However Murani's thugs murder the show's producer and go after the reporter and the archeologist. Lourds and Crane barely escape, but are on the run with Murani's horde in pursuit. As they flee from Africa to Europe, their adversaries chase after them with orders to retrieve the find and kill the finders; collateral damage is no issue to Cardinal Murani or his followers.

THE ATLANTIS CODE is a hyperspeed thriller that races through two continents at a breakneck pace. Filled with action as the pursuers constantly catch up with the lead couple, but like a Houdini, they manage to escape from one peril after another. This is fun to read sort of like a pulp thriller as the constant bad guys' assault attacks on the heroes dramatically overwhelm the biblical archeological premise.

Aimee and David Thurlo
9780765317179 $24.99

In Shiprock, New Mexico Navajo Tribal Police Special Investigator Ella Clah discovers a pipe bomb in the classroom of her almost-lover, former Fed Christian minister Reverend Bilford "Ford" Tome. The bomb explodes injuring an officer. Meanwhile Ford and Ella work together trying to uncover who the maniacs are who are trying to sabotage a nuclear plant on the Navaho reservation and wonder if the bomb is linked.

The inquiry is complicated by an anti nuclear energy professor sending and receiving encrypted e-mail messages to an environmental group ironically considering domestic terrorism; an abusive spouse who blames the former minister for the destruction of his marriage; and finally survivalists who are camping nearby. A sniper, who could be connected to any of the three groups, or perhaps an unknown fourth unit, targets Ford and Ella as well.

The fifteenth Ella Clah Navaho police procedural is a super entry in a great series. The heroine has personal choices to make that conflict her inner soul. She loves the Reverend but enough to adopt his belief system over her own is a difficult dilemma for her. The story line is fast-paced as several suspects surface who have motives to eliminate Ford. Fans of the saga will appreciate Team Thurlo's terrific thriller while newcomers will enjoy their stay on the Navaho reservation and look forward to more time there.

9800 Savage Road
M. E. Harrigan
9780765317964 $24.99

In 2000 National Security Agency assistant director Alexandra O'Malley heads up Project Meridian, which was set to monitor terrorist leader bin Laden known as UBL inside of NSA. He has been sending and receiving numerous calls at his al-Qaeda headquarters in Afghanistan. All the discussions center on a vague major plot against America, but none provide any worthwhile specificity.

Abruptly the message traffic halts, panicking American security agencies that whatever is planned is imminent. Alex's boyfriend, CIA agent Gabriel Ayala, is sent inside Afghanistan to set up a tap into the al-Qaeda phone system. However, back in the States while Gabriel is deep undercover, someone is murdering key NSA personnel; Alex investigates the homicides that she believes is tied to the expected terrorist assault.

Although this reviewer is doubtful Harrigan would investigate rather then delegate, fans will enjoy this deep look inside NSA as the countdown to 9/11 occurs. Unsurprisingly the story line is not loaded with suspense as the audience knows the tragic outcome, but the fun in the tale is what is going on inside NSA and the CIA. 9800 SAVAGE ROAD provides that big time as M.E. Harrigan writes from an obvious insider's perspective.

Cayla Kluver
Amazon Encore
701 5th AVE, Seattle, WA, 98104
9781595910554 $24.95

King Adrik of Hytanica informs his daughter Alera, who just turned seventeen; she will marry one of her suitors before her next birthday. Alera is concerned with her choices as only one meets the rules of the kingdom for marrying a princess. She wants no part of arrogant womanizer Steldor. Only the twenty years old rake's father, Captain of the King's Guards Lord Cannan, believes in the potential of his son. Steldor likes his hedonistic world but has problems with understanding Alera who rejects his charm.

Meanwhile the century old war between Hytanica and the Kingdom of Cokyri has become heated again after a sixteen-year dormant period though neither side of the dispute quite remembers the details behind the legendary LEGACY. The two kingdoms disagree on the value of women in society with the Cokyrians placing females in positions of leadership and power while in Hytanica they are second class citizens. Atrocities by the Cokyri have arisen as they did sixteen years ago with the kidnapping and murders of infant sons of Hytanica nobles. However, Narian survived the ordeal, learned what his heritage is and Cokyrian tactics before he came home to Hytanica as either its war leader or its Quisling destroyer especially since he and the about to be married Alera are attracted to one another.

LEGACY is a deep historical romance that in some ways will remind the audience of the late period of the Hundred Years War. The story line is driven by the cast especially those in Hytanica where the monarch is tired and believes new blood is needed, but distrusts his daughter to achieve this; ironically if she lived in the adversarial kingdom, she would be the heir and not just the wife and mother of the heirs. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this strong tale as the deep characterizations make for a super thriller filled with plenty of military and not so noblesse action.

Laurel Dewey
The Story Plan
PO Box 4331Stamford, Ct.,06907
9780981608754, $24.95

Chain smoker and chain drinker Jane Harder quit the Denver police department to become a private investigator. However, her effort to go private has somewhat failed because of her alcoholic addiction. Jane joins AA in hopes that the touch me feel me kick butt me meetings help her stay sober long enough to solve a case that brings in money.

Katherine "Kit" Clark comes over to Jane who is outside the AA meeting place smoking. She recognizes the cop from when Jane appeared on Larry King Live last year. Kit comes across as crazy so Jane tries to escape back to the meeting until the woman offers her $5000 to investigate the abduction, rape and murder of her fourteen year old granddaughter over ten years ago in California. The convicted killer Lou Peters was released on a legal technicality. Though she needs the money, the case comes too close to home with her own family history of abuse, but when Kit explains she is dying from cancer and believes Lou has kidnapped a tweener, Jane is ready to go immediately to Northern California.

As apparently with PROTECTOR (not read by me), Jane remains a kick butt heroine who has not broken the abuse cycle handed down from her paternal grandfather through her father to her; instead she has detoured it from abusing spouses, siblings, and offspring as her dad did to self flagellation through smoking, drinking, and profanity. Thus she has met her match in Kit. Although Jane's behavior at times overwhelms the otherwise super story line with her excesses, fans will enjoy this powerful suspense thriller as the time is running out on her ally and on the twelve year old victim.

Keeper of the Grail
Michael Spradlin
9780142414613 $7.99

Cistercian monks have raised the orphan Tristan with love, but in 1191 at almost fifteen years old, he is given the choice of accompanying Knight Templar Sir Thomas as he joins the Third Crusade. Tristan agrees to go with the knight to Outreamer in God's name. Once in the Holy Land, Richard the Lionhearted and Templar Knight Sir Hugh act hostile towards the teen.

In the Holy Land, Tristan participates in the Battle of Acre. However, even at rest he finds Saracens seem to single him out for assassination though Tristan has no idea why they and bandits seek out a nonentity like him. He is fortunate that Robard Hode of Sherwood saves his life from a Saracen assassin Maryam the Maid even as he becomes the bearer of the holiest of relics, which makes him even more of a target from all sides of the dispute.

The first Youngest Templar middle school medieval thriller with hints of fantasy especially the climax is an exciting action-packed tale starring an intriguing young teen protagonist who does not receive a hero's welcome in the Holy Land from either side of the conflict. The story line is fast-paced while also having obvious ties to the modern day Middle East scenario as well as to Robin Hood and the title artifact. Tweeners will root for Tristan (no commentary as to his name) as he struggles with survival while protecting the relic with his life but also wondering why his alleged allies as much as his adversaries want him dead.

Trail of Fate
Michael Spradlin
9780399247644 $17.99

In 1191 Templar knight squire Tristan knows he is lucky to remain alive having barely escaped the murderous intent of malevolent Sir Hugh who demanded he give over the Holy Grail if he wanted an easy death (see KEEPER OF THE GRAIL). Tristan comes ashore having lost contact with his allies on the ship Robard and Maryam. He has a lot on his mind for he is unsure what to do or who to go to with his holy relic; Tristan misses his Templar Knight Sir Thomas who would advise him what to do next. He fears for his friends who may be dead or worse help captive.

On shore in a land he does not know, Tristan finds himself amidst French Cathars. He is attracted to their leader Celia and wants to help their cause even if she and her cohorts clearly loath Templars for their undying support to the pope whom they deem treacherous cowardly and avaricious. They fight against the religious persecution of the ruthless King of France, but Tristan knows Sir Hugh still pursues him and he must return to England immediately. However, Tristan thinks with his wrong head and offers his assistance to the Cathars thus jeopardizing his mission and the Holy Grail he protects.

The second Youngest Templar is a terrific medieval thriller held together by Tristan, who proves brave and loyal although his decisions endanger the Grail he protects. The support cast is solid whether they support or oppose the young champion. Filled with action, fans will enjoy this coming of age entry as the audience knows as does Tristan Sir Hugh is coming for him, but he still stops to abet the Cathars as he believes their cause to be just.

The Rasner Effect
Mark Rosendorf
L & L Dreamspell
9781603180849 $18.95

On the Queens-Bronx Bridge are two men as a bomb explodes. Rick Rasner, chief of the Mercury terrorist Duke Organization, and for hire former black ops operative Jake Scarberry face off when soldiers working for General Straker kill the former. Straker tells the latter he is finished as a mercenary doing government work sending him to clean college frat puke as Charlie Wright in Alligator Pond, Florida

Seven years later Rick has become a psychotherapist at the Brookhill Children's Psychiatric Residence in Pennsylvania. He has no memory of his aggressive homicidal past as Straker's operative Dr. Obenchain used him in a medical experiment. He struggles with meekness as martinet director Katherine Miller and her abusive staff run the facility with iron fists. He does feel some connection for fifteen year old outcast Clara Blue. Meanwhile his former Duke Organization mates have located him and led by Jennifer Duke is coming for their former leader and soon afterward Straker locates his Duke Organization expert.

With a nod to Clockwork Orange, THE RASNER EFFECT is a tense psychological thriller that opens with a High Noon showdown over the East River and grips the audience with the anticipation of a second High Noon showdown. The key to this taut tale is the ensemble cast especially at the Psycho Residence and the Duke gang who seem real. The hero is a fascinating protagonist who goes from life threatening scenarios to cleaning Frat vomit to life threatening scenarios while his prime adversary goes from cold blooded killer who murdered his fatherly mentor to meek shall inherit the earth back to sinister killer though he lost some of his razor sharpness. This is an entertaining suspense thriller.

Love Is a Battlefield
Annalisa Daughety
9781602604773 $10.97

After being jilted at the altar, park ranger Kristy O'Neal has mixed feelings about returning to her job at Shiloh National Military Park. She knows her work will able her to move on from the disappointment, but also knows her peers will look at her with pity. The great outdoors wins out over hiding so Kristy returns to work not expecting another ranger in her position.

Ace Kennedy has arrived at Shiloh to work and research his ancestry. He is immediately attracted to Kristy, but tries to somewhat conceal his desire as he knows of her recent history. She feels the same about him, but one rejection is all she can handle at the moment. As they work together trying to uncover who is vandalizing the park, their peers try to match them up. Soon the fall in love, but her recent past and his qualms leave something permanent doubtful.

Although Ace and Kristy are caring but fearful soulmates, Shiloh steals the show as Annalisa Daughety catches the essence of the Civil War battlefield. The romance is entertaining though the path quite predicable even when the lead duo escort the audience around the National Military Park. Still "heartache to heartache we stand no promises, no demands LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD" (Benatar) is an enjoyable contemporary.

The Bride Backfire
Kelly Eileen Hake
9781602601765 $10.97

In the Nebraska Territory, the family feud between the Speck and Grogan kin has been going on for several generations although there has been a fragile coexistence of late. However, in 1857 the peace ends when the Specks catch Adam Grogan on their land.

To save Adam from a lynching, Opal Speck claims he is the father of her unborn child. Adam and Opal share a shotgun wedding. Now Opal must tell her new spouse the truth although she fears his reaction re her lies starting with the minor fact that if she was pregnant it would be the Immaculate Conception. He distrusts her at a time she needs his trust as his family treats their new in-law with overt loathing and scorn while someone uses the obvious estrange relationship to heat the feud.

The second Prairie Promise historical romance (see THE BRIDE BARGAIN) is an engaging pre Civil War tale that occurs at a time of Bleeding Kansas brings fear to the Nebraska Territory. The long running family feud serves as a matchmaker for the lead couple but also cause them marital problems as she is treated like a serpent in his Eden. The support cast is solid especially the Grogan brood as Kelly Eileen Hake brings a wonderful rendition of Romeo and Juliet in the mid-nineteenth century Great Plains.

White Picket Fences
Susan Meissner
9781400074570 $13.99

In Southern California, when her brother Bart Bachman runs off to Poland on some allegedly family roots drama, he leaves his motherless sixteen year old daughter Tally behind and homeless. Knowing her sibling's chronic irresponsibility, with her husband's support Amanda Janvier offers to give her teenage niece a roof. Amanda hopes she and her spouse can provide Tally positive role models.

Tally and her seventeen year old cousin Chase become friends while interviewing Holocaust victims on a class project. The teens soon uncover secrets re their extended family, but especially Chase, who suffers from nightmares involving a fire. As they dig deeper into the family mystery, the two cousins have unraveled the past that the older generation prefers left concealed back in the old country.

Purposely the family is hyperbolic characterizations of who are considered the "norm" for people residing inside the WHITE PICKET FENCES. Thus, the two teens bring freshness to this entertaining contemporary fiction when they nuke the so called paragon family model with their vigor for the truth. Although the forced ties to Europe and the Holocaust seem a stretch compounded exponentially by one another, Susan Meissner still provides her audience with a thought provoking look at families, past and present.

The Sound Of Sleigh Bells
Cindy Woodsmall
9780307446534 $14.99

Since eighth grade Beth Hertzler worked for and with her spinster Aunt Lizzy in the family owned Hertzlers' Dry Goods store. Beth like Lizzy ignored men while her younger sisters married and have had children; until she met Henry. They became engaged, but he died last year and yet she still wears the mourner's black as she has not moved on. Lizzy worries about her favorite niece ending up lonely like she is.

Although she insists she is fine, her family and friends in the Amish community worry about Beth. However, to prove she is fine, Beth is going on a business trip accompanied by worker Gloria for the next three weeks to the store's suppliers. When they miss a turn on their way to All That's Amish, they stop at the next town where Beth sees an incredible wood carving of Amish children playing. She buys the piece and wants to help the Amish artist "sell" his work to the right families. When Beth returns home, Lizzy notices her niece seems to have come back to life and believes it is the woodcarving. She searches for the artist Jonah Kinsinger as she begins to think God is moving a mountain to bring two Pennsylvania and Ohio young people with emotional scars together to heal one another with love.

This is an engaging Amish romance starring a likable lead couple and two budding in out of love and concern families. Readers will enjoy the SOUND OF SLEIGH BELLS as their respective caring communities nudge (perhaps shove might be more accurate) towards each other in a wonderful Amish Yuletide tale.

Tracey Bateman
9780307457158 $13.99

Veterinarian Nina Parker fled her hometown of Abbey Hills, Missouri two decades ago with no thoughts of going back. However that is before she became an alcoholic, a divorcee and a professional failure due to intoxicated negligence when she neutered a prize horse. Unemployed, sober and single she comes home accompanied by her angry teenage daughter Megan and her eight year old son Adam stays with her sister Jill the cop. Her spouse Hunt follows them.

As she stays sober one day at a time but filled with remorse for what her drinking did to her family and her former employees, Nina is ignorant that she is being watched by a male who believes he has found his desire. The two and a half century old vampire Markus stalks his new neighbor with plans for her.

THIRSTY is an intriguing Christian vampire thriller starring a broken remorseful heroine, her family, and the vampire who in many ways surprisingly steals the show. The story line focuses on second chances and redemption with a few clever spins refreshing the theme. Although shifts between the past and the present are confusing as the change seems abrupt, fans will enjoy Tracey Bateman's fine inspirational as readers will wonder whether a vampire can have a soul.

In a Perfect World
Laura Kasischke
9780061766114 $13.99

The Phoenix flu has caused pandemic destruction around the world. Amidst the growing disaster, widower father of three children pilot Mark Dorn, asks thirty something flight attendant Jiselle to marry him. His picture of a rosy cottage instead of flying with irate passengers and jealous peers and her chance to finally be the bride and not the bridesmaid has her saying yes.

However, as Mark keeps flying, Jiselle stays home with her three stepdaughters who do not hide their animosity or scorn of her. When the flu forces Mark to remain overseas for months in quarantine, Jiselle and her stepchildren must strike an accord because survival in a seemingly dying world means cooperation between the four stranded females.

From its opening line of "If you are reading this you are going to die" (putting aside metaphorically implications of who is not), Laura Kasischke hooks her audience into reading this and hopefully not dying immediately afterward. The story line is extremely vivid and brilliantly contrasting the impact of the disaster and the efforts to survive as the four females go from two warring camps to a cohesive family unit. Fans will appreciate this timely thriller as an extended family struggles to survive in a world turned upside down due to the pandemic flu.

The Return
Victoria Hislop
9780061715419 $14.99

Her marriage to a much older Englishman is tedious so Sonia and her best friend Maggie take dancing lessons. When she sees pictures of her mom, Sonia decides to learn more about her maternal heritage in Spain. She and Maggie fly to Grenada for flamenco lessons to escape from the monotony and find the former's roots.

At a cafe, the owner tells Sonia about his family in the 1930s. Concha and Pablo Ramirez raised four children while running a cafe in town. Antonio is a teacher; Ignacio is a matador; Emilio is managing the cafe; and their only daughter Mercedes is a flamenco dancer, who loves guitarist Javier Montero. Life is good for the Ramirez brood until the Spanish Civil War erupts.

This is a super look at Spain that fascinatingly uses the impact of the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s that killed a half million people in three years on yet unique aspects of the culture survive such as a love of dance and the risk of bull-fighting. Readers will appreciate this tour hosted by the Ramirez family as Sonia finds her maternal roots and much more; symbolized by seven decades old dancing shoes.

Under This Unbroken Sky
Shandi Mitchell
9780061774027 $25.99

In 1936 on the Canadian Prairie, Ukrainian immigrant Theo Mykolayenko is thrown in jail for two years for stealing. Worried about his family, Theo had purloined his own grain that was legally taken from him when he defaulted on a homesteading contract as he did not have the money to pay his eleven dollar debt three weeks before the harvest was due that would have enabled him pay his debt and more. He lost his home, barn, and farming tools.

Theo is most worried about his family as he remains behind bars for twenty months. His oldest son young teen Myron plows his paternal Aunt Anna's fields to feed both families while his martinet Uncle Stefan is off with the military. As Theo comes home to his beloved wife Maria and their five children, abusive Stefan also comes home to a pregnant wife who wants nothing to do with her violent spouse. However Stefan has a scheme and soon two families are at risk.

This is a well written but bleak Canadian historical thriller with lucid lessons that apply to the immigration issue today. The story line is grim as survival is a 24/7 job on the harsh plains during the Depression and the law does not make life any easier. Although not an easy read as Shandi Mitchell never gives readers a respite from the severity of surviving, UNDER THE UNBROKEN SKY is a deep dour drama.

A Lion Among Men
Gregory Maguire
9780060859725 $16.00

The Emperor of Oz enjoys war although he remains comfortable far from the combat inside the Emerald City. Munchkinland rebels and the emperor's armies are preparing for combat. At the same time Brrr the Cowardly Lion travels around the countryside as a reluctant imperial spy. He agreed to become an espionage agent so he can elude the Animal Adverse Laws that harshly discriminate against talking animals.

Brrr reaches the Mauntery of St. Glinda where Yackle the cantankerous Seeress resides. He is to interrogate the crone before she dies, which can be any nanosecond or several lion lifetimes. Instead of gaining much information for use in the war, Brrr begins to learn about his unknown past, being alone, and afraid.

The third Wicked Years fantasy (see WICKED and SON OF A WITCH) continues the homage to L. Frank Baum through a deep look at the late author's key characters while also subtly and not so subtly satirizing society. The cast is incredible as Brrr and company work through some complicated issues like responsibly and accountability in a world centrally managed by magic. Filled with whimsy yet deep philosophical questions, A LION AMONG MEN is once again an entertaining thought provoking fantasy.

Deep Kiss of Winter
Kresley Cole and Gena Showalter
9781439159668 $21.99

"Untouchable" by Kresley Cole. In New Orleans, vampire Murdoch Wroth helps his brother Nikolai who is weak as he underestimated the strength of his Valkyrie Bride. He warns his sibling not to repeat his error which after five years will be corrected tonight. Murdoch vows to make Daniela the Ice Maiden Valkyrie his Bride as she has brought his silent heart back to life after three centuries of being dormant. However, although Dani wants Murdoch too, her ice fey frozen skin does not allow anyone but her clan to touch her; which means he will be just like his sibling dying from the lack of blood from his beloved Bride.

"Tempt Me Eternally" by Gena Showalter. Aleaha Love has the uncanny skill of turning physically into any essence she touches. The ultimate shapeshifter, she has recently become an alien investigator and removal agent better known as an AIR head as only an idiot would fight the monsters she and her teammates do on the streets of New Chicago's "Whore's Corner. Her mission is to capture otherworldly warriors invading the city. Instead their gold skin Commander Breean captures Aleaha. Not afraid of being a POW or dead, Aleaha fears her attraction to Breean because ironically though he seems to reciprocate, she wants him attracted to the real Ms. Love; if she remember who and what that is.

These are two enjoyable exhilarating romantic urban fantasies with terrific twists that add tension to the two thriller story lines. Fans will enjoy walking on the wild side with Kresley Cole and Gena Showalter as their guides.

The Accidental Family
Rowan Coleman
9781439155288 $15.00

Corporate manger Sophie Mills became the ACCIDENTAL MOTHER guardian to two kids (Bella and Izzy) when their mom her BFF died in a car crash. She met their father Louis and attracted to one another the two adults agreed to become the ACCIDENTAL FAMILY raising the children together.

The four move to Cornwell where they hope to forge strong relationships. However, as they get to know each other better with Sophie in a nearby B&B and Louis with the girls, he learns he sired another offspring, an adult son. Sophie begins to worry because Louis is spending less time with her and his two younger kids and more with Wendy, the mother of his son Seth; Sophie has other doubts about always and forever with a man who's loaded with historical relationship calamities.

The second "accidental" drama is an engaging character driven contemporary as Sophie loves her two wards and is attracted to their father, but has doubts about his staying power. The ensemble cast is fully developed especially "that Wendy woman" and Seth as they add either pathos, humor, or both to this fine expanding family drama sequel. Fans will wonder if Sophie will choose muddy whatever or high heels.

Darker Angels
M.L.N. Hanover
9781416576778 $7.99

She inherited her Uncle Eric's estate consisting of money and property along with his mission to free the human horse possessed by demons or the loas. By accepting his legacy skeptical Jayne Heller admits there is a hell of a lot of supernatural communities out there; some of which are extreme evil.

Meanwhile former FBI Agent Karen Black has been searching for a serial killing horse rider Legba who picked his next host horse Sabine, the granddaughter of Amelie (who he now rides) whose life is nearing an end. The loa starts taking over Sabine but Karen hopes to thwart its ambition. Jayne and her posse travel from Athens (Greece not Georgia) to New Orleans to help Jayne in her quest to end the serial killing horse rider's reign of terror. When she arrives she notices the city is arising from the watery grave of Katrina while the belief in voodoo remains strong. Karen leads the demonic hunt and when she is near her goal she orders Jayne to leave. Realizing she has been tricked Jayne informs Karen she will remain to rid the city of the paranormal serial killing horse and gets in between a battle with one decent and one evil loa.

DARKER ANGEL, the second Black Sun's Daughter urban fantasy (see UNCLEAN SPIRITS) is a fascinating and entertaining thriller in which it is difficult to separate the good loas from the bad; just ask Jayne. Determined to follow in her uncle's brave footsteps and encouraged by his voice to do so, Jayne continues his war to dispatch the malevolent ones back to where they came from. Ignorant and prone to error, she learns the family business while under fire. Fans will root for Jayne in her invisible war against demons, loas, and who knows what else M.L.N. Hanover will dream up.

Seduce Me In Shadow
Shayla Black
9781416578444 $7.99

Caden MacTavish fled his English home and his magic heritage to live in Texas. However, the only reason he would return home is for his brother Lucan, who is in deep trouble. Apparently his sibling mourns the loss of his beloved Anka taken by the Brethen's enemy Mathias the wizard.

Wizard chief Bram Rion directs Caden to learn anyway he can what nosy tabloid reporter Sydney Blair of Out of This World knows about the magical species. He assumes very little, but Caden is stunned when he observes Sydney receive as a "gift" the stolen Doomsday Diary that used by the wrong people like Mathias will destroy the Brethren. Caden knows he must retrieve the diary, but also believes the current owner is his probable soul mate.

The latest Doomsday Brethren romantic urban fantasy (see TEMPT ME WITH DARKNESS) is a great entry due to Caden's predicament; handled deftly by Shayla Black. He understands the mission, but also wonders what will happen to any potential relationship with his mate when he steals the tome because he will do his job as the alternative is worse. Either way he feels personally doomed. With a strong female lead, a despondent brother, a bossy head wizard and a diabolical villain to round out Caden's feeling of hopelessness, fans will relish this strong thriller as the prodigal wizard returns home to face danger from without, from within and mostly from his soulmate.

Feel The Heat
Cindy Gerard
9781439153604 $7.99

Defense intelligence agent B.J. Chase and Black Ops operative Rafe Mendoza tripped over each other when their assignments crossed in the back allies of Caracas, Venezuela; leading to failure. She blames him for her unsuccessful execution which wrecked her reputation inside the agency as she knows his notorious family was involved and distrusts him to her core. He knows he and his team were not the ones who fumbled the ball and holds the sexy DIA operative responsible.

However, when apparent terrorists steal electromagnetic pulse bomb technology B.J. and NSA operative Stephanie Tomkins try to uncover what insider betrayed their country. Their effort leads to Stephanie at risk and the information that an EMP bomb is to be exploded shortly. To their personal chagrin, but understanding their duty, B.J. and Rafe are teamed up to prevent the pending disaster.

The latest Black Ops team romantic thriller (see WHISPER NO LIES) is action, plenty of testosterone (including the macho lead female), and plenty more action. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and picks up speed even with romantic interludes between the battling lead combatants. A bit over the top even with using Chavez, Columbia, the FALC and other South American headliners, fans will appreciate the gender war between the DIA agent and the Black Ops operative.

Make Her Pay
Roxanne St. Claire
9781439102220 $7.99

Treasure hunter Judd Paxton is at sea unsanctioned by the State of Florida as he salvages booty from the legendary sunken El Falcone. However, someone is plundering his treasure so he hires the Bullet Catcher firm to catch a thief. CEO Lucy Sharpe assigns former Navy SEAL Constantine Xenakis with the mission as a way to test his new resolutions and besides she needs a thief to catch a thief.

Constantine quickly finds dive specialist Lizzie Dare inside the locked room filled with booty. She explains to him she wants to prevent Paxton, whom she describes as a modern day raider, from selling the sunken galleon's gems, especially the priceless two Bombay Blue Diamonds, on the black market to some client; as she insists the two gems belong to her family. His heart quickly belongs to Lizzie who makes him dizzy with desire, but his job is to take care of the client. Still he believes her story that someone else is the thief and that adversary has allies on board willing to kill a bullet catcher aspirant and the diver he loves.

A bit over the top (or perhaps under the sea is more descriptive), the latest Bullet Catcher's thriller is a super romantic suspense starring two fascinating lead characters trapped on a ship off the Florida Atlantic coast amidst some nasty villains. Filled with plenty of action and a terrific location that enhances the tension, MAKE HER PAY is a super thriller as the confident Constantine knows what he must do to "steal" Gallagher's job; but that means the client is almost always right while his gut and heart go with Lizzie.

Wicked All Day
Liz Carlyle
9781416594925 $7.99

Although affluent Zoe Armstrong knows objectively she will have to settle in marriage amidst the Ton probably for a rakish amoral fortune hunter, she detests the idea. She understands why being the illegitimate offspring of an aristocrat and his mistress even if her father raised her, but she does not have to like it. Worse she knows only the most desperate fortune hunter will pursue her.

At a gala, Zoe breaks into tears as she realizes first hand what a pariah she is to most of the Ton. Her friend rakish Robert "Robin" Rowland tries to soothe her disappointment, but his caring is misconstrued by all in attendance. To save what was already a poor reputation due to her blood requires the pair marry although neither loves one another. Robert's prim and proper older brother the Marquess of Mercer takes both of them to his estate to buy time for gossip to vanish as a new scandal will arise. As Mercer struggles to hide his attraction to Zoe, she knows she loves the older brother who will never offer for her as she is tainted.

This is a wonderful historical romance starring spirited Zoe who drives both brothers batty. Robin is unhappy with his choices while Zoe feels stunned ever since "the drastic and shocking events commenced" that dramatically changed their lives and that of a shocked Mercer. Fans will enjoy Liz Carlyle's amusing yet pathos laden tale "in which all is revealed".

You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Kills You
Robert J. Randisi
9780312376437 $24.99

In 1962 in Las Vegas, the Rat Pack turns to Sands Hotel pit boss Eddie Gianelli to get them out of embarrassing situations as he has done for them before (see HEY THERE, YOU WITH THE GUN IN YOUR HAND). Dean Martin asks Eddie to help a remorseful and frightened Marilyn Monroe; the sex symbol fears she drove Clark Gable to an early grave during the shooting of The Misfits while also believes someone is stalking her.

Dino further explains MM is a child in a woman's body so suggests he treat her as such. Eddie investigates Marilyn's claim of being followed. Soon he runs into some nasty thugs though neither he nor his associates can figure out who these punks work for and why Miss Monroe is the target. He detours to the East Coast while one of Eddie's buddies P.I Danny Bardini vanishes and the other Jerry is beaten and has to be hospitalized at a time when JFK is coming to Palm Springs allegedly to see Frank.

This is a fun Rat Pack tale as the expatriate Brooklyn dodger Gianelli once again protects the extended "family" of the famous drinking buddies. The story line is fast-paced, but predominantly focuses on Eddie and his two associates as they protect the eldritch like Miss Monroe from her troubles; many of which are in her head. The Rat Pack mostly plays cameo roles, but fans of the series know that they will relish another fine historical mystery as the Brooklyn Bums continue to take star billing over the Rat Pack in Vegas.

Loot the Moon
Mark Arsenault
9780312555764 $24.99

In Rhode Island at the dog track, attorney Martin Smothers obsessively pleads with his friend former investigative journalist turned obit writer Billy Povich to look into the murder of Judge Gil Harmony. Two bit thief Adam Rackers assassinated the Judge during a car-jacking. Rackers died in the subsequent car crash, which left one survivor in critical condition Stuart Tracy. Smothers wants Povich to uncover who paid for the hit.

Povich begins his inquiry and quickly learns a local mobster threatened the judge and that his honor had a secret life in Manhattan where he kept a mistress who appears at the reading of the will. Menwhile Harmony's legal clerk Kit Bass is beaten up at a club owned by mobster Glantz. When someone threatens Billy, his son and his father, he takes on the case with renewed vigor.

In many ways this is a noir, but the hard boiled Billy is somewhat softened with family matters especially discussions with his dad over death that seems so timely. The story line is action-packed as Billy gets into all sorts of predicaments and the final twist is superb. The secondary eccentric cast enhances the engaging plot of the investigative GRAVEWRITER who in many ways brings out the best and worst in his support crowd.

The Violet Hour
Daniel Judson
9780312383572 $25.99

In the Hamptons, twenty-two years old auto mechanic Caleb Rakowski is all alone as his criminal bent parents and brother are dead. He lives in a dumpy apartment above the garage where he works, but is overall contented with his life as he loves working on cars and his appreciative boss Eric Carver knows the young man is a guru when it comes to auto repair.

Cal does have one friend Lebell, who is in hiding from mobsters; professional killers are aware that Cal is their target's buddy so there is guilt by association. Also unable to mind his own business when an underdog is abused, Cal gives shelter to Heather who treated him nice when he worked as a teen at the restaurant owned by her and her abusive spouse former NFL thug Ronnie Pamona. Soon seemingly everyone on Long Island will converge on Cal to play a special version of survivor; as he wears a bulls-eye being the protector of those victimized by figuratively demons from both sides of the law, but will need to pull a rabbit preferably not a dead one out of the ball cap.

This is a zany entertaining Long Island thriller starring a likable seemingly helpless young man who becomes the defender of the downtrodden against a wave of killers. Blood will flow more often than oil does at the garage over a few days as Cal learns what happens to Good Samaritans. He can be thankful for being a chip off the old block as his DNA oozes suspicion of cops and robbers. He makes for a fun over the top of Suffolk County South Fork lighthouses tale

The Fleet Street Murders
Charles Finch
9780312565510 $24.99

Amateur sleuth (Now called private investigators) Charles Lennox is busy and torn in different directions. Two men in London of 1866 are killed minutes apart. Winston Caruthers, writer and editor of the conservative Daily Telegraph and Simon Pierce who worked for the liberal Daily News are the victims. Besides working for newspapers, the only other thing they had in common is each testified against Jonathan Poole, a traitor to England. Inspector Exeter believes Hiram Smith killed them, but he dies in his jail cell in what looks like a suicide.

Exeter arrests Poole's son, but there are people close to the case who believe the inspector has the wrong man in custody again. They ask Charles to look into the matter, but he has no time to take on the complex homicides because he is running for Minster of Parliament from Stirrington. His opponent uses dirty tricks to win by a hundred votes so Charles turns back to the case and begins to put the puzzle pieces together until he believes he knows who the culprit is, but lacks proof. Trying to catch evidence against a diabolical killer puts Charles in harms way with the distinct potential of being the next investigation for Exeter to bungle.

Charles Finch writes about the birth of Scotland Yard and how the police there change their methodology to meet their mandate. Amateur sleuths, the forerunners of private investigators, used whatever was available in mid nineteenth century London to solve cases. Charles is one of them, but works closely with Scotland Yard to bring down the shadowy puppeteer pulling everyone's strings. This is an entertaining Victorian mystery as the audience and Mr. Lennox try to solve who is behind the homicides and why. Fans will want to read Charles' previous investigations (see A BEAUTIFUL BLUE DEATH and SEPTEMBER SOCIETY).

Stained Glass
Ralph McInerny
9780312582647 $24.99

The Archdiocese decides to close down several parishes whose congregation has diminished. Among them is St. Hilary's of Fox River, Illinois. The priest Father Dowling understands the economics behind the decision, but worries for his flock. The St. Hilary's members and Father Dowling hope (and pray) they can save their church and begin an effort to do so, the "Save St. Hilary's movement.

A nude female body is found hanging from the cross strut of a garage door. The police believe a ritual perhaps satanic homicide occurred. As the cops, reporters Tetzel and Rebecca and Father Dowling investigate they find a link to the divided Devere family. The nonagenarian matriarch Jane has used trust fund money to hire an author to write a book on Menotti's church art to include a stained glass window provided to St. Hilary's by her family; other Devere kin are outraged by her generosity, which apparently surfaces with more murders occurring.

This is the best Father Dowling mystery in several years as the amateur sleuth struggles with the impact of the economy most likely closing his church and the homicides that seem tied to the one of the deadly sins, avarice. The story line is intelligent although Father Dowling follows his usual method to solving felonies, but the back stories of the impact of the economy and the changing demographics of Fox River provide a terrific fresh look at St. Hilary's and the church surviving in a modern world.

Serpent in the Thorn
Jeri Westerson
9780312534981 $24.99

Disgraced former English knight Crispin Guest lost everything he cherished when his support for Prince John left him caught up in a plot against King Richard. He knows he is fortunate to live though in squalid conditions. Instead of wallowing, he reinvents himself from knight errant to mercenary Tracker and finder (see VEIL OF LIES). He conducts investigations for a fee.

In 1384 at the King's Head Inn in Southwark, Grayce asks Guest to help her. She claims the corpse of a man she killed is inside her room. Guest and his apprentice Reader the ragamuffin pickpocket quickly learn the victim was a French courier with a gift of the legendary Crown of Thorns for the Lionhearted. The Tracker and the Reader, assisted by Grayce's lovely sister Livith, immediately are caught up with murderous royal politics, which the last time this happened he became a disgraced knight.

SERPENT IN THE THORN is an interesting medieval mystery starring a former knight who fell from grace to become the abject object of people asking where he is now. The relationship between the Tracker and the Reader has become more of a caring big and younger brother relationship which enhances the exciting story line. Although the latter part of the tale requires the audience to ignore credibility, fans will enjoy the fallen knight's late fourteenth century escapades.

Murder on the Eiffel Tower
Claude Izner
9780312581619 $13.99

In 1889 while the Buffalo Bill show parades through the streets of Paris as part of World Exposition extravaganza, a rag and bone man dies from a bee sting. Soon afterward at the top of the new Eiffel Tower, Parisian bookstore owner and photographer Victor Legris watches as a woman, Eugenie Patinot, apparently dies from a bee sting.

Victor meets with his business partner Kenji Mori, his friend reporter Marius Bonnet and Russian illustrator Tasha Kherson. With a common interest to spark them, Victor and Tasha become an entry. When a third "bee sting" death occurs near the Colonial Palace, Victor investigates hoping he can write an article for Le Passe-partout.

In some ways more a historical thriller than an amateur sleuth, MURDER ON THE EIFFEL TOWER is in either case a terrific tale. Readers will be caught up with Victor's energy as he escorts the audience around Paris at an exciting time for the city. The whodunit is cleverly devised to provide fans with a strong mystery, but the entertaining story line belongs to the hero and his supporting cast especially late nineteenth century Paris at a time when technology is booming.

The Cloud Pavilion
Laura Joh Rowland
9780312379490 $24.99

In Edo in 1701, though some time has passed, Chamberlain Sano Ichiro reels from what happened last year that dishonored his family (see THE FIRE KIMONO). He knows he is fortunate to still have his position still and his beloved wife Reiko always at his side. Still Sano hurts with the betrayal, but vows to do his job with honor in support of his liege Japan's supreme dictator Tokugawa Tsunayoshi.

During a war scenario tournament to occupy the soldiers who have seen no action lately, Sano defeats his masked opponent, former Chamberlain Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu, who the shogun has welcomed home from exile, an allegedly changed person. Sano does not trust his adversary further than he can throw him as he believes Yanagisawa and his most loyal son Yoritomo plot mischief. However, Sano has no time to consider what his enemy plans when his estranged uncle Major Kumazawa pleads with his nephew and Reiko to find his missing daughter Chiyo last seen at a nearby temple. Sano locates his cousin who was raped but his uncle wants to conceal the dishonor rather than pursue the culprit. Still with Reiko at his side they follow clues to the deadly criminal element inside of Edo while his fears of Yanagisawa's scheming come to bear against Sano with the shogun angry at him.

The latest Sano Japanese historical mystery is a super entry as the readers feels as if we have been transported back in time and place due to the rich background. As with the previous entry, the story line is driven by the cast especially Sano's extended family members who have been estrange for decades and of course his nastiest rival. Fans will appreciate THE CLOUD PAVILION as once again it is family matters that drive the hero and his intrepid wife.

The Fire Kimono
Laura Joh Rowland
9780312588861 $14.99

In 1700 supporters of Lord Matsudaira almost kill Lady Reiko during an attack on her. Chamberlain Sano Ichiro is outraged on the assault of his beloved wife and vows vengeance against his despicable rival Matsudaira although his adversary denies any involvement.

However, the samurai has to put aside his growing suspicion that a third party attacked his wife when the Shogun orders Sano to investigate the finding of a body buried near a Shinto shrine. Items uncovered next to the corpse imply the deceased is the Shogun's cousin who vanished without a trace four decades ago during an inferno that devastated much of Edo. As the husband and wife investigative team probe the case in which the shogun concedes reluctantly three days to them, they find evidence that implicates Sano's mother Etsuko with the murder.

THE FIRE KIMONO is one of the best Ichiro Japanese historical thrillers, which says a lot as this long running saga is known for its consistent excellence. The story line contains two strong twists, but it is the second one that shocks the samurai hero as his belief system is torn asunder with what he learns about his mother. Fans will enjoy this super entry as Sano and Reiko have three days to prove his mom was not the bearer of the deadly FIRE KIMONO who killed the shogun's cousin and destroyed Edo; but every clue seems to lead to the conclusion she is.

The Long Division
Derek Nikitas
9780312363987 $24.99

In Atlanta, house cleaner Jodie Larkin cannot resits the lure of $5,000 seemingly lying around in her client's home nor the car. She takes both and drives to Cape Fear, North Carolina to visit her fifteen year old son Cal Nowak; whom she gave up for adoption and has not seen in over five years.

While mother and son drive north together towards New York; SUNY college student Wynn Johnston assists his long time best friend in an attempt to find and rescue the latter's missing sister; vanished in a haze of Upstate New York drugs. Also in Weymouth, New York sheriff deputy Sam Hartwick struggles with paying the medical bills and dealing with the emotional angst of watching his wife die from cancer; even a double homicide investigation into drug related business fails to motivate him except for one tiny fact: he is deeply involved on a personal level. The collision of these seemingly diverse scenarios will shake up the good citizens of Weymouth.

This is a terrific extremely complex and somewhat convoluted thriller as the three separate subplots seem to have no connection until the collision. Easily moving back and forth between the trio of subplots, Derek Nikitas provides a fabulous story due to a powerful fully developed ensemble cast. THE LONG DIVISION is a winner.

Dark Tiger
William G. Tapply
9780312379780 $24.99

Several years have gone by since Stoney Calhoun awakened in a Virginia VA hospital with total amnesia. He opened up a Portland, Maine bait shop owner with Kate Balaban and is a fishing guide and does occasional work for the cops and for "the Man in the Suit" who shows up periodically with an assignment that Stoney has the skills to accomplice. Although his memory remains erased from before the awakening Stoney still has the skills with weapons for instance before he went comatose.

The Suit offers Stoney a deal he cannot refuse. Instead of the usual tidbits about the past, he says he will insure they keep the bait shop potentially being sold to another buyer and keep Kate's loved one covered by health insurance being challenged. Not even knowing the case Stoney agrees to the terms because he would do anything for Kate.

The Suit arranges for a Mr. Brecia to meet with Stoney. Mr. Brecia directs Stoney to investigate the deaths of operative McNulty and the underage teen townie Millie Gautier in what looked like a murder-suicide at St. Cecilia on the Canadian border. Mr. Brecia wants Stoney to find out what their agent was doing there with a sixteen year old. He suggests going undercover at the nearby exclusive Loon Lake Lodge as that is the only place in the vicinity of any known significance.

The third Stonewall Jackson Calhoun tale (see BITCH CREEK and GRAY GHOST) is a super whodunit with obvious overtones to Ludlam's Bourne, but with the late William Tapply's distinct New England take. The story line is fast-paced starting with the Suit showing what he can do to insure Stoney cooperates and never slows down. Fans will enjoy the hero's activity in northern Maine as his in dubiously presence increases the homicide count considerably. DARK TIGER pay homage to Mr. Tapply who died in late July.

The Price of Malice
Archer Mayor
9780312381929 $24.99

In a wannabe hooker's Brattleboro, Vermont apartment, the battered and shot several times corpse of thirtyish Wayne Castine is found. VBI police detective Joe Gunther leads the investigation by looking into the victim's life. They find strong evidence that Castine was a sociopath with the most condemning allegation being he was a dangerous pedophile. The team also learns that Castine had an apparent lover who has a tweener daughter.

At the same he works that case, Joe's girlfriend and teammate Lyn Silva finds out more about her lost at sea father and brother; their boat vanished off the Maine coast. While Joe and the rest of the unit dig into the Castine murder, Lyn digs into her family tragedy as she learns her lobstermen family members might have been murdered by drug traffickers.

The two investigations rotate lead with much of the fun is in observing Joe being pulled by both cases, which makes him less effective than usual and somewhat inefficient to the point that his team's loose cannon Kunkle is simply loose. The story line is not quite at taut as a typical Gunther Vermont police procedural. However it is as fast-paced and exciting as any series entry because of the hero's somewhat unproductive balancing act as one inquiry has a host of happy people with Castine's death and the other is personal with Lyn in the middle.

Cape Greed
Sam Cole
978031237340 $23.99

In Cape Town, South Africa former police officers Vincent Saldona and Mullet Mendes went private figuring there has to be more money and less danger especially since bad asses have human rights now. Ice cold Brit Judith Oxford hires Mullet to find proof that her husband international money mover Roger is using prostitutes including rent boys. At the same time Vincent is working a case involving abalone rustlers.

Meanwhile lawyer Marina Welsh keeps calling trying to reach Saldona who is buried in abalone muck up the coast, which is why she wants to speak preferably to him rather than his partner as she has an investment involved in the shrinking stock. However, neither sleuth sees the tie between there two disconnected cases until it may prove too late as Saldona has been tagged.

This is a terrific gritty South African noir starring two fully developed private investigators; whose cases enable readers to envision the aptly titled CAPE GREED where international interests use local criminal elements in illegal avaricious activities. The story line is fast-paced but stark even with Mullet's burnt orange jacket as the lead detectives do not know the new rules the foreign investors bring with them. Fans will enjoy this hardboiled Cape Town crime thriller as even the good guys do felonies to make a living.

All My Enemies
Barry Maitland
9780312384005 $13.99

New Scotland Yard Serious Crime Branch Detective Chief Inspector David Brock asks his new hire Detective Sergeant Kathy Kolla if she can start earlier than negotiated as he has a hot homicide to investigate and could use her help. She agrees. Sunday school teacher Angela Hannaford was brutally murdered in her parents' South London suburban home; the victim's face was badly mutilated by a knife.

Kathy leads the inquiry under DCI Brock's mentoring. This is not the first grotesque murder as other women have been victims of what increasingly looks like a serial killer. However, the Hanneford homicide has the first potential break though in the murder cases with a tie to an amateur theater troupe that leads to Brock and Kolla wondering whether the ugliness of the crime was not spontaneous out of control passion, but a rehearsed performance. As she digs deeper, DS Kolla places herself in danger from a culprit watching her every move closely.

This is reprint of Kolla's first case working under the supervision of Brock. The story line is a terrific and fabulous police procedural starting with the opening chapter "Madonna without a Face" and continues throughout until the climax with its nod to Equus. Fans of the series will enjoy the first official Brock-Kolla collaboration as ALL MY ENEMIES affirms why this is one of the better long running British police procedurals.

Council of the Cursed
Peter Tremayne
9780312375652 $24.99

In 670 AD, Bishop Leodegar of Autun calls for a council to discuss different positions taken by the various Christian churches. For instance his community enforces a celibacy direction, which has led to outraged monks having to send their upset wives and children to reside at Domus Femini under the control of vicious martinet Abbess Autofleda. The Celtic Church sends Fidelma of Cashel and her husband Brother Eadulf to France as their representatives.

The night that the Celtic delegation arrives, someone bashes in the head of Hibernian Abbot Dabhoc; also with him are two unconscious clerics, who upon being revived insist they know nothing. Fidelma's instigative fame has crossed the Channel and she has the support of the papal delegation so an unhappy Leodegar agrees to this woman making inquiries. As she uncovers clues, Fidelma finds several possible suspects that run the gamut of the church as each had motive and opportunity but also believes something more powerful is the actual motive; while her host demands she finish yesterday; proclaiming women should not be delegates or sleuths.

With obvious timeliness in terms of the issue of celibacy and a woman's role in the church both wrapped inside a powerful complex whodunit, the COUNCIL OF THE CURSED is a terrific Dark Ages mystery. Fidelma is at her best as she rejects pressure brought by either a killer wanting to remain concealed or by her being a female. The story line is fast-paced as Peter Tremayne moves his champion from Ancient Ireland to France in a fabulous entry.

Frag Box
Richard A. Thompson
Poisoned Pen
9781590586785 $24.95

In St. Paul, Minnesota, bail bondsman Herman Jackson is stunned to learn one of his repeat customers, homeless Vietnam vet Charlie Victor was brutally murdered. The only reason Herman learned of Charlie's death is the tortured soul left him a mysterious box.

The FBI visits Herman to learn what he knows about Charlie, which the bondsman finds odd. That is followed by an invasion by armed militia who want to know what he knows about Charlie. When the police close the case, Herman takes over the investigation with help from newspaper reporter Anne Packard although the threats rise dramatically as they follow tenuous vague clues.

This is an entertaining Twin City Noir starring a hero who in some ways feels like a throwback to the 1950s wisecracking head cracking (including their own) sleuths. The story line is fast-paced as Herman finds himself the target of cops, thugs, and Feds even before he investigates the homicide with his Girl Friday reporter sidekick. His reaction to his sudden status as a person of interest is to laugh at those trying to strong arm him. Fans will enjoy FRAG BOX and seek his previous walk down the mean streets of St. Paul (see THE FIDDLE GAME).

Winter of Secrets
Vicki Delany
Poisoned Pen
9781441702791 $24.95

Early on Christmas Day in Trafalgar, British Columbia, the SUV is found buried under ice in a river. Inside the vehicle are the corpses of best friends Jason Wyatt-Yarmouth and Ewan Williams, two wealthy males from Toronto who were on vacation with others.

Constable Molly Smith leads the inquiry of what looks like a tragic accident. However, the autopsy proves a shocker when the medical examiner insists the time of deaths for the lads is radically different and the means of death also different. In other words someone used the SUV as a coffin for two murders. The cops question the rest of the Toronto party as they backtrack what they can about the victims leading to a bed and breakfast and a ski trail, but struggles with motive and consequently a lack of viable suspects.

This is a great Canadian police procedural that will be on most short lists for sub-genre novel of the year. The investigation is top rate including a terrific logical final twist while the cast is strong. Fans will relish Vicki Delany's delightful whodunit and newcomers will seek Smith's back cases (see VALLEY OF THE LOST).

Red, Green, or Murder
Steven F. Havill
Poisoned Pen
9781590586655 $24.95

Retired Posadas County, New Mexico Under-sheriff Bill Gastner works as a livestock inspector. However, he gets involved in a search for a missing ranch hand as he cannot fully stay out of police work although he keeps pledging to himself that he will next time.

Current Under-sheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman investigates the death of retired gun dealer George Payton. Something does not feel right to her and Gastner offers his advice and opinion though she never asked him for it. Still Estelle seems to understand her predecessor's inability to let go and knows how skilled he is so she asks him to help on a case she thinks might be a homicide.

The latest Posadas County police procedural is a superb entry in what is one of the best series over the past years. Bill is unable to stop himself from doing police work as it is in his blood while Estelle understands his need. They, along with the rest of the sheriff's department and the county residents make for an enjoyable tale as Steven F. Havill brings to life the enchantment of New Mexico while the state enhances the homicide and missing person investigations.

The Hermitage
Sharon Sobel
Forever Regency (ImaJinn)
9781933417530 $14.00

In London of 1818, Miss Laurel Gardiner is attending her season but none of the men she meets are ones she wants to marry despite the fact she is being chased by titled males. She becomes friends with Penelope Croyden who was jilted by Robin Waltham, the Earl of Westbridge; they were neighbors and childhood friends whose families expected them to wed. However, Robby vanished without a word and Polite Society pitied pathetic Lady Penelope.

When Laurel returns home, she remains disturbed by Penelope's heartbreak and decides to fix her friend up with the family hermit residing on their estate, Hermitage. Although he objects she tries to turn Robbie Darkwood into a gentleman in order for him to properly court Penelope, Laurel begins to realize she has feelings for the recluse. After consummating their love, Robbie informs Laurel he needs to leave to straighten out the mess he fostered when he ran away before He plans to return to commit to her when he returns if Laurel can handle his secret.

This is an elegant entertaining Regency romance starring am independent blue stocking heroine and a lost soul in a gender bending Pygmalion. Robin has secrets, but as he has previous done prefers to run away than to discuss what haunts his soul. Ironically he is an honorable person who feels scandalized by circumstances beyond his control while feeling remorse for what he did to Penelope but hope that he will be able to claim Laurel as his fair lady. Readers will enjoy Sharon Sobel's provocative role reversal version of My Fair Lady.

D.B. Reynolds
9781933417516 $15.00

Jabril Karim used his political clout to gain guardianship pf Elizabeth and Mirabelle. When she turned the legal age of consent eighteen, Jabril converted her into a vampire like he is. He took over their home and the teen's fortune. The Vampire Lord is outsmarted by Elizabeth who planned and executed her escape perfectly. Jabril hires a male private investigator to find her, but also employs P.I. Cynthia Leighton who once had a relationship with Vampire Lord Raphael until he walked away from her.

Jabril wants to irritate his rival Raphael so he pretends Cyn is his only sleuth working for him. His scheme backfires when she finds in Houston what condition Mirabelle is in. Cyn rescues her and takes her to her home in Los Angeles where she comes into Raphael's orbit because she must beg her former lover to make the teen his own. Cyn looks for Liz among the runaways, but is unaware that a snake creeps in Raphael's realm ready to sell the women to foster favor with an outraged fuming Jabril.

Jabril is a monster out of the Stoker school of vampires as power is his elixir and anyone else is expendable regardless of the laws governing the North American vampires. Raphael is his opposite coming out of the modern day romance school of vampires as he cares what happens to others and abides by the governing laws. The fabulous story line focuses on the vast diversity of ethics between the eight Vampire Lords with the concentration being on the two polar opposites. Cyn is sinfully perfect as the rope in the vampiric tug of war. With this sequel to RAPHAEL, D.B. Reynolds provides a wonderful and exciting Vampires in America urban fantasy that will appeal to fans of vampire romantic thrillers.

The Goodbye Summer
Patricia Gaffney
9780060836870 $12.99

In Maryland, thirty-three years old music teacher Caddie Winger knows this is the worst summer of her life. Her close friends at Wake House; a convalescent home for the elderly and those recuperating from crippling accidents including her Nana who broke her leg; have been dying; although rationally she knows they are either septuagenarians or octogenarians. Caddie mourns their passing as she has made friends with many of them since she spends much of her free time at Wake House.

It is people like elderly resident Thea who persuades Caddie who smoke joints with her while others encourage her to live life to the fullest even as the younger woman worries her beloved Nana seems to get stranger with each passing moment. Struggling with no money and no confidence, Caddie is attracted to thirtyish resident Henry Magill, who is recovering from a sky-diving accident that left his fiancee dead.

This is a captivating perhaps overly teary tale of a woman who has not taken any life FLIGHT LESSONS until the senior citizens and Henry persuade Ms. Sorrowful Winger (great surname for a grounded sad eyes) to imitate Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain. The storyline is aptly titled yet ironically readers know for the thirty-three years old piano teacher this is the most wonderful summer of her maudlin life.

Silent Night, Haunted Night
Terri Garey
9780061582042 $6.99

Psychic Nicki Styx and her lover ER Dr. Joe Bacombe hope for a quiet Christmas together as each has had their fill of demons, spirits, and possessions. However, neither get what they want most as this holiday season is paranormally insane for even this pair used to psychopathic visitors from the Dark.

Joe is under a nocturnal sexual assault from Selene the succubus abetted by her Fate sisters; their plan is to get at Nicki through her beloved. Nicki has her own problems dealing with a spirit who committed suicide and her son who make demands on the psychic. Finally as all hell breaks loose, the devil pays Nikki a courtesy call.

This is a humorous lighthearted urban fantasy as Joe probably has to believe in the Nazareth tune Love Hurts since he is an easy victim of possession by feisty paranormal females (YOU'RE THE ONE THAT I HAUNT); before he met Nicki A MATCH MADE IN HELL was metaphysical. Spirited and "Scrooged" while not yet thirty Nicki is terrific as she battles the latest visitors who assault her and her beloved while she should hum the Charlie Daniels Band's The Devil Went Down to Georgia to fiddle with the heroine.

Out Of The Darkness
Jaime Rush
9780061690365 $6.99

Tattoo artist Zoe Stoker is frightened after receiving an enigmatic cautionary message from a dead person; allegedly CIA. However that seems calm compared to an assassin who tries to kill her. Cheveyo saves her life, but though she does not trust him she goes with him to a recently created support group, the Offspring; as she is one of the children of psychic parents who participated in a government sponsored experiment (see A PERFECT DARKNESS).

Rand Brandenburg also recently joined the Offspring although he preferred not to. His uncanny gambling skill made him known to those who want the Offspring under control or dead like original experimenter Gerard Darkwell. Rand feels for the wary Zoe, but she knows from her past not to allow emotion to control her as her out of control telekinetic skill sends objects flying; however she also finds him to be the first person she cannot keep outside of her heart.

The names alone are great symbols with Cheveyo, Stoker, Brandenburg and Darkwell, etc. providing hints of a dark urban fantasy landscape. This second thriller is fast-paced with the suspense building up from the first Darkness novel; leading to a hooked audience wanting the next entry yesterday. However, in spite of the terrific overarching saga, the keys to OUT OF THE DARKNESS is the lead couple as he embraced his ability for personal gain while she fled her ability out of fear mindful of the X-Men's Rogue. Fans will root for this couple and have dark thoughts about flying bodily objects.

Beverly Jenkins
9780061547799 $6.99

Dominic LeVeq has two missions that tie nicely together in terms of his heritage. As the son of a Frenchman, he enjoys being a privateer terrorizing the British shipping industry; he especially cherished sailing the sea with his father for two decades until the old man recently died in 1774. As the offspring of a black mistress he makes his life passion freeing slaves from those same vessels. He is even more enflamed by what his half-brother Eduard did to the three hundred workers on their late father's estate in Martinique.

In 1778 he and his crew capture a British frigate. On board are a Savannah belle and her slave Clare Sullivan. He takes Clare with him to his island haven and offers her a Faustian deal; one night for a lifetime of freedom. She counters insisting one night and a return to Savannah where her children live. He considers upping the ante with a dangerous proposition.

The leading author of historical romances starring Black heroes, Beverly Jenkins proves why she is a highly regarded bestselling author with her latest tale. Captured by the lead couple readers will relish this strong late eighteenth century tale on the high seas and in Revolutionary War Savannah. Dominic is wonderful swashbuckler but has met his match in the feisty slave he wants to liberate. Ms. Jenkins provides her fans with another captivating tale (see INDIGO and TOPAZ) that captures the essence of being African and half-African in 1778 in the Caribbean and Georgia.

When Seducing A Duke
Kathryn Smith
9780061340291 $6.99

In 1877 Greydon Kane knows contrary to popular belief a duke cannot always get what he wants for he cannot have the woman he loves. Thus he goes to Saint's Row seeking pleasure with someone who resembles his beloved but untouchable (for him that is) Rose, whom he is charged to protect not seduce.

Rose Danvers wants one person, Grey. She goes to Saint's Row knowing he will be there hoping to steal a kiss at the masquerade ball. When she succeeds, she hopes for step two of bed and wed with her beloved admitting he loves her like she does him. However, once he discovers her identity, Grey believes a romance between them is taboo so he will find her a suitable husband.

The cast makes this an entertaining well written Victorian romance. Out of honor, duty and the Martingale mother-daughter and outraged patriarch scandal that he caused, Grey denies who he wants most in the world because his innocent ward deserves someone better than him. Rose refuses to accept his honorable relationship and goes after who she wants. Fans will relish this engaging gender war as Rose tries to seduce her duke.

Taken By The Laird
Margo Maguire
9780061667886 $6.99

In December 1829 her guardian Viscount Stamford, knowing she will no longer be under his control in just two months and disgusted with his disobedient ward, arranges for Brianna Munro to marry the son of a duke the contemptible Marquess of Roddington. As Stamford waits for her by the altar to give Brianna away, she avoids the nuptials much by dressing up as a boy and fleeing. Her hopes lie with reaching her beloved Aunt Clare in Scotland where she will hide until she becomes legally an adult.

However, she makes the trek to her aunt only to find Clare dying. She says her goodbyes and though grieving her loss as she loves her aunt, she continues to run away from her evil appalling fiance and her even worse guardian. After a day of traveling in a downpour, Brianna takes shelter in a dank, dilapidated castle owned by Laird Glenloch; Hugh Christie who assumes she is a thief though she insists she a maid on the lam from a lecherous aristocrat. He invites her to spend the night in his abode, but one night becomes two nights and three nights and much more as the guest and her host fall in love in his haunted run down ruins of a castle.

Readers will feel the icy cold of December in Scotland in which even shelter feels cuttingly freezing. That backdrop sets the tone of a wonderful historical romance starring two delightful lead characters, a ghost seemingly seeking salvation and some nasty villains. Although the changes in viewpoint seem abrupt especially when the nasties or the ghost take the stage, fans will enjoy Margo Maguire's vivid nineteenth century tale just wears gloves, scarf and a sweater while keeping the hot chocolate nearby.

Cathy Yardley
9780061376092 $13.99

The Bessonova family patriarch is a career criminal whose prime employment is stealing cars though selling his daughters either as mail order brides as he did Irina when she was eighteen or even whoring them out is not beneath him. His three daughters Nadia, Jelena and Irina love and hate their father though they appreciate living in Vegas and not Kiev.

However, Papa Bessonova purloins the wrong vehicle as the owner is dangerous Dominic Luder, who wants an arm and a leg literally from the thief as he did papa's partner Roddy. Even with Papa's wife carrying Dominic does not give a pregnant pause for what he will do to the thief who should have researched who owned the car. Her father may be afraid of the beast, who seeks to teach him a lesson, but courageous yet fearful Nadia offers her body willingly to the beast in remittance; he accepts her offer as he plans to tame the beauty.

This is an intriguing erotic take on "Beauty and the Beast" that begins gloomy as readers meet an unlikable family especially father and a seemingly despicable beast. When Nadia leaves with Dominic, the story line takes off as they battle for supremacy until love levels the paying field. The other sisters also come a long way baby as married Jelena finds her craving and Irina moves on after being dumped for the replacement teen. Although dad is a worthless dreck from start to finish, fans will enjoy the taming of the beast.

The Witch Doctor's Wife
Tamar Myers
9780061727832 $13.99

In 1958 Amanda Brown comes to the Belgium Congo to oversee the guest house where the missionaries stay when they come in from the bush to relax, be with their own kind, get entertained, and be able to go shopping. Amanda hopes to bring the natives to the Lord although that is not why she was hired. She employs Cripple as her aide though her limbs are twisted her mind is sharp.

Cripple is married to Their Death, the local witch doctor, who is forced to accept other means of employment when the Flemish refuse to allow him to practice. Their Death is also married to another woman Second Wife who gave him many children. His young son has a rock in his mouth that Their Death recognizes as a quality diamond. He cannot smuggle it out of the country because the Consortium has guards watching everyone leaving the country. When he makes contact with someone who can afford to buy the gem, Their Death sets in motion a series of events that jeopardizes First Wife Cripple and her South Carolina employer.

Tamar Myers provides a vivid look at the late Eisenhower Era in the Belgium Congo as the occupying Europeans suppress the subjugated natives. This lucid perspective is cleverly seen by the caring American who is shocked by the attitudes of the whites including missionaries as the outsiders see the locals as naive children, a mid twentieth century white man's burden. Though smuggling seems as if it would be relatively easy for someone like Their Death with his connections, the story line focuses on ironically several deadly sins especially avarice and gluttony as Tamar Myers leaves Pennsylvania Dutch country behind with this stirring colonial African historical thriller.

Margaret Carroll
9780061652776 $7.99

Alcoholic Christina Cardiff enters rehab in an exclusive facility in the Midwest to deal with her drinking problem. Her school age son Tyler is vacationing in France with his paternal grandparents and her spouse Jason fails to accompany her; instead he chose to remain in the Hamptons or Manhattan. She is not sure which. She is there for a few days when she learns her Wall St spouse Jason is dead found in the pool.

Forced out of rehab and back to East Hampton, she returns to alcohol and her lover Daniel Cunningham. As Daniel takes over much of her life, Christina receives a second shocker when the police suspect her of killing her husband. While she tries to remain sober, she also faces a real threat over custody of Tyler.

This is a powerful vivid character study with no engaging protagonists as the cast is hedonistic and selfish. The profound story line looks deep at a self-destructive individual who has plenty going for her yet seems to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time. With a suspenseful final spin into a deadly RIPTIDE, Margaret Carroll provides the audience with a strong thriller.

The Renegade Hunter
Lynsay Sands
9780061474316 $7.99

For centuries, Nicholas Argeneau was one of the best vampire hunters tracking down those who broke the immortal law. Fifty years ago, he quit and apparently turned rogue.

However, when a vampire attacks mortal bar manager Josephine Willan, Nicholas cannot stop himself from getting involved; he rescues her and cannot resist stealing a kiss. He quickly learns what happens with good Samaritans when he is captured by agents of the Vampire Council who wipe out Jo's memory of the event and them. As Nicholas awaits trial, Jo regains the memory of their kiss. She helps him escape. However, when his Uncle Lucian Argeneau learns who she is to Nicholas, he uses her as a lure to recapture the rogue. Once again Lucien and Nicholas underestimates Jo, who feels her well being is best taken care of at Nicholas' side even as she tries to learn why the kindhearted vampire was declared a rogue.

This is an intriguing Rogue Hunter romantic urban fantasy with the only known Argeneau to go rogue starring with his life mate as the audience learns why. Adding to the fun of the family reunion is a degree of connection as her sister and his former associate Mortimer are engaged (see THE ROGUE HUNTER). The story line is fast-paced from the opening scene when he rescues her and she accuses him of the "penis-eye thing" and never looks back (pun intended). Series readers will fully enjoy the superb tale of the intrepid human and the vampire forced to come out of the cold now that he has found his life mate.

I Never Fancied Him Anyway
Claudia Carroll
9780061734779 $13.99

In Dublin, Tattle Magazine columnist Cassandra writes a spiritual and psychic column answering questions from readers. Almost thirty she has been extremely successful at seeing glimpses of the future for over two decades. Her skill is somewhat limited to "flashes" of insight into the love lives of strangers.

Her wealthy friend Charlene arranges with her lover TV producer Jack Hamilton for Cassandra to appear on the air. There are two problems with the arrangement. First Jack is Cassandra's dream lover though she conceals her feelings from her BFF and the fantasy of her dreams. Second whenever she is near Jack, her psychic skill fails to perform; a bit of a problem for TV.

With a bit of whimsy as the dreaded lists are letters from Cassandra's readers asking for her advice, I NEVER FANCIED HIM ANYWAY is an amusing lighthearted frolic starring a wonderful protagonist. Cassie holds the story line together as she struggles between betraying her best friend and betraying her heart. Although Jack and Charlene are never fully developed beyond respective one joke acts, Claudia Carroll provides sub-genre fans with a quirky amusing contemporary.

The Earl Claims His Wife
Cathy Maxwell
9780061350993 $7.99

In 1806, Brian Ranson married Gillian, but before going off to war in the Peninsular, the Earl spent his last hours in England with his mistress instead of his young shy wife. When he fought against Napoleon in Portugal, she thrived taking over the running of his property profitably.

In 1810 Brian comes home to a strong sassy spouse who blithely informs him she plans to have a lover Andres Ramigio and divorce her husband. He is taken aback and attracted to his wife he scandalized four years ago in front of the Ton and recently having been back home for six months before coming to claim her. Brian and Andres are prepared to duel over Gillian so she agrees give him thirty days to make amends and win her over.

This second chance at love regency romance is a delightful tale as the Earl learns claiming and keeping is not quite the same thing. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Brian comes for Gillian only to have her reject him. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this fine tale of a politician who learns what love is but the lesson may prove too late as his rival has been much kinder and nicer to his wife than he has been.

On These Silken Sheets
Sabrina Darby
9780061780288 $13.99

"Against the Wall." Carolina vowed she would never marry Viscount Stanton although she loves him and his touch; she believes she would be better of wed to Lord Oakley or Sir Robert George.

"The Education of Lord Oakley." Lord Oakley may be heartbroken but recovers rather quickly when he meets a woman who has his heart thumping at Harridan House private club.

"Roses Are Rouge". The mysterious owner of the Harridan House Lady Diana Blount only shows up at her house of depravity as the masked Rouge. She plans to never fall in love, but her heart fails to heed her head.

"A Maid for the Taking." At Harridan House, Sir Robert decides have fun with the owner's assistant Lucy, but never expected to fall in love

These four interrelated erotic Regency romances are hot fun for sub-genre fans.

When You Went Away
Michael Baron
Story Plant
9780981956800 $7.99

In Port Jefferson, Long Island, Gerry Rubato believes his life is perfect. He loves his wife of two decades Maureen and adores their teenage daughter Tanya. Gerry likes working at Eleanor Miller, Inc where he is highly respected as the chief of the new products development team.

His life begins to turn upside when Maureen informs him she is pregnant. Soon afterward without warning his seventeen year old daughter runs away with her boyfriend. Maureen gives birth to Reese, but one month later she dies. He is a single father raising an infant, mourning his wife's death and worried about his oldest child at a time when his deportment is critical for innovation in the Christmas catalogue, whose suspense ran out while he was burying his wife and his life. He will spin further into chaos as Gerry relooks his values.

This is an intriguing character study of a person who seems to have everything perfect only to feel like a tsunami swamped his ideal life. Gerry is terrific as he tells his tale of happenings changing to woe changing potentially back to happiness if he takes chances that he is afraid of because love hurts. Although the ending is too neatly problem resolved rather suddenly, fans will enjoy following Gerry's struggles with grief for his late wife; fear for his runaway daughter; indifference towards his deadline job; and joy raising his bubbly newborn.

Critters of Mossy Creek
Sandra Chastain, Deborah Smith, Debra Dixon, Michele Hauf, Martha Crockett
Belle Books
9780984125821 $14.95 www.bellebooks,com

The Creekites of Mossy Creek, Georgia love their small town, but even more so their beloved pets. Some of the animals are the significant others of humans even married couples. The Naked Bean coffee and bakery shop owner Jayne adopts a Cairn terrier as her mouser to hunt mice when Emma the cat proves to be a watcher only. An elderly canine escorts an orphaned newborn dog to a child. The Widow Peggy tries to find the jewel thief using a cam only to find insider feline thievery. Pets even lower blood pressure by a human adopting a mom and her kitten. There are others who bring joy to the residents such as the Parrot who sings and dances (if Ed Sullivan was alive) and then there are humans who bring nurturing and love to animals like the Eagle Scout who saved ironically the eagle. This is just another moment in the human-animal love affair of Mossy Creek that adds to why the small town of 1700 is special; if you don't believe me, ask Mayor Ida Hamilton or better yet read the books for a slice of rural southern life.

Similar in tone as the previous Mossy Creek anecdotal tales, CRITTERS OF MOSSY CREEK focuses on the human-animal relationships of the residents as the people get more from the unrequited love and loyalty of their pets. Fans of the saga and pet lovers will fully appreciate the latest entry as all is well in Mossy Creek for a large part due to the animal population.

Moon Rise
Marilee Brothers
Bell Bridge
9780982175699 $14.95

In Peacock Flats, Washington at John J. Peacock HS, student Alfrieda "Allie" Emerson recently lost her telekinetic skills which include reading minds. Her loss of power has angered her at a time her boyfriend Junior went home to Mexico as she feels she lost something precious. The pressure from her dad who just recently came into her life and his group the Star Seekers add to her ire and helplessness; they insist she is the key to the prophecy by keeping the moonstone necklace safe from the Trimarks. Faye AKA Mom is no help as she finds one pathetic loser after another to go out with.

At school are two new students, twins Beck and Nicole Bradford. Allie is attracted to the hunk, but also has other worries like the school counselor who wants her removed from her mom. Meanwhile the siblings hide a secret from Allie and others at the school as they are not what they seem. However, they are the key to keeping Allie safe with her retaining the necklace as the Trimarks are using all sorts of tricks to get at her.

The second Unbidden Magic urban teen fantasy (see MOONSTONE) is a terific exciting tale with Junior in Mexico and Allie's new BF being a half demon. This leads Allie to protect the necklace but also elude her dad and his group of goody types, her mom and her loser dates, the counselor fro hell, as well as the bad dudes, which make male high school hormonal butt pinching seem irrelevantly inane. MOON RISE contains a fabulous fast-paced story line, but is owned by the heroine whose perspective on her out of control life simply fun to follow as danger lurks around every corner of the school, home, and town.

The Cart Before the Corpse
Carolyn McSparren
Bell Bridge
9780984125838 $14.95

In the middle of a horse show, a runaway horse frantically races to get a carriage hitched to him off. Soon afterward Merry Abbott receives a call informing her that her famous southern carriage-horse trainer Hiram Lackland is dead. After years of estrangement they were finally finding their way back to one another but his death ends any chance of full reconciliation. She drives to Mossy Creek where he lived in an apartment he rented from Peggy Caldwell, who takes Merry under her wing.

She knows her late dad had started a horse farm giving driving lessons to lonely females. The local sheriff calls Hiram's death an unfortunate accident, but Peggy insists he was murdered over the use of his land. Peggy persuades Merry and Police Chief Amos Reardon that a homicide occurred. The Chief claims jurisdiction and asks GBI investigator Geoff Madison to lead the inquiry. The case proves complex and convoluted as the victim's records are missing and evidence that someone is looking for them judging by the vreak0in at Hiram's house. Whoever this culprit is, he or she is dead serious as potentially harmful incidents occur to Peggy and Merry.

Although the two women knew each other before Hiram's death, they become friends afterward as Peggy helps Merry with the funeral arrangement, going through the deceased's apartment, and helping with the horse farm, In other words Peggy is a supporting buddy, a trademark theme of the charming Mossy Creek saga.. Merry does not frighten easily, but instead turns angrily calm towards her unknown adversary. THE CART BEFORE THE CORPSE is a delightful cozy filled with humor, poignancy and danger as Carolyn McSparren spins Mossy Creek into a radically different direction.

Mark Nykanen
Bell Bridge
9780982175644 $16.95

Renowned model Sonya Adams has no prior notice of a shoot for the Frontier Ahead in Bozeman, Montana, but tells Chatwin Modeling Agency agent Jackson she will be there. She is disappointed that her twenty-three years old obstinate, opinioned offspring Darcy failed to return her call, but that will not prevent her from catching the flight tonight from Denver tonight. Still she feels a little better when she is able to take Darcy out for her birthday before catching the one-hour flight.

Sonya is abducted in the Bozeman airport and taken to an isolated area hours from the city. The Council of Consensus survival group informs Sonya she has been found guilty by the Earth's Court of Justice for championing "rampant consumption". They explain her choices are to die brutally or speak up against what she stood for as the cult possesses top secret proof that the feds lied about the timeline of global warming; which is yesterday. The cult blows up a refinery to the shock of most Americans who consider them terrorists and uses Sonya as their spokesperson with authorities assuming she is a victim of the Stockholm syndrome. Though they picture themselves as Malcolm X to Al Gore's Martin Luther King, none of the Council factored in Darcy's obstinacy; she is coming for her mom in spite of eco-terrorists, government, oil or Queen Katie Corwin preferring mother and daughter to come home in body bags.

This is an exciting gripping thriller that hooks the audience from the onset when Sonya is kidnapped and never slows down even when terrorists overdo the explanations. The story line is fast-paced built off the premise that global warming is not a theory or in the future, but reality already beyond the point of return as the earth. A profound cautionary tale, Mark Nykanen makes a strong argument that to save economies but not the earth seems like Gregory Bateson's double bind theory with a touch of weak tea from Lewis Carroll's Bread and butter fly dilemma.

Nine Dragons
Michael Connolly
Little Brown
9780316166317 $27.99

Fortune Liquors has been robbed and a man is down. LAPD Detectives Harry Bosch and Ignacio Ferras take the call. When they arrive at the crime scene, they find John Li, owner of the liquor store, dead with three bullets in his chest. A video shows Li making a pay off to a triad bag man. The two cops gather enough information to arrest the man, but he never says a word; at the same Harry receives a call to back off or else.

Harry is sent a video of his daughter Madeline, who lives with her mother Eleanor Wish in Hong King. She is tied up and gagged. Harry assumes the Triad knows they arrested one of their baggers, but no longer has interest in the Los Angeles homicide. He flies to Hog Kong where he meets his ex-wife Eleanor and her lover Sun Yee. They go to the apartment seen in the video, but she is not there. Finding clues, Harry assisted by his former spouse and her significant other searches for his daughter before she becomes another homicide statistic.

Bosch is married to his job and never allows anyone to get too close to him because they could become victims; Maddy is the exception. Two diverse groups want Harry dead, but his quest keeps him going even as attempts to kill him fail. Although panicked for Maddy's safety, Bosch remains cool, calm, and collected as he searches for his daughter. With Mickey Haller of the Lincoln Lawyer fame adding to the plot, Harry is the old pre cold case Bosch as he works a personally hot case.

Urge to Kill
John Lutz
9780786018451 $6.99

After being injured in the line of duty, homicide detective Frank Quinn accepted a disability retirement, but he remained a contractor available to the police force as occasionally case surfaces that require his special skills. The Police Commissioner Harley Renz has a particularly gruesome serial killer that he wants Frank to find. Men are being brutally murdered with the perpetrator taking a .25 caliber gun from the victim's phone which is in his pocket.

Frank obsesses over finding this maniac because the culprit killed one of the detectives Joe Garlin who worked narcotics. While working this personal difficult case, another serial killer surfaces who kkills and guts his victims as if he is carving up a deer with a hunting knife. The police believe the same person has expanded his modus operendi to bring new sadistic satiation. Frank fears he will be the next victim as he offers himself up as bait to catch one perhaps two killers.

Without fanfare, the dedicated protagonist believes it is his duty to end the killing reign as police work gives him satisfaction just like slicing and dicing does to his opponent. With a great twist Joh Lutz is at his best with his latest thrilling Kill police procedural (see NIGHT KILLS and IN FOR THE KILL) as his hero and his villain share more in common than people realize. Fans will relish this fast-paced electrifying thriller.

Craig Larson
9780786021543 $6.99

Seattle Telegraph newspaper photographer Nick Wilder has always looked up to his brother Sam; who is on his way to becoming a billionaire if the drug trials for the anti-psychotic Matrix Zarcon holds up as expected. Nick currently covers the brutal murders of men so unrecognizable their family members could not identify them. He becomes part of the story when a homeless man without shoes stabs and kills his sibling.

The incident triggers in Nick flashbacks and hallucinations that make him and the police wonder if he is the vicious psychopathic killer who murdered his own brother. In a coffee shop, Nick meets Sara Garland, stepdaughter of the Telegraph's owner Jason Hamlin. They hit if off and she helps him cope with the nasty hallucinatory incidents and horrific dreams that he fears are repressive memories. The cops question Nick re Sam's murder and that of another victim, but let him ago as they lack evidence although Police Lieutenant Dombrowski believes he allowed the killer to leave; he plans to find proof to lock away this maniac for life.

Throughout the story line Nick struggles with his sanity as he is unable to delineate reality from dreams of events that happened to him. The audience is as unsure whether Nick is the killer or suffering from some other psychotic derangement. MANIA is a fascinating thriller that delves deep into the mind of a struggling protagonist who ponders what reality really is. Although a final spin seems over the top of the Needle fans will relish this action-packed psychological thriller starring a beleaguered hero who no longer has the mental fight to argue with people telling him what the truth is.

Long, Lean and Lethal
Lorie O'Clare
St. Martin's
9780312943431 $7.99

The fourth dead spouse leads the Lincoln, Nebraska police department to conclude a serial killer is one the loose although they have not ruled out a paid killer. Still either way they feel out of their league so the brass asks the FBI to help. The Feds send Agent Noah Kayne to assist in apprehending the psychopath. The plan is to use Lincoln PD homicide detective Rain Huxtable as Kayne's swinging spouse to draw out the predator.

Rain loathes the role she is expected to play as she prefers being alone. However, once in the part, she does not have to act as Noah's kisses heats her loins ands he feels the same way. Still the pair understands the mission is to infiltrate the swingers club in which four members are dead.

This Great Plains police procedural romance is an engaging tale as the lead cops fall in love while masquerading as a loving couple. The sequel to TALL, DARK, AND DEADLY (starring South Dakota) is a fun tale as the pair put on a show; however, the personal relationship never fully gels outside the mission. Still fans will enjoy the escapades of two enchanting law enforcement officials finding love while on a deadly case together.

Christmas Secret
Donna VanLiere
St. Martin's
9780312558369 $15.99

Single mom Angela Christine Eisley raises her two young children (seven year old Zach and five year old Haley), but it is not easy as she works long hours for low wages and tips as a waitress while her former spouse Brad refuses to pay child support. He insists he will pay for the kids when he gains custody of them as he knows she can't keep paying court fees

Even as crummy as her job is Christine is shocked when she is fired for being late again as the teen baby-sitter failed to appear in a timely manner. Although despondent and fearful that she and the kids will be evicted, Christine saves the life of an elderly woman, but does not stay around for accolades. The woman works at Wilson's Department Store whose owner sends his unemployed grandson Jason to find the angel Christy, who no longer believes in the wonderment of Christmas.

Typical of her previous warm holiday tales that bring so much hope and promise to readers, Donna VanLiere provides a charming story of people in need of the miracle of love. The ensemble cast is fully developed with only Brad being Scrooge the sole stereotype. Fans will relish Jason's search for much more than just the Angel Christy and Angela Christine's need for the magic of Christmas to return to her life as readers know it is no secret that Ms. VanLiere always writes a tender heart warming Christmas tale.

Ladies of the Lake
Haywood Smith
St. Martin's
9780312316952 $24.99

With the death of the family matriarch Cissy, her granddaughters (Dahlia, Rose, Violet and Iris) must follow her stipulation in her will to inherit. The late former dancer demands the four sisters move from their respective Atlanta homes to her lakefront estate in the Georgia Mountains for 90 days.

The siblings agree on cleaning up the hazardous to your health house so that in three months they place it on the market to sell. They fail to comprehend that their late grandma wanted one last connection to her beloved ones even if that is from the grave. Cissy hoped they would understand how she lived her life and how she wants them to do likewise.

From the Hazmat cleaning debate to the sibling squabbles to the legal legacy, LADIES OF THE LAKE is an amusing poignant sisters' drama that reminds readers of the importance of making quality and quantity time for loved ones. The four sisters, their late grandma and a catalyst hunk come across as full blooded especially the siblings when they mix war and love with each other. Although a romance with the key male outsider never quite gels, Haywood Smith leaves the red hats safely stored for another day as she provides a jocular yet profound family drama.

Witch Craft
Caitlin Kittredge
St. Martin's
9780312943622 $6.99

Police Lieutenant Luna Wilder runs the Nocturne City Supernatural Crime Squad but neither she nor her unit is highly regarded by the rest of the department or for that matter the people they protect. Still the grouchy werewolf works hard on cases and expects the same from her subordinates.

Deadly arsons have Luna and company running around the city without a respite. The arsonist has successfully destroyed the homes of the supernatural residents killing the otherworldly occupants. As she works the case, supernatural killers from species who have not arrived in Nocturne City try to kill her. She and ATF agent Will Fagin team up as they try to prevent a pandemic disaster while also unable to ignore their attraction though she uncovers his darkest secret that he concealed from her.

Fans of the terrific Nocturne City urban police procedural fantasy will relish the latest entry WITCH CRAFT as the supernatural body count expands with new eerie and dangerous species surfacing to cause chaos and destruction; the city is on the brink. Luna is nastier to her allies than ever (I am surprised she remains a supervisor) as she and Will, assisted by other law enforcement, try to prevent a paranormal catastrophe. Caitlin Kittredge provides her audience with another great thriller as survival of the fittest seems unlikely for the heroic duo as they are far down the food chain.

Big Bad Wolf
Christine Warren
St. Martin's
9780312947958 $7.99

Missy Roper met alpha Silverback werewolf Graham Winter at her friend Regina's wedding (see ONE BITE WITH A STRANGER). She has salivated over him since although they have not seen one another since the marriage gala when she ran from his sexual overtures. When they meet again during a fantasy fix-up arranged by her four BFFs, she knows the real person is even better than her dreams of him.

Graham believes Missy is his lifemate, but has problems with her being human. Thus he has conflicting issues as he must persuade his New York City clan and her they belong together or face challenges to his leadership as the alpha leader needs a wife; preferably a breeding lupine silverback as his odious cousin claims.

The latest Others' saga (See YOU'RE SO VEIN) is a wonderful urban romantic fantasy starring a beleaguered alpha facing several challenges. Comparatively speaking, his internal werewolf threats from his cousin's challenge and from his pack's potential rejection of his chosen outsider mate seem almost lame even with both being dangerous and real vs. persuading Missy they belong together. Fans will enjoy the heated hunt.

Heat Seeker
Lora Leigh
St. Martin's
9780312945817 $7.99

In Brisbane, Bailey Serborne and Trent Daylen shared the greatest night of their respective lives. Soon afterward he died in a car explosion. She grieved her loss while he mourned the only person he left behind in his previous life Bailey.

Unable to neither ignore her feelings nor obtain closure, former CIA operative Bailey searched for the employer of the killer of her beloved. She finally found him only he turned the tables and kidnapped her. Other people rescue her killing everyone but the ring leader so she went back to her quest. Bailey has closed in on the brains behind the criminal group who killed Trent, but once again is captured. Arms dealer John Vincent is unable to not kiss her; his lips confuse her; as she reacts the same way she did for Trent yet he is the enemy who killed her beloved and perhaps her parents.

Although over the top of Brisbane, Aspen and a few other locales, this Elite Ops romantic suspense thriller is an exciting tale starring two fascinating lead characters especially the male who fans will wonder if he is a rogue gone bad or a deep undercover operative. The story line is faster than a speeding HEAT SEEKER missile but similar in plotting to analogous thrillers, as Bailey seeks vengeance on the man she believes killed her loved ones only to find his kisses leave her confused and craving more. Fans of the series will enjoy this action to the nth degree thriller as the twists and spins make for an electrifying read.

Angel Lane
Sheila Roberts
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312384821 $13.99

In Heart Lake, Washington, quilt store owner Emma Swanson, bakery shopkeeper Sarah Goodwin and her niece Chocolate Bar owner Jamie Moore decide to do something nice for their small town. They organize the "keep the heart in Heart Lake" campaign asking residents to do something nice for someone else every day.

The three women plan to be role models, but not one expected the consequences of kindness. Emma's Quilt Corner store may close; Sarah is lonely even as she gives free baking lessons and has met Sam; and Jamie has to face her fears of commitment since she met a widower single father of two, Josh the cop.

This is a fun Pacific Northwest small town tale that looks profoundly into a community and as deeply into friendship. The three amigas may have issues that make it difficult to be angels, but they each try anyway. With a warm fuzzy holiday feel, fans who appreciate an inspiring tale will know it does take a committed caring community to bring the heart to everyone.

The Book of Samuel
Erik Raschke
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312379698 $14.99

Samuel Gerard is a regular twelve tear old boy doing things like his schoolmates do; for instance giving his parents a hard time, coping with his pious grandmother and equally religious father, and flirting with the girls at school. One day, with no warning, his father walks out on his family to preach the word of Jesus. Samuel's life changes for the worse as he is now responsible as the man of the family though not yet a teen.

His friends antagonize and fight with the Hispanic students and he joins them. His depressed mom needs cheering up and his energetic grandma needs to be placed in a home because the present living conditions are not working any longer. His cousin, forced to leave his hometown due to causing trouble there, moves into the Gerard household; enhancing an already tense family situation. Samuel is angry at the world and takes it out on those who care about him. When his father comes home for a short respite from his mission to save souls, Samuel does not recognize this stranger who used to be his dad. Finally his friends demand he join them as they resolve to handle the Mexican "problem".

The protagonist has to cope with a series of painful events as a modern day Job rather than Samuel, but has the tenacity and soul to handle his traumas; rejecting his father's path for redemption means abandoning your loved ones as that is an easy cop out. Erik Raschke uses real social issues like absentee fathers, immigration and aging parents to bring believability to the sudden need for a tweener to grow up rather quickly. Though some might insist Samuel adapts too easily, anyone who knows a single parent household with a latchkey child will realize he struggles with monumental personal changes from care free child to responsible young adult.

Breaking the Rules
Barbara Taylor Bradford
St. Martin's
9780312578060 $27.99

In London, the wealthy twenty-three years old granddaughter of Emma Harte suffers an assault. She decides to leave England for New York and pursue a career as a model. The young lady feels she has the looks, the know-how and most important the connections. Thus M is invented.

M proves reasonably successful as a model and ultimately works in Paris. She falls in love with actor Laurence Vaughn, but eventually that adversary of her family who attacked her in Chelsea recognizes her and sets in motion a plan to destroy M and her loved ones.

Although much of the tale occurs in 2006, there is a throw back feel to the interesting story line; mostly because of the long running Harte series and somewhat M's courage under fire affirms she has Emma's DNA; she knows when to flight and when to fight. This story is a convoluted with a seemingly zillion support players with respective but related histories of their own that do not tie well together even with the marvelous Ms. M at the vortex. Still fans of the saga will relish the thirtieth anniversary of A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE updated for the new millennium.

7th Son: Descent
J.C. Hutchins
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312384371 $14.99

At Bowling Green College in Kentucky, four years old Jesse Fowler kills President Griffin slicing the POTUS's throat when he was being kissed on the cheek. The Secret Service grabbed the child and his parents; a week later Jesse was dead and no one understood why.

Government agents grab seven men of interest. Each looks similar enough to be at least siblings if not septuplets. Their memories up until they turned fourteen are identical and their names are offshoots of John Michael Smith. They react to what the Feds tell them in the same way as if they go through the phases of forming a strong cohesive group; this includes their hosts Dr. Kenneth Kleinman and Brigadier General Orlando Hill. The seven know that they are the "offspring" of Alpha, who stole top secret government technology that enables him to download a mind to override the original person's brain. The seven are his clones, but like their hosts none of them comprehend why their Alpha killed the President with a copy of his mind inside the preschooler or why he plays cryptic games with his seven clones.

This is an entertaining science fiction tale that opens with the toddler assassin and never slows down. Although the enigmatic taunting seems old hat as does the cloning, the key to this fast-paced tale is the seven Smiths all have distinctive personalities and lifestyles even with their same origins; for instance Father Thomas questions whether he has a soul being a clone or father Jack was going to watch ironically D.A.R.Y.L. with his two daughters. Readers will enjoy DESCENT although Alpha acts too typical of a villain, his clones make for a lively science fiction thriller.

Tales Of The Ten Lost Tribes
Tamar Yellin
St. Martin's
9780312379131 $13.99

These are ten well written fascinating interrelated TALES OF THE TEN LOST TRIBES that look deep at the Wandering Jew exiled to travel the world as does the narrator does meeting other lonely displaced people mostly in self exile. In Reuben she admires her Uncle Esdras who soars like a bird from place to place while her dad considers his brother a wandering wastrel. In Simeon she meets on board a ship Nikos who knew everyone but no one knew him. In Dan, her dad's efforts to find book treasures prove as futile as her uncle's efforts to find an anchor because when her father dies, his books will be sold. In Naphtali, she leaves home for the last time as her mom has died, but though she has a student room she remains as rudderless as does Professor G whose search for his lost language leaves him mute.

There are six more profound allegorical tales of wanderlust and exile with a stark helpless beauty symbolized by her dad with his perpetual editing of his tiny tome and his book collection. A person can never finish wandering; as home is never the same once you step outside. So each step away is just like the lost tribes after the Assyrians scattered them to find new homes.

The Concubine's Daughter
Pai Kit Fai
St. Martin's
9780312355210 $14.99

In 1906 on the Great Pine Spice farm in Southern China, septuagenarian farmer Yik Munn is outraged when his teenage concubine Pai Ling gives birth to a worthless female as she will one day bear sons for some other farmer. He sets out to kill his newborn Li-Xia. She survives due to the specter of a fox fairy scaring her father and his wives; which enabled her mother to leap through a window with her in her arms. Her mom died when she made the jump, but Li resides in a rice shed ignored by her father.

When she turns eight, Li rejects binding her feet as demanded by her father who wants to increase her sale value. Rather than argue with her, he sells her to a silk merchant who puts her to work in the field while Li dreams of an education like her mom had so that she can read and write. English Sea Captain Benjamin Jean-Paul Devereaux buys her from the silk farmer and takes Li with him to Hong Kong. They marry and she has a child Siu-Sing, but her spouse's gruesome adversary assaults Li. To keep Siu safe, she is sent away, but years later as WWII explodes in Asia, she returns to her birth town seeking her roots, but the "Little Star" faces danger in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

This is a superb first half of the twentieth century epic Chinese tale through the eyes of three generations of women trying to make it better for their offspring in a world in which females are sold like cattle. Each of the women is fully developed as is their society; but especially the second and third generations who heed the advice of Pai to gather their thousand pieces of gold. THE CONCUBINE'S DAUGHTER is a terrific historical thriller that provides profound insight into China during the first four decades of the previous century.

Bite Marks: A Vampire Testament
Terence Taylor
St. Martin's
9780312385255 $14.99

In 1986 in wintry New York City, Adam Caine the vampire murders his seventeen years old human lover Nina and the John she solicited on Times Square. The raging vampire then brings his teen hooker back from the dead as an undead like him. Adam forces Nina to drink the blood of her five month old child before he rapes and kills her again. However, before Nina dies permanently, she resurrects her baby, Christopher.

Christopher escapes from Adam, but is captured by drug addicts, who threaten to expose the vampires to the public. Believing their species needs to remain in the closet, influential vampire Perenelle de Marivelle and her former lover the ancient vampire Rahman search for Christopher and Adam. Meanwhile Nina's brother Jim Miller seeks his nephew in Hell's Kitchen.

The Vampire testament starts off with a gritty gruesome look at Manhattan through the eyes of a rabid raging undead but also never quite reaches that frantic frenzied opening scene. The story line is action-packed when the plot remains in 1986 and quite bloody as a vampire thriller should be. Although flashbacks feel more like padded distractions, fans will enjoy Terrence Taylor's bite of the red Big Apple.

In The Arms Of Immortals
Ginger Garrett
David C. Cook
9780781448888 $14.99

In 1347, a ship arrives in Sicily containing a deadly cargo. Soon the villagers are falling ill in rapid succession with most dying.

The locals react differently to the Black Plague that is killing so many. The Baron's daughter Panthea Campaigna ignores the villagers with her focus totally on increasing her wealth as the killings would never touch her and besides her only fear is being poor like the villagers. An outcast due to her healing skills, Gio tries to help those ailing and dying although some look at her as the cause. From a distant future place and era Mariskka Curtis, not in the Book of Life in her time, recognizes the Black Plague and assists Father Lazarro by offering comfort to those receiving the last rites as the true Blood Month has begun.

The second Chronicles of the Scribe tale (see IN THE SHADOW OF THE LION) is an incredible historical thriller that looks deeply at the Christian religion in Sicily during the worst of the Black Plague when beliefs apparently failed those praying for a miracle. The first night over half of the residents are dead by morning; they are the fortunate ones. Contrasting lifestyles of the indifferent rich vs. the beleaguered poor that seem relevant today with the health care debate, Ginger Garrett provides a powerful look at a pivotal moment in Christian history when the belief in Jesus and God teetered under the wrath of the Black Plague.

Stretch Marks
Kimberly Stuart
David C. Cook
9780781448925 $14.99

In Chicago social worker Mia Rathbun and her boyfriend Lars enjoy their carefree life together. All is perfect in their world until Mia becomes pregnant. Lars wants nothing to do with a baby or for that matter a pregnant woman; he deserts his girlfriend. The neighborhood rallies around Mia to assist her especially her BFF Frankie.

Still Mia feels abandoned and afraid, but rejects abortion or adoption as she plans to raise her child. Her estranged mother, Babs, arrives to help her daughter raise her grandchild. Although filled with good intentions, mother and daughter argue, fuss, and fight as Mia does not appreciate Babs' efforts especially as Babs still has meltdowns at inopportune moments.

STRETCH MARKS is an amusing yet deep relationship drama starring two beloved enemies who apparently need to be on opposite sides of the continent. The story line is fast-paced though a bit thin as mother and daughter war and love while neighbors like Adam try to charm both ladies into a peaceful coexistence. Fans will enjoy this fine character study of a mother and daughter reunion with the next generation on the way.

Three Weddings And A Bar Mitzvah
Melody Carlson
David C. Cook
9781589191082 $14.99

At 86 Bloomberg Place, several weddings are being planned, but there are problems trying to work out the scheduling logistics. Each of the couples want their nuptials there way, but families have other ideas.

Lelani and Gil want a simple wedding while his Latino family wants to throw the ceremony of the decade. Kendall and Kiliki want to be married before she gives birth so they select a coming soon weekend, but end up picking a weekend that could prove too late. Marcus is in Africa leaving behind a concerned Megan while Anna fears she lost Edmond.

Although the plot is stretched very thin through three books (see 86 BLOOMBERG PLACE and I HEART BLOOMBERG), the final tale is a frantic fun finish as the frenzied occupants find love and God helping them prepare for two weddings on the same day. The cast is solid as each of the women and their men (even Marcus in Zambia) are fully developed. Fans will enjoy prolific writer Melody Carlson's enjoyable race to the weddings.

The Transformation
Terri Kraus
David C. Cook
9780781448673 $14.99

In Shadyside on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, real estate developer Samantha Cohen plans to renovate the historic Blue Church into an in crowd restaurant and nightclub. She hires contractor Oliver Barnett to help her change the religious site. His pious mother is upset as she sees this as blasphemy by her son and that Jewish woman.

Samantha and Oliver are attracted to one another, but he is a Christian while she is Jew. Christian not only is a believer, he would never hurt his mom by bringing home someone of another faith. Meanwhile his mom encourages his kind likable former girlfriend Paula to go after Oliver who is in love with Samantha.

The latest Project Restoration tale (see THE RENEWAL) is an interesting contemporary religious romance that in some ways is the gender bending retelling of the biblical story of Ruth. The lead couple is a delightful pairing as each has religious issues and family tsuris to overcome if they are to forge a loving relationship under God; but who's God. With a strong cast complementing the prime duet, Terri Kraus provides a strong look at love and religion in the modern world.

Missing, Presumed Wed
Sharon Wildwind
Five Star
9781594147876 $25.95

In 1974 Vietnam vets struggle with readjustment into American society though the prime wisdom is to conceal your military service. Many are thankful to president Nixon, not for his support to the soldier as that has been a typical right wing sham, but because Watergate has removed the vet from the front page.

Still every returning soldier struggles. Former-Army nurse Elizabeth Pepperhawk is confused with what she wants out of her relationship with Colonel Darby Baxter. Especially confusing her is Darby is thinking of expediting his ex-wife from a mess she is in Hanoi. Elizabeth's roommate, former MP Avivah Rosen has gotten a job with the Asheville police department, but quickly realizes she is a token assigned to community support work. Her friend veteran Benny Kirkpatrick is marrying war widow Lorraine Fulford. However, someone abducts his mother Grace, who returns unharmed the very next day but totally bewildered over what happened. Grace says Peter Taft, whom she knew in Alaska years ago snatched her. When someone kills Taft, Avivah investigates only to find her friends and family in the forefront of her inquiry as their secrets begin to surface just in time to destroy the wedding.

The mystery is fun to follow though straightforward but as always in the Pepperhawk-Rosen series it is following the personal lives of former Vietnam vets trying to readapt to American society in the early 1970s that makes Sharon Wildwind's saga super. The story line is once again profound as the readers gets deep into the psyche of several vets as the war is blamed on the soldier instead of LBJ and Nixon. With a mystery somewhat in support of the cast, MISSING, PRESUMED WED serves as an enjoyable timely historical thriller reminding readers to support the vets assimilate when they return (see FIRST MURDER IN ADVENT and SOLDIER ON THE PORCH).

Death's Other Kingdom
Kinley E. Roby
Five Star
9781594147913 $25.95

The Guatemalan woman was abducted in Mexico and brought to Florida by human traffickers to sell her, but something goes wrong in Avola, Florida; two of her kidnappers are killed and she apparently escaped. The police and Salvamento director Sonadora Asturias ask private investigator Harry Brock to find the missing female before she runs into more trouble and to investigate a local crime ring that has apparently changed its mission from drugs to young girls.

At Hammock where he lives Harry is worried about his best friend neighbor Tucker, who is very ill having been attacked by wild pigs and is concerned about his teenage daughter Minna is emotionally shattered having been sexually assaulted while Harry must deal with knowing he pathetically still loves her mom, his ex-wife Katherine.

The continual escapdes of Harry Brock in Florida (see NOW COMES DEATH and TWO IN THE CHURCHYARD LIE) is a solid entry filled with sleuthing and personal twists; however newcomers will find it difficult to fully grasp the hero's family crisis without having read how he got to that point. Though lacking the humor brought to FEAR DEATH BY WATER by Tucker's sidekicks (Harry's older daughter brought a pregnant pause to the tale), the story line is fast-paced whether the subplot focuses on the troubles of Harry's family (know wonder he hides in Florida), his neighbor's health, or the dark sinister human trafficking.

Stranger in the Opera House
Helen Macie Osterman
Five Star
9781594148163 $25.95

At the Midwest Opera House, sexagenarian significant others Emma Winberry and Nate Sandler obtain jobs as supernumeraries. As the company prepares for a performance of The Ghosts of Versailles, the lead soprano svelte Signori Rienzi screams. Everyone rushes to her dressing room where the drama queen insists someone was in her room. The police find no evidence of such.

Soon others see the mysterious stranger, but no one has been able to catch him. The cast and crew start thinking of the phantom of the opera house, but Nate assumes a street person is wandering in and out of the theater. They soon find a secret room containing a chest filled with historical memorabilia. Emma and archivist-librarian Tristana Morgan search for more items as they learn the opera house was once a station on the Underground Railroad. Emma believes the wraith is an escaped slave who never made it. When someone assaults Tristana and money is stolen, Emma feels she has two inquiries to conduct; one on the mortal plane and the other on the afterlife plane.

This is an enjoyable cozy starring two likable lead characters on their second amateur sleuth case together (see THE ACCIDENTAL SLEUTHS). The story line is fast-paced with much of the opera house cast and Emma thinking ghosts while Nate believes someone more tangible is behind the scenes. Fans will enjoy this fine tale that is nicely complemented by a look back through memorabilia and more at an Underground Railroad station.

Sacrificial Lamb
Karin Hofland
Five Star
9781594147746 $25.95

In Hollywood, streetwalker Layla "Leilani" Schultz comes to the set of the popular TV show Cold Case Chronicles asking for help. Layla explains to associate producer Harmony Magnussen that she had thought for fifteen years that when she was four she killed her younger infant brother Jake suffering from Spina Bifida; at least that is what her mom Amberlee insisted. Now she has received a note that says she did not do it. Layla wants Harmony to investigate.

The case is closed as Layla confessed to smothering her brother. Harmony wants to help her, but her boss says no. With the help of videographer Ahmed Saleh, Harmony goes to Gypsum where she stirs up resentment and murder while her teenage son Dane is a rebel without a cause when it comes to her and his dad TV star Jeff Burdick who makes matters worse. However, as she begins to make progress through the stonewalling, someone is killing the people in Gypsum related to the death of nine month old Jake.

The fun in this intriguing whodunit with several major twists is Hollywood invades small town America with Harmony's intrusion and enhanced when TV action star Jeff arrives to a hero's welcome. The story line is fast-paced as the heroine runs up against the locals, her TV show and the rich and famous obstacles in her cold case investigation. Fans will enjoy Harmony's efforts although her inquiry leads to unintended consequences that haunt her.

Amy Clipston
Five Star
9781594147937 $25.95

In Mooresville, North Carolina, Lacey Fowler is distraught when her beloved father Greg and his wonderful second wife Veronica die in a car crash on their way home from Daytona. The family attorney informs Lacey that her father named her and driver Reese Mitchell as co-owners of his Southern Racing. Lacey is outraged as she is ready to leave college to run the company alone and making matters worse she loves Reese who is too busy womanizing to notice she is an adult.

However, as she digs into the company's records, she finds the bottom line does not add up as if someone has extorted money. She knows few people would have access of this sort with the prime person being Reese's dad Carl who is like a dad to her. As she investigates her father's death after seeing photos of the scene, the evidence of embezzlement increasingly point to Carl. With Reese helping her, they begin to unravel the truth even as he falls in love with a woman he always thought of as his younger sister.

Although the plot has been used before, Amy Clipston superbly executes the story line of an amateur sleuth investigating embezzlement and murders that implicate the father of the heroine's beloved. The story line is fast-paced keeping up with the racing car theme as Lacey and Reese fall in love but distrust lingers due to the evidence pointing at Carl. With a couple of nice spins, fans will want to ride with Ms. Clipston as she takes readers around the track.

Pamela Nowak
Five Star
9781594148101 $25.95

In 1876 Miriam Longstreet was attending boarding school back east when her parents notified her to come to their current home at Fort Randall in the Dakota Territory. She is stunned with what she finds with her family. Her martinet mom is addicted to laudanum and her father is totally occupied with his duty. Neither takes care of their six year old other daughter Franny

Miriam's mom demands she marry Lieutenant Robert Wood while she just wants some time to adjust and to care for her neglected sibling. Private Jake Deakins assumes Miriam is the commanding officer's new governess and treats her as an equal rather than the daughter of the C.O. They become friends and soon fall in love, but Wood abetted by Miriam's mom intrudes starting with sending Jake on a suicide mission.

Courageous Miriam has CHOICES, but chooses to insure her sister is safe and her heart too although CHANCES are her mom and her mother's ally will prevail. The gripping character driven plot hooks the audience from the moment Miriam gives up Denver for Fort Randall and never loosens that hold as misunderstandings and distrust are tools fostered by Wood and Harriet. Fans will appreciate Pamela Nowak's engaging look at Reconstruction Era in the Dakotas.

Sweet Seduction
Maya Banks
9780425230695 $15.00

From the first time salon owner and masseuse Julie Stanford gave him a massage to the last one with a crowning finish she has wanted Nathan Tucker. However, he either is blind or gay as he ignores her seductive endeavors even when she makes him come in her mouth. Deciding she has had enough with frustration, Julie visits the House so her sexual fantasy of doing two men can be at least satiated.

Nathan and his friend Micah make love to the blindfolded Julie. When he reveals what he did, she decides to give him a taste of female strength using handcuffs to dominate him. Gentle under her control, afterward he admits to Julie he loves her, but she flees having been hurt by love before. He will have to persuade her that they belong together one dominating but gentle stroke at a time.

This heated erotic romance is fast-paced from the opening blow job to the final BDSM seduction. Julie is a wonderful protagonist who knows what she wants though a submissive and goes out to get it; Nathan is the one who vows to never to be tamed but though a dominant Julie has him figuratively tied in knots. Although the couple's relationship never fully gels outside the boudoirs, fans will knows it's safe to bet the House (see SWEET PERSUASION) on Maya Banks providing an enjoyable hot read.

Paradise Rules
Beth Kery
9780425230121 $15.00

Blues singer Ailana "Lana" Rodriguez hides her Hawaiian background because she knows first-hand from her childhood that paradise is a sham. She vowed to leave the islands the first chance she got and did. Although she prefers to never return to her home state, Lana reluctantly agrees to accompany her best friend to Waikiki on vacation after a marriage to a sleaze went sour.

Lana and local surf school instructor and celebrity Jason Koa meet with each feeling the attraction between them although she transmits icy tundra at him. However, Lana wants nothing to do with the chick magnet while he makes it clear he desires her. They soon share a vacation getaway filled with passion until pictures of the pair surface that could only mean family betrayal. She wants to flee back to the mainland, but he and his kin shower her with love.

This is a terrific look at the islands paradise from a different perspective; a native who escaped and loathes Hawaii. The relationship between Lana and Jason starts off colder than the polar region as she is Ms. Bitchy and he reacts accordingly. When it thaws, the heat melts the polar cap. However, a serpent in Eden may break up the couple as they fall in love because trusting men ended with the tune "Over the Rainbow" due to her late abusive father.

No Greater Pleasure
Megan Hart
9780425229811 $14.00

In a response from Lord Gabriel Delessan, the Order of Solace sends Tranquilla Caden to serve as his handmaiden, proving him whatever comfort he needs. The difficult part of her assignment is to figure out what she can do to help him as he conceals his emotions and his wife objects to her presence.

Quilla makes friends with Gabriel's two sons Dane and Jericho and quickly becomes a favorite of the staff. However, as she slowly learns what makes Gabriel tick, his crazy but diabolically clever spouse wants her gone and is pulling out every conceivable dirty trick to insure this happens ASAP.

The Order of Solace book (see the PLEASURE AND PURPOSE with its three tales) is a terrific story of a handmaiden who does her job yet keeps her ethics while under pressure to go astray. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and character driven between Gabriel, his handmaiden and his wife, who make an entertaining triangle. However the heart of NO GREATER PLEASURE is the world that Megan hart has created as The Handmaidens of the Order of Solace seems too fascinatingly (and erotically real).

Sarah McCarty
9780425230572 $15.00

In Dunnesville, Montana Allie the bakery owner has the hots for rancher Caleb Johnson. Every morning, very early, he is her first customer, but though he is nice and friendly to her he seems to ignore her efforts to even get his eyebrow raised let alone a more interesting lower body part. She has tried all sorts of seductive ruses from her body to her food to her coffee, but he seems immune to her desire and charm.

After a long day on her feet wearing a special bra that hurt physically and mentally failed to arouse her unrequited lover, Allie heads home when she hears a growl. Believing flight would not work she growls back to stay away or else as she holds her keys ready to poke out the potential assailant's eyes. When instead of your garden variety mugger, a wolf attacks her she kicks at its anatomy. However, as a voice in her head shouts run, she recognizes the "sounds" as that of Caleb, but her rescuer is a shapeshifting vampire. Caleb saves her from a rival werewolf pack, but knows his life mate whom he hid his deep regard for will forever live in the shadowy world he and his siblings reside in.

The first Shadow Wranglers romantic rustic ranch fantasy is a terrific thriller that grips the audience even before the assault as Allie's desire adds a human element to the mix. The story line is fast-paced and the Big Sky Country seems an ideal locale for howling in heat vampiric werewolves (must be one hell of a bite). Allie makes the tale work as she learns seducing a man may be easy, but loving a vampire-werewolf takes an extraordinary female.

Dragon Moon
Rebecca York
9780425230985 $7.99

Kenna the psychic crosses through a hidden portal into earth on a mission to obtain information for her owner. During a vicious storm, a soaking wet Kenna is almost killed by a tree that falls. Werewolf Talon Marshall who prefers to be alone finds her in his lupine form, but saves her in his human body.

They are attracted to one another and he fears she is his soulmate; someone the recluse can do without but knows he cannot. Kenna wants to tell him the truth about what she knows re her master Vandar the psychopathic half-dragon half-vampire, but a mental barrier will not allow her to so. He knows she hides something important from him, but has no earthly idea what; only that he does not trust her and obviously she reciprocates as she distrusts him with her secret

The latest Moon romantic fantasy displays the creativity of Rebecca York as she refreshes her werewolf-life mate plot with the enslavement spell that leaves the hero distrusting his beloved and the heroine frustrated with her inability to tell her beloved the truth. The story line is fast-paced from the opening scene in vile villain Vandar's cave and never slows down as love comes at the wrong time for this couple. Series fans will relish DRAGON MOON with a strong casting as the malevolent paranormal hybrid controls the werewolf's life mate.

Waking Evil
Kylie Brant
9780425230718 $7.99

Forensics Investigator Ramsey Clark works for highly regarded Raiker Forensics. When it comes to her work, she is scientifically thorough and has no time for nonsense or play; when it comes to her personal life alas she has no time to play either.

The homicide of a young woman sends Ramsey to rustic Buffalo Springs, Tennessee where she joins the investigative team of Sheriff Mark Rollins and TBI Agents Matthews and Powell. However this case is anything but by the book for Ramsey who adheres to standard procedures. Instead the witnesses insist the ancient red mist settles over the town. Intruding on her effort to remain professional is parapsychologist Devlin Stryker, who insists the killer will not fit her forensic profile; he refuses to back away from his attraction to her though she tries to keep him outside of her heart. When a second mysterious homicide occurs, Ramsey and Devlin team up seeking a killer before another murder occurs.

This is an enjoyable paranormal romantic mystery starring two likable humans, a beleaguered town, and a killer seemingly from beyond if you believe Devlin or a diabolical mortal if you believe Ramsey. The first reaction by Ramsey to meeting Dev is priceless as she incredulously calls him a "Ghost Hunter". Putting aside the name of the heroine brings memories of the former male Attorney General, the latest Mindhunter thriller (see WAKING NIGHTMARE) is a superb police procedural romantic suspense enhanced by the supernatural and the romance.

Lucinda, Dangerously
9780425228982 $7.99

Lucinda the demon dead princess has become the most powerful being ever since she and her companions left Hell to return to the realm of the living and the Monere Queens who fear nothing except perhaps her. However, while there are those who love and adulate her; there are also those who envy her. All Lucinda wants is a nice life with those she cherishes.

She has bond-mated with Monere warrior Stefan and his ward Jonnie, and is some never before known way also with Talon "the Flower of Darkness". Her two guards, Ruric and Hari are loyal though the former also feels protective of a blind human female. However, in this little Eden has come a demonic serpent. Her enemy Derek abducts her and takes her to the edge of Hell where only the only the deadliest survive with no hope because he believes sacrificing Lucinda will restore life to this dead demon.

The complex second Demon Princess erotic fantasy (see LUCINDA, DARKLY) is an exhilarating thriller due a super support cast (including Derek) who enhance understanding of the lead protagonist; ironically much of the exciting story line is told from her either the heroine's anguished or sexual perspective. The secondary subplots embellish the super prime segue as romance, sex and danger stalk the donkey-kicking heroine and her cohorts with Derek lurking. Sunny, as usual brightens up the day with her latest romantic urban fantasy.

Demon Ex Machina
Julie Kenner
9780425229644 $14.00

Kate Connor has seemingly more personal issues than usual although she and her second husband Stuart have apparently worked out their differences since he now knows she is a demon hunter. Still she must train her spouse and her enthusiastic teenage daughter Allie how to defeat demons; she knows it was easier on her when her oldest child played soccer only. The supermom also has a two year old toddler who could terrorize almost any demon with his temperament.

There is also the complicated matter of the return of her formerly dead first husband Eric who has come back to life only to be possessed by a demon. If she succeeds in exorcising Eric's demon yet keeping him alive, Kate ponders what she should do about the two husbands in her life.

Although the story line starts slower than the usual donkey kicking frantic frenzy and only accelerates a little, the latest demon slaying soccer mom thriller is a deeper look at Kate's quandary. She does not want her daughter to follow in her demon slaying footsteps, but fears not teaching her how to defeat the enemy for she knows Allie will go out on her own. The same holds true for loyal Stuart. Then there is the mess of two husbands as she adores both of them. Filled with angst as she also has the toddler to care for, fans will appreciate Julie Kenner's profound glimpse at the human side of demon slaying beyond a bad hair or broken cuticle day.

Decked with Folly
Kate Kingsbury
9780425230015 $14.00

It is the Christmas season and the Pennyfoot Spa is having its usual holiday celebration. Manager Cecily Sinclair Baxter prays they get through the Yuletide period without a murder as seems to be the tradition (see SHROUDS OF HOLLY, SLAY BELLS and NO CLUE AT THE INN - not a safe place for the holidays). Alas the homicidal jinx remains intact as a drunken man is found dead in the pond; they discover he is Ian Rossiter who used to work there and once was bigamously married to still-employed head maid Gertie. They also had a fight on the hotel's grounds in which she attacked him with a knife.

The local constable Northcott believes Gertie killed her former spouse, but Cecily thinks differently; the cops do not arrest her head maid, but remand her into her employer's custody. The Pennyfoot repairman saves Gertie's life twice, which has Cecily pondering the connection to Ian's death beyond the obvious. When Ian's current wife Gloria arrives looking for him only to learn he is dead, she goes hysterical; Cecily puts her in a guest room. Meanwhile someone watches the activity waiting for the opening to make a move while Cecily wonders what had Ian done to bring such misfortune to him and his family.

There are numerous suspects besides the ex wife whose motive is the most obvious as Ian wants to see his twins, but others also have powerful reasons to kill the rogue. Cecily is more of a modern woman than an early twentieth cnturty female as she refuses to let her husband Baxter or any male dictate how she is to behave especially when he pleads with her to stay out of the murder investigation. The story line has the "Upstairs, Downstairs" feel that enhances the whoudnit as there is a wide schism between the classes as World War I had not started leveling the playing field yet. Readers will enjoy the latest Pennyfoot holiday mystery as a terrific historical amateur sleuth.

Mrs. Jeffries and the Yuletide Wedding
Emily Brightwell
9780425230466 $23.95

The holidays are upon the residents of Victorian London, which means that the wedding date of Coachman Smythe and Betsy the Cook is getting close. The pair live in the home of Inspector Witherspoon of the Metropolitan Police Department where they work and assist along with the rest of the staff their employer solve crime cases. Witherspoon is ignorant that his household employees led by Mrs. Jeffries are the reason his detecting record is at 100% solved as they serendipitously work cases by finding the clues but allow their beloved Inspector to get the credit.

The staff prays no murder cases until after the wedding, but their prayers go unanswered when a woman is knifed to death in front of the Evans' home where an engagement party is going on. The daughter of the house Rosemary Evans identifies the victim as her old governess, but neither she nor anyone else knows why she was there. Mrs. Jeffries and the crew understand that they need to expedite this case so it does not interfere with the wedding since Witherspoon is giving the bride away.

The police and the staff separately investigate the homicide and believe they know who the killer is but lack proof. When information comes to light in spite of a lack of cooperation, the housekeeper and her amateur sleuths know they must act quickly to prevent a second murder from occurring even as a second wedding will occur.

It is fun watching Betsy and Smythe work on the crime, prepare for their wedding, and host her sister and brother-in-law as they do an incredible balancing act. Readers, Mrs. J, and the Inspector will be blindsided by who the killer is in this delightful cerebral historical cozy. As always with this terrific series, Emily Brightwell provides her fans with a bright well-written Victorian.

Grave Secrets
Charlaine Harris
9780425230152 $24.95

Harper Connelly's childhood was a nightmare living with her mother and stepfather, who were addicts having dopers and paying Johns coming and going at all times for drugs and sex. Her rock was her stepbrother Tolliver who with his sibling Mark tried to earn enough money to keep the family together. Harper and her sister Cameron took care of their half-sisters Gracie and Mariella. A lightning bolt struck Harper enabling her to find the dead which led them to having a job. People go to her to find out where the dead are buried or to find out how they died. Tolliver is her business manager.

The step-siblings are in a small Texas town near their hometown of Texarkana because wealthy Lizzy Joyce wants to know how her father Rich died. She is shocked to learn that her father's caretaker died from bleeding due to childbirth. Rich died when someone threw a snake at him. Lizzy believes Harper and now knows her dad was murdered. While near their home, they go to see their half-sisters adopted by their aunt and uncle. They learn Tolliver's father was just released from prison and wants to see them to make amends, but he does not want anything to do with his dad. Harper is still trying to find out what happened to her sister Cameron who vanished without a trace while walking home from school. Someone is upset that Harper is asking questions and tries to kill her but Tolliver and a cop save her life taking a bullet each aimed at her.

GRAVE SECRETS looks back into the childhood nightmares of Tolliver and Harper, who have come a long way from their past because of their caring for each other, which turned into romance (see ICE COLD and AN ICE COLD GRAVE). Questions that have haunted Harper since Texarkana might finally be answered if she has the courage and survives long enough to figure them out. Although a major coincidence helps the story line, Charlaine Harris provides an enthralling mystery that mesmerizes the audience with an underlying soulful romance while Sookie appears on TV.

Carolyn Jewel
9780425230992 $7.99

In 1811 Miss Sabine Godard accompanies her elderly uncle as he journeys to the Far East to research information on a book he is writing. At a gala, Sabine meets the Marquis of Foye; whose friend ruined her reputation; which led to her vow to never marry. On the other hand he must marry now that his brother died without an heir. They both feel a major surge of desire, but neither wants to pursue their feelings out of fear where it will lead.

Still Sabine and Foye become friends as their attraction intensifies. He becomes frightened for her when a pasha invites the uncle and his niece to the palace; Foye fears the pasha's agenda is to temporarily add her to his harem before selling her.

The fun in this entertaining historical is the British expatriates with a recent history meeting and falling in love in the early nineteenth century Ottoman Empire. Thus, the Regency romance is transported to Turkey. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the scandalized spinster Sabine and foolishly Foye meet as he knows what happened to her back home. INDISCREET is a jewel of a historical as the background enhances the shaky but loving relationship between the lead couple.

At Home on Ladybug Farm
Donna Ball
9780425229781 $14.00

One year has gone by since Lindsay Wright, Cici Burke and Bridget Tindale left Baltimore to relocate and start over on Blackwell Farms in the Shenandoah Valley. The place was a dump, but the three single women worked hard; assisted but at times distracted by their grumpy housekeeper Ida Mae; Cici's 20-year-old daughter Lori who fled a California college to come "home", and fifteen years old Noah Clete.

Now the farm has undergone much renovation and revealed some of its history to its current residents. They know what happened during the Civil War as this farm and its neighbor were home to battles and occupations. It was turned into winery, a cheesy creamery, and a WWII refugee camp. Now Ladybug Farm is home to another generation of misfits.

Using flashbacks to tell the history enhances a warm tale of love and friendship as Donna Ball informs her audience what happened to those and more who spent A YEAR ON LADYBUG'S FARM. The cast is solid as each still struggles with what they want, but have come a long way baby from where they were especially the trio of Maryland expatriates. Fans will enjoy the return visit to the three single women and their three "wards" as fans will feel AT HOME ON LADYBUG FARM.

Sand Daughter
Sarah Bryant
9780425229804 $15.00

In 1187 the crusading Franks are in control of the Holy Land while the Muslim armies led by Salah ad-Din prepare a counter offensive against the occupying European forces. In that environs, two normally hostile towards each other Bedouin clans of the Hassan have settled on a peaceful coexistence as they share a common infidel enemy. To anchor their shaky friendship, Khalidah and Numair will marry. She does not want to wed her cousin, but knows she must for her people's safety; however Khalidah is unaware her saying I do is a death notice for herself and her clan as betrayal is what awaits her and them.

The minstrel Sulayman persuades Numair to flee with him to save her clan. He promises to escort her to her maternal kin in Qaf; she prays to Allah that the Qaf Afghan warriors Jinn come to her aid. At the same time, her friend Bilal initially joins with Numair before switching to the Templar Knights as a spy lover of Salim, the sixth son of the Sultan; he also learns his dead father actually lives and is coming commanding a legendary unit as war will soon unite him with Khalidah.

This is deep Crusades era historical thriller that brings to life the Holy Land at a time in the late twelfth century when the Christian Franks are in control. The story line provides various perspectives of those caught up in the numerous battling factions, but especially the SAND DAUGHTER and her BFF. Fans of vivid tales of the Crusade will want to read this fresh saga.

Viking Heat
Sandra Hill
9780425230671 $7.99

PH.D candidate, psychologist Joy Nelson knows it is the fault of her three older brothers as the tall female has been competing with them since she was twelve years old. She blames the "Three Muska-dopes" (Matt, Jerry and Tom) for her being in mud up to her eyeballs which is not easy to occur with her being just under six feet. Instead of going to Yale she is doing training in order to join the Navy SEALS as Matt was killed by Al-Qaeda while flying for the Air Force and the athletic amazon feels compelled to act.

She though her siblings were the king of testosterone, but she will soon learn they are not even royalty when it comes to male hormonal rages. Instead of SEALS training, somehow Joy finds herself back in 955 on the Norselands at a slave auction in which she is the product for sale. The Igorsson siblings Erland and Arniss buy her as a birthday present for their brother Brandr. Not used to a woman who can almost look him in the eyes, Brandr feels like a berserker when it comes to his new thrall who for Thor's sake is driving him crazy with her insane notions of finding his Valkyrie side; for Odin's sake he is a Viking warrior. However, as she brings a new "Hoo-yah" tradition to the Viking lore, they fall in love though she claims a woman belongs on top.

This is an entertaining entry in the Viking-SEAL time travel romance as the heroine brings joy to the world of Brandr the berserker in heat. The story line is lighthearted fun as Joy brings back modern day psychology theory to the tenth century Vikings. Although the plot is somewhat repetitious of previous entries, Penn State masters graduate Joy refreshes the tale with her beside manners as Sandra Hill provides an amusing entry to her delightful series.

Demon Forged
Meljean Brook
9780425230411 $7.99

Four centuries ago, Guardians Irena and Alejandro began to fall in love. However, when she made a deal with a demon, he rejected her. Irena has regretted has regretted her action ever since while Alejandro despondently muses over what never happened between them.

They went their separate ways, but recently a request for help brings the two guardians together for the first times since she sadly left him. She wants a second chance and will do whatever e demands to achieve it. He wants to give her a second chance, but kismet enhanced by a betrayal appears to leave this couple apart for eternity.

The latest Guardians thriller is a well written dark romantic fantasy. This is a second chance at love battling to survive betrayals as the audience will wonder if the odds are better on the Detroit Lions meeting the Oakland Raiders in the next Superbowl. Fans of the saga will relish this terrific DEMON FORGED entry while newcomers will struggle a bit adapting to the Brook demonic mythos, but soon will join the growing legion of Meljean Brook readers.

The Lone Texan
Jodi Thomas
9780425230626 $7.99

In 1859 near Galveston, Texas, Drummond Roak misses Sage McMurray who left Whispering Mountain Ranch three years ago to attend medical school in Boston. Sage is a widow who plans to open a medical practice in Texas. In Galveston, Sage saves a dog only to have Drum save her and the dog from a wagon. He yells at her and realizes with her look she still sees him as the worthless son of an outlaw and his hooker. Though she is three years older, he reminds himself of his vow that she will be his woman.

Sage mourns the loss of her spouse Baret who was a mentor not a husband to her. He told her as he was dying he married her because he admired her courage and feared dying alone. They never slept together. Baret's slimy brother Shelley pays his respects to the widow, who is uncomfortable with the wastrel.

Drum travels with the Texas Rangers; his assignment to kill the leaders of a raider group attacking an English family. He completes his mission and takes the dying mother and her two young children to town for Sage to provide medical help; their father is dead. The woman says they were not raiders, but a killer who wants the family dead; her sons are not safe. Sage vows to keep the children safe while Drum vows to keep her safe.

The super relationship between the lead couple is refreshing and unique while a secondary romance is also terrific. Although Sage's denial of her feelings towards Drummond turns repetitive, fans will enjoy the fourth Whispering Mountain (see TALL DARK AND TEXAN, TEXAS PRINCESS and TEXAS RAIN).

The Fall of Eden
Richard Michaels
9780425229941 $15.00

Professor Charles and his wife Vanessa Spencer, accompanied by their two children James and Chloe, are flying down to the Caribbean island of St. Bart's. Meeting them there is Charles' brother Dan and his lover. The brothers are looking for their octogenarian father who is going pirate hunting with his friend Luc Vacher.

At the isle's airport, Dan informs his sibling that Europe and America were nuked and all communications are shut down. For at least the moment, the people on the island are safe because the radioactive winds are blowing away from St. Bart's. Dan takes charge stealing guns from Vacher's boat and turning employees into a private army to protect them and their food and water supply. They make plans to go to inland to find more water and Dan kills any intruders. When Dan can no longer lead, Charles takes charge. As he toughens up, he decides who will live and who will escape from the isle as the winds have turned, threatening the air they breathe just when a hurricane is also coming.

THE FALL OF EDEN takes a close look at what happens when civilization crumbles as survival of the fittest rules in a lawless isolated situation. This is a dark grim thriller as people must make horrific decisions that they would never had had to face when governments thrived. With a philosophical underpinning of what makes a human when the clothing of civilization is torn asunder, fans will enjoy this fine tale mindful of Hitchcock's Lifeboat but On the Beach rather than at sea. Fans will enjoy this mesmerizing thriller.

Holiday Grind
Cleo Coyle
9780425230053 $23.95

It is the holiday season and Clare Cosi, manager of the Village Blend Coffee House in Greenwich Village, is gathering up a group of friends to help her decide what lattes will remind her patrons of Christmas. A red-headed beauty crashes the party, but turns vicious when Clare insists it is a private affair. Clare wonders where Alf, a traveling Santa, is as he promised his good friend he would be there.

Her ex husband and cafe partner Matteo Allegro tells her he has seen Alf and Clare goes to look for him. She sees his sleigh in an alley so she enters only to find his corpse near the dumpster. The police assume a mugging robbery occurred, but Clare ponders what she saw at the crime scene and thinks otherwise. She returns to the alley in daylight and climbs up a fire escape to the fourth floor where she finds a bullet on the windowsill. She is arrested as an accomplice, but the lead detective has her released based on their discussion the night before. Clare investigates and almost gets killed.

Cleo Coyle writes some of the best amateur sleuth tales with her Greenwich Village coffeehouse mysteries and her Haunted Bookshop mysteries written as Alice Kimberly. Clare is a breath of fresh air with her honesty, caring nature, and her perhaps naive belief in the goodness of people. The whodunit contains red haired herrings and amusing scenes, but her top rate percolating investigation, which causes friction between her and her police detective boyfriend, remains the key to HOLIDAY GRIND.

Bookplate Special
Lorna Barrett
9780425231197 $7.99

The town of Stoneham, New Hampshire is a quiet quaint place in which tourists who love to read visit the numerous bookstores as much as go on foliaging treks to see the leaves change colors. Tricia Miles owns the Haven't Got a Clue bookstore. She has an awkward problem as her college roommate Pammy Fredericks came to stay for the weekend, but has extended her visit to two weeks with the end nowhere in sight.

Sick of Pammy's laziness, her theft of $100 and her freeloading, Tricia finally tells her to leave her home and business. Pammy gets a job at her sister's bookstore Booked for Lunch. When Tricia goes to the dumpster with trash, she notices Pammy in a can with a bag around her head. Captain Grant Baker leads the homicide investigation. He and Tricia go to the victim's car to see if anything was stolen. Nothing seems out of place, but soon afterward Tricia gets creepy phone calls from someone using a voice alteration device; the person demands she hand over the diary. Tricia ignores the caller as she is clueless to whatever the person refers too. That changes when pellets are shot through her home window. The captain warns her to stay out of the way, but Tricia seeks the diary and subsequently the killer.

This is one amateur sleuth whodunit that would be a crime for cozy lovers to ignore due to quirky characters bringing alive the New England change of seasons while concealing secrets inside of a the bucolic colorful town. The story line provides a taste of small town New Hampshire living with a heroine who seems to have as many corpses as she has books (a bit of an exaggeration). Loran Barrett provides her fans with a BOOKPLATE SPECIAL as the feisty heroine is BOOKMARKED FOR DEATH if she fails to hand over to an unknown adversary what she does not have or know what it is.

Bed of Roses
Nora Roberts
9780425230077 $16.00

In Greenwich, Connecticut the four best friends (Mac, Emma, Laurel, and Parker) used to play as children together pretending to be a bride. Now they run Vows, a wedding planning business together. Mac has met her forever English teacher, Carter Maguire (see VISION IN WHITE) to the elation of her BFFs as the couple is now engaged.

Florist Emma wonders if her long time buddy architect Jack Cooke is her forever man
as she thinks a lot about him. Deciding not to wait, Emma kisses Jack to his astonishment. Even more shocking, he wants more kisses from her as does the florist. As they fall in love, each has doubts as they fear the end of a wonderful friendship, but those kisses heat up New England.

The second Bride Quartet tale is a warm straightforward contemporary romance with no surprising twists or spins for readers. The story line is well written and entertaining as the lead couple from (BED OF ROSES and VISION IN WHITE) as well as the two remaining buddies from Vows seem real and make for a fun simplistic romance. Nora Roberts has handed out
to her readers two exquisite bouquets with two to go.

The Quiet War
Paul McAuley
9781591027812 $16.00

The Brazilian cargo ship dropped off bio-engineer Macy Minnot at Rainbow City on the Jupiter moon of Callisto. She will work on creating a lake for the Callistan city as an act of friendship between Brazil and the Outer planets. However, Macy realizes there are agents whose mission is to prevent the needed lake from being developed. Her exposure of the nefarious scheme costs her immensely as she can never safely go home to earth and has become a target of espionage agents and psyops propagandists who label her a Quisling supporting the enemy. There are many in Brazil and on the Outers that want war. Those seeking an honest peaceful solution to the crisis like Mary are called traitors and harassed. She is arrested on false charges but is freed on the Saturn moon Dione as war seems imminent.

Professor Doctor Sri Hong-Owen leads the efforts to save earth following the massive ecological meltdown caused by global warming. Although not a member of the War Party, the scientist is allied with them. Macy meanwhile tries to tell the truth about her world, but the war drummers control the media; few listen to her until she meets Avernus who created the ecology that led to the Outer developments. Brazil sends its armada to conquer the Outers under a false charge while telling the masses this will be a cheap quiet war that will not touch them.

This is an exciting military science fiction that obviously parallels and thus makes a strong condemnation of the Bush invasion of Iraq while also providing a more even handed look at the debate between economic development and the ecology. The story line has several other sub-plots though what happens to Macy and Sri are the prime focus of this excellent thriller. Although the Outer communities seem off kilter for early settlements in hostile environs, sub-genre fans except for the Cheney crowd will enjoy Paul McAuley's strong war in space saga.

James Barclay
9781591027799 $16.00

The war has devastated much of the Kingdom of Balaia. In that realm the Raven magnificent seven mercenaries are known for always getting the job done. These thieves know the key to their success is the six humans and one elf trust their respective back with one another.

They are rejoicing over another successful endeavor when their next assignment runs into them. The Wytch-Lords are on the verge of escaping their incarceration due to the stealing of an amulet that is critical to the Dawnthief spell which has imprisoned the arrogant demi-god mages. The Xetsek College of Magic demands they escort senior mage Denser, who insists he works for the gods, on a quest to retrieve the Dawnthief. The Raven seven mistrust any of the four colleges of magic whose mages would destroy their own kind for power as much as they have doubts about anyone who claims the Gods employ them. Still saving the planet from the return of the Wytch-Lords, if true, is more critical than worrying about their untrustworthy new allies for they each know they have "Raven".

This is a terrific opening quest fantasy filled with fast-paced action and the belief that the mages have power and dragons exist. The use of the "Raven" to help the five warriors, one berserker warrior and an elven mage through difficult situations like when Hirard is trapped by a Dragon is a fantasy equivalent to the Three Musketeers. Although the cast is somewhat stereotyped out of the Tolkien 101 handbook; for instance with aging mercenaries considering retirement and all powerful mages causing collateral consequences that leave a world teetering, no one will care as James Barclay's opening entry bodes well for a powerful saga.

The Grave Thief
Tom Lloyd
9781591027805 $16.00

Humanity stunned the gods when they failed to cower, hide or bow to their superiors. Instead mankind had the audacity to fight. Outraged and stunned especially since their pets are actually winning, the gods turned to a different gameplan. They created the super Mortal-Aspects from the humans to serve as their warriors.

At Scree, Lord Isak, in spite of the visions of his death, led the Farlan to victory over the powerful shadow-god Azaer. However the human noble knows that was a minor temporary setback for the shadow god and devastated much of Scree. To the victors goes another battle as the bone weary Farlan must recruit rookies for the next fight; this time against Azaer and the well rested Menin while at the same time the Mortal Aspects are cutting a destructive path across the country.

Though the third tale of the Twilight Reign fantasy (see THE TWILIGHT HERALD and THE STORMCALLER), THE GRAVE THIEF feels more like a transitional middle book in a trilogy as nothing major ends. Still the story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action especially with the heroic efforts of Isak trying to get his exhausted force in pitch battle berserker frenzy. Fans will enjoy the latest entry, but also lament nothing closes.

Cowboy Christmas
Mary Connealy
9781602601451 $10.97

In 1879 in a mining camp in Missouri, Claude Leveque orders hymn singer Annette Talbot to perform in a revealing dress or watch her elderly friend Elva die. Fearing the brute will beat Elva, Annie is shocked when her pianist gives her money for a one way ticket out of town saying she is dying from a bad heart. Vowing to never forget her beloved friend, Annie heads to her widower father's home in Ranger Bluff, Wyoming Territory; six years since she left him a bitter hardened man.

Elijah Walker still reels from the death of his Pa and the betrayal of his beloved Priscilla that destroyed the family ranch. He vows to never trust a woman ever again.

Annie and Elijah meet on the stagecoach and each remembers knowing each other as children. Although attracted to one another, he assumes a young woman traveling alone must be another Priscilla. She thinks he is an obstinate yahoo. As they fuss and fight they fall in love, but he seems incapable of getting past the haunting hardening of his heart.

COWBOY CHRISTMAS is a terrific western romance that grips the audience from the moment the vile Claude grips Annie's blouse and unlike him never let's go of the reader. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing, but it is the strong cast even those who have short appearances make this tale work by bringing a sense of time and place to the plot. Sub-genre fans will relish Mary Connealy's super late nineteenth century romance (see MONTANA ROSE).

Dracula: The Un-Dead
Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt
9780525951292 $26.95

Twenty-five years has passed since the horrific events of 1897 ended with Dracula turning into dust; none involved have moved on as each remains haunted by the encounter with the Count. Mina and Jonathon married, but neither obtained closure when the vampire was killed; stressed and estrnaged, they conceal from their son Quincey what happened. Seward survives with heroin while Holmwood became a hermit. Their mentor Van Helsing obsessively lives for the return of Dracula as the vampire's death was his life's goal so he has nothing else. Scotland Yard believes Van Helsing was involved in the unsolved Ripper murders.

In 1912, Stoker is frustrated as he struggles to convert his horror thriller Dracula to the London stage. However, although the author knows the full truth, he and the others except perhaps the ever vigilant Van Helsing are unprepared for a gruesome serial killer horrifying London. Scotland yard once again believes a fanatic Van Helsing is deeply connected to the killings, but too old to perform them. Those involved with what happened back then find themsleves and their loved ones under siege as if Van Helsing's belief the Count will return from the dust has occurred. The survivors of the previous encounter regroup to battle evil again although they are unsure who stalks them.

This is a super vampire thriller that brings forward the stars of Dracula into the Edwardian Era with a where are they now tale. The clever story line is fast-paced while introducing the audience to the survivors of the previous horrific encounter to include Bram Stoker. Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt explore the essence of evil and good through a cast of humans who have used psychological defense mechanisms to barely survive and a vampire who may or may not be Dracula, but has the same attitude re the food chain as well as a thirst for the blood of vengeance. Filled with terrific twists fans of Dracula and those who appreciate a strong historical urban fantasy will relish the THE UN-DEAD.

Merry, Merry Ghost
Carolyn Hart
9780060874377 $24.99

Being the forgiving type, the Heaven's Department of Good Intentions give the spirit of Bailey Ruth Raeburn a second chance as a GHOST AT WORK helping a mortal. Bailey Ruth is sent to her hometown of Adelaide, Oklahoma to keep an angelic eye on four year old Keith Flynn. The child was dumped on his wealthy but dying paternal grandmother Susan Flynn, whose son (and Keith's father) died in combat in Iraq.

Susan plans to change her will to leave everything to her grandson. This angers those sycophants who expected to inherit with both of the widow's children dead. However before Susan signs her revised will she dies. Not one to adhere to the rules of even heaven, Bailey Ruth rearranges a few things to make it clear to the cops that Susan was murdered by digitalis in her cocoa and left a witnessed holograph last will. Leaving other clues for the dimwitted police, Bailey Ruth tries to expose a diabolical avaricious killer who murders a second person to conceal the crimes.

This is a fun lighthearted Christmas criminal caper starring an irresistible rule-breaking heavenly amateur sleuth. The story line is amusing as Bailey Ruth drives her boss at HDGI crazy with her antics especially her interfering when she is not supposed to. Her actions as the holidays approach make for an amusing frolic in which heavenly preparations for the Yuletide season supersede a merry murder mystery.

Cat Striking Back
Shirley Rousseau Murphy
9780061123993 $19.99

In California after an evening of mouse hunting with his tabby lady Dulcie and their buddy Kit, Joe Grey says good night to them. However he soon realizes that an abandoned home with an empty but open swimming pool has been the recent location of a human homicide. As he has done in the past when he stumbled upon a corpse, he leaves an anonymous tip at the Molina Point Police Department; though he has no dead body this time.

Police Detective Juana Davis arrives at the alleged murder scene and finds evidence that a homicide occurred in the pool area. Meanwhile Sage the cat catches the killer interring the corpse in a hole dug in the garage floor of a house undergoing renovation. The feline loathing killer tries to hammer Sage who escapes and reports to Joe and others what happened.

Obviously for the cat-loving crowd, the latest Joe Grey feline police procedurals (see CAT PLAYING CUPID) is a lighthearted frolic as the cat-detectives go after a human killer. The Anthropomorphist investigation is fun though the cops seem more Keystone compared with the more knowledgeable in detecting methods cats.

The Vows of Silence
Susan Hill
9781590202456 $24.95

In Lafferton, a culprit uses a handgun to kill newlywed Melanie Drew in her apartment. Soon after that a sniper uses a rifle to shoot into a crowd standing outside a nightclub. Next a gun is fired killing a mother standing with her infant. The seemingly random killings have the townsfolk frightened and panicked.

Lafferton Police Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler and his unit see no ties beyond the age and sex of the victims. The three homicides is made even more complicated by the use of two weapons. Simon wonders if two killers are stalking the streets yet keeps going back to the concept of a psychopathic serial killer. As he struggles with preventing the next murder, his sister Cat has health issues and his nephew is known for creative cheating at Scrabble.

The police procedural subplot is well written, filled with suspense and has a red herring suspect, but the emotional intensity happens more to people in Simon's personal circle as he is the "watcher" even with Jane Fitzroy, a woman he is attracted to. The story line is fast-paced except with the relationship dance between Simon and Jane. Susan Hill effortlessly moves back and forth between the case (to include the killer's perspective) and Simon's personal life. British police procedural fans will enjoy Simon's not simple investigation and look for his previous caseload (THE VARIOUS HAUNTS OF MEN, THE PURE IN HEART and THE RISK OF DARKNESS).

Penny Vincenzi
9781590202470 $26.95

In London by1935, Cassia Tallow has been married to a practicing doctor Edward for seven years while she has stayed home to raise their three young children. She is somewhat envious of her spouse as she also was trained as a doctor, but he insists she stay at home.

Cassia is scrubbing the alter steps when she learns she inherited a fortune from her godmother, Lady Beatty, who drank Champagne with the rich, aristocratic and famous like Edward VIII. With a half a million pounds, Cassia has the means to join the upper crust if she chooses or practice medicine to the neglected working-class women as she once dreamed of; something her husband objects to. However, Cassia soon begins to learn that her liberating windfall may not rightfully belong to her; ethical as always, she investigates with a need to learn the truth. Sometimes the truth will not set you free as Cassia learns that with each revelation comes increasing danger.

This a typical entertaining Penny Vincenzi historical thriller as the ethical heroine tries to do what is right, but finds that dangerous. Cassia makes the story line work as her actions after learning of her WINDFALL place her in opposition with her demanding spouse and to a degree her children, but eventually she goes after what she wants for herself: providing medical care to impoverish women. Fans of the author and those who enjoy a between World Wars English historical will want to read Ms. Vincenzi's blockbuster bonkbuster as the British would say over a cup of Earl Grey.

The Wrecker
Clive Cussler and Justin Scott
9780399155994 $27.95

In 1907, the Southern Pacific Railroad is constructing the Cascade Canyon Bridge in Oregon, but has deep financial problems. Bankers inform the firm's president, Osgood Hennessy that if the project is not finished by winter, they will withdraw their funding. Hennessy knows if the backers leave his company goes bankrupt.

The SPR can complete the project easily on time except for the labor unrest that has led to delays due to explosions, fires and track destruction leading to derailing and other dangerous mayhem. Hennessy hires the Van Dorn Detective Agency who sends their best sleuth James Bell. He quickly concludes that the Wrecker is causing the deadly havoc by using hobo recruits to sabotage the SPR; after the mission is done he kills his new allies and sets forth on lining up his next crony. Bell believes he is running out of time to prevent the Wrecker's next terrorist act, which will be greater than all his previous sabotage combined.

Even with an odd writing style that represents a bygone era when trains ruled distant travel over automobiles and planes, THE WRECKER travels at speeds much faster than Obama's rail proposal. The story line is filled with action on top of more action. Ironically, the audience knows which direction the plot travels and who the Wrecker is from almost the onset; yet readers will still go along for the ride expecting a High Noon showdown between the saboteur and the detective on THE CHASE to prevent a terrorist act on a scale never seen before.

The Scarpetta Factor
Patricia Cornwell
9780399156397 $27.95

Marriage between Benton Wesley and Kay Scarpetta seems to be working out fine even though he remains angry and jealous of police officer Pete Marino. His feelings makes it difficult for them to work together, which they must on her latest cases. Toni Darien was murdered by a blunt force trauma to the head; which is obvious but the time of death is not. Reliable eye witnesses insist she was still alive hours after the medical examiner declared her dead.

Besides her pro bono ME position in Manhattan, Scarpetta is the forensic expert on the CNN Carley Crispin Show, hosted by Carly Crispin whose superiors want to replace her. They want Kay to star on a new show The Scarpetta Factor because she has the gift of always finding the killer. When Kay returns to her ME office, she picks up a Fed-Ex package that strikes her as off kilter. She calls for the bomb squad and is proven right that there was a bomb in the package that could have badley injurered her and Benton. Kay, Benton, her niece Lucy Farinelli, Pete Marino, ADA Jaime Berger work together on several cases though there is a strain within the sleuthing group. They believe there is a connection to Toni's death and the disappearance of beautiful millionaire Hannah Starr as well as the bomb scare. None of these so-called experts has found the link between all their cases as a clever diabolical puppeteer works their strings perfectly.

It does not take being a forensic expert to know that Patricia Cornwell's latest Scarpetta Factor is filled with excitement and plausible twists that also contains revelations about each of the recurring cast; none of this is easy to do when this is number seventeen in this great series. Switching perspectives without slowing down, the story line is told in the third person with varying leads enabling the readers to get deep inside each of the main players especially to what fears and traumas they must overcome. Fans will enjoy competing with the Scarpetta zoo crew in trying to discover who killed Toni and why and what happened to Hannah.

Kindred in Death
J.D. Robb
9780399155956 $26.95

NYPD Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her husband Roarke are enjoying a rare three day weekend until she receives a call from Commander Whitney telling her to go to a crime scene where he will be waiting for her. Newly promoted Captain Jonah MacMasters and his wife went away for the weekend, but returned to find their sixteen years old daughter Deena dead; the teen was raped and sodomized several times before being suffocated to death.

The security discs are missing in their home so no pictures of the perp is available, but the cops assume this was personal because on a video, Deena says this was her dad's fault. The Captain asks Dallas to lead the investigation; though close friends with Whitney and feeling exorbitant pressure, Eve agrees. During her investigation she learns the victim was deliberately targeted and the killer diligently researched to insure he knew when to attack and leave no ties. That Eve feels is his biggest mistake as Dallas and her team interview Deena's friends learning the teen she was secretly seeing a college aged boy. Witnesses give Eve a description of Deena's boyfriend. After he kills again with ties to the first homicide, Eve concludes he has a death list so she works even harder to bring this wannabe serial killer to justice.

The key to the terrific "In Death" futuristic police procedural saga is the recurring cast grows and changes yet their basic essences remain the same so that they become more than just characters to the readers. In this harrowing case that Dallas wants no part of as she knows whatever she learns will disturb her friends, the murder of a cop's daughter hits home to readers (and Eve). J.D. Robb provides an excellent whodunit in which the heroine and her team meticulously step by step investigate without any unbelievable incidents not even by Roarke; making KINDRED IN DEATH one of the best entries in a strong series.

The Ghosts Of Belfast
Stuart Neville
9781569476000 $25.00

Gerry Fegan believed in the cause of freeing Northern Ireland from the British. He was a soldier who did the assigned tasks willing to die for his belief and committed atrocities against adversaries. He felt no remorse when he killed a civilian as collateral damage is the norm in warfare especially urban guerilla warfare.

He was able to ignore the greed of his superior officers as long as the cause was just especially with whiskey. However Gerry is not an ordinary soldier as he has always been able to communicate with the dead. While believing in the cause, he could keep the spirits of those he killed in the shadows, but no more. The Good Friday Agreement leaves Gerry free in Belfast living under British Rule and wondering why he believed. Those he followed in combat and went to prison for now serve in Parliament; while they are fat, dumb and wealthy, Fegan feels the guilt of the twelve innocent people he killed; their ghosts demand he do what those fat cats trained him to do: kill his former allies.

This is a great haunting war story whether one agreed with the IRA or not as THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST could easily have been the ghosts of Saigon or even Baghdad, as the soldier's psyche depends critically on the cause. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action as Gerry begins his new mission while his former friends send an agent to stop him. Readers will appreciate this thought provoking thriller that will have the audience pondering the prime underlying cause and the short and long term effects.

The Edge of Eden
Helen Benedict
9781569476024 $25.00

In 1960, the Colonial Office informs lowest tier British diplomat Rupert that he is being assigned to the French Creole speaking Seychelle Islands in the Indian Ocean. His wife Penelope is outraged with the assignment's location and Rupert's blithely ordering her that she and their two daughters accompany him. On the sea voyage to the isolated Crown Colony, Penelope becomes sea sick while Rupert flirts with another female so ignores his two children as the eight year old Zara bullies her three years old sibling.

Upon reaching their destination, Penelope feels like an outsider even with her family, but not with the Colonial Governor. Her children take to the island "paradise" as if they lived there all their lives. Rupert focuses more on his native secretary Joelle instead of the economics report he is to develop or his family. When the marriage collapses, Zara turns to the local witch doctors for a love spell to reunite her family while now pregnant Joelle turns to the same grigri magical practitioners to send Penelope back to England without her Rupert. Desperate to save her marriage and family, Penelope also pleads with the black magical users for help.

This is an intriguing historical thriller that readers will enjoy though wonder what the three females see in Rupert, which is one of their two constants (the other being each turns to grigri), as the women's inspirational muses seem to change with each calamity. The story line is fast-paced while also hyperbolizing satire to make a point about clashing civilizations. THE EDGE OF EDEN is an engaging psychological suspense tale as the audience wonders who will be the last female standing on the Seychelles and will Rupert be at her side.

Shelley Shepard Gray
9780061474477 $12.99

The fire devastated the Lundy barn and injured Winnie Lundy when she tried to rescue trapped animals. Her brother Jonathan (see WANTED for his tale) saves her life. An ambulance takes the severely burned Winnie to the hospital, which is too far from her loved ones to visit her by carriage. Family friend Eli Miller accompanies her to the hospital. The marshal tells them cigarettes caused the inferno.

Eli arranges for his English brother Samuel Miller, who left their Amish community for the university, to visit Winnie at the hospital so she has companionship while healing away from her family. Soon after he began seeing her, Winnie and Samuel fall in love, but though they believe in the Lord, their belief systems are different. While they seek a common faith, Jonathan cannot turn the other cheek like he knows he should forgive the transgressor and his wife Katie encourages him to do so; instead he obsesses over who smoked the cigarettes. Also Anna and Henry pray her mom will come around

The third Sisters of the Heart inspirational Amish romance is a terrific tale with three subplots that tie together around the theme of forgiving the FORGIVEN for their sins. The cast is strong as an obstinate Jonathan cannot move past the fire with his sister so badly hurt; Samuel and Winnie need to forgive one another if they fail to find common ground; and Anna cannot move past her mom's rejection of her embracing love and faith in Amish country. Shelley Shepard Gray writes a strong inspiring tale as to err may be is human but to gracefully hug the forgiven is truly divine.

Francine Prose
9780060560027 $13.99

In the summer in Mirror Lake in the northeast, seventeen year old Margaret drowns. Her family reacts differently to the accident though each mourns their loss. Her father regrets naming his daughter after a girl who mourns the loss of summer in "Spring and Fall: To a Young Child" by Gerard Manley Hopkins and to escape his grief and remorse turns to end of the world scenarios on the latest book he will never finish. Her younger sister Nico tries to put a scientific spin to her feelings of loss while writing down how she and her parents react; even in death Nico still struggles with understanding her late older sibling's penchant for the dramatic like a poet out of control yet at the same worshiped Margaret's overt confidence. Their mother Daisy turns to pills as she buries her soul with the body of her oldest child.

At times Nico notes her parents act like they still have two children at home with conversations as if Margaret will respond. Each grieves the loss differently and separately.

Although Nico seems more the adult than her parents, this is a fascinating look at dealing (or not) with the sudden unexpected death of a love one. None of Margaret's family was prepared obviously for the drowning. Although totally a character study with an extremely thin plot, fans will enjoy Francine prose's (great surname for a novelist) fine probing prose of the debilitation caused by hiding in the early phases of grief as if expecting the dead person to reanimate.

On The Bluffs
Steven Schindler
Elevated Press
9780966240818 $14.95

Middle aged Brian DeLouise knows where he went wrong as his stomach protrudes and his hairline recedes. His only fun is fantasy baseball as he has not had sex with his wife Frances in over two years; and for the most part when they did have sex over their two decades or so marriage it was perfunctory as neither brought any energy to the boudoir. Frances has found pleasure in the arms of other men.

Frances asks for divorce claiming everything as her hers just when Brian prevents a mugger from robbing a couple at a time he also lost his job as Night Hawks producer. Depressed he looks back to the most wonderful summer of his life. The one just before he impregnated and married Frances, who lost the child she was carrying. That summer on Cape Cod, Brian worked summer theater where he met and fell in love with Portia Smart. With nothing to hold him in the DC area, Brian decides to find the love of his life.

This is an entertaining character study of a man who married the wrong woman though he did it for a noble reason. The story line starts a bit slow as the audience ponders why Brian stays married to a man-eater, but picks up considerably when he meets Portia and her daughter. Although Frances is a stereotype who ends up with everything as Brian believes it is worth the cost to get her totally out of his life, fans will enjoy this fine second chance at love if Brian and Portia take that key risk of admitting their feelings especially with her daughter nay-saying him.

Sounds Like Crazy
Shana Mahaffey
9780451227911 $15.00

Her shrink Milton explains to Holly Miller that the repeated trauma led to her suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder as each personality has enabled her to cope. Holly does not recall what the trauma was, but knows her five personalities living inside help her almost as much as they drive her crazy. The "Committee" consists of the Boy in the red Converse with no face; the ancient meditating Silent One; Sarge the safety expert; Ruffles the chip eater, and Betty Jane the Scarlet O'Hara imitator.

She spent twelve Christmas holidays alone as mom remains in the Bay area discouraging her daughter form coming home. Meanwhile Betty Jane Holly works at a Manhattan diner in which she makes her best tips when her southern sexy Betty Jane persona outrageously flirts with the customers. Now Betty Jane lands them a TV gig with her flirtation; the rest of the Committee objects while Holly fears what will happen when she goes before the camera.

SOUNDS LIKE CRAZY is a fascinating tale of a woman suffering from a mental disorder though ironically she copes in society because of DID. The story line is at its best when it stays serious while each of the personalities knows when to take charge and when to remain dormant. When the tale turns to a Keystone Cops ensemble comedy, which occurs too frequently, the plot loses much of its insightfulness into the mind of a traumatized person. Still Shana Mahaffey provides an overall solid look at a person muddling through life due to her inner personalities.

Friday Night Bites
Chloe Neill
9780451227935 $15.00

Ten months have passed since the vampires came out of the closet and revealed themselves to humanity. New to the biting night life, upper class Merit struggles with her bite and her position as sentinel of the House of Cadogan; one of the three vampire "Houses" in Chicago. However, those are minor problems compared to her constant disputes with the dude who changed her, four century old master vampire Ethan Sullivan.

Currently, vampires are riding a wave of good will media. However, rumors fly that wannabe tabloid reporter Jamie Breckenridge has learned about Raves in which humans serve up blood like a cocktail hour. Merit knows him as his family and hers (human that is) travel in the same elitist circle. Merit needs to persuade ambitious Jamie to drop the story before the humans go for blood.

The second Chicagoland vampire tale (see SOME GIRLS BITE) is super urban fantasy starring a tyro bloodsucker who continues to have major relationships with mortal and vampires; Merit still connects (loose definition) with her social climbing parents and other mortal family members and obviously with her new vampire family. Fans will appreciate Merit's efforts to balance her two teetering worlds summed up simply by TGIFNB (Thank God it's Friday Night Bites).

The Border Lord And The Lady
Bertrice Small
9780451227928 $15.00

The Earl of Leighton worries his brilliant teenage second wife Luciana Maria Pietro, whom he married for her money and for giving him sons, will harm his beloved young daughter, Lady Cicely Bowen. To keep her safe he sends her away from her stepmother. Cicely and Lady Joan Beaufort become friends.

When Joan and King James I of Scotland marry, Cicely is selected as a lady-in- waiting to the new queen. At the Scottish court, two lairds with opposite demeanors pursue Cicely. Andrew Gordon is a suave aristocrat while Ian Douglas is a border lord. Although she plans to marry Andrew, Ian abducts her. She finds border life complex and harsh while her other suitor declares clan war and the queen demands the return of her lady in waiting.

This is an entertaining fifteenth century romance starring strong lead characters and real historical figures especially Joan who was married to James I. The story line provides a deep look at the era when intrigue and clan disputes and hostilities were the norm. Vivid with the real persona enhancing the triangular relationship, Bertrice Small provides a wonderful romance with Stockholm syndrome implications.

The Queen's Mistake
Diane Haeger
9780451228000 $15.00

As she waits in the Tower for her death, Queen Catherine Howard wonders how her life could go from a euphoric high with her love for obese King Henry VIII to where he will not receive her plea for mercy or her innocence. She reflects back on her past; thinking of her older cousin Anne Boleyn, second wife of the monarch; as her fate will prove the same. Still young, she wanted a love of a lifetime, but her naive misunderstanding of backstabbing and her youthful flirting that the King used to cherish has led her to affairs of the heart as she was betrayed by those the inexperienced female trusted; they made known to her spouse and in late 1542, she and her lovers were executed.

Although the wives of Henry VIII have starred in many books and movies, THE QUEEN'S MISTAKE is a fascinating biographical fiction that portrays Catherine Howard as foolishly naive with her lovers especially of those of her age. By taking her peers as her lovers, she inadvertently insults the aging monarch who seeks to regain his lost youth with his young queen. Although not much new is provided in this look at one of the Tudor queens, fans will enjoy Diane Haeger's take on sixteenth century aristocratic permissiveness.

Fade Out
Rachel Caine
9780451228666 $6.99

Amelie's evil brother Bishop temporarily took over Morganville; a town where vampires and humans co-exist, but blood suckers are on top of the food chain. However, recently Bishop was defeated. His vampiric allies have been routed also and Amelie's cronies have loosened the rules giving more freedom and rights to the humans; and protection to blood donors. Amelie is the Protector of Claire Danvers, who with her boyfriend Steve, her BFF Evie and Eve's boyfriend Michael the vampire like to keep life in Morganville on an even keel.

However peace is not to be found. Some humans are trying to destroy the vampires; a computer is out of control, and a videographer is taking pictures that could expose the vampires. Ada the computer wants to kill Claire who she believes wants her former lover Myrnin back when she was a vampire before she became the computer's brain. She wants a war so she can have Myrnin all to herself. Myrnin is more out of control than usual and could become a danger to the vampires even though he is one himself. Claire and her buddies must find and destroy the video devices hidden all over town spying on the people, disable Ada, find out what is wrong with Myrnin and find the person who is giving insider information to the enemy if she and her BFFs are to save Morganville.

The latest Morganville vampire novel FADE OUT is full of drama, pathos, and a touch of romance with characters larger than life especially the teens who have to be in order to survive in a town run by vampires. Claire is the de facto leader who makes decisions for herself and her friends. Although some of the bite is gone with Bishop vanquished, much of his sting is replaced by the danger of the photos exposing the vampires and the computer going crazy. The most fascinating part of Rachel Caine's latest Morganville book is the millennia old vampire who experiments on the human-vampire species while keeping a distance from them to avoid the dreaded ennui depression. This is a must read for teens and adults.

Elegy Beach
Steven R. Boyett
9780441017959 $24.95

Three decades have passed since magic became the physics that rules the world. The Change as it is called by those who grew up after the planes fell and the cars stopped has brought with it much more than the halt of technology, fantasy creatures abound and a generation gap like no other ever before exists.

Ariel the unicorn reunites with her best friend Pete Garey (see ARIEL) after her mate Joe was murdered. At the same time post Change born wizard Yanamandra "Yan" Ramchandani wants to do something so big his name will go down in history and he has found the achievement of a lifetime. He knows how to reverse the Change. As Ariel and Pete investigate Joe's homicide, they learn of Yan's plot that the older generation would relish but those born after the Change and the tweeners like Pete would not. To prevent Yan from causing a second catastrophe, the unicorn and her human BFF enlist Pete's son Fred who happens to be Yan's best friend, and the renegade mage's father Dr. Ram; Fred also hopes Tan's sister Nandita joins their troupe.

Although exciting and fast-paced with an intriguing background of a post-apocalyptic realm, there are some jarring survival elements as the magic practitioners use much of what existed before the Change like canned food in spite of shelf time rather than employing their mage skills. Still this is an entertaining tale as the lead pair and their allies try to prevent the reversal of the Change although Yan will have plenty of supporters amongst the Baby Boomers and Generation X and detractors from Generation Change. Fans of the first tale will enjoy the sequel though much of the innocence is gone (he has an offspring).

Steven R Boyett
9780441017942 $7.99

Like everyone else who was there when the machines stopped working and the mythological creatures appeared, Pete Garey can tell you what he was doing at the precise moment, 4:30 to be exact when the lights went out as the Change occurred. A high school student at the time of the Change, he survived by scavenging what was taken for granted before the Change.

Pete was washing himself in waters that before the Change would go on fire when he sees the unicorn with her broken leg. He sets the leg with splints and they become traveling companions with Pete scavenging for food especially the impossible to find peppermints that Ariel loves. They meet Russ Chafney in the library in Atlanta and he takes them to Malachi Lee who teaches Pete to use a sword in a dangerous world in which guns being machines fail to work. However, a dangerous necromancer has learned of the unicorn and sent his minion led by the Griffin rider to either capture the beast or steal the horn. Malachi insists he will fight the necromancer alone in the evil one's stronghold in Manhattan. However, Pete and Ariel follow him to New York City as he is their brother in arms.

This reprint of a strong post-apocalyptic fantasy is an engaging tale as good and evil center on a struggle to either befriend and protect; or incarcerate or kill the unicorn. The story is fast-paced especially once the lead couple reaches Atlanta, DC and NYC. Pete is a terrific as he must stay virgin pure to remain Ariel's companion while the unicorn brings a coming of age (some not realistic) feel to the plot. Although the audience needs to ignore the reasons why the Change occurred as they are not forthcoming, ARIEL is a super tale with wry humor that asks whether a return to nature is the only way to save the planet from humanity.

Time Travelers Never Die
Jack McDevitt
9780441017638 $24.95

Michael Shelborne is a two time nominee for the Nobel Prize; a brilliant scientist in numerous fields until one day he disappeared without a trace. The mystery of his vanishing intensifies because the evidence looks as if he was home when he disappeared.

Michael's lawyer gives his son Shel a letter that directs him to a rented mailbox where he will find three Q pods that he must destroy. Shel does not destroy them, but experiments with them to find out what happened to his dad. He learns they are tools that enable a person to travel through time. Shel decides to find his father and bring him home, but he will need to visit many lands in different eras. He confides what he knows to his friend linguistic expert Dave Dryden who he needs to help him with ancient languages. They travel back in time and see first hand major events, but finally catch up to Michael. However, the results of the reunion are nothing like what Shel or Dave expected. When Shel goes into the future, he discovers something that prevents him from returning to his time and to Helen the woman he loves.

This is a super time travel thriller that explains many of the logic paradoxes including being in the same general place at the same time, but does so in easy to understand language yet never dumbed down. That is the key to Jack McDevitt's excellent tale filled with action in diverse eras, a strong lead pairing and a solid support cast. The search for Shel's elusive father is enhanced by a who's who of Western history as the hero gets a lesson in life especially when he breaks his pact with Dave and goes back to the future.

Never Slow Dance With A Zombie
E. Van Lowe
9780765320407 $8.99

In high school, Margot remains a failure when it comes to popularity especially her fantasy of having Dirk ask her to the carnival. Her BFF Sybil says she has it under control as she will ask Dirk out for Margot. Sybil hides her attraction to Dirk from Margot. Meanwhile making matters worse for Margot is her most hated enemy Amanda Culpepper is dating Dirk. Whereas Margot does not go to the carnival, Sybil does but leaves early as she had no one with her.

The next day the pair expects to hear how everyone had a good time and by implication they are losers. Instead they find their classmates have become zombies, but remained with their pre zombie subculture. Instead of fleeing screaming Margot and Sybil mount a coup d'etat taking over as the new kids on the block in charge. They instigate the anti zombie laws while converted Dirk remains a stud muffin albeit a bit slower than before the carnival.

With a nod to chick lits and principal rules, NEVER SLOW DANCE WITH A ZOMBIE is an amusing tale as Margot the magnificent and her bud work the high school. The story line uses student stunts to provide some sense of realism, but this young teen urban fantasy focuses on how to lead the in crowd when your school is overrun (bad term as zombies don't run) by zombies and your hunk gives off hunks of epidermal parts.

Claire Delacroix
9780765359506 $6.99

In 2100 The Republic classifies her as a Subhuman Atomic Deviancy Evaluation; dubbed a SHADE, but ironically near New Seattle, Twenty-three knows who she truly is as the next oracle. However, as a Shade, establishing her identity means those who defend the caste system will assassinate her. Still she must reveal her angelic blessed skill.

Fallen angel Rafe searches for the seer Delilah Desjardins. He finds her as she comes out in the open claiming to be the Oracle although the powers in new DC starting with new President Van Buren refuse at first to accept a Shade as the Oracle. Rafe abducts Delilah before she is murdered and struggles to keep her safe from killers who reject numbers as humans. He also has to contend with his need for her if he is to keep her safe from him as that would cost her ability to read the future.

"The Eyes of the Republic" see everything in Claire Delacroix's post-apocalyptic nod to 1984 as this Brave New World is unsafe for anyone who tries to break caste boundaries; racism is the law. In fact slavery of a Shade is an acceptable practice to the point that Shades have a number not a name. The cast is solid as Delilah begins her dangerous journey to become accepted as the Oracle through a landscape of de jure and de facto racism. Readers will enjoy the stunning detail of the future of the Republic as Ms. Delacroix provides a vivid dark FALLEN earth.

Indigo Springs
A.M. Dellamonica
9780765319470 $14.99

In Indigo Springs, Oregon, Astrid Letherwood like most if not all the other residents assumed her father was a drunken bum. With his death, she learns the truth about her dad; he was an underground magic practitioner who created "chantment" magical objects that he gave to people he felt deserved a slight edge. He told nobody, allegedly not even his daughter, who was actually his apprentice but remembers nothing about magic since he died. He knew the witch finders stalk everyone with their burn at the stakes first and ask the charred corpse questions second.

However he was unable to keep Astrid safe as the government has incarcerated her although they improved her prison to a comfortable cage. Roche and his agents have her under arrest for kidnapping and murder. The latest inquisitioner is hostage negotiator Will Forest who actually gets Astrid to reveal a bit of what she knows, but she recalls nothing of value. Family friend Sahara Knox arrives and taps into the blue fluid vitagua that flows underneath her dad's home and is the source of magic. Unlike Letherwood who felt magic should do no harm, she employs violence turning people and animals into monsters as she wants the underground magic rebellion to come out into the open.

This is a super psychological suspense suburban fantasy starring a great bewildered lead protagonist who is center to all the goings on. Her confusion purposely leaves the story line somewhat hazy as her latest interrogator tries to get at the truth but is different from previous inquisitioners as he is first a hostage negotiator while the others were enforcers using any means. Sahara complicates a complex character driven thriller that uses the questioning of an alleged convict to establish the delightful Dellamonica domain.

Twilight Zone
Carol Serling
9780765324337 $14.99

This anthology celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the first airing of the Twilight Zone, which in 1959 was refreshing and creative with its deep look at what his human and its trademark closing twist that accentuated the theme of that particular show. A virtual who's who has contributed to the anthology; this includes a work by the series creator the late Rod Serling. The nineteen contributions are well written and fun to read as they catch the essence of the original series. However ironically (something I believe Mr. Serling would have enjoyed as twisted irony was a trademark of his) the final spin somewhat limits the creativity and in some cases feels forced to achieve. Still this is a fine collection with superior entries like Alan Brennert's WWI Honolulu drama "Puowaina", the "Benchawarmer" by Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn who has waited his turn patiently for almost twenty years, Deborah Chester's "The Street That Time Forgot" as Nick barley misses running over the dog that kept him from barley missing the odd street and the answer man Karl the killing star of "Ants" by Tad Williams. As a fitting final tale is "El Moe" by Rod Serling. Obviously for die hard Zoners, this is a fine anthology in spite of the limitations caused by the required final spin.

The Return of the Black Company
Glen Cook
9780765324009 $15.99

"Bleak Seasons". The Black Company is under siege inside Dejagore with their leader Croaker probably dead. Murgen takes charge at a time when the Shadowlander horde assaults them and treachery from inside the company and from other trapped groups insidiously attack them from within the city. Their situations is perilous and their trust in Murgen as their leader is shaky as he has been their chronicler annalist; an expert on their history but not ever in charge.

"She Is the Darkness". Croaker, the sorceress Lady, and the Black Company are in trouble as they are diverted from their enemy to battle other evil entities. This leaves them vulnerable to the malevolent Shadowmaster Soulcatcher, Howler and the Stranglers as they set a diabolical trap to eradicate the Black Company and their sorcery practitioner allies.

These are reprints of the first half of the Glittering Stone saga. Each tale is entertaining for fans who have read previous entries (see the omnibus CHRONICLES OF THE BLACK COMPANY and BOOKS OF THE SOUTH); newcomers will find it a bit difficult to understand what is going on. Still these are enjoyable military fantasy thrillers as the Black Company tries to simply survive against overwhelming odds.

Five Hundred Years After
Steven Brust
Orb (Tor)
9780765319661 $15.99

FIVE HUNDRED YEARS AFTER the events of THE PHOENIX GUARDS, in which Khaavren fulfilled his life dream to become an Imperial Guard, he remains the same rank with little hope for promotion and no further aspirations. As he goes about his duty, the Dragaeran Empire leadership is very concerned as assassinations are happening seemingly everywhere even in safe havens.

Emperor Tortaalik I directs Captain Khaavren and his three still wary buddies and fellow Imperial Guards (Aerich, Tazendra and Pel) as well as others to investigate who is behind the killings. They and their allies soon uncover a great conspiracy fostered by unlikely partners starting with Dragonlord Adron and street urchins of Underside. At the same time the eldritch Sethra Lavode and Adron's daughter Aliera are in the crosshairs.

This is a reprint of an early 1990s sequel that once again pays obvious homage to Alexandre Dumas. The saga occurs about five hundred years before the time that Vlad Taltos roamed Dragaera. The adventures of the four musketeers are fun to follow though none come across as more than courageous, loyal, but somewhat superficially charming rogues who still lack depth though have matured since they first joined the Imperial Guards. FIVE HUNDRED YEARS AFTER is an engaging often amusing swashbuckling sword and sorcery fantasy that also introduces the reader to key characters in the Taltos era.

Ron Rash
Ecco, Oct 2008, $24.95

During the Depression in Appalachia, wealthy lumber baron George Pemberton returns from Boston to Waynesville, North Carolina accompanied by his new wife, the orphan Serena. Waiting for him to disembark from the train is his sycophant partners, pregnant teenage kitchen hand Rachel Harmon and her outraged father. A drunken Harmon demands Pemberton take care of the child he sired. Instead encouraged by Serena, George kills him as he knows he is above the law.

Pemberton destroys the land and its people and his wife Serena is as evil and avaricious as he is. She insures Rachel is scorned by everyone and that the brat once born remains the bastard he or she is. Meanwhile Serena also obtains the undying loyalty of foreman Galloway whose life she saved; he becomes her slave willing to kill anyone if she asks; however George actually likes having a son adoring Jacob and angering his wife.

This is an intriguing look at the Depression from various perspectives. Especially fascinating is the poignant glimpse at horrific working conditions that make a case for a strong OSHA and yet in spite of the danger of death and maim the workers have forged a club like solidarity (mindful of soldiers in war conditions). Although the key cast is stereotyped; the Pembertons especially Serena are evil caricatures of the abuse of wealth while in contrast poor single mom Rachel is kind and noble, fans will appreciate this powerful 1930s drama.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Nicholas Black Elk
Michael Steltenkamp
University of Olkahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
9780806140636, $24.95,

"Nicholas Black Elk, Medicine Man, Missionary, Mystic" is Professor Michael Steltenkamp's third great contribution to major biographical works on the life of the famous Lakota holy man known as Black Elk. Perhaps it is fitting that only "Nicholas Black Elk" deals extensively with the last 50 years of Black Elk's life, devoted to the "synthesis of Native and Christian religious practice" that made him revered among his people. The phrase "Medicine Man, Missionary, Mystic" succinctly sums up three distinct phases of Black' Elk's spiritual life journey and exploration. Detailed in its analysis of previous efforts to document the spiritual development of Black Elk, "Nicholas Black Elk" makes a major new contribution in its emphasis on the phase of exploring and reinterpreting Christianity in light of Lakota spiritual traditions. In addition to teaching Native American Studies at Pine Ridge, Professor Steltenkamp spent time interviewing Lucy Looks Twice to obtain further information about the life and spiritual legacy of Black Elk, particularly as regarded by other Lakota. It is significant that his findings are expounded in "Nicholas Black Elk" to further enrich the biographical material currently available on the life of Black Elk. "Nicholas Black EL, Medicine Man, Missionary, Mystic" is a valuable and fascinating biographical text tracing the lifelong evolution of one remarkable man's spiritual vision.

A Gregorian Chant Master Class
Dr. Theodore Marier, K. C. S. G.
GIA Publications, Inc.
7404 S. Madison Ave., Chicago, IL 60638
9780972220507, $38.00,

"A Gregorian Chant Master Class" combines a distinctive text with a CD that fulfills a precious life goal of Dr. Marier to "publish a manual for teaching chant that would cover the fundamental points of style in an easily accessible form." The completion of this goal has evolved into a master group effort since the death of Dr. Marier in February of 2001. "A Gregorian Chant Master Class" is the stunning result. Ten chapters present instruction pertaining to Gregorian chant on legato, uniform ensemble sound, scales and solfege, intonation, rhythm, an introduction to neums and more, and finally, psalm tones. The CD contains helpful choral examples of each chapter subject, with specific instructions and clarifications. Further material illuminates and displays the chant repertory as selected and exemplified on the tracks 11-18 on the CD. Further Notes and Appendices sugeest other resources and reading materials on Gregorian chant and choral conducting. "A Gregorian Chant Master Class" is a most invaluable contribution to the body of material available on Gregorian chant and its application in performance and prayer.

Julius Seyler and the Blackfeet
William E. Farr
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069 1-800-627-7377
9780806140148, $45.00,

Volume 7 in the Charles M. Russell Center Series on Art and Photography of the American West, "Julius Seyler and the Blackfeet: An Impressionist at Glacier National Park" is a stunning biographical profile of the artist and presentation of his major Impressionist art works done at Glacier Park in the summers of 1913 and 1914, when he was requested by Louis Hill of the Great Northern Railroad to paint the vistas and the inhabitants of the newly- emerging national park. Embellished with more than 100 images, including color reproductions of Seyler's magnificent paintings, as well as many vintage photographs of similar scenes and portraits, "Julius Seyler and the Blackfeet" throbs with vivid life. In a large coffee table edition whose pages beg to be turned and treasured, "Julius Seyler and the Blackfeet" has captured the essence of the spirit of the American West. In addition, the artist has done more than paint beautiful landscapes of pristine wilderness. He has helped to preserve an artist's visualization of the daily life experiences of the first Glacier Park area human dwellers, the Piegan, or Blackfeet Indians. Although Seyler's European art production was badly reduced if not wholly lost during WW I, thankfully much of his Montana Glacier work remains in collections across Europe and North America. "Julius Seyler and the Blackfeet" is a significant beacon of restoration in the rediscovery of this talented and unusual Impressionist artist who left a great gift and legacy to both his Blackfeet and American friends and family.

Feeling Safe by Autumn Grace and Mom
Autumn Grace and Maggie Gould, authors
Autumn Grace, illustrator
Shenango Media, LLC
P. O. Box 83, new Castle, PA 16103
9780615210292, $13.95,

"Feeling Safe" is an autobiographical story from a courageous girl who experienced sexual abuse and then got help and experienced healing. It is sensitively told and illustrated by Autumn Grace, with the intent that "Feeling Safe" could help others who experience sexual abuse. There is nothing specifically objectionable in the words or pictures presented, but the true story is told. Very helpfully, an illustrated two page section on Where To Find Help (complete with phone numbers in the United States and Canada) follows the end of the story. It is further complemented by three brief sections about What a Parent Needs to Know, including Understanding Sexual Abuse, Teaching your Child How to Stay Safe, and What to do if I Learn My Child has been Sexually abused. In addition, several sources are quoted as part of a brief bibliography. "Feeling Safe" does not claim to present technical legal or psychological information, but instead it aims to educate parents and children and to help protect a child against sexual assault. "Feeling Safe" also provides those individuals who have experienced sexual abuse with a resource and an example of another child who has experienced trauma and survived and healed with help. The wish is that all children who need it can have access to both help and a book like "Feeling Safe."

Victorian Wedding Dress in the United States
Norma Lu Meehan and Mei Campbell
Texas Tech University Press
Box 41037, Lubbock, Texas 70409 800-832-4042
9780896726611, $12.95,

"Victorian Wedding Dress in the United States: A History Through Paper Dolls" is a lovely set of authentically reconstructed wedding dresses and paper dolls to fit them on from 1850 to the turn of the century. A detailed history of the once white Victorian wedding dress is included, with surprising variations on the theme in the American examples shown. "Victorian Wedding Dress in the United States" is an elegant paper doll history that will delight those with an interest in fashion, the evolution of the American wedding dress, and paper doll book collectors.

Beverly Brodsky
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
311 Washington St., Brighton, MA 02135
1550415875, $18.95,

Author and artist Beverly Brodsky's "Buffalo: With Selections From Native American Song-Poems" is a stunning, sophisticated collection of art works and collected Native American song-poems about the North American plains bison, or buffalo. Beverly Brodsky's oil and water color paintings evoke the mystery and majesty of the revered buffalo, holy to many First Americans. The song-poems quoted are from a large variety of traditions, including Hidatsa, Dakota, Osage, Pawnee, Sioux, and more. The artist-author gives full tribute to her many sources of inspiration for "Buffalo" in a note from the author at the end, mentioning Indian historians such as Eaglelance and Nupa Kte of the Oglala Sioux, and Chief Washake of the Shoshone tribe, who said "A people without a history is like the wind on the buffalo grass." "Buffalo" is appropriate for both juvenile (age 9 and up) and adult readers because of its depth of art and reverence for Native American traditions.

An Invitation to Tea
Emilie Barnes, author
Sandy Lynam Clough, illustrator
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736922371, $12.99,

"An Invitation to Tea: Special Celebrations with Treasured Friends" is a special gift book that invites the reader to experience all the comfort and ambience of a special, intimate tea party. Whether in the company of one special friend or many, "An Invitation to Tea" will inspire the ritual of sharing that "happens when we bother with the little extras that feed the soul and nurture the senses and make space for unhurried conversation." Special recipes and suggestions for a solitary tea, cream tea for two, a traditional Victorian afternoon tea, a tea party for children, tea to go, and tea al fresco are all offered, embellished with delicate paintings of beautiful flowers, napkins, and china. "An Invitation to Tea: Special Celebrations with Treasured Friends" delivers refreshment to the soul in a simple, elegant tradition.

Tea & Crumpets
Margaret M. Johnson, author
Leigh Beisch, photographer
Margaret Johnson, photgrapher
Chronicle Books
680 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
9780811862141, $19.95,

"Tea & Crumpets: Recipes & Rituals from European Tearooms & Cafes" is an elegantly beautiful, bound tea cookbook that contains tasteful reductions of the history of tea in addition to a selection of classic tea recipes and suggestions for savories, scones, and sweets, plus a sampling of various Western European tea customs as well as a traveler's guide to European tearooms. All of this is studded with beautiful photographs of delectable tea treats, tea serving accessories and china, and famous teashops throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. It is accessible to American readers particularly because the recipes are adapted to standard American measuring utensils. There is also a handy list of resources at the end that lists sources for many of the teatime special ingredients as well as descriptions of the treats and ingredients. Finally, a Table of Equivalents lists easy conversion amounts for readers who want to convert other tea recipes from one system to another. "Tea & Crumpets" will appeal not just to Anglophiles and Francophiles, but to anyone who has ever learned to appreciate a wonderful cup of tea.

Indian Tribes of Oklahoma
Blue Clark
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069 1-800-627-7377
9780806140605, $29.95,

"Indian Tribes of Oklahoma: A Guide" is a compact guide to the nearly forty American Indian tribes that reside in the state, which contains the largest Native population of all states, a little known fact. Author Blue Clark, an enrolled member of the Muscogee or Creek Nation has updated previous information on the Indian population of Oklahoma to reflect recent changes, and also in some cases correcting past errors. "Indian Tribes of Oklahoma" is solidly researched and reflects different Native oral knowledge traditions as well. Each tribe is presented in a separate chapter with separate headings for name derivation, location and government, business, number, and general history, with additional suggested reading for each chapter or tribe. A small profile of the state of Oklahoma heads each chapter with a dot or dots showing the location(s) of the tribal group(s) in the state. The historical section on each tribe is brief but thorough, providing much information in a succinct, terse style that has not been previously highlighted, if it was known. In all, "Indian Tribes of Oklahoma" is a much needed contribution to the enormous task of filling in the blanks of Native American history in Oklahoma, and much of the rest of the country as well, since so many Native tribes were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma. I believe it is a tribute to the enduring spirit of the Native peoples it chronicles, and will serve American studies scholars very well for decades to come. It also opens the way for more of such publications, telling more of the lost or buried histories that need to be told, heard, absorbed, understood and integrated into a growing compassionate awareness.

Medicine Trails: A Life in Many Worlds
Mavis McCovey and John F. Salter
Heyday Books
P. O. Box 9145, Berkeley, CA 94709
9781597141178, $21.95,

"Medicine Trails: A Life in Many Worlds" is the deeply moving biography of a modern medicine woman of the Karuk tribe of northern California. Told in warm detail by Mavis McCovey to cultural anthropologist/writer, John Salter, "Medicine Trails" conveys a full load of personal and spiritual life experiences of this amazing elder of the Karuk tribe. Mavis was conceived and destined to become a tribal spiritual leader and her earliest training was undertaken by a specific group of tribal medicine women, some of whom she was related to. Her warmth and humor pervade the pages, which also chronicle many painful and tragic experiences. Mavis' unassuming tone and courageous demeanor may seem contradictory, but she also clearly projects an amazing, centered self awareness that must be stunning to absorb. Many unpublicized or "whitewashed" parts of the history of the Karuk, Yurok, and Hupa peoples of the Klamath River area in northwestern California are also described in painful detail. The practice of genocide of Indian tribes by white gold seekers in the 19th and even into the 20th century is detailed, along with the heroic survival efforts of the continuing tribes. Much of the tribes various heritages and histories have been eroded or lost due to decimation by white settlers. Despite these and many other hardships, Mavis has led a life focused on a deep commitment to the physical and spiritual health and well -being of her people and her family. She truly is a venerable woman, rescuing both the parts of her medicine training tribal heritage and forging ahead with promoting the health and well-being of neighboring Native Americans today. This biography conveys some of the intricacy and the differences among some of these tribes and even family groups in a deeply personal way, through the vision and life experiences of this one remarkable woman. "Medicine Trails" is a remarkable book that will change, inform, and awaken the lives of those who read it.

Nancy Lorraine

Micah's Bookshelf

The "Whys" of Bird Names
Eleanor H. Stickney
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY10016
9780533160808, $15.95,

Why are some birds called what they are? "The "Whys" of Bird Names" is Eleanor H. Stickney trying to explain the long history of bird names and why has mankind deemed them terms, from the obvious Bluejay to the less obvious goose. Informed and informative, any bird lover will find valuable and cherished information within, "The 'Whys' Of Bird Names" making a top pick.

Lennon Nersesian
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440143571, $16.95,

Memories can be truly cruel things. "Atom" is a story of a man as he battles through his chaotic life of Alzheimer's and having little idea of who or anybody else is. Tackling the story that is all too common in America through fiction, Lennon Nersesian does well in his depiction of a Alzheimer's, granting much insight. "Atom" is a moving and solidly recommended read that should not be missed.

The Mystery of the Mummy
Roger D. Grubbs
Privately Published
9780981668062, $17.95,

Ancient curses can be quite the ruiner of one's day. "The Mystery of the Mummy" is another novel from Roger D. Grubbs following the continuing adventures of Andrew Rogers and Kathleen McGregor as they are tasked with stopping a millennia old curse from consuming the world around them. If they don't act quickly, the mummy will be more than some ancient sack of bones, but the death of us all. "The Mystery of the Mummy" is a top pick for suspense fans, highly recommended.

Symphonie Fantastique
Mark Seinfelt
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439246009, $27.99,

Mark Seinfelt brings readers a whole lot of story under one cover. "Symphonie Fantastique" is a collection of stories from Mark Seinfelt, each novel length in their own right being presented under the banner of a single cover. An author doubting how he spent his life, a shut in remembers his father, the pain of love, and a tortured nurse are all the subjects of Seinfelt's writing. "Symphonie Fantastique" is an intriguing read that'll please many a reader with its variety of fiction.

Lesser Known Giants of the 20th Century
Charles M. Aulino
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439225486, $19.99,

"Lesser-Known Giants of the 20th Century" tells the story of almost a dozen exceptional individuals from all over the world. These little-known stories of determination and accomplishment will warm hearts and motivate many a reader. "Lesser-Known Giants of the 20th Century" is a must for those fascinated by profound personal stories of achievement.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

Murder with a French Accent
Janet Hannah
Outskirts Press, Inc., 10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432743512 $19.95

Janet Hannah was born in Toronto, Canada. She earned a Ph.D. in Rutgers University. MURDER WITH A FRENCH ACCENT is the follow-up to her first Alex Kertesz mystery, THE WISH TO KILL, which was well received. She currently lives in Jerusalem.

Alex Kertesz has been tapped by his department at the University of Jerusalem to journey to a small French company who has acquired the rights to an organism for commercial development. Located in Toulouse, France, Alex arrives to a somewhat hostile atmosphere and little to be done on the surface of things. But an explosion in the lab; snide comments; and finally his own kidnapping convince him that all is not well at Agrogenie:

"'I have to catch a plane,' he said, extricating himself from her grasp, but the large man he now thought of as Boris appeared at his other side, pressing him toward the open door of a parked car. He spun around to make a dash for it, but Francoise blocked the way, and something hard and heavy smashed into the back of his head."

Writing about something as complicated as biochemistry is not an easy task, particularly when the intended audience is mystery readers. But Janet Hannah pulls it off with aplomb, breaking complicated theory down into pedestrian language when the occasion calls for it. Dr. Alex is a reluctant traveler and hero in this whodunit, and Hannah has to spend quite of bit of the book putting everything into context for the reader.

But when Hannah gets around to the murder, she totally changes gears to create mayhem as Dr. Alex finds himself pulled into the vortex of a situation he hardly understands. It's lucky that he is fluent in so many languages and that he has kept himself in good shape. He is called upon to perform stunts worthy of James Bond, and that's where the real fun of the novel lies.

MURDER WITH A FRENCH ACCENT is a nicely wrought International mystery.

Swapping Paint
Joyce & Jim Lavene
Midnight Ink
Llewellyn Publications
2143 Wooddale Drive, Dept. 0-7387-1020-2, Woodbury, MN 55125-2989
9780738710204 $12.95

There's an old saying that working together can break up marriages, but many people do it successfully. Joyce and Jim Lavene fall into that category, producing the Sharyn Howard mysteries; the Peggy Lee Garden mysteries; and their latest, the Glad and Ruby Wycznewski mysteries. The Levenes live close to Charlotte, North Carolina. Their home is close to the legendary Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Glad Wycznewski is a retired homicide detective from Chicago. His retired life consists of following NASCAR with his pretty young wife, Ruby. But when one of Ruby's ex-boyfriends is murdered and Ruby's brother Bobby, an aspiring driver, is tagged as the probable murderer, Glad and Ruby swing into action. Or rather, Ruby drags Glad kicking and screaming into the investigation:

"'But they have the wrong person,' David protests. 'They'll have to find that out, right?'

'I hope so. Do you realize how many unsolved homicides are on most detectives' desks? It could take a lifetime to go through a cold case file. Some detectives work twenty years on one case and never solve it. It's like a blessing from God when you have a suspect and good evidence. You can go home, put your feet up, and watch the Speed Channel without thinking about all those people out there looking for an answer to who killed their loved ones.'"

Glad and Ruby have a December/May marriage, but it suits them perfectly. Ruby charges in to investigate, and Glad hangs back until the action begins. Their relationship is sweet, loving, and filled with comedic moments. The Lavenes do a great job of portraying the NASCAR culture, complete with groupies who live in their RV's and follow the drivers around. There is lots of partying and therefore many suspects that the Glad and Ruby detective team need to sort through to find the culprit. SWAPPING PAINT is an enjoyable mystery filled with entertaining characters and a great plot.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Reflection from the Wilderness: A Cowboy's Journey
Stoney Greywolf Bowers
Moonlight Mesa Associates, Inc.
18620 Moonlight Mesa Rd, Wickenburg, Arizona 85390
9780977459360 $16.95

As a reviewer I have become in tuned to the heartbeat of many authors. I can sense the excitement of the thrill in a suspense read, the fear in a murder read, the faith in a Christian read as they pen their words. A true writer does not write from the mind, but from the heart. That is what I found in this outstanding work by, Stoney Greywolf Bowers.

Poetry can be tricky to write and to read. The words of a poet tell a story, paint a picture, create an emotion within us, or they leave us dry and wanting. Within the pages of this wonderful collection, "Reflection from the Wilderness," author, Stoney Greywolf Bowers, breaths the very depth of his heart and life into the reader. Through his words the life of a cowboy, the life of the Native American, the life of the wilderness becomes a living force that awakens excitement of the reality of a special time in our world. A time that needs to be remembered, cherished, and honored.

All of the works touched me in one way or another, everyone unique and brimming with words that will set your heart afire, and several touched my very Spirit. A Fighting Cheyenne Never Dies, left me with the words, forgive us. Colorado Wilderness, left me with a sense of pride at the beauty and majesty of our land, and Jake and The Snake, caused me to smile. However, Cowboy Ride, my favorite, brought tears to my eyes and a prayer that the cowboy never dies.
Few works have stirred such emotions withine me.

I believe to me, this collection voices the heart cry of our heritage. Part of America slowly disappearing that needs to be captured and remembered. It is the greatness of a nation, the fortitude of men, animals, land and the struggle to survive. This work is more than a collection of poetry, or one man's memories, it is a work of art and history. Truly a book that I am proud to give my highest recommendation to and urge you to read this book, enjoy it over and over again, and pass it down from generation to generation. A true keepsake. It is an honor to have read this book.

The Kabalyon Key
Charles Westbrook
Catherdrall Press
PO Box 3964, Greenville, North Carolina 27836
9780962655418 $29.99

Right from the beginning of this book mysteries begin to layer themselves, characters working in darkness, uncovering facts that you as the reader register in your mind wondering what road you are about to travel. You are taken around the world, into different lands and cultures, people and events as the story moves along through time to bring to you present day America and a man and woman, Winston and Susan, who are about to take on a quest for answers that will be world shattering. As you read each chapter you are given more information and your mind tries to piece together the morsels set before you. What can it mean and how does this information lead to the problem and the solution of a world-wide computer virus that could cause global destruction? Susan and Winston must find the answer.

The characters that you will encounter are often dark, mysterious and threatening. Their secrets hidden, begging you to uncover them, yet carefully shadowed and kept from detection until our author sheds the light upon them. What a ride. What a read.

I truly cannot begin to write a short review of what this book is about. It covers the pursuit of God. His Glory, the quest to know of man's soul, man's eternal destiny, the battle for control of man and nations, the history and beliefs of our forefathers and our nation, and a plan for the future well hidden, just to name a few topics. All of these and more are tightly wrapped up within this story. Amazing.

This book is not one that you will read through quickly, you simply must give yourself time to savor each page and let your mind digest what you have read. Our author, Charles Westbrook, has truly given some historical facts that are well worth your attention, along with illustrations. My hat off to him, what an amazing author he is. A true religious mystery, one that will keep you up night after night until you read the final page. Truly a work of art, a book that if reread I am sure will bring more to light than was previously seen. Very well done, a true masterpiece of writing ability. Recommended.

The Looking Book
P.K. Hallinan
Illustrated by Patrice Barton
Ideals Children's Books
1636 Elm Hill Pike, Ste 120, Nashville, TX 37214
978082495607 $16.99

How many times has a parent encouraged their child to go outside and get some fresh air. It appears that the computer and all it has to offer may at times be robbing our children of the many joys our world can bring them. Inside the pages of this outstanding book, "The Looking Book," one mom comes up with a very smart plan to get her children to discover the great outdoors. Giving them what she calls a pair of "lookers" the children are told they will help them to see things outside that they have never seen before. Imagination at it's best, don't you think?
As the children quickly run outside to see what magic these lookers have in store for them, they soon become immersed in the wonders of our world, no longer needing their 'looker.'

I have to say this is a great book from an author who knows the minds of our little ones. The first miracle was coming up with an idea to get the children to even step foot outside and than to have them begin enjoying it was icing on the cake. This is one of my granddaughters favorite books. The illustrations are simple yet portray exactly what is happening, perfect for the storyline.
Don't miss getting this book for all the children you know and love. Very good job. Highly recommended.

How Clean Is Your Room
Eileen Spinelli
Illustrated by David Leonard
Ideals Publications
A Guideposts Company
Nashville Tennessee
9780824955519 $18.99

As parents we all know the battle to get our children to clean their rooms. The frustration can be never ending and cause much strife in a family. In this delightful children's book our author actually takes the idea of a horrible job and turns it into an adventure. Here is an example right from the start, telling your child that the mess of clothes on the floor is really a clutter of color like an artist, a lovely mess. Our author turns the mess into memories that encourages a child to want to keep it presentable and she also brings out to the child how important it is to have a room that keeps them safe and happy.

This is a fun pop-up book. It is colorful and can be very instrumental in developing good habits for a child in taking care of their belongings and keeping their room presentable. Great illustrations, fun pop-ups, and a learning story make for one top-notch read. Very well done.

No, Never
Sally O Lee
Book Surge Publishing
9781439239087 $17.99

Little Daisy is against everything. She says no to taking a bath, no to cleaning her room, no to doing her homework, until one day her mom asks her just what will she do? Daisy declares that she would like to write a great book about her adventures and she will climb a mountain, but mom asks her how she will achieve those goals is she cannot do the smaller things that are now required of her.

This is a simple yet colorful illustrated book, definitely bringing the story to life with the illustrations. I giggled at some of the expressions on Daisy's face. The storyline leads a child into understanding that accomplishments must be started at small levels. It shows we learn and become more assured as we continue on in life completing harder goals. Shown in a way that a child will comprehend, with a story that I am sure they will relate to, ( how many times have you told your child to clean up their room?) this book is sure to be a favorite read over and over again. Well done.

Timothy Carter
0744310962 $7.95

Inside this outstanding read we meet two brothers, Robbie and Sam and their sister, Linda.
It appears that they have discovered the hidden chambers in the closet where monsters come from and they join forces against all odds, putting their very lives at risk to chase the monsters out of their lives forever. The adventure begins.

I truly enjoyed this read. The author did an exceptional job in his character development with the children and parents, and yes even the monsters in the closet that they encountered. This entire story was about facing fear and defeating it. It showed how unity in family and joining forces can overcome such an enemy. That is no small hurdle to accomplish in such a short read. Well done. I highly recommend this book for not only children but adults to read. It is entertaining, adventurous, funny at times, down-to-earth and definitely teaches much about overcoming giants in our lives. Great book!

Fishing Journal
Louis Gary Lamit
Booksurge Publishing
9781439217702 $17.95

I know that those who love to fish will truly enjoy this top-notch book by author, Louis Lamit. The cover is well done brimming with different fish and inviting you to open it up and get started jotting down your fishing adventure.

Inside is much information for the fisher, such as pictures of fishing equipment, live bait, Lures and Flies.The pages are laid out simply and give space for all important information of your day out fishing for example: Place, Type, Equipment, Bait. There is also space to write the date, time, location, weather and even bug conditions. Perhaps next time you plan a trip you will remember those bugs were a little too much to bear and go somewhere else.

On the next page you have space to place a photo and add a journal entry. As an added treat at the bottom of each page is a picture of a fish, it's name and the information about it. That was really interesting, even for a non-fisherman like me.

I truly believe this is a great idea for a book and one that every serious fisherman would love to have. I also think it would be wonderful for someone to give to the little fisherman (or lady) that is being introduced to this sport. A great book, well worth your consideration.

The Adventures of Pearl White: Plague Attack
Christian W. Hahn, DDS
0744304636 $5.95

I have to say this is one enjoyable read. Inside this book we meet Mrs. Pearl White, who is of course a tooth who lives in the town of Mouthville with her friend, Molly Molar and cousin, Mr. Bite.

One day a very 'icky' bad guy came named, Plaque came and attacked Mrs. Pearl White, soon he felt sick and had terrible pain. She quickly ran to the Dentist and her friendly Hygienist to make her better.

I absolutely loved this book. The story was top-notch with such adorable characters and illustrations that brought the story alive so well you felt as if you were part of the tale. The author rhymes throughout the work and that is no small achievement especially with the material he was writing.

It is full of wit, and flows exceptionally well, sure to keep the attention of any reader of any age, and explains an enemy of teeth that we should all be aware of. However, it doesn't stop there but continues on to show the importance of dental care in a way I have never seen before. In my opinion this book should be in every dentist office and should also be available to school children throughout the country. Very highly recommended.
Exceptional job.

Making Sense Out Of Life
Patrick J McGuffin
New Book Publishing
2395 Apopka Blvd., #200, Apopka, Fl. 32703
9780981935614 $12.99

Isn't it strange when things seem to be going pretty good in our lives all of a sudden we are thrown a curve ball that sets us spinning. It could come in any form, death of a loved one, sickness, loss of a job, and the list goes on. Nobody is immune to troubles so what is the answer to survival?

In this book by author, Patrick J McGuffin, we are gently made to face many of these unfortunate circumstances and take a look at our own reactions when they come, and shown how to react differently than we have before to make it across the other side. We are also shown how to live a life in preparation for the good and the bad that will arise. This advise is God based, helping you to understand God's ways and basically letting you know God does not hate you because situations happen. Mr. McGuffin's words encourage you to seek God and His answers and respond to His leading. I liked that. I particularly liked the last section, " Study Guide Answers To Live By." I felt that was a little mini course with Scriptural references at your fingertips. Good job!

Having been in the ministry for over thirty years I certainly have had my fair share of counseling the hurting people of this world. I understand that in many situations there is never a quick fix but words that lead to living a more secure life, one filled with God's power and guidance certainly is a great place to be in. That is what you will find between the pages of this work, this is where our author will lead you.

Definitely a book written from the heart of a man who longs to release into the lives of hurting souls hope for a better tomorrow, and encouragement for each new day. One filled with some practical spiritual advise that will not leave you wanting but will leave behind some firm life lessons that will help you make sense out of life. Well done.

Chris Dreams Big
Chris Dudley & Chris Love- Dudley, Illustrated by: Karl Edwards
CCD Productions, Inc.
22647 Ventura Blvd, #219 Woodland Hills, CA 9364
9780982322406 $14.95

Chris Dudley played was a professional basketball player for 16 seasons, however there is something probably most people do no know about Chris. He has Type 1 diabetes and he has a story to tell.

In this wonderful book our young star( I'm sure you can guess who that is) becomes sick and finds out he has diabetes. He feels as if all his dreams for a successful life are destroyed. He loves to play basketball, but how can he when he is sick? Soon he finds out that other children are not letting their disabilities stand in the way of their dreams. His teammate Joey has asthma, but still plays basketball. His friend Thomas has a sister in a wheelchair, but she loves to swim, and does.
Chris finally understands that if he takes care of his body and listens to his doctor, he too can follow his dream of playing basketball.

I enjoyed this book. In reading it I could feel the true intent of Mr. Dudley's heart for children and their future dreams and his desire to help them understand that they can reach for the stars.
The illustrations are wonderful and I loved how he merged the book from being a child to being a winning adult. The picture of the hand and foot were great and help to bring the story to a personal level. Everyone has some form of challenge trying to keep them from reaching their goals in life. I firmly believe that this book will touch many people, the young and 'older' with hope, and courage to find their star.

Thank you, Mr. Dudley, for a well written, excellent illustrated book, that will help so many reach new heights.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Chin and the Magic Stones
L. J. Salazar
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595531578, $10.95,

Adventure is inviting, but the challenges you face are not. "Chin and the Magic Stones" is the story of a boy and his dog as they discover a massive underground world that is threatened by a an evil shadow Lord. Rising to the challenge, the boy and his dog meet evil head on in this charming fantasy for younger readers. "Chin and the Magic Stones" is very much worth considering for the young fantasy fan.

Paper Trails
Graham Hutchins
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161423, $14.95,

To say God is not for the thinking man is uninformed. "Paper Trails: Comment and Context, Place...Time...Meaning" is a collection of essays, poems, and other writings from Graham Hutchins as he reflects on his time in Indonesia and its emerging society as it makes it progress to democracy. Intriguing, fascinating, and highly spiritual reading, "Paper Trails" is a read that is hard to miss.

How Saying Yes to Depression Leads Us Into Healing
Melissa Sarazin
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9780557017737, $17.98

You can't heal a wound until you admit it's there. "How Saying Yes to Depression Leads Us Into Healing: Journey Back to Self and a Life Abundant" is a guide to facing depression by admitting one's problems and facing it head on. Saying that facing one's problems head on has a positive effect not only for oneself but also those around one, "How Saying Yes to Depression Leads Us Into Healing" is an inspirational read not to be overlooked.

The Hair-Loss Cure
David H. Kingsley
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781935278047, $14.95,

Baldness does more than just make people lose hair, it also impacts their confidence. "The Hair-Loss Cure: A Self-Help Guide" is a guide from a doctor specialized in scalp treatment, David H. Kingsley. Answering the questions to why hair loss happens, how to deal with it, and what treatment options to consider, he offers a complete guide to understanding how to fight one's oncoming hair loss. "The Hair-Loss Cure" is a solid read for any who are balding and don't want to be.

The Life O'Reilly
Brian Cohen
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Kelley & Hall Book Publicity and Promotion (publicity)
5 Briar Lane, Marblehead, MA 01945
9781440150258, $17.95,

It takes a strong case to reshape a man. "The Life O'Reilly" is the tale of a lawyer who refinds his purpose in life when he departs his usual defense of massive corporations to take on the more civil case of a woman fighting for the custody of her children. Finding himself doing it out of the kindness of his heart rather than the fat paycheck, "The Life O'Reilly" is a fascinating read that will warm hearts.

John Taylor

Vicki's Bookshelf

Oh What a Beautiful Day
Jeanne Modesitt, Robin Spowart
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church St., Honesdale, Penn. 18431
781563974090 $16.95

Author Jeanne Modesitt's and illustrator Robin Spowart's gentle, traditional, early-learning picture book, "Oh! What a Beautiful Day," takes place on a sunny morning, when the world is green, a young girl takes a walk through the countryside. She discovers that it's the kind of day when pigs prance and ducks dance, and chicks cheep and lambs leap. In this warm and comforting counting book for pre-readers, young child and farm animals are happy to be part of a beautiful world. A sweet introduction to counting and animals for toddlers and pre-schoolers ages two to five.

"Xtreme Art Ultimate Book of Trace-and-Draw Manga"
Christopher Hart
Watson Guphill / Crown Publishing
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780823098064 $21.95

Drawing can help kids develop imagination, creativity, cognitive skills, problem-solving abilities, and fine motor coordination. It can also help kids relieve stress and develop self-confidence. The biggest challenge for parents trying to foster their child's art lessons, is finding something that kids like to draw. Manga, known for its cute characters with huge shiny eyes, has proven irresistible to kids worldwide. "Xtreme Art Ultimate Book of Trace-and-Draw Manga" combines kids' proven love of manga with all the developmental benefits of drawing. Kids will love the hyper-adorable chibis and manga monsters. Parents will appreciate the interest their child is taking in drawing. In "Xtreme Art Ultimate Book of Trace-and-Draw Manga," fans and aspiring cartoonists get a compilation of three of Hart's bestselling books on drawing manga-style characters in four easy steps. Readers of all ages start by tracing or drawing what they see in step 1, then simply add the red lines in steps 2, 3, and 4. These easy steps help build kids confidence gradually as characters increase in difficulty throughout book. Also featured in the book are basic tips and techniques for drawing manga, like how to add shine to eyes or turn a regular animal into a manga-style monster.

Solace of the Road
Siobhan Dowd
David Fickling Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375849718 $17.99

Memories of mum are the only things that make Holly Hogan happy. She hates her foster family with their too-nice ways and their false sympathy. And she hates her life, her stupid school, and the way everyone is always on at her. Then she finds the wig, and everything changes. Wearing the long, flowing blond locks she feels transformed. She's not Holly anymore, she's Solace: the girl with the slinkster walk and the super-sharp talk. She's older, more confident -- the kind of girl who can walk right out of her humdrum life, hitch to Ireland, and find her mum. The kind of girl who can face the world head-on. So begins a Siobhan Dowd's novel, "Solace of the Road," a bittersweet and sometimes hilarious journey as her Solace swaggers and Holly tiptoes across England and through memory, discovering her true self and unlocking the secrets of her past. Holly's story will leave a lasting impression on all who travel with her.

The Little Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
9780547260693 $35

Antoine Saint-Expery's cherished classic, "The Little Prince" has captured readers' hearts and spirits for generations, and continues to be one of the most widely read books in the world, just below "The Bible" and "Das Kapital." It remains a staple in beginning French language classes as well, but this elegant edition offers something new: a pop-up version. Beautifully designed, the 64-page book includes the complete text accompanied by the author's delicate illustrations brought to life through paper engineering. This new edition of an age-less gem is perfect gift for longtime fans, those meeting their own baby prince for the first time, and for anyone seeking wisdom regarding the most important things in life.

Atlas of First
Clive Gifford
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780753463017 $10.95

Readers of this elementary level "Atlas of Firsts" will discover a world of amazing record breakers in sports, space, science, technology, entertainment and much more. After all, our planet is home to thousands of trailblazing inventors, courageous pioneers, and daredevil record breakers. This atlas for young readers pinpoints where more than 500 first from every field of endeavor hit the headlines around the world. From the truly groundbreaking to the outrageously bizarre, it reveals which car was the first to break the sonic barrier, who was the first human cannonball, when the first call was made on a cell phone, and so on. An apt reading suggestion for reluctant readers.

Boom Splat Kablooey
Pat Murphy and Klutz staff
450 Lambert Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94306
9781591746775 $19.95

This safe science book and kit - "Boom Splat Kablooey! Explosive Science That's a Real Blast" -- comes with all the special equipment needed to make ordinary ingredients from your kitchen go "boom" in style. Klutz labs is dedicated to making the loudest (yet totally safe) booms, the most spectacular (yet totally safe) splats, and the most amazing (yet totally safe), kablooeys. While making tons of fun noise and mess, kids will learn what makes a sonic boom, gravity vs. air pressure, and, well, not much else except how to have fun with physical science. And the "Lots o' Pops" chapter offers lots of ways to answer the puzzling question: "What can I do with all this leftover bubble wrap?" For ages eight and up.

The Natural Beauty Book
Anne Akers Johnson
450 Lambert Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94306
9781591746959 $21.95

I've never met a tween girl who didn't love a Klutz gift book set. This one, "The Natural Beauty Book" was especially created to help young beauties create their own natural spa experience. The package contains a nice little beauty start up kit; it includes a facial loofah, headband, nail brush, nail file, nail buffer, pumice stone, bath infusion bad, and two tiny essential oil vials (pretty lavender and tangerine scents). The spiral bound book contains all the how-to info girls need to properly use the tools, plus more than 60 simple recipes that tell you how to make your own tangerine bath fizz, give yourself a natural manicure and pedicure, mix up a rich banana conditioner for your hair, and trade spa facials with a friend. The ingredients are all clean and natural, and most can be found in your kitchen pantry. For ages 12 and up.

Fat Cat
Robin Brande
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780375844492 $16.99

You are what you eat is the message at the center of author Robin Brande's "Fat Cat." High School student Cat is smart, sassy, and funny -- but thin, she's not. Until her class science project. That's when she winds up doing an experiment on herself. Before she knows it, Cat is living -- and eating -- like the hominids, our earliest human ancestors. True, no potato chips or TV couch potato time is a bummer and no car is a pain, but healthful eating and walking everywhere for exercise do have their benefits. As the pounds drop off, the guys pile on. All this newfound male attention is enough to drive a girl crazy! If only she weren't too busy hating Matt McKinney to notice. This funny and thoughtful novel explores how girls feel about their bodies, and the ways they can best take care of their most precious resource: themselves.

A Brief History of Montmaray
Michelle Cooper
Random House
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780375858642 $16.99

Sophie Fitz Osborne lives in a crumbling castle in the tiny island kingdom of Montmaray with her eccentric and impoverished royal family. When she receives a journal for her sixteenth birthday, Sophie decides to chronicle day-to-day life on the island. But this is 1936, and the news that trickles in from the mainland reveals a world on the brink of war. The politics of Europe seem far away from their remote island -- until two German officers land a boat on Montmaray. And then suddenly politics become very personal. "A Brief History of Montmaray" is a heart-stopping tale of loyalty, love, and loss, and of fighting to hold on to home when the world is exploding all around you.

You're Only Old Once
Dr. Seuss
Random House
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780394551906 $17.99

If laughter is the best medicine, then Dr. Seuss's "You're Only Old Once!" is a delightful defense against aging. This old classic is back in a new hardback edition for the enjoyment of a whole new generation of aging Seuss fans. Originally published on Dr. Seuss's 82nd birthday in 1986, "You're Only Old Once!" lightens the aches and pains of growing old with Seuss's inimitable wit and wisdom. Anyone who has ever submitted to a battery of medical tests will empathize with this story's hapless Everyman as he is poked and prodded by the experts at the Golden Years Clinic.

The Zoo I Drew
Todd H. Doodler
Random House
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780375852015 $14.99

Sweet, sweet, sweet. "The Zoo I Drew" is the cutest, cleverest animal alphabet book in years. Filled with graphically bold and laugh-out-loud animal art, "The Zoo I Drew" takes children on a bright and bumpy tour of the ABCs. Silly rhyming text introduces a menagerie of animals from the scaly alligator to the cuddly koala to the finicky panda to a sadly balding vulture to the X . . . Wait! Has anyone ever found a truly satisfying animal for the letter X? Only the youthful narrator-illustrator of "The Zoo I Drew" knows. This book also features a red, fluted cover -- a fancy term for ridges - that makes it visually appealing on the shelf and fun to hold! An absolutely perfect choice for snuggly, giggly reading at bedtime.

The Wizard of Rondo
Emily Rodda
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545115162 $16.99

In the second magically adventure for Leo and Mimi, "The Wizard of Rondo," Leo Zifkak explores the secrets of an antique music box he inherited from his stuffy great-aunt. But he never expected that it might hide a wondrous secret: the music box is the portal to a new world called Rondo. In Leo's first visit to Rondo he went to rescue his cousin, Mimi, and he almost lost his life. On his second visit, something even more important is at stake -- his soul. There's a wizard missing and an innocent young man accused of his death. If Leo and Mimi are to right this wrong, they're going to have to risk everything. Spirited adventure for readers 9-12.

Brand New Emily
Ginger Rue
Tricycle Press
PO Box 7123, Berkeley, CA 94707
9781582462691 $15.99

Everyone at Wright Middle School knows you should not make an enemy of the uber-clique that fourteen-year-old Emily Wood calls The Daisies. But that's exactly what she has done, and now she's paying the price...until Emily stumbles onto some top-secret gossip about a teen heartthrob and finds herself in the good graces of a top New York PR firm. Now, with an ace publicist in her corner, make way for Brand Em. She's got style, she's got attitude, and her troubles at school are a thing of the past. But no product can stay hot forever, and it isn't long before Emily discovers the limits of brand loyalty. In her first novel, Ginger Rue captures perfectly the desire to be part of the in-crowd. And while the solution to Emily's problems may be every teen's fantasy, readers will cheer as the once-bullied girl finds her way back to her true self.

Brushing Mom's Hair
Andrea Cheng
815 Church St., Honesdale, Penn.. 18431
9781590785997 $17.95

In this short, fluid, book of free verse poems by Andrea Cheng, the story's protagonist Ann is just short of fifteen when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer. How can she tell the girls in her ballet class that her mother had her breasts cut off? Her matter-of-fact sister, Jane, takes charge at home; her brother Nick calls from California; her dad helps when he can, as do friends, teachers, and relatives. Still, Ann is consumed with worry. Who's going to make sure that Mom drinks enough water, like the doctor said? Unless she is dancing or making pottery, Ann feels completely alone in her grief. She has a book that says "Don't sweat the small stuff. And its all small stuff." Even cancer? Ann's poignant and stirring emotional journey will surely resonate with girls experience grief and hard life lessons of their own.

Vicki Arkoff
Senior Reviewer

Vogel's Bookshelf

What the World Needs
Matthew Allen Wegner
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd. - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432742355, $12.95,

Poetry and philosophy are not subjects that are too different from one another. "What the World Needs: A Collection of Poelosophy" is a collection of wisdom from notable figures and his own poetry reflecting on that wisdom for a unique and thought provoking approach to poetry and philosophy, offering a good and thought provoking read for poetry lovers. "What the World Needs" is a strong consideration through and through. "Awareness": perhaps the world isn't even aware of what it needs/because we don't know what others need/or perhaps because we don't even know what we need ourselves/why do we go through life without knowing what we need?/ awareness is simply knowing/knowing who we are/knowing what we need/knowing what others need/and what the world needs/and once we're aware/we can begin to open our minds/and change our ways/and change the world/in our lifetime/one life at a time/starting with yourself.

A Nomad's Journey
Atilla Bektore
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
0595385249, $33.95,

Two generations span a story that is one of the twentieth century. "A Nomad's Journey" is the story of Atilla Bektore and his father, Shevki. Shevki stood in the face of the last days of the Czars, the start of World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution, through his decades in prison due accusations of treason from the cruel Stalinist government. Telling the story of his father and himself, Atilla paints a moving story of the Russian man in a century of chaos. "A Nomad's Journey" is intriguing and highly recommended reading which should not be missed.

So You Want to Be A Physician Assistant
Beth Grivett
Lightning Source
c/o California Academy of Physician Assistants
3100 W. Warner Avenue, Suite 3, Santa Ana, CA 92704
9780615283548, $24.95,

Medicine is a tough career, and even the best people need someone to back them up. "So You Want to Be A Physician Assistant: Your Guide to a New Career" is for those who want to start their venture and down their road to a medical career, in focus, a physician's assistant. A profession that takes a lot of training and knowledge, Beth Grivett draws on her own experiences to give readers what they need to know to succeed. "So You Want to be A Physician Assistant" is a great place for readers to start their careers.

Inside the Shadow of the Black Hand
Gary Marchese
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533160853, $11.95,

Franz Ferdinand once said the bullet that would kill him is already on its way, it was just a matter of the gun that fired it. "Inside the Shadow of the Black Hand: A Tale of Espionage, Terrorism, and Betrayal!" is a take of alternative history leading up to the outbreak of World War I. A shady resistance movement tries to entice a promising young man to do their dirty work, but this young man has other interests besides political change. "Inside the Shadow of the Black Hand" is an intriguing suspense with a strong historic context.

Discovering God in Science
Charles E. Steele
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781606960097, $14.99,

Can there be links in science to a creator? "Discovering God in Science: Science Discoveries That Suggest There Is a Creator" discusses the potential links from science in discussing the possibility of a divine creator. Drawing lines from evolution, the Earth's place in the universe, and the origin of the Universe, there is much to discuss for both Christians and scientists within. Intriguing theories, "Discovering God in Science" is an intriguing read that should not be missed.

Paul T. Vogel

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

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