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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 9, Number 11 November 2010 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf Greenspan's Bookshelf
Helen's Bookshelf Kaveny's Bookshelf Klausner's Bookshelf
Laurel'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

Two Daniels
Judith M. Leftoff
Vantage Press, Inc.
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533162376, $10.95,

Two stories during the same events can prove to be so radically different. "Two Daniels" tells the story of two boys named Daniel. One, an American who enrolls in the military rolls into special training to infiltrate Germany. The other is a young boy who struggles to survive throughout the world. A riveting story of duality, "Two Daniels" is a fine read that should prove hard to put down.

He Blew Her a Kiss
Angie Pechak Printup & Kelley Stewart Dollar
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432760922, $16.95,

A reminder is all the strength needed to carry on. "He Blew Her a Kiss: Inspirational Stories of Communication from Loved Ones Who Have Passed" is a collection of tales of a reminder of those who have passed and granting strength to those who live on with their own grief. Spiritual and uplifting, "He Blew Her a Kiss" is a choice pick for those looking for a spiritual motivational book.

Meeting Darkness
Katy McDermott
Infinity Publishing
1094 New Dehaven Street, #100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
9780741460950, $17.95,

Murder rocks small towns harder than anywhere else. "Meeting Darkness" follows new resident of Barcliff Laurie as she works with a more than a friend police chief to track down those responsible. New to the town, her lack of knowledge and newness strikes her with both edges and problems in finding answers. But Laurie herself may be in the targets of the killer next. "Meeting Darkness" is an exciting mystery that will be hard to put down.

A Resilient Life
Kat Elton
Privately Published
9780615289236, $24.95

Arthritis proves to be a plague on many individuals of any age, but you can hope for more than just tolerating the pain. "A Resilient Life: Learning to Thrive, Not Just Survive, with Rheumatoid Arthritis" is a guide for living with arthritis in a way where it doesn't shut down one's life and so that one can live to their fullest. Written by an occupational therapist and lifelong sufferer, she gives much advice on overcoming it. "A Resilient Life" is an excellent read for other sufferers, highly recommend.

Flight to Love
Lily J. Hopson
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, 18th floor, New York, NY 10016
9780533158386 $7.95

Love is sometimes filled with cruelty, and it may not be from inside the relationship. "Flight to Love" tells of Stacey and her break up that sends her to London. But she soon find she makes a mistake, falling into the hands of a cruel man who she didn't see his true colors until it was too late. She yearns for home, remembering the mistake she made and the lover she left behind. "Flight to Love" is a story of how sometimes love has to fight more than the people involved to succeed.

Principles of Abundance for the Cosmic Citizen
Dorothy I. Riddle
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449079253, $14.95,

We're all part of a greater universe. "Principles of Abundance for the Cosmic Citizen: Enough for Us All" is a metaphysical spirituality book as author Dorothy I. Riddle encourages the ideas that one can push themselves to become something greater than a single person and embrace a community and being part of the planet. "Principles of Abundance for the Cosmic Citizen" is a top pick for any metaphysical spirituality reader.

The (Former) Predator and the Widow Next Door
Carolee Disney Roberts
Vantage Press, Inc.
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161706, $13.95,

When you carry a pile of money to your name, it's hard to find love for the right reasons. "The (Former) Predator and the Widow Next Door" tells the story of Michael and Kathy, a romance surrounding coping with the loss of a husband in a tragic manner and the pursuit of love for a professional athlete who doesn't want only his money and fame to be his only selling points. "The (Former) Predator and the Widow Next Door" is a fun romance, highly recommended.

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

Daimyo Of 1867
Tadashi Ehara
Different World Publications
9780975399934, $59.99,

"Daimyo of 1867: Samurai Warlords of Shogun Japan" by Tadashi Ehara is a 346-page compendium providing a guide to Feudal Japan designed specifically for role-play gamers. Covering 277 daimyo clans in the year 1867, each individual daimyo is provided with a mon (family crest), a han (fief) name, revenue size, rank at the Shogun's castle in Edo, prior ancestry, domain and castle descriptions, and a great deal more. Basic background information includes elements of geography, history, road systems, social structure, religion, monetary system, and government structure. Profusely illustrated throughout, "Daimyo of 1867: Samurai Warlords of Shogun Japan" is a seminal, unique, and highly prized addition to personal game player reference collections.

Why We Love Them So
Father Paul A. Keenan
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440143403, $14.95,

Sometimes for people who do not have one, they cannot understand why the loss of a pet dog or cat can feel like the loss of a personal friend or family member. The only time I ever saw my truck-driving, hard-drinking, bar-fighting grandfather weep like a child was when his old dog Trevor died. The feelings of grief and loss with the death of a treasured pet are very real and can run very deep indeed. For anyone who has ever had to deal with that kind of loss whether for themselves or for another, "Why We Love Them So: Surviving the Loss of an Animal Friend" by the late Father Paul A. Keenan will prove to be an invaluable help in coping with just such deeply felt sorrow. The impetus for this 152-page compendium of grief counseling was the loss of his 25 year old cat Teddy. Drawing upon his own experience and presented with a thoroughly 'reader friendly' presentation, Father Keenan deals with the feeling of loss, the all to common reaction of 'why me?', learning how to offer and receive compassion to and from others, understanding the ultimate purpose of life and death, working through past life experiences, and returning to the ordinary routines of daily life. Perhaps most important of all, renewing a commitment to being alive and enjoying what the world still has to offer us. Inspired and inspiring, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Why We Love Them So: Surviving the Loss of an Animal Friend" is highly recommended reading and a welcome addition to personal and community library collections. Additionally, it should be noted that all proceeds from "Why We Love Them So" go to The Perseus Foundation, a 501(c)(3) founded in 1999 which funds cancer research to benefit our canine and feline companions.

Honor Knows No Borders
John Sharer
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450212304, $22.95,

There are things that resonate true with all people, regardless of nationality, even during wartime. "Honor Knows No Borders" is a novel of World War II telling the story of two different situations. In England, a German pilot crashes in London. When a Jewish boy finds him, the boy is hesitant to help a fighter for the Nazis, but the soldier is steadfast in his assertion that not all Germans fight for the Nazi cause. Similarly, a British Officer in North Africa faces a German Colonel, who may have helped smuggled a Jewish family out of Germany during the rise of Nazi power. "Honor Knows no Borders" is a tale of the bravery of those who are immediately vilified unjustly.

David Elliott
Hawk Press
4510 Alumni Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90041
9780975391068, $18.00,

Healing takes time, but it also requires a lot more than that. "Healing" is a spiritual and self-help compilation designed to help readers find what they need to recover from the wounds of life and open a connection to their own heart and the hearts around them. Facing the delights and problems of life, "Healing" is a thoughtful collection of ideas and assurance, a top pick for those who want to look deeper into themselves for healing.

Code Name: Kalistrat
Arno Baker
Enigma Books
360 East 116th Street, Suite 2E, New York, NY 10029
9781929631964, $15.00,

The Soviet Union may have fell, but the Cold War still raged. "Code Name: Kalistrat" is an espionage thriller connecting over fifty years of history to one another. Focusing on the events surrounding the treason and execution of the Rosenbergs, and creating a riveting story of espionage on the backdrop of the civil war, and the rise of Krushchev following the death of Stalin. "Code Name: Kalistrat" brings a riveting tale to the table, very highly recommended.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

The Mission
Larry Hunter
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker -515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432761035, $14.95,

The confidentiality of the confessional can lead to a priest taking strange things into their own hands. "The Mission: A Redemption of the Past" tells the story of Father O'Malley, who at the deathbeds of members of his flock, learns of the truth of many conspiracies. Bound by confidence, he takes it upon himself to right these wrongs and finds being on the wrong side of conspiracies is no job for a priest alone. "The Mission" is a unique action and adventure novel, highly recommended.

Mark Whiteway
VBW Publishing
PO Box 9949, College Station, TX 77842
9781602645882, $14.95

The weight of the world is too much of a weight for any youth. "Lodestone: The World of Ice and Stars" follows Kelanni Shann as she searches for her place in a strange new world, charged with finding an artifact and finding the fate of her lost friends. A riveting fantasy that young adults will find hard to put down, "Lodestone" is a worthy addition to fantasy collections.

President Pro Tem
Kelvin L. Reed
PO Box 2399, Bangor, ME 04402-2399
9781609102685, $16.95,

Six months as leader of the free world is more stressful than one world thing. "President Pro Tem" tell s the story of Carla Hamilton, an African American serving as Vice President during the lame duck period between an Election and Inauguration of a new president. When the serving president passes, on, Carla is charged with the presidency and the world begins to fall apart. "President Pro Tem" is a fun read and solidly recommended.

Presbyterians in Zion
Frederick G. Burton
Vantage Press, Inc.
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 100169
9780533161546, $36.95,

The Presbyterians are now one of the major sects of protestant Christianity. "Presbyterians in Zion: History of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Utah" traces the history of the Presbyterian Church in America by tracing its roots back to Utah in the early 1860s. Their initial founding found them in conflict with the recently formed Mormon church, and their relationship wasn't always the most civil. "Presbyterians in Zion" is a fine history of this conflict, highly recommended.

Homo Cosmiens
David Millett
Privately Published
9781450534246, $15.00

What is the future of humanity, when they stop being humanity? "Homo Cosmiens" is a work of science fiction looking to ask the question of the next step in human evolution. An extraterrestrial artificial intelligence visits Earth and gives Earth what they need to fast forward their technological development. But such a rapid shift in humanity's future, what will become of people, and what will become of the planet? Asking and answering many fascinating questions, Homo Cosmiens" is a choice pick for science fiction collections.

The Best Horror Short Stories
Andrew Barger
BottleTree Books
9781933747224, $21.98,

Horror is a young genre as far as literature goes, and it has gone far in its short life. "The Best Horror Short Stories 1800-1849: A Classic Horror Anthology" compiles some of the best early work by the fathers of modern horror such as Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, among other names. These stories branch from the traditional fiction of the time into something a bit more sinister. "The Best Horror Short Stories 1800-1849" is a top to bottom pick for anyone who appreciates where the best of horror came from.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

This Fantastic Struggle
Lisa A. Miles
Privately Published
9780979823619 $18.00

The calling of the artist is a very strong one. "This Fantastic Struggle: The Life and Art of Esther Phillips" is Lisa Miles analysis of the life of Esther Phillips, a woman who was so absorbed by the need to create, she was institutionalized when the pressures of starvation and stress came down on her. Miles writes as a friend, reflecting on her correspondence with Esther. A snapshot of what it means to be consumed by art, "This Fantastic Struggle" is a remarkable read that will enlighten readers.

The Marshlanders
Annis Pratt
1056 Larchlea Drive, Birmingham, MI 48009
9781450228909, $19.95,

As time rolls on, America's wetlands are more and more threatened. "The Marshlanders" tells the story of a clash between those who love the wetlands and their unique state and those who want to see them drained for development and other uses. A story of accepting nature and defending it against those who would defile it, "The Marshlanders" should prove to be a fascinating read with much to think about.

Who Said It Couldn't Be Done?
Denise Jones
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452003542, $21.95,

It's a long road to just having a stable life. "Who Said It Couldn't Be Done?: A Diamond from the Rough" is a memoir from Denise Jones as she tells her story of her long road to some semblance of normalcy in life. Simple and profound, her story will prove inspiring and reminding that anyone can recover from anything. "Who Said It Couldn't Be Done?" is a fine pick for those looking for an inspirational memoir.

Fast Girls
Rachel Kramer Bussel, editor
Cleis Press
Box 14697, San Francisco, CA 94114
9781573443845, $14.95,

From a historical perspective, male-dominated cultures have attempted to regulate and even suppress female sexuality. In "Fast Girls: Erotica For Women" the tables are turned in twenty short stories written by superbly gifted writers and deftly compiled by editor Rachel Kramer Bussel. This impressive collection of stories features memorable women who defy social conventions while exploring the often hidden depths of their sexuality in a diversity of contexts that range from communal showers, to sex clubs, to the utilization of 'adult toys'. Racy, erotic, and altogether entertaining, "Fast Girls" is highly recommended reading -- but for adults only!

Steeped in History: The Art of Tea
Beatrice Hohenegger, editor
Fowler Museum at UCLA
c/o University of Washington Press
Box 50096, Seattle, WA 98145-5096
9780977834419, $40.00,

While water is the most frequently consumed liquid in human society, tea is second and is found today in every country and culture of the world. The brewing and consumption of tea has been a mark of civilized society for centuries. Used as a medicine, a recreational beverage, as well as (in such diverse cultures as China, Japan, and England) the focus of elaborate social rituals, tea has a significant cultural, political, and economic impact. "Steeped in History: The Art of Tea", a superbly illustrated, 240-page compendium compiled and edited by independent scholar Beatrice Hohenegger, presents a comprehensive overview of the history of tea, tea plantations, the iconic references of tea in art and literature, as well as the accouterments associated with the brewing and consuming of tea. A seminal work of meticulous scholarship, informed and informative, thoroughly 'reader friendly', and a delight to simply browse through, "Steeped in History: The Art of Tea" is enthusiastically recommended for personal, academic, and community library collections.

The Puppies' Guide to Training Humans
Conchise & Keith Barksdale
Tate Publishing
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781615661343, $12.99,

The only thing harder than training a dog is training a human. "The Puppies' Guide to Training Humans" is a fun look at the relationship of a young puppy and their humans. Written from the puppy's perspective, it gives advice on creating that powerful and strong bond that will be hard to overlook. "The Puppies' Guide to Training Humans" is a must for anyone about to take a puppy under their wing.

Helen Dumont

Kaveny's Bookshelf

Ralph Ellison: A Biography
Arnold Rampersad
Alfred A. Knopf
1745 Broadway 21st Fl. New York, NY 10019
9780375408274, $35.00,

Arnold Rampersad's literary biography of African American writer Ralph Ellison (1914-1994) is fascinating, highly detailed, and painstaking in its efforts. It might be thought of as a kind of treasure map for other researchers to important Ralph Ellison primary documents, most of which are available at the Library of Congress. My issue then is not with the level of detail or the quality of Arnold Rampersad's scholarship, my issue is with what he would have me believe about the Ralph Ellison he has fabricated from his efforts. He reminds me of the mythic Greek blacksmith Procrustes who made a one-size-fits-all iron bed, and rather than adjust the bed to fit his victims he would remove their body parts to make them fit. That's the issue with Rampersad's Ralph Ellison because as a human being Rampersad has made Ellison into something that is un-recognizable to me.

A close reading of Rampersad's biography of Ralph Ellison made me feel that his subject was not the Ralph Ellison with whom I spoke briefly about my lifetime interest in his work at the Chicago Printers Row Outdoor Book Fair in 1992 (which is incidentally one of the largest events of its kind in the world). Ralph Ellison was the guest of honor there and made his guest of honor speech before an audience of about five hundred in the Dearborn Station conference center in the heart of downtown Chicago. At the time I met him, I was a disheveled, long-haired, bearded, 350 pound ex-wrestler exhibitor who had had been out in the sun for several hours trying to earn a living selling books, and I am sure I smelled like it.

Arnold Rampersad's Ralph Ellison would not have bothered to talk to me because I was not the type of person he liked to hang out with. I had nothing to offer him. There was no way that talking to an old hippy like me could advance Ralph Ellison's calculating self-serving agenda, something that Rampersad would us believe was the driving force in his life.

His Ralph Ellison would have ignored me and talked to the well groomed tweedy academic types who were waiting for his attention. But Ralph Ellison did talk to me, and before he talked to them. He wished me good luck and shook my hand before he talked to the really cute coed who asked if she could please hug him, since she did not have anything to say, and then he did talk to the guys in the well-styled, light-weight summer suits.

One of the things that shades this review is I feel like I owe Ralph Ellison's memory a debt of respect because he made me feel respectable when I didn't look respectable in the way that the tweedy white guys in the summer suits did. I looked like a working man who had spent a hot day working in the hot sun. I will stand up for the Ellison I think I know, just as Arnold Rampersad, through his interpretations tries to create another Ralph Ellison. This other Ralph Ellison that is not respectable or admirable, rather he is a collection of hackneyed stereotypes which, when implemented, in an obvious attempt to seriously diminish his subject, rather diminish Rampersad himself, who could have done so much better.

He is not arguing that Ralph Ellison was not a great writer or that his fiction and criticism does not belong within the hallowed confines of the literary cannon. Not even an illiterate fool would make that assertion. Rather he is creating a literary biography of his subject, in the same way that Ralph Ellison created the world in which his fictional protagonist Jack the Bear finds himself trapped. No matter how he tries or how good his intentions are he can never do the right thing to meet expectations of any of the characters that inhabit his creator's fictional universe.

But there should be a difference between fiction and biographical authorial intent. For even if the fictional universe is forged from Ralph Ellison's life experience at least from the multiple interviews, and articles written by Ralph Ellison, in his lifetime and some published after his death, his fiction did have an intention. In one instance he said that a work of art should cry fire in a crowed move theater, or, to say it another way, it should raise our consciousness in a way that we become acutely aware of the dangers around us.

Ralph Ellison writes and speaks about the limits of sociology and its tendency to objectify, and even its ability to define the real world parameters of its models to even approximate the reality of historical experience. He also looked a bit askance at even such majestic documents as American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy, a 1944 study of race relations authored by Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal and funded by The Carnegie Foundation. Nor was he satisfied with Senator Moynihan who issued his research under the title The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, now commonly known as The Moynihan Report.

Ralph Ellison was not some kind of Neo-con Republican who objected to government intervention for any purpose. Ralph Ellison was a socialist in his early writing career and a beneficiary of the New Deal Federal Writers project. He referred to himself as a New Deal Democrat, and later was associated with LBJ's War on Poverty. He took issue with the way both documents objectified the American Negro. For most of his life Ralph Ellison preferred the term Negro to the term Black when applied to the African American experience. He preferred it because it implied a complex culture with European and trans-Atlantic components. Think of it this way: if the problem is a problem of the objectification of the American Negro, a suggested solution which involved objectification was only an extension of the "problem". It is not "the Negro Problem", it is an American problem.

I now think that Ralph Ellison may have seen how African American and American culture as being inexorably linked, and compounded by W.E. Dubois' insight of the dual- consciousness. This is something that a number of economic historians have irrefutably documented. Slavery represents a kind ultimate attempt at objectification of the slave's consciousness and abrogation of her free will, resistance which current scholarship establishes as being much more commonplace than was once thought does the opposite, to quote my inspiration, Dr. Selika Duckworth-Lawton, "to be free means to have honor and be able to fight", and I would again drawing from her that fighting could be recast as resistance, on the scale of covert, passive and active.

This inexorable link is also expressed through the dismal science of economics to the point where we can say that throughout the 20th and into the 21st century science, rather than 19th century pseudo-science that race is really a fabrication, but it is a fabrication which rests upon and sustains the concept of class, and those who appear to benefit from it. For example the founders of the dismal science, classical economist like Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Malthus look at even free labor as nothing more than organic capital, which, by the mechanism of what was called "the iron law of wages," could only be paid the cost of reproducing itself. How would it then be, by extension, for a slave before the 20th century, who under the contemporary Anglo-American system of slavery was not a person but a chattel? Nothing more than a super intelligent piece of machinery, a cog in the wheel of production, that is nearly self maintaining and self replicating.

I think that Ralph Ellison found this kind of objectification the great lie that he sought to contest using art, education, teaching and writing through his project of a lifetime. What his life's work centers around is the dual-consciousness problem which reassembles the mathematical Poincare Conjecture, the four color mapping problem in its nuanced subtlety and the generational labor of mathematicians that have addressed it. Ralph Ellison's

creative life is, up to, and including Invisible Man, involved in stating the problem of dual- consciousness, and once the horrific implications of it break down as expressed in a number of race riots which were part of Ralph Ellison's thrown, (a loan word from 19th century German philosophy) which can be best thought of as the time-space-continuum where we are cast to live our lives

African Americans and White Americans are both subject and object. Driven by an inner vision of integrity, yet trapped in the objective expectation of the other and, at the same time, thrown into an economic reality where they are only an apparent but not a real interest of those power elites who maintain and benefitted from maintaining this objectification through racist tropes.

Because of Ralph Ellison's literary mastery and acute historical awareness, his work is more real than what used to be the canonical history, the great movements of African American and American History which are, according to Ralph Ellison, inexorably linked. I am not going to get lost in the text of Invisible Man to show how his great project unfolds but I am going to take a single example for the introduction of the 1995 international additional of Invisible Man which helped me recover some of my pride in my own Irish American History. He points out that Wilkee James, the brother of literary figure Henry James, was wounded nearly unto death as second in command to Robert Gould, commander of the Massachusetts 54th, an all Negro enlisted man regiment. Thus I gain a new respect for both the James family and my own heritage, as I think of the ending scene of the film Glory, with Black and White dead buried in a mass grave by confederates who, in the process of trying dishonor those who lived, fought, and died together, symbolically honored the dead soldiers' relationships to each other. Ralph Ellison had a totally disinterested faith that could not be shaken that America rises to greatness when challenged, as both Blacks and Whites fought for their subjectivity, even unto death, on the battlefield.

Yet why then does Rampersad seem to wish to disrespect and objectify Ralph Ellison and reduce the dignity of the choices he made or the fights he fought, whichever way he had to fight. For example it is a matter of historical record that in 1953 Ralph Ellison won the prestigious American National Book award for his first novel Invisible Man. Further, in the process, Invisible Man beat out works of both Ernest Hemmingway and John Steinbeck. To use my own sports metaphor, as Rampersad is so likely to do also, this is about as likely as his becoming a major force in African American literary, arts and sports, biographies, an African American himself and a distinguished professor, and winner of the Coveted McArthur Award. Ralph Ellison was about as likely to win the National Book award in 1953, for Invisible Man, As Boise State was to be ranked number two in all the national football polls.

Yet as I write this Boise State is still undefeated and has won yet another game. And Ralph Ellison did beat out Ernest Hemmingway and John Steinbeck for the National book Award in 1953. The simplest explanation of both events is that Ralph Ellison was a great writer who confounded expectations, beat out the best American writers by writing a great book, and Boise State has a great football team.

I know that there must be Alabama fans, now that Alabama is lost a game, who says that the national football ranking polls are flawed, and Alabama though they have one loss, should be ranked ahead of Boise State. And somehow there is something dark and sinister and prejudicial against Alabama in the back ground of those that rank football teams which put Boise State ahead of The Crimson Tide. Besides everybody knows, because of Boise State's pussy cat schedule, they don't even play real football. Well okay. That's stuff is fun and you hear a lot of that sort of stuff in the sports bars, and I heard it forty years ago when folks talked about Grambling Negro University's football coach Robinson who spent fifty-six years winning over four-hundred games. But you could always win a bar bet by asking which active college coach had more active players at the time. You could win a lot of free beers by saying Eddie Robinson was just a great coach period. And this was when my UW-Madison undergraduate era teams had six or seven players, depending on if you want count kickers playing in the NFL.

The point behind all this is in the way Rampersad writes about a Ralph Ellison like a disgruntled seventy-year Chicago Bear fan who has just won a hundred thousand dollar MacArthur Award and who was give full access to all the relevant documents to write comparative study of the life and times of to greatest football coaches in the history of the professional game, the Chicago Bears' George Halas and the Green Bay Packers' Vince Lombardi. You might expect the Bear biographer to start out say that Vince Lombardi was not a real football coach, rather he was a fascist slave driver and well he might have even idolized Mussolini, because well, Lombardi never made an anti-Fascist speech in Madison Square Garden, and he was mean. Just ask his players how mean he was to them, and really Lombardi only won three Super Bowls and left his succors with a crummy team. Enough said.

Indeed for his other efforts Rampersad did win a MacArthur Award in 1991 something of no small mention, and he is an African American who is a major force in both the arts and biography and a Professor of Humanities at Stanford and biographer of Langston Hughes. Yet, as other reviews have said, while even this may become the definite work yet something is missing. In the process of writing this review I have come to understand what the thing that is missing, and I will address it more completely in next month's Kaveny's Bookshelf Review. But like any good serial it must have a segue into the next episode, but will start from this point as I move away from Rampersad's book the one I hope will NOT become the official biography of Ralph Ellison.

Based upon the work and reflection I have done on this review and a NPR radio program I heard when I was waking up this morning, I believe that there is strong textual historical evidence, much of it supplied by Arnold Rampersad, which contests and subverts his own thesis. So next month I will contend that the trajectory of Ralph Ellison's life as a musician, journalist, photographer, and stereo-repair person was always more political and idealistic than it was personal, opportunistic, and exclusionary of other African Americans, as this biographer implies, and that his wining of The 1953 national book award was not simply the result of the collusion of a number of Jewish judges. And further that he was not an Uncle Tom when he insisted throughout his life that young African Americans must assert their subjectivity through integration and education, rather than be shot dead in the streets, like one of his most gripping characters, Todd Clifton, who commits suicide by cop when, in order to assert his subjectivity, He realized his dual consciousness and thus could no longer sustain the contradictions heaped upon him. That was the Ralph Ellison who respected me when I did not appear respectable. I just noticed that my copy of paperback of RALPH ELLISON a Biography by Arnold Rampersad carries the prestigious silver stamp of a National Book Award Finalist, something Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man won as a first novel some fifty four years before. I am a bit perplexed given his low opinion of National Book Award politics in relation to Invisible Man. Perhaps they cleaned up their act. Perhaps Rampersad just agrees that any award is a good award.

Next month, in Part II, I will address Ralph Ellison's career as a public intellectual in light of contemporary historical knowledge.

Philip Kaveny

Klausner's Bookshelf

D. M. Cornish
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399246401, $19.99,

A Foundling, Rossamund Bookchild wants to know something about his roots as currently his knowledge about his parents is zero. He leaves behind his home and in many ways his youth as he sets forth on an adventure to find out just who he is.

As he treks the Half-Continent, he faces danger but never quits his quest. As he continues his march, he faces frightening truths; of which the worst remains not knowing anything about who he is. Naimes Duchess in Waiting, Europe the monster hunter, "adopts" Rossamund as her Factotum and friend while teaching her protege that evil comes in all shapes and forms including human packaging, but his quest for his identity has already aroused the long time dormant Monster Lords.

The third Foundling's Tale (see Foundling and Lamplighter) is a great final fantasy as Rossamund learns more truth than he would prefer. Fast-paced with a sort of ancient feel to the vernacular and enhanced by drawings and maps, teen readers will want to join the Foundling and they aristocrat as they hunt monsters including people and seek clues to who Rossamund is especially since his search has awakened the most hideous lethal Monster Lords.

The Broken Kingdoms
N.K. Jemisin
Orbit Books
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780316043960, $13.99,

A decade ago in the city of Shadow, the world tree sprung up after an incredible amount of magic was released. Blind artist Oree works in the shade of the world tree by selling junk to tourists visiting the city to see the tree.

Oree conceals her real talent as a painter from everyone by drawing only inside her home. When she finds a homeless man living inside a muck bin, Oree feels sorry for him. She takes him to her home only to learn what happens to Good Samaritans. A God is murdered in plain sight and anyone who Oree cherishes is harmed forcing the artist to come out of the shadows of her house to defend those she cares about.

The second Inheritance fantasy is a terrific tale held together by the fascinating Oree who has come a long way in the decade that has passed since the events of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Oree is super as she defends weaker people from bullies in a realm that believes only the strong survive. Although The Broken Kingdoms can stand alone as a deep character driven thriller, fans will want to read its excellent predecessor The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms as a great fantasy opening act but also to see how far the intrepid reclusive blind artist has come to be a champion of the downtrodden as she can see the Distance.

Hull Zero Three
Greg Bear
9780316072816 $19.95

Millenniums into the distant future, Sanjay wakes up without any memories. He has no idea who he is or how he got where he is. He also is confused by his guide, a small girl who seems aware of what is going on.

As he somewhat gets his bearing, Sanjay learns he is on a starship sailing through space. The vessel contains generations traveling to a new home, but he soon learns an internal dispute threatens the safety of the ship and its passengers at a time when they enter a dangerous supernovae sector. Sanjay is beginning to learn why he is awake during this crisis as he is not what he thought he was.

Hull Zero Three is a fun science fiction thriller that adds very little new to the generational ark in space sub-genre as the reader will know what follows in this frequently used theme (see the movie Pandorum and Baxter's Ark). Still filled with non stop action and starring an intriguing confused hero and several support characters adding to his bewilderment by their divided commentary, fans will enjoy disasters strike the starship of Hull Zero Three.

Surface Detail
Iain M.Banks
9780316123402 $25.99

The Culture employs special technology throughout the galaxy that enables humans and aliens to select who they want to be. On the planet Sichult, powerful Veppers assisted by two of his employees, rapes and murders sex slave Lededje Y'breq; but not before she rips some skin off their leader.

The Culture artificial intelligence on a nearby starship resurrects Lededje. She is expected to enact vengeance for her homicide. At the same time, a debate within the Culture leadership continues over what to do about evil sinners like Veppers and his minions. Some insist they should be transported to cyber Hells to suffer punishment until either redeemed or eternity whichever comes first while others insist the more humane response is capital punishment.

The latest Culture space thriller (see Transition and Matter) is an incredible accomplishment as Iain M. Banks shifts effortlessly between reality and virtually so much so the reader will wonder what real is and what fantasy is. Fast-paced from the haunting opening assault and never slowing down, fans of the saga will love this powerful entry while newcomers will be searching for the backlist.

Of Love and Evil
Anne Rice
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th fl., NY, NY 10019
9781400043545, $24.95,

Malchiah the angel takes former government assassin Toby O'Dare with him on the latter's second case to right historical wrongs (see Angel Time). This time he is sent back to the era of Pope Leo X in the Holy City of Rome. There he is find out what led to an angry dybbuk spirit haunting modern day Manhattan.

Apparently in the realm of the Medici, a Jew has been accused of devilish witchcraft and murder by poison. He investigates the homicide and the accusations, which to a killing peer like Toby smells so Medici. At the same his mind wanders back to the recent revelation that he sired a son whom he just met in New York. The simple case turns darker and uglier as Toby finds himself in danger from diabolical adversaries back in fifteenth century Rome and twenty-first century Manhattan.

The second Songs of Seraphim is a terrific Christian historical metaphysical thriller. Toby is a stronger protagonist than when he worked the Angel Time case as the audience learns somewhat of his mortal past. Fast-paced in both eras, Of Love and Evil shows Anne Rice at her best as she effortlessly guides readers back and forth between the six-centuries ago past, Roby's human period, and modern day New York in an entertaining tale.

Full Dark, No Stars
Stephen King
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781439192566, $27.95,

"1922". Wilfred Leland James loves his Nebraska farm. His wife Arlette hates the spread. When she inherits 100 acres, she wants to sell it and her spouse's land while he wants to work both. She will learn how he plans to keep her and Henry on the farm after they've seen Omaha.

"Big Driver". After a Massachusetts speaking engagement, cozy novelist Tess is given a short cut home by her patron Ramona. While driving the back road, she runs over a nail causing a flat. A man stops to change the tire, but instead rapes her and leaves her dead. However, he failed to kill her so she plots vengeance as only a mystery writer could.

"Fair Extension". Dying from cancer, Streeter talks with Mr. Elvid who offers him a Faustian deal of passing on much of his bad luck to a person he hates in exchange for an annual portion of money. Over the years Streeter and his family enjoy a good life, but his former best friend and his family have one catastrophe after another

"A Good Marriage". After twenty-seven years of marriage to Bob, Darcy believes they have had a good life together. While he is away on business, she finds in their garage catalogues that he hid from her so she would not order items. She finds a second box, but when Darcy opens it, she learns secrets about Bob that he hid from her; now she must decide what to do with this other Bob she just met.

Noted for his horror novels, Stephen King is also a super novella/short story writer as proven by Different Seasons, which includes tales that were adopted into movies (see The Shawshank Redemption, The Apt Pupil and Stand By Me). This quartet affirms Mr. King's shorter thriller writing skills as the naturing stranger inside of everyone is masked by nurturing so that even long term partners and in some case the person do not know the inner sanction of their soul.

Blond Run
Jim Michael Hansen
Thriller Publishing Group
9780981999395 $13.95

In San Francisco, the SJK serial killer has the city panicked. Thirtyish SFPD homicide detective Trane Ravenwood believes the killer is Condor, but lacks proof. He illegally sneaks into the Nob Hill Victorian home of his prime suspect to find files on the victims starting with Paris Zephyr and the six other females, but no hard evidence. Upstairs in the mansion he sees a telescope, which he looks through only to have his quarter Apache and three fourth other blood boil over with what he witness between two women in a "dungeon".

As he struggles to take down this serial killer and how to handle what he saw, Trane knows the next SJK victim will be found dead in a few days. Complicating matters for Trane is when his department creates a SNAFU in the Grayson fiasco as the chief and a detective were fired leaving Trane in charge. He has to conceal how he knows Condor is the killer if he does not want to join his predecessor and another detective while he also meets the dungeon mistress, attorney Trance St. Croix.

One of the best police procedural writers on the market today Jim Michael Hansen provides a great Run tale that is so dissimilar from the super Coventry "Law" cases, fans will assume a different author wrote them. Ravenwood does things that Coventry would never do, which enhances the exciting story line. Readers and the cop believe Condor is SJK, but to prove it in court after the Grayson flop is going to be tough. St. Croix adds a refreshing but needed element to what is a fantastic Lombard Street crooked twisted mean streets of San Francisco noir.

City in Shadow
Evan Marshall
Severn House Publishers
595 Madison Avenue 15th fl., NY, NY 10022
9780727869210, $27.95,

Recent Cincinnati high school graduate Patti Fairchild is coming to Manhattan to spend time with her older second cousin sanitation garage supervisor Anna Winthrop. Patti has not made any plans for her future so Anna is excited with her relative's visit.

At the same time that Patti is due in town, Anna's edgy neighbor Nettie Clouchet, the "ghost blogger" is investigating Winthop for a section in her new book on local women of achievement. To make space for her cuz in her small apartment, Anna sells a desk to Ukrainian Grigori Sidorov. Inside Grigori's truck sits a pretty woman who drops a note onto the sidewalk while the desk is loaded. Anna picks up the message, which pleads: "help me". She gets her boyfriend, NYPD police officer Santos Reyes, who agrees the woman, may be in trouble and they should not ignore that possibility. Nervous Nettie can 't either as a journalist. None of them nor Patti who wanders the avenues at night know yet that their separate inquiries involve trafficking as the Kirkmore Apartments is where Death Is Disposable.

The fourth Hidden Manhattan mystery (see Dark Alley) is a gripping urban mystery in which the four "sleuths" learn where all avenues ends, but may be too late by the time they figure out the horror they investigate. Fast-paced, readers will want to journey the streets of Manhattan along side their tour guides as mean is too soft of a descriptor. This is all lights-on after reading thriller.

The Lost Art of Gratitude
Alexander McCall Smith
Anchor Books
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th fl, NY, NY 10019
9780307387080, $14.00,

Feeling a bit paranoid investment banker Minty Auchterlonie fears someone detests her so much that they are trying to harm her. First government tax agents are investigating her though she has no idea why suddenly they are doing it unless someone tipped them off. Second she received a funeral wreath from an unknown sender.

At a child's birthday party, Minty tells her friend Scottish philosopher Isabel Dalhousie, whose not quite two year old son Charlie is at the bash, that she believes someone is after her. Isabel investigates using skills honed by being the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics. She questions the most likely suspect Jock Dundas, who believes he sired Minty's son during an affair they had; he wants time with his alleged offspring or he will expose her to her spouse Gordon McCaig. Meanwhile her enemy accuses Isabel of failing to prevent plagiarism at the Review and her lover Jamie asks her to marry him so they and their son Charlie can be a family.

If you seek a bit more action turn to the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency tales. However as with Precious's detecting, Isabel is a great focus who holds the intelligent slice of life plot together (see The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday). Character driven, readers will enjoy this sage saga as evil comes in many shapes, but never a Dove as Isabel learns first hand The Lost Art Of Gratitude as no one seems to appreciate her efforts.

I Still Dream About You
Fannie Flagg
Random House
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th fl., New York, NY 10019
9781400065936, $26.00,

Still beautiful, former Miss Alabama Maggie Fortenberry works for Red Mountain Realty in Birmingham. She is very successful at her job and considers her co-workers as friends. Yet with all she knows she has going for herself, Maggie has problems getting out of bed each day as she wonders what she has worth living. Maggie has made elaborate plans to commit suicide without any of her friends knowing she killed herself.

On the day she decides it is time to deploy her exit strategy, she gets the contract to sell Crestview on Red Mountain. She has dreamed of owning that house all her life and wants to make sure the right people, appreciative of this lovely abode, will buy it. She postpones her departure until she finds two people she likes and trusts to do right by Crestview buy the place. Her time selling the house has given Maggie the will to live.

This is a heartwarming story about a woman who rejected love in pursuit of a dream of becoming Miss America and living on Red Mountain that never materialized. Instead she became a realtor instead, but fails to understand how rich she truly is with friends like Brenda and Ethel, and can eat Krispy Kreme doughnuts without weight gain Like Brenda I just look at one and gain 5 pounds). Miracles can come in many ways as Fannie Flagg merges humor with somberness to tell the passionate tender tale that we are all rich in our own ways if we take the time to learn how.

Keeping Time
Stacey McGlynn
c/o The Crown Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, #B1, New York, NY 10019-4305
9780307464408, $24.00,

In Liverpool, septuagenarian Widow Daisy Phillips knows she has had elderly moments, she wishes her concerned son Dennis would stop pushing her into leaving the family home for a retirement assisted living community. At the same time Daisy is undergoing offspring pressure, her BFF is going away for a few months and the new town librarian informs her and other elderly volunteers that their services are no longer needed. When she finds a long lost watch in her home given to her during WWII by a Brooklyn GI, Daisy decides to cross the pond to the States to find him.

In the United States, Daisy's American relatives have issues too. Her second cousin Elisabeth loathes her job and fears her dart playing spouse the attorney is the notorious "Dart Man," who rides a bike while shooting women in their backsides with darts. Parents of five children; their teenage son Michael overwhelms her with his raging hormonal torment and failing grades. Daisy's arrival at their Long Island home seems to calm down Michael and gives Elisabeth an escape as she teams up with her English relative in search of the solider.

When the enjoyable story line uses third person grammar it is distracting, however the fully developed cast especially the two female amateur sleuths provide insightful gripping first person dialogue more often. Fans will enjoy harried Elisabeth who feels her world imploding die to her belief her husband has been firing darts are female butts and her son's anguish while also wondering what her other fearsome foursome is up to. However, this is mostly Daisy's American adventure even with a coincident over the top of the BQE.

New World Monkeys
Nancy Mauro
Three Rivers
c/o The Crown Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, #B1, New York, NY 10019-4305
9780307461421, $14.00,

Estranged couple Lily and Duncan leaves the heat of Manhattan to spend part of the summer in the Upstate New York town of Osterhaven although he knows it will be a long commute as h is an ad exec in the Big Apple. Their drive is uneventful until near the house they leased, the couple hits an apparent wild boar running out of nowhere onto the road Lily feeling for the beast still alive but crying in severe pain takes the tire iron and smashes the animal's head until he is dead.

In Osterhaven, they learn the boar they killed is considered sacred by townsfolk as the Sovereign of the Deep Wood. In particular he was Skinner's pet and the angry odious man vows similar deaths to the killers; as does other fuming residents. The house they rented is dilapidated and while exploring outside Duncan finds a gravestone and a human bone. Stunned they disinter the remains of the buried body. While Duncan is in New York City, Lily becomes friends with the town pervert who she finds she can communicate with easier than her spouse.

This is an entertaining graveyard humor thriller tale that paints a neat twist to the urban yuppie finding heaven in rustication as both the big city and small town are made up of two legged beasts. The key to this engaging tale is Nancy Mauro never takes the subject too gravely serious as the author uses hyperbolic ghoulishness to make a case that veracity is the foundation of any relationship.

Bomber Bombs
David Champion
Allen A. Knoll, Publisher
200 West Victoria Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101-3627
9781888310498, $23.00,

Cal Southern alumni football booster club honcho Clarence "Dixie" Dixon wants to hire the best defense attorney on the West Coast Bomber Hanson to defend ten players accused of rape. Dixie drives to Angleton to explain that the guys put up a hundred each for a stripper to perform. Mimi Parquette persuaded District Attorney Web Granger she is telling the truth. Dixie fears that if the boys are convicted of being boys, the team would lose its national ranking and fire Coach Eddleman.

Bomber assigns his son Tod to do the leg work before deciding to accept the case though he hates football as a barbaric endeavor. At trial, Judge McKorkle clearly shows his favoritism is towards the prosecution who brought a looker to sit at his table. Bomber collapses in court and is rushed to the hospital. The defendants, the judge, the D.A., the paying client, the coach, mom, and his girlfriend Joan expect Tod to take over the defense; everyone that is except stuttering unconfident Tod.

This is an entertaining legal thriller that is taken from the recent headlines (the story line references the Duke Lacrosse team). Tod tells the tale even when the "Bombastic" one takes the lead. The sports cast are three dimensional people though to a degree stereotypical while Bomber's family, associates, and the other side enhance the differences between father and son. Although a ploy used by Bomber seems inappropriate even with his late rationalization, readers will relish this exciting entry (see Easy Come, Easy Go) as Tod comes off the bench to run the team's defense with a strong offense.

Secrets Of Harmony Grove
Mindy Starns Clark
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736926256, $13.99,

After losing her marketing executive job due to some sort of US Attorney General investigation of her, Sienna Collins considers moving onto the property she inherited from her late grandfather in Harmony Grove, Pennsylvania. Based on the advice of her then boyfriend Troy Griffin, Sienna and her dad converted the place into a successful Lancaster County Bed and Breakfast though she has not been there in a couple of years.

Still in Boston, Sienna tries to figure out what just happened to her when Troy calls. Sienna heads to the B&B only to find Troy dead and already in legal trouble, she is only suspect. As she investigates, she finds ties to the Holocaust and increased suspicion by the cops that she is dangerous while someone watches her every move.

The key to this strong suspense thriller is a romantic subplot remains mostly in the background supporting the prime theme of a woman in trouble. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Sienna is suspended from her job and never slows down as she and the readers try to figure out what is going on in this complicated mystery. Although the climax seems too simple for such a complex plot, fans will relish learning the Secrets of Harmony Cove.

Path of the Sun
Violette Malan
DAW Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756406387, $15.00,

The Mercenary Brotherhood in Lesonika inform Brothers Dhulyn Wolfshead and Parno Lionsmane that they no longer stand accused of murdering the heir to the throne of Tegrian, as the Prince has been found alive though his sister sits on the throne. The Mercenary Brotherhood assigns the exonerated pair to escort the Arderon Princess Cleona to her wedding to the Tarkin of Menoin; which means another ocean voyage for Dhulyn and Parno as the destination is an island. However, their Guild also directs the duet to investigate the disappearance of two members who traveled last year to Menoin, but have not been heard from since.

They arrive with their charge in Menoin where Dhulyn and Parno hear rumors of ritual mutilations. When the Princess is found murdered, an apparent victim of the ritual killers, the latest victim's two former escorts follow clues that lead them into the unknown deadly Path of the Sun labyrinth.

The fourth adventures of Dhulyn Wolfshead and Parno Lionsmane (see The Storm Watch, The Sleeping God and The Soldier King) is a super fantasy that fans of the sword and sorcery saga will relish. The accusation arch from the previous tales is nicely ended with a whimper rather than a bang while Dhulyn sums up their latest inquiry with he r musing that she prefers a horse after several recent water logged escapades. Fast-paced throughout, readers will enjoy traveling with the lead pair as they enter a labyrinth in which few get out alive.

Trolls in the Hamptons
Celia Jerome
9780756406301 $7.99

Once upon a time the creatures of myths and legends (except vampires and shapeshifters) populated the land alongside of cavemen. Humans took over the land of the eldritch killing what they couldn't understand. It became obvious that though was some cross breeding between species, they could not coexist so on the Day of Unity, an incredible degree of power caused the realm to split with a barrier to keep the two earths apart.

Graphic young adult writer and artist Willow "Willey" Tate is a descendent of the half-breeds. She draws a troll Fafhrd who comes to life, but no one can see him except her. People see the troll as trolley, tree and a bus. British Agent Grant of DUE (Department of Unexplained Events) explains to her she is a descendant of a half-breed like many of the people of Peaumkack Harbor in the Hamptons; and that she is to be instrumental in finding a youn g child Nicky stolen from the town by a megalomaniac bent on world domination. The villain needs Willey for his plan to succeed; she reluctantly agrees as an innocent child is involved who somehow is linked to her troll.

This is a fun zany romantic Hamptons fantasy with the lead couple (Willey and Grant) heating up the sheets with enough energy to keep Long island warm in the winter. There is plenty of action off the sheets too as Willey confronts one confrontation after another. However, who makes the tale fantastic by stealing the show is Fafhrd, a ten foot troll who though an illegal alien is child-like except when it comes to protecting his creator. The villain does not make an in person appearance until the climax, but his malevolence oozes throughout the exciting story line as the suspense builds to a final confrontation.

Naked Heat
Richard Castle
Hyperion Books
77 West 66th Street, New York, NY 10023-6298
9781401324025, $22.99,

Reporter Jameson Rook wrote about the exploits of NYPD homicide detective Nikki Heat for t her for First Press magazine (see Heat Wave). The cop loathes the publicity as she just wants to do her job.

Heat's current assignment is high profile as gossip columnist for the New York Star Ledger Cassidy Towne was found murdered. She quickly learns Rook was working on an article about the most despised columnist in New York. Ever the charmer, Rook joins Heat on her investigation though she would prefer it otherwise as they are no longer an entry in spite of the heated attraction they have for each other. The pair quickly finds a horde of people who felt Cassidy, in her sensationalistic headline grabbing "Buzz Rush" column, destroyed them without regard. One of these famous people is her killer, but the culprit remains elusively out of reach as all these raging celebs look possible.

The return of the TV stars in their second heated investigative novel will please fans of the series as Naked Heat is a superb Manhattan murder mystery. The story line is fast-paced as the lead couple tosses barb grenades at each other while also working the rich, famous, and notorious crowd. Readers will enjoy the antics of Rook and Heat who, as they work the case, could keep the northeast balmy in winter.

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball
Donita K. Paul
WaterBrook Press
c/o Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9780307458995, $14.99,

With Christmas around the corner, lonely Cora Crowder knows she procrastinates in buying gifts. On Sage Street, as such she enters into Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad's bookshop where she meets also lonely Simon Derrick.

At the store, Cora and Simon receive invitations to attend a Christmas ball. They continue to run into each other around town, which has both wondering what is going on as they never met before they literally ran into each at the WWW bookstore. When Simon mentions he would love to bring his sister Sandy to the ball; Cora gives him her ticket though he insists he was not asking her for it. It will take a lot more magic to bring this pair together for Christmas.

Although readers will anticipate the outcome of the Christmas ball, this is a terrific romantic fantasy with a strong underlying message on trusting the Heavenly Father. Fast-paced and whimsical, young adults and older readers will enjoy Donita K. Paul's charming holiday novella as The Gift of the Magi is learning to respect and love yourself, others and the Lord while doing the fox trot.

Tracey Bateman
9780307457172 $13.99

A half a year has passed since the brutal vampiric homicides stunned the residents of the Ozark town of Abbey Hills, Missouri (see Thirsty). As Lauryn McBride observes the slow torturous death of her father from Alzheimer's, her family auction house is hosting an estate sale of one of the murder victims, Markus Chisom.

Meanwhile, Lauryn finds letters from the 1870s in the estate addressed to the Dastillion family of New Orleans. Lauryn searches for the kin and learn they still own the same house in which the letters were sent. She informs the family and Amede Dastillion arrives in Abbey Hills allegedly to look at family heirlooms but actually hopes to find clues to her missing sister Eden. At the same time reporter Miranda James believes Markus and Eden were vampires. When a second wave of brutal vampiric homicides occur, the cops look closely at the Bayou visitor as the culprit.

The second Ozark vampiric Christian thriller is an exciting tale in which Tracey Bateman once again effortlessly merges the two sub-genres into a cohesive tale. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Amede arrives in town as she and Lauryn begin to learn the true history of Abbey hills. Although the climax seems weak and rushed, fans will fully enjoy this terrific horror suspense while thirsting for more such amalgams from Ms. Bateman.

A Season Of Seduction
Jennifer Haymore
Forever Romance
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780446540285, $6.99,

In 1827 England, widower Lady Rebecca Fisk deems it is time for her to find a lover. Her only stipulation besides not being abusive is the hunk she selects must not want marriage. She figures adventurer Jack Fulton is the perfect candidate for her first lover.

Jack meets Rebecca's stipulations as he likes trysts with no entanglements. However, his circumstances change when needs to marry a wealthy woman by Christmas or be accused of being a killer. He thinks Rebecca fits his requirement so takes her away on a tryst in which he plans to get her to marry him, which she agrees to do. However, once Jack's dark secret surfaces at the same time as his love for Rebecca, he must choose freeing her from his scandal or taking a chance she loves him too.

A Season of Seduction is an engaging nineteenth century romance enhanced by Jack's secret. Fast-paced, Becky and Jack have different needs that converge into a love that seems too late as he knows he will be married or dead by Christmas. Fans will appreciate Jennifer Haymore's strong historical as Lady Rebecca learns she doesn't know Jack, but he also learns he does not know his Becky.

Two Lethal Lies
Annie Solomon
9780446178457 $6.99

Mitch Turner knew his brother Dutch was a vicious psychopath who gave the appearance of being a kind person. When his daughter Julia was born eleven years ago, he knew his monster sibling would go after his niece. Thus Mitch took Julia and ran away with her.

However, Julia is tired of running and wants to go to school and make friends like other tweeners do. Reluctantly, Mitch stops at Crossroads, Tennessee so his beloved daughter can have some normalcy. He becomes a short order cook and meets Neesy Brown. They are attracted to one another, but soon he is exposed as a killer by the Crossroad cops and a decade long serial killer by the FBI. Dutch insists Julia is his child; kidnapped by Mitch. The endangered child is given to her artist uncle while her real father is incarcerated. Mitch escapes and with Neesy at his side searches for his insane but clever sibling in order to save the life of his daughter.

The romance takes a needed back seat to the exhilarating Cain and Abel war between the brothers. Fast-paced from the moment father and daughter stop in Tennessee, fans anticipate the sibling showdown. Although Mitch's escape (from detention) depends too much on coincidence, readers will appreciate the fraternal war as the stakes are Julia and Neesy.

Simply Irresistible
Jill Shalvis
9780446571616 $6.99

Maddie Moore kicks her abusive boyfriend to the curb while also losing her job. However, Maddie also inherits a share of a resort in Lucky Harbor, Washington with her two half-sisters. Upon arriving in town, she runs Jax Cullen off the road and shares kisses with the hunk. Soon afterward, she decides to renovate the hotel.

The next day Maddie contacts JC Builders to work on her hotel. However, she learns JC stands for Jax Cullen, carpenter and mayor, and the hunk she kissed after almost hitting him. Jax tries to persuade Maddie they belong together, but after the debacle of her last relationship she has doubts and his previous job only increases her hesitation.

The first Lucky Harbor contemporary romance is an enjoyable warm tale owned by Maddie who wants to become the mouse that roared. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the heroine almost runs over JC. And though it somewhat slows down in the latter parts of the novel it keeps the audience's attention throughout. Fans will enjoy Jill Shalvis' Washington State saga and look forward to the tales of Maddie's siblings.

The Painted Darkness
Brian James Freeman
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit 7, Forest Hill, Maryland 21050
9781587672088, $19.99,

Everyone knows five years old Henry has a vivid imagination so when his parents are away and his babysitter preoccupied, he decided to have an adventure. This was a disaster from the time he climbs on an old tree-house. He sees a skeleton falls to the ground, follows rabbits with red eyes and falls into the frozen river. He can't swim against the current, but he becomes caught on a tree branch. He follows the rabbits, which leads to the school where his father is eaten alive by monster rabbits. He gets home to see his father is okay, but tells him what happens as a way to release his fears.

Twenty years later, married with a son Henry is having another adventure. There are things in the basement where there are three graves and his furnace starts to talking to him. Henry is scared to death as he hears noises throughout the house. He chalks it up to his imagination, but he is an adult not a preadolescent child.

Henry's fear and imagination lead to his painting chilling but brilliant art. The chapters alternate between the past and present; enabling the reader to see the similarities between Henry the child and Henry the adult as he makes choices. This is an entertaining but frightening ride filled with heart wrenching moments as the readers wonders whether Henry is psychotic or an oracle.

Linda Gerber
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th fl., New York, NY 10014
9780142414156, $7.99,

The car accident left her mom dead and Ashlyn hurt mentally because she believes with her visions combined with that of her sister Kyra she could have prevented the tragedy. She looks back to growing up when she and her sibling learned to hide their cursed trances and the number they would write down.

Meanwhile Kyra has cut Ashlyn off, which leaves the latter believing more so she failed her mom and her family. Her father buries himself at work, which leaves Ashlyn feeling further isolated. She feels completely alone despite her efforts to connect with her father and find her sister. Unable to relate when Jake wants to know her better, Ashlyn goes deeper into her shell. Co-worker, Gina tutors her on numerology, which Ashlyn hopes will enable her to interpret the vision and prevent another tragedy as she sees another car accident occurring this time to Jake.

This is an exciting but strange tale as the siblings slowly come to somewhat understand their visions and the numbers they write down while in a Trance. Pathos filled Ashlyn makes the teen tale terrific with her intense struggle to comprehend what the number denote. Character driven, young adult readers will empathize with Ashlyn who blames herself for her failure to interpret her vision in time to save her mom's life and hope she can this time with Jake on the line.

Jennifer Estep
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781439148013, $7.99,

In Ashland former assassin Spider turned restaurant owner Gin Blanco hides her Stone and Ice magic as she keeps a low profile after killing an associate of the deadly Fire Elemental Mab Monroe. However, she still loathes Mab for murdering her family seventeen years ago and remains dedicated to killing her enemy.

Recently to her shock, Gin has found out that her sister Bria, who she thought died in the massacre, is alive. Gin wants to tell Ashland Police Detective Bria Coolidge that they are siblings, but their respective occupations make her hesitate especially with her plan to destroy her family's killer. Meanwhile Mab's prime enforcer gigantic Elliot Slater stalks vampire Roslyn Phillips. To keep Roslyn safe may mean putting her own life at risk from Slater's humongous fists and delay implementation of her vengeance scheme.

The latest urban fantasy Elemental Assassin saga (see Spider's Bite and Web of Lies) is a great entry as the killer heroine learns her baby sister is alive, but ironically a cop. Loaded with action from the opening Slater fists to the finish, the key to this exciting thriller is the paranormal seems genuine due to little touches; for instance Gin recovers from the flu. Readers will be engaged with Venom as Gin returns for another exciting elemental escapade.

Deadly Promises
Sherrilyn Kenyon, Laura Griffin, Cindy Gerard, Dianna Love
9781439191118 $7.99

"Just Bad Enough" by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love. CeCe Caprice earns her living by performing as a statue. Her performance is so good, someone assumes she is a statue and hides a revealing recording on her body. Only her next door neighbor, Bureau of American Defense undercover agent Jeremy Sunn might be able to keep CeCe safe from the mob.

"Leave No Trace" by Cindy Gerard. CIA operative David Cavanaugh goes to Myanmar to get American Carrie Granger out of a labor prison.

"Unstoppable" by Laura Griffin. Forensic anthropologist Kelsey Quinn and former SEAL Gage Brewer accidentally end up at a location where a double murder occurred several months ago. The murders have ties to illegal immigration and a terrorist plot.

Although readers will need to ignore believability (big time for the first two entries and somewhat less for the other) romantic suspense fans will enjoy the latest BAD tale and the other two action-packed thrillers.

Aching For Always
Gwen Cready
9781439107287 $7.99

The daughter of an internationally renowned map maker, Josephine O'Malley runs the Pittsburgh based Brand O'Malley Map Company. However, technology has cut into the demand for paper maps leaving the business near bankruptcy in spite of her Herculean efforts to keep the firm solvent. Business mogul Rogan Reynolds is the only reason her map business still lives. She is grateful and attracted to her benefactor and considers taking their relationship to the next level; something that he wants.

Joss meets Hugh Hawksmoor, but is unaware that he actually comes from late seventeenth century Scotland. He has traveled to the future to retrieve a map and to kill the ancestor of a person who murdered his brother on the High Seas off Scotland and destroyed countless number of lives including his. Hugh tricks Joss into going back in time to undo what was done.

This is a terrific time travel romantic suspense that grips readers from the moment Hugh (speaking like his acting namesake Grant) arrives in Pittsburgh and never slows down until the final climax. With a great twist, sub-genre readers will salute Gwen Cready for her refreshing exhilarating tale.

The Best of Friends
Susan Mallery
9781416567189 $7.99

In high school in Southern California, Jayne Scott was an introverted student who spilled coffee on herself even while walking through life cautiously. Rebecca Worden was a beautiful extrovert who ran through life as if running the 100 yard dash, but never spilled a drop on herself. They became the best of friends and remained BFFs though Rebecca fled the country for the past dozen years.

While Rebecca was overseas, her mother Elizabeth and to a lesser degree her dad Blaine "adopted" Jayne as her offspring when the latter's mom died. Now Rebecca has come home to cause her mother havoc. However, the return of the prodigal natural daughter may impact her pal big time, but not as much as the return of Elizabeth's prodigal son David, who the introverted Jayne has loved since first meeting him back in her high school days.

This is an entertaining extended family drama that fans will enjoy as the cast, for the most part, seems genuine. In spite of Elizabeth being over the top of the Sierras with her all consuming control of anyone inside her sphere, she makes the tale entertaining as she manipulates those who try to care about her. Readers will enjoy the Best of Friends as the audience will want to know what happens to Jayne.

Winter Bloom
Tara Heavey
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781439177938, $15.00,

In Dublin, widow Eva Madigan barely copes with raising her four years old son Liam by herself. When she finds a garden overrun by weeds, she believes it is symbolic of her own emotional state. She asks garden owner elderly Myrtle Prendergast if she can work on the garden though she is ignorant when it comes to gardening.

Having received surprising approval from Myrtle, who allegedly killed and buried her spouse in her garden three decades ago, Eva seeks help. She meets Holocaust survivor Uri, his divorced son Seth, and too serene Emily. As the garden recovers its beauty, the quartet and Myrtle mentally heal. That is until Mrs. Prendergast's adult son insists on selling the property; devastating the gardeners.

Although Winter Bloom does not add anything new to the mental healing by gardening (for instance, the classic The Secret Garden and Sue Minter's nonfiction Healing Garden series), this is an entertaining tale of five people finding solace with the urban garden they cultivate. Each of the prime quintet comes across as real people with emotional issues crippling them in different ways. As the garden blooms so do they in Tara Heavey's enjoyable contemporary.

Rise Again
Ben Tripp
9781439165164 $15.00

It is the Fourth of July and Forest Peak, California Sheriff Danielle Adelman realizes her sister Kelley has run away. Kelley knows that while her sister's body came home from Iraq, her mind is not in Forest Peak. Before Danielle can look for her, a warning comes over the radio that thousands of from Los Angeles are moving in the direction of Forest Peak looking for safety.

Los Angeles is ground zero; the place where the zombie plague began. The first ones are the George Romero kind who eats human flesh. Later generations are a bit smarter; reanimate quicker and has 1% cognitive ability. Danielle leads a group of survivors to a place of safety before taking off on a quest to find her sister. Her journey is in vain, but the people she left behind lost their freedom when mercenaries arrived and took over. Danielle and her allies try to find ways to rescue the civilians from criminals pretending to be soldiers. If she succeeds she plans to keep this group safe from the zombie apocalypse.

George Romero will love Rise Again (except perhaps it being in California instead of Pittsburgh), a zombie thriller that would make a terrific action movie due to a strong cast of starring characters struggling to survive by choosing to become heroic or malevolent. Danielle is a natural leader who has saved lives by leading her troupe to safety while her concern for her sibling is a powerful emotional driver. Part of the fun is the death of communication as the group has no idea what has happened on other continents in Ben Tripp's fabulous futuristic apocalyptic thriller.

Haunted Honeymoon
Marta Acosta
9781416598879 $15.00

Milagro de Los Santos Milagro is unique as the only known individual to survive the vampire infection. Her reputation has spread with people from everywhere interested in what allowed her to be immune. She currently is seen with powerful Vampire Council member Ian Ducharme, but loves and misses her former fiance Dr. Oswald Grant and misses his lunatic relatives.

In London, all hell breaks out with horrific murders seemingly everywhere Milagro goes. Though the prime suspect, she flees to her favorite "asylum", the Grant family ranch, to ponder who would kill to frame her. However, her deliberations end when an accident leaves Milagro suffering from amnesia. She has no memory of being a vampire or Ian. Instead, Milagro returns to being the carefree party girl she was before her conversion.

The fourth Casa Dracula fantasy (see The Bride of Casa Dracula and Midnight Brunch) is a clever fascinating entry as Marta Acosta brilliantly uses amnesia to bring the heroine back to her pre Happy Hour at Casa Dracula carefree roots. Fast-paced, Haunted Honeymoon is a brisk breezy thriller as Milagro proves you can go home, sort of.

Juggler in the Wind
Wim Coleman & Pat Perrin
Chiron Books
9781935178071, $8.95,

In Buchanan, Kansas, fourteen year old Randy Carmichael lives with his single mom, an alcoholic. Randy is bored as they go nowhere; not to Topeka or even nearby Emporium. When the Circus Olympus arrives in town setting up near Randy's house, he is thrilled and looks forward to going. However, he is stunned when mom says no that he is not going without an explanation except she is the parent. His mom warns Randy to stay away from the circus.

Unsure why she feels so strongly, Randy cuts school to attend the show. Unable to explain to himself why, Randy leaves town with the circus. Meanwhile the performers turn out to be the ancient Greek pantheon of Gods, who though immortal have fallen mightily since they were worshiped deities. Their circus is nearly bankrupt and the law seeks to arrest them. Randy begins to suffer from odd dreams that apparently singer Johnny "Dionysus" Vine has sent him. His mom follows ready to explain who he really is though she fears she may be too late.

This is a terrific young adult thriller that provides a fascinating look at the ancient Greek Gods (mindful of classic Star Trek's Who Mourns for Adonis?). The story line is fast-paced from the moment Randy holds a magical wand and soon gets into all sorts of adventures while joining the troupe with his panic-stricken mom in hot pursuit. Although Dionysus' powers feel out place re his Olympus peers and their need for Randy, the Y.A. crowd and fans of Greek mythology will want to read the first Wand Bearer rustic fantasy.

Safe from the Sea
Peter Geye
Unbridled Books
2000 Wadsworth Boulevard, #195, Lakewood, CO 80214
9781609530082, $24.95,

Thirty-five years ago, a tragedy on Lake Superior changed their lives forever, estranging father and son. Now Noah, encouraged by his wife Natalie, is returning to Misquah, Minnesota to see his dad for the first time in what seems like forever.

Noah is unsure what type of reception he will receive but expects it will be colder than the winter weather. Instead he is stunned to see how old and sick his father appears. Dying, Olaf who hid what happened on the ore boat three and half decades ago decides it is time to tell his son the truth that has haunted him as one of the few survivors.

Safe From The Sea is an engaging character driven saga in which an estranged father and son bond when Olaf tells Noah what happened on that tragic day. The entertaining story line contains other back-stories including Noah's look at his marriage as well as Olaf relating other sea adventures. Although a father and son bonding as adults is not new (see the nonfiction The Bond: Three Young Men Learn to Forgive and Reconnect with Their Fathers by Davis, Jenkins and Hunt, and the fiction Gilead by Marilynne Robinson), Peter Geye provides an enjoyable brisk tale.

Blood of the Prodigal
Paul L. Gaus
c/o Penguin Group, USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780452296466, $13.00,

In Holmes County, Ohio, the Old Order Amish do not trust the "vain" English neighbors. So it is very surprising to see "plain" folk Bishop Eli Miller asks outsider academic Professor Michael Brandon and Pastor Caleb Troyer for help. A decade ago, Miller excommunicated his son Jonah for leaving an outsider addicted teen pregnant. Jonah's illegitimate son Jeremiah remained in the Amish community living with his paternal grandfather. Now Jonah has abducted his ten year old son Jeremiah and Miller is very worried about the lad.

Jonah sends a note to his father that he will return the child by the harvest. Meanwhile Joshua's maternal Uncle Jeff Hostettler, whose sister committed suicide, has vowed to murder Jonah who he blames for his sibling's death. Someone kills Jonah, who was dressed in Amish clothing that seemed to imply he was going to ask for a second chance. The police suspect Hostettler, who threatened to murder the victim, but Brandon is more concerned with where is the missing Jeremiah?

The key to the reprint of the first Amish Country Mystery (hopefully the others will follow) is the comparison of various faiths in which Paul L. Gaus displays a strong respect for all. The twin mysteries of the murder and the missing grandson enhance the overall look at modern day (circa 1999) the Amish lifestyle compared with those of the Mennonites and English living side by side sharing a county in Ohio. Readers will relish this entertaining amateur sleuth.

Double Cross
Clare O'Donahue
9780452296428 $14.00

George Olnhausen hires quilt instructor Susanne Hendrick to instruct at a workshop at the Patchwork Bed-and-Breakfast in the picturesque Adirondack Mountains town of Winston. Accompanying Susanne on her journey from Archers Rest are Nell Fitzgerald; her quilt-shop owner grandmother Eleanor Cassidy; Barney the dog; and George's high school girlfriend Bernadette "Bernie" Avallone.

Bernie still loathes her former BFF Rita for taking George from her. So when someone kills George, Bernie is a prime suspect; even more so because her "double cross" quilt covering the body. Nell's boyfriend, Archers Rest's police chief Jesse Dewalt assists Winston police chief Jim McIntyre with the investigation while Barney finds another corpse in the woods.

The latest Someday Quilt amateur sleuth (see A Drunkard's Path and A Lover's Knot) is an engaging whodunit as the ladies work the case one stitch at a time. The story line is fast-paced when it focuses on who killed George; a sidebar involving workshop students is fascinating in its own right; but detracts from the prime whodunit. Still fans will enjoy the Someday Quilt ladies take over the New York Adirondacks.

Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron
Stephanie Barron
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780553386707, $15.00,

In 1813, Henry Austen's wife Eliza dies after a lengthy illness. The Austen family grieves their loss but none besides Henry mourns the death of Eliza than Jane does; she was more a sister than an in-law.

Hoping to move on from Eliza's death, Henry and Jane travel to Brighton where they believe the ocean will prove energizing. The siblings stop at an inn on their travel only to find the wrists of a teenage girl tied by a cravat in a nearby coach. A few days later in Brighton, that same female Catherine Twining is found dead in Lord Byron's bed at the King's Arms. Byron swears he is innocent in spite of his scandalous reputation. As she investigates, Jane finds the poet charming, but albeit a bit too insane for her tastes.

The latest Jane Austen amateur sleuth (see Jane and the Barque of Frailty) is a terrific tale as Stephanie Barron catches the essence of the heroine, Byron, and the era. The murder mystery is well written and very entertaining, but the fun in this strong entry is Byron who enchants everyone including Jane who knows better. In the seemingly overkilled Austen recast "sub-genre" this series remains one of more endearing.

Double Cross
Carolyn Crane
9780553592627 $7.99

In Midcity, mastermind Packard charmed and subsequently granted Justine Jones with mental powers that she does not want. However, she has no choice so instead of hiding in trepidation as she prefers, Justine fights in the shadows against paranormal criminals although she fears her attraction to her boss.

Packard's former best friend and current enemy Midcity's new mayor Otto has high levels of power that match his adversary as both are at the top of the pyramid. Instead, she chooses Otto over Packard. However, Justine also uncovers a plot to kill all high caps like Packard and Otto, and that her manipulative former boss is not as evil as she originally thought. Serial killers with power never seen before are stalking and murdering the high caps.

This is a fascinating street-lit fantasy starring three interesting protagonists, but it is the grim Midcity that owns the electrifying story line. Justine assumes Packard is evil while Otto is benevolent, but soon realizes both high caps are neither pure good nor 200 proof bad. With a strong whodunit, sub-genre readers will appreciate the dark world of Carolyn Crane as Justine learns things are not always like they seem.

Sinful In Satin
Madeline Hunter
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780515148442, $7.99,

In London, only courtesan, four mirthful young lords, a fifth somber man, and the daughter attend the funeral of the renowned courtesan Alessandra Northrope. That daughter Celia Pennifold had been trained by her mom in using her female wiles to seduce men, but the child was unable to follow her mother's footsteps and has refused to tease men into taking care of her.

With her mom's death, Celia inherits the estate, which includes a small house in London. Celia decides to live in her new home, but is taken aback to find a tenant occupying the place. She was clueless to the fact that her mom rented a room to Jonathan Albrighton. He is attracted to her, which stuns him; but also conceals his undercover work to prove Alessandra sold information to the enemy during the Napoleonic Wars. Celia applies the sexual skills her mother taught her because as her debts prove overwhelming, she needs to know who her father is and s educes Jonathan.

The third Rarest Blooms Regency romantic mystery (see Provocative in Pearls and Ravishing in Red) is an entertaining historical thriller due to the strong lead couple. Celia vowed to never use her erotic education, but turns to those tricks to seduce Jonathan who already decided he wanted her. With the mystery of espionage issue hanging over their relationship like a pendulum sword, readers will relish this exciting thriller.

Lois Bujold
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781439133941, $25.00,

Residents of the planet Kibou-daini believe strongly in putting off death preferably forever. At the direction of Barrayaran Emperor Gregor to investigate the planet's cryo-corporations, Imperial Auditor Miles Vorkosigan arrives on the planet to attend a cryonics conference. However, he is a few days on the orb when someone drugs the interplanetary diplomat. Miles escapes from his wannabe kidnappers, but his mind is hazy from whatever was given to him.

Jin Sato rescues a dazed Miles. Jin's mother led a cryo reform movement until she was declared incompetent and frozen. Living amidst the impoverish masses, Jin runs a cline for the poor. As Miles learns about the cryo war over heirs and inheritance, he begins to meet the natives inside and outside of frozen coffins.

This is a great addition to the Vorkosigan diplomatic science fiction thrillers. Following regal orders, the hero investigates a convoluted series of events that appear only loosely tied by a cryo theme. Vorkosigan finally connects the dots only leading to greater peril; by those who do not want to come in from the cold. Simply put, Cryoburn is a timely super entry as the Imperial Auditor uncovers the stunning truth and he also learns Diplomatic Immunity will not keep him alive.

The Power of Illusion
Christopher Anvil
9781439134122 $12.00

Baen continues paying homage to the late great Christopher Anvil, known for his witty jocular science fiction tales. The eighth and apparently last Anvil book is divided into three sections. Part I Research East includes three James Cardan tales; two shorts and one novella, The Day the Machines Stopped. Part II Solver of Problems stars Richard Verner in all seven of his short stories. Finally Part III Problems, Snafus and Fubars includes eleven miscellaneous tales with the author's last work The Anomaly first published in this collection.

The Cardan and Verner entries are worth the price of admission as these are two delightful protagonists. Readers will especially enjoy Verner the problem solver. The third section includes well written contributions, but lacks the focus of the other two parts; making this section feeling like a bonus. One common theme that makes this twenty-one story anthology worth reading is the humor even when humanity is on the brink of extinction as Mr. Anvil made the case that The Power of Illusion is keep the reader smiling with sardonic science fiction.

An Uplifting Murder
Elaine Viets
Obsidian Mystery
c/o The Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451231703, $7.99,

She is a mystery shopper who anonymously evaluates a store for services and items sold in the venue. Desiree Lingerie, a company who owns a chain of upscale products wants her to evaluate one of these sales-people in the Plaza Venetia store in West County, as various customers have complained. When Josie Marcus arrives at the store she receives a pleasant surprise when she meets the manager Laura Ferguson who helped her in school when kids were harassing her about what she wore.

After she is through, Josie goes to the bathroom, but a woman in a wheelchair blocks her. The handicapped toilet is closed so Josie crawls under the door to see what is preventing the cubicle from being open. She finds the corpse of Francine who was an ugly person who relished hurting others including Laura, who cost her job she loved. Laura is arrested and Josie promises to find who the real killer though the number of people with viable motives leaves her wondering where to start.

Elaine Viets, author of the Dead End Job mysteries, has another hit amateur sleuth series in the Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper tales (see Fashion Hound Murders and Dying in Style). As the star of this series, Josie is self deprecatingly witty, determined, frightened and reckless. Filled with jocularity starting with the title, fans will laugh at the predicaments this mystery shopper finds herself in on the job and sleuthing.

The Lies That Bind
Kate Carlisle
9780451231697 $7.99

The Executive Artistic Director of the Bay Area Books Arts Center (BABA), a bitch on wheels; thinks so highly of book binder Brooklyn Wainwright she has her teach a class on the subject and restoring the BABA collection. No one likes Layla Fontaine, who stepped on bodies on her way to the top using lies, intimidation, and cheating as her means to success.

Somebody loathed Layla enough to kill her; no one, not even her niece Naomi, in BABA misses her though Layla brought in millions. Brooklyn wants to find out who killed Layla. With the help of security agent Derek, she investigates. They learn that Layla was the ringleader of a book fraud business and soon find the corpse of Mr. Soo who bought one of the phony tomes. When Brooklyn takes Derek to her hometown of Dhearm; they meet Gabriel a con artist who risked his life to save others. An unknown adversary wounds Gabriel. Brooklyn thinks all the deaths are connected, but Gabriel was not part of the fraud so Derek thinks his shooting is a coincidence. Soon the amateur will prove right, but hopefully not dead right.

The latest Bibliophile mystery (see if Books Could Kill) feels like an amalgam of James Bond and Jessica Fletcher and Brooklyn feels like a murder magnet who feels bound to investigate while the pros who surround her feel a need to protect her but not stifle her. Excitingly action-packed, The Lies that Bind amateur sleuth fans into a fast-paced read.

Murder She Wrote: The Queen's Jewels
Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain
9780451231260 $22.95

Cunard offered writer Jessica Fletcher a chance to travel on the Queen Mary II from England to New York at no cost if she serves as a writing instructor. Jessica eagerly agrees and flies to London. She goes to a dinner hosted by her publisher; there she meets Kim Chin-Hwa whose partner Walter Yang bought a blue diamond called the Heart of India.

She learns the gem was stolen and Yang murdered. Jessica's Scotland Yard friend Inspector George Sutherland expects the diamond to be sold as he tells her the business partner has an air tight alibi. Also attending the party Jessica's British publisher throws for her is M-16 Agent Michael Haggerty who has come in from the cold to find the diamond. Former jewel thief now insurance investigator Dennis Stanton wants to find the Heart of India before the QM-II docks in the States. There are others connected to the stolen gem so Jessica applies her grandmotherly kindness asking questions until she concludes who is involved in the theft and now all she has to do is prove her theory.

It has been years since the show ended, yet Donald Bain still captures the essence of Jessica that makes her a fan favorite. The Queen's Jewel is a very complex amateur sleuth tale due to the numerous characters with multiple motives concerning the deceased and the jewels. In an ironic twist of fate, a notorious jewel thief on board is connected to a series of jewelry robberies that occurred just prior to the ship's departure. However, once again this is Jessica's mystery as she calmly investigates the suspects sailing with her.

A Holiday Yarn
Sally Goldenbaum
9780451231581 $23.95

The villagers of the small New England town of Sea Harbor are gearing up for the holidays, but this is one Yuletide season in which a pall hangs over the village. Mary Pisano inherits her uncle's home, which she converts into a B&B. Her entire family occupies the B&B for the annual meeting.

One of the attendees is Pamela Pisano, editor of a national fashion magazine, who is breaking hearts of the men who idolize her. On their way home at night, two Seaside Knitters find her body that a gun in her hand. The police initially believe Pam, a native of the town, committed suicide as she was under immense pressure. Days later, a model and sometimes lover of Pam is found murdered. The Seaside Knitters believe notes in the snow next to both bodies connect the deaths, but need to find out how if they are to solve the homicides.

Instead of Patterns in the Sand, this time is patterns in the snow as Sally Goldenbaum creates Christmas time in coastal Massachusetts. The Seaside Knitters are a close knit group who go out of their way for one another including investigating murders (see Moon Spinners). Their friendship is what makes this amateur sleuth series a strong saga and A Holiday Yarn a terrific whodunit.

The Pumpkin Muffin Murder
Livia J. Washburn
9780451231321 $14.00

As the Thanksgiving Holiday nears, Phyllis Newsom is happy to be spending the time with her grandson Bobby while his parents are visiting his dying maternal grandfather. She is especially looking forward to showing him the Harvest Festival that she is helping to arrange. On opening day, Phyliss' friend Carolyn notices one of the scarecrows has been moved to a different locale; she looks closer only to realize she is staring at a dead person, realtor Logan Powell.

The subsequent autopsy confirms Logan was murdered. Suspicion falls on his wife Dana as witnesses state they saw the couple fighting. Further evidence leads to Dana's arrest on a first degree murder charge. Phyliss is positive that Dana is innocent and at the bail hearing she tells the judge she will keep the accused at her house until the Grand Jury convenes. Dana explains to Phyliss that she was positive that Logan cheated on her so confronted him and that he was involved in a lucrative real state deal. Phyliss investigates because she knows her friend is innocent but doubts the authorities will look any further.

In this age of distant social networking, it is fascinating to see the close knit community of small town Weatherford, Texas. Phyliss has solved murder cases before (see Killer Crab Cakes and The Christmas Cookie Killer) that baffles the cops who she often gets to talk to her about the case as they wonder how she puts together the puzzle pieces. This feisty grandma makes this Fresh-Baked Mystery a fun read.

The Chocolate Pirate Plot
JoAnna Carl
9780451231277 $21.95

Small town Warner Pier deals with harsh winters from the freezing temperatures made even colder by winds blowing out from Lake Michigan. In the summer, the town is a tourist attraction with a giant shopping mall in the location of the TenHuis Chocolate. Lee McKinney Woodyard is the business manager of the store and she is married to Joe, a part time boat maker and part time lawyer. While sailing their boat for a night on Lake Michigan, three pirates board their vessel, perform a show, and disappear into dark water.

Throughout the summer, the pirates repeat their performance for other tourists. The townsfolk are amused by their antics, but others are more interested in the play The Pirates of Penzance being performed and the younger crowd prefers the boat being made for the star of the movie Young Blackbeard. Marco Spear. Many locals believe the actor will come to town to pick up his boat and want to see him. A drowning victim is found, but later it is learned he was shot in the head. All of these events are linked to a daring crime that could lead to more fatalities if Joe, Lee and the chief of police are not careful.

The savory descriptions of gourmet chocolate will have readers craving sweets, but the story line is much more delicious. This is a complex creative and exciting mystery and although Lee does not actively investigate, information always seems to come her way and she then deduces their relevance to the events that occur targeting the Police Chief and Joe so she indirectly becomes involved with what is going on at Warner Pier. Like Lee, readers will struggle to connect the dots to find the link that connect all the plot points.

I Want It Now
Sydney Molare
Kensington Aphrodisia
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9780758238962, $14.00,

"You've Got Male." Dina knows her family and friends would ridicule her, but she has everything going for her, she feels lonely as she has no man in her life. Taking a chance she purchases a mail-order husband. Dubois has received years of hands on training on how to please a woman.

"Fiending for It." Happily married, Elena challenges Chaz to an anything goes at any time sex contest. Chaz readily agrees. The couple begins their sexual fantasy match.

"Becoming One." Topaz and her closest female friends form the Women Are Polygamists Too group as each likes several male partners. Topaz finds three husbands able to make her come, but can't select just one as each makes the lovemaking heavenly.

I Want It Now contains three heated humorous novellas that fans of erotic romances will appreciate although some of the scenarios read implausible.

Friday Mornings At Nine
Marilyn Brant
9780758234629 $15.00

In the Chicago suburb of Glendale Grove, every Friday morning at nine the forty-something trio (Jennifer, Bridge and Tamara) meets at the Indigo Moon Cafe. Over coffee, each laments about their boring unsatisfied lives while knowing their friends are always there for them. On one particular coffee session, Jennifer tells her startled two BFFs that she wonders if she married the wrong man.

Each considers that revelation and wonders about the one who got away. Should they find that particular hunk and cheat on their spouses? As the threesome considers affairs, they begin to wonder if that is the only way out from the suburban rut because each knows they are being unfair and selfish towards their family.

This is an engaging look at suburban moms although their response to nuking their way out of the rut is not quite what Palin had in mind with her hockey turned grizzly mommas. Each of the lead trio is different but represents a slice of suburbia. Character driven, readers will enjoy the coffee mommas as they travel similar yet different roads seeking seemingly elusive happiness.

A Storm Of Pleasure
Terri Brisbin
Kensington Brava
9780758235183 $14.00

In 1098 on Gairsay Island, men loyal to the Earl Magnus demand Sven Rognvaldson and his son Kali come with them to face charges of treason. Sven draws his sword but is stabbed to death while his beloved daughter Katla Svensdottir watches in horror. Sven's last words to Katla is to take care of Kali. Realizing that the accuser Harold Erlendson wants the son as dead as the father he baited the father, she offers her body to keep her sibling safe. He is arrested and taken for trial to Birsay.

Katla goes to Orkney to obtain help from a Truthsayer. There she meets Gavin the recluse who is losing his mind to the voices rioting inside his head. He is stunned when she seems to soothe the beasts destroying his mind as he cannot hear her inner thoughts. They make a deal in which she stays with him in his cave and he will help her prove her brother's innocence. Neither expected to fall in love, but both fail to take that first risk of admitting how they feel.

This is a terrific romantic historical fantasy starring two fascinating strong lead protagonists and a powerful support cast. The story line takes sub-genre fans to late eleventh century Orkney Islands off the Scottish coast as readers will believe they are there. With elements of the paranormal, a strong romance and a sense of time and place, readers will also appreciate the machinations of those in power; as Terri Brisbin provides a major light on the so-called dark Ages.

Men Times Three
Bonnie Edwards
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758238276 $14.00

Off the Olympic Peninsula, the three O'Banion brothers are working on renovating the retreat inherited by Marnie Dawson. The oldest sibling TJ is attracted to their client who was a childhood friend. She reciprocates his feelings.

The middle brother Deke finds himself filled with desire for Marnie's cousin Holly Dawson. She wants him as much.

Finally little brother Eli the electrician returns from overseas to make it with the third Dawson cousin Kylie. However, she wants a home while he can never stay in one place for more than a nanosecond; that is until the bed they share.

The three heated relationships turn into much more as the O'Banion brothers and the Dawson cousins fall in love. Although the plot is a bit thin, the key to this hot contemporary is the Men Times Three and the women in their lives all possess different personalities.

The Bid
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758241788 $14.00

Taken in chains from his planet, the hunk Vejhon the warrior is being sold as a slave at auction. Pervert Baron Majum apparently wins the rights to the platinum haired, feline eyed alien until Najir of the House of Drakoulous raises the amount to the unheard of two gems. Vejhon now belongs to Hanna master of Drakoulous who understands the strict rules governing slaves must be obeyed or else.

Vejhon is outraged by his slave status, but is attracted to his owner. Hanna reciprocates, but conceals her and her House's covert efforts to end the barbaric practice. However, now she owns the two best looking males on the planet as she finds herself drawn to both Najir and Vejhon.

This is a terrific erotic science fiction romance as Jacquelyn Frank using the pseudonym Jax provides the sub-genre audience with a powerful outer space saga that is different from her paranormal. Even with plenty of action (in and out of bed) and a clear sense of place, the thrilling Bid is character driven by a triangle of sorts that leads the audience to wonder who will end up with the female master; if any does.

A Catered Thanksgiving
Isis Crawford
9780758247384 $22.00

They have opposite personalities but Bernie and Libby are sisters who are also good friends while running a catering business A Little Taste of Heaven in Westchester, New York. There latest job is catering a Thanksgiving dinner at the Field Mansion; for Monty, his two children (Melissa and George), his brothers (Perceval and Ralph) and his wife Lexus as well as Geoff, Bob and Pauline. They all must be on their best behavior or Marley will cut them out of his will.

While the sisters cook the turkey, Marley walks in and taps the bird until the timer pops up and blows his head to smithereens. Someone placed a mini-bomb in the turkey connected to the pop-up and everyone knew Marley always tapped on the bird. His death was obviously a premeditated murder. Libby and Bernie prefer to leave because most of the people there have motives to kill the victim. However, a blizzard trapped them. Not wanting to feel useless, the siblings do what they do second best (after cooking): investigate a murder.

The latest Isis Crawford amateur sleuth is a holiday treat because of the two hilarious sisters who argue, fuss and detect while debating what to do next. Bernie is a kick butt in your face while Libby is a girly girl, but both are brave and together form a yin and yang terrific sleuthing team. The case is interesting as the victim was a control freak who uses money to make his family obey his whims and those who fall out of favor fall out of the will. Even from the grave, his presence is felt all over this fine Thanksgiving whodunit.

Close Quarters
Lucy Monroe
Kensington Brava
9780758242013 $15.00

In Zimbabwe, Sympa-Med medical aid worker Tanya Ruston is tied to a leak of classified military information. The American government directs a black ops Atrati unit led by leader Roman Chernichenko to kill Tanya and anyone else who may be involved as the leak has put the continent in jeopardy.

Roman has doubts about the source as he met Tanya at the wedding of her brother and his sister. He also fears he may be using rosy colored glasses because he is very attracted to her. However, he soon realizes someone wants her dead before any further inquiry is made. Taking Tanya with him, Roman flees hoping he can get his superiors to listen long enough to why he knows she is innocent.

This is an engaging military romance starring two interesting protagonists who fight and fuss on honor and duty as each is very dedicated to their cause; reminiscent of Willis' Tears of the Sun. However, Africa owns the story line as the audience obtains a close look at major issues confronting the continent especially through the eyes of two children. Although the romantic subplot never quite gels, readers will enjoy the trek of Roman and Tanya in Zimbabwe.

The Deadliest Sin
Caroline Richards
Kensington Brava
9780758242754 $14.00

Although a spinster Julia Woolcott remains disturbed by her horrific past. She hopes to one day confront her adversary but for now uses photography as a means to forget while hiding behind the rustic haven her Aunt Meredith created for her because a man she does not know wants her dead.

When the chance to face her foe occurs, she jumps at it. Julia attends a house party in which she knows he will be there too. Julia and obsessed sad adventurer Alexander Strathmore meet. They are attracted to one another, but like her he is fixated on his goal of finding the map that displays the source of the Nile as the means of redemption for his ambition betraying another. That is the only reason he attends the house party. As Julia and Alexander argue, neither is aware of a maniac manipulating both of them, but each soon believes ins ide their personal psyche that together they are emotionally much stronger than apart.

This is a dark romantic suspense starring two flawed individuals with major psychological issues. The adventurer and the spinster make a daring duet but do they dare to love as neither feels they have earned the right for this feeling. Although some of Julia's emotional issues are somewhat discarded without solution but fans will relish this exciting thriller with a diabolical villain whose machinations to separate the pair leave Julia and Alexander at risk if they fail to unite.

The Corpse Wore Tartan
Kaitlyn Dunnett
9780758238795 $22.00

In Moosetookalook, Maine Liss MacCrimmon owns the Scottish Emporium where she sells items hat are Scottish from her store The Spruces Hotel Gift Shop. Her Aunt Margaret Boyd is the events coordinator for the hotel and currently oversees the annual Burns Night Supper hosted by the Scottish Heritage Appreciation Society at The Spruces. The gala gets off to a bad start when Phil MacMillan complains that someone ransacked his room and stole a brooch.

At the dinner, Phil's identical twin Phineas insults everyone at their table. Not long after dining, Liss finds Phil's corpse in a storage room in the basement. Officer Sherri Willet, who already is in charge of the theft case, takes the lead on the homicide because no one can leave or enter the hotel due to a blizzard that cut off power and stranded people at the Spruces. Sherri allows Liss to assist her on her investigation to keep the woman from running off on her own as she has done before (see A Wee Christmas Homicide and Scone Cold Dead).

This is a terrific locked room (locked hotel is more descriptive) mystery due to the horrific snow and ice storm that has stranded everyone at the Spruces. Long simmering resentments are aired and people are confronted for alleged wrongdoing. Although the whodunit is a bit thin, Liss is a great heroine who remains determined to see justice prevails. Kaitlyn Dunnett provides another engaging amateur sleuth cozy starring a quirky cast locked inside an exclusive exquisite hotel during a monster storm.

Four Play
Shayla Black and Maya Banks
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425236697, $15.00,

"Pillow Talk" by Maya Banks. Zoe and Chase love each other with each willing to play out the other's sexual fantasy. Chase tells Zoe his most secret encounter they have not tried and to his delight she agrees. His firefighting BFFs Brody and Tate join the couple for a menage a quartet.

"Her Fantasy Men" by Shayla Black. Kelsey may play football and drink beer with gusto, but conceals her fantasy from her three BFFs. She dreams of a menage a quartet with her and the three men who are her buddies. Rhys, Jeremy and Tucker talk with one another and soon go all out to please the star of their respective sexual wet dreams.

Both erotic tales are well written exciting entries with strong casts though I'm unsure why the studs in Shayla Back's heater failed to make a move as their excuses seemed lame.

Kay Danella
9780425234440 $15.00

Jamyl Kharym Rashad was forced to abdicate from House Dilaryn; for their safety he took his family off Lomida. His beloved daughter Asrial, no longer a sovreine, became a rim relic hunter. When her cousin Amin, who helped her parents and her when they fled for their safety, crashed his cargo ship on Lyrel 9; she took over some of his more daring missions.

Currently she is flying solo on the Castel searching a remote untouched by grounders area for relics on planet Maj. However, something happens when she enters the planetary atmosphere to her ship sending it off course. She makes it to the surface safe while wondering if it is time to use her name to obtain a corporate job in the inner rim worlds.

Asrial finds a vase containing a djinn. He informs her he is Romir. On the Castel, they make love as they are attracted to one another. However, as he revels in her passion and his first taste of freedom in ages, the vase demands his return as he is locked to his glass prison. To liberate her beloved, Asrial knows she must go home to dangerous for her Lomida, which she has avoided since she and her family became exiles.

This heated outer space romantic fantasy is a wonderful tale due to the relationship between the lead couple; as each risks death for the other (a sort of macabre erotic twist on Gift of the Magi). The story line is fast-paced, albeit a bit thinner than Romir's third leg yet readers will relish the journey into the unique hotter than the sun Danella universe.

A Knight and White Satin
Jackie Ivie
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9781420108842, $6.99,

In 1540 Scotland, Dallis "White Satin" Caruth has no choice but to wed a man she loathes. She is informed without her feelings considered that she will marry the King's champion, Payton Dunn-Fadden; who in her mind is a beast. They marry, but she has one other secret vow; somehow someway she will destroy her brute of a husband who is beneath her station. He, on the other hand, knows her scorn yet plans to tame the shrew he calls wife.

However, as Dallis and Payton live as man and wife, she sees a kinder gentler person than she imagined. She begins to fall in love, which supersedes her thirst for vengeance. Now she wants her husband's love and perhaps more important his trust.

This is an engaging sixteenth century historical romance starring two enemy combatants falling in love. Each comes to the marriage with a personal agenda that quickly becomes superseded by desire, attraction and love. Although the relationship between the pair for the most part is dysfunctional making the anticipated ending a bit abrupt, fans will enjoy the Beauty and the Beast; Jackie Ivie style.

A Perfect Scandal
Tina Gabrielle
9781420108491 $6.99

In 1814 London Lady Isabel Cameron wants to cross the Channel to study art in Paris. To achieve her goal once the Napoleonic wars end, she knows she must never marry. Her father believes a lady needs a husband so he plans to arrange a marriage for his daughter before she becomes comfortable on the shelf. Thus the earl plans to give her to a man over three decades older than her and even older than him.

Desperate Isabel needs to find the right man quick. She meets scandalous Lord Marcus Hawksley, who is her age and a younger son of an earl; however, he is unacceptable by the Ton because he earns a living as a stockbroker. Isabel chooses Marcus as ideal for her; not to marry but to destroy her reputation so no one will wed her. Without a companion, she goes to see him to ask for his assistance, but when he is accused of stealing she is his alibi, but also his scandal. They agree to a short term marriage of convenience, but an inconvenient truth surfaces when they fall in love.

A Perfect Scandal is a perfect Regency romance due to the lead characters, who bring refreshing new ideas to the entertaining story line. Whereas she wants to study art while embracing spinsterhood; he breaks a social taboo by working as a stockbroker. Readers will enjoy the relationship between these ducal offspring; as Tina Gabrielle proves that the whole formed by love is greater than the sum of the individual parts.

Nothing But Deception
Allegra Gray
9781420108262 $5.99

In 1815 Paris, a dying Solange Durand tells her artist son Jean-Philippe his father is not French, but instead English. He says his father is Richard Durand, but she tells him go to England to meet Lord Henry Owen also known as the artist Henri Gaudet. Meanwhile Richard works on surviving Napoleon.

Jean-Philippe crosses the Channel where he plans to meet his biological father. Aristocratic women welcome the visiting famous Frenchman, but his eyes only see Widow Beatrice, Lady Pullingham. He asks her to be his muse and she agrees. However, Bea inadvertently has become embroiled in seditious actions against the Crown with Jean-Philippe suspected as an enemy agent. As the artist and the widow fall in love, she prays he is not supporting the traitors while he fears she conceals a dark secret and is tired of loved ones lying to him.

This is an enjoyable Regency espionage romance as Bea works undercover for the Crown trying to help ferret out the traitors while Jean-Philippe is suspected of being a French operative though he just wants to paint her and make love with her. The story line does slow down at times especially when his French dad is on page plotting, but sub-genre readers will relish the Anglo-Franco romance as rumors spread that Napoleon has returned to Paris.

Scandal Of The Season
Christie Kelley
9781420108774 $6.99

Ten years may have passed since Viscount Anthony Westfield spent time with a flower girl on the church steps but he has not forgotten her. He has not seen her since; that is until now in 1817 when he runs into (and almost run over) the girl who has haunted his dreams.

Observing her closely, a disappointed Anthony realizes his fantasy is a pickpocket who he can use on his mission. Anthony blackmails Victoria Seaton into pretending to be his mistress at a holiday house party. Victoria has never forgotten the hunk who took her heart and more a decade ago. As they work together on his dangerous assignment, the greatest peril is to their respective hearts, which knew the truth when they first met.

This is a super Regency romantic suspense as Victoria steals more than just values from the affluent as she takes Anthony's heart; however, he also possesses hers as he did when they first met years ago and with every mistletoe kiss. Fast-paced with a strong supporting suspense subplot, the pair will become Something Scandalous if they follow the flow of their love. However, with the desertion by his mother years ago still haunting his relationships, readers will enjoy the matching of two people in love with no hope for a future together.

The Christmas Knight
Michele Sinclair
9781420108552 $6.99

In 1154, their father has gone off to escort the new heir to Hunswick Castle. He leaves behind his oldest daughter Bronwyn de Betron to take charge of their home and watch over her two always battling younger sisters (Lily and Edythe).

To the de Betron siblings' shock and grief, their father dies. The new heir Lord Ranulf de Gunnar arrives at the castle and proves to be a cold despicable boor. Making matters more difficult for the grieving siblings, recently crowned King Henry has ordered Ranulf to marry Edythe. Heeding Lily's suggestion as she knows her sibling could not deal with such an odious person, Bronwyn impersonates her sibling until they can escape. Instead she falls in love with brusque Ranulf, who hides a warm compassionate heart from his new charges.

This is a super Normandy medieval romance starring two lonely people, who fall in love, but the deception leaves both with no future together; ironically without the ruse they would still have no future together. The lead couple and her sisters make for a strong entertaining historical as fans will wonder if The Christmas Knight will marry for love or duty.

A Christmas Waltz
Jane Goodger
9781420111507 $6.99

In 1894 Lady Amelia Wellesley arrives in Small Fork, Texas from England. Her first impression is go back home to Meremont immediately as this wild frontier is nothing like that described to her by her fiance Wild West show performer Carson Kitteridge.

Amelia quickly learns that Carson the charmer is a duplicitous person. He fabricated many things including their marriage. Carson's older brother Dr. Boone Kitteridge is a stable no nonsense person. He has quickly fallen in love with the Englishwoman and offers to marry her. Although she does not love Boone she accepts his proposal. They travel to England where he becomes the village doctor and she his wife. However, doubts leave their relationship tenuous at best.

The latest Jane Goodger Christmas historical romance (see A Christmas Scandal) is warm late Victorian tale. The support cast is solid, but it is the American doctor and his aristocratic English wife who turn A Christmas Waltz into a poignant story; as he is Running Scared (Roy Orbison tune) of the return of his brother in their lives while she fears she will never love her caring husband.

Holiday Affair
Lisa Plumley
9781420105698 $6.99

In San Diego, divorcee Karina Barrett wants her three elementary school aged children (Olivia, Josh and Michael) to have a nice Christmas. Their father Eric is planning to spend the holiday at a beautiful Caribbean condo with his much younger girlfriend Chelsea and her parents. Based in the Outback divorcee Reid Sullivan takes his two tweener daughters Alexis and Nicole on his treks to host survival gigs around the world.

Karina's sister Stephanie asks her to replace her as a mystery shopper for Edgewater Consulting as her son is ill. Karina reluctantly agrees to go with her three kids to Kismet, Michigan to spend Christmas week at the Christmas House B&B. At the same time in Australia Reid learns that his grandparents need him home on an emergency. He drops everything and with the kids flies to Kismet where his family owns and runs the Christmas House B&B.

Reid's grandparents inform him they are selling the B&B and put a down payment on a home in Arizona. They need him to run the place because they cannot stay. At the B&B, Reid and Karina meet and are instantly attracted to one another. Soon after that initial meeting; Reid and Karina make love and agree to a Holiday Affair. However, their five kids and other family members have different perspectives on the adult relationship starting and ending with his nookie beard.

The ensemble cast seems different and fully developed while the lead couple is a nice pairing of single parents. Although the story line is thin and the kids' issues resolved too easily, fans who enjoy Christmas holiday romances will want to read Lisa Plumley's warm family drama.

Zoe Archer
9781420106800 $6.99

Destruction is as human as apple pie; so to protect mankind from self extinction magic is hidden. Still in spite of overwhelming majorities believing magic to be a parlor trick, some Sources contain unexplained power. The Heirs of Albion want to own all the Sources to support their belief that the citizens of Britain are the master race who should dominate the lesser beings of the world. They have found the most powerful object Primal Source of Africa and now are work on learning how to use it. The Blades of the Rose oppose the Heirs.

Linguist London Harcourt is unaware that her late husband, her father Joseph Edgeworth and her brother belong to the Heirs of Albion. Joseph plans to unleash magic so Britain can rule. Thus in 1875 he takes his widowed daughter with him to Athens, Greece as she speaks an ancient dialect that will bring the wrath of the Gods to the earth. Blade Bennett Day meets London who he realizes is ignorant of the threat posed by her fath er. He also knows the linguist is the key to the Heirs using the Source.

The second Blades of the Rose historical romantic fantasy is a strong adventure tale as the action moves from the Mongolian setting of the Warrior to Greece. A womanizer, Bennett tries every means he knows to persuade the female to his way of thinking, but never met one as intelligent as London is; although some readers will question how smart she is when she failed to realize the nefarious activities of the three main men in her life (before Bennett). Still fans will enjoy the teaming of a refreshing woman who speaks dead languages and the suave operative as they battle her family who employ her as the expendable key to use magic to dominate the world.

Christmas with the Duchess
Tamara Lejeune
9781420108736 $6.99

Duchess Emma Grey Fitzroy is a widow with two young kids. She loathes the uninvited annual invasion by her late husband Henry's family, but there is little she can do to prevent the Fitzroy clan coming for Christmas. Emma especially fears Henry's odious Uncle Hugh, who uses his nephews as a means of controlling the Duchess.

Fuming at Hugh's highhandedness, Emma seduces the nephew of her enemy's wife. An Earl and naval officer, naive Nicholas St. Austell falls in love with the older Emma, but soon learns of her duplicitous using him to get back at his uncle in name only. Nicholas soon marries one of his five female cousins though he has problems delineating any of them from the pack.

A year later, Nicholas pleads with Emma to mentor him on becoming a better lover as he is losing the interest of his spouse. He quickly realizes he still loves the Duchess, but this time, Emma realizes she reciprocates. With no hope beyond an affair as she vows to never marry again and he refuses to file for divorce, love is not enough for this seemingly star-crossed pair.

With a seemingly zillion subplots that include many descendants from the three interrelated families, Tamara Lejeune provides readers with a complicated regency romance that somehow mostly focuses on the relationship between Emma and Nicholas. The support cast is solid in spite of the many players and even the five daughters of Hugh have differing personalities. Readers will enjoy spending the holidays with the Grey, Fitzroy and St. Austell clans.

Santa in Montana
Janet Dailey
9781420114744 $7.99

As the Chinook snoweater wind blew across Montana, Triple C Ranch patriarch Chase Calder plans on making this the greatest holiday celebration yet. He looks forward to his family reunion, but has a goal this year besides warmly greeting everyone and exchanging gifts. This Christmas he wants his beloved daughter Cat Echohawk to move on with a man. Chase is realistic that his offspring feels she does not need a third man in her life; having lost a fiance and a husband, but her father believes he knows best.

His candidate is Wade Rogers who seems like a nice person. Wade and Chase are doing business together, in which Cat's dad acts mysteriously. Still she likes his voice and his demeanor as he already proved to be a kind person when he helped her with a box without knowing who she is. With her father playing matchmaker, Wade and Cat begin to fall in love, but she has doubts wondering how shallow can she be; trice seems too many times to be in love.

This is an entertaining Calder Christmas tale as two love stories are the gifts that Janet Dailey bestows her myriad of readers. The story line is driven by the clan with the prime emphasis on Cat and Wade, and a bit of a mystery re another cast member resolved. Fans will enjoy spending the holidays with the Calders in snowy Big Sky Country.

Zoe Archer
9781420106794 $6.99

In 1874 former British Army Captain Gabriel Huntley has just come home to England with no plans. However, when he sees a lone person under assault by a group, Gabe rushes in to help. He is too late to save the life of Anthony Morris. Before dying Anthony pleads with his Good Samaritan to deliver a message to Franklin Burgess in Urga, Outer Mongolia. Huntley agrees giving a death bed vow to Morris.

Huntley travels to Asia to find Burgess. He does, but the man has a broken leg and cannot follow up on Morris' missive. Burgess explains to his visitor that he is a member of the Blade of the Rose that prevents magical objects or "sources" from the possession of the "Heirs" who want world domination. Desperate he assigns his daughter Thalia and Huntley to locate and bring in the Mongolian Source at the same time a deadly Heir seeks to obtain it too.

The first Blades of the Rose Victorian Era romantic fantasy is a fabulous thriller as the lead couple struggles with their attraction and their mission. Fast-paced and filled with action and adventure in an exotic late nineteenth century locale, Zoe Archer opens her new series with a strong tale.

Cross Roads
Fern Michaels
9781420111927 $7.99

Eighteen months ago the members of the Sisterhood were able to celebrate the dissolution of their group when they received presidential pardons. Because of their skills honed while on the run, Global Securities hired all of them. The group has gone to different locations around the world.

Coming from different parts of the world, each of the members is traveling to Virginia to attend a homecoming dinner. This being a Sisterhood gala, something must go wrong and does. Interpol operatives hijack a jet taking Nikki and Kathryn to the reunion. The agents give the Sisterhood a choice of carrying out their assignment or defeat desperate opponents who will do anything including leaving the country vulnerable.

However, this being the Sisterhood, they are the queens of revenge and though apart still remain a Razor Sharp team as they will do things their way in this exciting thriller. Fans of the long running saga will enjoy this enthralling tale. Cross Roads is fast-paced and filled with action as the team reunites in their impeccable vigilante way.

Everlasting Desire
Amanda Ashley
9781420104448 $6.99

West Coast Vampires Master Rhys Costain has frozen his heart ever since he was betrayed by a woman over four centuries ago. However, he is surprised to be attracted to Megan DeLacey, who works evening at Shores, an exclusive men's shop open only in the evening.

Rhys feels somewhat like an obsessed stalker as he visits the shop every night to spend time with Megan, who limits their relationship to saleswoman-customer. However, his hopes jump up when he prevents a robbery. As he makes progress, ancient vampire Tomas Villagrande encroaches in Rhys' territory; killing without regard and leaving the West Coast Vampires in danger of discovery.

Following the events of Everlasting Kiss, the latest West Coast vampire romantic urban fantasy is a strong entry as fans of the saga will be elated that Rhys finally stars. He seems like a teen in love for the first time as he does a lot of nocturnal shopping while he tries to persuade a strong willed female they belong together. Ultra arrogant Tomas, who changed Dracula into a bloodsucker, is a great opponent who leaves drained corpses on the mean streets of Los Angeles. Rhys knows he must stop the reign of terror immediately, but now has an Achilles' Heel for the first time in 435 years.

Deadly Little Secrets
Jeanne Adams
9781420108828 $6.99

A CIA field mission in Rome turns ugly leaving dead agents behind. Due to the botched Italy operation, field agent Ana Burton who worked the ill-fated mission is assigned to investigate cold cases in San Francisco. Her current inquiry is almost a decade old as an art fraud case led to five cruel murders.

While doing her investigation, Ana meets security expert Gates Bromley who works for art collector Dav Gianikopolis. Soon after they discuss her case and realize their attraction to one another, someone tries to kill Ana. Soon after the attempt on her life, intruders assault the Gianikopolis estate. Gates and Burton know someone wants this case to remain lost in the tundra.

Deadly Little Secrets is a terrific romantic suspense investigative tale as a cold case suddenly turns the heat up. Ana is a super lead as her confidence is degrees below zero; she prefers cold cases because the dead are already dead so she cannot be the cause. That is the irony of Deadly Little Secrets. Gates is a wonderful counterpoint to the heroine although some readers might feel he may be too skillful. Either way fans will enjoy this action-packed thriller.

The Vengeful Bridegroom
Kit Donner
9781420108477 $5.99

In 1812 England Arnold Duckins bets Lord Vincennes he can find a husband for termagant Madelene Colgate in three days. Duckins set up the wager for his friend, Madelene's brother, Matthew. Irate "Mad" Madelene understands she has three days to wed her sibling's choice Mr. Leonard Brelford or her brother ends up in debtor's prison. He explains she can have the nuptials annulled.

However, her brother's enemy Gabriel Westcott knows what desperation Colgate faces and what Madelene must do. With the help of his former mistress Caroline Montazy, he pretends to be the chosen one and marries her. Gabriel takes his wife to his remote estate and keeps her under watch so she does not try to escape. Instead Madelene begins to fall in love with her husband and he reciprocates. However, as dangerous incidents occur, Gabriel wants to remain married to Madeline, but make their relationship real.

This is a thrilling fast-paced Regency romance as Gabe falls in love with the sister of his enemy and soon finds his role is to keep his beloved wife safe from an unknown adversary. His fear is the wannabe assassin is her sibling. Character driven from the first wager to the final confrontation, readers will want to know why Gabe loathes Matthew and whether Mad's sibling is trying to kill his sister in Kit Donner's second Notorious Bridegroom tale.

Drink of Me
Jacquelyn Frank
9781420109856 $7.99

The Prime Ruele and his pack arrive at a house filled with their enemy the jackals who hold one of the pack members Chayne nailed through his extremities. They know that jackals feed on emotional anguish and proceed carefully because one bite will kill them. Ruele senses someone else nearby filled with pain and sorrow. As his team kills the jackals and frees a severely hurt Chayne, Ruele finds a woman huddled on the top floor. He goes to her only to be stunned when she tells him "sange, banter mo" before going unconscious. They take her to their city Jeth. The female is battered all over her small body and when she awakens she does not know her name, how she got to the building, or how she got hurt. She calls him her mate and says he is hung well. Ruele informs her no one wants a Sange as a mate except their own kind as other species believe his is perverted due to their orgasmic bites.

Ruele calls her Mystique which she likes. Mystique seduces Ruele telepathically as he thinks of what she first said "sange, banter mo"; drink of me a sange mate affectionate phrase and sensual action. For the first time he is losing control of his mind and the rest of the pack feels it as his energy is the strongest. She begins to display telepathic and healing powers, but remains a mystery and much of the Prime remain suspicious of her and her past will soon catch up to her.

This is an enjoyable stand alone romantic fantasy that is not part of the Nightwalker-Shadowdweller saga. The Frank world is solidly established and the lead couple is an interesting pairing as both have extraordinary paranormal powers while the support cast especially his pack is strong. Although the villain is weak, readers will appreciate Jacquelyn Frank's entertaining tale.

A Little Bit Wild
Victoria Dahl
9781420104837 $6.99

In 1847 following a fruitless Season in which she pretended to seek a husband, twenty year old Marissa York decides to have sex. She chooses Sir Peter White whose charming words are seductive. However, lovemaking proves tedious to her as he humps away. An arrogant Peter says they will marry, her brother Edward and their cousin Harry catch them. . Edward informs his sibling she will be married, but he agrees White is not worthy of his sister.

Their other sibling Aidan arrives with family friend Jude Bertrand. Once both are apprised of the need for Marissa to marry, Jude volunteers. An illegitimate but acknowledged son of a duke, he simply explains when asked why he replies because he likes her. Marissa is thankful for his kind offer, but he is not what she envisioned in a husband as he can't even dance. As they become better acquainted, she realizes Peter could dance but cared nothing about her while Jude takes the time to know Melissa the person. As she falls in love with her new suitor, he was in love with her for a long time.

This is an entertaining Victorian romance starring a wonderful Prince Charming whose motive for marrying the fallen Melissa is simple though he knows she never knew he existed in spite of two introductions. Melissa at first seems spoiled but she proves a fast learner as she realizes you cannot judge a man by his clothing or his dancing ability. Readers will root for the heroic Jude who tenderly courts his beloved with little nuances like listening to her.

Eternal Hunger
Laura Wright
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451231499, $7.99,

The three Pureblood vampiric Roman brothers (Alexander, Nicholas and Lucian) left the Eternal Order community due to a dispute over tyrannical rules and the prejudicial mistreatment of the Impure half breeds. The affluent trio vows to never return but the arrogant Order ignores their pledge of the siblings when a powerful unknown Impure dares to assault the purebloods.

The Order abducts Alexander and without asking or informing him, they change him into a Morpho male breeder. He becomes deathly ill and suddenly cannot tolerate the sun as he also now obsesses over finding his true mate. Although having her own problems from a stalker, human Dr. Sara Donohue saves Alexander's life, but though he is grateful he is also perturbed that this purebred may be his soulmate.

This is a great opening of the Mark of the Vampire urban romantic fantasy series. It works smoothly and excitingly on several interwoven levels; of which most important is the Wright world feels plausible and refreshingly new, and the key players genuine. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy Alexander's issues with the Order, the female human who saved him and his craving for her, and the stalker of her and killer of Purebloods while also looking forward to the blood lines of the other two Roman brothers.

Our Wicked Mistake
Emma Wildes
9780451231505 $6.99

In 1816 at London's Satan Den, Lords Luke Daudet and Albert Cayne make an outrageous wager on the turn of the cards though the former knows this is stupid; the latter wins. As Daudet leaves, he receives a message from Widow Lady Madeline May that she needs his help immediately.

Luke races to see Madge who tells him she killed her blackmailer Lord Fitch who has her late husband's journal that would taint Colin's name. She explains he taunted her and threatened to publish the journal so she conked him in the head with a fire place poker. He checks on the blackguard who is alive and promises to fix everything although Luke fears his assistance will mean close contact to the woman he most desires. As they fall in love, she conceals her past from him and he likewise hides an obligation; but it is the deceased Colin's secrets that threaten their lives.

The latest Notorious Bachelor Regency romance (see My Lord Scandal) is a fabulous historical romantic suspense. The lead couple is a fascinating pairing as each fails to disclose to their beloved their darkest secrets, but ironically though these may break them up; it is Colin's past that haunts them. Fans will appreciate Emma Wildes' wonderful tale as all it takes is One Wicked Mistake to shake up a seemingly comfortable life.

Seducing The Duchess
Ashley March
9780451232366 $6.99

When Lady Charlotte married Duke Rutherford, she did so because she loved him as she had most of her young life. However, Lord Phillip married her to destroy her brother. Her love for her husband quickly turned to hate and she wants out of their marriage.

To propel her spouse to request a divorce, Charlotte has become both a flirt and gambler. Phillip who desires his wife though that was not in his master plan for vengeance offers Charlotte what she most desires. He will obtain a divorce if she mentors him on becoming a better husband to his second wife who he is currently courting. She reluctantly agrees though she is unsure why she hesitates. As she teaches her husband to care, Charlotte realize s she still loves the rat while he knows he loves his wife.

This is an entertaining second chance historical romance due to the relationship between the lead couple. His betrayal cut out her heart so as he falls in love with his wife, Rutherford becomes desperate to win her back while Charlotte becomes confused by her feelings. Sub-genre fans will relish this strong tale of love and hate and love.

J.R. Ward
9780451229441 $7.99

Heaven works in mysterious ways as affirmed when recently deceased, acrimonious construction worker and retired assassin Jim Heron became a chosen one responsible to save seven assigned souls that Devina the demon craves. If he wins all seven the evil Devina dies; if he loses just one all hell breaks lose. His first battle with Devina was over Vin diPietro (see Covet).

Soul number two is former black ops agent and brother in arms Isaac Rothe who did the unthinkable when he left Matthias and the XOps; as no one leaves except in a body bag. His arrest in South Boston for participating in an illegal underground fight leaves him behind bars and vulnerable to a XOps assassin. Even scarier is his attraction to his public defender Grier Childe who reciprocates his desire. However, neither Matthias nor the Massachusetts legal system is the major stalker. Devina craves his soul and Jim must find a way to help his former brother in arms triumph over evil of a human and demonic kind.

With a loose connection to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Crave is a terrific second Fallen Angels romantic urban fantasy. The ultra dark story line is action-packed with South Boston looking extremely grim yet the flicker of hope resides inside the hearts of Isaac and Grier. Fans of J.R. Ward will enjoy this super paranormal thriller.

Coming Back
Marcia Mueller
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446581066, $24.99,

San Francisco private investigator Sharon McCone still recovers from the bullet she took to her head that left her mind intact Locked In her paralyzed body. However, she becomes concerned when her widow friend Piper Quinn suddenly without warning stops coming to the rehab center they both use.

Worried as the sleuth knows Piper has not moved on past the death of her husband in combat in Iraq, Sharon goes to the Quinn home. There she finds her buddy in a semi-comatose sate with a mean spirited care provider not wanting any visitors. Sharon sends her office manager Adah Joslyn to see if Piper needs anything. However, Piper is gone and her apartment immaculately cleaned as if no one lived there. Soon after her visit, Adah dis appears. Sharon and her crew at McCone Investigations begin snooping, but the clues they uncover hint at a top secret government intelligence agency.

This is a great McCone thriller that hooks the reader from the opening scene as the heroine struggles to come back from her horrific injuries and never slows down until the finish. The story line is fast-paced and affirms that marvelous Marcia Mueller is one of the genre's best. Set aside time, as this McCone masterpiece is difficult to put down.

Christmas Mourning
Margaret Maron
Grand Central
9780446555807 $25.99

It has been nearly a year since Colleton County, North Carolina Judge Deborah Knott married Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant and both have never been happier. They have full custody of his son Carl since his mother died and Deborah is a like a second mom to the youngster. However, the Christmas season brings sorrow to one family when in-crowd leader Mallory Johnson dies in a car crash.

She neither drank nor took drugs, but after leaving a party, Mallory skidded off the road. Alcohol is found in her bloodstream and a friend confesses that she put booze and vicodin in a coke. She blames herself for the death of Mallory, who was a tease. However, evidence surfaces that imply the Mickey Finn might not have caused the death. Dwight is working on a case where Deborah two brothers who were shot to death. It comes as a shock that the three deaths are linked, but to understand how will lead to identifying the killer in both cases.

Margaret Maron can always be counted on for writing a strong regional mystery that brings the reader into the story line. Christmas Mourning contains a complex whodunit complemented by a profound realistic family drama, especially the deep look at the two families impacted by the deaths. This Knott-Bryant murder mystery is worthy of an Agatha nomination.

The Trials of Zion
Alan M. Dershowitz
Grand Central
9780446505420 $28.99

In East Jerusalem in the near future, American President Moore, Israeli President Ezratti and Palestinian President Yassah reach a major peace agreement seen on television round the world. As they hold hands in unity, a bomb explodes killing thirty one people; many of whom were heads of state including Moore. The Martyrs of Jihad claim responsibly and Israeli police arrest Muslim radical Faisal Husseini caught videotaping the assassination scene. He is accused of the murders.

Palestinian Human Rights lawyer Habash Ein asks his Yale friend, twenty-six years old Jewish attorney Emma Ringel to come to Israel to assist him in defense of Husseini. Over the objections and concerns of her father celebrity lawyer Abe, she accepts. Abe is forced to assist Emma as pressure mounts from all sides on her. Some even threaten the Ringel loved ones if the deliberation ends the wrong way. Complicating matters for daughter and father are those threatening them and others they cherish leave them to know if they obtain an a cquittal or not, someone is apt to try to harm them or their loved ones.

The third Ringel legal thriller (see Advocate's Devil Just Revenge) is a fabulous tale that enables the reader to see how different the Israeli jurisprudence system is from that of the United States. The courtroom scenes are especially superb as Alan M. Dershowitz takes the audience inside the Israeli legal world. Although the thriller elements feel unnecessary, The Trials of Zion is an entertaining novel that highlights how convoluted reaching peace in the area has been.

Midnight Kisses
Wayne Jordan
Kimani Romance
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373861828, $6.25,

Daniel Buchanan grew up in Oak Park, Illinois; opened a church in Brooklyn; and married the perfect wife Lorraine. His world and faith shattered when his spouse and child died in a Brooklyn hospital. For one year, Daniel wandered aimlessly around the country until six months ago he settled in Chicago working as a counselor at the Hope Center. Thanksgiving always leaves him alone in a rage.

Having been jilted at the altar should have taught Renee Walker a lesson about men. However, her caring mom keeps setting her up, but after the latest arrogant jerk she has had enough. She swears off men and will dedicate more of her time with her social work in Chicago. Though they have not met both see the same shooting star and he wishes to one wish again while she wishes for true love.

Two years later, Daniel and Renee meet at Vincent Memorial where he came to face demons in a hospital after helping a teen who was knocked to the pavement; and she came on a social worker call as the girl is a probable runaway. They are attracted to one another and agree to go slowly, but each has psychological issues to overcome if they want a permanent loving relationship.

This is a terrific contemporary romance as the social worker who gave up on love first befriends the man with the sad eyes while the counselor who gave on life sees caring in her eyes. Wayne Jordan provides readers with a sensational story of the healing power of love and enhanced by a nurturing family.

Catching Moondrops
Jennifer Erin Valent
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414333274, $12.99,

By 1938 in Calloway, though only nineteen Jessilyn Lassiter has loved Luke Talley for years. Everyone even Luke called it puppy love, but no more as he is beginning to care for her.

A black doctor Tal Pritchett moves to Calloway to practice medicine and begins to court Jessilyn's best friend, Gemma Teague. Many of the white locals are irate over a black behaving like a professional and a rock is tossed through his window, but they explode when elderly Miss Cleta becomes his first white patient. Soon afterward Noah Jarvis, a black friend of Jessilyn, is lynched by apparently the Klan who terrorizes the townsfolk regardless of race.

This is an interesting late Depression Era thriller that provides a deep look at a small town in the south in which the Klan, thought gone, has returned frightening blacks and somewhat surprisingly whites too. The cast is strong though Jessilyn is perhaps too outspoken with her beliefs when the Klan has just about everyone else panicking in abject terror not to cross (no pun intended) them. Still this is a refreshing look at the destructiveness of institutional loathing and individual hatred on a person and ultimately a community.

The Twelfth Imam
Joel C. Rosenberg
9781414311630 $26.99

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the civilian leadership feverishly pushes the nuclear weapons program as the Ayatollah demands Muslims begin the Jihad to destroy Israel, American and the rest of the infidel west. However, this time it is different as citation from Holy Scripture claims the End of Days apocalypse is now as the Twelfth Imam will surface to lead Islam to glorious victory in the name of Allah.

The CIA takes this fundamentalist threat more seriously than the usual babble from President Ahmadinejad because this danger comes from the religious leaders making the proclamations. Soon, rumors fly across the Middle East and beyond that a cleric claiming to be the Mahdi messiah has begun performing miracles. Since the family of CIA operative David Shirazi fled Iran when the Khomeini Revolution occurred in 1979, he fluently speaks Farsi; thus he is assigned to go to Teheran to sabotage the Iranian nuclear weapons program, a key element in Armageddon.

This is a great thriller that uses twentieth century history, present day economics and politics and scripture from biblical holy books to tell a terrific Islamic perspective to the End of Days belief as the Twelfth Imam is the messiah. Fast-paced from the moment David treks to Iran and never slowing down, Joel C. Rosenberg provides a powerful tale that readers will appreciate.

Code Triage
Candace Calvert
9781414325453 $12.99

Golden Gate Mercy emergency room Dr. Leigh Stathos is divorcing her husband San Francisco cop Nick after he had an affair last year with Samantha Gordon, his late best friend Toby's sister. She knows she still loves him, but cannot get pass her mom's adage that nothing lasts forever. Nick knows he made a monster mistake when he slept with Sam while each grieved their loss and wants to rectify it, but adheres to his wife's wishes of no contact.

When he rescues a single mom and her two young children from carbon monoxide poisoning, Nick and Leigh meet at the hospital. He has seven days to persuade his beloved to give him another chance, but though time is running out, Nick refuses to give up on his marriage as he prays to God to help him come home. As situations bring the still married couple together, Leigh reconsiders a second chance especially with her secret she concealed from her spouse. When she is on duty Sam is rushed to the hospital in critical condition.

The latest Mercy Hospital medical thriller (see Critical Care and Disaster Status) is loaded with action from start to finish, but also contains a strong relationship drama between the two first responders and Sam; especially fascinating is when Sam gets into Leigh's face. Readers will enjoy Code Triage as obstinate Nick refuses to quit on his faith or his woman.

Kayla Perrin
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373605477, $13.95,

Eight years ago elderly millionaire Robert met much younger waitress Elise. He courted her, made love to her and married her. Living with Robert as his wife, even though this makes her his third spouse, in Charlotte, she felt like Cinderella as he took her to the most expensive places by private jet.

However, now Elise feels like a bird in a gilded cage. Her spouse controls every nuance of her life smothering her. She begins to want her freedom as the price of being under her husband's domination 24/7 is too exorbitant though she understands she will be left with nothing if she leaves him. At her flower shop, Elise meets high school football coach Dion and is attracted to the hunk, but vows not to act on her feelings until she learns Robert betrayed her with a major omission.

This engaging erotic romance is told from the perspective mostly of Elise, a fascinating character with deep rooted psychological issues. That approach enables the audience to understand the heroine especially what she has seen in her spouse and in the coach. However, that also limits how controlling Robert is as that the martinet never is fully developed and the ending too simple of an escape from the triangle. Still fans will enjoy this engaging contemporary as the bird in the cage tries to fly solo for the first time in almost a decade.

Tracker's Sin
Sarah McCarty
9780373605484 $13.95

In 1858 in Texas, Hell's Eight twin brothers Tracker and Shadow search for abducted heiress Ari Blake, twin of Desi (see Caine's Reckoning). Comancheros kidnapped Ari. Tracker finds her but not alone; Ari has an infant son Miguel.

To keep her and the baby safe, Tracker marries her. Still he knows the road is dangerous filled with Comancheros, Indians, and outlaws. He prays that he can take mother and son to the Hell's Eight ranch so he can marry her properly in front of their loved ones; now he has to persuade Ari they belong together with Miguel as a family.

The latest Hell's Eight spiced Texas romance (see Sam's Creed and Tucker's Claim) is an excellent historical thriller as Sarah McCarty focuses on the good (the growing love between the lead couple), the bad (stress and fear) and the ugly (abduction, abuse and rape). Tracker is heroic as he has come a long way from his childhood, but the novel is owned by Ari who suffered so much during her abduction. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Tracker tells his twin he will find and bring to the ranch Ari and never slows down until the final trek across dangerous Texas.

The Keepers
Heather Graham
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373618446 $5.25

In New Orleans, Fiona MacDonald is one the Keeper sisters who watch over the city's vampire, shapeshifter and a few unmentionables population though her focus is the bloodsuckers. Her job is to resolve conflict as quietly as possible and to insure the species behaves themselves so as to keep the humans ignorant that the otherworldly reside in their midst.

A serial killer who apparently is a rogue vampire strikes the city. The psychopath drinks blood dry of blond females before dumping their corpses on cemetery crypts. Fiona and vampire detective Jagger DeFarge work together to end an undead reign of terror while her Keeper peers and her siblings warn her not to trust a bloodsucker.

This exhilarating romantic urban fantasy is an otherworldly police procedural that grips the reader with Heather Graham's vividly dark view of New Orleans. The story line is fast-paced and filled with twists. The investigation makes for an interesting paranormal whodunit in which the Keeper and the Vampire try to ignore their attraction as they are natural enemies and critically understand ending the fiend's murderous terror supersedes all else.

Poisoned Kisses
Stephanie Draven
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373618453 $5.25

"Poisoned Kisses". The Underworld Nymph Kyra fears what her father Ares plans to do. Ares wants to use toxic blood to change a man into a deadly hydra. His choice is weapons dealer Marcos Kaisaris. Marcos believes he can save the world from the madness of weapons of mass destruction by arming the oppressed. Like her sire, Kyra seeks Marcos out with her plan being to kill him so her father cannot capture him. When they meet, Marcos' tainted blood burns Kyra, costing her immortality. Still she refuses to quit although now she considers locking him away from her dad. In their second battle, they fall in love so she plans to keep him safe or die in the attempt.

"Midnight Medusa". As a child in war torn Bosnia, Renata saw first hand humanity's cruelty. She escaped to New York City where she became a sculptor who made pieces of the war criminals she witnessed performing their horrific cleaning. Once she completed a work, the "model" died horrifically. The son of Ares, Damon kidnaps the artist and informs her who she is and why her art kills.

The romantic fantasy Poisoned Kisses is a terrific tale that grips the audience from the moment lead couple meet and never slows down as natural enemies fall in love. Readers also receive a wonderful romantic urban fantasy short story Midnight Kisses with a great paranormal twist though the lead couple is obviously less developed; this was previously an e-tale. With two offspring of Ares entries, Stephanie Draven provides fans with a joyous trip to "Mythica".

Trial by Desire
Courtney Milan
9780373774852 $7.99

Three years ago Ned Cathcart walked out on his new wife Kate because he was too immature to deal with his personal problems. Instead he fled to the Far East. While he began to cope with his issues out of necessity, a stunned Kate moved on with her life turning to a social issue dear to her soul, demanding the rights of women especially those that are abused.

Ned has returned and wants to fulfill his wedding vows. Kate still loves the husband who abandoned her, but rejects his push for reconciliation. She fears he will end her crusade. He refuses to quit this time. Still as important her fight for women rights is to her, Kate must decide whether she can trust Ned to stay this time and to champion her cause.

This Cathcart early Victorian romance sequel to Proof of Seduction is an entertaining intelligent historical starring two intriguing lead characters as Ned has grown up and wants an opportunity to prove he has changed, but Kate refuses to give up on her crusade. Although a late suspense adds tension and is a reasonable enhancement to the story line, it is unnecessary as the women's rights issue and the married stars make for an engaging second chance at love tale.

Private Sessions
Tori Carrington
Harlequin Blaze
9780373795727 $4.99

In Earnest, Washington, an employee at her family's firm Metaxas Limited, Bryna Metaxas proposes a partnership with business mogul Caleb Payne of Seattle. Whereas she is talking business only, he remains upset that a relative of hers wrecked a deal while also admiring her beauty. He decides to collect on the Metaxas debt by seducing Bryna.

Bryna is attracted to Caleb, but though he enjoys sex with her, his attitude is placing her below his partners and his mom on his pecking order. When he is forced to analyze his desire for her, Caleb realizes what started as a payback has backfired as he has fallen in love. Now he must come up with the deal of the century or lose everything that matters.

Although the relationship between the lead couple never evolves outside of the bedroom (extremely loose definition of boudoir) and the boardroom, readers will enjoy this fun sizzling contemporary romance. Even with plenty of sex seemingly everywhere in the Pacific northwest, the story line will remind readers of the Doris Day-Rock Hudson fluffy comedies like Pillow Talk; with obviously a lot more blaze. Team Carrington provides their fans with an entertaining boardroom romance.

Jo Leigh
Harlequin Blaze
9780373795758 $4.99

Cartoonist Carrie Sawyer travels to remote Crider Inn near Denver for a week of ghost hunting. Carrie has little interest in the legendary paranormal activity at the inn as she is more interested in remaining wired and unwired with cyberspace.

Carrie finds a new interest outside of the net when she meets the inn's owner Sam Crider. On the surface they share nothing in common. However, each realizes the attraction includes ironically a skeptical outlook on permanent relationships, especially that con job called love. Sam and Carrie start the week feeling ghosts are more plausible than love, but by week's end, each reconsiders what a Shiver denotes when every kiss they share leaves both quaking for more.

Shiver is a heated comedic contemporary romance starring two likeable skeptics who believe in ghosts and the tooth fairy much more than in love. Carrie and Sam are a wonderful pairing as each sings the refrain from the 10 CC song I'm Not In Love. Jo Leigh writes a wonderful tale as readers will agree that Halloween should be a national holiday celebrated in a special heated way.

Dance With The Doctor
Cindi Myers
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716678 $5.50

In Colorado two years ago, Darcy O'Connor's husband Pete and their six year old son Riley died in a car crash. Grieving, she donated their organs so others could live.

Now, though she has doubts, Darcy opens a Belly Dancing for Girlz class at a dance studio. She quickly enjoys the session as the eight preteens have a good time. The smiles of small Taylor makes it especially rewarding. Dr. Mike Carter arrives to pick up his daughter Taylor and he asks her if she is okay as she seems a bit flushed. The child says the class was awesome. He quickly interrogates Darcy with questions on children and CPR as his former wife Melissa signed their kid to the class.

Darcy receives a letter form the Colorado Donor Alliance in Denver in which the director informs her that Riley's heart saved the life of a child and the family would like to thank her in person. After the next class, Mike, Darcy and Taylor realize her son's heart is beating inside the little girl. As she helps the child with her confidence as much as with dancing, Darcy and Mike fall in love. However though she has doubts as she always will love her Pete; Mike is the wedge as he fears a second chance.

This is a warm Rocky Mountain family drama with a strong cast including memories of Riley. Although the initial two meetings, especially the second revelatory encounter require a bit of acceptance, readers will relish Cindi Myers' wonderful contemporary second dance at love.

The Reluctant Wrangler
Roxann Delaney
Harlequin American Romance
9780373753314 $4.99

Nikki Johannson accepts a position as a housemother to troubled boys ranging in age from eight to fifteen at the Bent Tree in Oklahoma. She will also provide riding lesions to her charges. However, Nikki has a secret agenda for wanting to come to the ranch; her brother Tanner O'Brien, who never knew he has a sister, owns the spread.

She conceals her secret for now though she is welcomed warmly by her sister in law Jules and is attracted to aloof wrangler William "Mac" MacGregor. Although he wants nothing to do with the newcomer as he has his own agenda, Mac knows he wants Nikki. As they fall in love, Mac learns the secret of who Nikki is. Her deception is the one thing that breaks them apart.

The sequel to The Rodeo Rider (Jules and Tanner's tale) is a warm ranch romance starring a fabulous lead pair and a strong wonderful cast especially the kids and the extended family. Mac and Nikki are a fine pairing as each has secrets, but it is her concealment that drives them apart and her from the ranch. Readers will enjoy this entertaining Oklahoma tale as Roxann Delaney provides a fine family drama.

Bespelling Jane Austin
Mary Balogh, Colleen Gleason, Susan Krinard and Janet Mullany
9780373775019 $14.95

"Almost Persuaded" by Mary Balogh. Robert Mitford and Jane Everett recognize their love now and in a past life together.

"Northanger Castle" by Colleen Gleason. Caroline Merrill loves gothic novels starring vampires; she believes that Mr. Blanchard is an Undead while he has no time for literature or love as he battles vampires.

"Blood and Prejudice" by Susan Krinard. In modern day New York City, Lizzie Bennet and Mr. Darcy dislike each other but team up to fight vampires.

"Little to Hex Her" by Janet Mullany. In DC paranormal matchmaking witch Emma Woodhouse needs the help of the wizard Mr. Knightley.

These are four fun paranormal twists of Jane Austen classics with the best being Janet Mullany's entry.

Adopted Parents
Candy Halliday
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716647 $5.50

Janet and David die in a car accident leaving behind their adopted infant Vietnamese daughter Ahn. Janet's sister Hallie Weston and David's brother Nathan Brock agree to raise their niece together in spite of their work history and his crushing her crush of him; that is until they find new adoptive parents for Ahn.

While struggling with honoring their siblings' wish re the baby, Hallie and Nathan also battle their feelings for one another. Nathan wants to marry Hallie and raise the baby together. Hallie having been hammered by Nathan prefers to remain an aunt and seek new parents for Ahn.

This is an intriguing family drama with a romantic subplot that takes a backseat over what to do about Ahn. The infant's developmental issues seem genuine as are Hallie's doubts. Although readers will immensely disbelieve that international photojournalist Nathan will choose to abruptly stay in Boston to be father to his niece and wannabe husband to Hallie, fans will enjoy this entertaining contemporary as the adults have no time to grieve their respective loss since the baby comes first.

Calling the Shots
Ellen Hartman
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716654 $5.50

Bryon James is struggling to make a family with his thirteen year old daughter Allie after his ex wife and her mom dumped her to go on tour. Allie enjoys ice hockey and plays for the Twin Falls Cowboys team in a coed league. She and teammate Tim Sampson got in a brawl destroying property at the rink but as Coach Danny says no one was seriously hurt. Due to the fight, Bryon who was late to pick her up after practice meets Tim's Clare Sampson.

Clare is fuming as Allie started the fight, blackened Tim's eye, and this is not her first assault on her son. She says she will file a police report, which angers Bryon as they exchange insults. Danny suggests instead of cops and lawyers to use the community mediation program. They reluctantly agree. As they attend the seminar, Bryan and Clare are attracted to one another once they get passed their initial hostility. However, each has emotional baggage keeping them apart as he remains angry at his former wife and she never moved pass the death of her sister.

The lead quartet make this an interesting family drama as each has emotional problems to contend with that becomes further complicated by the adult attraction. Calling the Shots will engage readers through three periods with a warm deep look at overcoming personal issues.

Sins of the Flesh
Eve Silver
9780373774845 $7.99

Underworld enforcer and soul reaper Malais Krayl seeks vengeance against those who murdered his brother Lokan. His prime target is to abduct High Reverend Pytor Kuznetsov, who he knows had his fellow Soul reaper assassinated.

At the same time Mal executes his plan, a blooded Daughter of Aset Calliope Kane grabs Kuznetsov. The arrival of a third person enables Calliope to take Kuznetsov. When Mal catches up to his natural enemy Calliope, he finds himself shockingly attracted to her. She, in turn, has loathed the Soul Reapers all her life so cannot understand why she wants him. However, external events leave all the soul reaper brothers and their mates in jeopardy

The third Otherkin Krayl romantic fantasy (see Sins of the Heart and Sins of the Soul) is a fabulous entry as two tough enemies collide in a terrific otherworldly gender war. Neither welcomes the forbidden attraction, but both cannot run from it though they try to conceal it. However, teaming up to prevent a deadly threat to Krayl and his comrades is against everything Kane believes in yet she has no choice. Eve Silver strikes gold for the third time in this entertaining Underworld saga.

Jordan Gray
9780373837526 $7.99

It has been almost a year since Michael and Molly Graham moved to the tiny English village of Blackpool on the Coast. Although the locals consider them to be outsiders, they have made a few friends and even solved a murder. The pair also continues to renovate the mansion they bought.

One of their new buddies is Dylan Stewart who is having marital problems because his wife Naomi wants to leave. Since Dylan refuses to take her from the small town she has lived in all her life, Naomi becomes involved with Willie Myners, the wealthy local drug pusher. Willie offers to take Naomi with him and act as her agent for her artistic endeavors. Dylan is well aware of what is going one between his spouse and Willie. He goes to constrain the dealer, but finds him dead in his home. The police arrest Dylan, but the Graham duet believes he is innocent and intends to p rove their assertion. They go to Willie's place to search for clues and find rare valuable gold coins. The villagers believe it is part of a pirate treasure buried beneath the village. When Willie's neighbor is also murdered and Molly is warned to stop her snooping, the Grahams are more motivated than before to find the truth.

Filled with legends of hidden treasures, pirates who roamed the streets and wreckers who lured boats to crash in coastal England, Vanished is a wonderful cozy within a gothic atmosphere. The M&M sleuthing team is reminiscent of N&N (Nick and Nora Charles of Thin Man fame and not of Infinite Playlist fame) in a British village setting. The characters and the plot believable, fans of British village amateur sleuths will enjoy this fine whodunit.

The Lawman
Patricia Potter
Harlequin Blaze
9780373795697 $4.99

In 1866 in the Colorado Territory, a coach driver tells U.S. Marshal Jared Evans that an outlaw named Thornton killed his sister-in-law Emma. Three years earlier murdering outlaws shot dead his wife, daughter and brother and now sweet Emma. He vows Thornton and the other robbers will hang.

Ten years later in Gideon's Hope, Jared is closing in on completing his death vow to Emma as he tracks down Thornton using the name MacDonald He finally catches up with the felon but orphan Samantha Blair would do anything for her beloved Mac, who along with two other outlaws, took her in as a child and raised her. With Mac lying unconscious with three bullets in him, she prevents the Marshal from getting him when she shoots Jared in the leg. However, instead of allowing the wounded lawman to die, Samantha helps healing his body and soul. Meanwhile amoral bounty hunters begin stalking and trapping the "nurse" and her two adversarial p atients.

This is a fast-paced western romance starring three intriguing protagonists. Samantha and Jared feels their love for each other betrays their most sacred trust as she is loyal to her adopted father who he wants to hang as he is loyal to his deceased sister-in-law. With Mac having more lives than a polecat, fans will relish this character driven Americana.

Sweet Surrender
Lori Wilde
Harlequin Blaze
9780373795659 $4.99

The four women agree so far the summer stinks due to men acting badly. They agree to a wager on who will be the last one standing literally. Each puts on panties with electronic sensors and GPS tracking to check up on each other; as the one who lives in abstinence the longest wins the bet.

"Night Whispers". Bianca accompanies CEO Thomaz to Rio to help develop a marketing plan to sell his firm's lingerie including his modern day chastity belt that the four females are wearing.

"Never Enough". In the Costa Rican jungle, Madison is and Jake search for Amore orchids.

"No Turning Back". In Colorado, Emma and Izzy are white-water rafting when Trent arrives.

These three short stories are fun heated romances with the wired chastity belt adding humor to the mix. Fast-paced and breezy, reader will enjoy the Wilde wager wondering who will be the "winner".

That Last Night In Texas
Ann Evans
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716609 $5.50

In the Beaumont, Texas area, thirteen years ago a horse trampled rancher Cassie McGuire on the night she was to elope with Ethan Rafferty. The eighteen year old Cassie believing her beloved deserves better, and ignoring Ethan's desires and denying him a choice, ended their relationship.

Ethan returns offering to buy some land from Cassie. He wants to establish a training school for problem horses. Cassie tells him that he is the father of her son Donny. Outraged, that Cassie could hide this from him, Ethan demands being in Donny's life although Cassie's former husband Josh has raised the child as if he was the sire. As Cassie and Ethan renew their acquaintance, they realize they remain in love.

This is a warm Texas ranch romance with a strong cast. The key to the tale is Josh who brings freshness to the often used not telling the dad he has a child plot; he does this by not being an evil miscreant but instead is a nice person who cares about his first wife and loves his second wife and Donny. Readers will enjoy Ann Evans's engaging second chance at love.

This Time For Keeps
Jenna Mills
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716593 $5.50

Over two years ago, Megan Montgomery tragically miscarried. Soon after losing her baby, her husband Russell left her. She angrily blames him for ending their marriage as he runs away at a time she needs him most; he leaves town.

With the death of her sister-in-law Ainsley, Megan raises her infant niece Charlotte. However, more shocking to her is Russell has returned from overseas to take care of his late sister's daughter. When Megan and Russell meet, the abandonment hurt remains, but worse is he, his family and Charlotte's father failed to come to Ainsley's funeral. Russell insists he found out his sibling died two weeks ago, but knows that is inadequate as he failed his sister and his wife. However, Meggie begins to realize she is somewhat at fault with their split and he realizes he is too. Both agree Charlotte comes first

Megan and Russell are superb lead characters as each failed one another at a critical moment when they needed each other. Two and half years later, they have a second chance at love if they can overcome the big failure and reach out to one another. Although in this instant communication age, it is hard to accept Russell not knowing his sister who idolized him and he cherished her died (his parents waited till he was coming home seems lame). Still readers will enjoy Meggie and Russell working through personal issues trying to forge a family with their niece.

The 1st Wife
Tara Taylor Quinn
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716562 $5.50

In Chandler, Ohio, the police arrest two time bigamist James Todd for murdering his second wife Lee Ann Todd. His third wife Marla Anderson is paying for his defense. The Ford County prosecutor Sheila Grant asks a local clinical psychologist Dr. Kelly Chapman to interview the first wife Jane Hamilton.

Jane has come a long way since her accident-prone marriage to James. She runs the Twenty-Something magazine that targets strong women. However, Jane is taken aback when asked to testify at her former husband's murder trial as she has no idea what she can bring to the proceedings.

Her best friend attorney Brad Manchester and Kelly get Jane to open her eyes to the truth that her ex spouse was abusive towards her; an adversarial relationship; of which she did comprehend back then as such, but suppressed. Looking back, Jane begins to believe James could turn to murder if his desires are thwarted.

This is an excellent psychological thriller with a romantic subplot between Brad and Jane supporting the prime story line of whether James was abusive to his first wife. Character driven, readers will appreciate this powerful tale as Jane realizes her activities at the magazine and as a volunteer since the divorce are motivated by her relationship with James. This is fabulous contemporary thriller.

Single Dad Sheriff
Lisa Childs
Harlequin American
9780373753284 $4.99

Jessie Phillips' son Tommy pleads with Forest Glen, Michigan Sheriff Chance Drayton to locate his father who he has never seen or even knew his name. Chance is confused by Jessie's attitude of refusing to discuss her child's father with him. He is especially raw on the subject having just been in court in a custody suit over his son, which may force him to move to Chicago to be there for his child.

Jessie hid from everyone including her son's sire that she was pregnant. She fears if the dad learns he fathered a son, he will sue for custody and might win. She knows she is obligated to explain to Chance who she likes why she is silent, but she is also is afraid he will condemn her after his own legal battle. Worse she owes an explanation to her son.

The cast is strong as readers will see the impact of separation on the children at a time when the lead couple is attracted but wary of each other. Although the story line jumps around a bit too much, starting with Tommy's earnest plea and the matchmaking antics of the townsfolk, fans will fully appreciate this insightful Michigan family drama as Chance and Jessie have deep reasons supporting their respective argument over the role of a father in raising a child.

Texas Baby
Tanya Michaels
Harlequin American
9780373753253 $4.99

Following the deaths of her brother and sister-in-law, twenty-eight years old Addie Caine became an instant mother to her six years old nephew and her toddler niece. She is over the edge with her nerves frazzled trying to balance being a single working mom with her grief and a sense of abandonment since her fiance dumped her.

Giff Baker was hired to find out who is leaking information at a civil engineering firm. The newcomer suspects Addie as the leak based on how frightened she looks. However, Giff is also attracted to Addie and wants to give her the benefit of the doubt. He quickly learns why she seems fatigued and stressed and wants to help her as Giff knows she is not the information leak. Yet someone else has noticed how bone weary Addie is and is setting her up to take the fall. Giff is determined to prove the woman he loves is innocent and to uncover the identity of the insidious person who is leaking informat ion and framing his Addie.

The sequel to The Best Man In Texas (Giff lost the girl in that one) is an entertaining contemporary romance in which the troubles Addie deals with bring a sense of genuineness to the tale. The nephew is perhaps a bit too wise for his age and recent tragedy, but readers will enjoy this fun Texas romance as Tanner says they are teammates if Addie does not bench him for hiding why he is here.

Whisper of Scandal
Nicola Cornick
9780373774401 $7.99

In 1811 Navy Captain Alex Grant visits Lady Joanna Ware, the widow of his late best friend David to offer his condolences. His only regret was the mission to find a North East trade route through the North Pole kept him from doing so eighteen months ago when David died on that quest. However, he is stunned to see some miscreant demanding she consider his suit.

Joanna greets Alex by calling him darling and gives him a welcome home kiss. Both are stunned by the reaction in light of the fact they never liked each other. Each has mixed feelings between desiring more kisses and wanting to run away from each other. However, keeping away from each other is not an option as they must journey to the Arctic to bring her stepdaughter home.

The Arctic trek brings a fascinating fresh subplot to a strong Regency romance starring a widow and widower who from that first searing kiss know they loathe yet desire each other. The lead couple is a wonderful match as each has preconceptions of the other based on their respective relationship to David. Fast-paced whether it is London or the Arctic, sub-genre fans will relish this entertaining historical.

The Promise
Brenda Joyce
9780373774425 $7.99

In 1833 Captain Alexi de Warenne is euphoric to finally come home to Askeaton, Ireland after being away for two years. He looks forward to seeing his childhood friend Elysse O'Neill. Unlike when they were growing up when they were inseparable, however Alexi seems to ignore Elysse except when politeness makes him do otherwise.

Instead Elysse and Alexi's shipmate William Montgomery flirt with one another until he wants to marry her. When the former best friends fight, William's head hits a rock and he dies. Alexi marries Elysse to save her reputation and they sail from Ireland though they never make love. For six years, Elysse lives the life of a free wife, but prays one day her Alexi will make love to her. When he finally comes home, Elysse plans to seduce her spouse, but he flees to the sea with her in pursuit. When she is captured, he risks his life for his beloved wife.

The latest de Warenne historical romance (see The Masquerade) is an engaging tale that fans of the saga will enjoy. Alexi and Elysse feel guilt over what happened to William and how the accidental death caused them to marry. A daughter of a captain, she knows his first love is the sea, but decides to make a play for his affection. Although the late suspense seems somewhat forced as a mechanism to move this couple on, readers will appreciate the strange marriage of Alexi and Elysse.

Family Matters
Barbara White Daille
Harlequin American Romance
9780373753321 $4.99

In Lakeside, Illinois at the Lakeside Village planned community for fifty years old and older, attorney Matt Lawrence believes Brendan McBride of swindling people into reconstructing the shut down Rainbow's End amusement park. Bren's niece art teacher Kerry MacBride takes exception with Matt's accusation though she knows she should wear a cape for all the times she has rescued her uncle and Gran from troubles they caused.

As Matt and Kerry argue in front of her family, the Village residents and when alone, their attraction for one another becomes heated. However, neither can move on to pursue their potential relationship until they reach an agreement, if they can, on what Uncle Bren did or not do, and if yes how to make retribution.

This is an amusing intelligent contemporary romance as the lawyer and the teacher argue, fuss and kiss. The support cast especially the impish McBride clan is an eccentric group who brings much of the jocularity to the charming lighthearted story line. However, it is the gender war between Superwoman and her "Supervillain" enemy that makes this an engaging battle of lips.

The Sleepwalkers
Paul Grossman
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312601904, $24.99,

In 1932 Berlin police detective Willi Krauss solves the notorious Child Eater serial killer case, which brings him a modicum of fame though the power hungry Nazis are unhappy about this as he is a Jew. On his next assignment Krauss investigates the strange death of a woman floating in the River Spree. The victim's head was shaved and her fibula surgically removed from one leg only to be replanted in the other limb.

Because of his recent fame, Weimar Republic President General Paul von Hindenberg assigns Krauss to look into the disappearance of a young Bulgarian princess who went out to purchase cigarettes, but never came home. At the same time as his workload grows, he has no time to sit Shiva for his recently deceased wife nor spend time with their children who are staying with their aunt. Between von Hindenberg and the Nazis, Krauss struggles to solve his difficult cases.

This engaging German historical police procedural contains a strong sense of how much enthusiasm the Nazis felt and the fear they placed in their rival, adversaries, and chosen scapegoats. Krauss is a strong lead character whose religion places a scarlet letter on him as far as the Nazis are concerned as they would rather have the Child Eater still terrorizing people than have a Jew solve the case. Although some of the key support characters are stereotypical and unnecessary (including an apparent love interest) as they detract from the entertaining plot by causing questionable character contradictions, fans will enjoy visiting Berlin at a pivotal wind of change sweeps Germany.

The Wolf in the Parlor: The Eternal Connection Between Humans and Dogs
Jon Franklin
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312662646 $14.99

Humans and canines have a special bond that is unique in the animal kingdom. That is the hypothesis of Jon Franklin's insightful look at how that loving tie formed. Using several sciences to support his theory, Mr. Franklin takes the audience on a wonderful tour of evolution going back twelve millennia as wild wolves were tamed into followers and further tamed into domestic obedience. Exploring human and animal behavior to include ethics, Mr. Franklin concludes evolutionary the dog gave up on a fifth of his or her brain power to allow humans to do the hard lifting thinking; he insists we gave away one tenth of ours too as dogs provide us unrequited loved as our best friend. Finally, the author also brings in anecdotal support to his belief of the symbiotic relationship between man and dog when he discusses his beloved Charlie; these are my favorite entries while my husband says my significant other was Max the dog. This warm, well written nonfiction is filled with scientific information as much as personal tales that showcase the Wolf in the Parlor goes back to the ancient caves as well as the modern day abodes.

The Vaults
Toby Ball
St. Martin's
9780312580735 $24.99

By 1935 in the City, archivist Arthur Puskis has worked in the Vaults for thirty plus years. The underground cavernous facility has stored the records of criminals for over seven decades and Parks is the expert at what is inside though he admits he knows a small percentage of the numerous files.

Recently, Arthur has found evidence of the Navaho Project in which two files with the same identifier contain different profiles, but share in common convicted killers never spending time in jail; this shakes his belief system that the Vaults are sacred. At the same time weed addicted investigative reporter Frank Frings and blackmailing private investigator Ethan Poole independently find similar information on the alleged The Navajo Project. Mayor Red Henry and his goons will go any length to keep the findings from going public, but someone is also targeting him and his cohorts with bombing assassinations.

Readers will want to enter Toby Ball's The Vaults as the vivid description of political corruption controlling the City hooks the audience to learn what the Navaho Project is and how far the Mayor and his supporters will go in exchange for graft. The story line is fast-paced with three unlikely heroes risking their lives trying to expose what they have learned. This is a haunting winner.

Playing the Game
Barbara Taylor Bradford
St. Martin's
9780312578084 $27.99

In London, art dealer and restorer Annette Remmington successfully hosts her first major auction of a lost Rembrandt she recovered, saved and sold. Her much older spouse of two decades, Marius demands she allow a media interview to push her fame beyond fifteen minutes as he believes the right journalist will recognize his wife's art genius.

Always obeying her mentor who she feels gratitude towards, Annette meets with Marius' hand-picked reporter Jack Chalmers. While working on her article, Jack and Annette are attracted to one another. She is caught between her desire for the man her own age and the older man who taught her everything she knows. However, the reporter soon uncovers a scandalous dark secret that if revealed could destroy Annette, Marius and even Jack.

Although an older man marrying and mentoring a younger woman with a hunk her age forging a dysfunctional triangle has been done many times (see Control by Kayla Perrin), Barbara Taylor Bradford writes a fresh engaging epic due mostly to the glitzy ultra rich art world. The lead trio is fully developed so the readers understand what drives each of them. Readers know what to expect from Ms. Bradford and with Playing the Game she provides it to her fans.

Rival to the Queen
Carolly Erickson
St. Martin's
9780312379742 $25.99

Bloody Queen Mary orders Francis Knolly to kill the family tutor. Having no choice, he does his duty to the horror of his loved ones especially sixteen years old Lettie. However, Francis also understands in spite of his loyalty the Queen and her late father, he and family are condemned because they are related to Mary's imprisoned half sister Princess Elizabeth.

Several years later, Elizabeth is now the queen and Lettie returns to court to serve her cousin. There she meets the queen's consort Sir Robert Dudley. She falls in love with him and he persuades her to secretly marry him though he would have preferred to be Elizabeth's husband; not out of love but to obtain more power. She is his second wife with rumors that Lady Any either was murdered or killed herself. She bears him a son who is royally executed and he also has an offspring out of wedlock with another lady of t he court. Each of Dudley's women feels the wrath of the queen.

The latest Carolly Erickson Tudor historical fiction (see the First Elizabeth and The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots) is an engaging tale that focuses on a rival for the affection of Dudley. Lettie is a courageous individual who knows she risks her life for love; while ironically her beloved comes across as a selfish hedonist. However, it is the portrait of Elizabeth that is difficult to accept as she is treated as a jealous angry beast with no redeeming virtues. Told by Lettie, sub-genre readers will enjoy her tale as The Rival to the Queen for Dudley's affection.

Hungry for Your Love: An Anthology of Zombie Romance
Lori Perkins, editor
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312650797 $14.99

This is an engaging twenty-one short stories that focus on the subgenre of zombie romance. That extra twist brings the heart and soul to a well written compilation. "Romance Ain't Dead by Jeremy Wagner stars a human husband loving his reanimated wife who drowned in Lake Michigan. Francesca Lia Block provides an amusing warm tale of two revenants meeting at "Revenants Anonymous". "I Heart Brains" by Jaime Saare has an infected male shopping at the mall for a new body, but also meets a widow. In "Everyone I Love Is dead" by Elizabeth Coldwe ll stars an Undead who returns from the grave to see his beloved but she has moved on with another man. Similar in tone as Ms. Coldwell's entry, Regina Riley provides the "Undying Love" of a zombie searching for his lost love. All the tales are fun and entertaining for fans of zombie romances as each author insures their lead couple contains fully functioning hearts as love never dies even the "Last Times at Ridgemont High" by Kilt Kilpatrick.

Chasing the Night
Iris Johansen
St. Martin's
9780312651190 $27.99

CIA Agent Catherine Ling rescues Kelly Winter from Bega, Columbia terrorist Munoz, who offers to exchange her life for that of his brother held in prison. Catherine is not in time to save Munoz's sibling, but she frees the woman Munoz held as a hostage. Catherine demands Agent Venable uphold his part of the deal by having forensic sculptor Eve Duncan do an age progression on her now eleven year old son, abducted eight years ago by a gun for hire Russian.

Eve ponders whether to do the request. A few days later, Catherine comes to Eve's home and begs the woman to do what she can to find her son. Both women understand personal tragedies and those traumas lacking closure forge a bond between them. Eve creates the age progression model, which Catherine plans to take to Russia. At the same time, Eve's empathy reminds her that her daughter Bonnie's killer is out there and someone is taunting the two women. However, the rescue mission takes an eerie spin as Catherine must decide between preventing another 9/11 catastrophe and rescuing her son.

Chasing the Night is a complex action-packed thriller, but ironically it is the bonding of the two women who share in common the loss of an offspring that makes this tale a fabulous tale. Their sisterly connection brings the soul to the story line as Eve and Catherine reach out to one another while their respective families have advised each to let it go, which neither can. Except for the taunting subplot that feels formulaic, this is a super Eve Duncan tale (see Eight Nights to Live) as she shares top billing (and loss) with another despondent woman.

Welcome to Temptation
Jennifer Crusie
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312641375 $14.99

Sophie Dempsey drives from Cincinnati to Temptation, Ohio to assist her mouthy sister Amy with filming a video with a former star who is coming home. Upon arriving at the outskirts of the town, Sophie wants to go home feeling unwelcome when she reads the sign: "We Believe in Family Values", as this movie will anger the local residents. Her fears prove valid when the town council passes an anti-pornography law. She explains to Amy how she feels about filming in this town as both have always been honest with one another, but her sibling tells her not to worry .

Sophie and Mayor Phineas Tucker meet and are attracted to one another. The single father wants to be supportive of Sophie, a magician with the camera, but also knows as the mayor he must enforce all ordinances; not just the ones he believes are good for the residents. However, as Harvard grad Phinn and Chicago Sophie fall in love, each wonders what will become of them.

This is a warm amusing madcap romance that at times is purposely over the top to bring further jocularity to the mix. The support characters are a zany crew whether they are from Temptation or elsewhere. However, this is the lead couples' tale as Sophie and Phinn disagree on adhering to the law with ironically her being the firm advocate even as the sex has both wanting more. Fans of jocular contemporaries will laugh out loud at the antics of the cast who will welcome readers to Temptation.

The Changeling Bride
Lisa Cach
Leisure Books
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780505528612, $7.99,

He needs money to rebuild his estate, but has only one avenue to make cash: marriage. Thus the Earl of Allsbrook offers his title to wed the female relative of a wealthy merchant. Allsbrook knows his intended is beautiful, but Wilhelmina is too independent in his mind and besides Henry is a romantic who always dreamed of marrying his beloved.

Although the marriage arrangement her family made for her comes with a title and her intended is handsome, Wilhelmina March is unhappy with marrying even if he has a title. She always fancied she would marry for love not a title. However, on a midsummer night when a fairy debt must be paid, a forever sweet kiss makes Henry and Elle realize what they share if they take a chance on one another.

This is a warm Georgian romance with a touch of fairy magic enhancing the entertaining story line. Neither Allsbrook nor March wanted to settle for anything less than love, but neither has a choice in the matter. Fast-paced, fans who enjoy a whimsical historical romantic fantasy will appreciate The Changeling Bride.

Patience Prence
Spring Harvest
9780982633601 $14.99

In a concentration camp in what was once the free United States of America, but now is the tyrannical Northern American Union, sixteen years old Rebekah Silver sits in a cell, contemplating how she came to bee here. She was a Southern California high school cheerleader until the earthquake destroyed her home. Becky has seen the tsunamis cause massive devastation eradicating metropolitan New York City and Florida while leaving much of the rest East Coast in ruins.

In a world shattered by natural and man-made catastrophes comes Maitreyes the Prophet whose predictions always come true. He rises in power until he becomes the world's leader. When he dies, he is resurrected so that most people including Becky's mom believe he is the Christ. Anyone who fails to believe Maitreyes is God or keeps a bible with them is considered a heretic enemy of the state and sentenced to death. That is how Becky has ended up in a cage as she ponders how strong her faith really is.

Patience Prence's End of Times saga targets the teen crowd with this fascinating one sitting thriller. Becky was a normal teen worried about passing tests and meeting boys until extraordinary circumstances changed her life. Now she must decide between her faith in the one God, which most likely will make her a martyr no one heard of, or bow to Maitreyes. Her tribulations make for an exciting saga.

Rachel Vincent
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778328186, $7.99,

Her brother Ethan is dead, but Faythe has no time to grieve as she goes after another sibling Ryan accompanied by her two lovers Marc and Jace. Her sibling allowed the rapes of Abby and Sara, and the sexual assault of Faythe when he failed to intervene. Faythe tells him to leave before she takes two parts of his anatomy as earrings.

Faythe travels to Montana to testify against Council chair Calvin Malone, Jace's stepfather, as the territorial war between the Prides seems eminent. She knows she wants to rip the skin off Malone and his henchman Dean because she has evidence that they killed Ethan, but justice is more important in her new role as the Alpha of her Pride. Besides leading her Pride as the hostilities turn heated, Faythe must choose between loyal always there Jace and angry acrimonious Marc.

The last chapter of the exciting Shifters urban fantasy saga (see Shift and Pride) is a terrific entry as the heroine shows her maturity as a leader since the first tale (see Stray). What she might do as part of the Pride is different than what she must do as the Alpha of the Pride. Fast-paced and loaded with action, fans of Rachel Vincent's entertaining romantic werewolf saga will relish the well-written final thriller.

Call Me Mrs. Miracle
Debbie Macomber
9780778328193 $16.95

Heir Finley's Department Store Jake Finley and his owner dad Jacob never celebrate Christmas although that is the critical business period. Unlike the jolly New York shoppers, father and son never forgot the tragedy that occurred two decades ago on Christmas Eve when his mom and sis died in a car crash; his dad especially refuses to celebrate.

In Brooklyn, single Holly Larson struggles with having eight year old Gabe living with her. However, with her widower brother Mickey serving in Afghanistan for fifteen months and their parents in Haiti providing medical assistance, her nephew resides with the only option left for him, his fraternal aunt. Finley Department Store seasonal employee Emily "Mrs. Miracle" Merkle thinks Jake and Holly, who meet over coffee, are a perfect match; so she plans to live up to her nickname using a toy robot that Gabe wants as the matchmaker.

Following the recent movie rendition of Debbie Macomber's Mrs. Miracle, Mrs. Merkle returns for another holiday matchmaking extravaganza. The story line is lighthearted inspirational fun though follows the obvious simplistic path that readers will expect to occur. Still Yuletide fans will enjoy a modern day Manhattan miracle on Thirty-Fourth Street.

The Immortals
J.T. Ellison
9780778327639 $7.99

Nashville PD Homicide Lieutenant Taylor Jackson has no time celebrating her return of rank as she and most of the city are stunned when seven teens from Hillsdale High are murdered in a Halloween ritual. The case is weird enough but spins even crazier when a woman claiming to be "good witch" arrives at his office offering to help. Taylor prefers to ignore her though she offers advice on witchcraft and occult rituals honoring Death on Halloween Eve. Meanwhile the cop and her unit struggle to find the perpetrators even as the city residents demand instant resolution.
At the same time the FBI orders her fiance Special Agent John Baldwin to drop his investigation into the serial killer The Pretender and come to Washington D.C. to defend his work on a case in which irregularities and accusations have surfaced from late profiler Charlotte Douglas who worked with him on the Snow White inquiry.

The fifth Jackson police procedural (see All the Pretty Girls and The Cold Room) is a dark gripping thriller that contains two strong subplots; first there is the Nashville investigation and second is the accusations on Douglas' computer. Both entries are fast-paced and complement one another. The Immortals is a great Nashville murder mystery.

Dark Road to Darjeeling
Deanna Raybourn
9780778328209 $14.95

In 1889, Lady Julia Grey and her second husband detective Nicholas Brisbane enjoy a honeymoon in the Himalayas; not a surprising locale for this pair who met when her first spouse was twitching in his final death dance a few years ago (see Silent in the Grave). While high in the mountains, the happy couple is stunned by family visitors; Julia's brother Plum and her sister Portia arrive with shocking news.

Portia's former lover Jane Cavendish insists her husband Freddie was murdered in India. Brisbane couldn't care less that Freddie's dead as he wants time alone with his wife. However, the three siblings agree to investigate the homicide to the sleuth's disappointment. However, he hesitantly agrees to assist his wife and in-laws, but insists they owe him big time. As the inquiry continues into boiling colonial India, they find a horde of potential killers with strong motives, but not one iota of evidence pointing specifically at any of them.

The fourth Lady Julia Grey historical mystery (see Silent in the Sanctuary and Silent on the Moor) is a superb entry in what is a strong series. Shifting continents, but still influenced by the Victorian presence in Asia, as "the sun never sets on the English Empire", Dark Road to Darjeeling is a great whodunit it that showcases the talent of Deanna Raybourn to mix humor with tension in a descriptive late nineteenth century exotic locale. Fans will want to read this terrific whodunit as the Lady Julia Grey saga continues its super storytelling.

To Wish Or Not To Wish
Mindy Klasky
9780778328308 $13.95

Wannabe actress Erin Hollister affirms her belief that bad things come in three. First she was rejected for a part in a Mamet play as she was the wrong body type. Second her time at the Equity Audition Center made her late for her survival job at Concerned Caters and she performs poorly so is fired. Finally she thinks she is pregnant, but when she tells her significant other, he accuses her of irresponsibility before dumping her.

Her friend Becca (see When Good Wishes Go Bad) and her significant other Ryan are going to Africa for a year so she asks Erin to stay in her condo at not cost while she is overseas. Inside the condo, Erin finds a crate with her name on it that she assumes Becca left her. She opens the crate to find an old tarnished brass lantern. When she cleans it with a rag, a man appears in a police uniform out of nowhere. He says his name is Teel and he gives her the standard genie contract in which he fulfills her wishes in exchange for free time outside the lamp, but she must choose rather quickly before the offer expires.

This is an amusing yet poignant romantic urban fantasy as Erin struggles with what to wish for as she learns what matters in life. The key to this strong As You Wish entry (see How Not To Make A Wish) is the relationships between Erin and others. First there is caring for her sister and nephew (living in New Brunswick) as her brother-law is a soldier in the Middle East Theater of Operations, and second is her concern and attraction to Teel once she makes her wish. Readers will appreciate the warm humorous To Wish Or Not To Wish t hat is the question facing Erin.

The Second Lie
Tara Taylor Quinn
9780778328384 $7.99

In Chandler, Ohio, Chandler High School Counselor Jim Lockhart recommends to parent Lori Winston that she make an appointment for her daughter fourteen year old Maggie with psychologist Dr. Kelly Chapman. Lori clarifies she cannot pay, but when it comes to kids Kelly does pro bono work as long as she has fresh pencils to chew on. The single mom further explains that she fears her daughter is seeing a much older man and now carries a condom. Kelly agrees to chat with Maggie.

At the same time, Fort County Deputy Samantha Jones fears she suffers from post traumatic stress disorder after working the Holmes murder-suicide case, which is related to the economic recession and illegal drugs. She visits her former fiance Kyle Evans whose family farm is in financial trouble. However, Sam has little time to recover as she fears an illegal meth lab has been set up in town. Sam considers seeing Kelly for counseling, but when a seller is busted, she knows her duty comes first.

The Second Lie is a fast-paced thriller that looks deeply at crime in a small-town setting; as Tara Taylor Quinn makes a strong case that murder-suicide and meth manufacturing and selling can occur anywhere. The romance between the deputy and the farmer remains for the most part in the background as the drug case comes first. Although the transitions between lead roles mostly shared by the two women and somewhat Kyle feels abrupt as the changes happen in rapid fire procession, readers will enjoy this entertaining Midwestern drama.

Killer Heat
Brenda Novak
9780778328315 $7.99

Private investigator Francesca Moretti was hired to find missing April Bonner. The Chandler, Arizona sleuth follows a clue that takes her to a salvage yard near Prescott. There she sees April's corpse and has a run in with the owner Butch Vaughn who lured the unfortunate woman via the matchmaker Net persona of Harry Stratham. Thanks to a woman and child, who Francesca assumes is his family, she escapes.

Yavapai County Sheriff's office hires the Department 6 private security firm to investigate the gruesome murders of seven women found in Skull valley. Agent Jonah Young leads the inquiry, but he is stunned when he sees Francesca. A decade ago, they went to the police academy together, but as they fell in love he betrayed her and his heart. The cops find no body on Vaughn's property and he files an assault charge against Francesca. As the two team up to clear Francesca's reputation, they target Butch as the only suspect, but lack proof; while the killer targets them.

The third Department Six investigative thriller (see Body Heat and White Heat) is an action-packed tale that grips the reader from the opening sequence when Butch comes after Francesca with a bat and never slows down until the final confrontation. Fast-paced, fans will appreciate this strong second chance romantic suspense with solid tough leads and a terrific late twist.

Anne Stuart
9780778328506 $7.99

After three seasons of perfect behavior, Lady Miranda Rohan proves her family's blood flows in her when she stupidly allowed herself to be caught in a scandalous situation with charming rake Christopher St. John. He demands they elope, but also takes her virginity. After two more nights of his fumbling sex, she knocks him out with a ewer when he would not quit. She saves his life from her irate brothers, but St. John spreads the gossip causing a scandal in which the Ton treats Miranda as a pariah. St. John offers to marry her, but instead of accepting her fate, she reveled in her freedom from the societal rules of order while the Earl of Rochdale who hired St. Jon to seduce and marry the girl and kill her older brother informs him he is lucky to remain alive.

While Rochdale remains patient for two years waiting to strike again against his enemies the Rohan family for what they did to his sister as he knows he must pounce and not rely on fools. He introduces himself as Lucien de Malheur, known as the Scorpion earl of Rochdale. Their scandals lead them to friendship and ultimately marriage. However, as his plot to take revenge against the Rohan clan takes seed, Lucien has a big problem; he loves his wife.

The latest scandalous Rohan historical romance (see Reckless and Ruthless) is a terrific finish as two people with scandalous backgrounds collide in love and a gender war. The story line is fast-paced from start to finish, but really explodes once the heroine begins to unravel her spouse's plan. Readers will enjoy the next generation Wicked House of Rohan trilogy.

A Chesapeake Shores Christmas
Sherryl Woods
9780778328520 $16.95

After a dozen plus years since their divorce, Mick and Megan O'Brien are remarrying in Chesapeake Shores. This will be only the second time since she left Mick to hide in New York that she will be in the place her children grew up. She prays her offspring will accept her back in their lives and that of their daddy, but knows her mistakes of not being there for them could prove too much to overcome.

The adult kids are euphoric that their parents are coming together. That is all except Connor who became a divorce lawyer due to his mother's abandonment of him and his siblings. He cannot forgive her unlike the rest of the family who bless this union. His rejection amplifies Megan's doubts as she does no want to hurt her loved ones again. It will take a miracle to bring the O'Brien family together, but it is the season of miracles.

The latest Chesapeake Shores tale (see Harbor Lights and Flowers on Main Street) is an enjoyable second chance at family drama. The parents and their children are fully developed characters, but it is Connor who makes the story line work. Megan recognizes his relationship with heather as a repeat of the mistakes made by and Mick. Readers will enjoy the return to the O'Brien brood in Sherryl Woods' warm return to Chesapeake Shores.

The Wolf Age
James Enge
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616142438, $17.00,

By nature an extreme pessimist who in spite of his adept skills knows he cannot live up to the legend of his father except when he is intoxicated. Enchanter Morlock Ambrosius wonders what else could go wrong as nothing seems to be going his way. In the werewolf city-state of Wuruyaaria, he figures he hit rock bottom when he is confined in a prison inside Vargulleion, a werewolf fortress. Morlock soon learns he has not bottomed out when he is forced to kill another inmate who attacked him.

His new cell mate is Rokhlenu the werewolf, whose life he once saved. They become friends watching each other's back in the dangerous dungeons. However, Morlock also struggles with his sanity as the glass spike pounded into his head blocks his Sight leading to out of control paranoid rages. Working together, the pair escapes, but being on the outside in a city boiling over with angry werewolves divided in strife during an election year proves more dangerous than lock up.

Making last summer's Tea Party look like tea partiers, The Wolf Age is an excellent political fantasy as James Enge paints balloting skewered by the sword and claw; making Wuruyaaria seem worse than 1850s Bleeding Kansas and that of 2008 violent Kenya. The taut story line is character driven by the honor of blood werewolf voters as democracy proves deadly. With morose Morlock as the guide (see Blood of Ambrose and This Crooked Way), readers will appreciate the dark, grim and gloomy portrayal of democracy.

The Strange Affair Of Spring-Heeled Jack
Mark Hodder
9781616142407 $16.00

By 1861, Britain is radically changing due to technology; enhanced by the eugenicists creating specialized beasts to do the labor. Four groups emerge to challenge the power structure. The Libertines demand no laws insisting government impedes creativity; the Rakes agree with no government interference as they are anarchists demanding the use of magic fueled by sex and drugs to create a super human, the Engineers use technology to transform the world into a marvelously polluted realm in their image; and finally the Eugenicists create specialized beasts of burden.

British Prime Minister Lord Pamerston hires Sir Richard Burton, just back from the Nile expedition, to serve as the "King's Spy". His first investigation is to look into the reported sexual assaults by an apparent apparition Spring-Heeled Jack. At the same time Algernon Charles Swinbourne is doing an inquiry of his own. Meanwhile apparently hybrid canine-humans are kidnapping chimney sweeps while terrorizing the East End. Richard also plans to learn what happened to his injured former friend, John Speke, who vanished.

This is a fascinating tongue in cheek alternate historical thriller that grips the reader throughout. The story line pays homage to Dickens and Wells in a setting in which the moral fiber that kept the sun from setting on the Empire is waning from the extremes demanding the establishment of their Eden regardless of the cost to others. As the threads converge into a great twist, readers will want to join Burton and Swinbourne discovering the truth of Mark Hodder's Victorian England.

And Then There Was One
Patricia Gussin
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G, Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781933515816, $25.95,

In Detroit, the nine year old Monroe triplets go a movie theatre at the nearby mall. Sammie and Alex attend one picture at the multiplex while the third sister Jackie and her cousin see a different picture. After the movies end, only Jackie goes home as her sisters vanish without a trace.

The FBI leads the investigation with the full cooperation of the father sports commentator Scott and the mother physician Katie whose focus is on sexual abuse of children. As time passes, Jackie is falling apart mentally from survivor guilt and her parents struggle to be there as they fear the worst and wonder if they are the cause.

Filled with twists and red herrings, readers will enjoy And Then There Was One. Children being snatched impacting parents are frequent mechanisms in literature, but the profound effect on a sibling is rarer especially a twin or triplet; perhaps the fantasy movie The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising is the nearest and that is a stretch as the hero was unaware he had a twin until deep into the film. The key to this strong abduction thriller is the reactions of the three remaining family members who each go through the stages of grief in their own ways; as they know that the family picture is incomplete without Sammie and Alex. This is a super psychological suspense thriller due to the reactio ns of the trio waiting with each breath one step closer to a self-customized hell.

Kind of Blue
Miles Corwin
9781608090075 $25.95

Former LAPD cop Pete Relovich, renowned for his courage in a Watts incident in which he saved his partner's life and legend says spit out a slug, was killed in his home in San Pedro. Assistant Chief Grazzo informs Lieutenant Duffy to put his best man on the case. Duffy says his top gun Asher Levine quit eleven months ago over what he perceived was his failure to protect homicide witness Latisha Patton who was murdered.

Duffy asks Levine to work the homicide of a heroic cop. Levine agrees as he sees this as an opportunity to pay what he believes he owes Latisha by bringing her killer to justice. As he investigates both murders, Levine finds clues that shake his already battered soul.

Kind of Blue is an entertaining police procedural that reads more like a Noir as fearless (and foolish) Levine works the mean streets of L.A. with an obsessive vendetta propelling him. Levine owns the fast-paced story line with his take the hill attitude yet knows he feels more than just grief when he follows where the leads take him. Readers will appreciate Miles Corwin's character driven investigative thriller due to the kick butt hero and the strong support cast enhancing his inquiry.

Indulgence in Death
J.D. Robb
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399156878, $26.95,

NYPSD Homicide Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her husband Roarke go to Ireland on a needed vacation; their first in quite a while. When they return to New York City, Eve finds her unit struggling with an apparent serial killer (or more) who changes his or her weapon of choice; always using something that seems arcane.

First the predator murdered chauffeur Jamal Houston sitting in his limo at La Guardia with a crossbow. That is followed with the killing of prostitute Ava Crampton at Coney Island's House of Horrors using a bayonet. Soon afterward celebrity chef Luc Delaflote falls to a harpoon. Finally, a bullwhip around her neck strangled Adrianne Jonas to death. Even as they become targets, Eve, her top assistant Detective Delia Peabody and Roarke find clues that frighten them with the apparent psychopathic implications.

The long running Dallas-Roarke futuristic police procedural (see Kindred in Death and Fantasy in Death) is made fresh by the killer(s) who will remind readers of Leopold and Loeb (see the movie Compulsion) though the implication has been used in other novels. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action as the inquiry turns macabre and twp cops and their civilian ally become the prey of deadly predators. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this exciting entry.

A Piggly Wiggly Christmas
Robert Dalby
9780399156779 $24.95

In Second Creek, Mississippi Laurie Lepanto is concerned with what the new MegaMart by the nearby highway exit is doing to the local small businesses. She initially talks with some of her fellow Nitwitts about her concern before approaching the returning honeymooners, Mayor "Choppy" Hale Dunbar and his new wife Gaylie Girl. The three of them and the other Nitwitts ladies' club plan a Christmas gala to revitalize the town square in order to bring back the local shoppers and tourists.

However, an electrical fire damages the square, leaving the holiday celebration in jeopardy. Meanwhile Gaylie's son Petey falls in love (again) this time with Meta, the daughter of formidable Nitwitt Renza Belford. Even though tension and depression rise to stratospheric levels, the Nitwitts never ever give up. They need a Yuletide miracle, but if any group could make it happen it is these determined females.

This is a fun regional small town tale that focuses on a major economic-social issue as the corporations replace mom and pop small businesses with big stores. Although series fans know how this will end unless they are a halfwit, readers will enjoy the antics of the Nitwitts and other eccentric residents of Second (to none) Creek.

The Valcourt Heiress
Catherine Coulter
9780399156755 $25.95

In 1278, considered by many to be a witch, the widow of the Earl of Valcourt, Abbess Helen of Meizerling Abbey sells her daughter Marianna de Luce de Mornay to the highest bidder, the malevolent Jason of Brennan. Rather than marry the evil Jason, Merry sneaks out of the castle wearing a lad's garb, but is caught by the Earl of Wareham, Lord Garron. Merry manages to escape again, but follows Garron and his retinue to his keep.

At Wareham, Garron is stunned by the massacre that greets him. Few survive the horror. Merry sneaks into Garron's keep and masquerades as the dead priest's illegitimate bastard daughter. Caring for others, Merry tries to help the survivors, which brings her to the attention of Garron. He realizes she is The Valcourt Heiress and plans to escort her to the king. Instead she seduces him, which forces the honorable Garron to have to wed her. However, her odious mother kidnaps her and holds her prisoner unti l she is released and returned to Wareham. However, her behavior is totally the opposite of her first time here, but Garron knows something is not right as Merry is nothing remotely like the woman he fell in love with; especially when Helen arrives allegedly to negotiate.

This is an engaging medieval romantic suspense starring two fascinating lead characters and an evil Abbess who steals the show with her machinations. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Merry sneaks out of the castle and never slows down as the diabolical Helen insidiously works her schemes by taking advantage of the psyches of everyone who crosses her sphere. Although good and bad are drawn to the extremes, fans will enjoy Catherine Coulter's exciting thirteenth century thriller.

Skating Around the Law
Joelle Charbonneau
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312629809, $24.99,

Thirtyish Chicago mortgage broker Rebecca Robbins inherits a roller skating rink from her deceased mom in her hometown of Indian Falls, Illinois. She has no plans to keep it and wants to sell it as soon as possible. However, her plan to sell immediately is placed on hold when maintenance man Mack Murphy is found dead with his head in a toilet and prescription pills on the floor nearby.

The obvious conclusion is suicide, but medical examiner Doc Truman thinks a homicide occurred. Remaining in town longer than she planned, Rebecca considers sleuthing to expedite the sale as the cops seem more Keystone than detective; while her grandfather Pop, veterinarian Lionel Franklin and Elwood the retired circus camel want her to stay.

This is a well written amusing amateur sleuth that readers will enjoy as the locals (except the above mentioned trio) no longer consider Rebecca a native as she is Chicago tainted especially since she could not wait to leave town from the moment her dad deserted her and her mom. The story line is faster than a spin around the track, but it is the jocularity that makes Skating Around the Law an entertaining whodunit.

Dangerous to Know
Tasha Alexander
9780312383794 $24.99

In 1892, Lady Emily Hargreaves heals at her husband Colin's family estate near Rouen in Normandy from her harrowing time trapped in a cavernous cistern underneath Constantinople (see Tears of Pearl). Her emotional recovery is somewhat thwarted by her formidable mother-in-law Anne, who lucidly yet tacitly insures Emily knows she disapproves of her honeymoon behavior and what soon happens at the estate.

Emily is riding a horse when she finds a mutilated female body. The police are called and Inspector Gaudet leads the inquiry though Emily believes he is incompetent. She later learns the butchered victim is an escaped inmate from a nearby insane asylum and that the knife wounds suggest Jack the Ripper left London for France. Unable to ignore what she saw, Emily investigates but fears for her mind as she keeps hearing a child's voice but none seem nearby,

Dangerous to Know is a pleasant late Victorian Era whodunit though readers will doubt the company of the inspector and the amateur sleuth. The relationship between Emily and Anne enhances the story line as does the French countryside and the trek into Rouen. Although the detecting never comes across as strong as Emily's' efforts before she married (see A Poisoned Season and Only to deceives), fans will enjoy this entertaining historical.

Daniel Judson
9780312383619 $24.99

In 2003 in Manhattan, intrepid private investigator Remer is conducting surveillance of a couple for a client who warned him her spouse is dangerous. While parked, four men corner him; two with guns drawn professionally. A third attacks him with a stun gun shooting 25 K volts into Remer. They take him from his vehicle into their SUV and drive across the Williamsburg Bridge to Brooklyn. They complete their assault by carving Voyeur o nto his chest.

Years later, mentally Remer remains emotionally fragile while hiding from everyone; as he runs a liquor store in Southampton. However, his friend from his sleuthing days, police detective Kay Barton finds him and asks him to hire Mia Ferrara to work at his store though she lacks experience. Reluctantly he does, but she stole 80 K from him before vanishing. Kay informs him that Mira is missing and that the woman's mother Evelyn wants to meet him to beg him to find her daughter. Instead of what he expected from the mom, when they meet, the frightened woman says her daughter's disappearance is the first step th at will end in Evelyn's death.

This is an exciting character driven private investigative thriller. The story line starts off as a Manhattan Noir, but quickly switches to a Long Island anti-Noir, and soon turns into a hesitant Noir as Remer is unsure he can get back in the saddle. Fast-paced, Remer knows he owes the Frenchman and his thugs, but his chest reminds him what the cost is.

A Stranger in Mayfair
Charles Finch
9780312625061 $24.99

In Victorian England, Charles Lenox, son of and brother to a baronet, is euphoric to marry his beloved lifelong friend and new wife, Lady Jane Grey. Since they resided in adjoining houses, they hired an architect to create a larger abode out of the two smaller homes.

His simple life becomes complicated when he responds to the doorbell. An acquaintance Ludwig Starling wants Charles, a private investigator who has solved cases that baffled the Yard, to uncover who killed his footman Frederick Clarke. Although Charles wants to be ready for the next session of parliament as he an active member, he cannot resist the lure of an investigation. Charles finds no dark documents when he inquires inside of his client's home. Lenox and Starling visit the alley where Clarke was murdered only to have someone stab Ludwig. The butler is arrested but Charles knows he is innocent even when the man confesses. What Charles does not know could kill him as the culprit overtly observes his every move in plain sight.

The newest Lenox Victorian mystery (see the Fleet Street Murders) once again brings history and the culture of the era alive inside a strong whodunit. However, make no mistake the tale belongs to Lenox. The hero understands society's rules especially limitations, but ignores the prejudicial class aspects. For instance his occupation as a private investigator is considered as lowly trade by high society, but Lenox couldn't care less as sleuthing gives him special satisfaction. He loves his wife, but is also extremely grateful that in spite of her being a Lady and worried about his safety she encourages her forty years old husband to detect.

Busy Body
M. C. Beaton
9780312387013 $24.99

Mircester health and safety board officer John "Grudge" Sunday prevents the annual putting up a Christmas tree atop the Carsely church tower by threatening court action against Vicar Alf Bloxby. This tradition has been part of the holiday season for years in Cotswolds. Two angry groups (Our Ladies Society and Odley Cruessis Society) meet to decide what to do when wealthy fuming Miriam Courtney publicly states what many are feeling when she proclaims she wants to kill the odious Grudge.

When someone stabs Grudge to death near the meetings of two ladies' groups, the police look closely at Courtney, as she threatened the victim. Distrusting the cops to look for any other suspect though so many had grudges against the dead inspector, Courtney hires private investigator Agatha Raisin to prove her innocence. As Raisin and her junior sleuth Toni Gilmour make inquires, an unknown adversary bashes in their client's head.

Agatha Raisin is even more cantankerous than usual as her Christmas holiday to flee tradition by visiting Porto Vechhio in Corsica proves so boring, she fled for home with a sore throat that made her even more ill mannered. Soon afterward, the middle aged sleuth works a murder mystery for a client who becomes the second victim. Readers will enjoy the case and how over her ex husband she is, but Raisin's love life remains a mess. This is a superb entry in a great British investigative series (see There Goes the Bride) as no one tames the shrew.

Swift Justice
Laura DiSilverio
9780312641504 $24.99

Charlotte "Charlie" Swift always knew she preferred her own company over any entanglements. Eight years as an Air Force military investigator affirmed her feelings that she would rather work alone. After leaving the service, Charlie opens up a private investigative firm in Colorado Springs. She has the perfect partner, Goldman, who puts up money and stays out of her way.

When Goldman flees as a fugitive from the law due to his financial shenanigans, Charlie is stunned. Her firm is near bankrupt with debt and she no longer has a silent partner as Goldman's wife Gigi takes over his interest and shows up at the office as she plans to work there. Charlie wants the socialite out of the office so she can return to being hardboiled instead of cute kittens on the wall. She assigns Gigi the worst projects imaginable such as doing undercover work as a fast food chain mascot. However, whereas Charlie's in your face with a fist approach fails on their current case; Gigi's girly girl make nice gets people to talk. The two women seek a teen mother who abandoned her baby on the doorstep of their client, who years ago gave up her baby for adoption.

The key to this delightful private investigator mystery is the pairing of the opposites as pampered and street wise make for amusing scenarios, but when it comes to the serious search for the mom the story line leaves the banter back at the office. Though this type of teaming has been done before (for instance, Lynda Carter and Loni Anderson in Partners In Crime), readers will enjoy the antics of Charlie and Gigi as the unlikely duet work the streets of Colorado Springs.

The Shimmering Blond Sister
David Handler
9780312574857 $24.99

The affluent residents of Dorset, Connecticut want the Dorset Flasher caught. The culprit has upset the wealthy patrons of the Dorset Historic District as he does his thing every weekend; taunting the cops with ability to get in and out without being caught.

Police officer Des Mitry believes Augie Dinatelli is the Flasher, but lacks evidence. The cop and the suspect have several public arguments so when the latter is murdered; Mitry becomes the prime suspect in the homicide. The beleaguered African American police officer turns to her former lover, New York Jewish film critic Mitch Berger for help on proving her innocence.

The latest Berger and Mitry mystery (see Sweet Golden Parachute and The Sour Cherry Surprise) is an engaging tale in which the reader gets inside the heads of the lead couple. This enables the audience to understand how each feels about not fitting the town's predominant profile. The whodunit inquiry is well done as B and M work the case methodically, but in many ways the investigative subplot feels more supportive of comprehending the motives of people especially Mitry to live and work in a sea of mostly rich upper class whites.

Unholy Awakening
Michael Gregorio
9780312625023 $14.99

In Lotingen, Prussia, the female corpse is pulled from a well near the home of Emma Rimmele. To everyone's shock and fear, she has suspicious bite marks on her neck. Hanno Stiffeniis leads the investigation with Napoleon's occupying force agents watching his every move.

Hanno learns that three French officers and several locals recently died with similar marks on their necks. The angry superstitious villagers believe Emma is a vampire and a mob mentality is becoming frantic with staking and burning her before she bites them. Stiffeniis and his friend Lavedrine continue their inquiry knowing a tragedy will occur if they do not ferret out the real human serial killer soon.

The latest Hanno Stiffeniis historical investigative thriller (see Days of Atonement and A Visible Darkness) is a great entry as the inquiry is fun to follow especially with Napoleonic agents watching the sleuth's every step. The leisurely pace enhances the sense of being in early nineteenth century Prussia as Hanno applies deductive and inductive logic in his efforts to solve the homicide while most of the locals fear the outbreak of a vampire feeding frenzy.

On the Line
S. J. Rozan
9780312544492 $24.99

In New York City, private investigator Bill Smith receives a call from the cell phone of his partner Lydia Chin. However, she is not the voice on the other end; instead an unknown person claims to have abducted Lydia. Believing initially this is a sick prank; Bill knows Lydia has been kidnapped when she briefly gets on the phone.

The culprit gives Bill twelve hours to save her life and the sleuth must adhere to the rules of the game, which include no cops and subject to change at the whim of the perpetrator. Bill scrambles to save the life of his partner, but NYPD suspects him of at least with one homicide during the hunt. He obtains needed assistance from Lydia's cyber guru cousin Linus Wong and her best friend police detective Mary Kee, but the psychopath owns the cat and mouse game as Lydia is the cheese.

Mindful of the John Cena movie Twelve Rounds, On the Line is a fast-paced exhilarating thriller in which the predator makes and breaks and changes the rules turning the desperate hero into a puppet on a string. Loaded with action, readers will enjoy John's frantic tour of New York as time is running out for Lydia.

Rivers of Gold
Adam Dunn
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781608193073, $25.00,

In 2013, the second Great Depression has led to the rise of crime especially in the urban centers. NYPD established the controversial Citywide Anticrime Bureau to prevent the further increase in criminal activity. Already having strong objections to the creation of this unit, the Aubrey Bright fatality has led to rioting against the cops and especially CAB.

CAB Detective Sixto Santiago works undercover, but when he finds the mutilated corpse of Egyptian cabdriver Eyad Fouad near the Holland Tunnel, he sees an opportunity for career advancement. Thus expecting to solve the case quickly and obtain kudos and a promotion, Santiago investigates the brutal homicide of the immigrant. However, his inquiry soon proves this was not a simple murder of a cabbie, but much more.

Rivers of Gold is an intriguing near futuristic tale that extrapolates the economic crisis from a lingering recession into a deep rooted depression and consequently its affect on people. The investigation is entertainingly filled with twists and spins as a simple homicide that smacks of promotion turns into a convoluted job killer. Although the ending inanely and overly hyperbolizes the previously somewhat subtle farcical plot, readers will enjoy this fun police procedural.

Danielle Steel
Delacorte Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780385343138, $28.00,

In less than forty-eight hours, Brigitte Nicholson's life is shattered starting with her archeologist boyfriend Ted abruptly dumping her and finishing with Boston University Admissions Office firing her. Stunned with no place to go, Brigitte agrees to assist her mom who is working on a family tree.

Brigitte goes to Salt Lake City to research her ancestry at Family History Library. There she uncovers a strange mystery about her heritage as an ancestor Dakota Sioux princess Wachiwi who apparently traveled to France just before the French Revolution. While there she married a marquis. Wachiwi as the Marquise de Margerac was buried in Brittany rather than the Great Plains. Following clues takes the researcher to Sioux Falls and Paris. In France, Brigitte and Sorbonne Professor Marc Henri meet and are attached to one another. Their encounter and her family project begin to bring back la vivre de joie sprit that Brigitte had lost to complacency.

This is an entertaining tale mostly because of the exciting look at the life of Wachiwi, which is inserted throughout the enjoyable present day story line of Brigitte's research. Fast-paced in two centuries, readers will wonder what lessons Brigitte will take from the stirring life of the Sioux princess as Danielle Steel provides a winner for her fans.

Goodnight, Beautiful
Dorothy Koomson
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780385344265, $15.00,

Eight years ago in England, Mal and Stephanie ask his close friend Nova to serve as a surrogate mother. She agrees, but during the pregnancy, a jealous Stephanie shut down the arrangement. Rather than abort or give up her child for adoption, Nova chooses to raise her son as a single mom.

Nova's son seven-year-old Leo suffers an aneurysm and needs emergency surgery. He lies in a medically induced coma with a strong chance he will die shortly or never awaken. Though she is still bitter at Mal and Stephanie as her former BFF cut off all ties to her and their offspring, Nova knows their reversal led to her raising her beloved Leo; she wants her child's father to meet his son.

This is an engaging five tissue box contemporary family drama. The lead triangle and Leo are solid characters so the audience understand the motives of each especially the adults. Although too much time is spent on the events of eight years ago that are table setters for the present, readers will not have a dry eye as Dorothy Koomson provides a modern day weeper.

When Pleasure Rules
J.K. Beck
9780440245780 $7.99

Being a succubus, club owner Lissa Monroe understands those who work for her as she rescued her succubae from abusive masters. They provide pleasure to the humans while feeding on mortals, but they never kill the client.

Lissa has a unique extra skill that none of her employees possess. She can read the mind of her lover. The Division learns of Lissa's special talent and wants her to help them with a Los Angeles serial killer case going nowhere. They ask her to enter the mind of Vincent Rand, who apparently has information on the deaths of innocent people. Lissa prefers not to read this man she is attracted to while Vincent struggles with his desire for the succubus, which keeps him from focusing on his personal mission at a time when the Shadow Alliance between vampires and werewolves is shattering one murder at a time.

The second Shadow Keepers romantic urban fantasy (see When Blood Calls) is a terrific dark heated thriller that grips the audience from start to finish. Rand and Monroe distrust each other but part of their qualms is caused by an attraction that neither want. As the fragile Alliance between the vampires and werewolves appears increasingly dead, the lead couple investigates the homicides while fearing what they will find inside their respective hearts.

Elizabeth's Women
Tracy Borman
9780553806984 $28.00

This is a fascinating refreshing biography of Elizabeth I as Tracy Borman concentrates on the women in the monarch's life and how they directly or indirectly influenced how she ruled and how she lived. Her father decapitated her mother Anne Boleyn and one of her stepmothers Katherine Howard, which led to young Elizabeth to beware of all men. When her older half-sister Mary became queen, Elizabeth observed how her sibling had to bow to her husband, the Spanish monarch; which affirmed her theory no man will rule her life. She learned to be flexible and not an ideologue on the hot button social issues of the times like religion; unlike "Bloody Mary". Men were beneath her because she distrusted them to allow her to be an equal so she kept them bowing at arm's length; yet still she preferred male company as women were perceived as her true competitors so those rivals whom she felt were a threat like two female cousins were incarcerated.

Making a strong case that the women in the early life of Elizabeth I was major influences on how she ruled, historian Tracy Borman refreshes the look at the monarch. Using the females including those at court who feared the Queen, Ms. Borman makes a strong case that the ladies, especially the queens who preceded her, taught Elizabeth lessons in survivability, which is why she allegedly remained an unmarried virgin. Although there is some speculation filling historical vacuums, Elizabeth's Women is an entertaining glimpse at the famous queen from a unique perspective.

Smooth Operator
One World
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780345504326, $14.00,

In Holmby Hills, California resides Lyfe, a black hunk who knows he has come a long way from his Crenshaw and UPS delivery days to becoming one of the most powerful business moguls in the United States. Any time his ego gets to super status, his wife Payton reminds him that behind almost every powerful man is a woman as she brought him from street driver to boardroom driver.

Arielle "Arri" Askew is a secretary, but needs to make real money to escape Brooklyn with her five years old nephew Zion who she raises while her sister drug addicted Samara seeks her next hit. To be at home at night with Zion and bring in money, Arri runs the Internet sex show in which she provides live bare skin web performances for her clients. She avoids any male relationship ever since the New Year's Eve incident with her beloved Ian when she learned he had a wife with a gun. However, Arri meets a real Smooth Operator when she begins working for Lyfe. A s they begin an affair and fall in love, Payton plans to destroy both of them and is prepared to use the kid as her tool.

This heated Risque street Noir proves William Congreve is right when he said in The Mourning Bride: "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned; Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned." Character driven by the relationship between Mr. California and Ms. New York, readers will relish this powerful tense erotic thriller as Arri wonders if love is "deja vu, all over again" (Yogi).

Too Much Money
Dominick Dunne
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780345464101, $15.00,

Park Avenue magazine gossip columnist Augustus "Gus" Bailey knows better than to open one's mouth on an unfinished story, but he does on the radio. Gus accuses Congressman Kyle Cramden in the disappearance of his intern. Outraged, Cramden sues Gus for slandering him and demands $11 million.

An octogenarian, Gus fears his big mouth will leave his family with nothing when he dies. He turns to his other occupation, a novelist writing Infamous Lady based on a real homicide. While someone has been convicted of murdering wealthy banker Konstantin Zacharias who suffered from ALS in an arson fire at his Biarritz home, his beautiful widow Perla was never considered a person of interest by the cops. Gus' inquiry bothers Perla who inherited a fortune so has become too big to fail at annihilating others. Rather than litigation, Perla uses amoral tactics to destroy Gus.

The fascination in this entertaining novel is Dominick Dunn's lampooning his other vocation as a gossip crime columnist having no real meaning especially when defending your life at the heavenly weighing station (kudos to Albert Brooks). Although the exaggerated portrayals of the key characters are over the top of the Empire State Building and adversely impact the extremely thin plot, fans of the late author's column will enjoy the hyperbole as Mr. Dunne skewers the rich and famous.

The Emperor's Tomb
Steve Berry
9780345505491 $26.00

In China, government ministers Karl Tang and Ni Yong compete for who will become the country's next premier. Both believe possessing a third century B.C.E lamp is the key to become the leader as that ancient artifact is the key to eliminate dependence on foreign oil. Of the two Tang appears to be the more vicious, willing to kill the innocent to obtain the map and subsequently the premiership.

Cotton Malone and his former lover Cassiopeia Vitt, who owes a debt that she is paying off, also seek the ancient Chinese lamp. However, neither is aware that the Chinese power struggle includes containing the same lamp. The murders of two foreigners is an acceptable outcome in Tang's mind and Yong, if need be, holds the same belief.

The latest Malone thriller (see The Paris Vendetta) is an exhilarating tale that uses Chinese history to anchor the action-packed escapades. Fast-paced with one overkill exception inside a tomb, readers will relish the cat and mouse chase for the lamp as the mysterious Cassiopeia Vitt provides a delightful female counterpart to Malone (see the E-book The Balkan Escape for her tale including understanding her debt). The climax is a great confrontational finish to a fabulous tale.

Anne Fortier
9780345516107 $25.00

Following the death of her Great Aunt Rose who raised her and her twin sister Janice, the will left twentyish Julie with nothing; all went to her sibling. Heartbroken, a stranger Umberto gives Julie Jacobs a safety deposit box key. Inside allegedly is a treasure her late mom left to Julie. Curious, Julie travels to the bank in Siena, Italy where she opens the box.

What she finds confuses Julie as the contents are a battered copy of Romeo and Juliet and letters. However, as she reads the correspondence, Julie learns she is a direct descendent of a member of one of the feuding families, fourteenth Giulietta Tomei, whose love for Romeo Marescotti inspired the Bard to write Romeo and Juliet. Additionally her mom left her clues to find the treasure of "Juliet's Eyes"; precious gems supposedly implanted in a golden statue. As she investigates, she meets her kin and the descendents of Romeo; still feuding after all these centuries.

Juliet is an engaging modernization of the classic play using terrific historical references from the fourteenth century to anchor the original still going strong blood feud. The story line is fast-paced as Julie, supported by Janice, follows the clues to the real gems of the heart though she distrusts Alessandro who has her falling in love with him. Ironically though Julie is the star, the fourteenth century cast is deeper as the pure blood feud seems more genuine with it difficult to accept the blood has not been watered down after six plus centuries. Still readers will fully relish this historical-contemporary amateur sleuth romance as the Romeo and Juliet curse remains powerful in modern day Siena.

John Dies at the End
David Wong
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312659141, $14.99,

Late at night John calls his friend video-store worker David with some weird stuff. David writes it off as John using some bad drug or too much alcohol. He goes back to sleep so he can go to work at the video store without another thought about his friend John. That changes rather quickly, however; as soon after that weird call, David reevaluates his initial opinion. Creepy eeriness has come to his hometown.

The night before that ominous call, John spent time with Robert Marley. He tried a strange drug Soy Sauce, which amplified his senses including dying. David has accidentally uses Soy Sauce and is soon being interrogated by the police over some horrific murders. John, who came back from the dead, and David learn they are the goal line defense trying to prevent an invasion from the dark side.

Although well-written, this is not for everyone as the bathroom humor is very vivid. Still those who do not suffer from penis envy or puke at the sight of vomit will laugh at this dark slapstick horror thriller starring two slackers trying to save the universe from Soy Sauce and nasty invaders.

Dead Spy Running
Jon Stock
9780312644765 $25.99

Thirty-five thousand runners are testing for the London Marathon. Two of them work for M16 though Agent Daniel is on suspension at full pay; the other is girlfriend Leila who worries about her lover's mental health since his father's death. However, just prior to the start, another operative Myers called Leila with a warning that electronic chatter says something is going to happen at the event.

About fifty minutes into the race, Daniel notices an Asian runner wearing a belt who seems out of place. He further sees two obvious American Secret service agents with another participant who he thinks is the U.S. Ambassador Munroe. He realizes the Asian is wearing a bomb. He learns the Asian is Pradeep from India and terrorists kidnapped his son with the admonition do the mission if you want your offspring to live. The bomb is defused, but Daniel is under suspicion as a terrorist.

Dead Spy Running is a superb espionage thriller, which contains the usual suspects of foreign agents and internal moles. However, what makes the story line super is rivalry between M16 and the CIA, M16 and M15, and the CIA and the Secret Service as each agency fails to work together, but instead prefers front dog status even if it causes problems for their respective country. Fans will appreciate Jon Stock's strong run.

Handling the Undead
John Ajvide Lindqvist
9780312605254 $24.99

The odd weather in Stockholm has had a strange effect on the city's power grid especially an abrupt significant surge. Soon after the surge, the recently departed return to life. Many of the living are euphoric to see their loved ones. Others are not pleased. Some pray for a reanimation as they wait with hope.

David the comedian has mixed feelings when his beloved wife returns from the dead. ; Elderly reporter Gustav Mahler worries about him and his daughter not moving on passed the death of his grandson; he hopes for a return so he disinters the body from the lad's grave.

This is a brilliant psychological horror thriller that looks at love and death by analyzing the return of the undead from the perspective of family members and the reanimated corpse. Readers will appreciate the actions and reactions of those living when those dead come back from the grave. Although the story line slows down under the weight of the profound psychological analysis of love and death, fans will relish the reflective story line; wondering of the essence of a person's soul when they were alive the first time would return as them from the grave.

Eat Prey Love
Kerrelyn Sparks
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061958038, $7.99,

Her CIA father warned Caitlyn Whelan to never visit Romatech Industries for any reason. However, when she receives an invitation to attend her nephew's birthday party at Romatech Industries, she rationalizes her dad is being overly protective. Besides she feels propelled to go meet a relative she never knew she had and to see her sister Shanna whom she has not communicated with in six years.

Caitlyn quickly learns why her father told her to never go to Romatech Industries. There she meets vampires; a species she always assumed was in novels and movies, but not real life. She is also attracted to Carlos Panterra, who reciprocates her feelings. The only problem is he is a were-panther seeking his purebred soulmate to help him raise orphans he adopted.

This terrific urban romantic fantasy stars two strong protagonists and a powerful support cast that make vampires and shapeshifters seem real. Fast-paced, readers will see the Sparks flying when Caitlyn and Carlos meet. With their Love at Stake (see Forbidden Nights with a Vampire and The Undead Next Door), sub-genre readers will enjoy this pleasurable thriller.

The Secrets Sisters Keep
Abby Drake
9780061878329 $14.99

In Kamp Kasteel, New York, Broadway producer Edward Dalton vanishes just prior to the arrival of his four nieces allegedly coming to celebrate his seventy-fifth birthday. The quartet believes Uncle Edward and his significant other Harry have gone to Connecticut to marry. Each fears he will next cut them out of his will.

Historian Ellie Dalton, Park Avenue socialite Amanda Dalton Delaney, and movie star Naomi "Babe" Dalton consult with each other re their missing uncle. The fourth sister, family loser and estranged sibling, Carleen is not welcome by the others, who have long memories of all the tragedies she caused; starting with accidentally killing their parents when she burned their home to the ground. However, the older trio relents and lets her join the search for Uncle Edward.

Although somewhat like a soap opera especially each sister's relationship with non-siblings and their family history, fans will enjoy the search for the missing septuagenarian as the quest leads each of the Dalton females to relook at what matters in their respective lives. They need money but they also realize they miss the empathy as only a sister can provide. The Secrets Sisters Keep is a strong family drama.

The Dangerous Viscount
Miranda Neville
9780061808722 $7.99

In 1819, Lady Diana Fanshawe has one goal in life, which is to marry a man whose background is impeccable as her family is filled with scandal. She chooses Lord Blakely and prays he proposes to her at a house party he hosts in Shropshire.

Blakely's studious cousin Sebastian Iverley attends the gala too. Though she knows better, her bloodlines come through when she accepts a bet that she can get Iverley to kiss her. Sebastian has already noticed her and is attracted to her. However, he becomes angry when he finds out about the wager. Sebastian decides to teach the twit humility when it comes to feelings of others. They have a night of lovemaking that leads to her pregnancy and their marriage. Each wants it to work, but neither takes the first step so it is up to their eccentric families and rare books that the Burgundy Club collectors are fascinated with to bring them together.

The second Burgundy Club (see Wild Marquis) Regency romance is a wonderful pairing of two people with the twist of the male behaving as the innocent. With the interweaving of rare book collection enhancing the fine story line, readers will enjoy the adventures in love of the Dangerous Viscount.

Mad About The Duke
Elizabeth Boyle
9780061783500 $7.99

The Duchess of Hollindrake orders her three widowed Standon daughter-in-laws to come to her house. One of them, Elinor worries about her sister who needs male protection from their vicious stepfather. When she first sees Mr. St. Maur, Esquire, she knows love at first sight is real, but she needs a duke not a solicitor.

James Tremont, Duke of Parkerton, sees Elinor for the first time and knows love at first sight is real. However, when she assumes he is the solicitor her father-in-law sent to her, he fails to correct her misconception. James begins doing things a duke would never do as he helps with the birthing of puppies, crashes a carriage and gambles in the notorious Seven Dials. As he tries to win her heart, not knowing he has it already, he fears how his Widow Standon will react to the truth.

The latest Bachelor Chronicles Regency second chance at love romance (see How I met My Countess) is an amusing mistaken identity historical. The story line is fast-paced with a bit of suspense, but it is the relationship between the widow and her "solicitor" that makes for an enjoyable extended Sterling family drama.

An Accidental Seduction
Lois Greiman
9780061849343 $7.99

Realizing they look somewhat alike, newlywed Lady Clarette Tilmont offers Gypsy actress Savanna Hearnes a chance to pose as her. Savanna agrees as she likes the idea of being treated like a lady even for a short period though she hopes Clarette's abusive spouse stays away for the entire duration of the masquerade.

Lady Clarette fails to inform her replacement that the Tilmont servants are spies working for her husband. Worse he comes home early with demands of her. Finally the worst, as her every move is watched by the servants, she meets and is attracted to Sean Gallagher. He especially is stunned by her passion as ladies of quality are aloof. As they fall in love, each conceals the role they portray with her knowing her idyll will soon end and he is undercover on a dangerous mission.

With a gender nod to the Prince and the Pauper, An Accidental Seduction is a fun fast-paced historical romance. Savanna as Clarette has two men wanting her while one has a job to complete and the other has no ethics. Fans will enjoy Lois Greiman's fine frolic.

You Are Next
Katia Lief
9780061809026 $7.99

Former Maplewood, New Jersey Police Detective Karin Schaeffer grieves the murders of her husband and child while relocating to Brooklyn to get away from her past. Their killer was sent to prison, but Martin "The Domino Killer" Price escapes from the penitentiary. He invades Karin's home to kill her because he murders whole families and failed to complete the Schaeffer job, but the SWAT team prevents his completing his mission though they mistakenly shoot Karin as Price flees.

Karin heals but knows Price will return unless she goes after him first. She decides to become the huntress stalking the beast by following his deliberate taunting clues he purposely left her; and if she dies doing it, so be it. No longer will Karin wait for Price to haunt her.

This is an exhilarating thriller as the reader anticipates the confrontation between two disturbed people. The story line is seen mostly through the filter of the former cop who had it together emotionally until Price murdered her family. Karin in many ways will remind the reader of Gibson's Riggs without the humor in the first Lethal Weapon movie. Readers will enjoy this suspense tale as Schaeffer joins the domino game with the winner being the one who walks away breathing.

Lord Lightning
Jenny Brown
9780061976056 $7.99

In 1818 in England, Eliza Farrell computes Lord Edward Neville's astrological chart. Known as Lord Lightning, he has the reputation as a womanizer with no heart. However, she insists he conceals behind his philandering his desire to find true love. Her actions and prank he pulled that backfired lead to Edward's current mistress leaving him.

Edward demands Eliza come with him when he visits his mom to comply with his brother's will. Eliza agrees as she can make some money and also observe how accurate her reading of her host is. Eliza acts the role he demanded of her leading to his mother wanting her to leave. However, Edward likes her and they become lovers until tragedy strikes.

The use of an astrologer as the lead female brings freshness to what would otherwise be a typical by the book Regency romance. Instead Eliza's charting and the reaction of the rakehell's mom to his latest unacceptable "fallen" female make for a fun historical that fans will appreciate. As the rake and the astrologer fall in love, E squared equals electrifying love and an enjoyable read for sub-genre fans.

Darkness Captured
Delilah Devlin
9780061498237 $13.99

In New Orleans, the ruling vampires ask the werewolves to find the daywalker and demon who are murdering their species especially their group. Shapeshifter Gabriella is assigned as the emissary to the vampires as the werewolf leaders agree to assist the Undead.

The demon seduces Gabriella even bringing her into the Land of the Dead. He satiates her sexual desires at the cost of her soul. Guntram the warrior werewolf loves Gabriella and will do anything to save her life. He is ready to enter the land of the dead, but does not have to do it alone; as vampires and werewolves unite.

The fourth erotic Dark Realm romantic urban fantasy (see Darkness Burning, Into The Darkness and Seduced By The Darkness) is a super thriller that fans of the saga will devour faster than an Undead can fast food on human blood. New Orleans comes across as a city where humans, vampires and werewolves (and others) co-exist. However, Gabriella makes the tale as she must choose between the demon who makes her come and the wolf who offers her much more than just sex.

One Touch Of Scandal
Liz Carlyle
9780061965753 $7.99

In 1848, to the shock of her family whom she needed to escape from as they despise her because of her paternal roots being foreign, Grace Gauthier accepts a job as governess to the family of wealthy businessman Ethan Crane. However, when she finds her employer dead, Scotland Yard considers her the only viable suspect as the evidence points to her.

Grace seeks a family friend for help, but he is out of town. Instead she explains her plight to Lord Ruthveyn of the St. James Society before fainting from exhaustion. Ruthveyn investigates and decides someone is setting up Grace to take the fall. Attracted to one another, Ruthveyn silently pledges to keep her safe regardless of whether she reciprocates his feelings.

This is a terrific Victorian romantic mystery with a touch of psychic powers to spice up the plot. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Grace realizes she is the only suspect that Scotland yard is considering and never slows down as Ruthveyn investigates what he increasingly believes is a diabolical frame. Readers will enjoy this cross genre historical as Liz Carlyle provides an entertaining thriller with the emphasis rightfully on the whodunit.

Jane and the Damned
Janet Mullany
9780061958304 $13.99

In 1797, Jane Austen is depressed when her manuscript is returned obviously unopened and rejected. Her father the Reverend tells her to keep trying as like him, her mom and her siblings, believe she is very talented.

Jane, her sister Cassandra and Catherine Bigg attend a dance at the Basingstoke Assembly Room. At the gala, Jane meets Sybil Smith who repairs the wannabe writer's sleeve. Soon after her encounter with Sybil, she meets Miss Smith's brother who tastes her blood and turns her into a vampire. Jane becomes ill and her father takes her and the rest of the family to Bath to find the cure for vampirism. When the forces of the French Revolutionary Army cross the Channel, Jane joins the English vampire corps led by Luke Venning to repel the invaders.

This is an entertaining Jane Austen vampire tale that readers of historical fantasy will enjoy although the recasting of the famous author in a variety of roles has been so frequent, it feels like its own sub-genre (see Bespelling Jane Austin, which includes a Janet Mullany novella). The story line is fast-paced as the heroine adapts to her new status, but insight into the Damned society is somewhat lacking. Still Jane and the Damned is an enjoyable early regency fantasy.

Stars In The Night
Cara Putnam
Summerside Press
9781609360115, $12.99,

In 1942 when her sister Rosemary fails to call home in Indianapolis as she has done weekly since heading west, a worried Audra Schaeffer flies to Hollywood to find her sibling. Instead, Audra identifies her sister's corpse.

Though encouraged to go back to Indiana, Audra chooses to remain in Southern California investigating Rosemary's murder. She obtains work at the Hollywood Victory Caravan bond drive train where she meets actor Robert Garfield and begins her inquiry. When two other homicides occur on the train and evidence points to the culprit preparing to shut down the Hoosier permanently, Audra knows she is close to identifying her sister's killer, but fears the man she loves is the culprit.

Stars in the Night is an entertaining WWII on the home front amateur sleuth. The key to this exciting whodunit is that the romance between the actor and the Hoosier is left in the background except when he is an obvious suspect as she fears what may prove the truth. With a strong support cast, readers will enjoy Holly wood circa 1942 as Cara Putnam provides a fast-paced tour of the underbelly.

Mind Games
Karen Wiesner
Whiskey Creek Press
PO Box 51052, Casper, WY 82605-1052
9781603138086, $17.95,

In the Chicago underground, for over two and a half decades, Dr. Jocelyn Dominica has been the chief of the top secret Network Psychiatric Department. Those who meet her, even her clients mostly field operatives, consider her an iceberg as she never displays emotion; and has not since her marriage to Oversight Board member Chase Giovanni ended. Over the years both have acted professionally as each understands the mission comes before hurt feelings as the only way to leave the network is in a body bag.

Recently Jocelyn has begun to notice a decline in her mental skills. Medical informs her she suffers from an incurable brain tumor. When she informs Chase she has a few months left to live, he is mortified as he never stopped loving his Jocelyn. As her health deteriorates, Jocelyn is placed on medical leave and moved to a safe house high in the mountains where she is expected to die. Her only companion is Scout the German Shepherd who will protect her and Matt the paramedic who will relieve her of pain. Chase wants to be with her as she is dying, but duty comes first as he works a sensitive case with ties to the president. Jocelyn calls him to inform him Matt has vanished and someone wants to move up her death date to yesterday. However, when Chase follows up, Matt insists he has been there the whole time.

Incognito 11 us a terrific thriller with ironically a heartfelt heroine who has been the ice queen until now; as readers will get to know Jocelyn and what motivated her seemingly detached aloofness. Chase is terrific as he is jealous of Matt and even Scout because he wants to be with his beloved as she prepares to die. As always with this powerful saga, the story line is fast-paced but extremely complicated as Karen Wiesner moves forward her overarching theme with several interrelated subplots.

The Pursuit of Happiness
Douglas Kennedy
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781439199121, $16.00,

In 1945, wannabe writer Sara Smythe decides to join her playwright brother Eric in New York. Her parents are horrified that their single daughter will live the bohemian lifestyle in the notorious Greenwich Village. However, heeding Eric's advice that their hometown of Hartford is known for Twain losing money and Stevens selling insurance between writing edgy poetry, she leaves home.

Surprisingly she obtains a prestigious position at Life magazine. At one of her sibling's frequent bashes attended by Communists, artists and probably FBI agents, Sara and Stars and Stripes reporter Jack Malone meet. They share a night of passion. However, the McCarthy inquisition is just beginning tearing families and lovers apart. Years later at the funeral of Jack's wife, Sara meets his daughter divorced single mom Kate.

This is a timely exhilarating post WWII epic drama in which the tragedy of McCarthyism is what it did to split families. None of the cast is fully developed as the insightful story line focuses on what happened and what might have happened if the optimism coming out just after war ended was allowed to blossom and not be killed by unchallenged phony patriotic pedagogues. Douglas Kennedy provides a powerful profound tale with applications to subsequent eras.

Up from the Blue
Susan Henderson
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061984037, $13.99,

In 1991 in DC, while her husband Simon Williams is away, Tillie goes into labor. Scared she calls her father General Harris, whom she has not talked to in a few years and is unaware she is married let alone pregnant. He meets her at G.W. ER though she asked him not to.

His arrival takes her back to when she was eight years old and they lived in New Mexico. One day her mother Mara refused to leave her bed; frightening Tillie and her older brother Phil while their military father the colonel is away. When he returns, he finds his household in disarray and his wife in bed where he learns she has stayed for the days he was TDY. Each morning he lifted his spouse off the bed and dumped her on the floor where she stayed hysterically weeping. When he takes a position as a weapons system expert at the Pentagon, he and the two kids move to DC, but Ma ra is gone and the Colonel refuses to admit she existed.

This is an intriguing family drama as Tillie gives birth; all the fears she hid about her mom surface especially when her dad arrives. Character driven, readers will want to know, jut like Tillie does, what happened to Mara. Susan Henderson provides a terrific taut thriller.

Take Me Home
Brian Leung
9780061769078 $24.99

In 1927, Buckley Orner was the unfortunate chosen one to escort elderly heroine Adele "Addie" Maine home from Los Angeles to Dire, Wyoming as the guest of honor at a gala hosted by Chinese Ah Cheong before he returns to his home country. He insists she saved lives during the Rock Spring riot four decades ago. She only agreed to come back for her brother Tommy, her friend Wing Lee and to give something to Ah Cheong that she kept with her in the orange groves to take with him to bury in China. Addie hoped not to see her spouse the ex miner Muuk, but knows that is impossible to avoid.

Instead of believing she was a hero, Addie believes she caused the riot. She arrived by train as a teen to stay with her sibling, but his farm failed so both took work at the mines. There she met Chinese forced to work at backbreaking labor for "coolie" wages and learned they were not half demons as the schools taught. Her close tie to Wing Lee was the final match to an already volatile situation. Now, ironically instead of the person who ran from rather than confront her spouse, she returns to Wyoming a hero.

This is a terrific historical saga that focuses on intolerance as seen through the eyes of a reluctant heroine looking back to the pivotal moment in her life. With an ingenious twist that anchors the two periods and a strong cast in both eras, fans will relish this engaging tale; as Addie, whose story keeps the two subplots moving, learns you can never really come home.

Dancing with Mr Darcy
Sarah Waters, editor
9780061999062 $13.99

The twenty stories that make up this entertaining anthology, "Dancing with Mr Darcy: Stories inspired by Jane Austen and Chawton House Library", were part of a competition with defined rules. Simply put, the entry had to be associated with Jane Austen and self contained. All the entries meet the criteria and are well written especially for fans of the great author as the writers pay homage to Jane with their contributions. In "Snowmelt"by Lane Ashfeldt, a librarian fears the extinction of the bound book is upon us as she visits the Chawton House Library while "Cleverclogs" by Hilary Spiers makes a strong case for holding a book while reading in your own silent world. The winner of the contest is "Jane Austen Over the Styx" by Victoria Owens; Jane is on trial in Hades with a jury of the dead demanding she explains the accusations by six of her female characters. Elsa A. Solender's "Second Thoughts" has Jane knowing she must tell Mr. Harris Bigg-Wither that though she accepted his proposal yesterday she declines it today. Elinor Dashwood Ferrars (see Sense and Sensibility) is a detective in "The Delaford Ladies' Detective Agency" by Elizabeth Hopkinson; and Mrs. Grant (see Mansfield Park) stars in "Somewhere" by Kelly Brendel. Finally there are entries like Stephanie Tillotson's "Second Fruits" that bring Persuasion to a modern day. Obviously targeting the Austen faithful, this is a fabulous tribute as all the tales are fun and varied.

The Book of the Living Dead
John Richard Stephens, editor
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780425237069, $15.00,

This is a fascinating collection of a who's who of literature that writes a short horror thriller. Some of the contributors are expected to appear in an anthology dedicated to the living dead; defined by Editor John Richard Stephens to include zombies, vampires, mummies, other unclassified reanimated corpses, and a couple even beyond that miscellaneous categorization. Readers will expect Mart Shelley (abbreviated "Frankenstein"), Edgar Allan Poe ("The Facts of M. Valdemar's Case"), H.P. Lovecraft ("Herbert West: Reanaimator") and Washington Irving ("The Adventures of the German Student"). Fans will also recognize some of the titles like "The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs and "The Ghoul" by Sir Hugh Clifford. These are all super entries. However, the fun in the tale is discovering works by famous writers whose genre is as far from horror as the sun is from Pluto. These include Guy de Maupassant ("The Hand") Mark Twain ("A Curious Dream"), Sir Walter Scott ("The hero of the Tomb") and Jack London ("A Thousand Deaths"). All twenty-seven contributions are terrific as life after death proves chillingly dark and deadly to the delight of readers.

To Save The Devil
Kate Moore
9780425237489 $7.99

Will Jones has been a spy and a Bow Street Runner. However, in 1820 his mission in London is more personal. He wants to destroy Archibald March, who most of England believe is a great benefactor and philanthropist. Will, his brother Xander and his new sister-in-law Cleo know better that March is a murdering maggot who uses blackmail of authorities to keep the powerful under his control. The brothers learned this when they began their search for their abducted younger sibling Kit and rescued Cleo (see To Tempt a Saint).

Undercover as Vicomte de Villard, Will attends an auction in which Helen of Troy is for sale. He pays a fortune to win the bid for the virgin. She stands ready to bash his head in with a candlestick as he is ready to leave with Helen. He escapes with a bound Helen who insists she must return to the brothel to retrieve something, but refuses to tell him what she needs. Helen rejects his protection and escapes into the slums of London as she plots on returning to the brothel to find damning seditious documents that March has on her mother. Spellbound to his Helen, Will searches for his not so Sleeping Beauty.

The middle Sons of Sins Regency romance continues the insightful dark look at the underbelly of London as Will and Helen collide in a brothel. Fast-paced as Will desperately works the slums he worked as a Bow Street Runner, but his impetus is greater as this is personal. His mind is distracted from the mission of rescuing the third "living sin" of their courtesan mom Sophie Rhys-Jones. Helen more than proves she is his equal, but evil March remains a powerful force.

Very Simple Crime
Grant Jenkins
9780425238301 $14.00

Adam Lee married Rachel even knowing she was unstable, as the scars on her wrists affirm. After they marry, her mental state became worse as she was convinced Adam was cheating; she wrecked the car of someone flirting with her husband. They had a child, Albert who was mentally and physically behind his peers. At fourteen he was emotionally equivalent to a five year old and his intelligence also was that of a five year old. When he almost killed his mom, Albert was placed in an institution where he killed his roommate.

Albert resides in a high security private institution for hardcore cases. His father lives a life of quiet desperation. Many years later, Adam brings his adult son home, but goes away for a weekend with Violet Perkins. When he returns home, he finds his wife dead and their son has blood all over him. Disturbed for enabling a notorious child-killer going free, Assistant District Attorney Leo Hewitt sees this case as a chance for redemption. The circumstantial evidence points to Albert, but the ADA believes Adam killed his wife; the motive is, in his opinion, to escape from a lunatic spouse. He arrests Adam for murdering his wife. Adam's brother lawyer Monty defends his sibling, who has a few dead rabbits to pull out of his hat.

Told in the first person by Adam, A Very Simple Crime is a terrific legal thriller that grips the audience early on, but it is the latter twists that keep the reader alert for more. Starting with marrying mentally unstable Rachel because she is the only heir to her father's multimillion dollar estate, Monty explains his brother does not always make good decisions but that does not make him a cold blooded killer. Grant Jenkins provides readers with a great chilling thriller.

Happy Ever After
Nora Roberts
9780425236758 $16.00

Although a bridal expert who opened up a Connecticut wedding planning company Vows with her three best friends, Parker "Legs" Brown feels left behind as her BFFs have met their respective true love. Hosting the events on the Brown estate, Parker wonders when her Mr. Right will appear.

Parker's brother Del's friend Malcolm Kavanaugh is a former stuntman turned mechanic who still likes a sort of on the edge lifestyle. He and Legs are attracted to one another, but where he is a wild Harley driver, she is a prim sedan driver. As they fall in love, Legs and her three buddies look back to when they first opened up Vows as four single women without men in their lives, but now are the Brides Quartet.

This is a fun lighthearted finish to Nora Roberts' homage to weddings. The lead couple is a nice pairing of seemingly opposites. With the appearance of characters from the other three books in the series adding to the enjoyment, fans of Ms. Roberts will appreciate the entire Brides Quartet saga (see Savor the Moment, Vision in White and Bed of Roses), as each of Vows founding sisters find love and marriage.

Something Wicked
Michelle Rowen
9780425237465 $7.99

Part Nephilim Eden Riley contains Darrak the demon inside her due to a curse. Darrak has resided in many bodies over the last three centuries, but for Eden this is a new dangerous experience as every day he possesses her means she is nearer to dying. When her psychic skills brings him physical form, she knows she likes what she sees, but must decide soon what to do before it is too late. If she exorcises the demon, he dies; if she does not she dies.

They seek a way to end his curse, which would free him, keep her alive, and have a happy new beginning together in two separate bodies. However, as they find information, Eden fears what she has learned makes her wonder if Darrak is concealing the truth from her. Darrak has issues too as the first time in all his possessions he cares about his host and does not want to hurt her. Desperate he asks a close demonic friend for advice; forgetting the first rule of demonology is never trust a demon.

The second Living in Eden urban fantasy (see The Demon In Me) is an engaging often amusing thriller as Darrak and Eden struggle with their relationship as each prays the other survives. The story line is fast-paced as Eden learns some inconvenient truths about her guest and Darrak likewise about trusting a demon. Something Wicked is something fun to read.

Seducing The Succubus
Cassie Ryan
9780425236840 $15.00

As she has done seemingly for eternity, Queen Lilith assigns soul collecting quotas to the four succubus demons who know they must never fail her or else. Jezebeth has been seducing men for centuries in order to darken their soul so she can deliver to her ruler.

As Jezebeth conducts business with a male, an imp arrives to warn her that the fallen Semiaszas has escaped incarceration and coming after her and her sisters. Jez realizes the imp has led a pestilence bounty hunter demon working for Semiaszas to her; the imp says he paid off Lilith and the hunter before vanishing.

Doing research for his next horror novel led Noah Halston into soul trouble when an incantation brought forth Lilith demanding one night with her or his soul. Rejecting both choices, he accepts option three taking Jezebeth to safety. Attracted to the succubus, Noah fears his soul is lost, but tries to focus on the goal of keeping her safe.

The first Sisters of Darkness erotic fantasy is a terrific tale due to the romance taking somewhat of a backseat to the danger throughout the Ryan universe of heaven and hell and points in between. Fast-paced, the trek is dangerous as demons and angels want the head of Jez while Noah wants her body and soul. Readers will enjoy the trip to safety as the politics of heaven and hell will remind the audience of the often heated Cold War.

Selfish Is The Heart
Megan Hart
9780425234563 $15.00

Annalise Marony has doubts about her arranged upcoming marriage to Jacquin Kirkol; as neither feel any attraction to the other. Still she plans to wed him until she catches him with another woman. Annalise ends their engagement, but to avoid being forced into marriage, she becomes Handmaiden in training of the Order of Solace.

Cassian the teacher of the faith has doubts about the motives of the newest student who is older than the typical enrollee. He as her master goes all out to prove her dedication to the faith as false. She knows she must hide that she is a non-practicing believer. Annalise does so by teasing and tormenting her instructor. Their game deepens and their attraction grows stronger, each fears their soul will either wither until death or bind them together in a higher level of consciousness.

The latest Order of Solace tale (see the Pleasure And Purpose with its three novellas and No Greater Pleasure) is a super entry as Megan Hart keeps her unique erotic world fascinatingly using a master as the lead male. Once again, The Handmaidens of the Order of Solace world seems plausible as it is filled with plenty of Hart due to a strong cast. Readers will relish this engaging erotic entry.

The Iron Duke
Meljean Brook
9780425236673 $15.00

The Horde had conquered England; setting up its nanotechnological control tower to insure no rebellion occurred. The invincible enemy was unprepared for a pirate Rhys Trahaearn who blew up their tower and liberated the country. He became a hero and rewarded as the Iron Duke. No longer working as a pirate, respectable Rhys is a successful merchant.

A corpse is dumped from an airship landing by Rhys' home. Half-Horde Police Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth leads the official investigation. Rhys has plans for the cop, but soon is at her side as she treks the zombie swamps after the identification of the victim leads her to conclude a sinister conspiracy plans to destroy England.

This alternate England science fiction is a terrific high seas and air adventure in which the romantic subplot is kept in the background as the lead couple struggles with saving the country. Action-packed from the moment the body fell from the sky, readers will feel they entered the world of Brooks in which nanotechnology plays a key role. Rhys is a roguish hero while Mina used to prejudice is a dedicated person who risks her life for people who look down on her mixed breeding. The Iron Duke is a fabulous thriller.

Dark Viking
Sandra Hill
9780425237403 $7.99

Navy SEALs Commander MacLean and Lieutenant Mendozo persuade stuntwoman Rita Sawyer to join the WEALs (Women on Earth, Air, Land and Sea) program. However, during an operation that goes terribly wrong, Rita in her wetsuit awakens inside a cage with a horde of barbarians staring at her with their mouths open.

Ever since his brother Thorfinn (see Viking Unchained) vanished without a trace, Viking Lord Steven has been depressed. When his men find the unconscious female in strange garb, they assume she is a sea monster. However, Rita proves she is a strong twenty-first century woman who has no idea how she ended up in the early eleventh century. As the admiration she and Steven feel for each other grows, they begin to fall in love but though each appreciates the other's culture, a millennium makes love seem shaky.

Although similar in tone to the other time traveling Viking-SEAL romantic thrillers, Dark Viking is an exhilarating tale as once again Sandra Hill uses the differences and similarities between the two cultures to tell a strong tale of love that has no time boundaries. The lead couple is a strong pairing as each uses humor with she bringing him out of his depression and he helping her customize to his era. Filled with jocularity from start to finish, fans of the saga will relish this enjoyable entry.

The Accidental Wedding
Anne Gracie
9780425233825 $7.99

In 1819, Maddy Woodford struggles with keeping the roof over her head and that of her five younger half-siblings she is raising; especially demanding is her odious landlord. Maddy observes an obvious gentleman riding his horse, but when the man and his steed make a leap from a muddy surface, he is knocked out. She brings him to her home to help him heal.

When Nash Renfrew regains consciousness, he suffers from amnesia. As he slowly recuperates and begins to regain bits and pieces of his memory, Nash also is attracted to his nurse. A gentleman even with limited recall, Nash offers to marry her so she will not become a scandalized pariah and to thwart her nasty landlord. However, as they fall in love, he remembers who he is; a career diplomat cannot wed a country bumpkin.

Although amnesia has been used as a matchmaking plot device in historicals many times (see Kiss to Remember by Teresa Medeiros and Lost in Your Arms by Christina Dodd), the lead couple and her siblings bring freshness to the storyline. Readers will like Maddy and Nash while hissing at the sinister landlord. Regency romance fans will want to read The Accidental Wedding, a warm historical.

Luck Be A Lady
Cathie Linz
9780425237830 $7.99

In Las Vegas Megan West remains resolute that this time her cousin Faith will marry her new fiance Caine Hunter whom she met after being jilted by text messaging when she went alone on her honeymoon in Italy (see Mad, Bad and Blonde). Everything is going smooth until angry police officer Logan Doyle rushes in to prevent the marriage. However, the fuming cop suddenly is taken aback when he sees a young hunk as the groom; he thought his grandfather was marrying Faith.

During his bust, Megan learns that her mother, who her daddy said died years ago, is alive. She wants to confront her mother to find out the truth. A contrite Logan offers to help Megan with her quest to meet her mom. Their Nevada tour proves eye-opening for both of them as love blooms in the desert.

This direct sequel to Mad, Bad and Blonde is a likable contemporary romance starring two amiable caring souls. The story line is a lighthearted romp as the duet falls in love. Although very linear with few bumps in the road, fans will enjoy Luck Be A Lady.

Styx's Storm
Lora Leigh
9780425237397 $7.99

Growing up in a household in which her father was too busy to spend time with her because he was always working at the Council lab on Breed research led to Storme Montague resenting the species. Irate with Breeds, she is over the top with rage when she witnessed a Coyote Breed kill her father and brother during a liberation raid; his research apparently destroyed.

Storme's late father gave her a chip containing information that would help the Breeds. However, a decade has passed since she observed the murders of her family, but she refuses to give the data to either the Council or the Breed; distrusting both sides. On the run this whole time, Storme knows the enemies are closing in on her, but remains suspicious of the Council and loathes the Breeds. Styx Mackenzie is assigned to capture Storme whose blood apparently marks her as his mate before she is taken and sold by the slavers.

Styx's Storm is a refreshing Breeds entry (see Lion's Heat and Bengal's Heart) due to the psychological scars the lead female has from witnessing the murders of her father dedicated to helping the Breeds and her brother by a Breed. Her prejudice is to lump all Breeds in the same category as violent beasts just like the Coyote psychopath who murdered her family. Thus Styx has his work cut out to not just bring this woman in who he distrusts, but to persuade her they are soul mates and not just sex mates.

You Better Knot Die
Betty Hechtman
9780425236932 $24.95

It is the holiday season and Molly Pink, event planner for Shedd & Royal Bookstore and More in Tarzana, California is returning home from a business trip when she sees a bunch of police officers in front of her house. It turns out that her next door neighbor disappeared and the meter reader smelled something nasty in her home when a window was left open a crack.

Apparently wild critters got inside and died there to the relief of Molly's boyfriend Homicide Detective Barry Greenberg. She talks to her neighbor Emily Perkins who says she has no idea where Bradley is. Later a suicide note arrives in the mail and word gets out that the financial advisor was working a Ponzi scheme in which many of the townsfolk lost their life savings. Certain actions of Emily makes Pink wonder if he is still alive and when her suspicions rise she has a neighbor help her follow Emily until they see Barry alive; only to be killed a moment later. Since there were few people nearby, suspicions falls obviously on Emily, but Pink doubts she is a killer and decides to investigate with the help of her crochet partners the Tarzana Hookers.

Although some of the antics Pink does is over the top, amateur sleuth readers will get a kick out of her and the Hookers as their escapades are very humorous. Barry knows he cannot control his sweetheart because she is feisty and independent, but is concerned for her safety as she dives into homicide cases (see A Stitch in Time). With a nod to I Love Lucy at the store, fans will relish this comedic California cozy.

Mistletoe and Mayhem
Kate Kingsbury
9780425236901 $14.00

It is the holiday season at the Pennyfoot Hotel in Badgern's End, England and this year the manager hopes to finally break the Christmas curse. Every year during the holiday season, proprietor Cecily Sinclair Baxter is involved in a murder case usually at the hotel. Cecily's husband Baxter prays for a quieter time because he worries about his wife investigating a homicide and has something on his mind that he needs to tell his spouse.

Alas, their hopes are dashed when the body of Charlie the footman is found in what looked initially as if an accident occurred when a gargoyle fell from the roof bashing in his head. However, they quickly realize a murder was committed. When Ellie the maid goes missing, another maid Pansy and stable hand Samuel find her body. Soon afterward, more homicides occur. Cecily investigates with the intention of uncovering the deadly culprit but she is ignorant to the fact the killer is observing her movements very closely.

The latest annual Special Pennyfoot Hotel Myst Series amateur sleuth (see Decked with Folly and Ringing in Murder) is a terrific holiday cozy that contains more than one mystery. Besides the murders, readers will want to know what is disturbing Baxter that he needs to inform Cecily of. The characters who many appeared in previous tales bring continuity to the Pennyfoot saga. Village life in Edwardian England provides a sense of time and place as Kate Kingsbury writes another entertaining yuletide whodunit.

Penelope's Daughter
Laurel Corona
9780425236628 $15.00

On the Island of Ithaca, Penelope gives birth to a daughter Xanthe. Her child's father Odysseus has not met his offspring as he away on adventures for two decades. While the Cephallenians king is on his mystical journey, Xanthe is protected from the usurpers who want her brother the heir dead and her married to one of them, so they can rule.

Penelope tries to keep her child safe by faking Xanthe's death and dispatching her to Sparta to live with her cousin, Helen of Troy. Under her legendary relative's protection, Xanthe observes an assassination attempt on her host that she believes was instigated by Helen's acrimonious daughter Hermione. Xanthe meets a prince she likes, but the gods end their relationship as she must go home to her loom in Ithaca to prepare for the return of her wandering father.

This is an interesting perspective by someone who never met her father when his fame as an adventurer grew. Building off of Greek mythology, in particular Helen of Troy, the Iliad and the Odyssey, Penelope's daughter is an entertaining ancient Greek thriller that focuses on a ruling dysfunctional family during a period of sedition. Told by Xanthe through her weaves, fans will enjoy her account of about men lusting for power.

Sudden Dawn
Goran Powell
YMAA Publications
PO Box 480, Wolfeboro, NH 03894-0480
9781594391989, $12.95,

In 507 in the capital city of Kanchipuram of the Kingdom of Pallava in India, young military academy trainee Sarili hears the words of Prajnatara the Buddhist master and begins to question whether he wants to follow in his father's warrior footsteps of seek enlightenment. He chooses the latter and follows the sage to Sri Lanka and elsewhere.

A serious student of Buddha, Sarili becomes Bodhidharma the monk as he treks across India and teaches the Emperor; journeys over the Himalayas in Tibet and brings Ch'an Buddhism to China where he is called Da Mo. However, he is appalled by the enfeebled monks he meets so he creates the Shaolin Temple in Henan Province and places the faithful on a strict regiment including kung fu.

This is an entertaining biographical fiction that enables the reader to understand the life of the founder of the Shaolin movement; in fact the temple Bodhidharma constructed over fifteen centuries ago is still there. Although the romance elements feel forced, the era and the hero come across vividly clear. Readers who appreciate a deep ancient Asian tale will enjoy this super glimpse at a devoted sixth century legendary Buddhist monk.

The Reluctant Prophet
Nancy Rue
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434764966, $14.99,

Seven years ago Allison Chamberlain found Jesus, but now he had yet to find the forty something woman though she diligently prays (and whines) wishing he would. At the Flagler Community Church while the Reverend Howard eloquently slings arrows, Allison finally receives a divine message telling her to buy a Harley.

Allison fears she lost her mind, but also has learned to follow her impulses even if they seem inane. She purchases the Harley and soon still heeding the mental nudges from she assumes Jesus, Allison begins riding into the darkest communities she previously avoided like these were leper colonies as she brings the Word to the impoverished unfaithful while the members of the congregation she faithfully sat with in the pew fear for her mental state.

This is an intriguing well written inspirational tale starring the aptly titled The Reluctant Prophet. Character (and bike) driven, readers will reassess their own faith and church as Allison follows the voice in her head riding her bike to places she avoided out of fear before she bought the Harley. Nancy Rue provides a terrific Christian inspirational tale.

One Lane Bridge
Don Reid
David C. Cook
9781434765086 $14.99

By 2007 in Hanson, North Carolina, John David and Karlie Wickman have been married for over two decades. Overall they are in harmony except when it comes to disciplining their daughter Angela as Karlie wants rules enforced and J.D. chooses leniency, and spending.

J.D. feels overwhelmed. A waitress is stealing from one of their two Dining Club restaurants. His daughter wants to leave school as she is frightened from an attack on a coed at the library. A nurse at Maple Manor calls to ask him to visit his mother a day earlier than his usual weekly trek.
Finally Karlie tells him to take one of his clear the head rides into the countryside. J.D. does, but has car trouble after crossing a One Lane Bridge so heads to an old farmhouse near the road. There he meets Paul Clem, his ailing bed-ridden wife Ada and their daughter Lizzie. Although obviously very poor, they are friendly. The next day, J.D. and Karlie drive to the Clem farm with groceries, but he cannot find the bridge or their homestead. While, Karlie fears her spouse lost his mind, J.D. keeps searching for answers.

This is an intriguing inspirational thriller that focuses on the miracles the "Architect of Time" God performs. The key cast members are fully developed especially the Wickman and Clem family members. Although there are a few subplots that feel more like cul de sacs that never branch back to the prime exhilarating story line, readers will enjoy the adventures of J.D. as he struggles to understand what is going on; wondering whether his wife is right that he is going crazy.

Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor
Chuck Black
Multnomah Books
12265 Oracle Blvd., Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781601421289, $9.99,

Across the sea live the King and his son the Prince, who will come once again to Arrethtrae to bring his knights home. Meanwhile, those dedicated warriors who have not been killed by the Dark Knight Lucius, fight him and his Shadow Warriors and the Vincenza knights. In the bucolic village of Burkfield, Tav and Twitch are close friends until the latter refuses to go with the former to join the Swords of Valor led by Baylorr, in the fight against the encroaching darkness.

Twitcha becomes Sir Quinlan and a member of the Swords of Valor knight. When a mission goes wrong, the survivors blame Quinlan who agrees with their accusations. Feeling self-pity and humiliation he considers quitting and going home. However, instead he is dragged back into the war when the shadow knights take the Kaslite medallion, which delineates who is a Shadow from who is a Silent Knight. The war is coming to Burkfield and after meeting with the prince, Sir Quinlan finds the sacred Sword of Valor as he and the loyal Knights with their allies prepare for battle.

On a surface level, this is an action packed coming of age adventure novel filled with villains, doubters, and heroes. On a deeper level, it is also the tale of two friends who choose different paths at a pivotal point in their lives. On a profound level, the book is a powerful Christian allegory. Sir Quinlan risks his life many times, but rises to being a leader resolute in his goal of finding Lucius to end his dark reign of terror.

Sir Rowan and the Camerian Conquest
Chuck Black
9781601421296 $9.99

Rowan of Laos in the country of the United Citizens of Cameria was an orphan stable boy with a fascination with swords. He knew it was his destiny to be a great swordsman winning tournaments. He caught the attention of Sir Aldwyn who mentored him using a sword and taught him the code of the Prince. As time passed, he won many tourneys, but his interest in the prince dissipated as he focused on becoming the Champion of Laos.

His joy ends when he is kidnapped and held for ransom for over a year. He is finally rescued by the woman who will become his wife. Even in her small remote home, they learn of Cameria falling to those who crave power at any cost to others. Evil rules the kingdom. They devise a daring attack against the ruler. Rowan meets a long lost brother Sir Lijah who tells him the real battle for the minds and souls of the people of Arrethrae will be fought in Chessington. He asks his sibling to be the Prince's Herald helping the people t o believe in the Prince and his Father as one day justice will return with the final battle against Lucius and his Shadow Warriors.

This is the last book in the Knights of Arrethrae saga as Chuck Black uses stories in the bible to tell an action-packed adventure thriller aimed at middle school children although adults will enjoy the well written metaphoric parable. Sir Rowan is a terrific warrior who learns what matters in life and risks death and perhaps worse to achieve his revelations. Fans will appreciate Mr. Black's strong entertaining allegory.

Ghost in Trouble
Carolyn Hart
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061915017, $19.99,

Heaven's Department of Good Intentions assigns emissary Bailey Ruth Raeburn to protect Kay Clark. Bailey Ruth and Kay knew each other when they lived in Adelaide, Oklahoma.

Following the death of Kay's former boyfriend Jack Hume, she goes to his family estate the Castle to pay her respects. However, while she is visiting the family, a large vase crashes near her almost hammering Kay. Bailey, as Kay's "assistant", Francie de Sales, investigates who is trying to harm her employer and why while ignoring heavenly operating procedures for earthly visits, which she knows makes her boss Wiggins' halo red with ire. When she and Bailey begin to believe Jack did not just accidentally fall as reported, but was murdered, like a dog with a rawhide bone they chew on the clues while intensifying their inquiry.

The third heavenly ghost whodunit (see Ghost at Work and Merry, Merry Ghost) is an entertaining paranormal whodunit starring a delightful optimist heroine who is more optimist than the Little Engine That Could. Bailey Ruth believes rules even divined from heaven need to be bent (Wiggins would accuse her of breaking them) if the on the ground scenario demands it as she is the field operative. With a strong investigation by the two amateur sleuths, sub-genre readers will relish the antics of the heavenly heroine who is all "Hart".

Moonlight Mile
Dennis Lehane
9780061836923 $26.99

Over a decade ago Boston private investigator Patrick Kenzie and his partner-lover Angela Gennaro disagreed with what to do with four years old kidnapping victim Amanda McCready, who they rescued. He followed the letter of the law and returned the child to her mom Helene; Angela disagreed vehemently as she morally argued the mother neglected her child putting her in harm's way. The child's doting uncle Lionel kidnapped his niece and put her in a good home. His Good Samaritan deed placed him in prison. Angela left Patrick (see Gone, Baby, Gone).&n bsp; Patrick and Angela reconciled, married and have a daughter. They have a tacit agreement never to mention Amanda McCready.

A caller at three in the morning informing Patrick he owes her and he found her once so he can find her again before hanging up. The next day Beatrice McCready apologizes for the call but says she is desperate. She asks Patrick to find her missing sixteen years old niece Amanda. Initially he refuses the case as he has a job interview, but when Beatrice mentions Helene's sex offender boyfriend, having a daughter, Patrick vows this time he will do right by Amanda.

This is an exhilarating sequel as Angela and Patrick are older and allegedly wiser yet both miss the excitement of the hard boiled case and long time pal Bubba still breaks heads. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Patrick's conscience gets to him and never slows down as he works his way through some mean streets and Russian thugs. The ending is super as realism prevails.

Ted Bell
9780061859298 $27.99

Prior to his last mission, British spy Alex Hawke met Russian artist Anastasia Korsakova on a Bermuda beach while on R&R. He falls in love with her, but his case inside the New Russia puts him against her father Count Ivan Korsakov. While he completed the mission, his beloved Anastasia dies (see Tsar).

Almost a year later, Hawke remains depressed with his only companion a bottle of rum that rarely numbs the pain inside his heart. He wants nothing to do with the espionage game until his royal friend Prince Charles begs him to help as someone threatens to assassinate the Royal family. Normally one to ignore such intimidation, Charles explains that somehow the culprit left a tome with a signature identical to the one belonging to his late uncle, Lord Mountbatten, who was murdered three decades ago. Hawke leaves Bermuda for London to begin his search for the mysterious killer. At the same time the Sword of Allah unites with the Taliban and al-Qaeda to form an evil alliance terrorizing the world.

The latest Hawke espionage thriller is an exhilarating tale that combines news headlines with the historical killing of Lord Mountbatten inside a super spy tale. Hawke's battle with suicidal depression feels real as he lost his love while killing her father so has welcomed a Russian death squad since he returned home to Bermuda. Now, only a special case called in by the Prince of Wales can get him back on the job and out of his crippling grief. Once in London, he reverts to Hawke super counter espionage agent. Warlord i s a fabulous action-packed entry, but it is the fight within the hero's soul that makes it special.

South Austin Vampire
Russ Hall
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
9781594148668, $25.95,

In Austin, Devil's Due music scene owner Owen Peasey hires private investigator Travis Treegrow to learn what is bothering his star attraction, singer-songwriter Lola Pillaccherosi. However, before Trav gets very far he finds the local star dead; eerily her body contains no blood and her neck has two puncture teeth marks that remind him of a Jose Doe corpse lying pale in the morgue.

Putting aside somewhat his volunteer inquiry into several thefts that Trav is doing for Sister Consuelo he and his former girlfriend Texas Hill Country peace officer Cassie make inquiries into the homicide. They soon begin to uncover a trail of avarice in which the clues lead to vampire cult leader Levi Damocles with lethal connections to the drug and human trafficking mobs.

The second Blue-eyed Indian mystery (see Bones of the Rain) is an engaging Austin whodunit in which the city's music scene and the accompanying underbelly make for a fun atmospheric investigation. Although the vampiric angle never quite seems blood harrowing enough as it pales in comparison to the city tour, fans will enjoy Trav's Texas two-step turf trot.

Sloane Hall
Libby Sternberg
Five Star
9781594149177 $25.95

In 1929 in Los Angeles, John Doyle becomes a camera operator who works both silent and talkie movies at Canfield Studios. However, a dumb thing he did costs him his job at the studio and a fight his room. . His camera mentor Leo Barkenstein gets him a job as a live-in chauffeur to silent film star Miss Sloane. John heads to SLOANE H LL.

An alcoholic with a mercurial personality, Pauline Sloane is attracted to John. He reciprocates as she finds her vulnerability touching. However, he never loses sight that he is a servant and any future with Miss Sloane nonexistent beyond being her driver. Besides John wants back behind the camera while Julia the chef and Marta the housekeeper want to influence their relationship; her agent Robbie prefers torpedoing their affection..

John, filled with anger and loneliness, makes for an entertaining historical tale as he reacts rather than thinks. The rest of the cast are stereotypes of an age of transition in Hollywood to include a fading star, her loyal staff, her acrimonious agent and John's mentor. Fans will enjoy this strong look at Hollywood circa 1929.

The Body and the Blood
Michael Lister
Five Star
9781594148934 $25.95

Recovering alcoholic John Jordan is the prison chaplain at the Potter Correctional Institution, a place that affirms one of Florida's strongest growth industries is filing away convicts. One section of the prison is the Protective Management Unit, which houses those inmates who would not survive within the general populace.

John is concerned over a note he found that states someone will be murdered. He meets a convict Justin Menge's sister Paula who is visiting him for the first time since he was incarcerated four years ago because she now believes her sibling is innocent. John is taken aback to find his former father-in-law, also a recovering alcoholic Tom Daniels, at the prison. When John was married to Susan, he and Tom did not get along at all. Tom explains that he has a witness inmate artist Justin Menge, who will testify that another inmate Martinez raped his wife while eluding cops. However, during mass, someone somehow murders Menge in front of Jordan and Daniels who swears no one entered the victim's locked cell. With a chance to combine his two loves of being a cop, which he was, with his regular job, John investigates the homicide while beginning to reconcile with Susan.

The latest John Jordan whodunit (see Flesh and Blood, Power in the Blood and Blood of the Lamb) is a great locked cell mystery as John and Tom struggle with how the homicide occurred. There are numerous suspects ranging from the victim's sister to his "doppelganger" lover to the man who he was to testify against him as well as staff and other inmates. With a fabulous late twist, readers will fully relish Chaplain Jordon's investigation.

Hearts Persuaded
Joanne Sundell
Five Star
9781594148835 $25.95

In 1862 in Loudoun County, Virginia, pacificist Quakers Levi Clement and Comfort Clarke wed in a loveless marriage. He wed her out of deference to his heartbroken father who disowned his oldest son for joining the Northern army. Making matters more difficult to accept by Levi is he ignores his heart shouting at him that he loves Willa Mae Tyler, who left. Levi fears for her life and her soul as he knows she will put back on the Confederate uniform to fight the Yankees who brutally killed her family. She left with a secret that she carries inside her womb, a secret that has given her the will to live for the first since her brothers were massacred.

While Willa Mae misses the advice of her best friend escaped slave Surry Lion; Willa Mae prays for her pal to safely achieve freedom fearing how dangerous the Underground Railroad must be. Surry rides the "Rails" north but blames herself for the capture of two of her siblings, but continues her trek in Maryland accompanied by her little sister Penny. Two slave hunters catch them until the two females prove they can write; something slaves cannot do. Still Surry knows in her heart that freeman conductor Lucas Minor is her love though he insists she go to Canada immediately.

The second Quaker and the Confederate (see Hearts Divided) is a super Civil War drama that rotates lead between the key players as each struggles with their conscience and survival; which can be in dangerous conflict. Although Joanne Sundell does a great job of weaving the key elements of the past tale into the story line, the experience will be more satisfying if historical fiction fan reads Hearts Divided first to understand motives better. Character driven, readers will relish this deep look at what happens to good people caught up in the fickle chaotic winds of war

Stacy's Song
Jacqueline Seewald
L&L Dreamspell
9781603182669 $13.95

In Junior high school, Stacy Nelson was called a giraffe as she was very thin with a long neck and towered over all the boys. Now in high school she remains taller than all the girls but some of the boys are taller than her, but she remains somewhat disturbed by being the giraffe.

Her best friend Karen persuades her to try out for cheerleading while the viola player behind her in the school band, Liz, asks her to try out for a band that she and her brother Michael is forming. Stacy joins both, but finds talented blind Michael nasty towards her while football team captain Greg is nice and charming as he wants to date her. As she becomes popular at school and struggles with balancing her commitments, her grades fall upsetting her parents. Especially upset is her father who demands she quits the Norris band, Stacy must decide between two young males who are attracted to her.

This is an entertaining young adult tale starring a likable high school age girl who goes from being the outside freak to the in-crowd. Stacy is stupendous lead as she struggles with two boys; one is charming while the other is demanding. Who will she choose particularly since her dad has already selected who he wants kicked to the curb.

The Damage Done
Hilary Davidson
c/o Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765326973, $24.99,

Travel journalist Lily Moore is in Spain when she learns that her drug addict younger sister Claudia apparently drowned in a bathtub. She is stunned as this is on the same day their mom committed suicide years ago. Hysterical Lily leaves Europe for Manhattan.

Lily goes to the morgue to identify the body only the corpse is not Claudia. Apparently the dead stranger has impersonated Claudia for months. NYPD detectives Norah Renfrew and "Brux" Bruxton lead the investigation in which the only suspect is the missing Claudia, but anxious Lily searches for her sibling too. Her former boyfriend wealthy Martin Sklar keeps pushing her for a second chance, Lily finds out that Claudia had hooked up with a recently deceased pseudo-psychologist whose tendency was to get unprofessionally too close with his female patients.

Although The Damage Done contains two interrelated strong mysteries, the story line is character driven by mostly Lily. Her need to find her sister brings a humanizing genuineness to the whodunit; especially the amateur sleuth elements as she searches irregardless of her own safety and in spite of the sibling estrangement. Readers will want Moore thrillers like this one from Hilary Davidson.

Roy & Lillie: A Love Story
Loren D. Estleman
9780765322289 $24.99

Roy was Judge Roy Bean the notorious corrupt Justice of the Peace in West Texas who was a killer, womanizer, thief and those were his better attributes. Lillie was "Jersey Lily" Lillie Langtry, a renowned performer and toast of Royalty and the arts whose greatest performance may have been using her health and a besotted doctor to escape marital rusticating. They never met, but exchanged correspondence over two decades as he was her greatest admirer and she was appre ciative of her greatest fan. Only death kept them finally from meeting in his Texas.

This is a great blending of historical facts with Loren D. Estleman filling in the gaps with his imagination so that the audience obtains a powerful biographical historical fiction. Both are scoundrels in their own ways with his obviously violent while hers seductive. Yet though there are fabrications and hyperbole in their correspondence, their passion to one day meet to see what happens makes their distant relationship a love story for the ages as only a master writer, could bring what they never achieved in life, them together.

An Irish Country Courtship
Patrick Taylor
9780765321749 $25.99

In the mid 1960s in Ballybucklebo, Northern Ireland, Dr. Fingal Flaherty O'Reilly has taken care of the villagers' health needs for years without much regard for his personal desires. Now he and his beloved Kitty O'Halloran are starting over. However, that blissful reunion leaves O'Reilly's housekeeper Kinky Kincaid fearing she will be unemployed soon.

At the same the older general practitioner is re-finding love, his junior partner Dr. Barry Laverty is reconsidering becoming a full partner in a few months after a relationship fell apart; in fact he thinks he should just move on and start elsewhere. At the same time that Laverty struggles with what to do, town councilor Bertie Bishop cheats his irate employees.

The latest Ballybucklebo historical tale (see An Irish County Girl) is an engaging look at a rural Northern Ireland village circa 1965. Although the two doctors and their personal relationships are the lead, the fun in this tale is to compare how far women have come in four and a half decades. Leisurely paced, fans of the Irish County saga will enjoy a trip back in time to Northern Ireland.

My Lost Daughter
Nancy Taylor Rosenberg
9780765319036 $25.99

Ventura County, California Superior Court Judge Lily Forrester presides over the tragic case in which the mother Noelle Reynolds is accused of murdering her two year old child. However, Lily has overcome the trauma of being raped a few years ago while her Stanford University law school student daughter Shana, who was also raped, has not. The rapist is still out there.

When Shana's boyfriend leaves her, she has a breakdown. Though she knows she should solicit references, influenced by her current case and fearing Shana cannot wait Lily uses the phone book to select a private psychiatric hospital, Whitehall near San Francisco. Shana voluntarily commits herself for treatment at Whitehall. However, the mother has placed her daughter in another traumatic situation as a wealthy psychopathic killer Alex runs Whitehall with an iron drug fueled rage while treatment is based entirely on health insurance payments. Meanwhile, FBI special agents Mary Stevens and Brooks East investigate suicide clubs.

The sequel to Judge Lily's last star performance The Cheater is a fast-paced over the top of Nob Hill thriller in which readers, who ignore mom placing her PTSD daughter in a psychiatric hospital without some inquiries, will enjoy. The two villains at Whitehall come across somewhat stereotyped, but make the tale fun as one likes to toy with inmates and the other cares only about money. Entertaining and exciting, Lily's fans will enjoy her latest caper.

C.E. Murphy
Del Rey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345516060, $15.00,

In Boston Lara Jansen trusts her intuition so while working at a tailor shop, her hairs leap up when a handsome man enters. He insists he is Prince Dafydd ap Caerwyn of the faerie and she is a Truthseeker; a rare individual who is more accurate than a lie detector in determining truth from fabrication. She believes him as he stinks at his day job of meteorologist. He pleads with her to come to his home to help ascertain who murdered his brother.

She accompanies the attractive prince through a portal into faerie. There she is stunned when she finds herself in the middle of a Seelie civil war as her irresistible companion failed to reveal this and apparently there are other secrets he conceals. Meanwhile someone in the shadows uses magic to further the dispute, which leaves two realms, Faeirie and Earth, in peril.

Truthseeker, the first of a two book fantasy, is a terrific opening act as C.E. Murphy sets the stage with a strong secretive royal and a special pragmatic human. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the heroine steps through the window into Faerie and never slows down. Fans will appreciate this strong fantasy due to Lara, a wonderful Red Sox in a Faerie prince court.

Andrea Cremer
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780399254826, $17.99,

The Keepers have already ordained the joining of two Guardians from different werewolf packs Calla Tor leader of the Nightshade clan and Ren Laroche leader of the Bane clan once she graduates from the Mountain School. Everyone wonders who between these two alphas will be top dog.

While on patrol looking to insure their enemy the Searchers are not lingering nearby, Callie breaks a key law of the Guardians when she rescues a human boy from a bear attack that meant certain death. Callie and Shay break a second rule when they become friends. However, though forbidden, Callie abetted by her human friend Shay ignores another taboo when she investigates the secrets of the Keepers.

Much more complicated than the above, Nightshade is a fabulous young adult romantic mountain fantasy in which the triad of species (in addition to the humans) seems genuine as werewolves and others roam Colorado. In some ways a coming of age tale, but more a rebel with a cause, Calla is terrific as she holds the plot together while suddenly breaking the laws of the Keepers after her whole life dedicated to strict adherence. Attracted to the fully developed key two males in her life, fans will wonder how far she will go between her desire for Shay and Ren.

The Perfect Love Song
Patti Callahan Henry
Vanguard Press
c/o Perseus Books Group
11 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142
9781593156169, $15.95,

Jimmy Sullivan writes a beautiful Perfect Love Song for his beloved girlfriend Charlotte Carrington. The lyrics are so well received; he leaves Palmetto Pointe, South Carolina to go on tour with his brother Jack, their band The Unknown Souls and a who's who of country music. He enjoys the glitter of the bright lights, the fame of people remembering his name, and the side benefits of being with the legends.

However, his family and that girlfriend who he wrote his original song for are upset with Jimmy. Indifferent to their pleading, he chooses to perform on Christmas Eve at Radio City Music Hall instead of being the best man at his brother's wedding. Will success spoil Jimmy Sullivan as he wanders alone in Manhattan on Christmas Eve?

The Perfect Love Song is an entertaining character study that modernizes the movie Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? Jimmy is an intriguing lead protagonist who chose career over love so we naive romance fans will feel no empathy for him though logically we understand his opportunity choice. Fans who enjoy a warm relationship drama will want to read Patti Callahan Henry's tender tale.

Alan Jacobson
9781593156213 $25.95

In Napa Valley, undercover Police Detective Robby Hernandez vanishes as he was closing in on John Wayne "Crush Killer" Mayfield. Robby's lover FBI profiler Karen Vail fears she may have unwittingly caused the disappearance.

Robby was part of a DEA team investigating drug kingpin Carlos Cortez and his cartel. Part of the operation involved close scrutiny of Cesar Guevara, the CFO of a wine bottling company. Evidence pointed to Guevara drug trafficking with the Crush Killer as his hit man. Knowing at a minimum she owes Robby and praying her beloved is alive, kick butt Karen targets Cortez, Cesar and Crush.

Alan Jacobson does a remarkable job to tell the direct prequel (see Crush) without slowing down this exhilarating Karen Vail police procedural (see 7th Victim). The story line is action-packed from the moment a guilt laden Vail believes what she wrought to her lover and never slows down yet the story line shows another side of the heroine; she has a heart. The intense profound look at drug trafficking enhances a powerful California thriller as Mr. Jacobson scores big time with this super detective tale.

Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop
Edited by Otto Penzler
9781593156176 $24.95

This compilation of seventeen short stories that were given out as pamphlets to the customers of the legendary store date back to 1993 with one a year since. The only two stipulations are it takes place at Christmas and the bookstore must be involved at least in one scene. The contributors are a who's who of the mystery-suspense genre with most lampooning the classics including those written by the author as Donald E. Westlake did in 1993 with Dortmunder learning to "Give Till It Hurts" and Mary Higgins Clark in 2009 with Alvirah in" What's In A Name?". Lawrence Block satirizes Nero Wolfe in the amusing 1997 "As Dark as Christmas Gets" or the 1995 jocular self-deprecating "I Saw Mommy Killing Santa Claus" by Ed McBain (is that his ninth plum of an pseudonym?). With No clinkers, fans who appreciate a strong mostly tongue in cheek anthology in which part of the fun is discovering the insider jokes will want to stop in Manhattan's Tribecca neighborhood (in person or from the armchair) to visit Otto Penzler's Mystery Bookshop as this is an entertaining collection.

Russell Wiley is Out To Lunch
Richard Hine
Amazon Encore
9781935597148 $14.95

The Daily Business Chronicle Assistant Sales Director Russell Wiley wonders which will collapse first. He ponders whether the near bankrupt newspaper will file before his even more bankrupt marriage to Sam is filed. Making him unhappy at work is the new owner of the mega media company that includes the Daily Business Chronicle shopping cart magnate Larry Ghosh plans to shut down the failing paper.

Russell ponders how he will survive amidst the sharks who devour the unconfident for lunch. He knows the consultant needs scalps to prove his value and his attraction to a peer Erica who leaves him speechless (except below the waistline) whenever she is near. Worst of all is Cindy the survivor superstar at getting all the credit for success and Teflon for failure while doing nothing more than paint her nails. Deciding if need be to wear rubber underwear, Russell decides if he goes down it will be with a fight.

With a nod to the zany Office Space and the song Backstabber by the O'Jays, readers will enjoy Russell Wiley's efforts to save his career; he has pretty much given up on his marriage. Filled with interoffice relationships, some of which feel forced, but most will remind the audience of a place where they have worked. Readers will root for Alan as he follows the advice of Playboy magazine that to hit a home run you need to swing the bat though that also could mean a strike out.

Dying to Live
Kim Paffenroth
Permuted Press
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781439180716, $15.00,

Almost one year ago, the dead began to reanimate. The zombie infestation spread and soon few humans are left to choose fight or flight. Jonah Caine, a former English Lit professor, has been alone for most of this time. He prays that he find other humans, but so far has not met anyone except the undead.

Needing food, he enters a dead urban center in which the abandoned jewelry store is stocked but the liquor store has one bottle of bad bourbon left. Jonah knows how dangerous the urban centers are so hr hopes to leave soon. At a convenience store he hits the jackpot with Twinkies and snow ball cakes until zombies attack him. He kills some and flees with the zombies in chase when a man with a bullhorn calls to him. His first human he has mot seen in weeks, perhaps months. They rescue him. Their leader is Jack Lawson who welcomes Jonah into the group staying inside the Museum of Science and History. He meets Doc a former dental hygienist turned medical practitioner and the odd Milton who is different yet obsessed with rebuilding civilization; it is the latter he finds stimulating as they intellectually discuss philosophy.

This is an intriguing intelligent zombie thriller that hooks the audience from the opening when Jonah kills from a tree house. Kim Paffenroth effortlessly intertwines plenty of action with literary commentary and philosophy. Besides obvious names like Jonah and Milton, there are references from the bible, Dante's Inferno and works of the Bard. Yet with all that the story line is loaded with action. However, it is the optimism of Milton contrasted to the grim description of a dead America especially the small Midwest city that keeps the reader's interest in a strong fresh zombie tale.

Jeffery Deaver
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781439156353, $26.99,

Henry Loving is perhaps the best "lifter" there is as he can get anyone to provide him the information he requires. He is especially adept at torturing his targets, but what makes him the absolute top gun is his uncanny ability to find the lever that gives him the Edge, which makes everyone he aims at dance to his tune. No one pushes people buttons like he does.

Federal government Strategic Protection Department "shepherd" Agent Corte protects targets from lifters. An intercepted message names Loving as the lifter directed to extract information from DC metro detective Ryan Kessler. Corte is assigned to keep Ryan from harm and his family safe so they cannot be used as pawns. He is also trying to identify who hired Loving. Meanwhile the lifter works on finding the means to get what he needs from the cop.

Though over the top, readers will not care as the Corte-Loving grandmaster chess match is a superb cat and mouse thriller in which readers will keep changing their mind as to who the feline is and who the rodent is in this deadly cerebral contest. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action as each keeps placing the other in check, but checkmate seems just out of reach. Jeffery Deaver is at his entertaining best with this High Noon confrontation between the two best gunslingers in the world.

Law of Attraction
Allison Leotta
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781439193846, $25.00,

In Washington D.C. idealistic rookie Anna Curtis has become an Assistant U.S. Attorney. She works domestic violence cases that have required her to remain distant and aloof from the brutality she sees on the faces of the victims. However, on Valentine's day, Anna loses her detached objectivity when battered Laprea Johnson files a complaint against her boyfriend former con D'Marco Davis, who is defended by Curtis' Harvard Law School classmate Nick Wagner.

In the courtroom, to Anna's shock, Laprea, under oath, recants her previous testimony allowing her boyfriend who is also the father of her twin preschoolers to avoid jail. Not long after the case is dismissed, Laprea's pregnant corpse is found amidst trash as if someone threw out the garbage. Assigned to work with chief homicide detective Jack Bailey, in a case against Davis; Anna is shocked that her boyfriend Wagner since the abuse trial, is representing the accused again. She must choose between her career and her personal life as both teeter; but remains unaware that her life is in peril if sh e gets to close to the truth.

This is a super legal thriller, which reads very fresh due to the star being a rookie playing in the big leagues. The story line is fast-paced from the first complaint until the final resolution with a nice late twist that diligent readers will see the clues. However, even though the men in her life (her lover the opposing lawyer, the homicide chief, and the accused) are fully developed, this is the tyro's tale as she works the perilous halls of justice.

'Til Death
9781416589884 $14.00

In 2007, BFFs Celess and Si-Si fled Southern California and a murder charge by flying to Rome. It happened so fast that Celess took no luggage with her. Meeting them at the Rome Airport is Si-Si's wealthy friend Andrew Coselli, who knows her as Sienna.

He takes them to Genoa where the two Americans open up an escort service for the rich and richer. The pair enjoys the good life as their clients take them shopping and partying around the globe. However, though they buried their California lives, their past arrives in Italy seeking retribution while other wannabes hone in on their successful business and Celess becomes addicted to cocaine. If they are not careful, they will learns the way down is fa ster than the way up.

The third Celess transsexual street lit saga (see Secret Society and Never Enough) is a delightful fast-paced refreshing thriller. The story line is faster than the mode of travel the lead "ladies" ride to go to places like Rio, India and South Africa as the royal sass sisters rip skin from their affluent patrons to the enjoyment of fans. Although the ending in Dubai seems abrupt yet stunning, readers will enjoy the pact between the two bad girls "Til Death.

The Mischief of the Mistletoe
Lauren Willig
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10014-3657
9780525951872, $19.95,

In 1803, Reginald "Turnip" Fitzhugh visits his sister Sally at the Climson Select Seminary for Young Ladies, a boarding school she attends in Bath. He meets and his attracted to the school's new mistress Arabella Dempsey who accepted a position there over the objection of her best friend Jane.

Mistaking Turnip for the Pink Carnation, Arabella persuades the Fitzhugh siblings to help her with a bit of espionage at Farley Castle though he is unaware of why she invited him to join her there. As the trio works their mission, Arabella introduces blundering Turnip to her BFF Miss Austen. Feeling as if he fell off a wagon, Turnip works hard to prove he is worthy of Arabella.

Satirizing the Pink Carnation series (see The Secret History of the Pink Carnation), Laura Willig provides a fresh entry due to Turnip who is a sort of Regency Inspector Clouseau. Although the espionage subplot is secondary as is the delightful Ms. Austen "correspondence" with Arabella and her unfinished novel as anchors rather than leads, fans will want to spend the twelve days of Christmas with Turnip and Arabella at Dovetail estate.

The Templar Salvation
Raymond Khoury
9780525951841 $26.95

In 1310, Templar knight Conrad of Tripoli accidentally finds a treasure of ancient writings from Christian early days. Following the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Church hid the material out of fear that what it contains could destroy the faith especially in the Church.

In the 1950s, a CIA hit team killed the family of Iranian Mansoor Zahed. The only survivor of the massacre he has patiently prayed for the day he can enact vengeance on the west. He knows the avenue would be to find the Conrad documents and release it to destroy one of the pillars of western religious thought. When his lover Tess Chaykin is kidnapped, FBI special agent Sean Reilly follows clues that take him to the Vatican where he believes a document exists that might prove the key to bringing home safely his beloved.

This is an exhilarating thriller with a strong historical core setting up the present day saga. The story line is action-packed from the opening fourteenth century find and never misses a beat as the centuries go by. Readers will fully appreciate the powerful fast-paced Templar Salvation as a worthy sequel to Reilly starring in the terrific Last Templar.

A Butterfly in Flame
Nicholas Kilmer
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590587911, $24.95,

Near Boston, the Stillton Academy has financial woes. However, a scandal also surfaces when instructor Morgan Flower and first year student Missy Tutunjian disappear apparently together from the North Shore art school; she of the bad romantic poetry happens to be the daughter of the largest donor at a time when money is tight and accreditation is critical and on the line.

Two school trustees Abe Baum and Parker Stillton visit art collector Clay Reed to ask for his help. He asks his employee private investigator Fred Taylor to find the runaways. Fred pretends to be Flower's replacement at the academy so that he can work undercover. He talks with staff and students only to learn the one common theme is a universal loathing of President Liz Harmony. When Liz's predecessor, Rodney Somerfest is found dead stark naked on a nearby beach, Fred interrogates the president who refuses to respond to his questions and the only famous alumni painter Basil Houel.

The latest Fred Taylor "animal" art mystery (see Madonna of the Apes and Man with a Squirrel) is a great entry as the sleuth works an art school disappearance and murder. The story line is fast-paced with a terrific twist. Fans of the series will enjoy Fred's lectures as he seeks motives beyond inane poetry that would be subpar for bubblegum rock and roll.

Valley of Dry Bones
Priscilla Royal
Poisoned Pen
9781590587638 $24.95

In 1274 Queen Eleanor is coming to the Tyndal Priory on a pilgrimage. Ahead of her Highness' visit, an advanced party of courtiers arrives to set up her visit including places for the monarch to stop.

Tyndal Prioress Eleanor struggles with the royal invasion even before the Queen comes. Besides dealing with the pompous members of court demanding all sorts of inane things, she must deal with the overbearing odious Baron Otes bartering land for salvation. However, Eleanor handles everyone and everything with aplomb and prayers until someone murders the pompous Baron. Suspicion is cast on his traveling companions and those who live at or near Tyndal. Eleanor sets out to find the killer so that her place of worship is not misconstrued as a sinful place even as she firmly believes God knows the truth.

The latest Prioress Eleanor's medieval mystery (see Forsaken Soul and Chambers of Death) is a fabulous whodunit with a nod to The Pardoner's Tale in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The story line starts off by insuring the readers know the key cast members so when murder occurs on the eve of the royal visit, suspects abound as motives are plentiful. Readers will relish this strong entry as pure capitalist ventures (then and now) include the selling of salvation.

Negative Image
Vicki Delany
Poisoned Pen
9781590587881 $24.95

Along with the initial arrival of spring in Trafalgar, British Columbia comes renowned photographer Rudolph Steiner. He plans to do a shoot on mountain tourism, but has a hidden agenda. However, whatever his real reason for coming to this mountain resort town, someone shoots him in the back of his head in his room at the historic Hudson House Hotel.

Maid Rachel Kowalski finds the corpse. As soon as the body is identified, Trafalgar City police sergeant John Winters recuses himself from the inquiry as his wife former model Eliza and the victim Steiner knew each other intimately at one time. Under the antagonistic leadership of Royal Canadian Mounted Police Detective Madison, Constable Molly Smith investigates the homicide, but soon finds a horde of visitors with motives including family, employees, and rivals. There is even one local suspect Eliza. At the same time Molly's dad goes to the hospital for surgery due to an accident, someone stalks her, and Smith considers a job in Toronto.

The latest Trafalgar Canadian police procedural (see In the Shadow of the Glacier, Valley of the Lost and Winter of Secrets) is a great whodunit as Molly works the case with her caring teacher replaced by an odious curmudgeon while facing two personal crises. The story line is fast-paced from start to finish, but the tale is owned by the town and Molly as Vicki Delaney provides a wonderful regional murder mystery.

Cowboys Never Cry
Tina Welling
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451231215, $15.00,

Three years have passed since Cassie Danner's husband Jake died climbing a mountain in the Himalayas. With bills to pay, the Ohio native struggles to make it accepting temporary seasonal work. Her current position is summer cook at the Cross Wave Guest Ranch and Cattle Company in Wyoming.

The ranch in the shadows of the Grand Teton Range is owned by a father and son team. However, Cassie recognizes the younger McKeag, Robbin, who was a Hollywood superstar as an action cowboy. From their first meeting the day before she starts her job, Cassie and Robbin clash. Their gender battle continues over the next few weeks until each knows they are in love. However, his Hollywood past that he ran away from has come to Wyoming making it most likely the end of the relationship between the owner and the cook.

This is an entreating throwback romance filled with warmth and wit. The lead pair shares in common a need to move on and introspective musing as well as love. With a wonderful Wyoming setting, fans who appreciate a tender contemporary ranch romance will want to read Tina Welling's well written tale.

Ghost Town
Rachel Caine
9780451231611 $17.99

A very old vampire Amalie founded Morganville, Texas as a refugee where vampires and humans can live together, but the Undead are at the top of the food chain. After a battle, the safeguards that protect the vampires are broken and humans can leave the town with their memories intact because the machine hooked to a brain was destroyed.

Myrnin the semi-sane vampire who built the first bio machine has to reconstruct a new one from scratch. His assistant Claire refuses to use a brain to power the gizmo, but she helps her boss create one. The problem is that the machine is making humans and vampires forget the last three years of their lives. Myrnin's password protects the machine so Claire can't unplug it. Although she is human, Claire feels strongly she must find a way to pull the plug before Morganville is destroyed.

Rachel Caine's latest Morganville vampire thriller is awesome as the Undead are held in check by Amelia's rules until the machine breaks down leading to a leadership challenge of the matriarch. However although that is powerful theme enabling fans to look closely at what happens to a culture when a key control fails, the action focuses more on the traditional vampire stalking humans for psychological reasons. Young adult fans will enjoy this entry and the entire series as this time local vampire civilization loses a primary restrictive barrier leading to over indulgence.

When I Get Where I'm Going
Cheryl Robinson
9780451229472 $14.00

Glenn Jetter is in prison for the murder of his wife. His daughter Heaven learns she has an older half-sister living in Southern California. Stunned Heaven calls Alicia Day who has spent over a decade trying to break in to Hollywood, but is ready to give up the impossible dream. She decides to meet kid sister in Detroit.

Heaven's other sister Hope Teasdale is raging in fury towards her and refuses to talk to her or the newly found sibling. Heaven knows she did single mom of little Havana Hope wrong when she used her sister's identity to spend $10,000 on credit while her sibling was grieving the death in a boating disappearance of her spouse. However, Heaven also is trapped in an abusive relationship. Though Glenn's fondest dream is his three daughters become close knit sisters, there appears little chance of that happening.

This is a fascinating family drama starring three siblings who have little reason to forge a bond and in fact have powerful rationale to remain estranged. Character driven, readers will enjoy When I Get Where I'm Going as the threesome struggle with their present lives whole considering can they rely on a sister to be there for them when family history says otherwise. Although the wrap up is too simple, the fully developed cast makes for an enjoyable profound look at dysfunctional siblings from a broken family background.

Magic At The Gate
Devon Monk
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451463623, $7.99,

In Portland, Guardian of the Gate Zayvion Jones lies in an otherworldly induced coma. His former girlfriend Chase and her former soul complement Greyson pushed his soul into the Death realm.

Zayvion's current love hound Allie Beckstrom is frantic, but knows what she must do to save the soul of her beloved. No one enters the realm of Death twice; as it is impossible to escape once you are there. Yet that is what Allie must do. She enters a macabre perverse looking Portland in which even the air feels dead to find the lost soul of her lover. Accompanying her are Stone her gargoyle and her deceased father Daniel, whose partial essence remains inside her. She trusts the gargoyle but not her deceased sire who betrayed her whe n he lived. The cost to her soul could prove eternal, but to save Zayvion is worth any price and not just because he is her love though in her heart that is enough; he is critical in the war between the forces of the light and the malevolence of the dark.

The latest Magic Beckstrom romantic urban fantasy (see Magic Storm and Magic in the Blood) is a great entry as readers accompany the heroine, the gargoyle and dad into a hellish version of Portland that screams of Edvard Munch. Allie makes the entry powerful with her willingness to die for love; as she believes death may be a sort of Eagles' Hotel California. Even if she cannot escape, she must find a way for her beloved to leave as he is needed in the realm of the living though she will miss him perhaps forever.

Side Jobs: Stories from the Dresden Files
Jim Butcher
9780451463654 $25.95

Although the quality of the eleven entries varies to an incredible degree, fans of Dresden will want to read the anthology that is a sort of history of the author. No question, the audience will want to read the novella "Aftermath", which occurs a few hours after the end of the stunning Changes. Many of the tales fill the gaps between the novels especially with a close look at support cast in entries like "Backup" focuses on Thomas and "Warrior" on Michael. Some like the first Dresden unpublished tale, A Restoration of Faith, displays Jim Butcher's talent, but not experience as the contribution is a bit confusing; that might be caused by knowing so much about the only wizard in the Chicago phone book. Clearly this compilation is for fans of the series; newcomers would be better off watching the TV show or starting with the novels as that is Mr. Butcher's forte.

The Silent Army
James Knapp
9780451463616 $7.99

In a dark and bleak future, science has progressed to the point where the deceased can be revived and function mentally with recall of their past though their bodies remain dead. Revivors are used as soldiers fighting endless wars on the other side of the world and nanotech stops decay and repairs. Samuel Fawkes is a Revivor who is battling the establishment because he believes that reprogrammed memories are part of the population and can only be accessed when a person dies and becomes a Revivor.

He goes one step further as he thinks a solid data base will back up his theory that a shadow government controls the minds of most f the population. Fawkes, who though a Revivor, controls all the other Revivors, which means he has an army he is amassing while obtaining twelve nuclear bombs that he intends to explode to make a statement. FBI Agent Nico Wachalowsloski is assigned to find the bombs and other weapons of mass destruction while other operatives look for the ship importing Revivors from foreign locations.

Military zombies are not a new concept (see World War Z by Max Brooks), but made fresh due to the lead adversaries as Fawkes may be a reanimated corpse but is also a strategic and operational thinker, and Nico believes Revivors have feelings. Heroic Nico especially risks his life to save a friend and dreads the confrontation that he knows is coming between him and Fawkes on a logical level and on a personal level the love of his life Faye Dasalia who is a loyal to Fawkes the Revivor. Readers will enjoy this science fiction as caring Nico believes Samuel is a terrorist while on the contrary Samuel believes he is a freedom fighter.

Merrie Destefano
9780061990816 $7.99

In New Orleans, Chaz Domingue earns a living at Fresh Start counseling and protecting new clones while the resurrected deceased struggles to regain their equilibrium. His current "babysitting" newbie is Angelique. However, what should have been a simple job guiding Angelique turns nasty when he must keep the woman safe from an unknown adversary who wants her dead.

Chaz assumes that the culprits fear Angelique knows something from a prior life that they do not want revealed. Questioning Angelique divulges nothing; so Chaz is left on the defensive insuring the woman and consequently his own family are not harmed. However, he remains ignorant to the fact that a powerful cadre of Nine-Timers wants the Fresh Start secrets as the ninth bat at life is the acceptable normal last swing; this group plans to live forever at any cost to others.

The first Resurrection Chronicles is a terrific New Orleans science fiction thriller that rotates first person viewpoints with the prime star being Chaz, who fumbles, stumbles, and grumbles with keeping the newbie safe from those who want her dead. Fast-paced, readers will relish this dark New Orleans drama as the hero has no idea what he has stepped into by doing his job except he knows that Angelique is the cause that threatens him and his family.

Jack McDevitt
Ace Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780441019243, $24.95,

In eight millennium of space travel, humans met one sentient alien race by 1403 Rimway Calendar. Over the centuries since Melony Brown accidentally met the Ashiyyur when she was measuring solar temperatures her discovery led to many people like Somerset "Sunset" Tuttle, the posterboy for scientific quests, seeking other races, but none have been found since.

However, in 1431, Rainbow Enterprises' Alex Benedict learns of a tablet with mysterious rune like writings on it, possessed by the late Tuttle's lover Rachel Bannister. Alex and his assistant Chase Kolpath visit Rachel to ask if they can study the tablet and translate the writings. To their shock, Rachel says no. Both Alex and Chase wonder why she would refuse to reveal what appears to be a genuine artifact from an alien species that survived time and space; this relic would change Tuttle's place in history from an object of mockery to a successful scientist. The pair also wonders if Tuttle found the historical object as most likely happened; why did he, also like Rachel, choose silence rather than affirm his life's work.

The fifth Alex Benedict futuristic science fiction novel (see The Devil's Eye and Seeker) is a superb action thriller. The message of how we twenty first century sophisticates interpret ancient scraps to fit our perceptions is made early on with a quote from Frances Bacon: "Antiquities are... remnants of history which have casually escaped the shipwreck of time". Fast-paced and filled with action, Jack McDevitt fans will appreciate his latest Benedict tale as once again the author combines outer space futuristic action adventures with a thought provoking look at how we "customize" historical objects to Echo our belief system.

Patricia Briggs
9780441019540 $7.99

A year has passed since Geoffrey ae'Magi died, but his impact still lingers. Aralorn learns her father, the Lyon of Lambshold, has recently died. Although the shapeshfting mercenary has been away from home for over a decade, she returns home to honor her aristocratic father. She and Wolf travel to Reth to say goodbye to her father.

However, in Reth, Aralorn and Wolf are stunned with what greets them. Her dad is sort of dead and sort of not dead. They investigate what happened to her sire. What they find out has both panicking as evidence mounts that Geoffrey ae'Magi lives and her father is spellbound by an evil sorcery trying to trap Aralorn.

Wolfsbane is a delightful follow-up to the exhilarating Masques. Aralorn is terrific as she learns the lesson you can't go home even for a funeral as nothing is the same as she remembers it. Wolf matures considerable as he starts to reconcile his past with his present especially his need for a long term relationship with his beloved companion. Although the well written story line is somewhat typical of the genre, fantasy readers will enjoy Patricia Briggs' wonderful tale due to the stunned lead couple finding the last thing they (and fans) expected when they go to her hometown.

Philippa Ballantine
9780441019618 $7.99

The abnormal number of attacks has left the Order of the Deacon weak and in trouble. Their mission is to protect the Empire from the barrage of the Otherside denizens; the undead and demons. The Order knows they are over extended and forced to send untested tyros into the field before they are ready. In the capital city of Vermillion has come many hungry refugees from the Empire's outskirts, making a volatile situation that much deadlier.

In Vermillion, veteran adept Sorcha Faris works with her beloved husband Kolya the Sensitive on an artifact that somehow could read their thoughts including impossible as it seems their Bond. It quickly left her husband comatose. Although she prefers to wait for her spouse to awaken, the Arch Abbot sends Sorcha to Ulrich with a new temporary partner, Deacon Merrick Chambers; a wet behind the ears Sensitive who just left the classroom. Also with them is the Pretender Raed. The trio will soon learn the hard way why the local Priory pleaded for help from something more predatory than a Geist haunting.

The key to this great horror-fantasy is the belief in the magical world of Philippa Ballantine summed up by the Guardian and the Pretender when she says "If wishes were horses," and he finishes with "I would never have to walk again." Little touches like this bring alive the prime element of the Bond, which make the realm of Geist seem genuine. Sorcha and her two comrades are terrific characters who keep the story line focused even as the plot entertainingly switches from fantasy to horror. This is a wonderful thriller.

Out of the Dark
David Weber
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765324122, $25.99,

Having learned of the existence of hostile humans, The Galactic Hegemony Empire is coming to conquer and colonize Earth. An advanced scouting team witnessed the massacre at Agincourt when King Henry V and his English Army used the longbow to slaughter the French. The Hegemony scout leadership concludes the bloody barbarians are a bunch of "lunatic local sentients". Earthlings are so bellicose they make the bloody Shongairi warriors look docile and thus deserve extinction.

The Hegemony sends their Shongairi warriors to conquer Earth. The military invaders are stunned by the resistance to their assaults. Even more shocking to those who have defeated forces throughout the galaxy is something out of horror novels rises from the grave to unite with the native humans in a counter insurgency.

Faster than the speed of light or an Honor Harrington military science fiction, Out of the Dark is an action-packed thriller that fans of David Weber will enjoy. Over the top of Olympus Mons and with a resistance theme that has been used in many books and movies (for instance, The Puppet Masters), the novel is refreshed with an element from the horror genre. Mr. Weber provides an entertaining tale that requires seat belts with the speed of acceleration from start to finish.

The Big Stink
David Lubar
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765323439, $17.99,

Belgosi Upper Elementary has a mold problem that forces the class of ten-year olds to share a room with first graders. As humiliating as that is, the eighth graders soon join them in the crowded classroom.

No longer the "giants" in their new classroom Nathan Abercrombie the accidental zombie and his two best friends Abigail, and Mookie now must put up with Ridley the eighth grade bully who out-means his younger brother Rodney the bully. Meanwhile Nathan complains about the putrid odor that he feels is all over town. He and his BFFs begin to investigate the cause of the foul odor that he believes might be emanating from RABID; while Abigail and her Uncle Dr. Cushing seek a cure for Nathan's rotting limbs and organs, and Mookie reads comic books seeking clues on living life to the fullest as a zombie. While all that is going on, there is also Nathan's trashy miss ion for BUM.

The fourth Abercrombie tweener zombie (see Dead Guy Spy and Good Soup) is an amusing tale in which the middle school audience will enjoy the vividly gross humor as the young reader will smell The Big Stink and see the high level of vomit pollution. Yet with the smell of a decaying body and crass puns, fans will laugh throughout that is when they hold back the bile.

More Stories from the Twilight Zone
Carol Serling
9780765325822 $17.99

The second Twilight Zone anthology edited by Carol Serling contains nineteen strong entries that will remind readers of the TV series with final twists and intriguing paradoxical morality dramas. None of the entries are bad, but a few are excellent. This reviewer especially enjoyed the historical lessons of "Curve" by Loren Estleman, "Reversal of Fortune" by Robert J. Serling and "The Mystery of History" by Lee Lawless. Also super are David Gerrold's twisted take on employment in the Twilight Zone "Sales of a Deathman" and Nancy Holder's romantic spin in "By the Book". Fans of the series will fully appreciate the compilation fittingly ended with "An Odyssey, Or Whatever You Call It, Concerning Baseball" by Rod Serling as next stop is Yankee Stadium, a dimension as vast in centerfield as space but with a short leftfield porch that makes it timeless.

Personal Demons
Lisa Desrochers
9780765328083 $9.99

Frannie comes from a deeply devout family. However, when a loved one dies she questions whether religion has even a grain of truth. In fact in the seventh grade, she is tossed out of Catholic school.

Attending Haden High School which she calls Hades, seventeen year old Frannie is attracted to the new student "devil eyes" Lucifer "Luc" Cain. He reciprocates though his interest is involved in collecting her soul as he works for Hell. The angels become concerned with losing her soul so they send Gabriel. To her shock, she is attracted to "Angel Reyes" Gabe, but for entirely different reasons than why she likes Luc.

Personal Demons is an interesting high school drama starring old buddies forging a triangle of sorts with Frannie. This makes for a unique refreshing battle for a soul as free will reigns leading the audience to wonder whether she will pick the devilish bad boy or the angelic good boy. The key cast seems genuine whether they are human, demon or angel and the setting especially at "Hades" High School is perfect with the range of student types supporting the prime tug of war. Young adult readers will enjoy Lisa Derochers' version of damn Yankees.

Cherie Priest
9780765325785 $14.99

At a Richmond hospital nurses like Mercy Lynch do everything from patient care to scrubbing blood from laundry. It is in the laundry room; Clara Barton finds Mercy and informs her that her husband died in a POW camp. Mentally and physically exhausted, Mercy receives a telegram from the Pacific Northwest informing her that her father was recently injured and dying. He wants to see her one last time.

Though estranged, Mercy decides to take the dangerous trip across the continent to Seattle in the Washington territories. The trek by rail and air across the war ravaged Confederacy to St. Louis is dangerous and the dirigible she rides crash lands after shots punctured it. In St. Louis, Mercy boards the steam engine Dreadnaught heading to Tacoma. On the Union train, Me rcy meets Texas Ranger Horatio Korman who has an undercover mission he conceals form her. The trip West of the Mississippi proves dangerous though most of the Civil War battles are on the other side of the mighty river. Confederate soldiers attack, which makes Mercy wonder what cargo they carry in the forbidden cars. Worse a Mexican zombie unit assaults the train. Used to death but not the undead, Mercy may be weary, but the intrepid female vows soldiers, rangers, zombies and other ilk will not prevent her from achieving her personal quest.

The sequel to Boneshaker, Dreadnaught is a super steampunk Civil War fantasy. The courageous bone tired Mercy, who overcomes her PTSD, keeps the exciting story line focused. However, it is Cherie Priest's grim dark 1860s Americana landscape including the aptly named train that makes for a great harrowing historical thriller.

Stars and Gods
Larry Niven
9780765308641 $25.99

The intent apparently is to enable the reader to have a smorgasbord of the works and ideas of award winning Larry Niven over the past six years. Parts of the tome are refreshing; ironically the nonfiction articles especially in Part Three and somewhat in Part Nine are the best inclusions. The extracts highlighting the worlds of the novels (solo or in collaboration) are also well written, but needed more insight as to what led Mr. Niven and partners to come up with concepts like Ringworld. The short stories are also fun to read especially the two from Draco Tavern. However, extracting one or two chapters from ten novels makes no sense even to introduce new readers to one of the greats of science fiction made even less appealing at hardcover prices.

The Cassini Code
Dom Testa
9780765360793 $8.99

Comet Bhaktul entered earth's atmosphere leaving deadly particles behind that killed every person over eighteen years old. A desperate mission to save some aspects of humanity sent 251 teens chosen on the Galahad space ship traveling to Eos. The trip has been difficult although the leader Triana and the Council have done overall well by overcoming a saboteur (see The Comet's Curse) and defeating the first alien race they met, the Cassini on a moon of Saturn (see The Web of Titan).

The Galileo enters the Kuiper Belt where junk revolves around the solar system, making it a dangerous sector to travel. The heating system and the collision warning system fail. Charismatic Merit Simms begins a movement to turn around and return to earth before they all die in space. He has many supporters and new dissidents join him everyday. As the crew divides mostly between the Council and the armband wearing Merit opposition, the Cassini are back.

The third Galahad teen science fiction thriller is super action-packed Wild in the Streets (except in the solar system) tale driven by the cast especially the leadership rivals of Tiana and Merit. Each has strong qualities, but whereas Triana is cautious and caring of others, Merit believes he is right and has no concern about his opponents. The Cassini Code is loaded with action as the crew reacts to a various series of crises; some caused by the schism. Readers of all ages will want to know who won the power struggle and what did it do to the mission.

Midsummer Night
Freda Warrington
9780765318701 $27.99

Just after WW II in the Scottish Highlands, three youths dress up as fey to pull a practical joke on their uncle. However, none of the four blood relatives were ready for the Aetherials to cross over from the Spiral to Cairndonan. The Aetherials snatch one of the youngsters before returning to the Spiral as the uncle drops dead.

Decades have passed since the horrid incident, but time has turned it more into a family myth. Currently, internationally renowned sculptor Dame Juliana Flagg resides at run down Cairndonan, though she cannot afford the upkeep financially but cannot afford to sell emotionally. Now Gill Sharma arrives on holiday to be unwelcomed by Colin the dogsbody apprentice. Soon Dame J and the newcomer will learn first hand of the legend of Dunkelman as the truth without omission will not set the artist or the guest free.

The sequel to Elfland is so much darker as the readers enter the eerie Spiral of the Aetherials and the even stranger Vaethyr magical essences who have a wing (some would say horn) in Spiral and a wing in Earth. Dame J is a fascinating protagonist who cannot leave Cairndonan as if she is mystically tied to her family estate. Haunting, Freda Warrington provides a scary Midsummer Night Nightmare horror thriller as the Aetherial horde play with mankind.

The Boy from Ilysies
Pearl North
9780765320971 $17.99

For centuries the Singers and the Libyrarians were at war with each other over how knowledge should b transported. The former believe in oral storytelling while the latter feel strongly books are the ultimate source. A miracle occurred uniting the adversaries though problems remain between the groups. The hope is to make the dying land surrounding the labyrinth back to fruition with a new crop.

Po, a young man from Ilysies, where males are slaves, is in the field when a fire breaks out destroying the crops. He is blamed though he is totally innocent. To keep Po out of harms way, he is sent with the Chorus of the Word to the Corvariate Cathedral to find Endymion's Rose, an artifact from the Ancients that may save the world as it was before the terraforming started breaking down. It was lush and fertile and green.

The sequel to Libryinth takes place on a world changed to be a new earth, which is just a fleeting myth like memory for those on the orb. The terraforming is breaking apart mindful of what NPR has just described happens to some orthodontic work. It will take special archivists to learn how to reverse the rapid deterioration that threatens both groups. Filled with action and a deep look at a divided culture battling one another (mindful of DC), young adult readers will enjoy the entertaining thought provoking The Boy from Ilysies.

Fatal Error
F. Paul Wilson
9780765322821 $25.99

Repairman Jack feels like he is caught in some sort of cosmic middle between the Ally and the Otherness while also fearing that the Septimus Order united with the Kickers to kill the Lady in order enable the evil Otherness to enter earth reality. However, even as he resents being the bodyguard of the lady, Jack is caught in a local scenario when a desperate Munir Habib pleads with the mercenary to save his family.

The Septimus Order and their nefarious allies plan to shut down the Internet. Mr. Osala quietly encourages these cult terrorists to do so while he also prepares a newborn infected by the Otherness that he had abducted from the baby's stunned mother Dawn Pickering to bring his prime adversary Jack to his knees.

The latest Repairman Jack thriller is a great refreshing entry in what consistently has been one of the best sagas over the past two decades (ancient history of Reagan was in the White House when he first appears). The story line is fast-paced and filled with twists as several of the mercenary adversaries seem to have united with a common cause that starts with his death. However though they have battled before and this is his penultimate tale, they still don't know Jack.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

With the Wisdom of Owls
Max Yoho
Dancing Goat Press
3013 SW Quail Creek Dr. Topeka KS 66614
9780970816054, 11.95,

I'm happy to report that award-winning writer, Max Yoho, is back with a new, humorous literary adventure. With the Wisdom of Owls answers the question that has plagued adult humans for eons: What on earth do babies think?

As Baby Harry is conceived, an owl circles overhead, almost as a harbinger of an unprecedented event. Sure enough, Harry's parents swear he looks exactly like an owl but hope he will grow out of it. What they don't realize is that Harry also thinks like an owl, talks like an owl, and speaks many owl dialects flawlessly. In fact, the owls who visit him daily make more sense to Harry than his parents, grandparents, or the adults who populate his world. The three semi-wise owls who mentor Harry's first year of life are:

Wyatt, Harry's godfather, a Heath bar loving, homily spouting owl who gets high on reading the book of Isaiah;

Shy Clayton, a soft spoken owl who finesses his fellow owls and Harry through awkward situations;

Metcalf, the brains and brawn of the group.

According to Harry, being a human baby is the most boring job in the world. When his owl mentors aren't visiting, Harry entertains himself with the humans around him. He soon discovers that adults aren't completely useless and can even be amusing if properly trained. The adults in Harry's world include:

Sweetheart, Harry's mother, perhaps the most perfect human who ever lived, the devoted provider of food and comfort. Harry spends most of his waking hours wishing he were back in his warm, quiet Old Home Place - Sweetheart's womb;

Daddy Dung Beetle, Harry's somewhat befuddled father who is prone to fits of temper and cussing as he shepherds his odd assortment of relatives through life;

Grandma Area Code 512, a beer swilling Texan and proud of it, who delights in throwing beer bottles and tormenting Daddy Dung Beetle;

Grandpa Area Code 512, divorced from Grandma and tried to hang himself from a tree shorter than he was, thus giving him the distinction of being the only living suicide victim in Texas;

Thanks to his owl mentors, Harry is smarter than the average baby. He assures readers that the wisdom of discovery can be wonderful but is often cruel. The bane of his young existence is Violet, the evil octopus who teases him telepathically as she busily redecorates the Old Home Place. And one awful day he discovers that the same s.o.b. who circumcised him after birth also removed the stump of his belly button. Harry's first few months of life are full of such discoveries and he generously shares each new tidbit of knowledge with us so we'll understand that a baby's life is not as simple as it seems.

As life wears on, some adults lose their sense of fun and adventure. Financial worries, job stress, and daily trials dull our imagination. Max Yoho has not lost his fun-loving spirit or imagination. Through Harry and his owl mentors, the author takes readers on a humorous journey that reveals, at last, what babies think. Thanks for the laughs, Max!

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Cooking Up Comfort
Althea McQuestion
Willow Creek Press
P.O. Box 147, Minocqua, WI 54548
9781607552567, $19.95,

"Cooking Up Comfort: 100 Simple, Soothing Recipes" is a soul-warming collection of comfort food recipes including sides and accompaniments, entrees, pastas, soups stews and seafood, breads and cereals, and sweet treats. Written by an experienced cook who cherishes her memories of comfort food moments, "Cooking Up Comfort" is all about creating and sharing delicious memories and food with friends and family. From Maple Glazed Acorn Squash to Grilled Ribeye Steak with Roquefort Sauce, from Baked Cheese Spinach Tortellini to Cajun Baked Fish, "Cooking Up Comfort" aims to please. How about Sweet Potato Biscuits, or Chocolate Macadamia Muffins? Or for dessert, try Plum Crumble (my favorite), or Pumpkin cheesecake. Recipes are clear, easy, and accessible, with a handy metric measurement conversion chart at the end. "Cooking Up Comfort" is the perfect bride's gift, or a good start to a cookbook library for a young adult setting up housekeeping independently. It will never fail to deliver just the right touch of home cooking comfort.

Heavenly Humour for the Cat Lover's Soul
Janet L. Rockey, et al.
Barbour Publishing
P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
9781602609921, $7.99,

"Heavenly Humour for the Cat Lover's Soul: 75 Fur-Filled Inspirational Readings" is a cheerful collection of Scripture readings and chapters on Christian virtue meditations inspired by the love of feline domestic companions. Divided into sections on God's protection, wisdom, contentment, love, trusting God, patience, blessings, hope & forgiveness, serving, and obedience, "Heavenly Humor for the Cat Lover's Soul" is just what the Dr. prescribed for instructions on how to lead a happy, purposeful, good, Christian life. Who would imagine so much philosophy could be inspired by the humble cat? Then again, how many cats have you met who could be described as humble? The beauty of a human's long-term history of relationships with cats is the cat's basic insulation against fear, self-doubt, or inner anxieties. Perhaps we could learn something from our feline friends? One of the favorite quotations relates to cats' basic sense of security:"I wish I had the contentment of my kitty who, while industrious in his own way, understands the importance of taking a nap or curling up beside someone important to him or enjoying a spot of sun on the floor before it moves on for the day (Carol Smith, p. 55)." In a chapter on contentment, this is paired with the following Scriptural quotation: "The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made (Psalm 145:9 NIV)." Highly recommended as a gift or daybook for prayer or meditation, "Heavenly Humor for the Cat Lover's Soul" is part of a series from Barbour which includes "Heavenly Humor for the Dog Lover's Soul," "Heavenly Humor for the Woman's Soul," and soon to include "Hevenly Humor for the Chocolate Lover's Soul" and "Heavenly Humor for the Mother's Soul."

The Photographs of Annette Ross Hume
Kristina L. Southwell and John R. Lovett
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
9780806141381, $34.95,

"The Photographs of Annette Ross Hume: Life at the Kiowa, Comanche, and Wichita Agency" is a stunning collection of black and white photographs of many American Indians from multiple tribes taken near Andarko, Oklahoma, between 1890 and 1902. A pioneer woman photographer, Annette Ross Hume followed her husband, agency physician Dr. Charles Robinson Hume, to the Kiowa, Comanche, and Wichita Agency in 1890. She became an accomplished documentary photographer, leaving over 184 photo portraits of Indian mothers, babies in cradleboards, tribal elders, including Comanche chief Quanah Parker. Many of her photographs document common activities of daily life, such as waiting to receive the issues of beef from the government, gathering to gamble, conducting council meetings, and posing or riding their horses in full ceremonial dress, especially Native women. A time capsule of unfolding Western history, "The Photographs of Annette Ross Hume" present a mine of detail regarding the many Indian tribes who gathered at Andarko, OK during the turn of the century, a time of vast and explosive change. "The Photographs of Annette Ross Hume" will provide a treasure trove of data for historians, scholars, Native genealogists, anthropologists, and more. It also presents a fascinating glimpse of a rapidly changing time that would be otherwise lost to the discerning eye of visual cultural history.

Poetic Easel: Artists via Poetry
YoElena Tkebuchava
Privately Published
9781616581602, $19.95,

"Poetic Easel, Artists Via Poetry" is an astonishing collection of 40 representative master paintings by selected Western artists, covering hundreds of years of Western art history through sample art analysis. In addition to tidbits of fact, biographical lore, and incisive analytic commentary, each of the 40 masterworks is represented by an original pithy couplet of verse, a distilled essence of the major characteristics of the artist's signature work. The verse summaries are sometimes funny, sometimes witty, and often catchy.

"I'm moved by world of Leonardo,
His Mona Lisa and sfumato.
Diverse ideas in his mind,
A shining jewel of mankind (p.17)."

Works of art begin with a painting by Giotto, famed for his "faces" in religious themed masterworks, and end with an iconic "soup can" painting by Andy Warhol. The mass of great Western art history is spanned by the 40 selected representative artworks in between, from Salvador Dali to Titian, from Rubens to Leonardo da Vinci.

What is absolutely amazing about this spectacular collection of thumbnail sketches of Western art history is the fact that it was created by a 12 year old girl, YoElena Tkebuchava, whose family emigrated from the country of Georgia to the U. S. There is no doubt that this author is an accomplished prodigy. Another striking aspect of "Poetic Easel" is the tribute it implies to the restorative value of art for the human spirit. "Poetic Easel" is like a miniature Bible of standards of artistic beauty through recent Western history (1400-2010 AD). It is almost what you would imagine a modern day Anne Frank would take with her to treasure in hiding, to remember all the best things about being alive.

Finally, a portion of profits from "Poetic Easel" are donated to a charity to benefit Georgian children who have suffered loss of home or family in recent political upheavals in the country of Georgia. The buyer's book dollars are never better spent than on this exceptional collection of masterworks and their memorable verse distillations. A superb choice for as a community library 'Memorial Fund' acquisition selection, "Poetic Easel" is a monument to the resilience of the human spirit and a tribute to YoElena Tkebuchava and her family.

Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night
Joyce Sidman, author
Rick Allen, illustrator
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780547152288, $16.99,

"Dark Emperor and other Poems of the Night" is a spectacular collection of nocturnal songs of plants and animals who love and inhabit the night world. Each poem describes the habits and behaviors of a special nocturnal plant or animal in terse, imaginative poetry. On the facing page is a prose section giving further information about the subject of the poem, like an added nature study. The final embellishment consists of the layered, dark prints made by a special and tedious process of relief printing, then laboriously hand tinted. "Dark Emperor" is a spectacular work of yoked imaginations and arts that teaches while it enchants/ A glossary of terms in muted colors completes this lovely book of original verse. From a bay porcupine, called a porcupette, to a little red eft, many exotic creatures of the night inspire these poems. In closing, a quotation from the poem of the title: "O Dark Emperor/ of hooked face and/ hungry eye: turn that/ awful beak away/ from me;/ disregard/ the tiny hiccup of my heart as I flee (p. 12)." "Dark Emperor" is suitable for children ages 7 and up.

Vitalizing Music History Teaching
James R. Briscoe, editor
Pendragon Press
Hillsdale, New York
9781576471623, $36.00,

"Vitalizing Music History Teaching" is number 20 in the series "Monographs & Bibliographies in American Music," edited by Michael Budds of the University of Columbia, Missouri. "Vitalizing Music History Teaching" contains fourteen separate papers on music history, by a variety of learned authors, including Jessie Fillerup ("Cage & the Chaotic Classroom: Pedagogy for the Avant Garde"), Susan C. Cook ("Teaching Others, Others Teaching, or Music History Like It Mattered"), Barbara Russano Hanning ("Teaching Music Through Art"), Robin Elliott (Teaching Canadian Music in Undergraduate Music History Courses"), and many more. Compositions are grouped into three categories; Teaching Principles, Teaching Strategies, and Teaching Content. James R. Briscoe, editor of "Vitalizing Music History Teaching" contributed an interesting article on teaching strategies titled " Avoiding the Slough of Despond, or, Teaching by Touchstone." Dedicated to music history teachers in the US and Canada, "Vitalizing Music History Teaching" is a mighty effort to reinvigorate a neglected field of valuable human cultural history. It has been said that history is written by the winners of wars, but the legacy of the losers is its songs. If this is so, music history is indeed a valuable touchstone to reality, as perhaps implied or suggested by editor Briscoe: "I am convinced that teaching (music history) does that best by centering on a focal concept, a touchstone, and a single representative composition for each period...The student can... proceed without swerving off a clear path, even if momentarily foregoing many compositions, some genres, and even certain cultural conditions. But most significantly, the student attains a narrative that is significant to her and prepares future learning. That the teacher foregoes a dense survey is a price well worth paying if he leads the student away from a slough of attention-killing detail and toward an intrigue and aesthetic understanding, a launching pad for lifelong learning (p. 124)." "Vitalizing Music History Teaching" contains many more gems and jewels of the pedagogy of teaching music history. It is a collection of significant value and interest to the field of undergraduate music education.

Lavolta Press
20 Meadowbrook Drive, San Francisco, CA 94132

Frances Grimble draws upon her many years of experience and impressive expertise to compile and edit two seminal contributions to the history of fashion -- a field in which she has established Lavolta Press as a leading resource -- to publish "Bustle Fashions 1885-1887: 41 Patterns with Fashion Plates and Suggestions for Adaptation" (9780963651785, $49.00) and its accompanying volume "Directoire Revival Fashions 1888-89: 57 Patterns with Fashion Plates and Suggestions for Adaptation (9780963651792, also, $49.00)". These are two exquisitely detailed and superbly illustrated resources for vintage costume creators. Each volume has detailed sketches and instructions for a total of 98 patterns to create a complete Victorian woman's wardrobe. Complete with a helpful glossary, bibliography, index, apportioning scales, and metric conversion table, "Bustle Fashions 1885-1887" and Directoire Revival Fashions 1888-1889" are both well-documented resources for authentic costume creation. Black and white illustrations from issues of "The Voice of Fashion" magazine and "The National Garment Cutter," an annual anthology of patterns help clarify the costume appearance and detail. Some of the material is from Butterick's "Delineator" magazine. For those who grew up reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder "Little House" books, images of Ma cutting dress patterns for Mary and Laura from the precious "Delineator" magazine will arise. "Each book is a self-contained resource for everyone who reproduces periods garments, whether for theater, movies, living history, Old West events, or dolls (quote from press release)." Of special note in both volumes is the Introduction providing cogent advice on how costume makers seeking to reproduce these period garments can best to utilize the books -- including the use of apportioning scales, taking measurements, determining seam allowances, and more. Both of these seminal editions are valuable and practical guides to detailed costume creation for the era, making them truly exceptional and highly recommended additions to personal, professional, academic, and community library History of Fashion instructional reference collections.

The Chronicle of Western Costume
John Peacock
Thames & Hudson Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780500284476, $19.95,

"The Chronicle of Western Costume: From the Ancient World to the Late Twentieth Century" covers clothing styles and fashions worn by men and women of the West from 2000 BC to the 1980's. Filled with colored illustrations of detailed sketched, costumed, figures labeled by country/area and date, "The Chronicles of Western Costume" spans 4000 years of human preferences in attire. Added descriptive notes are catalogued by illustration profile, per costume, and an extensive illustrated glossary of terms provides ample costume detail data and information. The black and white sketches in the Glossary are particularly helpful. "The Chronicle of Western Costume" is an excellent historical costume design resource, and will be invaluable to a varied audience of theater costume designers, fashion historians and enthusiasts, and social historians, or anyone curious about the evolution of human attire.

Can You Hear Me Now?
Frances Patrick O'Brien
GIA Publications, Inc.
7404 S. Mason Ave., Chicago, IL 60638
G-7913, $24.95,

"Can You Hear Me Now?" is a choral performance liturgical selection with 13 featured choral numbers with solo parts included. The Christian theme of "Can You Hear Me Now?" is based on the idea that God continually calls all of us to faithful discipleship in word and deed through everyday occurrences. All that we must do is learn to listen and hear. A widely varied cast of choir and soloists can perform the work, or selected solos and duets can be presented alone. The work can be performed in concert or semi-staged fashion, with added elements of dance and/or projected images. The ranges for the vocal parts is not inaccessible, and the style of music is mostly Christian contemporary, with some nods to such Christian classics as in the "Ubi Caritas." "Can You Hear Me Now?" (Piano /Vocal Score, oratorio) is full of contemporary, fresh, exciting musical ideas that a skilled choir and director can put to a variety of uses in modern Christian worship settings.

Broken Circle
Theodore Fontaine
Heritage House
#340 - 1105 Pandora Ave. Victoria, BC V8V 3P9
9781926613666, $19.95,

"Broken Circle: the Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools, A Memoir" is a shadowed personal memoir of painful childhood experiences of young Indian boy taken from his parents at age 7 and "educated" at a Fort Alexander, a Catholic boarding school for Indian children in Manitoba, in the 1940's. Filled with personal experiences, painful memories, and determination to progress through a healing reconstruction of a mutilated Native heritage and identity, "Broken Circle" is a testament to courage and the power of the spirit to endure incredible psychological and physical hardship and abuse. "Broken Circle" is described as the definitive answer to those who question the degree of trauma inflicted in the Native boarding schools, who say, "Why can't they just get over it?" Although the reality of Fort Alexander Boarding School exists no longer, the experiences suffered there are still being resolved today. "Someone once said that the hardest wounds to recognize and identify are those that go back to the distant past of our childhoods. We sometimes no longer remember the wounds, or who or what caused them. All that remains are the rigid behaviors and defensive reactions stirred up by the slightest offence. We continue to feel these childhood misfortunes at an unconscious level throughout our lives (p. 188)."

"Broken Circle" is as much about healing and prayerful self reconstruction as it is about inhumane governmental policies that promote spiritual genocide. Though the representatives of the government of British Columbia have made some steps towards acknowledging their error and inhumanity, and apologizing, there is great need for books such as "Broken Circle" to express the trauma inflicted and endured by the survivors. Though much of the material in "Broken Circle" is painful to read, there is no spirit of vengeance or vindictiveness in any of its pages, clear evidence that the author continues on his healing path.

Native North Carolina
Kevin Reynolds
Parkway Publishers, Inc.
PO Box 3678, Boone, NC 28607
9781933251721, $14.95,

"Native North Carolina: The What, Why, and Where of Native American Place Names" is both a Native American place name guide for North Carolina locations and a geographical and anthropological resource, sort of a historical travel guide, with explanations of the sources and histories of different Native American names of rivers, mountains, lakes and areas of North Carolina. divided into four parts covering Rivers, Mountains, Lakes and Such, Communities, Towns and Cities, Counties, and a Travel Guide, "Native North Carolina" is a fascinating compendium of different Native naming traditions for parts of the Appalachian state.

This is an ambitious undertaking, for only some of the Native tribes who lived in North Carolina include the Iroquois, Sioux, Algonquin, and Tuscarora. A bibliography and an appendix of interesting place names provide additional source information, and a list of internet web sites also broadens the information mine base of "Native North Caroline." The writing is not pretentious, and the travelogue information is intriguing and inviting. In addition, many scenic black and white photographs of places named and described are most appealing.

A Guide to the Indian Tribes of the Pacific Northwest, Third Edition
Robert H. Ruby, John A. Brown, Cary C. Collins, authors
Foreword by Clifford E. Trafzer
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
9780806140247, $26.95

"A Guide to the Indian Tribes of the Pacific Northwest" is a comprehensive collection of descriptions, in alphabetical order, of 150 Pacific Northwest tribes of Native Americans. This third edition of the collection presents detailed information on each tribe's history, demographics, location, and ethno-cultural traditions, including photographs of well known individuals belonging to the tribe. In addition to a complete, succinct history of each tribe, current issues such as NAGPRA and Indian gaming are discussed. The emphasis of this third edition is on revitalization, self-determination, and Native voices. Written by a variety of scholars, professors, teachers and other skilled observers of tribal traditions and development, "A Guide to the Indian Tribes of the Pacific Northwest" is a guide and reference for all who are interested in Northwest Indian culture and impact. covering both well-known and obscure tribal groups, including the Salish and Kootenai of the Flathead reservation, and also the near extinct Takelma tribe of Athabascan affinity. The famous author and stand-up comedian, Sherman Alexie is photo-featured as a descendant of Coeur d'Alene and Spokane heritage. In addition to many black and white photographs of tribal members both living and deceased, the "Guide" contains a revised reading list and an updated pronunciation guide to the names of the Pacific Northwest tribes included. Maps of the areas under study include parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, and show special area of information, including tribal reservations and tribal council addresses, early Indian Missions and early fur and military posts and camps. In summary, "A Guide to eh Indian Tribes of the Pacific Northwest" Third Edition is a solid index to the complex histories and current development of the diverse Native tribes who people the Northwest.

The Indians of Arizona and New Mexico
Patricia Fogelman Lane, et al.
Rio Grande Books
925 Salamanca NW, Los Ranchos, NM 87107
9781890689575, $19.95,

The collaborative work of annotators and editors Patricia Fogelman Lane, Louis A. Hieb, and Thomas J. Steele, S.J., "The Indians of Arizona and New Mexico: Nineteenth Century Ethnographic Notes of Archbishop John Baptist Salpointe" is a carefully amplified and heavily annotated recording of the observations of the second Archbishop of Santa Fe, John Baptiste Salpointe, who lived and worked among Indian tribes of Arizona and New Mexico from 1860-1898. Documenting his descriptions of Indian-white interactions and relations over this event-filled time span, "The Indians of Arizona and New Mexico" also contains extensive annotations that fill in a more complete historical background for readers. Here is described the life journey of a young church dignitary who emerges as a Christian leader encouraging building new schools, hospitals, parishes, and more in the remote, arid Southwest. He also participated in tribal rituals and ceremonies, gathered tribal history and statistics and ethnic tales from native storytellers. "The Indians of Arizona and New Mexico" has special interest for students of frontier history, and the impact of Church philosophy on Indian tribes of the Southwest.

Nancy Lorraine

Micah's Bookshelf

The Gods of the Bacteria
Billy Z. Earley
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432762490, $14.95,

Far beneath the microscopes, the bacteria live their lives. "The Gods of the Bacteria: The World Before Darwin" is a fantasy novel with a twist, as it surrounds the first bacteria formed in our world, millions of years ago. Twisting the bacteria story with traditional fantasy, "The Gods of the Bacteria" will prove an amusing and entertaining read, recommended.

Breaking Out
Bob Brink
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450226769, $16.95,

From a tough road, one can still excel far and beyond what's expected of them. "Breaking Out" tells the story of troubled youth Britt Rutgers who struggles to find his place in life and face the demons that a life of fundamental Christianity, the problems of teen life, and the need to succeed crushed him under. "Breaking Out" is quite the story of coming of age and coming of life, very highly recommended.

Ordering America
William H. Young
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781453516645, $34.99,

Ideas are what spur progress, and new ideas are the foundation of America. "Ordering America: Fulfilling the Ideals of Western Civilization" looks at the legacy of western thought and democracy and how it has evolved over the years and how this evolving thought is what must be used against the Marxist influenced politics that are encouraged in the modern day. Covering the many eras of the advancement of the western world's thought, "Ordering America" provides much to think about in today's world of politics.

The Molotov Box
Daniel Johnson
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781450088893, $19.99

A rookie's excitement is a bane more than a boon when dealing with the Russian mob and assassins. "The Molotov Box" tells the story of Agent Gaby Bernard and her first field assignment working with the FBI. Faced with a mysterious murder and the enigmatic assailant, she and her partner soon ram heads with the Russian mob and their decades long conspiracy. A nonstop page turner, "The Molotov Box" is quite the read.

Matt King
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432760083, $20.95,

Under the decade of eclipse, evil will flourish. "Incandescence" is a tale of the land of Lorasia, facing its decade long eclipse after fifty years of sunlight. Politics and the church seem to embroil the land as the people try to live their lives and avenge their loved ones. As two ally and face the corruption of the land, in all of the far reaching power, "Incandescence" is a fun and riveting fantasy, highly recommended.

Tears of the Mountain
John Addiego
Unbridled Books
2000 Wadsworth Blvd., #195, Lakewood, CO 80214
9781609530068, $25.95,

When American California is young, there is much to doubt with the law. "Tears of the Mountain" is a story of Jeremiah McKinley and the California of the nineteenth century, in particular, Independence Day of 1876. A story of the pioneering west and the life of those who lived there centered around a dead senator, "Tears of the Mountain" is a thoughtful period piece and mystery, making for a remarkable read.

Two Sides to the Coin
Adam Wasserman
Privately Published
Lightning Source Inc. (distributor)
1246 Heil Quaker Blvd., La Vergne, TN 37086
9781449555382, $19.99,

Gold has history as an icon of wealth and prosperity, but what of its status in the modern day? "Two Sides to the Coin: The History of Gold" delves into the precious mineral's long and storied history. Wars have been fought over it, cities have been built out of it, despite all of these years its value being mostly cosmetic with not much practical use until modern times. "Two Sides to the Coin" is a fine read with plenty of intriguing ideas and history.

The Life of the Solar Pioneer
Karl Wolfgang Boer
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450228787, $22.95,

Solar energy may just be the key to a better future for the world. "The Life of the Solar Pioneer, Karl Wolfgang Boer" is an autobiography of Karl Boer as he reflects on his own eventful life, immigrating to the United States when he was already a professor in Germany. His work with solar energy has helped the idea gather prominence and may be a key to finally weaning the world off fossil fuels. "The Life of the Solar Pioneer" is a thoughtful and recommended addition to any scientific biography collection.

The Sobering Truth
Jeff Herten
Privately Published
9780615378466, $22.95,

Even when you have it under control, it can still kill you. "The Sobering Truth: What You Don't Know Can Kill You" draws on Dr. Jeff Herten's own experiences as a high-functioning alcoholic, where it seemed he didn't let it take control of his life. But even without obvious signs of abuse, his life was slowly falling apart, and Herten warns readers that it doesn't have to be obvious to be a problem. "The Sobering Truth" is a thoughtful advisory that shouldn't be missed.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

Secrets To Die For
L.J. Sellers
Echelon Press
9735 Country Meadows Lane 1-D, Laurel, MD 20723
9781590806548, $13.99,

L.J. Sellers is a journalist, novelist, and editor who hails from Eugene, Oregon. In her spare time she is a stand-up comic, enjoys cycling, networking, attending conferences, gardening, and her family. She has won awards in her role as a journalist. SECRETS TO DIE FOR is her second Detective Wade Jackson mystery. More are in the works!

Social worker in training Raina Hughes comes from a history of abuse, which is probably why she wants to help others. Her current client lives in a trailer with his dysfunctional parents. Raina tries to visit and is threatened by the little boy's father. Unfortunately, that visit proves to be her last as she is brutally murdered on the property.

Enter Detective Wade Jackson. Jackson is appalled by the crime, being the parent of a young woman himself. He is divorced from an alcoholic, drug-seeking woman. He dives into the case and quickly connects the death with a couple of vicious rapes against lesbian women. A voice mail from an adversary in the press confirms his suspicions, and he finds an unlikely new ally:

"Sitting in his car in the parking garage next to the hospital, Jackson checked his cell phone and saw he'd missed a call. Sophie Speranza. Why wouldn't she leave him alone? He had no intention of listening to her bullshit or answering her questions. He needed to delete the message for space, so he dialed voice mail with the intention of pressing number seven as soon as her voice came on. Her opening words caught his attention and he listened to her brief message: 'I have a tip for you. Amy Hastings, Keesha Williams, and Raina Hughes are all lesbians. These were hate crimes, and you should be looking for somebody with a grudge against gay women. Call me.'"

SECRETS TO DIE FOR is highly recommended. The plot flies along; the murderer is never far from the action; characters sparkle; and we might just all learn something about hate and evil.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

The Lost City of Atlantis
Benjamin Flinders
Flinders Press
P.O. Box 3975, Burbank, CA 91508-3975
9780984395552, $10.95,

This is Book 2 of author, Benjamin Flinders series, "Traveling Trunk Adventures." In book one we met two brothers, Dallan and Ethan. Their father brought them a present, a magical trunk that takes them back in time on adventures. The first being a Pirate adventure and in this book we are taken back to the city of Atlantis.

Here we meet, Poseidon, who has had something very precious stolen from him. Our two brave brothers are determined to help him get it back, but they have no idea the dangers that are in front of them.

I liked this book. I believe it had more detail and adventure than the first one (however I liked the first one as well.) The author did a great job at keeping the pace steady and the adventure alive as the boys battled many adversaries on their journey to right a wrong. The local description was very well done, vivid and clear, as was the description of the characters that came into play.

The story brims over with imagination and zest and has quite a good ending. Nice job, recommended. I believe your children will enjoy this series.

Pirate Treasure
Traveling Trunk Adventure
Benjamin Flinders
Flinders Press
PO Box 3975 Burbank CA 91508
9780984395545, $10.95,

Ethan and Dallan are two brothers who are always ready for adventure. Their father travels a lot and always brings the boys home a present. One time, after a trip, he showed up with an old chest, one he really didn't even know why he bought it. The boys were not that impressed at first until they found out that this chest was magic and would take them on many adventures.

In this first book the boys are taken aboard a ship, a Pirate ship. It seems the Captain of this ship wasn't always a Pirate, but something happened that caused him to change his life, and not for the better. Here they almost have to walk the plank, or do they? and definitely learn some lessons in self preservation. They learn Pirate's codes, and finally are taken to the Captains home where something magical happens that changes things forever.

This was a really cute book. I liked the concept of a traveling trunk that takes children on adventures and lets them experience things. The story was fun and exciting and interesting. I also liked the illustrations of the Pirates and the ship. You are also given "Dallin's Pirate Dictionary" that has some meanings of Pirate words such as: Ahoy, Aarrgh, Brig, and so forth. Cute, cute drawings as well. This is a nice book that I believe children will enjoy the adventure.

The Duck Song
Bryant Oden
Illustrations by Forrest Whaley
Flinders Press Inc
PO Box 3975 Burbank CA 91508
978084395590, $18.95,

What a treat it was to receive this book for review, and here I am a Grandma, but who better to know what a child will love. I really did not expect the book to sing the song to me, but it did. There is a button on the front cover that you press and the story is sung for you. How cute is that? How much will children love it? On to the story.

We meet a very persistent duck who wants grapes. Each day he goes to a lemonade stand and asks for grapes and each day he is told they do not sell grapes, yet he returns. Until our lemonade seller takes matters into his own hands, but does it make a difference to the little duck? Humm! You will have to read this adorable story to find out.

Illustrations are great, big, colorful, brilliant, bold and eye catching. Not overcrowded as some children's books can be, but right.

And for an extra treat you will find a CD in the back of the book full of the cutest songs that your young one will sing and giggle along with time and time again. All in all this is one great package that any child is sure to love. Fun story, fun songs, just what the child would order. Well done. Enjoy!

Emmy Budd and the Hijacked Train
Jean Blasiar
Charles River Press, Inc.
541 Long Lane, Casper, Wyoming 82609
9781936185139, $12.95,

Emmy Budd is definitely a tomboy, one who enjoys adventure and is not willing to sit and play with dolls. She is 12 years old and the world is exciting and alive to her. Emmy meets a young boy, T.J., her same age, one who enjoys the same adventure she does and they become quick friends.

In this adventure they decide they will take a quick trip on the train to Pittsburgh, after all, they can hop on the homebound train and be back for supper. No one will ever know. Oh my! Their plans didn't work out so well as the trail ends up being hijacked and they are caught right in the middle. Now, they have information that the police need, but dare they tell them? What are they going to do?

I loved this book. It reminded me of the Nancy Drew Mysteries that I grew up with. Emmy and T.J. fit together like a comfortable pair of shoes and they are so well defined that you feel you have known them all your life. Outstanding character description. The story runs very smoothly, giving you information where needed, yet keeping you somewhat in the dark. I liked how the children needed to make their own decisions, figuring out what was right, what was wrong to do, and not to do. It was quick pace, yet laid back, nice mix.

Truly a story children will be able to get their teeth into and it will definitely hold their attention. Very well done, recommended.

Emmy Budd
Don't Look Now
Jean Blasiar
Charles River Press, Inc.
541 Long Lane, Casper, Wyoming 82609
9781936185146, $12.95,

We are off and running in this second book by author, Jean Blasiar, "Emmy Budd Don't Look Now." Emmy and TJ are ready to take on a new adventure and one comes knocking at their door. When Emmy finds a mysterious note in the phone booth and they both see a suspicious car driving up and down main street their detective hearts start pumping. But after a while they assume it wasn't that mysterious after all until the local pharmacy catches on fire and the owner had left the business in the hands of some mighty strange people. The action continues until the children find themselves smack dab in the middle of a very serious situation. Have they bitten off more than they can chew this time? I'll never tell.

Again, this is one outstanding read. It was great fun to be involved with Emmy and TJ as a new adventure began and the story kept moving along at a nice clip. The author built a lot more into this storyline, adding more characters and mystery and really bringing it to a peak. Great finish, might I add. I loved this book, it was fun, mysterious and entertaining all in one. I am proud to highly recommend it.

G.W. Frog
George W. Everett
WestBow Press
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449704438, $16.95,

Inside the pages of this delightful children's book we meet some really neat characters. We have G.W. Frog and Gerald the Grasshopper, and several more. One day they heard a strange noise and all went to investigate. As they did they came upon a very sad Lion, one who was crying. They soon found out that he was not able to do his job anymore, he was old and his teeth were gone. He could not roar, scare anyone, and he was so very sad. The animals came up with a plan to help the Lion become scary again.

I enjoyed this book. It shows children that there is a time when things, people, animals get older. This is something that none of us can stop. However, the author used the animals to show compassion and to try and help instead of teasing the old Lion. The illustrations were very well done and brought each animals character well to life. The frog was so cute and I loved the circus parade illustration. All in all a great story and a really fun book.

Alphabet Woof
Sherrie A. Madia
Illustrated by Patrick Carlson
MommyDaughter Productions
3 Woodstone Drive, Voorhees, NJ 08043
9780982618509, $18.00,

This is a wonderful book about a dog named, Moxy, and his loving family. My favorite being Aunt Mabel, a mysterious aunt who would say each time she served a meal, "This meal might just change your whole world-if you wish!" Who would have known that saying would come true as a wish was made and, Moxy, the dog, was able to talk. Would this make their life better? Now the family life really changed, more money, travel, and everyone being nice to them but was it what they really wanted. Did a talking dog bring more love and happiness to the family, or did it pull them farther apart? Humm, you will have to read this adorable book to find that out.

I really liked this story. The illustrations were so bright and colorful, showing the emotions and actions of each character perfectly with what was happening. I also loved the way it is written in rhyme. To me, this always makes a children's book warmer and more inviting. And the storyline was great, teaching a lesson along the way, ending with happiness for all involved. Great story, fun bright illustrations, a lesson taught, it just doesn't get much better than that.

Now You're Cooking
Diane M. Lynch
Diana R. Jenkins
Pauline Press
50 St. Pauls Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
9780819851673, $8.95,

Outstanding! That is the word that I simply must start this review off with. Our authors have taken a subject, cooking, and turned it into a great big grab bag of pure enjoyment. Inside the pages of this book children will find some great stories, each one bringing a great lesson of life and each followed by a recipe that the children may use. The stories and recipes represent a multi-cultural and that really gives the children a taste perhaps of more than the world around them. There is also some tips on cooking safety that all adults will be glad to see.

I have to say that this book surprised me with all that it had to offer and the way it was offered. It is definitely not boring, but upbeat and enjoyable. Many of the recipes sound yummy and they are marked at how easy or hard they are to make. This is a real winner in so many ways and I am proud to recommend this book to young and old. Enjoy.

Living Sounds Of Yesterday #1
David Van Koevering
Elsewhen Research
P.O. Box 4783, Cleveland, TN 37320
Free --

David Van Koevering is a Musicologist. He is a man who has more than knowledge about instruments and music; he is one who expresses the Spirit of God in every note that he plays. Gifted with a collection of instruments that date back many, many years, David shares with his listeners sounds that awaken the very core of our being, in his DVD, "Living Sounds of Yesterday."

David and his wife, Becky, bring forth beautiful melodies for you, the listener. The instruments played are Triple Octave Shaker Chimes, built in 1900, Musical Sleigh Bells, Four In Hand Bells, made in 1905, Musical Crystal Glasses, Benjamin Franklin's Lyre Harp, Musical Saw, Spinning Discs, Moog Theremin and David's own invention, Van Koevering Interactive Piano. I have to tell you, I sat glued to the television as they played song after song with these incredible instruments. The Moog Theremin has no strings, reeds, pipes or moving parts and is played without being touched. David merely waves his hands in the air to play a song. Incredible. You find yourself totally emerged in what you see and hear happening before you, as music seems to come from the atmosphere drawing you into its very essence. Outstanding!

I loved all that I heard, but to me the most moving instrument was, the Musical Saw. It appeared to be just a simple everyday saw, yet David played Silent Night with a cello bow that literally brought deep weeping upon me. I sat spell bound listening to this incredible sound. The realization that the Lord can take a simple saw, and place it in the hands of a devoted servant bringing forth worship to Him, was overwhelming. I was so touched that I played it for every person I could, and each time I hear it my spirit is filled with the true love of God. There has not been one person who heard this saw played that did not go away shaking their heads in amazement and awe. Who would have ever imagined that a simple saw could produce such deep spiritual beauty . What an awakening.

David also shares information on the instruments that you will find very interesting. However, the bottom-line is the presence of God! You will enjoy this anointed music that will bring life to your Spirit, and a true realization that indeed all things created are to be used for God's Glory.

This is a wonderful DVD. A must have for all music lovers and for lovers of God. Highly recommended. Thank you David and Becky for sharing your hearts and your God given talents.

David Van Koevering
Elsewhen Research
P.O. Box 4783, Cleveland, TN 37320

David Van Koevering, author of this work, is President and Founder of Elsewhen Research. Mr. Van Koevering together with, Dr. Bob Moog, presented to the world the first music synthesizers. His life achievements are impressive and astounding. I like how Mr. Van Koevering explains his work and I quote from his book, "Founder of Elsewhen Research is a non-profit corporation that is committed to serving our culture with scientific information that explains what the Bible claims." The Bible and science hand in hand? Could it be? I simply had to have his books/DVD's/CD's, and see for myself why many in the Body of Christ were racing to have his material. I was not disappointed.

In this book you will begin to understand some of the mechanics of Quantum physics and how this relates to the Bible. Wait! Don't be turned off here, this is perhaps the most exciting breakthrough you will ever have as a Christian. Our author carefully brings it down to a level where it is understandable to the common person, like me. This is not a New-age teaching, but one based firmly on scientific information that backs up what God says in His Word. I found it amazing.

You will learn how the speed of light has and still is slowing down and why. You will learn that matter has memory and even the ring you wear on your finger is recording every word you say, and you will be given the Scripture in the Bible to back up that fact. Perhaps for the first time you will truly understand why it is important for you to be careful what you speak, and what you observe, and to truly know why you should see what God sees for you, your life and your future. You will realize you have an assignment and why it was so important for Jesus to send the Holy Spirit to us.

I found this information mind-boggling as I devoured page after page of this outstanding teaching. Now understand, at least to me, it was not a book I could read through just one time and be able to contain all the information in it. I have gone back over it again and again and each time another revelation sparks within my spirit. It is a life-giving book, one that continues to give and give each time you read it. Amazing! David presents this subject matter in an understandable way and leaves you yearning to know more. God's kiss of approval is upon it as the Holy Spirit awakens your Spirit to the truths within.

As a Christian I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. However, it is not just for Christians but for anyone who wants to understand their existence, their purpose in life and to get some answers to the many questions within them, concerning the entire concept of the world we live in. David's teaching has certainly grabbed my attention and I devour all material from him that I can get my hands on. Excellent teaching from an excellent teacher. Highly recommended reading, in one word, exceptional!

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Waking Up Emily
K. Patrick Bonovich
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432756482, $17.95,

Working to save lives can be draining, and a little humor can go a long way to keeping the spirits up. "Waking Up Emily: Antics and Inspiration While Patients Sleep" is drawn from K. Patrick Bonovich's own four decades as a physician working with his staff to assist their patents and provide care. A fascinating look at the care givers and their daily trials and tribulations, "Waking Up Emily" is a heart felt pick, very highly recommended.

The Wise Old Gnome Speaks
James W. Smith
Privately Published
9781449561666, $16.95

Gardening is about more than a pretty package. "The Wise Old Gnome Speaks: How to Really, Really, Really Care About Your Garden" is a guide to practical gardening from James W. Smith as he seeks to give readers advice on how to get their gardening done to a more complete and full extent of one's ability in gardening. With tips on everything from managing to what you plant to the types of water used to dealing with pests, "The Wise Old Gnome Speaks" is a gardening guide for those want a good and functional garden, and will worry about making it pretty later.

The Foundling
Alexander Goldstein
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781426914676, $46.72

Buddhism is not a faith of the system, it is a faith of the individual. "The Foundling" is a novel of three individuals looking for their own place in Ch'an, also known as Zen in Japanese. These three's path to enlightenment is by no means a traditional understanding, yet their search is ever the more intriguing. A novel presented as the lost historical records of these three monks, "The Foundling" is a thoughtful and thought provoking read.

The Wild Mustard Greens
C.W. Eagle
Vantage Press
419 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016
9780533162253, $23.95,

For much of the early twentieth century, the west offered opportunity to get by. "The Wild Mustard Greens" tells the story of Zarco and his family of migrant laborers. But when the great depression comes, Zarco's future is in jeopardy in this tale of being a migrant during the crushing times of the depression. "The Wild Mustard Greens" is a thoughtful and thought provoking read, very highly recommended.

Inside the Shadow of the Black Hand
Gary Marchese
Vantage Press, Inc.
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533162352, $11.95,

The Call of revolution barreled Europe into its first great war. "Inside the Shadow of the Black Hand" is the second book of Gary Marchese's novels leading up to the outbreak of World War I. With plenty of ties to history and exciting characters and narrative, "Inside the Shadow of the Black Hand" is a novel that historical fiction lovers will relish and enjoy.

The Year 2012 Ushers in the Age of Fire
Merrill K. Albert
Vantage Press, Inc.
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533162895, $19.95,

As the world falls into shambles, the tribe of Antarctica may be the last survivors. "The Year 2012 Ushers in the Age of Fire, and Other Short Stories" is a collection of stories based on a coming apocalypse and the actions of a Polynesian tribe preparing for such a future. Thoughtful reading for metaphysical and nature-enthused readers, "The Year 2012 Ushers in the Age of Fire" may be quite the read.

Dare, The Long Ride
Don Hopkins
Vantage Press, Inc.
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533162222, $13.95,

The allure of the west drew many out, unknowing of what they were getting in to. "Dare, the Long Ride" is a western following Dell, who embarks on a journey and finds that the west isn't as glorious as it would seem. Dell's travels are of classic western style, and will make "Dare, the Long Ride" a fun and exciting read that western fans will love.

Sherrard C. Foster
Vantage Press, Inc.
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161379, $23.95,

When two friendships are put against each other, the heart is torn. "Afterthoughts" tells the story of Suzanne Douglas, a woman trying to piece together her life after failed relationships and as she becomes stuck in a murder investigation where she knows much that she doesn't wish to reveal. A riveting story of friendship, honor, and mystery, "Afterthoughts" is a fine read, solidly recommended for mystery fans.

John Taylor

Vicki's Bookshelf

The Limit
Kristen Landon
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781442402737, $15.99,

"An eighth grade girl was taken today . . ." With this first sentence, readers are immediately thrust into a fast-paced thriller that doesn't let up for a moment. In a world not too far removed from our own, kids are being taken away to special workhouses if their families exceed the monthly debt limit imposed by the government. Thirteen-year-old Matt briefly wonders if he might be next, but quickly dismisses the thought. After all, his parents are financially responsible, unlike the parents of those other kids. As long as his parents remain within their limit, the government will be satisfied and leave them alone. But all it takes is one fatal visit to the store to push Matt's family over their limit -- and to change his reality forever.

Alan Silberberg
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416994305, $12.99,

"Milo" is the funny and poignant story, told through text and cartoons, of a 13-year-old boy's struggle to come to terms with the loss that hit the reset button on his life. Loveable geek Milo Cruikshank finds reasons for frustration at every turn, like people who carve Halloween pumpkins way too soon (the pumpkins just rot and get lopsided) or the fact that the girl of his dreams, Summer, barely acknowledges his existence while next-door neighbor Hilary won't leave him alone. The truth is -- ever since Milo's mother died nothing has gone right. Now, instead of the kitchen being full of music, his whole house has been filled with Fog. Nothing's the same. Not his Dad. Not his sister. And definitely not him. In love with the girl he sneezed on the first day of school and best pals with Marshall, the "One Eyed Jack" of friends, Milo copes with being the new kid (again) as he struggles to survive a school year that is filled with reminders of what his life "used to be."

Totally Lame Vampire
Tim Collins, Andrew Pinder
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781442411838, $12.99,

"Diary of a Wimpy Kid" meets "Twilight" in this hilarious and sweet high-concept story. Nigel Mullet isn't your typical teenager: he's a vampire, of course. But unfortunately, when Nigel transformed, he didn't become all broody and interesting, and as for super strength and speed, well, forget it. Nigel got acne, a voice that squeaks, a tendency to break out in a rash (not sparkles) when exposed to the sun, and still had absolutely no idea how to talk to girls. Nigel just may be the first and only lame vampire on record. When a beautiful new girls comes to school, Nigel is determined to impress her... and he will... eventually. But until he can win the girl and the respect of his family, Nigel will just be utterly lame.

Just Dad and Me
American Girl editors
American Girl
8400 Fairway Place, Middleton, Wisconsin 53562
9781593696696, $10.95,

American Girl has established it's stores, restaurants, and product lines - dolls, toys, books and clothing - as the queen of girls' retail and the apple of moms' eyes. Girl-centric in every way, the wholesome company and its goods has justifiably earned its place at the center of nearly every living, breathing American girl. But poor dad has been left out of the fun. "Just Dad and Me" is the first real attempt by venerable American Girl, to create a bonding experience between father and daughter. It's simple enough to appeal to both too - an activity book that engages both youngster and fathers allergic to tea parties and doll dress-up games. "Just Dad and Me" is full of quizzes, car games and story starters that get fun conversations going. Tear-out notes and gift coupons make things personal. Punch-out paper airplanes and helicopters get things moving. Checklists test participants' knowledge of each other and helps them get to know each other better. It's a great start that will hopefully lead to more American Girl opportunities to include dad in their daughters' special growing-up years. For ages 7 to 10.

Hope Larson
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416935858, $19.99,

August 31, 5:15 PM, French Hill, Nova Scotia: A girl named Tara is running. She runs through her nice neighborhood and up a road to the burned ruins of what was once a beautiful house--her family's house. August 31, 1859, French Hill, Nova Scotia: A girl named Josey is picking blackberries with her friend Connie. As the girls gossip, a handsome stranger knocks on the door of Josey's house. His name is Asa, and with his coming, Josey's life -- and later in time, Tara's as well -- is about to change forever. Because there is treasure in the woods that belong to Josey's family. Gold -- an untold fortune. Asa has a secret way of finding it, and his partnership with Josey's father could make them all rich. But there is darkness in the woods, and in Asa. And in the present day, Tara, Josey's descendent, is about to discover the truth about what really happened in the family's past. Eisner award winner Hope Larson weaves together history, romance, and a touch of her trademark magical realism in this remarkable graphic novel of how the past haunts a teenage girl's present.

Janne Teller
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416985792, $16.99,

"Nothing matters." "From the moment you are born, you start to die." "The Earth is 4.6 billion years old. You'll live to be a maximum of one hundred. Life isn't worth the bother!" So says Pierre Anthon when he decides that there is no meaning to life, leaves the classroom, climbs a plum tree, and stays there. His friends and classmates cannot get him to come down, not even by pelting him with rocks. So to prove to him that there is a meaning to life, they set out to build a heap of meaning in an abandoned sawmill. But it soon becomes obvious that each person cannot give up what is most meaningful, so they begin to decide for one another what the others must give up. The pile is started with a lifetime's collection of Dungeons & Dragons books, a fishing rod, a pair of green sandals, a pet hamster -- but then, as each demand becomes more extreme, things start taking a very morbid twist, and the kids become ever more desperate to get Pierre Anthon down. And what if, after all these sacrifices, the pile is not meaningful enough? "A Lord of the Flies" for the twenty-first century, "Nothing" by Janne Teller is a visionary existential novel -- about everything, and nothing -- that will haunt its teen readers.

Keepers of the School: We The Children (Book 1)
Andrew Clements
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416938866, $14.00,

Benjamin Pratt's school is about to become the site of a new amusement park. It sounds like a dream come true! But lately, Ben has been wonder if he's going to like an amusement park in the middle of his town - with all the buses and traffic and eight dollar slices of pizza. It's going to change everything. And, Ben is not so big on all the new changes in his life, like how his dad has moved out and started living in the marina on what used to be the "family" sailboat. Maybe it would be nice if the school just stayed as it is. He likes the school. Loves it, actually. It's over 200 years old and sits right on the harbor. The playground has ocean breezes and the classrooms have million dollar views... million dollar views. And after a chance -- and final -- run-in with the school janitor, Ben starts to discover that these million dollar views have a lot to do with the deal to sell the school property. But, as much as the town wants to believe it, the school does not belong to the local government. It belongs to the children and these children have the right to defend it! Don't think Ben, his friend Jill (and the tag-along Robert) can ruin a multimillion dollar real estate deal? Then you don't know the history and the power of the Keepers of the School. A suspenseful six book series, book one, "We the Children," starts the battle on land and on sea. It's a race to keep the school from turning into a ticket booth and these kids are about to discover just how threatening a little knowledge can be.

The Boss Baby
Marla Frazee
Beach Lane
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781442401679, $16.99,

"From the moment the baby arrived, it was obvious that he was the boss." The boss baby is used to getting his way -- drinks made to order 24/7, his private jet plane, and meetings around the clock. But when his demands aren't getting proper responses, he has to go to new lengths to achieve the attention the bossy baby thinks he deserves. Marla Frazee brings her signature wit and humor -- along with adorable illustrations -- to a book that explores the effect of one family's very unusual new arrival. A brilliantly satirical picture book made to order for new parents. A must-have gift for every baby shower.

Good Behavior
Nathan L. Henry
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781599904719, $17.99,

Jailed at age sixteen for armed robbery, Nathan Henry was the kind of teenager most parents and teachers have nightmares about. His crime was the culmination of a life lived on the edge: guns and drugs, sex and violence, all set against the ordinary backdrop of a one-stop light town in rural Illinois. Nate's personal history is both disturbing and fascinating. A rough childhood becomes adolescence full of half-realized violent fantasies that slowly build to the breaking point. But these scenes alternate with chapters about Nate's time in jail, where through reading and reflection he comes to see that his life can be different from all he's known up to this point. Nathan's story of his year in jail and the life that led him there combine to create a powerful portrait of an American youth gone bad -- and a moving story of redemption. A must-read for fans of intense, gritty teen memoirs like "Tweak" and "The Burn Journals."

Lucy Christopher
Chicken House
c/o Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545170932, $17.99,

Gemma, 16, is on layover at Bangkok Airport, en route with her parents to a vacation in Vietnam. She steps away for just a second, to get a cup of coffee. Ty - rugged, tan, too old, oddly familiar - pays for Gemma's drink. And drugs it. They talk. Their hands touch. And before Gemma knows what's happening, Ty takes her. Steals her away. The unknowing object of a long obsession, Gemma has been kidnapped by her stalker and brought to the desolate Australian Outback. "Stolen" is her gripping story of survival, of how she has to come to terms with her living nightmare -- or die trying to fight it. For older teens due to sexual nature - parental guidance is recommended.

The Cardturner
Louis Sachar
Delacorte Press
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780385736626, $17.99,

From Louis Sachar, New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Newbery Medal for HOLES, comes the young adult novel THE CARDTURNER, an exploration of the human condition. How are we supposed to be partners? He can't see the cards and I don't know the rules. The summer after junior year of high school looks bleak for Alton Richards. His girlfriend has dumped him to hook up with his best friend. He has no money and no job. His parents insist that he drive his great-uncle Lester to his bridge club four times a week and be his cardturner - whatever that means. Alton's uncle is old, blind, very sick, and very rich. But Alton's parents aren't the only ones trying to worm their way into Lester Trapp's good graces. They're in competition with his longtime housekeeper, his alluring young nurse, and the crazy Castaneda family, who seem to have a mysterious influence over him. Alton soon finds himself intrigued by his uncle, by the game of bridge, and especially by the pretty and shy Toni Castaneda. As the summer goes on, he struggles to figure out what it all means, and ultimately to figure out the meaning of his own life. Through Alton's wry observations, Louis Sachar explores the disparity between what you know and what you think you know. With his incomparable flair and inventiveness, he examines the elusive differences between perception and reality -- and inspires readers to think and think again.

Dinosaurs Eye to Eye
John Woodward
375 Hudson St., NY, NY, 10014
9780756657604, $19.99,

Get a prey's-eye view of a fearsome Allosaurus, take a too-close-for-comfort look at an Oviraptor's bone-crushing jaws, and see what it would be like to soar, wing-to-wing, with a flock of Pterodactylus. Providing a zoomed-in encounter with dozens of the most incredible creatures ever to walk, stalk, swim, or fly across the prehistoric planet, "Dinosaurs Eye to Eye," by John Woodward and the editorial and art staff of DK Publishing, is packed with awesome imagery that brings children face-to-face with dinosaurs and other phenomenal prehistoric creatures. DK is an old hat at creating some of the most colorful

The Most Brilliant Boldly Going Book of Exploration Ever
Peter Chrisp
375 Hudson St., NY, NY, 10014
9780756662905, $16.99,

The Brainwaves are back - those fascinating little characters that populate the nonfiction books by Peter Chrisp and illustrators Lisa Swerling and Ralph Lazar. This time they're making a lightheartedly funny, punny commentary on the history of world exploration. "The Most Brilliant Boldly Going Book of Exploration Ever" is, as advertised, a bold and brilliant guide to geography and history all at once because of the fun, easy-to understand way the material is presented by the silly, leotard-clad Brainwaves. Readers will follow these quirk characters around the globe on a full-throttle adventure, stopping off at Henry the Navigator's sailing school, following the Silk Road with Marco Polo, searching for gold in South America, and playing chutes and ladders with legendary traveler Ibn Battuta. Following in the same whimsical format as the award-winning "How Nearly Everything Was Invented," "How the Incredible Human Body Works, "The Most Fantastic Atlas of the Whole Wide World", "The Most Explosive Science Book in the Universe," and "The Greatest Intergalactic Guide to Space Ever," this new Brainwaves adventure also contains mind-blowing and hysterical artwork - teeming with these tiny wise-cracking characters - in an ingenious and completely innovative way.

This World We Live In
Susan Beth Pfeffer
Harcourt Inc.
215 Park Ave. South, NY, NY 10003
9780547248042, $17.00,

It's been a year since a meteor collided with the moon, catastrophically altering the earth's climate. For Miranda Evans, life as she knew it no longer exists. Her friends and neighbors are dead, the landscape is frozen, and food is increasingly scarce. The struggle to survive intensifies when Miranda's father and stepmother arrive with a baby and three strangers in tow. One of the newcomers is Alex Morales, and as Miranda's complicated feelings for him turn to love, his plans for his future thwart their relationship. Then a devastating tornado hits the town of Howell, and Miranda makes a decision that will change their lives forever. The apocalyptic-vibe of "This World We Live In" will strongly resonate with teen readers coping with the realities of our current environmental meltdown and their family's personal stress in this recessionary economy.

Palazzo Inverso
D.B. Johnson
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
9780547239996, $17.00,

In this playful story inspired by the impossible buildings of the artist M.C. Escher, Mauk's master is building a grand Palazzo. When something strange and wonderful happens, Mauk is catapulted into a topsy-turvy world. Carpenters stand on their heads, painters dangle upside down, and workers fall up stairs as they build. For all the confusion, the Master blames his apprentice. But how can this be Mauk's fault? He only sharpens the Master's pencils. D. B. Johnson's latest picture book, "Palazzo Inverso," is one of his most imaginative yet, and is a book well-worth seeking out to engage young minds. Hopefully the sophisticated pallet of greys won't discourage picture book readers more accustomed to bright, bold colors of most books in the genre for young readers.

Red Glass
Laura Resau
Listening Library
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780739379769, $45.00,

One night Sophie and her parents are called to a hospital where Pedro, 6-year-old Mexican boy, is recovering from dehydration. Crossing the border into Arizona with a group of Mexicans and a coyote, or guide, Pedro and his parents faced such harsh conditions that the boy is the only survivor. Pedro comes to live with Sophie, her parents, and Sophie's Aunt Dika, a refugee of the war in Bosnia. Sophie loves Pedro -- her Principito, or Little Prince. But after a year, Pedro's surviving family in Mexico makes contact, and Sophie, Dika, Dika's new boyfriend, and his son must travel with Pedro to his hometown so that he can make a heart-wrenching decision. This unabridged audio book version of author Laura Resau's "Red Glass" is beautifully presented in this unabridged, 8-hour edition, read aloud by Emma Bering.

Ellen Hopkins
Margaret K. McElderry Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416950097, $18.99,

Hunter, Autumn, and Summer -- three of Kristina Snow's five children -- live in different homes, with different guardians and different last names. They share only a predisposition for addiction and a host of troubled feelings toward the mother who barely knows them, a mother who has been riding with the monster, crank, for twenty years. Hunter is nineteen, angry, getting by in college with a job at a radio station, a girlfriend he loves in the only way he knows how, and the occasional party. He's struggling to understand why his mother left him, when he unexpectedly meets his rapist father, and things get even more complicated. Autumn lives with her single aunt and alcoholic grandfather. When her aunt gets married, and the only family she's ever known crumbles, Autumn's compulsive habits lead her to drink. And the consequences of her decisions suggest that there's more of Kristina in her than she'd like to believe. Summer doesn't know about Hunter, Autumn, or their two youngest brothers, Donald and David. To her, family is only abuse at the hands of her father's girlfriends and a slew of foster parents. Doubt and loneliness overwhelm her, and she, too, teeters on the edge of her mother's notorious legacy. As each searches for real love and true family, they find themselves pulled toward the one person who links them together -- Kristina, Bree, mother, addict. But it is in each other, and in themselves, that they find the trust, the courage, the hope to break the cycle. Told in three voices and punctuated by news articles chronicling the family's story, "Fallout" is the stunning conclusion to the trilogy begun by "Crank" and "Glass," and a testament to the harsh reality that addiction is never just one person's problem. It's evil, and I have a feeling author Ellen Hopkins' personal opinion of crack has something to do with the fact that the book is 666 pages long.

Charlie Bone and the Red Knight
Jenny Nimmo
Orchard Books
c/o Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780439846721, $12.99,

Charlie and his friends take on the most powerful and dangerous magic in Book Eight of Jenny Nimmo's "Charlie Bone" action-packed adventure series for middle grade readers. As wicked forces come to a head at Bloor's Academy, Charlie and his friends must use all their magic and all their might to fight the evil and save Charlie's parents. In his greatest adventure yet, Charlie must discover the fate of his family, the evil intentions of the Bloors, what has become of Septimus Bloor's will, and, most important, the destiny of the Red King's heirs. But are the Children of the Red King strong enough to defeat the darkness to find the answers? Join Charlie and his friends as they race to unlock the mystery of the Red King in this final chapter.

Shan Correa
Peachtree Publishers
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781561455263, $15.95,

Paul Silva lives in a magical place -- on a farm high in the hills of a lush, green Hawaiian island, where his disabled father raises, trains, and doctors to roosters cockfighting intended for cockfighting. The family business sickens Paul, but it's the only way his family can continue to live in the place he loves. Eventually, he must realize that being a "man" goes beyond wielding the power to hurt people and animals, and meet the tests of making decisions in a real world, which is far from a paradise. As a coming of age story (for ages 9-12), "Gaff" by Shan Correa is elevated by it's unusual setting and atypical family struggles.

And Then Everything Unraveled
Jennifer Sturman
c/o Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545087230, $16.99,

The protagonist of "And Then Everything Unraveled," Delia Truesdale, has no idea her life's about to change forever. She's too busy enjoying the California summer. Her internet tycoon mother, T.K. Truesdale, is out of town, and that means Delia can spend all her time at the beach, surfing. That is, until everything unravels. Her mother suddenly goes missing, and everyone thinks she's dead -- except Delia, who knows T.K.'s way too organized to simply disappear. But Delia's still sent to New York to live with her two aunts -- a downtown bohemian and an uptown ice queen. And in case that's not bad enough, she also has to deal with a snooty new school and trying not to fall for the wrong guy. Oh, and finding her mother. As she delves deeper into the tangle of conspiracies and lies surrounding T.K.'s disappearance, Delia begins to suspect that the wrong guy may be the right guy...and that some secrets -- especially the dangerous ones -- were never meant to be unraveled.

Scarlett Fever
Maureen Johnson
c/o Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545253307, $16.99,

Ever since Mrs. Amberson, the former-aspiring-actress-turned-agent, entered Scarlett Martin's life, nothing has been the same. She's still in charge of the Empire Suite in her family's hotel, but she's now also Mrs. Amberson's assistant, running around town for her star client, Chelsea - a Broadway star Scarlett's age with a knack for making her feel insignificant. Scarlett's also trying to juggle sophomore year classes, her lab partner who is being just a little too nice, and getting over the boy who broke her heart. In the midst of all this, her parents drop a bombshell that threatens to change her New York life forever.

You Are Not Here
Samantha Schutz
c/o Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545169110, $17.99,

Annaleah and Brian shared something special -- Annaleah is sure of it. When they were together, they didn't need anyone else. It didn't matter that their relationship was secret. All that mattered was what they had with each other. And then, out of nowhere, Brian dies. And while everyone else has their role in the grieving process, Annaleah finds herself living outside of it, unacknowledged and lonely. How can you recover from a loss that no one will let you have? Told in verse, "You Are Not Here" is a novel and memoir all at once, which makes it all the more moving. Author Samantha Schutz bravely reveals her personal struggle with anxiety disorder in a heartbreakingly honest and, hopefully, therapeutic way that affected teens will recognize and latch onto.

Deborah Wiles
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545106054, $17.99,

It's 1962, and it seems everyone is living in fear. Twelve-year-old Franny Chapman lives with her family in Washington, DC, during the days surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis. Amidst the pervasive threat of nuclear war, Franny must face the tension between herself and her younger brother, figure out where she fits in with her family, and look beyond outward appearances. For Franny, as for all Americans, it's going to be a formative year. "Countdown," by "Each Little Bird That Sings" author Deborah Wiles, is a unique coming-of-age story set vividly in the turbulent 1960s thanks to the book's fascinating "documentary novel" format. "Countdown" is the first of three planned novels set in the '60s, and I count the days until their publication.

The Dreamer
Pam Munoz Ryan, Peter Sis
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780439269704, $17.99,

From the time he is a young boy, Neftalí hears the call of a mysterious voice. Even when the neighborhood children taunt him, and when his harsh, authoritarian father ridicules him, and when he doubts himself, Neftalí knows he cannot ignore the call. Under the canopy of the lush rain forest, into the fearsome sea, and through the persistent Chilean rain, he listens and he follows. . . Combining elements of magical realism with biography, poetry, literary fiction, and sensorial, transporting illustrations, Pam Muñoz Ryan and Peter Sís take readers on a rare journey of the heart and imagination.

The Keys to the Kingdom: Lord Sunday
Garth Nix
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545278980, $17.99,

Seven days. Seven keys. Seven virtues. Seven sins. In this thrilling conclusion to Garth Nix's best-selling "Keys to the Kingdom" series, Arthur Penhaligon must complete his quest to confront Lord Sunday, save the Kingdom he is heir to, and to save his own world. The house is falling apart, and when it is destroyed, all existence will be destroyed with it. Arthur Penhaligon and his friends Leaf and Suzy are caught in the chaos, separated by events but drawn together in their fight to survive. They must use every power at their disposal - magical or practical - to defeat the enemies attacking them from all sides. On Monday, Arthur Penhaligon was just an ordinary boy thrust into an extraordinary situation. From Tuesday to Saturday, he emerged as the Rightful Heir to the Architect who created everything within the House. Now, on Sunday, he will face a choice of astonishing proportions - the remarkable conclusion to a completely unforeseen adventure.

Maggie Stiefvater
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545283168, $17.99,

In Maggie Stiefvater's hit young adult novel "Shiver," Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole. At turns harrowing and euphoric, "Linger" is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love -- the light and the dark, the warm and the cold - in a way that is difficult to forget.

Suzanne Collins
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780439023511, $17.99,

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena alive, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what's worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss's family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, "Mockingjay" -- the thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins's groundbreaking "The Hunger Games" trilogy does not disappoint. The fast-moving action and deepening drama of the first two books continues as loose strings are tied up most satisfyingly for a riveting conclusion that will certainly make "Mockingjay" one of the most talked about books of the year.

Rose Sees Red
Cecil Castellucci
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545283205, $17.99,

Set in New York in the 1980s, "Rose Sees Red" by Cecil Castellucci is the story of two ballet dancers (one American, one Russian) recounts the unforgettable night they spend in the city, and celebrates the friendship they form despite their cultural and political differences. Rose has given up on friendship, on happiness, and on life being anything but black.

Star Crossed
Elizabeth C. Bunce
c/o Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545136051, $17.99,

16-year-old Digger thrives as a spy & sneak-thief among the feuding religious factions of Gerse. But when a routine job goes horribly wrong and her partner & lover Tegen is killed, she disguises herself in a group of young nobles & sneaks out of the city. Accepted as a lady-in-waiting at the stronghold of the powerful Nemair, she finds new peace & friendship (and some new targets). But when an old client from the city comes to the castle, she realizes her hosts may be planning the ultimate uprising against the king - & rather than true peace, she may be at the heart of the rebellion.

The Gentleman Bug
Julian Hector
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416994671, $16.99,

The Gentleman Bug is perfectly content leading his quiet life in the garden as a school teacher and bookworm. He doesn't even mind the ceaseless teasing of the more dapper bugs. But everything changes when the Lady Bug arrives in town. The Gentleman Bug falls legs over antennae for her at first sight. But how will he get her to notice him? After a series of mishaps and a failed Victorian makeover, the Gentleman Bug learns that love (and a love of literature) trumps all, as he wins his fair Librarian Lady Bug's heart.

Olivia Goes to Venice
Ian Falconer
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416996743, $17.99,

"Olivia Goes to Venice" is the irrepressible piglet's first brand new adventure in three years, and it's a trip worth waiting for. Traveling on a family vacation to beautiful Venice, Italy, Olivia takes her discerning eye for style and wry commentary. They hit all the most photogenic tourist spots - which is apropos since author-illustrator Ian Falconer chose to layer his loose character drawings on top of stock photography. Never one to shy from an adventure, Olivia's hijinks include dodging pigeons in the Piazza San Marco, gorging on gelato (again and again), and barely staying afloat in a gondola. When she decides on an ill-advised souvenir from her trip, things start to crumble humorously. Venice will definitely never be the same after Olivia's visit.

Balancing Act
Ellen Stoll Walsh
Beach Lane
c/o Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781442407572, $16.99,

Two mice make a teeter-totter. They're balancing just fine, but then along comes a frog. Can they make room for one more friend on their teeter-totter? What about two? What about more? But then a big bird comes along and wants to play too. Better watch out! "Balancing Act" is another charming picture book for pre-readers (ages 1-5) from Ellen Stoll Walsh, the creator of the clever "Mouse Shapes."

The Hollow / The Haunted
Jessica Verday
Blackstone Audiobooks
P.O. Box 969, Ashland OR 97520
9781441751966 (Hollow), 97814417595426 (Haunted);
$105.00, 10 CDs (Hollow), $29.95, 9 CDs (Haunted)

The first two books in Jessica Verday's "Hollow" trilogy are now available in unabridged audio book versions. In book one, "The Hollow," Abbey's best friend, Kristen, vanishes at the bridge near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, and everyone else is all too quick to accept that Kristen is dead while rumors fly that her death was no accident. Abbey goes through the motions of mourning her best friend, but privately, she refuses to believe that Kristen is really gone. Then she meets Caspian, the gorgeous and mysterious boy who shows up out of nowhere at Kristen's funeral, and keeps reappearing in Abbey's life. Caspian clearly has secrets of his own, but he's the only person who makes Abbey feel normal again...but also special. Just when Abbey starts to feel that she might survive all this, she learns a secret that makes her question everything she thought she knew about her best friend. How could Kristen have kept silent about so much? And could this secret have led to her death? As Abbey struggles to understand Kristen's betrayal, she uncovers a frightening truth that nearly unravels her one that will challenge her emerging love for Caspian, as well as her own sanity. Book two, "The Haunted," follows Abbey's summer spent reclaiming her sanity and trying to forget the boy she fell in love with - the boy who must not exist, cannot exist, because she knows that he is dead. Abbey returns to Sleepy Hollow, ready to leave the ghosts of her past behind. She throws herself into her schoolwork, her perfume-making, and her friendship with Ben, her cute and funny lab partner, who just might be her ticket to getting over Caspian once and for all. But Abbey can never get over Caspian, and Caspian has no choice but to return to her side, for Caspian is a Shade, and Abbey is his destiny. They are tied not only to each other, but also to the town of Sleepy Hollow, and to the famous legend that binds their fates -- a legend whose dark truths they are only beginning to guess.

My Shoes and I
Rene Colato Lainez, Fabricio Vanden Broeck
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church St., Honesdale, Penn. 18431
9781590783856, $16.95,

"My Shoes and I" by writer Rene Colato Lainez and illustrator Fabricio Vanden Broeck is a timely and inspiring picture book story. Mario is leaving his home in El Salvador. With his father by his side, he is going north to join his mother, who lives in the United States. She has sent Mario a new pair of shoes. He will need good shoes because the journey north will be long and hard. He and his father will cross the borders of three countries. They will walk for miles, ride buses, climb mountains, and cross a river. Mario has faith in his shoes. He believes they will take him anywhere. On this day, they will take him to the United States, where his family will be reunited.

The Fool's Girl
Celia Rees
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781599904863, $16.99,

Young and beautiful Violetta may be of royal blood, but her kingdom is in shambles when she arrives in London on a mysterious mission. Her journey has been long and her adventures many, but it is not until she meets the playwright William Shakespeare that she gets to tell the entire story from beginning to end. Violetta and her comic companion, Feste, have come in search of an ancient holy relic that the evil Malvolio has stolen from their kingdom. But where will their remarkable quest -- and their most unusual story -- lead? In classic Celia Rees style, it is an engrossing journey, full of political intrigue, danger, and romance. This original story is spun from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, and includes both folly and suspense that would make the Bard proud.

Too Pickley!
Jean Reidy, Genevieve Leloup
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781599903095, $11.99,

"Too wrinkly, too squishy, too fruity, too fishy!" Too picky, is more like it. In this picture book sequel to "Too Purpley!" our fussy little boy protagonist sits down for lunch but, of course, does not like a single item on his plate. What is a boy to eat? Author Jean Reidy's playful rhyming text is once again brought to life by Genevieve Leloup's stylish bold art. Parents (and children) will love the hilarious antics the boy goes through, and the reassuring joy at the end of all that kitchen-table drama.

What Momma Left Me
Renee Watson
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781599904467, $16.99,

How is it that unsavory raw ingredients come together to form a delicious cake? What is it about life that when you take all the hard stuff and rough stuff and add in a lot of love, you still just might have a wonderful life? For Serenity, these questions rise up early when her father kills her mother, and leaves her and her brother Danny to live with their kind but strict grandparents. Despite the difficulties of a new school, a new church, and a new neighborhood, Serenity gains strength from the family around her, the new friends she finds, and her own careful optimism. Debut author Renee Watson's talent shines in this powerful and ultimately uplifting novel.

Heart to Heart
Lurlene McDaniel
Delacorte Press
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780385734608, $12.99,

From Lurlene McDaniel, the bestselling author of young adult inspirational fiction, comes "Heart to Heart." This emotionally charged novel explores loss, love, renewal, and the ways in which these complex bonds within families and between friends are tested at life's most challenging moments. Elowyn Eden and Kassey Messechek are best friends. They share every aspect of their lives. But one thing Elowyn has not yet shared with Kassey is that she checked the organ donor box on her newly acquired driver's license. Kassey only learns of this in a startling and devastating way - when Elowyn's life-giving donor wishes are about to be honored. Arabeth St. Clair has not had the luck to have a best friend. Due to her diseased heart, she's led a sheltered life. When Arabeth is sixteen, she and her mother receive the call that will change their lives -- but they don't know to whom they should be forever grateful. When the worlds of these three girls and their families intersect, lives are changed in ways never imagined. Most especially, it is Kassey who sees things differently, for she can keep alive the memory of her dear friend by sharing the renewed life of another teenage girl, while helping to ease the pain of the two families involved and coming to terms with her own.

The Children's Baking Book
Denise Smart
375 Hudson St., NY, NY, 10014
9780756657888, $17.99,

With easy-to-follow step by step instructions sure to inspire children to bake up brownies, breads, pastries, muffins, cookies, cakes, and more, "The Children's Baking Book" features more than fifty recipes guaranteed to stir any baker. Full-color photos of each tasty dish help kids understand what to do, and make it even easier to follow the fun recipes. With twists on old favorites and delicious new ideas, tips and advice on preparation and cooking, "The Children's Baking Book" will help budding chefs become brilliant bakers.

Smithsonian Natural History
Dorling Kindersley Editors
375 Hudson St., NY, NY, 10014
9780756667528, $55.00,

A landmark in reference publishing and overseen and authenticated by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, "Natural History" presents an unrivaled visual survey of Earth's natural history. Giving a clear overview of the classification of our natural world-over 6,000 species, "Natural History" looks at every kingdom of life, from bacteria, minerals, and rocks to fossils to plants and animals. Featuring a remarkable array of specially commissioned photographs, "Natural History" studies thousands of specimens and species displayed in visual galleries that take the reader on an incredible journey from the most fundamental building blocks of the world's landscapes, through the simplest of life forms, to plants, fungi, and animals. A must-have reference title for every library shelf.

This Book Made Me Do It
John Woodward
375 Hudson St., NY, NY, 10014
9780756668815, $19.99,

Brush up on your know-how by doing, making, and exploring just about everything! Activities come in all shapes and sizes, and this book shows you an incredible variety of them, from panning for gold to doing the Moonwalk. Ever wanted to fold origami, tie-dye a T-shirt, or slam-dunk a basketball like a pro? Interested in creating a homemade bird feeder or a flashlight that runs on candy? "This Book Made Me Do It" by John Woodward and several contributing writers, shows you how to do all of this and more! Perfect for budding artists, scientists, sports stars, and chefs, these step-by-step projects will provide hours of educational fun, whether you're looking for a long-term hobby, or just a way to spend a rainy day.

Animals Around the World
Deborah Chancellor, Anthony Lewis
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780753464069, $12.99,

With warm and friendly artworks from award-winning artist Anthony Lewis, "Animals Around the World" contains more than 50 flaps to open. Despite its few pages, the book is a wonderful interactive introduction to animal habitats for young children, who will delight in the scene changes that are revealed as they open the flaps.

Nigel Marven
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780753464069, $8.99,

"Dinosaurs" by Nigel Marven journeys around the world, delving through layers of fossil evidence to uncover the secrets of prehistoric life. Step into a prehistoric landscape and unearth some of the most awesome dinosaur specimens yet discovered. Find out about fierce fighting dinosaurs and horned dinosaurs, and discover how dinosaur hunters build pictures of the lives of these amazing beasts.

Elephant Soup
Ingrid and Dieter Schubert
815 Church St., Honesdale, PA 18431
9781590788073, $17.95,

When mouse feels dad, only one thing helps to lift his spirits: elephant soup! The recipe is simple: vegetables, salt and pepper, an enormous pot, and of course, an elephant. When mouse and his friends follow the directions, the silly picture book story really starts to simmer, turning into a recipe for laughter. "Elephant Soup" is one of many recent translated picture book imports from Europe on the Lemniscaat imprint of Boyds Mills Press.

The Tree House
Marije Tolman and Ronald Tolman
815 Church St., Honesdale, PA 18431
9781590788066, $17.95,

A polar bear rides a whale to a tree rising out of the water. At the top of the tree is a tree house. The polar bear is joined by a brown bear in a boat. The bears find that the tree house is the perfect place to read their books. When the water recedes, they are joined by flamingoes, panda bears, and other animals that come by land and by air. The tree house is a place of wonder, where, among other beautiful sights, a brown bear catches snowflakes in a butterfly net. Artists Marije Tolman and her father, Ronald Tolman, bring their unique vision to this picture book without words.

Beauty and the Beast
Robert Sabuda
Little, Brown and Company
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10017
9781416960799, $27.99,

As in his other pop-up adaptations, award-winning Robert Sabuda skillfully masterminds a 3-D version of this classic, with care paid to every detail. Mini-booklets relay the story, while the pop-up architecture provides depth and dimension; the artwork recalls stained glass, adding to the fairy tale flair. In the opening spread, the beast's gloomy, bruise-colored castle looms while accordion-style panels expand toward readers as Beauty's father explores the castle. Sabuda's beast is quite monstrous, with a bedraggled mane, demonic horns, and a serpentine tail. His transformation into a "handsome young man" in the final spread is comparatively subtle, and the story ends a bit abruptly, but the message about inner beauty is delivered with grace. For ages 3 and up (as long as they're careful with the delicate pages).

Wild Oceans
Lucio & Meera Santoro
Little, Brown and Company
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10017
9781416984672, $27.99,

Just when you thought it was safe to dive into a good, new pop-up book, along swims "Wild Oceans." Readers journey into the mysterious world under the sea as 3-D pop-ups swing off the page, bringing to life whales, dolphins, angler fish, and more. Filled with eye-popping art and interesting facts about various oceanic zones -- such as coral reefs, the frozen sea, the deep sea, and much more -- Lucio and Meera Santoro take readers on a particularly fun interactive and imaginative journey deep beneath the surface of the blue sea.

The Classic Treasury of Childhood Wonders
Susan H. Magsamen
National Geographic
c/o Simon & Schuster
1145 17th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
9781426307157, $19.99,

This rich and nostalgic book of wonders is a collection of art, literature, and activities custom-made for the family bookshelf. It is broken into five sections that illuminate a child's world and interests: Magic and Make-Believe, Outdoor Exploring, Crafts and Construction, Yummy for the Tummy, and Bedtime, Bathtime, and Dreamtime. Children and parents will share together time as they read poetry selections, nursery rhymes, and more at bedtime, pull out the book on a rainy day for instantly accessible activities, or simply browse and savor the lovely art at any time. "Childhood Wonders" is a unique and lasting gift for kids, families, and new parents and grandparents.

Mummies National Geographic Kids Editors
National Geographic
c/o Simon & Schuster
1145 17th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
9781426306952, $12.99,

Investigate mysteries from the grave in this vividly illustrated book, a creepy-fun compendium of the world's most fascinating mummies. National Geographic's unparalleled photographs bring kids up close and personal with ancient remains, while Chris Sloan's mesmerizing text reveals what the experts have discovered about each mummy's life and death. Kids will clamor to read this book in the classroom or at home -- and they'll absorb science, ancient cultures, geography, and more, as freaky photos and intriguing stories keep them glued to every page.

World Atlas
National Geographic Kids Editors
National Geographic
c/o Simon & Schuster
1145 17th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
9781426306877, $12.99,

In the new, reduced trim size edition of National Geographic's award-winning "World Atlas for Young Explorers", we've punched up the content with the very latest maps, data, and essays about the world and all that is in it. More than 200 color images transport kids to intriguing places, and 115 pages of full-size National Geographic maps help them locate countries, cities, regions, and more. Created by the most trusted name in cartography, these colorful maps have been custom designed for middle-grade students. Boundaries, place-names, and data reflect the most current information available, and every map appears in the context of surrounding areas to ensure that a full picture of the world develops. Same-size physical and political maps make for easy comparisons and help youngsters understand how physical features influence patterns of human settlement and economic activity. Locator globes and color-coding make it easy for kids to keep track of where they are and quickly navigate from one region to another. Images from space draw visual links between real-world scenes and cartography, plus there's an interactive Web feature that links kids to the Society's vast archive of maps, articles, photos, videos, music, languages, crafts, quizzes, and more. A dynamic, though somewhat scattered reference book for grade school through middle school.

Chris Platt
Peachtree Publishers
1700 Chattahoochee Ave., Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781561455416, $15.95,

Who says no one is writing good new books about horse adventures for pre-teens anymore? "Astra" comes to the rescue of all horse-crazy tweens. In Chris Platt's novel, 13-year-old Lily O'Neil's passion is Arabian horses. Someday she wants to be a great endurance rider like her mother. But a year earlier, when a freak riding accident took her mother's life, Lily's father sold Lily's beloved horse and forbid her to ride ever again. Lily is determined to fulfill her mother's dream. But how will she convince her father to let her ride again?

Three Scoops and a Fig
Sara Laux Akin, Susan Kathleen Hartung
Peachtree Publishers
1700 Chattahoochee Ave., Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781561455225, $15.95,

Today is extra-special because Nonno and Nonna are coming to visit and Sofia is determined to help make something delicious for them. But mamma mia! She splatters Papa's tomato sauce all over the kitchen, makes Mama's bread rise like a giant marshmallow, and flings Mario's pizza dough into a ceiling fan! No one wants the help of such a small (and messy) cook. Sofia retreats with Figaro to the comfort of her favorite swing the the branches of a big, leafy fig tree. Then, with a whoosh of wind and the plop of a juicy fig, Sofia gets an idea for a very special treat for her beloved grandparents. Author Sara Laux Akin's affectionate story of a determined chef is deliciously paired with Susan Hartung's delightful illustrations.

The Blue House Dog
Deborah Blumenthal, Adam Gustavson
Peachtree Publishers
1700 Chattahoochee Ave., Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781561455379, $15.95,

When his elderly owner dies, Bones - half German Shepherd and half something else - is left to wander the neighborhood in a small town just outside the city. He struggles to evade the dog catcher, to avoid being hit by passing cars, and to find shelter when his former home is torn down. But luckily someone is watching: Cody, a young boy who once had a dog he loved very much, and whom he misses very much still. Slowly, cautiously, Bones and Cody grow closer, as each learns to trust and love again. Author Deborah Blumenthal has crafted a sincere and quietly poignant story inspired by a 2001 New York Times article about a stray dog in Astoria, Queens, who won the hears of the locals. Each had a different name for him and left him what food they could throughout the week. Paired with Adam Gustavson's oil illustrations, this book will strike a chord in readers young and old.

Brain Jack
Brian Falkner
Random House
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780375893230, $17.99,

"Brain Jack" is another terrifying sci-fi page-turner from Brian Falkner, the author of "The Tomorrow Code." Las Vegas is gone -- destroyed in a terrorist attack. Black Hawk helicopters patrol the skies over New York City. And immersive online gaming is the most dangerous street drug around. In this dystopic near-future, technology has leapt forward once again, and neuro-headsets have replaced computer keyboards. Just slip on a headset, and it's the Internet at the speed of thought. For teen hacker Sam Wilson, a headset is a must. But as he becomes familiar with the new technology, he has a terrifying realization. If anything on his computer is vulnerable to a hack, what happens when his mind is linked to the system? Could consciousness itself be hijacked? Before he realizes what's happened, Sam's incursion against the world's largest telecommunications company leads him to the heart of the nation's cyberdefense network and brings him face to face with a terrifying and unforeseen threat. Falkner has created an action-packed and thought-provoking science fiction adventure in which a brilliant young computer hacker fights to prevent the human race from being deleted. Fans of Cory Doctorow's "Little Brother" and M. T. Anderson's "Feed" will love this high-octane techno thriller.

Steve Jenkins
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545046510, $16.99,

"Bones" by Steve Jenkins is a picture book but it's far from skinny -- it's the definitive nonfiction title about human and animal bones, delivered with in-your-face accuracy and intrigue. In this visually driven volume, kids come face-to-face with some head-to-toe boney comparisons, many of them shown at actual size. Here you'll find the differences between a man's hand and that of a spider monkey; the great weight of an elephant's leg, paired with the feather-light femur of a stork; and rib-tickling info about snakes and sloths. How many bones are in the whole human body? Kids find out when they open the three large gatefold spreads that reveal the hard (yet enjoyable) truths about the boney insides of Earth's many creatures.

Can You See What I See? Treasure Ship
Walter Wick
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780439026437, $13.99,

Amazing photos accompany the latest search-and-find game book by Walter Wick, the creator the New York Times bestseller "Can You See What I See?" series and the photographer of the enormously successful "I Spy" series. A pirate ship and a chest of gold take readers on a journey through time that leads to the location of purloined treasures. Beginning with a zoom of a gold coin, photographs pull back to reveal the story of the coin's travels from the hull of a pirate ship in the 1700's to the shore of a beach town today. Don't let the easy beginning diminish your expectations, as each page turn reveals a more intricate, creative and entertaining visual treasure hunt.

Amulet: The Cloud Searchers
Kazu Kibuishi
Scholastic Graphix
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545208857, $10.99,

In the third installment of the thrilling Amulet graphic novel series by Kazu Kibuishi, our heroes Emily, Navin, and their crew of resistance fighters charter an airship and set off in search of Cielis, a mythical city believed to be located on an island high above the clouds. The mysterious Leon Redbeard is their guide, and there's a surprising new addition to the crew: the Elf King's son, Trellis. But is he ally or enemy? And will Emily ever be able to trust the voice of the Amulet? The Amulet continues to surprise and entertain, and is among my favorite American graphic novel series designed for ages 9-12.

Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
Simon Pulse
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416998082, $16.99,

The ultimate battle. The ultimate love. For the past two years, Jenn has lived and trained at Spain's Sacred Heart Academy Against the Cursed Ones. She is among the few who have pledged to defend humanity or die trying. But the vampires are gaining power, and the battle has only just begun. Forced to return home after death takes a member of her family, Jenn discovers that San Francisco is now a vampire strong-hold. As a lone hunter apart from her team, Jenn is isolated -- and at risk. She craves the company of her fighting partner, Antonio: his protection, his reassurance, his touch. But a relationship with Antonio comes with its own dangers, and the more they share of themselves, the more Jenn stands to lose. Then Jenn is betrayed by one who was once bound to protect her, causing her to doubt all she had held as true. To survive, Jenn must find the courage to trust herself -- and her heart.

Mostly Good Girls
Leila Sales
Simon Pulse
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781442406797, $16.99,

The higher you aim, the farther you fall. It's Violet's junior year at the Westfield School. She thought she'd be focusing on getting straight As, editing the lit mag, and figuring out how to talk to boys without choking on her own saliva. Instead, she's just trying to hold it together in the face of cutthroat academics, her crush's new girlfriend, and the sense that things are going irreversibly wrong with her best friend, Katie. When Katie starts making choices that Violet can't even begin to fathom, Violet has no idea how to set things right between them. Westfield girls are trained for success -- but how can Violet keep her junior year from being one huge epic failure?

Mostly Monsterly
Tammi Sauer, Scott Magoon
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416961109, $14.99,

Bernadette might seem like an ordinary monster, but sometimes she likes to do some very unmonsterlike things, like pick flowers. And pet kittens. And bake. When the time comes for Bernadette to go to Monster Academy, she's just a teensy bit nervous. Her classmates just don't understand her. They'd rather uproot trees than sing friendship songs. And they prefer fried snail goo to Bernadette's homemade cupcakes with sprinkles. Can Bernadette find a way to make friends at school and still be herself? Tammi Sauer and Scoot Magoon's picture book has just the right mix of charm and gross fun.

Louise the Big Cheese and the La-Di-Da Shoes
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416971818, $16.99,

Every Big Cheese needs a pair of la-di-da shoes to call her own! Just ask little Louise. There's nothing like a pair of la-di-da shoes to bring out the Big Cheese in a girl. It's time for new shoes and Louise wants the pair of beautiful black patent leather ones with the sparkles on the toes, but Mrs. Cheese says absolutely not. Then Louise's best friend, Fern, shows up with tales of Paris, France, and the very shoes Louise has been longing for. Are the bonds of friendship greater than shoe envy? Could it be that a little la-di-da goes a long way? With humor and heart and a healthy dose of attitude, Elise Primavera and Diane Goode tell a grass-isn't-always-greener story about shoes and what it means to be a true friend. "Louise the Big Cheese and the La-Di-Da Shoes" is sure to be a picture book hit with the "Fancy Nancy" dress-up crowd.

A ValueTales Treasury
Spencer Johnson, M.D.
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416998389, $19.99,

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Dr. Spencer Johnson comes a wonderful new kind of children's story, the Imaginography, imaginative biographies -- stories of real people and real events -- told in a fun new way that children find irresistible. In these Imaginographies, youngsters get to imagine how famous people from history might have listened to themselves -- to their True Voice, that voice inside each of us that gives us our best thoughts. And by example, children are encouraged to listen to their own True Voice and act on it. Based on the original stories, which sold more than 10 million hardcover copies, these new ValueTales have been re-imagined and re-illustrated to appeal to a new generation of children. Whether you're an adult who grew up with the original ValueTales or you're discovering them for the first time, you'll enjoy sharing these universal values and helping children grow into good people -- one story at a time. Stories include: "The Value of Believing in Yourself" about Louis Pasteur, "The Value of Helping" about Harriet Tubman, "The Value of Honesty" about Confucius, "The Value of Determination" about Helen Keller, "The Value of Humor" about Will Rogers.

Maybe I'll Sleep in the Bathtub Tonight
Debbie Levy, Stephanie Buscema
Sterling Publishing Company
387 Park Avenue, NY, NY 10016
9781402749445, $14.95,

These clever and quirky poems in "Maybe I'll Sleep in the Bathtub Tonight" by Debbie Levy make bedtime fun. From a bunk bed king who rules from up high to monsters who are not (I repeat, NOT) in the closet, "Maybe I ll Sleep in the Bathtub Tonight" truly captures the childhood experience of going to sleep. It casts an amusing eye on sleepovers, beds crowded with animals, the fight to stay awake, and that one last drink of water. Each verse ends with a delightful twist, and charming art captures the poems whimsy and magic. They are sure to bring sweet dreams, full of laughter... even to kids fighting bedtime.

Puss in Boots
John Cech, Bernhard Oberdieck
Sterling Publishing Company
387 Park Avenue, NY, NY 10016
9781402744365, $14.95,

When a poor miller dies, he has nothing to leave his son but a cat -- but, fortunately, it's a very smart cat. With just a pair of boots, a feathered hat, and a cloth bag, the wily Puss changes his master's luck, transforming him from a peasant into a prince. John Cech and Bernhard Oberdieck, who created the critically acclaimed Classic Fairy Collection's version of "The Princess and the Pea," have teamed up once again to present this retelling of one of the oldest fairy tales of all. Alas, the Puss in Boots in this version is not the clever braggart most people recall from the original tale, so this weakened (translated?) version loses much of the story's true drama and fails to impart a clear moral lesson.

Ginger Rue
Tricycle Press
PO Box 7123, Berkeley, CA 94707
9781582463346, $15.99,

High school junior Brinkley Harper is beautiful, wealthy, admired, and powerful -- until the day she wakes up in the body of a classmate she wouldn't be caught dead hanging out with. Goth girl Miranda is everything Brinkley isn't: she won't leave the house in anything but black, her family life is in tatters, she's practically invisible at school, and she's hiding a dark secret. As Brinkley experiences Miranda's life from the inside out, she's forced to consider the world from a very different point-of-view. But this won't be Brinkley's last "jump," and each time she lives a day in another classmate's body, Brinkley not only begins to feel empathy for others, she also begins to glimpse the fears, vulnerabilities, and disappointments behind her own perfect facade. By experiencing the world as somebody else, Brinkley may finally learn to understand herself. A contemporary fantasy featuring a gutsy heroine and fast-paced action, "Jump" explores the transformation of a girl who never knew she needed one.

Vicki Arkoff
Senior Reviewer

Vogel's Bookshelf

Mike Smith
Privately Published
9781451549355, $14.99

When life begins to fall apart, it can be hard to recover. "Backazimuth" tells the story of Major Bill Slade, a drunkard who is deployed to desert storm and is forced to sober up from his drunken haze and evaluate his life. Faced with the changing world around him and an endless search for the truth, "Backazimuth" is a moving story of recovering one's life after almost losing it all.

The Travelers
Keith Wayne McCoy
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440169205, $23.95,

Through two time lines, serenity and peace must be found. "The Travelers" tells the story of a modern film maker and a family of World War II who through their link are set to remedy a supernatural mystery that persists through time. A novel with plenty of intriguing concepts, "The Travelers" is a solidly recommended read which shouldn't be overlooked.

King of Media
Jerome Tuccille
WinklerMedia Books
9781453777848 $16.95

Those who make the biggest impact are those who claw their way up to the top. "King of Media" tells the story of Jerome Tuccille and his own journey up to the top where he moved up and claimed his own network, known as Fox TV as well as major shopping network QVC. A remarkable story of taking television and breaking the rules and making something new, "King of Media" is a riveting read of one man who dared to defy the big three of network TV.

How Warm It Was & How Far
Robert Kan M.D.
Privately Published
9781452829333 $9.99

The persistence of cruelty was something truly amazing about the Nazi's reign of terror. "How Warm It Was & How Far" is Robert Kan's own tale about growing up under this shadow. Born in Holland, he fled from the Nazis for quite some time before being found safely in America, but not before being inflicted with major wounds and being left with doubts about who he was. "How Warm It Was & How Far" is an intriguing story of one man's own scars from World War II.

James A. Bacon
The Oaklea Press
9781892538536 $19.95

A little over sixty years ago, one of the biggest surges of births in history struck the United States as Americans returned home after World War II. And America is about to feel the worst of the impact of retirement. "Boomergeddon" is James Bacon's call for reform of the crumbling economy and what it means for the Baby Boomers, who are now quickly approaching retirement age. Stating that it is the Baby Boomer's hands to make a difference, "Boomergeddon" provides much food for thought in regards to the retirement of this massive generation.

The Vienna Jazz Trio
Tomas Bohm
Pitchstone Publishing
9780984493203 $17.95

Jazz for some was more than music, it was another way of expression. "The Vienna Jazz Trio" is a tragic novel following aging Jew Nathan Mentzel as he lives his life in Vienna in the 1920s, where Antisemitism began to gain power as a political idea, and tells a sprawling story over time of vengeance and determination. "The Vienna Jazz Trio" is truly a remarkable read that is a fine entry in literary fiction collections.

Who? What? Where? How? Why?
Bintang Hanson-Forero
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, 18th floor, New York, NY 10016
9780533154715 $8.95

Being slammed into the English language when coming to America can be quite daunting. "Who? What? Where? How? Why?: Conversation and Composition Topics for the ESL Classroom" is a guide for the ESL teacher who is looking for assistance in teaching English to their students and the common challenges one faces when struggling to grasp English. "Who? What? Where? How? Why?" is a choice pick and highly recommended read for any ESL teacher.

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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