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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 11, Number 11 November 2012 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

Emotional Investment
G. Micahel Blahnik
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781461100799, $21.95,

G. Michael Blahnik has earned a B.A. in Linguistics and Religion at California State University, Fullerton; an M.A. in Counseling at Xavier University; an M.A. in English at Xavier University; an M.A. in Philosophy at the University of Cincinnati, and a Ph.D. in Humanities at the Union Institute and University. He teaches Philosophy at Northern Kentucky University and Xavier University, English at University of Cincinnati and Thomas More College, and he has more than ten years experience in Mental Health, with positions ranging from social worker to psychiatric hospital program. Based upon his many years of experience and expertise, Professor Blahnik has written "Emotional Investment: Transforming Psychotherapeutic Assumptions", a 432-page compendium in which he persuasively argues that most current psychotherapies tend to be objective or quasi-objective in their orientation, where "objective" means that mental health and mental illness are assumed to be objective realities that clinicians can access and impart to patients or clients and that patients or clients can learn (e.g. psychoanalysis, ego psychology, self psychology, behaviorism) and quasi-objective means that though lip service is given to relative realities, the actual assumptions are objective (e.g. cognitive therapy, reality therapy). Professor Blahnik makes a detailed and persuasive cans that most psychotherapies today involve a power differential between therapist and client where the therapist, who supposedly has access to objective reality, has power over the client. "Emotional Investment" presents and recommends a new kind of professional/non-professional interaction in the mental health field that equalizes the power between professional emotional investor (traditionally, the therapist) and the non- professional investor (traditionally, the client or patient). Informed and informative, articulate and insightful, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Emotional Investment" is highly recommended for professional and academic library "Modern Psychology" reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Return of the Bones
Belinda Vasquez Garcia
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475187427 $12.99

Also available as an enhanced ebook, Return of the Bones is a novel inspired by the true story of the theft of 2,067 skeletons from the former pueblo of Pecos in 1915. For 84 years, these skeletons would be studied and examined, but at what cost to society? Return of the Bones tells of an elderly grandfather who felt the bones' yearning to come home ever since they were stolen away, but his granddaughter Hollow-Woman doesn't want to hear it. As the two of them take a road trip, the grandfather creates a dream-catcher to aid his grandchild in "seeing" the past, in the hope that she might better respect her ancestors and their remains. A novel of family ties that stretch far past immediate generations, Return of the Bones encourages the reader to think long and hard about what should or should not be condoned as acceptable behavior toward other people's ancestors. Highly recommended.

Who Gives a Howl
David J. Deines
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781467928168, $16.28,

When you're recruited to eliminate vampires and werewolves, vampires and werewolves tend to take offense. "Who Gives a Howl" is a fantasy following Eric Sharpe's recruitment into a society driven on purging the supernatural threats, drawn into it by the murder of a classmate. He learns much quickly, because if he doesn't, he'll be joining that classmate. "Who Gives a Howl" is worth considering for young adult fantasy readers, much recommended.

The Upside of Down Times
Lisa Ryan
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432790554, $19.95,

Even in the darkest of times, there is something to love. "The Upside of Down Times: Discovering the Power of Gratitude" is a dedication to the power of gratitude and graciousness in our lives, as Lisa Ryan encourages people to embrace the positive part of their lives and find something much more to love about their lives. With much to ponder and advice on channeling the positively in one's life for more positive things, "The Upside of Down Times" is a strong pick for inspirational collections, highly recommended.

Ad Nomad
Eric Jay Sonnenschein
Hudson Heights Press
9780983194743, $16.95,

The advertising world is one of deception, to the consumer and within the industry. "Ad Nomad: The Case Histories of Dane Bacchus" is a novel from Eric Jay Sonnenschein as he enters the world of advertising in a pharmaceutical company. Copyrights, art people, and everything else make up the tale of corruption and lies. "Ad Nomad" is worth considering for those seeking a novel of the business world, highly recommended.

Dan Chabot
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781477435366, $14.95,

Our lies may bring us brief joy, but the truth wins out and hurts. "Godspeed" follows Derry as he meets with Amedee and seems to find something truly worth cherishing in their lives. Derry is scorned, and looks for something to help him put his life together again after his betrayal and his search for something worth living for. With a strong message of friendship and the power of interpersonal relationships, "Godspeed" is a fine addition to general fiction collections, highly recommended.

The Mind Man
P.D. Richmond
Privately Published
9780987203014, $15.95,

Our thoughts are our own, to ourselves and remain to ourselves. "The Mind Man" is an intriguing delve into the power of our mind as a police sergeant finds out the complete extent of the mind's potential. A risk delves him deep into the world of thoughts where the truth is anything but the most mundane of things. Fast paced reading that will prove hard to put down, "The Mind Man" is a fascinating and hard to put down novel, highly recommended.

Cobwebs on the Chandelier
Dorothy Monroe
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470025311, $12.00,

Getting married on April Fool's Day may not necessarily be an omen, but it's something. "Cobwebs on the Chandelier" is a collection of memoir-driven essays from Dorothy Monroe who touches on her life as a married woman, a mother, and everything else, sharing humorous stories of life and taking on many careers and roles throughout life. "Cobwebs on the Chandelier" is worth considering for those seeking charming memoirs of life.

Where Are the Peacemakers?
Jerry Henderson
Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781468587081, $14.95,

Peace may be called boring, but it's vastly preferred to the alternative. "Where Are the Peacemakers?: Commentaries About Peace & War" is a collection of essays from Jerry Henderson as he ponders the status and future of peace and our pursuits of a more harmonious and beloved world for all of us. With much to love and ponder, "Where Are the Peacemakers?" is a must for those who often think about the future of our world and a better tomorrow.

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

Carnival of Mayhem
Alex Siegel
Amazon Kindle
ASIN: B004WTB2HU $2.99

Fans of the prior APOCALYPSE CULT will find much to relish in this continuation of the Gray Spear Society saga, where the U.S. faces a plague from unknown origins.

Publically the plague is being called tuberculosis; privately, everyone from the military to health professionals is baffled.

A secret cult emerges as being behind the crisis - but it's questionable whether the Gray Spear Society can resolve the crisis before the plague moves around the world.

Aaron Glade is a member of the Society who has had his identity erased and all prior contacts believe he's dead; so when he hears his name called on the street, he's immediately immersed in a mystery: few people know him now, so who could be identifying him? It's an old friend from his former life - a friend not easily brushed off - who reappears just as Aaron becomes part of a four-person team to investigate the possibility of supernatural intervention in human affairs.

From a secret army laboratory to Marina's God-given supernatural abilities as a reward for good work done, this novel is replete with chills, break-ins, political confrontations, bribery, and more.

Most thrillers are pretty cut-and-dried: one can pretty much predict the progression and outcome and characters are either military or civilian in approach and makeup. Not so with CARNIVAL OF MAYHEM, where protagonists are diverse, their actions often unpredictable, and their intentions and associations a mystery.

From complicated assignments and spies to subterfuge and medical crisis, CARNIVAL OF MAYHEM is replete with swift action as the group adds a new recruit and faces its greatest challenge.

The Gray Spear Society is charged with protecting the world against supernatural forces that are God's enemies, even as many of its members sport God-given abilities such as speed, fingernail venom or acidic saliva. Aaron's unexpected contact with his mother and his growing love for his co-worker Marina make for an involving, gripping saga that evolves from a worldwide medical threat to the involvement of assassins and undercover operatives.

In the end it's a powerful pick filled with action and unexpected twists and turns: perfect for prior fans of APOCALYPSE CULT who want to see more of Aaron and his team.

Many Stories: The Point of the Needle
Sebastian Orth
EPUB - 9781908191366, $5.99
Kindle - 9781908191373, $5.99
Trade Paper - 9781908191281, $14.99 pbk

MANY STORIES: THE POINT OF THE NEEDLE provides the powerful autobiography of a man who at age seventeen discovered his attraction to tattoos and determined to some day receive a 'full body suit' of tattoos, and follows his evolution from his first inadvertent stab in a high school lab to experiences being tattooed in back rooms by neo-pros and novices alike.

In the course of achieving his goal to become a tattoo artist himself, Sebastian Orth tells of his associations with nearly twenty tattoo artists encountered while pursuing his professional and personal interests. Chapters chart his perspective on tattoo artistry and consider the pain, art, costs and technology involved in cultivating the finer art of tattooing.

In his own words: "Yes, tattooing can be "the monster that eats everything." It can also be a form of magic, a timeless art and a door to the otherworld."

Orth saw his chosen professional evolve from a specialty endeavor only a relative few knew well to a pursuit which spawned a whole new generation of tattoo artists, reaching from backrooms to mainstream shops and involving all kinds of people, from students to older fans new to the concept and possibilities of tattoo artistry.

Given this evolution, it's surprising to note that there's only a relative handful of tattoo books on the market - and what is available usually focuses on the designs and images of tattoos; not the experiences and evolution of a new generation of tattoo artists.

MANY STORIES reflects Orth's revelations about the nature of tattoo art: "Tattoos are not simply pictures in the flesh, fixed and static. They live with us; breathe with us and die with us. Each tells a story and each of those stories is personal and unique."

And so, tattoo by tattoo, Orth reveals the progress of his own body art and the life experiences each tattoo reflects: "Today, I look at my left forearm; the faded gray dots and faint patterns created in my bedroom tell the story of my teenage uncertainty and my attempts to find out who I was and where I belonged in this world."

From covering up spur-of-the-moment tattoos achieved without thought to Orth's experiences opening his own shop and working alongside groups of fellow tattoo artists to his attempts at hand poke self-tattooing, MANY STORIES blends personal experience with artistic and philosophical reflection in a compelling and personal account that will interest even those without prior involvement in tattoo bodywork.

Add gorgeous color images of much of his art, from koi and dragons to cherry blossoms and Japanese prints, and you have a visually, emotionally and artistically compelling story packed with links between artistry and self-improvement. There's a personal aspect to body art that can't be duplicated on a one-dimension surface: MANY STORIES captures that personal tone in a unique presentation that makes it a pick for arts, autobiography and general reading purposes alike.

Melinda Heads West
Robyn Corum
Crimson Romance, an imprint of F+W Media, Inc.
9781440558542 print
9781440558559 ebook $4.99

Melinda is traveling west with six strangers in a stagecoach in 1880, set upon obtaining her family's deed, when the coach breaks down and the group is forced to walk the remaining thirty-five miles. But their trial doesn't end there; when thieves and murderers encounter them, trouble brews that would have proved fatal were it not for the helpful attraction of two young men who come to her rescue.

Mindy's adventures are only beginning - and a saga is created that will attract fans of Westerns, romances, women's adventures, and compelling writing that captures images so deftly that readers can readily imagine themselves to be part of the story: "Mindy's mind wandered. Her thoughts were of home: soft, leafy grass, tall, cool oak trees, and glistening glasses of hand-squeezed lemonade with tiny ice chips. She would have gladly given all the money in her pouch for one sip of that sweet, refreshing liquid."

As Mindy finds her romance evolving, she struggles with too many choices and options that promise her very different futures than the one she's envisioned or the present she's become used to: "She was still reeling from the idea that a man - any man - would seek out her company. It had been years since she'd had attention from the opposite sex and she loved every minute of it."

From small town residents and encounters to the very different worlds of men and women in pioneer times, MELINDA HEADS WEST is packed with drama, strong characterization, and the efforts of a feisty young woman to uncover a place for herself in the world.

Her evolving romance and her search for a true place to call home will involve women from start to finish in this fine story of frontier days, highly recommended for any fan of romantic Westerns.

Mystic Witness
Larry Alboher, D.C.
Mystic Vision Press
9780984014811 (eBook) $5.99

Barnes &


MYSTIC WITNESS: HEALING OURSELVES AND THE EARTH THROUGH ACTIVE MYSTICISM provides a fine spiritual and new age account of author Larry Alboher's encounters with one don Pablo, a spiritual mentor who uses mysticism to help individuals and the planet, and is a top recommendation for new age readers interested in the close connections between spirituality and healing.

Don Pablo's teachings and healings not only represent an ancient tradition long repressed by Western civilization, but they're in danger of extinction - which makes MYSTIC WITNESS all the more important to any who would collect, preserve and use this wisdom.

This account comes from chiropractor Larry Alboher, who describes his journey to the source of this mystical wisdom and his discovery that these teachings are more profound than many of the self-help opportunities and positive affirmations that are so popular in modern spiritual approaches. It also reveals how we, as individuals and as a race, are killing the planet - and provides keys to change that hold the potential to affect our world and our relationship to it. And it uses observations of these healing methods and teachings as a foundation for describing events in such a fashion that readers are invited into an intuitive and nonlinear experience simply by reading about the experiences.

Don Pablo is an educated American who refuses to be idolized. His approach is to empower his students and infuse them with perception on many levels: spiritual, psychic, and ecological. The idea is to reinforce connections between spiritual and natural worlds - and MYSTIC WITNESS offers many such opportunities, as well as astute observations about what is lacking in the usual Western perception: "...a quality of heart and relationship with the Sacred that was lacking in the United States, and how our mental, physical, and spiritual health suffered from it."

From travels to ancient sites, archaeology, and studying history to learning the underlying meanings of spiritual places, Larry Alboher's perceptions slowly evolve too: "It was the hidden function of Chaco Canyon that had begun to become apparent to me on my previous visits under don Pablo's guidance."

Visits to such sites serve as educational experiences offering opportunities for change and different perspectives on traditional religious teachings: "The dark force was offered a choice to become illuminated by the light and resume its obligation to witness God, or it could remain split off; but in that case, it would need to leave the upper world where it did not belong. It was clear to me that this force was also part of divine creation; therefore, it couldn't be fought, couldn't be defeated, and couldn't be destroyed. If it were confronted with aggression, that would merely feed it and make it stronger by playing its game. The dark could only be transformed by illumination - witnessing it as part of the Divine."

MYSTIC WITNESS is an outstanding account of spiritual transformation and its links to global change. That's not to say that world change stems from individual transformation: more to say that healing trauma and developing sacred awareness in daily life is one of the keys to changing not just our world, but the world as a whole. Only by evolving to a more advanced spiritual state can an individual become an agent of the Divine, with the wider possibility of affecting the world.

Any New Age reader will find this a compelling journey charting such a path.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Treatment Guide, second edition
Erica F. Verrillo
Amazon Kindle
ASIN: B009B9X36Y $2.99

According to the CDC more than a million people across the country suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome; yet information about the condition has been scattered and largely unavailable in one place - until now.

The second updated edition of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Treatment Guide acts as both a modified encyclopedia and as a sourcebook for any seeking information about the syndrome.

There may remain no cure for the syndrome - but there are treatments: many of them; in fact - and many effective approaches for understanding the condition's triggers, management, and outlook.

Over a hundred effective treatments, from medications to antivirals and holistic approaches, are included in this volume, along with lists of doctors, clinics and specialists working with chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers, print, and Internet references and links, and more.

The long list of therapies and treatments which have proven successful are contained in a reference guide section that lends to quick browsing and location of data: from an overview and history of the illness to discussions of how CFS affects body and mind, descriptions of various CFS symptoms and treatment approaches, and discussions of traditional and alternative therapies, this book is packed with material discussing a wide variety of coping methods.

New and expanded sections to this second updated edition include not only the latest research findings and recommendations, but physician protocols and keys to self-help and management.

Also discussed are the multifaceted symptoms of CFS. Symptoms may run the gamut, but often include recurring infections, fatigue, nausea and abdominal pain, confusion and attention span problems, and much more. Each symptom receives an in-depth coverage including various treatments, likely causes within the CFS diagnosis, and bibliographies for further reading.

The author herself was completing a doctorate in 1992 before she fell ill with the disease, so has many years of personal experience with CFS, during which approaches to and understanding of the condition have seen much change. These changes are reflected in this new edition of the book, as well as her own compassion for other sufferers.

There is simply no other treatment guide on the market that is presented with such expansive coverage, making this a 'must' for any health collection and for any reader concerned with understanding the extent of CFS.

The Stonehenge Scrolls
K.P. Robbins
MuseItUp Publishing

How did the Stonehenge monuments come to be?

Plenty of nonfiction titles discuss possibilities, but for a fictional perspective that is compelling and involving, you can't beat the thrills and unusual perspectives of The Stonehenge Scrolls.

Recorded in scrolls by the Druid Oisin as he hides from the Romans, this tells of an early engineering feat by one engineer Myrddin, who is supervising the hauling of giant stones that will create a new monument at the Sacred Circle.

The birth of a daughter with flaming red hair who eventually becomes the clan's medicine woman will foster in a new era: daughter Sulis is deemed clever but she wants more: she wants to become a great monument-builder like her father.

As she absorbs all knowledge she can about the monuments, learning to be quick with numbers and knowledgeable about engineering basics, Sulis grows savvy and wise - and develops a romance with one Gwyr, who also aspires to build monuments that will keep the local clans joined and harmonious.

Perspective changes from Sulis to Gwyr, embracing both their monument-building dreams and different perspectives: "As my father taught me, monument building attracts the favor of the sun by drawing traders and the wealth they bring and unites the clans by giving all a common achievement. Without another monument to build, the clans will go back to feuding and raiding."

In a world where rituals console the populace and monuments hold important connections and meaning, Sulis and Gwyr hold the key to change: "You both think building a new monument is enough to win power, but it is not. If you want to truly unite the clans, you need to give the people rituals and beliefs all clans can share."

Sulis becomes both monument builder and priestess as Gwyr becomes chief with the desire to top the influence of the priests that control both their lives.

Add in perspectives on afterlife and eternal life and a doting father's decision to participate in his daughter's new rituals and you have a multifaceted, winning novel of prehistory that provides keys not just to Stonehenge and its meaning, but to the lives of the peoples who created it.

A fine saga, The Stonehenge Scrolls is driven by drama and tight, involving writing and is a pick for any who enjoyed Auel's 'Earth's Children' series and similar historical novels.

Diane Donovan
Senior Reviewer

Dunford's Bookshelf

The Matchmaker
Moira Henderson
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470081225 $8.99

The Matchmaker is a dark, riveting novel about an illegal conspiracy to trade in human organs. When FBI agent Rebecca Ryan's younger sister Katherine is accepted into a highly exclusive dating agency, Rebecca is on edge when she learns that the agency requires a blood test, among other personal information. Rebecca's instinctive distrust only becomes more pronounced when she meets Katherine's first date: David DeSilva, a man who seems just a little too dangerous to be ordinary. With help from her FBI agent daughter, and homicide detective/former boyfriend James Conti, Rebecca begins a chilling investigation to unveil the dark side of not only the dating service, but also an implicated fertility clinic. Set in a world dangerously close to our own, where human life is worth only as much as the highest bidder will pay, The Matchmaker keeps the reader riveted to the very end.

Backbone Power
Dr. Anne Brown
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
c/o Authorright PR (publicity)
9781475187977, $17.39,

Turning someone down is more difficult than many realize. "Backbone Power: The Science of Saying No" is an inspirational read from Dr. Anne Brown who advises readers on how to empower themselves to rise to a higher self-esteem and allow themselves to say no in a way that is respectful to the self and to the person you're turning down. "Backbone Power" is well worth considering for those who want to empower their lives with a positive negative.

Dialogues on God
John L. Hodge
Privately Published
9780983179023, $7.99,

The concept of God has many forms, but an opinion of a supreme being sits with us all. "Dialogues on God: Three Views" is a discussion between three siblings on the nature of faith, between a follower of the God of Abraham, an atheist, and someone with an opinion very different to most. They discuss these ideas and how it affects our lives on many levels. "Dialogues on God" is a curious and insightful pick, not to be overlooked.

Jesper Juul
Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781468579307, $17.47,

Turning someone down is harder than it sounds at times. "No!: The Art of Saying No! With a Clear Conscience" is an advisory for those who have trouble saying no and how to turn someone down gently and calmly and avoiding the hurt feelings of the self and others. With much to consider from a personal psychological standpoint, "No!" is a must for self-help and inspirational collections, highly recommended.

The Evolution of Wealth
Jerry D. Ward
Del Cerro Publishing
9780985012601, $9.99,

The future of capitalism is uncertain in a rapidly changing world. "The Evolution of Wealth" is a history of economics from Jerry D. Ward as he presents a history of economics and the changing world. Capitalism, for all its faults, is the dominant economic system of the world, and Ward evaluates challenges to it, the need for reform, and what the future will hold. "The Evolution of Wealth" is an intriguing study of economics in history, recommended.

The Water Code
Rainey Marie Highley
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468011654, $16.95,

Water is abundant in our composition and in our lives. "The Water Code: Unlocking the Truth Within" an inspirational read from Rainey Marie Highley as she presents an inspirational read surrounding spirituality and the metaphysical, using the concepts of water through its flow, the water we drink, and understanding its purpose. For followers of metaphysical spirituality, "The Water Code" is well worth considering, recommended.

Beside the Mountain
Stefania Silvestri
Privately Published
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9780985727208, $13.95,

Alzheimer's is a slow sentence that few ever want to face. "Beside the Mountain: Finding the Strength and Courage Through My Father's Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease" is a memoir from Stefania Silvestri as she recalls her struggles of coping with her father's Alzheimer's disease and the pressures she felt as the world weighed down on her and her father's sickness claimed his psyche and the bonds of family. "Besides the Mountain" is a strong pick for general memoir collections, especially those focusing on trauma.

Sherri Hayes
The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House
PO Box 2116 Wacahachie, TX 75168
9781612130484, $14.99,

Slave is not a permanent state. "Slave" is a novel of BDSM following dominant Stephan as he comes across a slave in Brianna, who is more a slave than Stephan is used to. Exploring the BDSM culture with an intersection on human sex trafficking, Sherri Hayes creates a romance that deals with serious issues amid its story. "Slave" is an intriguing read, well worth considering.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

The Other Side of Time
Jonni Anderson
Starwatch Creations
9780984905829 $12.95

"Cranwold" author Jonni Anderson continues to showcase her writing talents with The Other Side of Time, a speculative fiction novel of a mysterious land between and beyond all known eras. Jacob Tunney is an ordinary man beset by misfortune in life; he drank away his career after his wife died from cancer. His encounter with the stunning Cynthia shows promise, but before he has a chance to fully pursue a relationship with her, he is abruptly transported to an inexplicable world filled with a population of humans from eras throughout history, and even a medley of intelligent aliens from other worlds. Like all of his new neighbors, Jacob is a trapped prisoner, and discontent threatens to set the patchwork community at each others' throats. Jacob longs to see Cynthia again, but how can he escape? An enthralling adventure from cover to cover, The Other Side of Time is highly recommended.

So You Want God to Do Something for You?
Takwirira Israel
Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781468585674, $15.18,

The most drawing virtue to Christianity is the bond with the Lord. "So You Want God to Do Something for You?" is a Christian self-study guide as Takwirira Israel advises readers to better piece together their spirit and souls for a more complete understanding of the Christian experience, our relationship with him as we serve him and he serves us. "So You Want God to Do Something for You?" is a must for Christian studies and spirituality collections, recommended.

Capitol Changing
Mary Walters
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475007787, $16.95,

Congress's elected officials do not represent the make up of America, some say...but what if it were a random sampling sent to Washington to represent the country every two years? "Capitol Changing" is a twist of political fiction, as Mary Walters presents a tale of 435 random Americans chosen to go to America to represent the country, as the 28th Amendment does away with elections for the House of Representatives, instead opting for lottery. Telling a political story with an optimistic viewpoint, "Capitol Changing" is reading worth considering.

An Uncommon Friendship
Monique Colver
Colver Press
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9780615638478, $12.99,

Mental illness often takes those closest to us away from us. "An Uncommon Friendship: A Memoir of Love, Mental Illness, and Friendship" is a memoir from Monique Colver as she shares the procession of her husband's mental illness and how he slept away from her life, despite all his efforts, facing his demons with him. A touching memoir of the pain mental illnesses inflict, "An Uncommon Friendship" is a touching read, very much worth considering.

The Hellion
Joel Robert Anderson
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475147612, $16.79,

Are devils born or made? "The Hellion" is a supernatural exploration of family, as a drunk woman is seduced by Satan and left pregnant. The child, called George, grows up with the weight of the sins of his father aimed at him, with no love shown to him until his family is destroyed by his mother's death. When his older Half-brother finds out of an affair with his wife and George, and results in George starting on his own journey to redemption. "The Hellion" explores the concepts of Heaven, Hell, and family, and proves an intriguing and recommended read.

Keith Crews
Diavalo Publishing
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9780986824562, $16.40,

Death is not the rest some wish it would be. "Wasteland" follows the post-life experiences of mob hitman Angelo Marchetti as he faces his own end, and must travel the wastelands he never knew about. With only his skills as a contract killer with him, he finds much more justifiable targets on the other side. "Wasteland" is a worth considering for those seeking a supernatural thriller.

True Medical
Clifton K. Meador
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475037289, $10.95,

Doctors rarely have the answer for every condition. "True Medical Detective Stories" is a collection of nineteen medical cases with an air of mystery surrounding them, offering an intriguing collection of insight into the human body, its psyche, and the advancement of medical science. These cases show baffled doctors, the theories of the causes, and any potential resolution. "True Medical Detective Stories" is well worth considering for those intrigued by medical science.

Dancing in Heaven
Christine M. Grote
Privately Published
9780983819806, $9.99,

Even deprived of our most basic of functions, a life can still lighten and inspire. "Dancing in Heaven" is a memoir from Christine M. Grote as she recounts the life of her disabled sister Annie, as she hopes to shine light on what even a disabled soul in one's life can do for the cohesion of family and love. "Dancing in Heaven" is a must for memoir collections focusing on disability and families of the disabled.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Front Porch Sketches
Brenda Bond
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781475933475, $12.95,

There were always simpler times in our lives, and we remember them all too fondly. "Front Porch Sketches: Stories from Cyrus Creek When Times Were Simple" is a memoir from Brenda Bond as she looks back on her more idyllic childhood as she remembers it, trying to capture that carefree time that many miss spending nights with our families. "Front Porch Sketches" is worth considering for those who want a walk down to their own memory lanes.

For Women Only
London Tracy
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781477600566, $9.95,

Depression plagues many of us for far too long in our lives. "For Women Only" is an inspirational read from London Tracy as she presents her own ideas for breaking depression, understanding hormonal imbalance, and how to deal with those imbalances all throughout one's life more effectively without pricey drugs. "For Women Only" is worth considering for those who want to consider all options in combating their depression.

Forever We Serve
R. Samuel Baty
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781475935165, $19.95,

The end of World War II did not bring peace, but instead signified a start of many smaller conflicts. "Forever We Serve" is a novel of the Korean War, and the American involvement in the clash of ideologies. An Intelligence officer and a nurse are drawn together by love before the conflict, their romance continues through their stationing in South Korea, although they may be tempted b others surrounding them. "Forever We Serve" is a strong pick for historical fiction collections, especially for those seeking a story set among the Korean conflict.

Family Ties
Krista Kedrick
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475296839, $10.99,

Trying to piece together a life after a series of tragedy rarely has room for romance. "Family Ties" is a romance telling of Grace Tucker, coping with the loss of friends and lost children as well as the entry of city slicker Dirk Caldwell entering her life, and he may have some comfort to offer her through these tough times. "Family Ties" is a choice pick for those seeking tales of romance, highly recommended.

Beyond Our Exodus
Cindy Eksuzian
Privately Published
9780985813802, $28.00

The serenity, the color. Nature does much in inspiring us. "Beyond Our Exodus" is a collection of photography and poetry from Cindy Eksuzian who presents a love of nature with a touch of faith in our lives as we appreciate his creation. "Beyond Our Exodus" is a worthwhile pick for lovers of poetry and nature photography, highly recommended. "Rest": Our buds of innocence/And blossoms of maturity,/Can rest with our spirit/On our chair of eternity.//We know God's been with us,/All through our wilderness,/As we rest in his everlasting, loving kindness./Life and color and light/In our body,/Heaven inside of us.

Sensually Gone
Alles Vorloren
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475047417, $9.95,

A diagnosis of bipolar disorder can scare many. "Sensually Gone" is a memoir from Alles Vorloren as she shares her story of her own diagnosis with bipolar and borderline personality disorder, sharing her life's journey and facing the anguish she faces and looking for acceptance throughout her life. Hoping to shed light on those with such personality issues, "Sensually Gone" is a strong pick for trauma memoir collections focusing on mental conditions.

Tom Dawson
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475230536, $14.95,

Old friendship can keep lives together for a greater future for all. "Cottonwood" is a novel following old Vietnam war buddies Tom Dawson and Sam Wilson, who find themselves together after tattered post war lives. A bad housing deal gets them in a tough situation, and the old men's wits will be tried and tested many times in their future. "Cottonwood" is a must for those seeking stories of senior adventure, recommended.

D. L. King, editor
Cleis Press
2246 Sixth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710-2219
9781573448192, $15.95,

Erotic means giving sexual pleasure or sexually arousing, while exotic means being or from or characteristic of another place or part of the world or strikingly strange or unusual. Those two words are what describe the twenty-one superbly crafted stories of seduction that comprise "Seductress", a 244 page compendium ably compiled and deftly edited by D. L. King (publisher and editor for the adult web site and co-founder of Las Vegas' annual 'Sin City' erotica conference. Showcasing various incarnations of succubi, this is a seminal anthology of impressive literary merit and highly recommended to the attention of a mature readership.

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

Mrs. Malory and a Necessary End
Hazel Holt
Obsidian Mystery
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451415387, $7.99,

Monica's daughter Julia needs her after giving birth prematurely while moving. She asks her friend Sheila Malory to replace her three days a week over the next few weeks as a volunteer at a charity shop in Taviscombe. Initially greeted by dreadful Norma Stanley, Mrs. Malory finds the work interesting. However, she also dislikes her controlling egomaniac supervisor the unpleasant Desmond Barlow; a pain to work for as he always criticizes the staff and bullies his wife Wendy; even Norma bows to his tyranny.

Someone must have agreed with Mrs. Malory's assessment just more sharply when the murdered corpse of Desmond is found in the shop. Inspector Bob Morris leads the inquiry while Mrs. Malory gossiping with friends and other townsfolk begins to uncover pertinent information about a man universally disliked.

The latest Mrs. Mallory English village cozy (see Mrs. Malory And Any Man's Death) is a fascinating leisurely paced whodunit. Mrs. Malory's guided tour of Taviscombe enables the armchair reader to see the town through her eyes. Well written and fun to read although fans will quickly boil down the killer to one of two people.

The Five O'Clock Follies
Theasa Tuohy
Calliope Press
PO Box 2408, New York, NY 10108-2408
9780984779918, $14.99,

In 1968 freelance writer Angela Martinelli arrives in Saigon as a rare female war correspondent. Her male counterparts ridicule the tall classy looking Angela in her high heels and long red hair as out of place in Vietnam. Only Chicago journalist Nick O'Brien gives her a chance to prove herself if she acclimates to life without American upper middle class "luxuries" like a lovely summer dress.

Angela adapts to the ups and downs of war reporting. She bravely covers a covert operation in Cambodia and escapes from the Viet Cong while the military deny any breaching of the boundaries. Her male counterparts continue to scorn her as they reject her accounts as female fanciful fabrications except for Nick.

"The Five O'Clock Follies: What's a Woman Doing Here, Anyway? " is a powerful military historical thriller that focuses on journalists covering the Vietnam War especially a feisty courageous woman crashing through the glass ceiling. The excitement occurs during the major events like the Tet Offensive and the insight into the psychological and physical injuries sustained by the soldiers and reporters. When the storyline concentrates on the mundane between the key war moments the plot slows down yet is even more discerning as the audience observes the journalists (and soldiers) dealing with ennui yet anticipating the next bipolar explosion to report on. The Five O'Clock Follies answers "What's a Woman Doing Here, Anyway?" with reporting the news.

Savage Hunger
Terry Spear
1935 Brookdale Road, #139, Naperville, IL 60563
9781402266928, $7.99,

In the Amazon Rain Forest drug cartel operatives kill five members of a US Army team and capture the solo survivor Captain Kathleen McKnight who they plan to bring to their chief Carlos Gonzales. Though he knows better and can picture his sister Maya yelling at him for getting involved, jaguar-shifter Connor Anderson intercedes saving her life.

One year later in the Columbian Amazon Rain Forest, Connor still dreams of Kathleen. She returns seeking the man accompanied by a jaguar who saved her life. When they meet while he is the jaguar, Connor knows Kathleen is his mate. Now all he has to do is persuade his woman that the jaguar and the man are the same person sharing a Savage Hunger for her.

Shifting (pun intended) from wolves (see Dreaming of the Wolf and Wolf Fever) to jaguars, Terry Spear provides an entertaining paranormal jungle romance. The lead couple forges a delightful triangle between the beast, the man and their woman. With a strong supporting Spear mythos, fans will enjoy visiting the Amazon Rain Forest and wondering what trouble Maya can get into when she seeks her mate.

Fifteen Tales of Murder, Mayhem and Malice from the Land of Minnesota Nice
Minnesota Crime Wave
Nodin Press
530 N Third Street, Suite 120
Minneapolis, MN 55401
9781935666431, $16.00,

The fifteen fine entries that make up the Minnesota Crime Wave anthology are very short engaging stories with each one under 20 pages. All the contributions are well written while varying from jocular to thrilling. In the humorous "This Old House" by Marilyn Victor, wheelchair bound Esther keeps persuading her younger septuagenarian sister to look at various spots where their father hid the family treasure. Though he suffers from PTSD, he knows the Shadow Men come for them unprepared in Richard A. Thompson's dark "The Dark Under The Bed." The clever "Desperadoes" (by Michael Allen Mallory) cannot escape since their getaway car broke down so they take a couple hostage. Murder suspect Toni Barre asks her friend statuesque Catherine if the latter's short private eye boyfriend Sean NMI Sean can investigate the death of Councilman Springfield in exciting "The Horse He Rode In" by Carl Brookins. Kate intercedes on behalf of her BFF Anna when Josh abuses the latter in "Stone Arch Bridge" by Judith Borger. Fans of short crime tales will appreciate this super compilation.

Double Blind
Brandilyn Collins
B&H Publishing Group
127 Ninth Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37234-0143
9781433671647, $14.99,

The past two years of constant traumatic events has destroyed twenty-nine year old Lisa Newberry. She suffered three miscarriages followed by the death of her husband Ryan in an accident and finally five months ago was nearly murdered by a robber in a parking lot. Feeling all alone and abandoned by God, Lisa is severely depressed.

Desperate and unable to live a normal life, Lisa applies as a guinea pig in a medical research experiment in which a chip implanted in the brain emits electrical pulses to heal severe depression. She is accepted as a participant but now fears the concept of brain surgery going awry and perhaps worse being a placebo in the double-blind study. Though nearly mentally paralyzed by her bone marrow deep trepidations, Lisa becomes a study subject.

This is a great refreshing psychological thriller that grips the audience from start to finish. Fans will feel empathy for Lisa who has suffered from one tragedy after another until she no longer functions. Filled with stunning plausible twists, readers will appreciate Brandilyn Collins' intense tale as we wonder whether Lisa is live pulses or the placebo effect.

Galia Ryan
Fanny Press
9781603815147, $12.95,

After years of exorbitant spending on luxurious fashion that she rarely if ever uses, Anna faces personal bankruptcy; which is a horrible scenario for anyone, but exponentially worse for a banker. She no longer can use her credit cards as they are maxed out due to her spending addiction. Her efforts as a born again miser trying live frugally in order to pay off her debt barely have an impact as the accruing interest continues to overwhelm her. Anna needs an additional revenue stream, but ponders what part-time occupation would pay enough to reduce her bills.

Like many financially strapped females before her, Anna knows of only one job that could prove lucrative; she becomes a private escort with plans to retire once her cards are cleared. However, though Anna makes plenty of money enabling her to pay off her debt, she finds a new addiction especially with Jake and Adams.

Anna's apparent addictive personality makes for a strong character driven BDSM tale as she goes from the ecstasy of serial shopper to the ecstasy of serial sex. The two men she likes enhance reader understanding of Anna as they are opposite sides of the same coin. However, this is Anna's awesome adventure with her bouncing from one decision to another only to find new daunting options await her while she learns life is a series of Choices.

Spy in a Little Black Dress
Maxine Kenneth
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10017
9780446567428, $14.99,

In 1951, CIA rookie Jackie Bouvier feels better about her espionage work after surviving her first assignment (see Paris To Die For) and having received some need training. Deputy Director Allen Dulles asks the Washington Times-Herald photojournalist to meet and flirts with Jack Kennedy as he wants the Massachusetts Congressman to become "a friend of the CIA."

Jackie is sent under the guise of her photojournalist job to Cuba. There she is to learn what she can about revolutionary Fidel Castro by getting inside the Communist Party. The CIA wants to better understand his objectives and whether he is a viable threat to the brutal regime of Battista.

The second Jackie Bouvier, CIA operative thriller is a fun over the top of Pico Turquino espionage tale. Fast-paced with plenty of action and anchored in time and place by real persona like Hemingway and Sinatra, fans who relish an exciting implausible action thriller will enjoy Jackie meeting Jack and Fidel as the Spy in a Little Black Dress.

The Gemini Virus
Wil Mara
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765324313, $24.99,

In Ramsey, New Jersey, Bob Easton dies in horrible agony from an unknown illness that had him suffering from large pustules on his entire body and total delirium,. However before he passed away, Bob spread the disease to others. Six more people are dead while the local health responders are overwhelmed with the sick.

Centers for Disease Control Epidemic Intelligence Service epidemiologists Michael Beck and Cara Porter investigate the horrific deaths. As they work the New Jersey epidemic trying to identify what the killer is and whether Easton is patient zero, the disease spreads exponentially across the United States and beyond. America panics as does the world.

With a nod to the movie Contagion, The Gemini Virus is a vivid (the audience will become mysophobia agoraphobic), exhilarating lethal virus thriller. Part of the fun is the reactions of people as some welcome the biblical End of Days while others blame the government. Fast-paced from the first cough and sneeze, the storyline never takes a respite as the Gemini Virus goes viral.

David Lehner
Daniel & Daniel Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564745293, $12.95,

Amoral stockbroker Alex Jenkins tells his friend student Tom Jones that the latter's ex-girlfriend (for one month) Sophia Weston wants to see him. Alex persuades Tom for them to journey to the summer home of Sophia's parents where the young lady is staying. Before they leave, Alex steals signed first edition copies of works by Wolfe and Woolf from one of Tom's professors. They sell the autographed tomes to an unscrupulous bookseller who will tear the pages apart to sell to collectors wanting a piece of the classics.

They head to the summer house, but no one is there though Alex breaks in. The neighbors see them and knowing Tom invite them into their home where Alex sleeps with the daughter to Tom's horror. As they party hop while desperately seeking Sophia, Tom feels disgust with the debauching and lying of his compatriot. Soon he learns his image of virtuous Sophia is a lie as he is the only who has not slept with her. With his life in ruins as the professor threatens to destroy him for the thefts, Tom struggles with the temptations of amorality.

As noted on the back cover, David Lehner modernizes Petronius's The Satyricon (and pays homage to other classics) with this over the top morality drama starring two friends with opposite value systems. Alex is a hedonistic amoral rogue while Tom is an ethical individual with the dilemma that his accompanying his buddy on an out of control odyssey makes him guilty of association and omission. Although fans will find it difficult to accept Tom's innocent naivety, Eclipse is a wild affair.

Catherine Fisher
Dial Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780803738188, $16.99,

Trevelyan gambled away Darkwater Hall and lost all his money. He and his sixteen year old Sarah reside with their former servant Martha in her dilapidated cottage. Her dad remains domicile depressed even as the villagers scorn and humiliate Sarah; while her employer schoolmistress Mrs. Hubbard is even crueler. When Mrs. Hubbard canes Emmeline Rowney, Sarah intercedes; only losing her position. Observing her and seemingly impressed by her courage, Darkwater Hall owner Lord Azrael offers her a chance to regain her family home and atone for the hideous misdeeds of her ancestors. She accepts his demand of her soul, which he will collect in a century.

One-hundred years later, fifteen years old Tom and his mom live in Martha's Cottage. His mother works as a cleaner at Darkwater Hall School. Tom wants to attend the school where his great-grandmother was once a student, but knows he has no chance. Professor Azrael offers him a deal that has Sarah trying to prevent from happening as she does not want the teen to make the same mistake she made when she sold her soul to Azrael.

This is a superb young adult Faustian thriller told in two parts: Victorian England and the late twentieth century. The storyline is fast-paced yet the key cast members are fully developed. With several stunning twist especially a great climatic spin, fans will root for brave Sarah to keep Tom safe and find a loophole in her damning contract with mysterious Azrael.

Jeanne Ryan
9780803738324, $17.99

High school junior "Little" Vee is the one who hides behind the curtain designing costumes and applying makeup to others. Matthew challenges her to audition at a prelim Dare for a spot on the popular Nerve reality show that fans pay a fee to watch. Deciding to enter, she pours cold water on her T-shirt; her friend Tommy sends her Dare to the show.

Now she, Ian and several other chosen ones team up and back stab as they begin taking on challenges with coveted customized prizes as their rewards. The stunts increasingly turn dangerous as each participant debases themselves in the not so friendly competition.

Nerve is an unnerving thriller as Jeanne Ryan asks readers how far someone will go for fame and fortune. The storyline is frantically-paced as Vee and the other contestants seemingly answer that question with anything though psychologically what motivates each of them is not very clear. With a nod to Chuck Barris's Gong Show and Andy Warhol's wry comment "In the future everyone will have their fifteen minutes of fame", fans will relish this insightful look at the contestants inside the coliseum.

A Wreath of Snow
Liz Curtis Higgs
WaterBrook Press
c/o Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200
Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781400072170, $14.95,

In 1894, Meg Campbell took the train from Edinburg to spend Christmas with her family in Stirling, Scotland. Schoolteacher Meg, who had not visited in two years, hates coming home ever since her younger brother Alan became churlish following an accident that paralyzed him. He is worse than ever when he calls her selfish for not selling the home her late Aunt Jean gave her for being her companion for two years. Realizing her sibling adds avarice to his nastiness, Meg leaves intending to take the train back to Edinburgh though she knows she hurts her parents.

Glasgow Herald reporter Gordon Shaw returns to town on an assignment after a dozen years away. He remembers like it was today as a teen curling in Stirling when he lost control of his handle as a ten years old boy raced onto the ice. The stone hammered the child in his lower back leaving the kid paralyzed. Gordon became a pariah and slinked out of town just a short time after the accident. As he waits at the station for the train to depart while the snow heavily falls making travel unlikely, next to him is his victim's older sister.

A Wreath of Snow is an entertaining Christmas tale as a freak accident twelve years ago impacts two families. The characters are fully developed with Meg sorrowful, Gordon guilty; Alan angry and the parents coddling. Even with a late twist, the enjoyable storyline flows down the expected path. Though neither Gordon nor Meg want to remain in town, on the contrary fans will appreciate spending the holidays in snowbound Stirling.

Terry Pratchett
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062009494, $17.99,

In London, two thugs beat up a young woman when Dodger the thieving tosher jumping out of a drain intervenes. She begs him to help her escape as her assaulters want to take her back to the monster she has run away from whose battering of her led to a miscarriage. As he lives up to his name with his snake like speed, Charlie Dickens the author and Henry Mayhew the social reformer arrive at the scene causing the brutes to flee. Charlie and Henry call Dodger Galahad.

Calling the mystery girl he rescued Simplicity, Dodger tries to help this woman he is attracted to; while also trying to prove he is worthy of her. Dodger soon meets Benjamin Disraeli, Queen Victoria and Sweeney Todd in his quest to live up to the reputation of Sir Galahad.

Dodger is an enjoyable historical fiction tale that brings to life Victorian England. The key to this entertaining thriller is Terry Pratchett capturing the vernacular of the era and the tone of several real historical personas though mostly through their interplay with the title character. Although the mystery of Simplicity is more a device to propel the plot forward and there is not a disc in sight, fans will feel they are touring London with Dodger as their guide.

Live by Night
Dennis Lehane
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022-5299
9780060004873, $27.99,

In 1926 Boston, nineteen year old troubled youth Joe Coughlin prefers the illegal night life in spite of his dad and older brother being cops. Joe supplies hookers and illegal drugs and alcohol to customers. During a heist with the Bartolo brothers of a speakeasy owned by Albert White, Joe meets Emma Gould. That robbery proves fruitful for Joe's career when he ends up in prison where Mafia Don Maso Pescatore befriends him, as he likes the kid's moxie.

In 1929 after Joe leaves prison, Maso puts him in charge of his West Florida operation based in Tampa. Over the years, Joe builds a powerful underworld empire and marries Cuban Graciela Corrales. He relocates his headquarters to Havana where Batista is friendly to American gangsters for the right price. As he continues to thrive, cracks begin to surface from within, and from without as rivals and ambitious mobsters want more than just a piece of his action and from the changing American and Cuban governmental interests.

Almost a decade since Joe first appeared in The Given Day, this is an entertaining epic of a career gangster. The storyline is great when the plot is in Boston and prison; it remains strong in Tampa, but in the stretch, the drama seems a bit muddled as too much happens. Still fans will relish Dennis Lehane's deep look at the life of a twentieth century gangster.

The Last Newspaperman
Mark Di Ionno
Plexus Publishing
110 Riverside, Apt. 5-F, New York, NY 10024
9780937548745, $22.95,

In 1999, octogenarian Fred Haines tells the young reporter about his time working for the now defunct New York Mirror in the 1930s and how he never expected to look forward to lunch in a nursing home with an eighty year old broad. As the new kid on the block he got the crap that no one else wanted. In 1932, Fred is stuck covering a kidnapping in "Sticksville" on the wrong side of the Hudson, he assumes he is wasting him time even when the father allegedly is Charles Lindbergh; as he assumes someone is pulling a stunt.

When he realizes the report is genuine, his name is made with this story and the follow-up when he goes mano a mano with Hauptmann. He covers the Morro Castle and Hindenburg disasters; as well as Orson Welles' eye opening radio version of the War of the Worlds in which James learns the true influence of the media to create the illusion of the reality of a false situation. Over the years while covering the Jersey beat, his ambition leads him to create false stories and other amoral actions until the mainstream media exiles him. James thrives anyway as the tabloids love his exposes not caring how he got them or whether they are real.

This is a strong nostalgic look at a time when the print media was the powerful fourth estate keeping a vigilant watch on the three other estates instead of imbedded journalism as seemingly practiced by the mainstream media today. The metafiction technique of Fred's story within a story is deftly handled reminding readers how far reporting has changed as The Last Newspaperman is a deep character driven epic.

Death of a Longship
Marsali Taylor
Attica Books
PO Box 856
Oxford, OX1 9ND, United Kingdom
9781908002457, $9.99,

To the chagrin of her parents, Cass Lynch always preferred sailing to schooling. At sixteen years of age she left home, but to stay afloat, she waits tables. While serving Mr. Berg of Mr. Berg Productions, Cass overhears their discussion about using a Viking longship for a Hollywood movie. She persuades him and his associates to let her skipper the Stormfugl lying in the Shetland Islands; though that means going home for the first time since she ran away.

However, her euphoria ends when she sees the corpse of Maree Baker, stand-in to the film's star, lying dead on the ship's deck. Detective Investigator Macrae leads the homicide investigation with two distinct groups on his radar: the film crew and Cass and her family. Knowing how much a family affair the murder is and fearing she was the intended victim, Cass as is her personality refuses to wait for a killer or a cop to complete their respective actions; instead she investigates.

Death of a Longship is an entertaining amateur sleuth starring an intrepid heroine. The storyline showcase sailing as the protagonist's love of the sea is a key supporting element. Although the storyline can somewhat slow down with the insight into Lynch family dynamics, fans will relish sailing into murder with Marsali Taylor as our skipper.

The Runner
A Wayne Gill
Iron Pillar Media Group
9780979785610, $8.45,

In the Division Three NCAA football semifinals, Ozark College's Michael Knight catches the winning Hail Mary touchdown thrown by his best friend Todd McBride. In the end zone, he thanks God when he hears the voice for the first time telling him to preach to thousands times ten-thousands. Being the son of a preacher Reverend Jeremiah and Kathryn, he is not as shocked with hearing the Word as he thought he should be. Michael also realizes at that moment when his girlfriend Abby Snow calls him her champion that he loves her. However, not all is perfect in heaven as Michael's older sister Cindy feels their dad loathes her and despises her biker boyfriend Ramon Sanchez who reciprocates those feelings.

Just after his team loses in the championship game, Michael receives an admissions letter to attend NYU law school over the objection of Abby and his dad. Cindy congratulates him for being the first Knight to leave Ozark Halls, Missouri. His parents pray for him as both the Snow and Knight families believe he heads to Sodom and Gomorrah. As Michael finds the glitter of temptation in Manhattan, Ramon works for Kansas City gangster Raul Diego-Vega. Soon worlds will collide as everything goes full circle for Michael when death arrives and Krytsal Alvarado goes missing.

The Runner is a fascinating Christian character study that focuses on Michael's journey. The storyline starts slow as readers meet the cast especially the beliefs of the key players. Once relationships are established, A Wayne Gill's opening act turns into a discerning look at a devout person struggling with temptation at a time when the world of his loved ones and him spin mysteriously out of control.

The Martian War
Kevin J. Anderson
Titan Books
144 Southwark Street, London SE1 OUP, UK
9781781161722, $12.95,

In 1894 at London's Normal School of Science elderly biology Professor T.H. Huxley and his young protege H.G. Wells observe a meteor shower with plenty of enthusiasm. While watching the heavenly display they discuss life on other worlds specifically arid colder Mars leading Huxley to conclude with a "war of the worlds" comment.

Huxley decides that Wells has the needed intelligence and imagination to accept that live Martians are on the red planet. He introduces his student and Wells wife Amy Catherine ("Jane") Robbins to the wonders of the Britain's Imperial Institute, where he meets Dr. Hawley Griffin working on invisibility, Dr. Moreau and astronomer Percival Lowell who have sent a message to Mars. However, Wells, Jane and Huxley are accidentally propelled into space where they meet the Martians and learn how the hive-mind Selenites were enslaved. On Mars, the three earthlings cause a Selenite revolt and unleash disease on the water system of the drying out fourth planet from the sun. Desperate for water, the Martians turn to that plentiful third rock for the War of the Worlds seem eminent.

This "The Martian War: A Thrilling Eyewitness Account of the Recent Invasion As Reported by Mr. H.G. Wells" reprint pays terrific homage to H.G. Wells as well as the late Victorian scientific and technical community whose advances laid much of the foundation of the twentieth century. The story line cleverly blends real historical figures like Huxley, Wells, and Lowell with literary characters like Griffin and Moreau. The tale is fast-paced and action packed yet the key players feel three dimensional especially the Martian leader. Fans will enjoy this strong historical science fiction novel while concluding somehow the author will contact Orson Welles to simulcast the story over the Internet.

The Lost Artist
Gail Lukasik
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive
Waterville, ME 04901
9781432825768, $25.95,

In Anna, Illinois Professor Karen Caffrey owns the 1836 Braun House. After stealing pages from the Emily Braun diary, she is shocked to find the nearby grave of the woman open and empty. Soon afterward Karen realizes the man she obtained a restraining order for still stalks her.

Karen's sister Rose, a performance artist, drives from Chicago to Anna because her sister's eerie phone call frightened her and her efforts to phone Karen back were no answered. Rose enters her sibling's home only to find her in the library near a ladder and books on the floor. Though not close, a stunned Rose plans to sell the house until she sees three enigmatic murals whose subjects relates to the 1830s Trail of Tears and learns her late sister hired restoration artist Alex Hague to remove layers of wallpaper that concealed four known murals in all. As she investigates who the mural artist was, Rose and Alex soon team up in search of missing sixteenth century Americana historical National Treasure art while an adversary pursues them.

This is a great thriller that provides the audience with a deep look at the Trail of Tears and at mural art. The storyline is fast-paced from the opening murder scene until the final discovery and disappearance. Rose is a superb heroine as she bravely continues her inquiry knowing what happened to her sister and distrusting the only person she can partner with in her search; as Alex is enigmatic. The Lost Artist is a fabulous mystery.

Death and the Maiden
Frank Tallis
Random House
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780812983340, $15.00,

Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt and his assistant Haussmann arrived at the home of Vienna Opera renowned soprano Ida Rosenkrantz. Rheinhardt learns from Constable Drasche that only the housekeeper frau Marcus who found the body and Dr. Engleberg who she called is inside the home. The corpse is oddly placed at the center of the rug. Dr. Engleberg tells the DI that the victim apparently imbibed a large amount of laudanum so she could have overdosed. To his chagrin, Rheinhardt has to inform his boss Commissioner Brugel so the latter can notify the Lord Chamberlain of the Court Opera singer's death, making the case extremely sensitive.

The autopsy reveals that someone using immense force to crack a rib of the victim while suffocating the famous singer. The DI obtains the assistance of Freudian Dr. Max Liebermann in spite of knowing Vienna's powerful and anti-Semitic Mayor Karl Lueger will object to using a Jew while running for reelection.

The latest Rheinhardt-Liebermann police procedural (see Vienna Secrets and Vienna Twilight) is a superb early twentieth century historical that uses real persona like Court Opera Director Gustav Mahler, Lueger and indirectly Freud. The case proves dangerous while the pair also looks into an alleged accidental death of a Brahms' compatriot who died four decades earlier. Even the personal front comes to life as Rheinhardt increasingly likes being with his family and Liebermann's inamorata Amelia joins the budding feminist movement. Although somewhat more of a cozy with the abatement of violence as compared to previous entries, Frank Tallis provides a strong look at Freud's Vienna.

Joe McKinney
Pinnacle Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
NY, NY 10018-2522
9780786029297, $7.99,

Brilliant Stage IV zombie Red Man leads a horde of human and undead. Their current assignment, besides the relentless hunt for their dwindling food supply requiring precise military like tactics, is Niki Booth the notorious zombie killer. Niki, accompanied by Avery Harper and Sylvia Carnes are meeting with Dr. Don Fisher, who allegedly has a cure for zombie fever. Reporter Ben Richardson follows their story.

As zombies starve, the tyrannical Red Man demands his followers kill Niki and her cohorts. Meanwhile the intrepid humans battle the zombies without a respite as they get closer to their destination, Fisher's lab.

The fourth Dead World urban fantasy (see Dead City, Apocalypse of the Dead and Flesh Eaters) is an exciting thriller. The storyline is fast-paced and filled with action, but the non-stop fighting escapades between the Red Man and his minions vs. Niki and her allies supersedes the twin premises of the Malthusian theory's "population increase would outpace increases in the means of subsistence" and the potential cure. Still diehard deadheads will be grateful for the entertaining albeit improbable Mutated.

The Greatcoat: A Ghost Story
Helen Dunmore
Atlantic Monthly
c/o Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003-4793
9780802120601, $24.00,

In 1952, Great Britain still digs out of the horrors of WWII. Newlyweds Isabel and Philip Carey move to rural Yorkshire where he takes over a medical practice. Philip dives into his work as a country doctor while Isabel suffers from loneliness and a sense she does not belong here rusticating.

On a lonely night, Isabel finds an RAF greatcoat buried in the top of a cupboard by apparently their landlady Mrs. Elizabeth Atkinson. To keep warm on this freezing evening, Isabel puts on the coat and falls asleep. Not long afterward, the ghost of the owner of the coat Alec, a late RAF officer, taps from the outside on the flat's window. The isolated woman and the dead pilot begin a tryst.

This is an exciting 1950s ghost story that switches between the "present" (1952) and WWII as Isabel obsesses over her new "friend". Although none of the triangle protagonists are fully developed beyond their prime role, fans will appreciate the tale of the Greatcoat.

Invisible Murder
Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis
Soho Press
853 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
9781616951702, $25.00,

In Copenhagen, Red Cross nurse Nina Borg (see The Boy in the Suitcase) promised her husband to end her volunteerism in order to spend more time with their two children. However, Nina cannot stay away from the plight of the Hungarian Roma living in an encampment in Valby so she continues to volunteer for the Network.

Networker Peter Erhardsen the engineer and much of the Roma expatriates become violently ill with an unknown sickness. The police arrest Budapest law student Sandor Horvath who they mistakenly think is his stepbrother Tamas Rezmuves; as the cops believe the latter and his partner Pitkin stole radioactive products from an abandoned hospital in Hungary to sell in Denmark. Matters turns ugly as the tainted contraband travels the city while sex traffickers and terrorists threaten the Networkers, their families, the Roma and other good people.

This is an exciting Danish thriller that grips the audience with an obsessive need to know how everything ties together, which Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis successfully achieve by their stunning climax. Action-packed, readers will "clink and drink one down to wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen" (Frank Loesser).

The Doula
Bridget Boland
Gallery Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451641516, $15.00,

Though she comes from a family of funeral directors, Carolyn Connors goes in the complete opposite direction as she becomes a doula. Used to death, her influences in becoming a birthing coach are personal; her mom miscarried and her brother drowned. Ironically in spite of her family working with the deceased, her parents forbid Carolyn mentioning either tragedy.

In Milwaukee, Carolyn's best friend Mary "MG" Grace tells her she is pregnant. Caro quickly heads to her BFF to serve as her birthing coach. However, MG's husband Brad objects as he insists on a hospital delivery and isolates his wife from her childhood friend. When complications occur, MG has no one to turn to except Carol who arrives in time to save the unborn while the mom dies. Brad holds Carolyn responsible for his wife's death and takes her to court accusing her of medical malpractice. Still grieving her BFF's death, a guilt-ridden Carolyn struggles to defend herself.

The Doula is a fascinating look at motherhood as Kahil Gibran stated "On Children" in the Prophet: "You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth." Carolyn is a terrific protagonist as she holds the engaging storyline together. While MG's character abruptly does a 180 degree turn around (perhaps caused by hormones running wild), fans will enjoy this deep look at birth and death.

Emma Cornwall
9781439190357, $15.00

In 1897 Lucy Weston attends a performance of Aida at London's Royal Opera House. Her next conscious thought is being inside a narrow wooden box as she feels she was buried alive but not in a designed coffin. She needs blood while recovering from her ordeal inside her family's vacant house.

As her memory returns with what the stranger did to her that night when her father snoozed while she watches Verdi, she finds a book Dracula by Bram Stoker that allegedly tells her tale. Irate as the author's account is fiction, Lucy travels to London to confront her biographer and the stranger. She never expected to team up with the man who vilified her in his novel.

This is an engaging rendition of the classic Dracula using metafiction in making Bram Stoker a key character. The exciting storyline brings alive (ironically through an Undead) Victorian England, but never quite decides which genre between steampunk, horror or a hybrid of the two; I would have preferred classic horror. Well written this is an entertaining thriller as Lucy returns to London.

Valley of Dust
Karoleen Vry Brucks
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781477125342, $19.99,

In Spruce Pine, North Carolina, as she attends the Penland School of Crafts and tends bar at night to eat, twentyish Selene Holmberg knows she has always been different even from her sisters while growing up in Raleigh. She was and remains the outsider.

A stranger assaults her with intention to rape Selene. Instead a silver haired individual comes out of the shadows, kills the predator, and vanishes back into shadows. Years ago, Lucian recognized Selene's aura when she was a little girl; as a rare live born Strigoli from human parents like him and his brother Anton. He also believes Selene is his destiny after a millennium with no one. However, Anton, who was to keep her safe, and Selene meet and are attracted to one another.

Valley of Dust is an enjoyable vampire romance in which the Strigoli culture comes across fully developed to insure the undead species seems genuine although Selene the loner adjusts to quickly to fitting in with her world turned upside down. The key triangle is deftly established, as readers anticipate a sibling confrontation with the heroine being the prize.

Realms of Gold: Ritual to Romance
Terry Stanfill
Story Merchant
9601 Wilshire Blvd. #1202, Beverly Hills CA 90210
9780615657547, $14.99,

In 1953, archaeologist Rene Joffroy leads a dig near Vix, Burgundy. He believes the fields below Mont Lassois contain an ancient burial site. The excavation finds an incredibly preserved krater and a tomb of a two and a half millennia woman surrounded by treasure. Joffroy and others wonder who she was and why foreign items like an urn were buried in France.

In 2007 Venice, American magazine writer Bianca Evans Caldwell and Italian archaeologist Giovanni de Serlo meet at the wedding of family members Alegrea Bona Dea and Jonathan Evans. They enjoy discussing their love of the past with the mystery of Vix enthralling both of them. She returns to New York while he goes back to a dig Puglia, Italy. However, she begins having dreams about Zatoria; a woman whom Bianca thinks is long dead. She returns to Italy and with Giovanni's help, begins to follow the trail of the enigmatic Vix Krater.

This is an exciting thriller that grips readers from the moment the heroine dreams of Zatoria and never slows down until the protagonists make a startling connection between the Vix corpse and ancient British mythos. Part of the fun is Terry Stanfill offering a viable solution to the five century BC real Vix Krater is the insight into archaeology without slowing down the wonderful storyline. Although the relationship between the author and the archeologist at times seems forced, this is a super thriller.

Queen of the Waves
Janice Thompson
Summerside Press
9781609366865, $12.99,

In 1912, her affluent father wants his spoiled daughter Jacqueline Abington to marry a kind peer. Instead she decides to elope with the family gardener. However, the get away with her scheme, she needs someone to take her place on maiden voyage of the Titanic.

Realizing she has an opportunity to start fresh away from her abusive father in America, Tessa Bowen agrees to masquerade as Jacqueline in luxury on the great ship. On board, she meets New Yorker insurance businessman Nathan Patterson. They are attracted to one another and she wants to tell him the truth, but fears that will leave her with nothing as he probably would reject her as not his equal. Then that deadly night occurs.

This is a thrilling Edwardian Era romance that deftly uses the Titanic as a fantastic backdrop. The lead couple is a powerful pairing while the super support cast brings to life the pre-voyage in England and the fatal trip. Readers will enjoy the 1% and 47% falling in love while tragedy strikes.

Where the Trail Ends
Melanie Dobson
9781609366858, $12.99,

In 1841, eighteen years old Samantha Waldron and her younger brother Daniel continue the trek along the Oregon Trail after their parents die. They hope to safely reach Willamette Valley before winter leaves them stranded in a life threatening situation. Their canoe capsizes on the Columbia River. However British exporter Alexander Clarke rescues them and escort them to Fort Vancouver.

Many men want Samantha, but she is attracted to Alex who apparently does not feel the same way about her. When his fiancee arrives, Samantha decides she must leave the fort as she cannot cope with seeing her beloved with another woman. However when Daniel vanishes, her only hope to find her sibling resides with Alex.

Where the Trail Ends is a fantastic historical as Melanie Dobson once again has armchair readers believing they are on trekking nineteenth century Americana (see Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa). The lead couple is a solid duet as they and others bring to life the Oregon Trail and Fort Vancouver as the romantic subplot supports the vivid look at 1840s manifest destiny fulfilled by daring people taking dangerous risks in search of a better life.

A Sweethaven Christmas
Courtney Walsh
Box 5815, Harlan, IA 51593
9780824931827, $13.99,

The Sweethaven scrapbookers are looking forward to the holidays until each faces a personal issue. At the Grotto for Thanksgiving, Lila notices a woman staring at her while her parents act odd until a few days later she learns the stranger Charlotte is not her dad's latest lover but his daughter on a mission.

Adele finds an old scrapbook on her bookshelf, which reminds her of the boy whose heart she broke years ago; she arranges for them to meet. Campbell panics when she sees Luke holding a ring. Jane feels like the shy overweight tweener when she encounters Lori for the first time in years. Meghan struggles with balancing her singing career with raising her family as Christmas nears.

The latest Sweethaven Scrapbookers' tale (see Sweethaven Homecoming and Sweethaven Summer) is an engaging drama that rotates perspective amongst the fab five. Although the degrees of intensity and pathos greatly vary, readers will enjoy this entry.

Too Far To Say Far Enough
Nancy Rue
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434764904, $14.99,

In Saint Augustine, Harley-Davidson rider Allison "Miss Angel" Chamberlain may have found Jesus seven years go, but recently felt more like Job than a modern day female Jonah. Big Al feels she has done what the Lord wants of her with two Sacrament Houses and the Sisters' second hand clothing boutique she opened, but that irritant God keeps nudging her to do more. Even her successful adaption of teenage Desmond does not silent the heavenly pest though she admits to herself making the teen her family is good for her.

Big Al insists to the Lord she got the message that he nudges her to go an extra mile, but that he needs a better suited runner as his holy prophet to lead the straying flock back to the Promised Land. What Big Al fails to grasp is that she must lose the bone marrow deep loathing and anger in order to truly embrace God with her heart, enabling her to understand too far is not far enough.

The third Reluctant Prophet inspirational (see Unexpected Dismounts) is a wonderful whimsical contemporary tale held together by kick butt Big Al. Though the overall entertaining storyline contains some scenes that feel too long, the trials and tribulations of the biker make for a strong redemption thriller.

Beyond the Storm
Carolyn Zane
Abingdon Press
PO Box 801, Nashville, TN 37202
9781426745973, 12.99,

The EF5 tornado rips Walterville before heading to the heart of the Midwest, Rawston. Several people die as much as the small town is devastated. Those who survived feel fortunate but fear for the uncertainty of their respective future.

Twentyish Doo Drop-In Hair Salon owner Abigail Durham finds a piece of a wedding dress. She begins a quest to find other items from the rubble that were part of other people's lives. She is attracted to contractor Justin Girard, but feels emotional raw with what happened to her and her neighbors. Meanwhile octogenarian quilt shop owner Selma Tully encourages making a memorial quilt honoring the townsfolk by using swatches from especially those who died.

Paying homage to the victims of the devastating 2011 Joplin and the 2007 Greensburg tornados, Carolyn Zane opens up the Quilts of Love with a strong character driven drama. Although there is stereotyping, the deep look at the aftermath on the survivors is insightful as Abigail wonders if the Lord abdicated as she ponders where in the hell was and is God?

Slayer's Prey
Crystal Rain-Love
ImaJinn Books
PO Box 74274, Phoenix, AZ 85087-1004
9781610260909, $14.00,

BFFs Jacob Porter and Bobby Romano take a short cut home through an alley. Jacob is nervous while Bobby is fearless. Vampires attack the two tweeners. Bobby is killed while a female voice tells Jacob to run, which he does. A cat attacks the vampires killing three of them, but one Demarcus escaped though she clawed him and he bit her. The feline becomes Jacob's pal but conceals from the child she protects that she is a shapeshifter; while he vows to slay the species who murdered his friend.

Sixteen years later Jacob and his kitty Alley follow a vampire blood bath from Baltimore to Louisville. Alley loves Jacob, but because of the bite has no hope for a future with him. Still she decides she needs to be in human form if she is to keep Porter safe as he goes after a deadly predator. Thus Nyla Katt the huntress appears. As they team up to assassinate Demarcus, he needs one of them to purify what the shapeshifter did to him; so to trap his adversaries, he has spread bloody breadcrumbs from Maryland to Kentucky.

The second Blood revelation romantic urban fantasy is a fabulous thriller starring two appealing protagonists and a stalking vampiric psychopath. Readers anticipate the High Midnight confrontation supplemented by an intriguing refreshing romantic subplot.

The Sparrow and the Hawk
Meg Lacey
ImaJinn Books
PO Box 74274, Phoenix, AZ 85087-1004
9781610260978, $14.00,

At Ardmore College near Cincinnati, NAS (Normal, Abnormal, Strange) Agency chief Dr. Calvin Walters assigns his niece operative Jillie "Sparrow" Harte with obtaining the dangerous Carmaletta Choker. Uncle Cal believes collector Franklin Doherty has the choker that if deployed could destroy the world.

Jill uses her cover as a documentary filmmaker doing a movie on "Decoration, Fashion and Accessories Throughout History" to meet Franklin as he owns a famous collection. However, her cameraman fails to make the assignment; instead Griff "Hawk" Ryland replaces him; Jillie is attracted to, but distrusts him. After meeting with Franklin, he invites them to stay at his mansion and attend a party he hosts. Strange happenings occur, but the most enigmatic is they find Franklin dead.

The Sparrow and the Hawk is an enjoyable fantasy undercover thriller starring two intriguing protagonists and a weird house filled with odd collectibles that belong in Warehouse 13 (mansion included). Fast-paced with a tongue in cheek feel to the events that unfold, fans will appreciate the case of the Carmaletta Choker while the heroine wonders who she can trust.

Mercedes Lackey
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756407452, $25.95,

In Valdemar, Herald trainee Mags displays unique skills as he is fluent in Mindspeech and shows a penchant towards stealth. The King's Own Herald Nikolas trains Mags as a royal spy.

His first assignment is to investigate the strangers who recently have arrived in Valdemar as his mentor needs to know who they are and more important why they entered the city. Unaware when he began spying on the newcomers, they are interested in him. When they kidnap him, Mags knows he needs to escape soonest or face death and perhaps something worse as he realizes these new arrivals targeted him from the onset.

The fourth Valdemar Collegium Chronicles (see Changes) is an entertaining fantasy starring a likable lead character who has come a long way from his Magpie slave days (see Foundation). Fans of the saga will enjoy the engaging storyline due to the 5-whys mystery, but Mags fails to assimilate as he does not move forward much even in captivity; he remains a stranger in a strange land though he learns more of who he is.

The Wild Road
Jennifer Roberson
9780756404956, $25.95

Alisanos the sentient woods continues to change its borders encroaching into the lands of the humans. No one trapped inside this Deepwood Forest remains unscathed. Audrun the mother of five knows this first hand as she, her mate Davyn and their offspring fled their home only to have Alisanos trap them.

Separated from her four older children, Audrun, under the protection of Rhuan the demigod guide, gave birth prematurely to Sarith; only to lose her newborn to a demon. Fearing for her baby, Audrun locates her other kids while Davyn continues his frantic search for his lost family. However, as monsters roam the predatory woods, Audrun realizes Alisanos has changed her children, but she fears what they have become.

The third Karavans family fantasy is an exciting epic as Audrun and Davyn desperately search separately; while fearing the worst as anyone trapped inside of Alisanos can never leave since those outside reject them as different. Fans will be disappointed with the abrupt climax and that the overarching theme moves glacially, if at all. Still diehard readers of the saga will want to know how the trapped not so human anymore family are doing within the dangerous Alisanos.

Ember's Kiss
Deborah Cooke
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451238252, $7.99,

Brandon Merrick denies his Pyr heritage as he refuses to use his dragon-shifting ability to protect mankind from the Slayers who plan to eradicate both races. His action has isolated him from his heartbroken family and his race, but he cares not one iota. Instead he has become a professional surfer working the waves off Hawaii. Chen the Slayer pretends to be an older friend of Brandon, who insists he can help the surfer control his undesirable dragon side. However, Chen in reality has been casting a binding spell on Brandon that will force the dolt to do his bidding.

Marine biologist Liz Barrett arrives in Hawaii to study the reefs. Like Brandon she flees her ancestry as a witch firedaughter. When they meet, their essence ignites the Firestorm as each recognizes their mate in the other. However, Chen has Brandon captured with only Liz, if she deploys her heritage, able to save her loved one and the innocent on the island.

The latest Dragonfire urban fantasy (see Flashfire) is a super thriller starring two protagonists rejecting genetics and a diabolical villain manipulating that denial. Action-packed, series fans will relish this superb entry that profoundly digs into an individual's desires to include rejecting their inherited nature while also bringing witches into the Cooke mythos.

Werewolf in Denver
Vicki Lewis Thompson
9780451238641, $7.99

Werecon2012 hosted in Estes Park near Denver focuses on the theme of "Our future in a changing environment." Scottish were Duncan MacDowell the founder of Werewolves Optimizing Our Future (WOOF) and American were Kate Stillman the founder of "Honoring Our Werewolf Legacy" will debate marriage to human partners. Duncan supports the Wallace Experiment (see Werewolf in the North Woods and A Werewolf in Manhattan) while Kate believes that interspecies relationships are doomed to fail.

When the head WOOF and head HOWLER meet, they are chagrined by their attraction to each other. As they fight their feelings, he knows making her his mate will destroy his work and affirm hers. She knows he only will wed a human to validate his belief. Love may not be enough for this arguing pair.

The latest Wild About You romantic urban fantasy (see Werewolf in Seattle) is a clever lighthearted tale that will remind readers of the marriage between Mary Matalin and James Carville but with fur literally flying. The storyline is fast-paced as the lead couple fights each other and their respective hearts.

Beauty and the Bounty Hunter
Lori Austin
9780451238276, $7.99

In 1870 Abilene, Cathleen "Cat" O'Banyon pretends to be a whore in order to catch Clyde. She ties him up before asking her question "you or her?' Alexi Romanov arrives and kisses Cat. She knows he saved her life when someone murdered her husband Billy. She became a bounty hunter with a goal to catch the killer. Alexi taught her how to play various roles. He warns her men seek Cat. Two men enter the room asking for Cat. Alexi tells her to meet him St. Louis as he gets the men to chase after him while she delivers Clyde to her brother-in-law Ben the Rock River sheriff.

Cat takes the train to St. Louis dressed as a woman but leaves the train dressed as a boy. She finds Alexi the con artist claiming to be "Count Sukhoruken! Famed Healer of Balshika!" to sell Black Sea elixir. His assistant is brain damaged Mikhail. He tells her there is a large dead or alive bounty on her. Alexi asks her to travel with him to Denver City where Cat's body is to be delivered as they begin a final confrontation with her past as a wife of a murdered farmer and his as a Civil War sniper.

The characters are refreshingly unique as the Civil War impact on vets is powerful with the male lead suffering from battle fatigue and his "brother" from a brain injury. The engaging storyline focuses on Cat's mission of vengeance as she gets them in and out of trouble. Although the climax is a bit of a letdown, the road getting there is fabulous.

Fury's Kiss
Karen Chance
9780451413239, $7.99

Working undercover with teammates trying to learn how magical weapons were being smuggled out of Faerie, Dorina Basarab the dhampir awakens to a bloodbath in a lab which she is the sole survivor except for a male staring at her. She tries to kill him, but master vampire Louis-Cesare prevents her from doing so.

The Vampire Senate demands answers to what went wrong as they assume the worst of Dory as everyone knows the hybrid dhampir species fly into berserker rages rather easily. Dory has controlled her urges by going after rogue vampires and evil demons. She does not recall what happened that led to the massacre as if her memory cells were tampered with. As she seeks the truth, Dory faces mad scientists wanting to continue their experiment, fallen angels with malice, and a more malevolent violent vampire subspecies.

The third Midnight's Daughter urban fantasy (see Death's Mistress) is a dark exhilarating thriller filled with nonstop action yet also enables the audience to look deep at the self-destructive dhampir species. Dory holds the storyline focused as she investigates what occurred in the lab only to run into a horde of nasty adversaries with Louis-Cesare and perhaps her dad having her back. Fury's Kiss is a strong entry in a fabulous saga.

A Heart Made New
Kelly Irvin
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North
Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736943833, $13.99,

In Bliss Creek, Kansas, Annie Shirack and David Plank love each other. Annie, who works for David's mom at Plank's Pastry and Pie Shop, wants to forge a relationship with him. David does too, but refuses to act on his feelings because he struggles with Hodgkin's lymphoma and refuses to allow his beloved the tsuris of dealing with someone with a potential death sentence.

Logan McGee robs the bakery so that he can feed Charisma and their two years old daughter Gracie. Annie feels for the foolish lad while also taking into her home Charisma and Gracie. As a desperate Logan compounds his mistakes, Annie tries to help her two guests start anew while praying for the Lord to persuade David they belong together even if their time proves short.

The latest entertaining Bliss Creek Amish drama continues the tales of the Shirack family whose parents died in a tragic accident (see To Love and to Cherish). The cast is fully developed cast as two family members (younger brother Josiah) star in romances. Readers will appreciate this strong character-driven tale as love never dies.

Nowhere to Run
Amy Wallace
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North
Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736947336, $13.99,

Montezuma, Georgia Police Officer Ashley Walters feels someone is stalking her. Her fiance Patrick James, her family and friends tell her she needs to see the police counselor more as they assume her recent case has her slightly off kilter (see Hiding In Plain Sight). When a vase of roses not given to her by Patrick is left outside her home, she finds the proof of a stalker. Soon after that Patrick is run off the road and a manila envelope arrives with photos of her dating back to high school. The culprit beats up Patrick sending him to hospital and a cop protecting her is shot when the stalker breaches her parents' ultra-secure home.

Fearing for the safety of her loved ones, Ashley flees Georgia accompanied by her BFF Margo. They take sanctuary in the Mennonite community in Shipshewana, Indiana. After warning Marshal Tom Taylor, Ashley reconsiders faith in God to protect those she cherishes but also has doubts about the Lord who she believes deserted her when her brother was murdered a decade ago.

The second Place of Refuge romantic suspense is an action-packed inspirational as a stalker knows in his gut that Ashley belongs to him and does macho insane things to prove to her his assertion. Fast-paced from the moment the vase is left at the beleaguered heroine's door and never slowing down until an anticipated confrontation, readers will enjoy this deep look inside the soul of a disbeliever trying to find her way back to the Lord and inside a "Criminal Mind".

A Grid For Murder
Casey Mayes
Berkley Prime Crime
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780425251645, $7.99,

Savannah Stone drives into nearby Asheville, North Carolina when she stops for tea at Cafe Noir. She would have headed straight home in Parson's Valley if she knew obnoxious Joanne Clayton was there. Joanne shows Savannah a puzzle she created that was bought by the Asheville Alternative newspaper. Savannah, who is a nationally syndicated puzzle creator, congratulates her. Two other residents of Parson's Valley Laura Moon and Sandra Oliver join them.

When she gets home, her husband retired Charlotte police chief Zach tells her that someone poisoned Joanne. Savannah tells her spouse about having distasteful tea with Joanna. Zach takes her to the Asheville police where State Police Captain North temporarily runs the office. Savannah tells her story to North and Zach offers his services. Back home, Savannah, worrying about her reputation as a relative newcomer, and her widow friend hardware store owner Rob Hastings draw up a list of suspects as they investigate the murder.

The third Mystery by the Numbers (see A Killer Column and A Deadly Row) is an engaging amateur sleuth as Savannah and Rob work their inquiry. His reason for investigating seems possible though unlikely; while hers seems improbable. Still the whodunit is clever as Savannah works her suspect list by the numbers.

Practically Wicked
Alissa Johnson
9780425258033, $7.99

At Mrs. Wraeburn's gala, a drunken Viscount Maximilian Dane arrives in the library to find the furniture rather odd. Already there is "the" Miss Anna Rees who explains that Lord Highsup cut the legs off when she was six years old. He astutely states she is not six as he calls her the "Ice Maiden of Anover House" and she retaliates by naming him the "Disappointment of McMullin Hall."

The pair is total opposite in nature as she prefers a quiet scandal-free life after growing up as the daughter of a courtesan who grew up in her mom's environment while he relished wickedness as vice is the ultimate virtue. They are attracted to one another, but she rejects his efforts for a tryst refusing to cede her Nearly a Lady status. Dane thinks he may have to court Anna as An Unexpected Gentleman, but that goes against his hedonistic lifestyle. Instead he tempts his beloved to come to his Practically Wicked world.

This is an engaging gender war historical romance starring two adversaries in love. Fast-paced from the opening encounter, fans will enjoy the combat between the hedonist rake and the courtesan's daughter as each knows love is not enough to bridge the lifestyle gap that separates them.

The Vampire Combat Manual: A Guide to Fighting the Bloodthirsty Undead
Roger Ma
9780425247655, $15.00

The Vampire Combat Manual is a fun lampooning of the genre as Max Brooks (with illustrator Max Werner) provides a how to guide in fighting the undead. The author separates fact from fiction and what weapons like stakes, guns and crossbows lethally work best to avoid becoming a blood donor. Those who have read The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead or The Zombie Combat Manual: A Guide to Fighting the Living Dead will find a sameness to the theme although a different paranormal with differing traits is highlighted. With insight into the natural properties of garlic and the unnatural properties of artificial ultraviolet light, fans will enjoy the tongue in cheek guide to Fighting the Bloodthirsty Undead.

Mate Claimed
Jennifer Ashley
9780425251010, $7.99

In Shifterown, Iona Duncan hides her shifter Wildcat side though she refuses to wear a Collar because she fears if exposed what will happen to her mom and sister. The town's alpha Eric Warden recognizes Iona as a hybrid masquerading as a purebred human. He waits anticipating when her mating need takes over her mind and body.

Eric worries about Iona because if she remains stubbornly in denial she soon will die. Worse he knows who her mate is and waits for her to recognize the reality of who he is. When her mating desire explodes, Iona struggles to control her need for Eric.

The latest Shifters Unbound romantic urban fantasy (see Wild Cat) is a wonderful brisk thriller due to the relationship between the two protagonists hampered by Iona's clinging to her denial defense mechanism. The heroine's insistence on pretending to be human even as her mating instincts demand otherwise brings freshness to a strong series. Readers will relish the paranormal romance dance of love or death.

Erica Hayes
9780425258378, $7.99

In what was once Manhattan, but now Babylon, Luniel the Fallen Angel looking out from Liberty Island sees the signs that Apocalypse is coming. Demons have released two of God's holy wrath vials. One changed the sea near Liberty island into blood and the other has created zombies.

Medical examiner Dr. Morgan Sterling believes everything can be explained by science with the cause for those phenomena that cannot be proven due to a lack of understanding. She believes she can cure the zombie plague using medical research. Lune comes to her morgue but fails to persuade the agnostic leaning atheist that there are things from heaven and hell that science cannot fathom. They team up in search of Patient Zero as he and other Fallen seeking redemption seek those royal demons who stole and deployed two of the seven holy wrath vials.

The first Seven Signs romantic dark urban fantasy is an exciting thriller starring an intriguing Fallen angel in a world in which the Demon Princes have begun the End of Days although Morgan's obstinacy in spite of the evidence to the contrary becomes a distractor. Still readers will enjoy Revelation as Apocalypse now has commenced in New York City.

Mortal Ties
Eileen Wilks
9780425254929, $7.99

A B&E thief enters Nokolai Clanhome. The felon steals a magical gizmo that Cullen Seaborne was working on. FBI agent Lily Yu and her fiance Nokolai Lu Nuncio Rule Turner panic as the gadget is far from ready for prime time as it is unstable while the maniacal loyalist to the Old One Robert Friar remains on the loose.

Yu believes the culprit not only knows about the erratic nature of the mechanism, but plans to use the unfinished invention because of that unpredictable and uncontrollable nature. She also strongly thinks that someone inside of the Nokolai betrayed the clan by abetting the theft. While the clan pressures its leader to resolve the breach, Yu investigates as adversaries try to abduct her sister Beth.

The latest Lupi urban fantasy (see Blood Challenge and Human Error in the Tied With A Bow anthology) is a terrific entry. The war between the Lupi and Old Ones is heating up. Readers will appreciate this fabulous thriller with the clan coming front and center as a traitor apparently has sold out his or her "family".

Tempting the Bride
Sherry Thomas
9780425251027, $7.99

In 1896, the Ton believes that David Hillsborough, Viscount Hastings, has never been in love. However, David suspects that a few people who truly know him realize he loves Helena Fitzhugh; but she hates him ever since he was a teenage snot and besides she loves a married man. When a tryst goes wrong, David intercedes to keep Helena out of a life ruining scandal. They elope.

A carriage accident leaves Helena suffering from amnesia. Seeing a chance at happiness David persuades his wife they are in love. As they become friends and lovers, the moment David dreads yet wants occurs; his beloved's memory returns.

The latest Fitzhugh Victorian romance (see Ravishing the Heiress) is an engaging historical starring a lead male in unrequited love and the female he cherishes who loathes him. The amnesia ploy has been used before in relationships (including the TV show Grim), but comes across fresh as David knows his judgment day of reckoning is coming but cannot stop himself from insisting they are in love.

Wicked Whisper
Nina Bangs
9780425253137, $15.00

At the Castle of Dark Dreams on Galveston Island, guest Murmer the demon informs his friend Bain that he needs to find an isolated place to release his music power before he harms someone when he loses control due to his ability if turning into an internal torture. On a beach with no one in sight, he begins his tune.

Newly hired personal assistant to Sparkle Stardust whom she has not yet met, Ivy Lowe is on the beach when she hears the music. She cannot stop herself from dancing until Murmer joins her before freeing her. Ivy dreams of Murmer in spite of her efforts to focus on the job only. Holgarth the Wizard warns her to stay away from the dangerous Murmer whose music leaves others dead. Neither the dark Underworld soulless one nor the innocent human can avoid their attraction. However, Bain needs Murmer's talent and has plans for Ivy involving the rescue of his love trapped with the Slaugh Sidhe Unseelie horde.

The latest erotic Castle of Dark Dreams romantic urban fantasy (see Wicked Fantasy and My Wicked Vampire) is an enjoyable wicked entry tale starring an intriguing demon whose power leaves fear in just about everyone; yet this nonentity holds her own with him. Though the lead couple's relationship seems similar to that between the virginal angel and the sinful demon, fans will enjoy this fast-paced star-crossed lovers' thriller.

A Fatal Stain
Elise Hyatt
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425255230, $7.99

Daring Finds furniture refinishing storeowner Candyce "Dyce" Dare is running out of diversions as her mom and her BFF Ben Colm demand she join them to plan her wedding to Goldport Serious Crimes Unit Chief Investigator Cas Wolfe. Dyce struggles with their concept of Pythagoras dressed in a tuxedo as the Best Cat and fears whatever else the dynamic duo has in mind.

While sanding a table she bought at the semi-permanent garage sale, Dyce uncovers a stain that looks like blood. Though she knows it is probably her imagination running wild due to growing up in her parent's mystery bookstore, Dyce visits the garage sale location accompanied by E. She learns the last owner vanished; so she wonders if the disappearance ties back to the stain.

The latest A Daring Finds investigation (see French Polished Murder) is an amusing amateur sleuth starring a likable but immature heroine. The mystery is fun to follow though Dyce has no real reason to make inquiries. Still fans will enjoy this cozy and appreciate tips on restoring furniture.

If Mashed Potatoes Could Dance
Paige Shelton
9780425251614, $7.99

In Broken Rope, Missouri, Miz Winston owns Gram's Country Cooking School; her granddaughter Isabelle "Betts" Winston works closely with her. Betts' best friend, Broken Rope's Historical Society historian and fake sheriff Jake asks them if they can host a busload of foodies whose reservation was messed up and provide cooking lessons. The two relatives wonder where anyone will stay except the floor as their establishment is not a hotel; Betts arranges accommodations for the foodie crowd.

Soon afterward, Miz and Betts encounter the ax-wielding ghost of patricide murderer Sally Swarthmore. She pleads with the pair to find her diary that will prove she is not the notorious cold-blooded killer of legend. They also find one of their guests dead with a noose around his neck; two other foodies are missing. Betts turns to her boyfriend Cliff of the local police department while also doing an inquiry.

The latest Country Cooking School Mystery (see If Fried Chicken Could Fly) is an entertaining amateur sleuth starring a heroine struggling to adapt to communicating with ghosts though she has a mentor helping her adjust. The pair of whodunits engages the audience though the solutions of each seem obvious early on. Still fans will enjoy Betts working paranormal and human murder cases.

What the Cat Saw
Carolyn Hart
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425252741, $25.95

Out of work investigative reporter Nela Farley, though in denial, can "hear" the thoughts of cats when she looks them in the eye ever since her fiance died. When her sister, Chloe decides to take a last second vacation with her squeeze Leland in Tahiti, she persuades Nela to fill in for her at the Haklo Foundation. Thus Nela arrives in Craddock, Oklahoma where she stays in the apartment of charity organization's deceased chief operating officer Marian Grant, who recently died in an alleged accident.

Marian's cat Jugs implies his beloved owner tripped on a rolling board on the second step. Though she prefers to ignore what she heard, Police Detective K.T. Dugan conducts a wrongful death investigation and has found anomalies that lead him to suspect Chloe may have committed a homicide since she fled the country in a hurry. Nela using her cat sense looks closely at the others at the Foundation.

With Annie Darling taking a well-deserved respite, Carolyn Hart begins the Nela Farley paranormal amateur sleuth series with a strong opening act. The heroine's uncanny one-way communication skill comes across as genuine partly because of her defense mechanism posture to ignore it as she fears her ability is irrational behavior and partly because of cat-speak somehow seems right. The whodunit is clever as fans will appreciate this enjoyable Dr. Doolittle cozy.

Alison Kent
Berkley Heat
9780425253267, $15.00

In Crow Hill, Texas Tess and Dave Dalton left their rundown ranch to the Dalton Gang (Dax Campbell, Boone Mitchell and Casper Jayne). Hellcat Saloon owner Arwen Poole went to high school with the gang, but none of the noticed her, but it was the indifference of Dax, who she had a crush on sixteen years ago, that hurt.

When they meet for the first time after he left town years ago, Dax fully notices Arwen and her attributes. He wants her for a short fling as commitment is not in his dictionary; while she wants him for a short fling to get him flushed from her system. As they share a wonderful tryst, love intrudes on their best laid plans.

The first heated Dalton Gang romance stars two fascinating fully-developed protagonists who are offspring of alcoholic dads. Although the storyline goes the expected course, the pair's making love in seemingly every conceivable spot makes for a hot time in Texas.

The Care and Feeding of an Alpha Male
Jessica Clare
Berkley Heat
9780425253168, $15.00

In Bluebonnet, Texas, after an on and off and on relationship with nice guy Allan, salon owner Beth Anne Williamson ends their engagement permanently as she is tired of his inability to keep his dick zippered. Beth Ann's mom Jeannette sends her out to bring home her younger sister Lucy who is with her boyfriend Colossal attending a QuestMasters convention at a time when their dad meets with Senator Brown.

A reluctant Beth Ann heads to the Arcane Forest where the tournament is being held. When she gets lost in the woods during a rainstorm, former Marine Colt Waggoner finds Beth Anne. He thinks she is spoiled and pampered while she feels he disses her like he did before he left for the military. Angry, Colt decides to teach the snob a lesson in survival; but their rage towards each other turns to love. However, Allan is back as he needs Beth Anne in his life or face losing clients while Colt believes she is better off with her ex rather than someone from a scandalous family like his.

The second Bluebonnet romance (see The Girl's Guide to (Man) Hunting) is a fun heated contemporary as the townsfolk and Colt assume that Allan is the man for Beth Anne. The cast is solid as love (and great sex between batman and Wonder Woman) may not be enough for Colt and Beth Ann.

Murder She Wrote: Domestic Malice
Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451238030, $23.95,

In Cabot Cove, Maine, mystery writer Jessica Fletcher volunteers at the Cabot Cove Women's Shelter. She and the shelter's head Edwinna Wilkerson are chatting at the facility when battered Myriam Wolcott arrives. The mother of two (sixteen years old Mark and twelve years old Ruth) rejects medical attention, rejects filing a police report and refuses to remain at the facility. She goes home though she fears her spouse Josh, a financial planner, will harm her again.

The next morning Edwinna shocks Jessica with the news that someone murdered Josh just outside his home. Myriam's brother and sister-in-law arrive followed by her martinet mother Mrs. Caldwell who threatens legal action if either Edwinna or Jessica mentions her daughter's visit to the shelter. Mrs. Caldwell warns the sheriff as well while demanding her late son-in-law provide her with the will. When Myriam confesses, Jessica begins an investigation though she vowed not to.

The latest Murder She Wrote mystery (see Trouble at High Tide) is a terrific whodunit that highlights family abuse and to a lesser degree environmental concerns. The whodunit is clever with a stunning twist on top of an "obvious" spin as Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain provide a super mystery that leaves the heroine questioning whether the truth is always the right thing.

I, Jane
Diane Haeger
9780451237897, $15.00

In 1514 the Seymour family travels to France as part of the marital party of Princess Mary (see The Secret Bride for her tale). Young Jane Seymour is included in the now French Queen's retinue. After a couple of years in France, Jane and her family return home to Wiltshire following the death of French King Louis XII. His widow, Queen Mary, sister of English King Henry VIII, arrives in England with a baby sired by her sibling's most trusted ally. Jane expects to marry her childhood protector William Dormer and raise a family in rustic serenity.

However, his family rejects her. Instead Jane becomes a lady In Waiting to beleaguered Queen Katherine of Aragon, who is losing her spouse to bodacious Anne Boleyn. While remaining loyal to Queen Katherine when everyone deserts the royal, Jane loathes Anne for what she is doing. However, to the shock of everyone, King Henry VIII turns to plain Jane for comfort making her his third wife after executing Anne for treason. She gives him his only male heir, but dies two weeks after her son's birth.

The latest In The Court Of Henry VIII historical (see The Queen's Rival) is a fascinating account of I, Jane Seymour. The title character's detesting of Anne Boleyn is a unique premise though when considering Jane's loyalty and honesty seems plausible. However, the treatment of Anne as an amoral wicked seductress, even through the loathing filter of Jane, feels unbalanced. Still this is an engaging look at the third wife of Henry VIII.

The Chocolate Moose Motive: A Chocoholic Mystery
JoAnna Carl
9780451238023, $22.95

At the South Haven, Michigan supermarket, Lee McKinney Woodyard overhears a man threaten a woman over custody of his grandson Johnny. Colonel Ace Smith makes it clear he has the resources to destroy his widowed daughter-in-law Forsythia "Sissy" Smith if she fails to obey his command and her hippie grandma Wildflower whom mother and daughter live with. Feeling sorry for the beleaguered woman, Lee hires Sissy to work as a bookkeeper at her TenHuis Chocolade shop in nearby Warner Pier.

Fostered by the county sheriff though he lacked evidence, the townsfolk believe that Sissy murdered her husband Buzz. The murder of Ace's housekeeper Helen Ferguson also points to Sissy. However, town Police Chief Hogan Jones does not allow bias against blood relatives who protested the Vietnam War interfere with his open-minded investigation. Assisted by her husband Joe the lawyer and her Aunt Nettie, Lee also makes inquires, which places her in danger.

The latest chocoholic mystery (see The Chocolate Cupid Killings and The Chocolate Castle Clue) is an enjoyable cozy as readers will wonder whether Sissy or Ace are the killers in spite of both apparently having loved Buzz. Fans will appreciate this engaging whodunit served with chocolate fudge.

Bertrice Small
9780451237958, $16.00

In 1474 affluent Florentine silk merchant Giovanni Pietro d'Angelo and his wife Orianna expect to arrange the right marriages for their daughters starting with the oldest, sweet beautiful Lady Bianca. However, her future collapses when her brother Marco admits to doing something stupid. He and Stefano Rovere visited a courtesan who died when his friend rode her. To avoid a scandal they dumped her body in the river. Stefano told his abusive father Sebastiano who makes sure the stupidity remains buried but informs Giovanni he owes him for keeping the family out of a scandal. Payment is Bianca.

Bianca uses her intelligence to somewhat lessen the abuse of her husband. However, fearing for her life as Sebastiano turns uglier towards her, Bianca abetted by her mom flees to Santa Maria del Fiore convent before hiding in remote Villa Luce Stellare. There she meets and falls in love with kindhearted Turk, Prince Amir, the grandson of Memhet the Conqueror. When someone murders her odious husband, Bianca plans on becoming Amir's spouse knowing her mom will disown her for marrying an infidel.

The first Silk Merchant's Daughters early Renaissance romance is an engaging historical. The cast is fully developed especially the heroine who refuses to sacrifice her happiness and future for a second time. Although Sebastiano's death feels convenient even if he deserved to die, readers will enjoy touring Florence and the Italian coast.

The Mermaid Collector
Erika Marks
9780451237927, $15.00

Thirtyish woodcarver Tess Patterson has a schizoid relationship with her hometown of Cradle Harbor, Maine. On the one hand, the artist wants to leave without looking back; while on the other she desperately needs acceptance from the townsfolk who consider her a chip off her bohemian mom who committed suicide years ago by walking into the ocean.

Tom Grace thinks he might as well be dead ever since his parents died when he was eighteen and saddled with caring for his foolish brother Dean. He inherits the town's historic lighthouse, which he thinks is his Hail Mary last attempt at helping his addicted sibling.

When Tess and Tom meet, they share a night of bliss with both wanting more. Meanwhile the town celebrates the annual Mermaid Mutiny of 1888 when four men including the lighthouse keeper strolled into the ocean to join their mermaid lovers.

This is an engaging poignant character study that looks at the benefits and costs of fulfilling dreams especially those that cripple a person mentally. Although a major subplot seems unnecessary padding, fans will appreciate this deep tale that deftly switches between the present and the late nineteenth century as desires can lead to self-esteem or self-destruction.

Dark Currents
Jacqueline Carey
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451464781, $26.95,

Pemkowet, Michigan is the true melting pot as the small town is home to humans, paranormals and hybrids. Demon-human Daisy Johanssen serves as the liaison between the mortal police and Hel the Norse goddess chieftain of the underworld.

The Police Chief Bryant wakes up Daisy with a situation at the gazebo. College student Vanderhei was intoxicated when he bet his two friends he could swim the river, but died in the attempt. The Chief says the timeline feels wrong so he asks Daisy to help as magic may have been instrumental in the death. Officer Cody Fairfax has doubts having Daisy assist, but they team up on a case in which the means may have been magical, mundane or both.

This first urban fantasy police procedural is a terrific paranormal whodunit as Jacqueline Carey makes her Michigan world of paranormal and normal living together seem real. With a nod to Rosemary's Baby, Daisy is a superb protagonist as her maternal values battle with her paternal desire to embrace the "Seven Deadlies". Action-packed, readers will enjoy Daisy's dilemma as she and Cody investigate the death of a drunken student.

Death's Rival
Faith Hunter
9780451464859, $7.99

New Orleans Master Vampire Leo Pellisier orders his employee skinwalker vampire-killer Jane Yellowrock to return to the city. Leo explains someone wants to replace him as the city's Master Vampire and to achieve this objective means assassinating the incumbent and his supporters.

An attack proves that the adversary displayed an upper echelon level of power, has no qualms about collateral damage in regards to deaths of civilians and knows how to deploy an operation. As Jane investigates, she uncovers a plague that infects vampires leaving their masters accessible for elimination. Jane believes the rogue making a power play is behind the crippling disease.

The latest Jane Yellowrock urban fantasy (see Raven Cursed) is an awesome action-packed thriller as the heroine works a case unaware that traitors pursue her. The inquiry is excellent as New Orleans' vampire community is in deep trouble with Jane the only hope for their survival even as her life and much more are in peril. Death's Rival is an excellent entry in a strong supernatural series.

Ghosts of Memories
Barb Hendee
9780451464842, $7.99

Vampire Eleisha Clevon lives among humans without killing them as she adheres to the Four Laws. Her "life's" goal is to mentor her species to live in harmony with humans. Thus, Elisha, accompanied by her vampiric protector Philip Brante and their human friend former police psychologist Wade Sheffield, search for other vamps.

Meanwhile Julian Ashton the raging vampire continues his hunt for elders using Eleisha and her associates as his unwitting guides. At the same time in the Seattle area, Christian Lefevre masquerades as a psychic who makes contact with the deceased loved ones of his affluent clients; after each session his customers are left extremely weak.

The latest Vampire Memories urban fantasy (see Memories of Envy and Hunting Memories) is an engaging tale as readers learn much more about the psychology of being a vampire as most live for ages as loners with powers superior and vulnerabilities in comparisons to their sustenance species. Readers find out more about what motivates evil Julian and goodness Eleisha as both are wired differently than the humans that surround them. Filled with action in Wales and Puget Sound, Barn Hendee provides a deep look at what being a vampire feels like while swimming upstream in a human ocean.

How I Came to Sparkle Again
Kaya McLaren
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250013873, $24.99,

In Austin, strike one was the miscarriage; strike two was the infertility; strike three was her husband's cheating. Work proved a failure as she was not ready mentally to return, Jill Anthony files for a divorce and travels to Sparkle, Colorado where she spent her troubled teen years with her Uncle Howard and home to her BFF Lisa.

Jill and Lisa spend time on the slopes while the former also makes some money babysitting tweener Cassie Jones, whose mother died from cancer. As spring arrives, Jill, Lisa and Cassie each knows they can no longer put off decisions about their respective futures.

Though the reader will know what happened as the storyline is a straight-lined ski run, fans will enjoy how Jill came to sparkle again. Jill is the prime player, but her two female cohorts add depth as all three protagonists are likable individuals. Life in a seasonal ski town makes for an engaging fun cross country paced tale.

Seduction's Shift
A.C. Arthur
St. Martin's
9780312549114, $7.99

In America, Shifter Faction leaders hide their hybrid nature from the humans they are sworn to protect. However, the various tribal chiefs are very concerned over Rogue shifters led by Topetenia Jaguar-Shifter Sabar Tavares.

In the Brazilian Rainforest, Sabar and his evil horde abduct Ary the healer from a small villager; he has plans to use her knowledge of herbs and plants to increase his illegal drug trafficking revenue as a step to his becoming dictator of all stateside shifters. Litigator Nick Delgado learns that his mate, who he last saw sixteen years ago, was kidnapped by the psychopathic Sabar. He vows to release his inner beast in order to rescue his beloved Ary or die trying.

The second Shadow Shifters romantic urban (albeit rainforest) fantasy (see Temptation Rising) is an exciting thriller as readers will feel the Arthurian paranormal world is genuine. Fast-paced with a courageous heroine struggling to regain and retain her independence, fans will enjoy this taut tale as we anticipate the confrontation between the two cats.

Secrets of a Wedding Night
Valerie Bowman
St. Martin's
9781250008954, $7.99

In 1816 twenty-two years old Widow Countess Lily Andrews is broke and very anti marriage especially to rakes though she is in demand by many of the Ton. When she reads an announcement that Devon Morgan, a Marquis, is going to wed an innocent, she becomes outraged and writes an anonymous incendiary article "Secrets of a Wedding Night"; his fiancee Miss Templeton calls off their engagement.

Irate, Devon visits Lily for what she did to him. She remembers being in love with him five years ago, but he dumped her unceremoniously. He accuses her of being the author and demands she write a retraction. Refusing she says he needs to marry for money because he is a chip off the old paternal block as a gambling wastrel. Devon says she will write a retraction because he plans to seduce her into doing so. Neither is prepared for their feelings to remain strong, but when her teenage sister runs to Gretna Green, Devon accompanies the woman he loves as they follow Annie.

This is a fabulous Regency romance starring two likeable protagonists engaged in a delightful gender war established by what each believes the other did five years ago. Although the misunderstanding premise has been the Genesis" of romances before, sub-genre fans will relish this exciting second chance at love historical.

Death and the Girl Next Door
Darynda Jones
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312625207, $9.99

In Riley's Switch, New Mexico, high school student Lorelei lives with her grandparents as she has for the last decade since her parents disappeared. Her grandparents and her best friends Brooklyn and Glitch worry about her the week before, during and after the anniversary of the vanishings.

At school, loner Cameron starts stalking Lorelei as he stands outside her home every night like a sentinel and seems to pop up out of nowhere just about wherever she may be. School newcomer Jared also showers attention on Lorelei. He and Cameron loathe each other at first sight with Lorelei as the cause of their hostility. Their disdain turns to fighting while a stunned Lorelei begins seeing visions of the new teen on the block fighting a monster.

This is a terrific young adult urban fantasy starring a strong cast anchored by the bewildered heroine. Fast-paced, teen readers will want to know the mystery of the "triangle" participants and whether they connect to her missing parents; as Darynda Jones provides a strong paranormal thriller.

Thomas Emson
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312621704, $14.99

At Religion, a club in London, twenty-eight partygoers take a new drug Skarlet. Anyone who did take it dies. Police Superintendent Phil Burch suspects club bouncer, disgraced veteran Jake Lawton killed these people. Jake had the means with his Iraqi tour; the opportunity as his boss supported by two employees implies he stole the tape of what happened, and the motive since his estranged girlfriend is one of the victims. Insisting he is being set up as he was in Iraq Jake storms out of the club.

Forty-eight hours after the clubbers died, each victim rises from the grave with a thirst for live blood. Reporter Christine Murray who destroyed him allegedly for killing an unarmed civilian in Iraq and Lithgow the dealer who brought the drugs to Religion join Jake as they battle an ancient conspiracy fostered by human avarice.

This is a superb vampire thriller that stars a scapegoat hero and a strong support cast. The fast-paced storyline deftly merges pathos with gore. Fans will enjoy exciting Skarlet as the drug of choice becomes blood.

Whispers at Moonrise
C.C. Hunter
St. Martin's Griffin
9781250011916, $9.99

After struggling with her recent self-discovery of paranormal power, Kylie Galen realizes what she is while attending Shadow Falls Camp for the supernatural vampires, werewolves, and fairies. However, that does not ease her mind as she has to learn what powers she possesses and how to control them; as no one mentored her when she was younger.

Besides having supernatural skills issues, Kylie struggles with her feelings for two campers as Derek the half fae claims he loves her and Lucas her werewolf boyfriend constantly chooses his pack over her. The rouges want her dead, and her paternal grandfather whom she recently met trusts no one especially Shadow Falls Camp and wants his descendent to leave with him.

The latest Shadow Falls young adult urban fantasy (see Born At Midnight and Awake At Dawn) is a delightful entry as the protagonist has several difficult choices to make with the three males in her life each demanding she pick him. Action-packed and filled with twists, fans will wonder what destiny the teen heroine will choose.

A Book of Horrors
Edited by Stephen Jones
St. Martin's Griffin
9781250018526, $15.99

This fabulous fourteen short story collection is a throwback to the days when the horror genre was more narrowly defined which Stephen Jones explains in his brief introduction. All the tales are well written with most being outstanding. In "The Little Green God of Agony" by Stephen King, the billionaire turns to a faith healer to relive him of his intense pain caused allegedly by a plane crash injury. Billy picks up the female hitchhiker who shows him the destruction of fire in "Charcloth, Firesteel and Flint" by Caitlin R. Kiernan. In Maine the idyllic life of Hugh and Angie ends when they drive into evil "Ghosts with Teeth" by Peter Crowther. In Angela Slatter's "The Coffin-Maker's Daughter" Hepsibah the coffin artisan builds a box for a wealthy patron while flirting with the deceased's daughter even as the ghost of the dead person taints him. Meth owns the small rural community as Gina and Dylan visit their late grandmother's house while thinking of their deceased cousin who many feel the Woodwalker abducted in "Roots and All" by Brian Hodge. The child plays his late mother's old piano when the ghosts of children warn him to beware of "The Music of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer (by Karl Ajvide Lindqvist). With Ramsey Campbell, Dennis Etchison, Elizabeth Hand, Richard Christian Matheson, Reggie Oliver, Robert Shearman, Michael Marshall Smith and Lisa Tuttle also providing strong entries, A Book of Horrors is a great strong anthology.

Portlandtown: A Tale of the Oregon Wyldes
Rob DeBorde
St. Martin's Griffin
9781250006646, $15.99

In 1887 retired marshal Jim Kleberg digs up the grave of Abraham Thomas Alcott whose gravestone states he died in 1874. When the caretaker asks him what he is doing, Jim shows the man a skull and asks if that is him. Jim reluctantly arrives in Portland, Oregon to live with his daughter Katie, her blind husband Joseph, and their twin children (Samuel and Maddie).

At the same time that Jim goes to live with his daughter and her family, Henry Macke resurrects and reanimates the Hanged Man. This zombie seeks a demonic weapon while targeting mentally impaired Jim. Not long afterward a zombie horde attacks Jim and his family as Joseph with his extrasensory skills and Andre Labeau the occultist lead the battle against these undead monsters.

Portlandtown is an exhilarating action-packed western zombie thriller. Fast-paced, the key living cast (especially the Oregon Wyldes' wild family interrelationships, Jim's apparent senility and Andre's quest for redemption) and the Hanged Man are fully developed. Readers anticipate an OK Corral good and evil confrontation.

Midnight Cravings
Joelle Sterling
Strebor Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781593094195, $15.00,

With her BFF Naomi going to a private school after her parents learned of the bullying she suffered, Holland Manning decides to do a makeover from nerd to edgy beaut so that her high school crush football star Jarrett Sloan notices her though she knows she will compete with his ex Chaela Vasquez. The teen asks her mom Phoebe the witch to cast a spell to turn her into an alluring beauty though Holland knows the risk as her mother rarely has an incantation work properly.

With his family depending on him teenager Jonas left Haiti for Miami on a voyage in which evil Captain Henri performs human sacrifice and trafficking. When Jonas awakens in in Frombleton, Georgia, he finds himself changed to something his mom and sisters would fear and loathe while he detests the abomination he has become. Holland discovers her sorcerer skills so she and the Haitian team up to fight vampires assaulting the locals.

This is an engaging young adult rural fantasy that never decides whether it is a star-crossed teen romance and a horror thriller. Ironically the fast-paced storyline is at its best when the malevolent attack rather than when the lead characters muse over their woes; as the heroine spends too much time on her new looks and boys (she acts like a teen girl not having to save the town) and the undead hero who reflects on being despicable). Still overall the first Eternal Dead tale is an engaging teen thriller.

Poison Princess
Kresley Cole
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781442436640, $18.99,

Evie attended high school in Sterling, Louisiana but was sent away by her mom to an asylum to help her ignore her grandma's ranting's and in order for the delusions to vanish. She took meds and finally got out. Back at school she is paired with newcomer Cajun biker Jackson.

Evie hears voices and draws her nightmares in her journal as she thinks of the apocalypse. Death talks to her calling her the Empress and promising with his ally Ogen to eat her bones. Her prime voice Matthew warns Evie to prepare as the Reaper is coming. Evie asks about the red witch, which Matthew says is the Poison Princess.

Evie and her mom survive the apocalyptic Flash that leaves many dead. There are no plants and zombie like bagmen seeks survivors. Her mom is ill from a bagman attack and when Evie cuts herself with her suddenly large nails, the blood grows crops. Jack arrives and warns them a militia is coming. He wants to know how she grew fresh vegetables. When Evie's mom dies, they burn down the farm so there is no evidence of vegetables, which would make Evie a prisoner. They begin their trek to the North Carolina Outer Banks where her grandma lives with the truth.

Although the storyline starts slow to anchor the personalities of the lead couple before the world changed in a flash, the Cole post-apocalyptic realm seems real and the cast fully developed as readers will accept the deft transformation of the heroine and the survivor skills of Jack. Evie's attitude towards Jack seems off kilter as he risks his life to save her several times. Still Poison Princess is an entertaining exciting twisting thriller.

Lifting the Wheel of Karma
Paul H. Magid
Point Dume Press
9780984016006, $15.00,

In Montana, Joseph Connell suffers from horrible visions that he believes are meaningful but has no idea what he should do with them. Whereas eighteen year old Joey turned to martial arts, his older brother Billy works closely with their dad in the family bottling business. Billy tells Joey that he will soon be a dad.

At a tournament, Tom batters Joey sending him to the emergency room where he lives for several months in a vegetative state fighting three warriors in his head. Suddenly he announces to his parents he wants to go home. Wheelchair bound Joseph believes that mystical elder Lahiri can help him find answers to the crippling visions. The wise India native begins mentoring Joseph on a journey on balancing his karma deep in the Himalayas.

Lifting the Wheel of Karma is a fascinating allegorical tale that focuses on the importance of spiritual awakening and balance. Joseph's journey is a terrific trek that physically takes readers to India's Himalayas but more significantly inside the soul of a man. Lahiri and the protagonist's dreams bring mysticism to the storyline while Joseph's family provides western values as caring sensible people. Readers will appreciate this engaging metaphoric reflection on life as the game is fixed.

Walk with Me: Pilgrim's Progress for Married Couples
Annie Wald
River North
9780802405937, $15.99,

Most residents of Slouching City have forgotten the King of Love exists. One of the few who remember recently died leaving his guide to his beloved granddaughter Celeste, who begins reading the tome. Feeling uplifted by the book, Celeste seeks anything she can find on King and His Son the Servant.

Peter grew up in Upright Village where he and his family attended the weekly reading of the King's guidebook. He learned as a child to adhere to the King's rules though ironically his Peter's parents never traversed the path to the King's City.

Celeste and Peter meet and become a couple whose unity is as strong as the three strand bracelet cord tied around their wrists. Devotion reminds them this bracelet is as strong as their relationship is. The pair begins an odyssey to King's City passing through places like the Swamp of Selfishness, Meadows of Intimacy and the River of Unfaithfulness, etc.; at reach location their cord could be cut.

Applying John Bunyon's classic everyman allegorical Pilgrim's Progress, Annie Wald escorts readers on a journey for Married Couples through a metaphysically dangerous land filled with relationship distractors. The lead couple faces difficult challenges that place their love for one another in peril and their devotion to the King in danger from temptations. Readers will enjoy this engaging epic as a successful marriage is a long joint journey of the soul.

Whispers in the Wind
Lauraine Snelling
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55438
9780764204166, $14.99,

Many years ago in South Dakota, Ivar Engstrom and Adam Lockwood were partners who used gold to buy a ranch. When their mine collapsed Adam left while Ivor worked the ranch hoping his friend would one day come home. In 1906, Ivar's widow Mavis informs her sons Ransom and Lucas that the family Bar E Ranch is co-owned by the late Adam's daughter Cassie. She arrives at the spread with friends from the Wild West Show in which she was a trick shooter performer. Whereas Ransom distrusts the outsider as he has doubts about her claim; Lucas believes he loves her. (see Valley of Dreams).

Used to traveling, Cassie and her extended "family" (Micha, Chief, her trick pony and dog, an ancient buffalo and a few tag-along steer) struggle to adjust to living in one place. When they become victims of shooters with her wounded, the townsfolk led by Mavis come to their aid.

The second enjoyable Wild West Wind early twentieth century inspirational epic is an engaging tale starring the residents of the Bar E Ranch. As the person who knew both partners, Mavis sets the tone of the series. She strongly believes her reliance on God to guide her and make her and her children strong sows the power of faith. The storyline moves leisurely forward, as two families adapt in diverse ways to the renewal of the paternal partnership.

Something Witchy This Way Comes
H.P. Mallory
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345531582, $7.99,

Life was easier when Jolie Wilkins was just a fortuneteller only caring what happened to her. Now she is Queen of the Underworld with subjects to include vampires, werewolves, fae, and witches. She could use a lot of R&R with her soulmate Rand Balfour the Warlock whom she almost killed back in the Victorian Era though she also considers a fling with Sinjin the vampire who vows to protect her.

However, the half-human Lurkers threaten her kingdom so loving rest and recuperation remains on standby, the story of her life. Thus she prepares for war with the Lurkers as no one will attack her already conflicted multi species (think of post Tito's Yugoslavia) without her fighting back.

The latest Jolie Wilkins fantasy (see Toil and Trouble, and Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble) is a humorous thriller as the paranormal seem real in the Mallory mythos. Still a wisenheimer Jolie struggles with two winning males wanting her when she is used to being alone or with losers while she also learns to govern over diverse ethnic interests. Although the peril seeks similar to Witchful Thinking, fans will enjoy the latest escapades in Queen Jolie's reign.

Strong Poison: Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery with Harriet Vane
Dorothy L. Sayers
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062196200, $14.99,

In 1929 mystery writer Harriet Vane stands trial for the arsenic poisoning of her fiance, author Philip Boyes. Everyone knows she murdered Boyes as she had the means having purchased strychnine, prussic acid, and arsenic just before he died; the opportunity as he was her fiancee though she left him after a spat heard by the neighbors; and the motive as her intended was an advocate of free love, which may have been why they argued.

Unable to resist the lure of the most scandalous murder cases in years, Detective Lord Peter Wimsey attends the trial expecting to find a killer. After hearing the evidence and observing the accused in the dock, Peter explains to Chief Inspector Charles Parker that the latter erred as the accused is innocent. The jury shockingly reports they failed to reach a unanimous verdict as three holdouts refuses to bow to the pressure of the other members. He gets Sir Impey Biggs to add him onto the defense team as he investigates the murder with intensity as he has fallen in love with the accused. After being the forty-seventh person to propose to Miss Vane, Wimsey investigates.

The reprint of the first Wimsey-Vane mystery is a terrific period piece that brings to life 1920s England. The whodunit is entertaining as time is running out on identifying who killed Boyes. The whimsical fun in this tale comes from Wimsey's serial proposals and vane's serial refusals. Fans will relish this strong entry as Dorothy L. Sayers shows why she remains relevant with her ability to provide a slice of a bygone era to the reader.

The Mirrored World
Debra Dean
9780061231452, $25.99

Her family knows that Xenia is an eccentric who dances to her own uplifting passionate beat. However even her sister Nadya and their cousin Dasha who grew-up with the independent Xenia are taken aback by her behavior at a royal ball. At the gala, Xenia and acts foolishly without any regard when she meets Colonel Andrei. Xenia does not care what the empress, the aristocracy or her family thinks as she envisions him as her husband.

After they marry, Dasha moves in with them. However when their infant dies followed by Andrei's death while wearing her long gown at a cross dressing ball, Xenia suffers a breakdown. a lightly fictionalized retelling of the life of the Eastern Orthodox St. Xenia, who left her comfortable home in 18th-century Russia to live as a "holy fool" among the poor. Grieving, she breaks the law by giving away much of her material goods and begins wearing her late husband's clothing while calling herself Andrei. Dasha, who married and became a widow too, somewhat follows her cousin's example of helping the poor with donations. Xenia vanquishes for years until she returns as a saint to the impoverished masses.

This is an intriguing look at eighteenth century Russian St. Xenia that provides the audience with how much the protagonist is differed from her horrified St. Petersburg peers. Dasha tells most of the engaging storyline in a distant dry manner so that the reader never feels the passions of the heroine. Still fans will enjoy witnessing The Mirrored World of a "fool for Christ".

Michael Crichton and Richard Preston
9780060873172, $9.99

Nanigen MicroTechnologies has created a process to shrink machines like similar companies but the firm can reduce and return to normal size living beings. Company CEO Vin Drake deploys plans for the firm and him to make billions of dollars. However, Nanigen executive Eric Jansen threatens Drake's plan. Soon afterward, Jansen vanishes.

Jansen's brother Peter comes to Oahu accompanied by six other graduate students. He investigates what happened to his sibling only to have Drake shrink him and his companions; leaving them to die in the forest. Their size turns the group into tasty morsels for ravenous gigantic beasts like insects, but this magnificent seven has skills that give them a good chance of surviving.

With a nod to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Micro is an exciting science fiction story. The fast-paced storyline makes great use of the Hawaiian rainforest setting in which bugs normally ignored become vociferous predators. Although the team has too great needed expertise, fans will enjoy this entertaining thriller.

Blood Riders
Michael P. Spradlin
Harper Voyager
9780062023094, $7.99

In 1876 in the Wyoming Territory, a terrorized young girl reaches Camp Sturgis near Deadwood screaming hysterically "blood devils". U.S. Cavalry Captain Jonas P. Hollister leads his eleven troops in search of the child's family. They find two overturned wagons in which all the people and horses are dead. Suddenly, blood-drinking demons rise and kill his unit; he escapes due to the sun rising.

For the next four years, Jonas resides at the prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas with no hope of ever leaving this place alive as no one believes his nightmarish fairy tale. Detective Allan Pinkerton obtains Hollister's release as the mass murder of Colorado miners match what happened to the captain's men. Hollister and Pinkerton (accompanied by Chee the fellow-released prisoner, Oliver Winchester the gunsmith, Shaniah the strange woman on a quest, and the European Abraham Van Helsing) ride into hell.

Blood Riders is a fabulous historical horror thriller that uses real events like the Battle of Little Big Horn, real persona (Custer, Pinkerton, etc.) and literary legends (Van Helsing) to excellent effect. Though a romantic subplot seems more an unnecessary requirement, the fast-paced storyline grips readers with the opening bloody assault and never slows as readers anticipate an undead and living OK Corral type confrontation.

Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone
Stefan Kiesbye
Penguin Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780143121466, $15.00,

Retired Christian the widower comes home from Buffalo, New York to Hemmersmoor, Germany for the first time in years but it is too late to attend his mother's funeral. When he was young, he had three close friends in the village, but over time the quartet grew apart. However, Martin, Christian, Linde and Anke knew geography, changing relationships and age were not the underlying cause of their separation four decades ago. Instead each looks back to the dark secrets that cursed them and Hemmersmoor.

This is a psychological horror tale in which the atmosphere haunts the older townsfolk (and readers) while the younger ones scoff at their alleged superstition. The quartet ironically realizes that forty years ago they were the ridiculing youth scorning their elders' fears. Rotating perspective between the four protagonists as they look back to a period when they were changing from youthful innocents to fearful unwanted maturity, fans will appreciate this dark thriller.

The Purple Shroud: A Novel of Empress Theodora
Stella Duffy
9780143122258, $16.00

Early in the sixth century in Constantinople, daughter of a bear-keeper, Theodora became the star of the Hippodrome when she was eighteen. She gave up the stage to become mistress to the Governor of Pentapolis. When that tryst ended, Theodora turned to religion. At twenty-one, the Patriarch of Alexander Timothy sends her home to Constantinople to meet the new Consul Justinian. Shocking everyone, they fall in love. When Justinian succeeds his late Uncle Justin as the Emperor, Theodora becomes his Empress.

However two years into their reign, they know ruling an empire proves difficult with special interests everywhere and internal and external enemies probing for weakness. In Constantinople, rivals the Blues and the Greens unite to protest rising taxes. Their rage leads to terrible violence with thousands dead and landmarks destroyed. Theodora guides her beloved Justinian to help the people regain their belief in his rule while they grieve. Symbolizing their renaissance is reconstructing the Hagia Sophia destroyed during the deadly riots. Besides the riots, the Church remains divided and troublesome and other nations covet conquering Byzantine. Believing that life is a series of roles, Theodora plans to be buried wearing The Purple Shroud.

The sequel to the early years of Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore, continues the biographical fictional account as the married royals have sat on the throne for a couple of years before this tale begins. The storyline brings to life the Byzantine Empire during the early reign of Justinian and Theodora as they learn governance while dealing with threats to their kingdom and their rule. The Purple Shroud is a fabulous ancient historical tale.

Dragon Ship
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781451637984, $22.00,

Theo Waitley was expelled from the Academy due to Liadan Luck as the focus of violence (see Ghost Ship). Currently she pilots the Bechmio with a crew of one Boss Clarence O'Berin and her dying lover Win Ton surviving so far a deadly nano-virus because of the on-board medical technology. Clan Korval commissions Theo to find a trade route. However, she finds the Bechmio AI is independent as they forge a symbiotic relationship while battling for the dominant role.

At the same Theo pilots the Bechmio, Kamele journeys to Surebleak with plans to rescue Jen Sar Kiladi, who happens to be Theo's dad. However her efforts to free her lover from the Korval are distracted from what greets her on Surebleak.

Although it behooves the audience to have read Ghost Ship, preferably recently, Dragon Ship is an exciting Liaden entry starring a heroine who knows that if she did not have bad luck she would have no luck as the heroine is the Joe Btfsplk of space opera. In fact her luck is so bad the Bechmio with a personality developed over the ages once again steals the show from Theo. The storyline starts slow as the symbiotic relationship merges, but accelerates once the pair moves past the storming and forming stages (of the Tuchman Model). Fans will enjoy this science fiction thriller although several major themes fail to move forward.

Monster Hunter Legion
Larry Correia
9781451637960, $24.00

Two conferences converge in Las Vegas as many who attend the Top Secret first annual International Conference of Monster Hunting Professionals at the Last Dragon Hotel will also spend time at the SHOT shooting industry show to look at the latest in weaponry. After dealing with a vampire in Mississippi, Monster Hunter International operative Owen Zastava Pitt, his wife Julie Shackleford and his unit arrive at the hotel. MHO California based agents John VanZant and Green fume when they see unsavory Paranormal Tactical operatives led by Rich Armstrong. Owen and MHI employee Jason Lococo get into a fight that angers their superior Earl Harbinger. The warriors set the unwritten conference agenda.

Monster Control Bureau Chief Doug Stark introduces the conference, but it is Special Task Force Unicorn Chief Stricken who ends the war stories when he announces a ten million dollar bounty on a monster on the loose in Nevada. Private and government hunters race to be the one who bags the monster.

The latest Monsters Hunters International urban fantasy (see Monster Hunter Alpha, Monster Hunter International and Monster Hunter Vendetta) is an engaging thriller that starts slow but entertainingly as readers meet the various rival groups and players at breakfast. Animosity and affinity run high as caffeine is not needed with this testosterone laden (including Julie) group. Once Stricken proclaims the games begin, the storyline accelerates into a fast-paced, action-packed thriller as teams stalk a deadly monster and each other.

Never Seduce A Scot
Maya Banks
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor
New York, NY 10019
9780345533234, $7.99,

King Alexander II of Scotland plans to end the feud between his two most powerful and loyal clans the Montgomerys and Armstrongs. He informs both lairds that their offspring Lady Eveline Armstrong and Laird Graeme Montgomery will marry. The monarch prays that the two chieftains don't kill each other on the way to the wedding.

Due to a childhood injury, Eveline is deaf. Beloved by her overly protective clan she reads lips while concealing her ability to speak to avoid unholy matrimony. Thus she has catch-up on learning to be a laird's mate. Graeme admires and respects her willingness to attempt anything. Eveline appreciates his patience and that she can hear his voice. As their admiration turns to love, some prefer the hostilities to continue so they plan to prevent the coupling using any means including assassination to achieve their objective.

The first Montgomerys and Armstrongs Highlander romance is an engaging tale as the insidious plotter manipulates the clan warfare. Eveline is a refreshing character due to her deafness though to avoid a bad marriage she pretends to be mute which seems odd yet apropos in the delightful storyline. Readers will enjoy this entertaining historical as the feud threatens the love.

The Lincoln Conspiracy
Timothy L. O'Brien
9780345496775, $26.00

One month after the assassination of President Lincoln, Metropolitan Police Detective Temple McFadden limps with a cane to the platform where the B&O train to Baltimore waits. There he is to meet Stump a courier with a package for him. As he gets closer, men accost and kill Stump, but Temple with help from a soldier, who gets shot, takes the package that contains two diaries.

One diary is written by the late president's widow Mary Todd Lincoln; while the other is the words of the killer John Wilkes Booth. A quick read stuns the cop as each diary implies that the assassination was much greater than what was told to the public. Now Temple is caught in the middle of two rival groups who will harm anyone even the detective's beloved wife Fiona to possess the damning documents.

Using real persona and incidents from 1865 to anchor time and place, The Lincoln Conspiracy is an exciting thriller built on the premise that the official account of the assassination is a cover-up of a more sinister subversive scheme. Though the suspense is somewhat muted by the historical tidbits supporting the fascinating conspiratorial concept, this is a delightful twisting tale.

When the Duchess Said Yes
Isabella Bradford
9780345527318, $7.99

In 1762 after a decade away from England Hawke the Duke of Hawkesworth comes home to London to marry his betrothed before she turns nineteen in order to inherit his late father's estate. Failure to wed his intended whom he believes he has never seen will leave Hawke without any money. When he meets his future wife Lady Elizabeth Wylder, they recognize that they actually shared a kiss at a masquerade.

Hawke courts his fiancee in rapid style. When they marry, all seems well as the pair are attracted to one another. However, as the youthful Countess gives everything to make this a happy relationship, the cynical Duke obstinately believes love is evanescent.

The second Wylder sisters' Georgian romance (see When You Wish upon a Duke) is an enjoyable arranged marriage as the lead couple is a nice pairing of a sarcastic non-believer and a trusting true believer. Readers will appreciate this delightful eighteenth century historical even though the threat to the protagonists' happiness comes somewhat late.

Destined to Play
Indigo Bloome
Avon Red
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780062243478, $13.99,

In Australia Dr. Alexandra Blake is going on a lecture tour while her husband Robert and their two children (Jordan and Elizabeth) are part of a Tasmanian Wilderness Foundation expedition. In Sydney, Alexa meets her former lover renowned medical research doctor Jeremy Quinn. His current work involves the female orgasm in which he states little is known.

He persuades her to spend forty-eight hours "trusting" him. He blindfolds and demands she remain mute. Though she knows she is cheating on Robert, Alexa rationalizes that their marriage remains in place due to the kids as her spouse is gay. Meanwhile Jeremy has begun his controlling experiment to break down Alexandra; concealing from her his true motive.

With a nod to R.L. James' Fifty Shades phenomena (I am probably one of the few who has not read any book in the trilogy) Destined to Play is an entertaining erotica. The storyline is character driven while focusing on mental health. Alexa's behavior seems bipolar as she leaps to and from ecstasy and rage with a latter insightful but detracting. Her adulterous surrender makes for an intriguing tale of submission.

Sacrifice the Wicked
Karina Cooper
9780062127693, $7.99

In Seattle, Mission Director Parker Adams the witch hunter catches Mission Agent Simon Wells the Witch in her home office holding a secret file. She calmly gives him a choice to either die now or place the file back on her desk. Though he believes she could not shoot, he puts down the folder. Parker demands he tell her about the GeneCorp human testing Salem Project and Juliet Carpenter (see All Things Wicked); Simon tells her to forget it or be buried as he will not always be there to protect her before he escapes.

Simon knows he wants Parker in a big way as his lower head seems to always testify when he sees her. To her chagrin Parker knows Simon melts her Ice Queen persona as she wants him but will do her duty even if that means breaking her heart when she kills the traitor. As they fall in love, they need each other to watch their back as enemies are everywhere and her persistent stubbornness re the Salem Project places both in peril.

The latest Dark Mission futuristic romantic fantasy (see Lure of the Wicked and Blood of the Wicked) is another wickedly dark thriller in the post-apocalyptic world of Karina Cooper. The lead couple is an intriguing pair as neither can afford the luxury of love especially with Parker continuing her diligent investigation as adversaries will assassinate the hunter if she gets too close to the truth.

How A Lady Weds A Rogue
Katharine Ashe
9780062031891, $7.99

Diantha Lucas has a plan that she knows violates the rules of polite society. She wants to see her mom Lady Davinna, who vanished years ago, but allegedly owns a brothel in Calais. Thus she sneaks out of Brennan Manor to take the coach to the coast.

Falcon Club member Wyn Yale has a plan that he knows violates the rules of polite society. He needs to murder a malevolent duke so he steals a horse to begin his quest though knowing he will hang for his virtuous mission.

Wyn's is sidetracked when he rescues Diantha. He agrees to escort her, but his plan is to take her home not to Calais. However, as he increasingly admires his companion, Wyn wants to help her succeed. When they fall in love, he realizes she is more than just his heart and soul, she is his redemption.

The latest Falcon Club Regency romance (see How To Be A Proper Lady) is an entertaining historical starring a courageous naive lady and a brave burned-out agent. Though there is late suspense the leisurely paced storyline focuses on the healing power of love as he has a second chance at life and she has a chance for happiness. Readers will appreciate this passionate tale.

The Lady Risks All
Stephanie Laurens
9780062068637, $7.99

Second son Lord Julian Delbraith is a popular wastrel who is excellent at gambling. His older brother George the heir to a dukedom is boring while his wife Caroline believes her brother-in-law is a bad influence. In 1811 George commits suicide. Shocked Julian returns home to learn his sibling had fallen to the family curse of gambling and owed a fortune. To save the family and the dukedom, Julian proposes to his solicitor a plan to pay the debt from his funds and become a full time gambling king. He tells his mother and Caroline with the stipulation the young duke Henry knows the truth so he can be watched in case he succumbs to the curse.

In 1823, Miranda Clifford follows her younger brother Roderick who visits notorious gambling king Neville Roscoe. The Cliffords are wealthy due to making a fortune in trade, but lack respectability. She explains to Roscoe that she came to rescue her sibling from wicked activities. He allows her to hide while listening to her brother during a meeting. She is stunned that Roderick belongs to the Philanthropy Guild who runs charity projects. Miranda realizes that Roscoe is not corrupting her sibling. She apologizes as he walks her home and tells him her brother no longer needs her to watch over him. When Roderick vanishes, they team up in search of him while falling in love, but his scandalous life leaves them no future together.

The lead couple is an interesting pairing as she learns the true heroism of her scandalous beloved. The suspense subplot is exciting, but the switch to a well written romance detracts from the overall entertaining storyline.

Lord of Temptation
Lorraine Heath
9780062100023, $7.99

In 1844 in the freezing Tower of Pembroke Castle, the three young Easton siblings (Sebastian, Rafe and Tristan) expect to die that night at the hands of their Uncle Lord David Easton; just like they believed their father did. Childhood friend Mary Wynne-Jones helps them escape from certain execution.

By 1858 Lord Tristan Easton no longer exists as he has become privateer Crimson Jack unaware of what has occurred to his brothers. Lady Anne Hayworth hires Crimson Jack to help her find her late fiance's grave in the Crimea. He agrees to take her in exchange for a kiss. Each is stunned by the feelings, but both know they have no future together. However when they meet again in London where her best friend introduces Lady Anne to Lord Tristan, he vows to make her his permanently.

The latest Lost Lords of Pembrook Victorian romance is a wonderful historical as the prodigal brother comes home to find love (from his "client" and his siblings). Character driven, fans will relish this engaging second chance at love and life (on his part) though the suspense is diminished from Sebastian's tale (see She Tempts The Duke).

My Scandalous Viscount
Gaelen Foley
9780062075932, $7.99

Carissa Portland considers herself to be "a lady of information." She enjoys serendipitously learning all the news fit to print in the scandal rags. When she learns that Viscount Beauchamp is being set-up, she goes to warn him. His thank you is to steal a kiss from the nosy body.

However, they are caught so Beau the rake insists on doing the honorable thing by demanding she marry him. Unable to stop sleuthing, Carissa finds out the true mission of the disreputable Inferno Club that her roguish spouse belongs to. When she learns her beloved husband is in a perilous mess, Carissa dives into the danger to protect her mate.

The latest Inferno Club Regency romance (see My Ruthless Prince, My Irresistible Earl, My Wicked Marquess and My Dangerous Duke) is a fabulous thriller as the heroine brings danger and humor as she sets out to keep safe the spy who loves her. Fast-paced and filled with non-stop action, fans will relish this entry as brave Lady Carissa provides freshness to an intense yet jocular tale.

The Yawning Rabbit River Chronicle
J. L. Kimmel and David Ceccarelli
Spring Tree Press
9780978500719, $17.99,

The animals living in the troubled forest called for an emergency meeting due to a life threatening water shortage. No river any longer flowed through their woodlands so the creatures depended on capture rain water and the groundhog's sense of smell to build spring wells. However, in this drought, that is not enough as food has also dwindled. Leaving the forest is dangerous due to hunters with bows and horrible steel traps. Grandpa the ancient raccoon suggests some must leave permanently. Finn the healer bear reminds everyone the hunters wait just outside to kill them. As a reminder of the peril, injured Meeka the horse arrives sadly saying the beasts caught her mate Mercury. Sean the jackrabbit thief says he has a plan to bring the river to the forest, but everyone scorns and distrusts him as he has stolen from them. His plan based on a book he "borrowed" from the library is to race Violet the river goddess so that when he wins the river comes to the forest. Soon his odyssey will lead to others including humans in a battle against evil.

Using anthropomorphism (Gwen the mole wears glasses and uses a cane) enhanced by B&W drawings, J. L. Kimmel and David Ceccarelli provide a wonderful tweener good and evil saga. The storyline is fast-paced from the opening salvo (described above) and never slows down as several subplots filled with adventure merge into a final stand. A cautionary tale warning the audience (and their parents) of man-made destruction of the planet, young readers will appreciate The Yawning Rabbit River Chronicle as a thieving bunny speaks for the trees, animals and all of nature.

Faithful Shadow
Kevin J. Howard
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432794354, $15.95,

Emily Locke and Alex Boone were having sex in their tent when suddenly the tent with them inside begins being dragged. When the motion finally stops Alex goes outside to look only whatever pulled them yanked Emily away. Alex flees in terror. Other vanishings also occur in Yellowstone National Park.

Ranger Joe Rand eats sugary cereal with beer for breakfast as he uses alcohol to numb his brain following the recent death of his son Ryan in an automobile accident after they fought. Throughout the day he turns to his flask for further numbing of his guilt and pain

Billings Fire Department Lieutenant Dale Coffey and his crew fight a fire in the park. One of the firefighters Paul falls into a hole, but later is found at the Old Faithful Inn battered and drained of all bodily fluids. Joe knows his alcohol brain is not making up what has been happening, but he needs to stop drinking to focus on the investigation. Dale joins him as they find tunnels filled with smoke from the above ground wildfire and bones everywhere. A beast has apparently left its lair for the surface. The ranger and the firefighter conclude the killer has taken refuge inside the Old Faithful Inn.

This is an exciting thriller that comes across as a throwback horror tale of man vs. beast. The pristine Yellowstone setting is an ideal contrast to a monster forced out of its lair by mankind's stupid recklessness. Fast-paced and filled with action, fans will anticipate the High Noon confrontation at a fabulous locale the Old Faithful Inn.

Talking to the Dead
Harry Bingham
Delacorte Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345533739, $26.00,

In Cardiff, Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths works on the tedious Pentry embezzlement case in which everyone knows the culprit eventually will confess, but for now every T must be crossed and every I dotted. Detective Sergeant David "Buzz" Bryden shows Fiona the expired credit card of affluent Brendan Rattigan who died in a plane crash nine months ago, but his body never was found. The card was found in the rubble of a house containing the corpses of a twentyish drug using female and a six years old girl in which a sink crushed her head. They investigate the deaths as everyone ponders why a hooker had the deceased steel king's credit card.

Her peers believe Griffiths is wired differently as she obsesses on cases with an intensity that leads to burnout; which most cops believe she suffered when she vanished for a couple of years. Still, though she fails in office politics and socialization as she misses all non-verbal communication, Fiona believes that the little girl April, who Fiona believes is in a better place, is the key to solving the Mancini mother and daughter murders even as she learns of a second dead prostitute.

This is an engaging Wales police procedural made fresh by the unique heroine. Fiona reminds this reader of a high functioning Aspie; as she feels empathy but cannot show it, fails to "read" social messages, and prefers detailed procedures to interpret in her different but very moral way; though her wiring comes from a different cause. Filled with action made fun by the heroine's unorthodox methods that makes one wonder how she was hired as a copper, readers will enjoy Fiona's inquiry.

Becoming Clementine
Jennifer Niven
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780452298101, $15.00,

In 1944, American pilot Velva Jean Hart agrees to fly copilot a plane taking undercover agents to Normandy. The pilot Captain Baskin refuses to allow a woman to help. When the Nazis shoot down her plane, Velva Jean lands the crippled aircraft; enabling her and five operatives to survive with the Nazis in pursuit. The men do not want her on the journey except Emile Gravois who insists she saved their lives. She travels to Paris with plans to find and rescue agent Swan.

Hoping also to locate her missing tech sergeant brother Johnny as well as the Swan, Velva Jean becomes Clementine Roux. In her secret identity, she helps the French Resistance and falls in love with Emile. However, Clementine will learn how evil mankind can be as she becomes truly part of the team.

The third Velva Jean Hart WWII thriller (See Velva Jean Learns to Fly and Velva Jean Learns to Drive) is a great entry. The intrepid WASP warrior faces gender bias even as she constantly proves her value to her new team who mostly expect her to fail even after she keeps on succeeding while facing life threatening danger. Fans will feel they are crossing the French countryside and in Paris with Clementine who finds Nazi occupiers are everywhere. This is a super insightful tale as Velva Jean may have become Clementine, but affirms Shakespeare's wry comment that "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It
David Wong
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312546342, $25.99,

In rhe Undisclosed Midwestern town twenty-five years old John Dies at the End, not. Though he prefers a constant state of sauce high, John, his and his one-handed fiancee Amy, his only friend David and Molly the dog find themselves either inhaling too much soy sauce or combatting monsters.

This time the beasts get into the mouths of people before taking control of the victims' bodies. As zombies threaten Undisclosed, John turns to soy sauce as the weapon of choice to ignore the contagion in a purple haze of illusions. At the same time, Feds led by David's therapist threaten John and his one degree of contacts, but the only abomination he and his teammates fear is Carlos the anus tunneler.

The sequel to John Dies at the End is once again a zany horror thriller as This Book Is Full of Spiders and much worse. Loaded with slapstick humor and not so subtle jocular mocking of the genre, fans will enjoy this fast-paced zombie tale as drug and monster induced paranoia rules the minds of John, David, Amy and even Molly while they protect their asses.

In for a Ruble
David Duffy
9780312621919, $25.99

In New York billionaire Hedge Fund manager Sebastian Leitz hires former KGB operative Turbo Vlost to find security gaps. Vlost quickly concludes that Leitz and his family are concealing things as big as the client is.

In Belarus, the Baltic Enterprise Commission is using Leitz's brother-in-law to gain control of the big man's company. Leitz's brother appears to be part of their hostile takeover plan while Leitz's son has his own computer scam going on. Feeling a horrid flashback to his youth, Vlost recognizes the game and the players, but prefers to remain on the sidelines as nightmarish memories of the Gulag remain etched in his brain.

The latest Turbo Vlost private investigator tale (see Last to Fold) is an exciting thriller starring an ex KGB operative who is increasingly becoming an alcoholic. The support cast contains several nasty individuals as Vlost learns during his inquiry. In for a Ruble is a taut enjoyable story starring a fascinating protagonist.

Jay Kristoff
9781250001405, $24.99

The Shima Imperium has left the isles on the verge of environmental extinction. The industrialization of the islands has polluted land, air and water as the powerful Lotus Guild worships the lotus that fuels the sky ships, but poisons the soil making it useless and pollutes the water with run-off and turns the air into smog from the ship's exhausts. The four clans feel hopeless as the spirit animals are becoming extinct and their mad Shogun Yoritomo-no-miya expedites the Shima Isles turning into a wasteland.

Yoritomo tasks a team to capture an arashitora, a creature part-eagle and part-tiger. Sixteen year old Kitsune Yukiko and her father know the mission is impossible, but failure means execution in a horrific way. In the last wilderness, her father maims Buruu the arashitora. When Yukiko and Buruu meet, both are shocked that they understand each other. As they team up, the pair meets enemies of the Shogun and the Lotus Guild while battling to survive against underworld demons and the might of the Shima Imperium.

Young adult and older readers will appreciate this excellent feudal Japan steampunk fantasy starring a vivid dying landscape serving as a reminder of the long term impact of pollution and a strong cast trying to survive or thrive in the dying isles. Although the Shogun is not developed beyond being a malevolent mega maniac, fans will enjoy the coming of age adventures of a teen girl and an injured mystical spirit animal.

Tina Connolly
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765330598, $24.99,

Several years ago, humans and the forest dwelling fey fought The Great War to end all wars. Now, everyone is trying to return to normal. A victim of a fey curse that forces her to wear an iron mask to prevent the scar on her face from causing others to go into a rage, Jane Eliot answers an ad for a governess in a "delicate situation."

The child's father Edward Rochart the enigmatic mask-maker hires Jane to work with his son Dorie, whose late mother was "taken over" by a fey while she carried the lad. Dorie possesses telekinetic powers that Jane hopes she can teach him to control. However, to her horror and fear, Jane concludes the hostility with the fey apparently is not over.

This is a super Victorian gothic fantasy that provides a paranormal take on Jane Eyre. Fast-paced with a growing sense of foreboding built on what has already happened to the lead triangle, fans will relish the survivors struggling, in a war ravaged alternate Victorian world, to cope with their personal cursed PTSD.

Merge /Disciple: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion
Walter Mosley
9780765330093, $24.99

"Merge." Lottery winner Raleigh Redman finds an alien in his home. He calls the ET Wood since the creature arrived on earth as a dead tree branch who, like others from their homeworld, needs to merge on earth to survive.

"Disciple." Data entry minion Trent Tryman hates his tedious job. His life changes when he finds himself saving civilization.

The second double Crosstown to Oblivion novellas (see The Gift of Fire/On the Head of a Pin) contains two engaging science fiction tales though both themes have been used before.

The Clorkwork Sky
Madeleine Rosca
9780765329165, $10.00

In 1895 London, the Ember factory, owned and operated by Erasmus Croach, produces steampowered automatons. The technological change leads to mass firing of labor, which consequently turns to protests and riots. Scotland Yard's Captain Thorn deploys the police automaton Sky to end the civil unrest.

Croach's niece Sally Peppers flees from the Victorian ideal of upper class females marrying peers or those of a higher station. Concerned Croach sends Sky to bring home dead or alive though preferably breathing his obstinate relative. Meanwhile Thorn realizes working class children are disappearing while Sally and Sky team up into investigating whether her uncle's factory is cutting costs at the expense of safety since reports of rogue automatons owning the sewers beneath London. At the same time the youthful looking Sky dreams of a future.

The Clockwork Sky is an enjoyable steampunk manga fantasy starring two likeable heroes who respect one another while trying to prevent a calamity from occurring. The storyline is fast-paced though plots as expected while the B&W art enhances the tale. Although the dialogue lettering can be hard to read at times due to the font size, fans will enjoy mayhem and mad technology running amuck in Victorian London.

Invasion of the Appleheads: Deadtime Stories
Annette and Gina Cascone
9780765330680, $14.99

The Lawrence family is divided by generation as to their feelings towards their new hometown Appleton. The parents love the time warp cozy village while the two children (Katie and Andy) are bored.

On Halloween minus one night, the adults take the kids on a haunted hayride at an apple orchard; once allegedly owned by a witch who created a potion to change the apples so that kids taking a bite would become zombies. Katie and Andy notice their peers acting weird as if they are zombies and also observe adults including their parents changing into applehead dolls. Frightened, the pair concludes witches have spiked the cider with an evil potion. They must save their parents and the townsfolk from the wicked witches of Appleton as time ticks away.

This Twisted Sisters' Deadtime Stories provides a fast-paced scary tale that middle school readers will relish; especially the premise that adults are blind to the threat while kids must save the night. The siblings make a terrific team as they hold the storyline focused while preparing to combat evil. Horrifically vivid (to the delight of fans) the Cascone siblings entertain their audience with a taut horror thriller.

Little Magic Shop of Horrors: Deadtime Stories
Gina Cascone and Annette Cascone
9780765330758, $14.99

The school hosts a talent contest with the prize being a twenty-one-speed mountain bike that student Peter Newman covets. Making matters worse is Mary Margaret looks like a sure shot winner. While the girl did her act during the preliminaries, Peter's BFF Bo Olson sling shots an M&M causing a fiery debacle that Janitor Bob puts out. Janitor Bob tells the two boys that this is strike three.

Peter, accompanied by Bo, visits the Little Magic Shop of Horrors where he buys a $9.95 magic kit to include a special amulet. He changes from Peter Newman to "Peter the Great", who can perform magic that no master magician has ever done before. However, his tricks are real and as far as Peter knows from the fine print permanent. Still he enters and wins the contest with his incredible final curtain call, removing Bo's head.

The latest Twisted Sisters' Deadtime Stories once again targets the middle school children with a fast-paced scary tale based on sometimes you get what you wished for. Peter is terrific as he holds the storyline focused while critiquing other acts, using magic, and finally wondering how to undo what he wrought. On the other hand Bo is obnoxious with his not so harmless pranks, which Peter condones by omission. Fans will answer the Lovin' Spoonful question "Do You Believe In Magic?" with a yes when reading the Cascone siblings' latest horror thriller.

The Beast of Baskerville: Deadtime Stories
Gina Cascone and Annette Cascone
9780765330673, $14.99

In Baskerville everyone knows the Jimmy Leeds mythos. Legend has it that the lad was so frighteningly repulsive that his mom the witch dumped him down a well to rid herself of her offspring abomination, but the monster survived allegedly to hound the town's young.

The Baskerville children hold a giant campout. However, what should have been fun turns nightmarish as the kids begin to vanish. As the last one standing, Adam Riley assumes his buddies are playing a nasty practical joke until he sees the hoof prints in the ground. Frightened Adam bravely follows them into the woods where he learns that the legend of Jimmy Leeds is based on realism when he runs into The Beast of Baskerville.

Targeting the middle school children, the Twisted Sisters provide a wonderful scary "Deadtime" story. The storyline is action-packed throughout while starring an engaging young hero and a terrible monster. Fans will answer the question "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" with a yes when reading the Cascone siblings' latest horror thriller.

Three Parts Dead
Max Gladstone
9780765333100, $24.99

The residents of Alt Coulumb are shocked when the fire god Kos, who kept the city going, dies. The city leaders fear the lack of their deity's power will destroy Alt Coulumb from within. Thus, these leaders employ necromancer Elayne Kevarian to bring their god back to life before dangerous disorder ensues. Assisting Kevarian are her apprentice associate craftswoman Tara Abernathy and priest Abelard.

The trio starts with investigating the death of Kos. They are shocked when evidence mounts that their deity was murdered. This requires someone with incredible power to have slain the fire god. As the trio continues their inquiry, vampires and gargoyles attack them but Blacksuits' warrior protects them.

Three Parts Dead is a great fantasy that will make many readers' best of the year short list. The Gladstone realm is filled with intricate sometimes tongue-in-cheek details like legal contracts between gods and their followers that as a whole make the environs seem plausible. Filled with taut suspense, fans will enjoy this investigative thriller as brave fully developed women escort fans throughout Alt Coulumb in search of a killer.

Forge of Darkness
Steven Erikson
9780765323569, $27.99

In in Kurald Galain, the Tiste people look forward to the peace after a brutal war against the Forulkan and the Jheleck. However, the militia having no external hostilities to fight refuses to give up power earned during the war and argue between themselves over leadership. Additionally, the three prime Tiste races (the Andii, Liosan and Edur) also are divided as the eight-Highborn noble families covet more affluence and influence.

In this hodgepodge of potential violence, Tiste ruler Mother Dark chose Draconus as a lover. This angers the other noble families who feel their ruler slapped them with picking Draconus; as in their minds the consort is a nonentity lesser Highborn while each of the other aristocratic houses expected one of their members selected. Even the commoners take issue with Draconus as they demand Mother Dark choose their hero Vatha Urusander. Civil was seems imminent.

The opening entry in The Kharkanas Trilogy prequel to the Malazan Book of the Fallen is a fascinating tale that occurs centuries before any event (including flashbacks) in the main saga. The engaging storyline focuses on how they got here questions from the series though there remain older historical events (including new references). Well-written for fans of the Malazan although there is no closure, readers will appreciate this epic prequel.

Fallen Masters
John Edward
9780765332714, $25.99

Astronomers locate the dark mass and determine that the cloud hurtles toward the Earth like an arrow targeting a bulls-eye. However scientists are bewildered as to what this phenomenon is and how to prevent a calamity. Religious leaders representing all denominations are also at a loss as to what can be done. NASA scientist Jason Chang informs the President of the United States that Dark Matter has appeared from apparently a location in the Abell 2744 galaxy cluster with a trajectory destination earth.

Internationally respected inspirational singer Charlene St John heads to Mexico for her last performance as she has terminal cancer and is hoping to gain an audience with the Lady of Guadalupe; whom many believe is the Virgin Mary. Psychic Mama G envisions evil in space that will make humanity extinct unless this malevolence can be stopped. Surgeon Tyler Michaels lost his wife and unborn child while he saved someone else. He and Nurse Rae bond as both feel the cloud traveling towards earth is evil coming to destroy mankind. The dark horde waits for their advanced party to complete the first mission including the assassination of the American President and the abduction of the First Son as destination earth has begun.

Fallen Masters is an entertaining good vs. evil thriller that focuses on mankind's final days in which the last hope is the inherent goodness in most people. The storyline makes a plea for readers to allow their inner spiritual goodness to flow free in order to make a better place to live for everyone. Although the characters are stereotypical to the nth degree, John Edwards' fans will enjoy the psychic's novelization of his spiritual message.

Midst Toil and Tribulation
David Weber
9780765321558, $27.99

In the Year of God 896, the island kingdom of Charis continues to openly defy the Church of God Awaiting. The hostilities have been at sea, on land and in the minds of people via insidious religious terrorist propaganda.

A new front opened when a schism split apart the affluent Republic of Siddermark. The Church of God Awaiting Grand Inquisitor Vicar Clytahn, a member of the ruling Group of Four vicars, plans to starve the people of Siddermark into obedience. The vicars publicly acclaim his courage but fear the backlash as Siddermark is a major source of funding. The Charis Empire leaders (King Cayleb, Queen Sharleyan, and warrior monk Merlin Arthawes) believe they must aid the besieged people of Siddermark. Cayleb understands the implications as he has led naval victories over the enemy since his kingdom rebelled a few years ago; but deploying land forces to battle the more powerful militia of the Church means sending soldiers to their death. At the same time Group of Four Captain General Vicar Allayn Maigwair forges a powerful army.

The latest Safehold thriller (see How Firm a Foundation, By Heresies Distressed and A Mighty Fortress) is a strong entry as the military focus is on strategically key Siddermark. The storyline continues the overarching deep theme of a dictatorial church using all means to oppress its followers and destroy "heretics" like those who formed the Kingdom and Church of Charis deploying any means necessary to achieve their aims. Though the cast is out of a Cecile B. Demille's epic can be overwhelming; a who's who glossary helps as Midst Toil and Tribulation is an insightful engaging look at a dogmatic dictatorial church killing any opponents with collateral damage acceptable.

Immortal Surrender
Claire Ashgrove
9780765367594, $7.99

In 1119, the archangels warned the nine Knights of the Templar not to dig beneath the Temple Mount. They ignored the archangels and excavated holy relics. Their punishment for their disobedience is to combat Azrael's demons until they convert into evil Knights of Azrael; as ironically each demon they slew places darkness on their soul until they are engulfed. By the twenty-first century, for those still loyal need to find the Seraphim before Azrael obtains the eight remaining holy relics needed to defeat the Almighty.

Knight Farran de Clare rejects the destined mate though he knows the ultimate cost is his soul. Archangel Gabriel assigns Farran to keep safe scientist Noelle Keane. When he meets the atheist, Farran curses Gabriel as she is his seraph. Farran vows to protect her, but pledges never surrender his soul to her as he prefers Azrael if forced to choose. However when Azrael's demons threaten Noelle, Farran realizes his foolishness and he will die to keep his soul mate safe. She stuns him when she demands he give her his heart along with his soul.

The second Curse of the Templars (see Immortal Hope) romantic urban fantasy is a super tale starring a wonderful obstinate lead pair. The atheist brings freshness with her viewpoint re angels, knights and demons troupe, oh my; while her knight provides a unique perspective on salvation. Claire Ashgrove builds on her mythos with the Templar history enhancing the contemporary tale of a cynical knight and a devotee of the scientific method.

Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan
Robin Maxwell
9780765333599, $25.99

In 1912 Jane Porter gives a presentation at the Chicago Public Library. After the not well received talk on the missing link, she meets wannabe writer Edgar Rice Burroughs. He admits to her that he has written some minor pulp fiction. In spite of his literary resume, Jane agrees to tell him her story.

In 1905, the only female student female student in the Cambridge University medical program, Jane prefers cadavers to tea socials. Her dream is to be a paleoanthropologist and her long term goal is proving Charles Darwin is right. American Ral Conrath asks Jane and her father the scientist to join his expedition to West Africa to find the alleged white skinned ape. In the Gabon jungle, Jane realizes that the leader is an avaricious treasure hunter. When a leopard attacks Jane, the white skinned ape rescues her from the beast and helps her heal. He calls himself Tarzan.

Jane is a terrific retelling of the Edwardian Era classic with much of the changes occurring to the heroine and the Waziri. The storyline starts off slow as Jane is turned into a modern day feminist rather than a spirited Edwardian heroine; for instance her telling Burroughs personnel matters in her relationship with Tarzan seems doubtful as part of an otherwise deft metafiction premise. However, once she and Tarzan meet, the biographical thriller soars into a great rendition of The Woman Who Loved Tarzan.

Seven Nights In A Rogue's Bed
Anna Campbell
Forever Romance
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9781455512072, $5.99,

In 1826 Sidonie Forsythe arrives at Castle Craven on the South Devon Coast during a terrible storm. Jonas Merrick expected Sidonie's sister Roberta to arrive to pay off her gambling debts. Sidonie says she is payment while stating he lured her older sibling into a trap to get back at Roberta's husband Lord Hillbrook. He gives her credit as she does not cringe at his severely scarred face like all the females including her sibling do. Jonas welcomes his gift of seven nights with an innocent in his bed.

Sidonie shocks him with her courage, which stirs conflicting feelings as Jonas wants her but his heart that he thought died with the curse says to protect her not use her. She is stunned as the infamous monster is a caring lonely person. As they reveal their darkest secrets and cherished desires, enemies arrive at Castle Craven to destroy him; as he knows now he has an Achilles' Heel they can deploy, but it is a secret she kept from him that has greater power of ending what they forged over a week.

The first Sons of Sin late Regency romance is a delightful retelling of Beauty and the Beast. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing in a gothic setting (storm included). Sub-genre fans will enjoy the gender war between the innocent and the gilded as love levels the playing field.

R. C. Ryan
9781455502431, $7.99

Rancher Josh Conway loves mountain climbing and takes advantage of any chance he has to do so. Josh finds solace in the solitude of a mountain top. Thus when someone gets lost in the nearby ranges, he willingly goes to their rescue.

Officials notify Josh that photographer Sierra Moore is missing. He finds her and brings her back to his family's ranch. Sierra the loner is stunned by the affection the extended Conway family have for each other. As she stays and captures life on the ranch with her camera, Sierra knows she must leave paradise as a stalker she met in Paris will find her and bring trouble to the clan she cherishes and the man she loves, but Josh will never allow the woman he loves to vanish, as his mom did, for his safety .

The latest Wyoming Sky romance (see Quinn) is a warm Wyoming ranch drama starring two likable protagonists. Although the family is stereotypical of the ranch romance, spunky Sierra brings freshness with her elan for life and her awe of people caring for one another. Readers will enjoy the middle Conway brother's tale.

A Study in Seduction
Nina Rowan
9781455509546, $5.99

In 1854 London, Lydia Kellaway arrives at the home of Alexander Hall as Lady Talia storms out of his residence. Not in the mood for anyone as his engagement ended when his Russian mom deserted her family for a Russian, he rudely demands she identify herself; while she orders him to give her back her property. The Viscount says he legally purchased the unusually designed locket from a pawn broker when the owner failed to claim it in a timely manner. She insists timely passed because the owner her grandma died.

Negotiations fail as he refuses to part with the locket. A desperate Lydia bets Alexander could not solve one of her puzzles. He accepts her wager of the locket for a kiss. Attracted to each other from the moment they bet, Alexander knows Lydia hides something from him. Knowing he needs to avoid a scandal to insure the Ton do not punish his siblings (Sebastian and Talia), he vows to solve the puzzle of Lydia while she will give up on love to protect her sister Jane.

A Study In Seduction is a fabulous Victorian romance in which the mathematical puzzles provide freshness as readers will want to solve them. The lead couple is a nice pairing of intelligent individuals and the siblings are fully developed. Although Alexander is in trade and Sebastian as a professional musician seem scandalous for an 1850s aristocrat making the lead male's honorable intention re his family seem more like hypocritical pretension, sub-genre fans will enjoy the theorem of love.

Ann Funk
Fithian Press
c/o Daniel & Daniel Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564745330, $16.95,

In 1856 Thomas Austen, his wife Emma and their twelve year old daughter Sarah sail on the great Western steamer from Liverpool to Boston. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, their destination is to join other Mormons in the Great Salt Lake City area. After settling in their new home, Tomas informs his wife and daughter that he is marrying Rebecca Humphries. This upsets both females but especially Emma. Accompanied by Sarah, Emma leaves for Carson Valley.

In Genoa, Nevada Territory, they obtain household work for Saxon rancher Walther Rottenburg. At the same time, Giovanni Corveddu flees Sardinia after stealing to keep poor families from starving. He arrives in the Nevada Territory working for a mining firm. Over the next few years, Sarah provides medical help to people in the area even as the ranchers and miners fight over water. Walther and Gio admire brave Sarah and each wants to marry her, but she chooses neither preferring to attend medical school in San Francisco as she plans to practice medicine as a licensed physician in Nevada.

Lifeblood is an engaging Americana saga starring a wonderful heroine supported by the people she meets on her journey from an English tweener to a Nevada territory medical doctor. The leisurely paced plot enables the audience to feel we accompany intrepid Sarah as her helping others enables her to help herself achieve her goal. Ann Funk provides a vivid picture of two decades of life in Nevada.

Dearly, Beloved
Lia Habel
Del Rey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345523341, $16.99,

By the end of the twenty-second century, much of the planet was devastated; the United States nuked itself into a united wasteland. Central and South America consolidated as New Victoria with the capital in New London, Nicaragua. The society is based on the historians' interpretation of life in Britain during the reign of the late nineteenth century monarch.

Not all is idyllic as the Laz virus has created sentient and feral zombies. Most humans refuse to distinguish between the two classes of zombies as a majority of the humans believe a truly dead zombie is a good zombie. However, some individuals like teenager Nora Dearly knows otherwise ever since she met Punk undead Bram Griswold who saved her life (see Dearly, Departed). The civil rights issue explodes into hostilities especially between the Changed dead and the Murder alive. Collateral damage is an acceptable norm by the two enemies as each believes innocent civilians is an oxymoron. However, as both extremist sects focus on a zombie sympathizer who's dearly father the scientist seeks a cure for Lax, the heated dispute changes for the worst when a zombie with a new strain of the virus emerges.

The key to this great futuristic urban fantasy is Habel World as the author makes her vision seem vividly real through an insightful historiographical premise and a racist profiling. Action-packed, readers will relish the second Dearly thriller as the heroine and her allies push for equal rights for all, her endeavor enables the Changed and the Murder to agree on one thing: Nora's permanent demise.

Bad Glass
Richard E. Gropp
Del Rey
9780345533937, $15.00

A biological incident leads the government to quarantine Spokane, Washington under military control. There is no information as to what has happened except for sporadic leaks out of the shutdown metropolis.

Photographer Dean Walker breaches the military sentry around the city to sneak into Spokane with plans to take shots of whatever he finds in order to tell the world and gain fame. He is unprepared for what he sees in the embattled city. Dean is fortunate to meet struggling survivors in a world turned grotesquely anti physics as time no longer flows in the same way and monsters are everywhere and people trapped at the subatomic level within solid items as Dean's mission changed from informing the world to surviving this inner collapsing world.

This is an exciting cautionary horror tale that uses Dean's photos to describe the grotesque state of Spokane. PTSD becomes a common link between those still clinging to their humanity and theorizing what happened though like readers not knowing for certain. Although a deeper look at the change in physics would have been appreciated, Bad Glass remains one of top horror thrillers of the year, as fans will relish this profound psychological drama of the end of civilization when a city collapses.

Jan Coffey
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781479104574, $14.99,

Teenager Killian feels alone as her mom died a few years ago and her dad ignoring her remarried. When she graduates from the Green Mountain Academy in Vermont, her maternal great Aunt Hannah Winthrop invites her to stay at Cuttylea Island with her; she accepts in spite of the isolation with Hyannis being three hours away by boat and limited electronic access.

In a storm, a frightened Killian, who cannot swim, sails in a small boat when the driver picks up Perth, an Olympic Gold medal quality swimmer. Hannah welcomes her niece who will work at the nearby inn. Killian is attracted to Perth, but as a wallflower accepts he is out of her league. When she hears a mother's plea to rescue her children, Killian is confused as the woman is dead. Meanwhile Perth confuses her as he seems to like her before instantly turning into a grouch. However, Killian becomes concerned when Dr. Davenport and a team arrive ostensibly to study wind energy, but asks questions about Perth's wheelchair bound father Walter. Wondering what is going on with elderly Lynx warning her to leave, Dr. Davenport's inquiry and what the birthmark on her lower back has to do with pentagrams inside older abodes. Killian seeks the truth.

Aquarian is an exhilarating young adult paranormal mystery that will have the audience wondering like the heroine what is happening at Cuttylea Island. The storyline starts leisurely as the heroine's personality and the island setting of "no cell phone service; no cable TV; no mall ... and no Facebook" are established. Once done, the plot turns into a fascinating tale as Killian begins to learn the dangerous truth about her ancestry and that of Perth.

Have You Seen Marie?
Sandra Cisneros, author
Ester Hernandez, illustrator
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307597946, $21.00,

Grieving for her recently deceased mom, fiftyish Rosalind, accompanied by her weeping cat Marie, drove from Tacoma to San Antonio. Upon arriving at their destination after a three day drive, Marie runs away. Though she would prefer to hide in bed crying, Rosalind realizes she is the only person her beloved feline knows in Texas. She begins a search for her missing cat while learning about the neighborhood by meeting the neighbors; some prove sympathetic; some coldly indifferent; and some sad and sorrowful.

This is an intriguing look at grief through a gritty urban lens of meeting the neighbors. The illustrations add edgy depth to this insightful account of a woman in mourning since she became a middle aged orphan. Some unnecessary Doolittle whimsical "talking" to the animals detracts from this otherwise strong tale of a frantic female's search for her missing BFF at a time she barely copes with her loss. Apparently based on Sandra Cisneros' grief following her mom death, readers will appreciate Have You Seen Marie?

Jo Nesbo
9780307960474, $25.95

Oslo Police Inspector Harry Hole fled to Hong Kong suffering from PTSD after the horrific Snowman serial case compounded by his debt. However, he came home when Oslo Homicide Detective Kaja Solness needed his expertise on The Leopard case. The damaged cop has no plans to stay or remain in Norway.

However recovering alcoholic Harry returns to Oslo from Hong Kong once again to help one of the few people he would come home for his estranged eighteen years old Oleg. The police suspect the teenager killed Gusto Hanssen as each was employed by mysterious Dubai as street pushers of Violin, a synthetic heroin. With covert help from his former peers, Harry investigates the Norwegian drug trade with ties to the police force of which he once was a member.

The latest Harry Hole case is a fabulous thriller as the former cop escorts his audience around the lucrative drug trafficking in Norway. However, the inquiry also enables readers to understand a core value of the mentally damaged former detective whose obsession with the truth supersedes his paternal instinct to protect his offspring. Fans will relish Phantom as Harry's latest return home is a winner.

Ancient Light
John Banville
9780307957054, $25.95

Sexagenarian Alex Cleave muses back fifty years to the love of his life. Fifteen years old, he fell in love with his best friend Billy Gray's mother. Alex even ponders searching for the octogenarian woman assuming she is still alive to see if they still have it even though his wife Lydia might object in spite of their emotional distance since their daughter Cass died. Her death haunts and taunts Alex who desperately wants to know the identity of the man Cass spoke of just before she died. As he mentally struggles with his customized memories of the two females he cherishes, his dead acting career revises with the movie role of Axel Vander, who ironically called him on the day Cass died. As the movie begins to anchor in Alex's mind what happened to Cass, he goes deeper inside his fond memories of Mrs. Gray and Cass.

Ancient Light is an insightful leisurely paced look at memory as the protagonist's brain looks back over a lifetime filling vacuums with creative disinformation and misinformation that seems right because it fits well with the core information that really happened to Alex as he seems to recall. Character driven and filled with metafiction irony, John Banville provides a profound tale of realistic Paradise Lost and memory-altered Paradise Regained.

The Life of Objects
Susanna Moore
9780307268433, $25.00

In 1938 in County Mayo, Ireland seventeen year old Beatrice Palmer meets Countess Inez Hartenfels. The visitor likes the teenager's intelligence, enthusiasm and her exquisite lace handiworks. Because of the lace, the Countess invites her to accompany her to Berlin as a lace maker for the wealthy Metzenburg family.

Beatrice arrives in Germany to be welcomed in the midst of chaos as the Nazi leadership is irate with Felix Metzenburg for rejecting an ambassadorship. He, his Jewish wife Dorothea, Inez, selected staff and Beatrice leave their Berlin house to the Nazis and relocate to their country estate taking with them their fabulous art collection. Over the next seven years, Beatrice watches the couple trying to live their lives in their style while the horror of war encroaches. Beatrice realizes her employer quietly protects a local Jew and other refugees while also hiding treasures for friends and trading personal items for food. As the war winds down, the Soviets interrogate Felix while the three females continue to show their inner strengths in different manners.

This is a fascinating WWII character study of survivors as told through Beatrice's filter. The low-keyed storyline focuses on a resolute aristocratic couple quietly risking their lives by doing whatever they can below the radar screen to help others though Beatrice's account is biased by her hero worship of Felix. Readers who appreciate a discerning slow-paced historical will appreciate Susanna Moore's novel.

Finding Mercy
Karen Harper
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778313977, $14.95,

Thirtyish Alex Caldwell detests what has happened to his life ever since he turned witness against his ex-boss Marv Boynton who conducted illegal deals with the Chinese. Alec rejected the witness protection program while waiting for the trial to begin. He knows his career on Wall Street is dead as is the firm SkyBound he worked for but hopes to start over soon. In Atlanta while his bodyguard Jake sleeps, Alec steps out only to have someone shoot at him.

The hit attempt leads to Alec placed in WITSEC where he is hidden amongst the Amish in Home Valley, Ohio. Alec meets Ella Lantz, the daughter of his hosts. They are attracted to one another though she knows he is not Amish even if the elders imply otherwise that his difference comes from being a Pennsylvania cousin. As they fall in love, the outside world intrudes with hit men trying to kill Alec; collateral damage being acceptable. As the couple flees Eden County, accompanied by her grosmamm, the enemy pursues them.

The third Home Valley Amish romance (see Return to Grace and Fall From Pride) is an exciting rendition of Witness with the twist that the lead couple flees Amish country. Fast-paced and filled with action, readers will this love on the run romantic suspense.

Mark of the Witch
Maggie Shayne
9780778313335, $7.99

Indira Simon was once a practicing Wiccan, but became a doubter. However, recently her dreams have become real as she wakes up from a nightmare to find bruises on her arms. Though her reaction to what is going on will remind her why she left, Indy contacts her former High Priestess Rayne for help.

Growing up, Father Thomas heard the tale of the three witches. Now he believes what he thought was mythos is real and that the trio is reborn to assist their master. Father Thomas believes he needs to be there to aid the witches; of which he thinks Indy is one. Mentored by Father Dom, Father Thomas risks everything to protect Indy; however, he was not expecting his heart was at risk too. As death seems imminent for both of them, they have their faith and their love.

The first Portal romantic urban fantasy is a superb tale that interweaves ancient Babylon into a contemporary thriller. Fast-paced and filled with twists, the key cast makes for a strong opening act as readers will believe in the magic of Maggie Shayne.

Don't Cry for Me
Sharon Sala
9780778313427, $7.99

In Rebel Ridge, Kentucky, Afghanistan veteran Quinn Walker suffers from PTSD though he kept it together to be there for his brother Ryal and Beth as she fled a killer (see Next of Kin). Quinn frequently dreams of when he witnessed PFC Wooten's head explode.

Mariah Conrad was severely injured in Afghanistan. She has no family or home back in the States. Her ex-lover Quinn orders her to come with him to Rebel Ridge to heal with the help of a friend and his family. Though obstinate and independent as she has been alone for a long while; a reluctant but grateful Mariah agrees. However, she suffers from PTSD and keeps hearing helicopters at night, but sometimes the paranoid are right that the danger is real.

The latest Rebel Ridge romantic suspense is an exciting thriller that takes a deep look at wounded warriors struggling to readjust to civilian life. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Quinn comes for his beloved buddy and never slows down as the romantic subplot supports the premise that no man or woman is left behind.

The Angel
Tiffany Reisz
9780778313991, $13.95

At Sacred Heart, Father Soren informs his lover erotica author Nora Sutherlin the dominatrix and her protege Michael that he must behave for the time being as he is under a close scrutiny by an investigative reporter because of his strong possibility of becoming a bishop. If the Church uncovers his fetishes, his calling is over.

Nora agrees to rusticate away from Soren so neither can be tempted to have sex. Nora, accompanied by seventeen year old Michael, stays at the country estate of affluent Griffin Fiske. While Nora muses about her bond with her two male sadists (Soren and her editor Zach - see The Siren), Griffin is euphoric over a summer with Michael.

The second Original Sinners dark BDSM thriller is an engaging tale that takes place one year after The Siren. Nora is terrific as she heeds her master's advice to train the Angel Michael into a sub. The men in her life are fully developed (and endowed) as Tiffany Reisz continues the erotic escapades of a dominatrix.

Heaven Should Fall
Rebecca Coleman
9780778313892, $15.95

The unexpected death of her mother in a plane crash emotionally rips asunder Jill Wagner's world. The grieving college student turns to her boyfriend Cade Olmstead for mental stability. Needing family, Jill wonders why Cade refuses to introduce her to his New Hampshire farming parents though she meets his brother Eli back from a tour in Afghanistan when he visits them in College Park.

When Jill becomes pregnant, Cade takes her home to keep costs down. At the Olmstead homestead, she meets his parents and sister while observing Cade change from caring mate to an angry paranoid. Jill becomes frightened by him, his father and others while only PTSD sufferer Eli remains her tentative friend. She concludes she and her baby must leave soon as she distrusts her mate when it comes to the safety of their baby yet passively delays her escape.

Heaven Should Fall is an intriguing family drama that rotates perspective between several characters as the female protagonist finds herself residing amidst raging long time hostilities. The insight into the family members from their perspective brings to life the belief system of this New England clan. While Jill's codependence and acceptance appears reasonable, Cade's abrupt metamorphosis feels improbable. Still Rebecca Coleman provides an insightful regional tale.

Better Than Chocolate
Sheila Roberts
9780778313458, $7.99

In Icicle Falls, Washington Samantha Sterling has no time to grieve the death of her stepfather Waldo Wittman as her family-owned Sweet Dreams Chocolate Company is nearing bankruptcy thanks to his incompetency. As the oldest daughter and now CEO Samantha must find a way to resuscitate the dying business.

She tells her mom and two sisters (Cecily and Bailey) that their last hope is to host a chocolate festival with other nearby businesses joining them. The four females are resolute with their obsession to save what several generations of ancestors created. However, her archenemy banker Blake Preston stands in Samantha's way as he offers her something much sweeter than chocolate.

The first Life in Icicle Falls contemporary romance is an engaging tale as a band of females resolutely tries to save their family's business. Each learns independence and assistance are not mutually exclusive. Though the resolution seems too easy, with a bit of whimsy from beyond and irony re the male lead, fans will enjoy chocolate and love making life sweet.

Cast in Peril
Michelle Sagara
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373803507, $14.95,

In the Elantra Empire, Private Kaylin Neva feels she has a strong opportunity for a promotion with the scandalous information she found re the Exchequor. Kaylin dreams of a larger flat, which a raise would make possible; as currently she shares her efficiency apartment with the last known female dragon Bellusdeo and an egg to be hatched. When someone tosses a bomb into her one room abode, the egg absorbed most of the energy and thus dramatically reduced the impact.

Lord Nightshade wants Kaylin to accompany the Barrani on a journey to the Land of the West March. The private agrees as leaving the city reduces her chances of death by assassin. However, her companions allegedly have been connected to the vanishing of citizens from Tiamaris fief so if Kaylin wants eventually to go home, she better watch her back.

The latest Chronicles of Elantra fantasy (Cast in Shadow, Cast in Courtlight and Cast in Secret) is a terrific fresh entry as readers and the heroine leave the empire for the first time. Though less thematic cautionary re de facto racism than Cast in Fury, the fast-paced and explosive storyline is an entertaining thriller starring a strong protagonist.

Books to Die For
John Connolly & Declan Burke, editors
Atria/Emily Bestler
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781451696578, $29.99,

"Books to Die For: The World's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest Mystery Novels" is an excellent collection of 120 essays based on the premise that a current great mystery writer selects a mystery that they personally enjoy and explain why. The emotional depth of the entries varies but each contribution provides a solid rationale as to their respective selection with the range being cast from Kellie Stanley's homage to Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express to Chris Brookmyre lauding Douglas Adams' Dirk Gentry's Holistic Detective Agency to Liza Marklund loving the Nancy Drew classic The Ghost of Blackwood Hall by Carolyn Keene. The anthology includes articles on nineteenth century works by Poe, Dickens, Collins and Doyle and another Doyle classic from 1902 (The Hound of the Baskervilles). Most of the compilations occurs between 1928 and 2008; this providing a wide range. I personally enjoyed reading the 1930s and 1940s contributions as many are books I read years ago and became movies that I saw with my husband years ago in midnight movie theaters though the Cold War and subsequent decades commentaries are also engaging.

Something Red
Douglas Nicholas
Atria/Emily Bestler Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781451660074, $25.00,

Winter strikes harsh and early leading to heavy snows making passage in northern England increasingly difficult. Irish medicine woman Mistress Molly leads her small traveling troupe south. Recent recruit thirteen year old orphan Hob navigates the trek. Molly learns from the crows and from patrons at places they rest that a terrible horror stalks the countryside.

Their journey to the warmer climate ends when a vicious storm and a rockslide leaves the troupe stranded. Molly leads them to Blanchefontaine where they seek and receive shelter. However, Molly, Jack, Nemain and Hob realize that this Norman castle with so many knights also hosts the Beast that has frightened the countryside.

Something Red is a great Middle Ages fantasy in which the varied people (and others) that the travelers meet bring to vivid life thirteenth century northern England. The suspense builds up nicely as the audience anticipates the confrontation between the troupe and the malevolence. Douglas Nicholas places the setting deftly in a "locked" castle wondering who will walk away alive.

Phantom Shadows
Dianne Duvall
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9781420118636, $6.99,

Though he agreed to join the Immortal Guardians, Bastien Newcombe trusts no one especially his new teammates. For centuries, Bastien has always been a lone wolf and prefers living that way. His new warrior cronies treat him with wary disdain so the feelings are mutual.

Human Dr. Melanie Lipton seeks a cure to prevent the lethal insanity brought on by the vampire virus. Unlike everyone else who would like him gone preferably in a body bag, the medical researcher treats Bastien with respect as if he belongs here. Hell she even listens to his intelligent but differing ideas. As their admiration turns to attraction and love, a new threat, deadlier than the deposed Vampire King has surfaced.

The third Immortal Guardians romantic urban fantasy (see Darkness Dawns and Night Reigns) is a terrific action-packed thriller. Bastien brings the freshness to the mix as a lone ranger who has never felt a need to belong with anyone (the antithesis of the third step of Maslow's Hierarchy) until Melanie. Readers will enjoy this enjoyable entry as love and a new danger keep Melanie, Bastien and fans hopping.

Season for Surrender
Theresa Romain
9781420128864, $6.99

In 1818, Lord Xavier loves betting among his hedonistic pursuits. He will wager on almost anything, but his current challenge tossed at him by his cousin Lockwood disturbs the rogue as he considers even throwing the bet something he never does.

To win Xavier must convince Lady Louisa Oliver to remain at his two week Christmas gala; which would ruin the bookworm. Uncomfortable, Xavier anoints himself her chaperone if she accepts his bold invitation. Louisa expects to remain on the shelf (preferably a bookshelf) so she decides to take up Lord Xavier's offer. Neither Xavier nor his waging friends and cousin expected Louisa to double down on their dares as the cousins vie for the attention of the special guest.

The second Christmas Regency romance (see Season for Temptation) is a zany triangle as the virgin holds her own against rival rakes as the cousins and their guest are fully developed. Though the theme has been used frequently in historical tales, the storyline engages the reader with a fun playful naughtiness.

His Mistletoe Bride
Vanessa Kelly
9781420114843, $6.99

In 1817 her aristocratic maternal English grandfather Lord Merritt invites Philadelphian Phoebe Linville to visit him. By the time the Quaker arrives in London, Lord Merritt's grandnephew and heir Major Lucas Stanton informs the American that their mutual relative had died from an infection. Though she seems unsteady, Phoebe insists that comes from an illness she caught while sailing for the last month and not the demise of her grandfather. Her chaperone Mrs. Tanner insists Phoebe return to Pennsylvania where her half-brother will care for her, but Stanton says Merritt made arrangements for her that as her cousin several degrees apart will support. Phoebe says she will stay in England.

When Phoebe and Lucas are caught kissing, they marry. He takes his wife to Mistletoe Manor where he expects meek obedience from his bride, but receives instead a fiery woman teaching him to love again.

This is a warm holiday romance starring a wonderful heroine and a mercurial jaded hero who has seen horror in combat and betrayal in love. Although the storyline is often used in the sub-genre, the strong cast and the Mouse that Roared make for an engaging Christmas gala.

A Cowboy Under My Christmas Tree
Janet Daily
9781420124620, $7.99

Colorado rancher Sam Bennett arrives in Manhattan to help a college buddy and earn some money setting up Christmas trees around town. He meets and soon works with store window display designer Nicole Young. They are attracted to one another, but she insists they remain friends while he has four short weeks to persuade her otherwise.

As Nicole starts to dream of spending time with Sam, he abruptly has to return to Colorado. Missing her cowboy, the window dresser wonders whether to fly to the Rocky Mountains or hope he comes back to her.

A Cowboy Under My Christmas Tree is an engaging wintry New York romance starring seemingly opposites falling in love. In some ways a single mom baker with energy steals the show from the lead couple. Still with a nod to the movie Silver Bells, the romance between the rural rancher and the urban designer is a fun holiday tale though her work never comes across as something artistic that she enjoys doing instead of a job easy to walk away from.

Together for Christmas
Lisa Plumley
9781420122121, $6.99

Troubleshooter Casey Jackson arrives from Southern California to Kismet, Michigan with T-minus 21 days until Christmas. Casey loathes the holidays but will baby sit pop sensation Heather Miller to insure she finishes her TV special on time. Heather blames her kid sister Kristen for the delay while asking her sibling, owner of the Galaxy Diner, to help her deal with the terminator before he shuts down her production. The star hides she is causing the delay because she is in love with Alex Taylor and needs time to get the intelligent set designer to reciprocate.

Casey comes to her diner where Kristen gives him pie in a jar. He adds ketchup to her chagrin. They argue but are attracted to one another. Kristen asks him what he thought of Heather's sex video as that is her litmus test whether to sleep with a guy. Kristen's employers Talia, Garth and Walden think Casey likes Kristen, but he failed her litmus test. Kristen surprises Casey when she says she wants her sister to stay for the holidays though Heather's arrival has ruined Kristen's season. Meanwhile Walden agrees to help Talia and Garth on their matchmaking plan as he is attracted to her. Alex tells Heather she has the chicken pox as he does too. As love blossoms in Kismet, so do misunderstandings.

The latest trip to Kismet (see Home for the Holidays) is an amusing Christmas frolic that with a nod to the movie Love Actually contains three wonderful romances and other loving relationships. The lead couple is a nice pairing of obsessed opposites while the support cast enhances the storyline. With Pinky and The Brain as a matchmaker, fans will enjoy discovering the joys of Christmas.

How to Drive a Dragon Crazy
G.A. Aiken
9781420108903, $7.99

Eibhear the Blue dragon is part of the fierce Mi-runach special military unit who take on missions that no one with a sane mind would dare. His current assignment is to escort General Izzy the human, who fights for Queen Annwyl, home. The feisty female warrior was attracted to Eibhear but that was ten years ago before he joined the Mi-runach.

Izzy worries about her younger sister Rhianwen whose magic increasingly seems out of control. She and Eibhear enter the deadly Desert Lands to meet with her malevolent grandmother the witch, the only person Izzy knows who could aid her troubled Rhianwen.

The latest Dragon Kin romantic fantasy (see The Dragon Who Loved Me) is an engaging amusing entry starring two previous support characters who prove they can hold a storyline together while mocking and bickering on their way to grandma's house. The action is fast and furious though the relationship between the protagonists is more straightforward than usual as no rivals soar to cause triangulation tsuris while also transitioning into the next generation. Fans will enjoy this jocular second chance at sarcastic love.

Mischief and Mistletoe
Jo Beverley, et al.
9781420124866, $15.00

"Mistletoe Bride" by Anne Gracie. Ronan is marrying a dying Peggy so he can inherit her estate. When her coach crashes Peggy asks Marguerite to care for her small daughters. A coach takes Marguerite to Ronan's home.

"Wilder Wench" by Susan Fraser King. When the Movement rushes into Johnny's home, Ned keeps two children safe. Over a decade later, Ned is the lord who catches Christina robbing a coach.

"Intrigue and Mistletoe" by Joanna Bourne. The snow forces Elinor and Jack to stop at an inn where they see each other for the first time in two years ever since he betrayed her.

"She Stoops to Wenchdom" by Mary Jo Putney. Lucinda loves Gregory but he treats her like they never met as he knows she deserves better.

"Miss Breakheart's Christmas" by Jo Beverley. Pen plans to win Ross' heart though he is wedding Cassandra.

"On a Wicked Winter's Night" by Nicola Cornick. Johnny's coach crashes forcing him to stop at the Silent Wench owned by Lydia. Four years ago he proposed to her, but she assumed he was being honorable as she was pregnant.

"Winter Wench" by Patricia Rice. Damaris heads to Jonathon's estate to tell his family that her cousin eloped with someone else. In an accident, a confused Damaris fails to explain who she is.
"Weathering the Storm" by Cara Elliot. Sophie and Bentley sail to London when a mast breaks. He needs to deliver documents to the Home Office while she needs to deliver the family bible to her grandfather. Each is attracted to the other but they conceal their feelings.

Each romance is light-hearted fun starring likable protagonists who bring alive the holiday season in the Regency British Isles.

Nowhere To Hide
Nancy Bush
9781420125023, $7.99

Her law enforcement twin brother August was born six minutes before her on August 31 while Police Detective September "Nine" Rafferty came into the world on September 1. Like their older siblings (March, May and July), they are named for their birth months.

However, September has no time to celebrate her birthday as she and her partner Detective Gretchen Sandler lead the inquiry into the "Do Until Others As She Did To Me" serial killing case. The two cops know the third victim Glenda Tripp had ties to the Zuma case that Augie worked (see Nowhere to Run). However, the investigation takes a strange personal spin that has Nine believing she knows the culprit who apparently has targeted her. The prime suspect is Jake Westerly who she shared a brief interlude back in high school.

The latest Rafferty siblings' police procedural (see Nowhere To Run) is an exciting investigative thriller. The storyline is action-packed as the hunted hunts the hunter. The relationship between Nine and Jake fails to ring true in several ways partly because what happened the day after back in high school is not confronted; besides which a romance feels forced and unnecessary. Still fans will enjoy Nowhere To Hide as a psychopath stalks the cop who is trying to end the killings.

The Trouble With Cowboys
Melissa Cutler
9781420130041, $6.99

After melting down on national TV during the Ultimate Chef Showdown, Amy Sorentino returns home to Catcher Creek, New Mexico swearing off cowboys after the betrayal by The Cowboy Cook. She tells Slipping Rock Ranch owner Kellan Reed that she and her sisters plan to open a family vacation spot with a restaurant and she needs his beef. They go to his ranch to talk as he keeps thinking no involvement with a dysfunctional family like hers as he had his own growing up. He gives her celery and carrots to take home. They have sex though she vowed no cowboys.

Amy's sister Rachel runs the ranch. Their other sibling Jenna has come home as a single mom to her Tommy. Meanwhile Kellan's avaricious Uncle Bruce calls to ask him to help buy the Sorentino ranch for his firm Amarex Petroleum though the land was surveyed as dry. Kellan comes to church to invite Amy on a date. His friend Sheriff Vaughn Cooper says the sisters went through a lot with the car accident death of their dad and the mental collapse of their mom. Rachel insists Kellan is not good for Amy. Kellan knows the Sorentino sisters scare him as they are there for each other unlike his dysfunctional family.

The lead couple is a nice pairing of flawed individuals with parental issues while the secondary characters enhance the look at the protagonists. Adding realism is that the odious Cowboy Cook never gets his comeuppance. Although Amy falls into the cowboy's bunk too easily, fans will enjoy the first Sorentino sister ranch romance.

Autumn Winds
Charlotte Hubbard
9781420121704, $6.99

The violent storm hammered Willow Ridge, Missouri, but Widow Miriam Lantz does not care as her lost triplet Rachel, who vanished as a child in the flood of '93, found her way home (see Summer of Secrets). Miriam watches as all the power at her family-owned Sweet Seasons Bakery Cafe shuts down and a hole ripped into a window. She hears a male voice outside and welcomes traveling blacksmith Ben Hooley inside the cafe to wait out the storm.

Miriam and Ben are attracted to one another, but she knows he is a rolling stone while she is Old Ways Amish. Bishop Hiram Knepp is upset with the newcomer's arrival as he wants no rival for the hand of Miriam. With her cafe in jeopardy and her marital status at stake, Miriam turns to God for wisdom.

The second Seasons of the Heart (see Summer of Secrets) is an engaging Amish historical tale starring a strong female protagonist who wants to find happiness if she marries again after her first marriage fell apart when Rachel vanished. The triangle is super as the heroine must choose between two different men though the Bishop's ill-temper sense of entitlement detracts from an engaging saga with recipes from the Sweet Seasons Bakery Cafe.

Boyfriend from Hell
Jamie Quaid
Pocket Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451656350, $7.99,

Law student Justine Clancy works for Andre Legrande in the chemically contaminated Zone of South Baltimore to pay her student fees. She has a record after an arrest while leading a protest that turned into a riot at the undergraduate school in Pennsylvania. As she goes to deliver the day's receipts to the bank, someone knocks her down and robs her while a limo runs a light hammering crossing students. Liebowitz the reporter refuses to state the Senator ran over the kids and claims no one was near Tina. Her boyfriend Max accelerates her vehicle aiming to kill her as stunned Tina wishes he was in hell. Her wish comes true.

Tina as the Daughter of Saturn finds dormant powers awakening that require her to deal out justice. Meanwhile Max haunts her mirror, insisting to her that he is innocent. Max also warns her someone wants to harm her. With Milo the kitten who leads with a paw, a thief with the perfect M.O of invisibility, Cora of Discreet Detection and Andre, Tina investigates several recent situations as she concludes she is Queen and with her team "We are the champions."

This is an exhilarating urban fantasy starring a beleaguered heroine who has doubts about the impact of her new powers as she fears for each use, a piece of her soul peels away (think of the puzzle of the owner in the movie Major Leagues). With references to Support Your Local Sheriff adding to the fun, fans will appreciate this brisk, at times amusing thriller as the first Daughter of Saturn is a winner.

The Undead In My Bed
Katie MacAlister, Molly Harper and Jessica Sims
9781451656794, $7.99

"Shades of Gray" by Katie MacAlister. Noelle the Guardian protects humans from the denizen of Otherworld. While on the set of a ghost-busting reality show in a Czech Republic haunted castle, she meets Grayson the vampire. They team up to stop a Master Demon from killing everyone on location.

"Undead Sublet" by Molly Harper. In Chicago, executive chef Tess goes berserk from fatigue. She rents a house in Half-Moon Hollow, Kentucky to get away from the kitchen for a month. However, Sam the vampire occupies the home for the next three months although his ex-wife let the place to Tess. They argue, fuss and fight while falling in love.

"Out with a Fang" by Jessica Sims. Depressed over being alone, were-jaguar Ruby tries the paranormal dating service Midnight Liaisons. Her date is Michael the vampire, whom she knows intimately from when he was the human that she loved but dumped because of her pre-existing condition.

These are three amusing action-packed paranormal romances starring solid leads.

Borderlands: Unconquered
John Shirley
9781439198483, $7.99

Needing to escape Pandora, the deadliest most lawless planet in the galaxy; Roland needs to get to the Crystalisks to harvest Eridium so he can buy off world passage. He seeks the toughest fighter on the orb, all brawn and no brain Brick to help him. Instead he runs into the best sniper Mordecai who agrees to join him for a share of the loot. The pair locate Brick defending a mine against the psycho soldiers of General Goddess Gynella who uses off world science she stole to control her army of lunatics. Roland distrusts Brick's partner Daphne Kuller the Killer so he chooses to leave without the big bruiser.

Gynella tells her loyal Lieutenant Smartum that she wants Roland and Brick captured as she has plans for both of them. Her horde traps Brick and Daphne though the pair kills many psycho soldiers. Roland and Mordecai barely make it to the well-fortified Bloodrust Corners where families live. While Mordecai plans to leave though a back door exit in a cave, Roland chooses to help the townsfolk stay alive. At the same Gynella arranges for a concussed Brick to fight her meanest warrior Goliath with the prize being Daphne.

The second Borderlands science fiction (see The Fallen) is an exciting action-packed thriller that once again captures the essence of the videogame. The fearsome foursome comes across with diverse personalities while Gynella is the queen of mean. Although the use of metafiction by having Marcus the bus driver tell the tale of the magnificent quartet to a kick butt passenger and a claptrap robot seems unnecessary even as these chapters at beginning, ending and one in the middle enhance the dangers of Pandora, readers will enjoy this fast-paced tale.

The Curse
Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dianna Love
9781451671988, $7.99

As they have done for centuries, the purebred Beladors protect humans from the others like demons. However, though their cause is worthy, the Beladors are intolerant towards the half-breed Alterants, who are mostly incarcerated. Thus one of the few freed Alterant Evalle Kincaid knows she is a scorned outsider by those she has lived with all her life. In spite of her courage and achievements risking her life to protect the humans and the Beladors (see Alterant and Blood Trinity), she remains unacceptable as illogically her tribe prefers her dead or locked away as trash.

The demonic Trolls assault Atlanta so Evalle, though used to being alone, joins with Black Ops specialist Isak Nyght to end the gang urban warfare while also struggling to understand her relationship with Storm the skinwalker though the latter is on hold. When Evalle realizes she is the key for the enemy to commit genocide by killing the queen and the other Beladors, she takes a gambit to find other Alterants while knowing the Tribunal will not accept her rationale of saving their lives when they lock her away.

The third Beladors urban fantasy (see Alterant and Blood Trinity) is an exciting thriller as a multi-species war leaves Atlanta unsafe for anyone. The various paranormals seem genuine as they turn Peachtree into a battle zone. Although there are too many key characters making the storyline overly complicated, sub-genre readers will enjoy Evalle's adventures to save the humans and purebreds who scorn her.

Rick Gavin
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250006585, $14.99,

In Indianola, Mississippi, former police officer Nick Reid works for the K-Lo's rental shop as a repo. He collects items like TVs from those who fail to remit their payments.

Borrowing his landlady's 1969 Ranchero, Nick goes to repossess a TV from Percy Dwayne Dubois, but is greeted by the moocher with a fireplace shovel to the head. Percy leaves an unconscious Nick behind while borrowing the car to leave with K-Lo's TV, his wife and child. Irate Nick gets Desmond to help him run down the SOB. The pair follows the trio across the Mississippi Delta, home to many lowlifes, while eluding Dale the corrupt county cop.

Reminiscent of the Florida RoadKill escapades of Serge Storms and Coleman (by Tim Dorsey), the first Mississippi Delta road-kill thriller is a jocular fast-paced tale starring two amiable but loony protagonists and a lot of pond scum. Filled with plenty of amusing exaggeration, this fast-paced tale accelerates from the moment Nick learns a basic law of physics when the irresistible shovel collides with the moveable skull and never slows down until the final convergence.

Rest for the Wicked
Ellen Hart
9781250001863, $25.00

In Minneapolis, private investigator Alf "Alfonse Jasper" Nolan is hospitalized due to a long-time bullet in his back beginning to wander. While he remains bed ridden, someone stabs to death his nephew DeAndre Moore at the affluent GaudyLights strip club. Soon afterward Elvio Ramos a club dishwasher confesses closing the case except for Alf's junior partner, restaurant owner Jane Lawless.

Investigating her first solo case, Jane visits the club where owner Vince Bessetti prefers she ignores the homicide and instead invest in GaudyLights. Having enough issues with her Lyme House and Xanadu Club establishments; Jane focuses on detecting as Georgia the law student-stripper seems to want to bite her peach and food service chef Shanice Williams wants her banned for firing her. Avi Greenberg helps Jane with her inquiry but the sleuth wants this bartender. Then there is her BFF drama queen Cordelia Thorn offering her advice.

The latest Lawless investigative thriller (see The Lost Women of Lost Lake) is a delightful mystery; the best in several years. The storyline is fast-paced whether the focus is on the whodunit with ties back three decades to St. Louis, the heroine's restaurants or her wannabe relationships. Filled with a strong support cast, fans will appreciate Jane Lawless going for the G-string at an upscale strip joint.

Skating on the Edge
Joelle Charbonneau
9780312606633, $25.99

When her mother died, Rebecca Robbins returned home to Indian Falls, Illinois planning to sell the roller rink she inherited, but a murder in the bathroom delayed her plans (see Skating around the law). Still in town, Rebecca volunteers for a turn in the dunk tank at the Native American Days gala. However, she cancels at the last moment to help her crazy grandfather with his Elvis performance.

Replacing her in the tank is roller derby queen Sherlene "M Mean" Patsy who gets electrocuted on her first trip into the water. Rebecca rules out it was an accident and wonders if she was the intended victim or could the culprit have known of the last second switch and still have time to take advantage of an opportunity to go after the former Sister Shirley. She soon knows the truth when a humongous disco ball nearly crushes Rebecca; followed by her skates tampered and shots fired at her. Assuming her con artist dad is somehow involved, Rebecca investigates who wants her dead while the EstroGenocide roller derby team members become her bodyguards.

The third Rebecca Robbins amusing amateur sleuth (see Skating over the Line) is a humorous whodunit with a fabulous slapstick final confrontation worthy of the madcap 1930s shorts. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy Rebecca's latest escapades as who would have believed that a skating rink could prove so dangerous.

Lucky Stuff
Sharon Fiffer
9780312643034, $24.99

Antiques picker Jane Wheel feels good her divorce from Charley, who is mostly in Honduras, is final; while she has mixed feelings about her son Nick going to a boarding high school that specializes in science and math. No longer needing her house in Evanston, Illinois, Jane forwards her collections to her friend Tim Lowry for storage in her hometown Kankakee, and places their home on the market. However, she is unprepared for how fast the house sells so moves back to her parents' home in Kankakee.

Also returning to Kankakee to film a self-roast is B level comedian Lucky Miller though he stayed in town for a relatively short time. Lucky spends a lot of money to restore the businesses to what he remembers them as he fears he did something terrible here but cannot recall what he did. Adding to his belief is someone sending Lucky notes accusing him of crimes. While Lucky has sent many customers to the EZ Way Inn, owned by Jane's parents, her mom Nellie scorns the comedian. Meanwhile a crew member is killed just after he and Lucky got into an argument. With her mom in the middle, Jane investigates.

The latest Jane Wheel amateur sleuth (see Backstage Stuff) is an enjoyable lighthearted mystery as the heroine wonders why her mom disdains Lucky. Although the whodunit is thin, fans will enjoy Lucky Stuff as Jane "knew something like this was going to happen" when she came home.

Arnaldur Indridason
9780312659110, $24.99

In Reykjavik, a young man wearing a San Francisco t-shirt enters a bar and tries to pick up a woman. The next morning, Runolfur is found dead in his home wearing a San Francisco T-shirt that is too small. With Inspector Erlendur suddenly on leave, Detective Elinborg leads the homicide investigation.

The victim's throat was slashed and they find the date rape drug Rohypnol on him as well as in his body. Assuming the date rape drug is the key to the motive, Elinborg begins her inquiry with Runolfur's mom who offers little pertinent information. She and her team find evidence that strongly suggest Runolfur was a serial rapist with no friends except Edvard, who appears to be the deceased's sidekick. Elinborg works the case without help from her incognito boss and while worrying about one of her three children Valthor addicted to computers.

The latest Iceland police procedural (see Hypothermia) is an engaging thriller that provides a deep look at the nation's culture in Reykjavik and in a small remote village. The fascinating storyline is fast-paced except when the focus is on the lead cop's family, which detracts from the case.

A Death in Valencia
Jason Webster
9780312581848, $24.99

Someone murders highly regarded paella chef Pep Roures. As the cops pull Chef Pep's battered body from the sea, Spanish National Police Chief Inspector Max Camara is angry as he frequently dined at the victim's La Mar restaurant on Valencia.

The autopsy proves that Chef Pep was stabbed in the kidney before drowning. Camara looks initially at paella chef warfare, but quickly changes his mind when he finds a money angle. The deceased strongly opposed, as the last major hold-out, the city's renovation plans in the El Cabanyal zone that included La Mar. Distractions like the Pope is coming and an abduction occur while Camara suddenly is homeless when the entire block he lives on collapses.

The latest Valencia Spanish police procedural (see Or the Bull Kills You) is an enjoyable whodunit as the hero is a fabulous protagonist who to quote the Wide World of Sports tastes "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat." The storyline is fast-paced and bleak as Camara finds himself at odds with the city's leaders at a time when he is overworked on the job and overwhelmed in his personal life with no home and a woman he wants (in Madrid) who seems to have moved on.

Crystal Jordan
Kensington Aphrodisia
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9780758261571, $14.00,

"Hunting Temptation." After the use of biological weaponry during the Third Great War former Black Ops wolf shifter Kienan Vaughn comes to New Chicago to see his cousin Pierce. After dispatching some hissing muggers, Kiernan meets his mate private investigator Gea Craven, who is mated to businessman Quillian North. With two male hunks as hers, Gea forges a menage a trois.

"Reclaiming Temptation." In London mob leader Stefan holds Hybrid cheetah Felicia "Tam" Tamryn's sister hostage. He demands the grifter steal the crown jewels if she wants her sibling back. Tam's knows she will lose her mate Constantine Breckenridge when she completes the blackmail, but she must save her sister. Breck plans to rescue the siblings.

These are two exhilarating post-apocalyptic romantic fantasies starring protagonists who make the Jordan world crystal clear and seemingly real.

Joan Swan
Kensington Brava
9780758266408, $14.00

The FBI and ATF surround the Nevada cult compound. FBI agent Keira O'Shay wants to lead an assault to rescue a child Mateo who she has a mental connection with through her clairaudient skills that she conceals from the Feds in order to avoid becoming a lab rat. Her assignment however is to eliminate the sniper Rostov.

Former California fire captain turned ATF hostage negotiator Luke Ransom is her guide. They were lovers when she was on the same firefighting team until she left him three years ago for the Feds. Now they almost die trying to rescue Mateo and the other kids before a tragic Jonestown repeat. Like Keira he has enhanced skills caused by the same chemical spill that gave to her new paranormal talent. As they fall in love all over again, they learns of a government conspiracy tied to the chemical explosion that changed their lives.

The second enjoyable Phoenix Rising romantic urban fantasy (see Fever) is a fun entry as the paranormal skills especially of the heroine smoothly blends into the storyline making them seem genuine. The intriguing conspiratorial overarching theme moves forward though the maybe relationship between Luke and Keira feels distracting.

The Moonstone and Miss Jones
Jillian Stone
Kensington Brava
9780758268983, $14.00

Phaeton Black has escaped from a succubus and who the hell knows what else only to be shanghaied in Shanghai. He escapes again and contacts America Jones, daughter of a Cajun witch, to meet him. Though she wants to hang the SOB blaming him totally for her delicate little pea of a condition, America shows up at the rendezvous point.

Professor Lovecraft assigns the duo to find the mysterious Moonstone he needs for his latest gizmo. Also seeking the Moonstone is a team of Nightshades. They join forces as apparently this mystical gem is the cause of the destruction of a parallel future London neighborhood. Others, some of whom have nefarious purposes, seek the gem too.

The second Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator (see The Seduction of Phaeton Black) is a zany late Victorian romantic investigative steampunk fantasy. The lighthearted fun combines a tongue in cheek steampunk venue with an exciting paranormal mystery. The Devil and Miss Jones make a wonderful pairing as they battle each other, wonder about little pea, and fight deadly adversaries in search of the Moonstone.

Decked With Holly
Mari Bates
Kensington Teen
9780758274854, $9.99

An orphan Holly loves her grandpa, tolerates her teenage male cousins (Andrew and Jacob) and despises her snooty obnoxious female cousins (Allison and Claire). To celebrate grandpa's birthday, the family cruises the Mexican Riviera over Christmas, which unemployed Holly could do without since her two tormenters are with them.

Feeling seasick, Holly steps into an open suite only to have the occupant pepper spray her. Nick apologizes for his gut reaction while Holly leaves his room with her head high albeit eyes watery; only to be assaulted by screaming teenage fans of his. Nick is drummer Dominic Wyatt of ReadySet. Cellphones shots of her leaving him go viral. Known as a family-friendly act, Dominic convinces Holly to pretend to be his girlfriend for two weeks. She agrees to the gig; unprepared for the nightmare of the horde of teens and her cousins send her way as they hate her for stealing their destined role.

Readers will enjoy this entertaining Cinderella romance as an Awkward, slightly overweight young woman feels unworthy of the music star hunk who wants her; Holly's aunt and cousins fit the wicked roles of the stepmother and step sisters. Though the storyline is thin, Mindful of the Hugh Grant-Martine McCutcheon arc in Love Actually, teen readers will enjoy Decked With Holly.

A Christmas Hope
Joseph Pittman
9780758276957, $12.95

Accompanied by her twelve years old son Travis, heartbroken Nora Connors Rainer leaves Nebraska to return home to Linden Corners, New York where there are two seasons: winter and August. A lawyer Nora feels like a loser because at forty she is moving back in with her mom Gerta. Almost there, she ends up in a fender bender with Brian Duncan who is planning the village Halloween party.

Nora opens "A Doll's Attic" consignment shop where the natives can sell their unwanted junk in hope that others will see valuables. Octogenarian Thomas Van Diver hires Nora to locate something special from his childhood memories of his last Christmas with his dad before his father died in combat. Brian and his young ward Janey Sullivan assist Nora and Thomas as the three younger people want to make this a special holiday season for the elderly Thomas.

The ghost of Christmas Past is in the memories of the cast; while the ghost of Christmas Present resides within their changing relationships; which will lead to the hope of the Ghost of Christmas Future. Fans will relish this warm Linden Corners yuletide tale (see Tilting at Windmills and A Christmas Wish) as hope is not just another four letter word for the residents of this Upstate New York community.

One Wrong Move
Shannon McKenna
9780758273475, $15.00

In Brooklyn, an elderly woman attacks Nina Christie with a hypodermic needle. After plunging the needle in to Nina's arm, the victim recognizes her assailant as her mother's best friend Ukrainian Helga Kasyanov who was like a beloved aunt to her. The drug proves to be mind-altering as she can hear thoughts of others.

Former Army Ranger Alex Aaro sneaks into New York City to say his goodbye to his dying aunt while avoiding his estranged Russian mob family. The McCloud family asks him to translate a message that Helga left on Nina's cell in Ukrainian, but instead he intercedes when dangerous goons come to abduct her. She soon learns that she has three days to take the antidote or die while adversaries pursue them.

The latest McCloud Brothers (and friends) romantic suspense (see Blood and Fire) is a taut fast-paced thriller that uses mind-control telepathy as a powerful fresh mechanism. The sex scenes feel more like detractors with time running out and the enemy thugs on their butts. Still, fans will enjoy Shannon McKenna's New York adventures.

Darkest Desire
Tawny Taylor
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758265661, $14.00

The three Alexandre Brothers (Drako, Talen and Malek) have been the leaders of the Black Gryffon for a decade since their father retired at fifty; as expected. Although Drako as the oldest is top griffin, his siblings understand the mission is to protect humanity and keep secret the sources of humanity's power safe from the covetous Chimera. Proud of his offspring, their father reminds them it is time for wives and children so that they too can retire at fifty like he did.

Drako has found his woman Rin (see Darkest Fire). As the second Malek believes he has selected his mate in former sex slave Lei. However, though she is attracted to him, they have a problem with their relationship since both are doms. Adding further complications are Male is in a relationship with Brent and the Chimera targets Lei.

The second Black Gryffon erotic Celtic fantasy romance is an action-packed thriller with an intriguing love between two doms arguing who's on top. However, neither protagonist feels three dimensional though sub-genre fans, especially those who read Darkest Fire, will enjoy the heated courtship.

Breaking News
Fern Michaels
9780758266064, $15.00

In Charleston, South Carolina Toots, her friends (her daughter Abby's Godmothers - Sophie, Mavis and Ida) and her new bakery partner Jamie, takes her care of her former housekeeper and friend Bernice recovering from bypass surgery. Ida owns Drop Dead Gorgeous Cosmetics; Mavis owns Good Mourning Clothes; Sophia is a psychic; and Abby is in Los Angeles editing the Informer tabloid owned by her mom. Toots hopes her stepson Chris and her daughter marry.

Ida says she has a new cosmetics line Seasons that removes wrinkles. She wants her three BFFs to model it on the Home Shopping Club, but warns Sophie to behave. Sophie likes her boyfriend private investigator Goebbels while Toots is attracted to Bernice's cardiologist Phil who asks Toots out on a date and she accepts. He picks her up at her home, but Bernice tells them that the dog next door Frankie was abandoned and injured. Phil takes a look and says it is a spinal injury. He arranges a chartered fight to take Frankie to a specialist in Naples, Florida.

The ex-owner of the Informer Rodwell Archibald "RAG" Godfrey has paid a fortune to radically change his appearance. Abby goes to the Informer where RAG abducts Abby leaving behind a note demanding $10 million. Phil arranges a flight for them to go to Los Angeles. The three Godmothers also fly there.

The camaraderie of the four friends remains very powerful in the latest Godmothers contemporary (see Deadline) while Toot's concerns for her daughter shows an emotional side of her. Although there are too many flashbacks and the RAG subplot seems improbable, fans will enjoy Breaking News as the four BFFs succeed in business and relationships without seemingly trying.

London Eye
Tim Lebbon
59 John Glenn Drive
Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616146801, $16.95,

In 2017, the terrorist arrack turned thriving London into Toxic City. The assumption by British citizens outside the great metropolitan is that everyone inside the wasteland died on Doomsday. The Choppers special forces guard the perimeter of the city allegedly to not let anyone enter and unbeknownst to the outside world experiment on surviving Londoners.

Two years later teenage Jack and his younger sister Emily still mourn the deaths of their parents on Doomsday when the siblings, his girlfriend Lucy Anne, their buddy Sparky and true believer Jenna meet Rosemary the elderly healer. The woman calmly says she just came out of London via tunnels as the media and the government lied as to what has happened since the lethal assault. Jenna stabs Jack forcing Rosemary to prove her claim of being a healer. As she heals Jack, Rosemary explains there are other survivors who like her are gaining extrasensory powers. Jack proclaims that since there is a chance his mom lives, he must go inside to bring her out. His sibling and friends insist on going with him while Rosemary offers to guide them.

The first Toxic City dystopian urban fantasy is a superb conspiratorial thriller as Tim Lebbon establishes his wasteland London with its strange denizen as genuine. Making the Lebbon lure seem real are the reactions of Jack and his crew with awe and fear as they trek the city they no longer fully recognize. Filled with action fans will relish trekking the deadly London Eye wondering what wonder will we next meet.

Quantum Coin
E.C. Myers
9781616146825, $16.95

Summerside High student Ephraim "Eph" Scott found the coin that when flipped seemingly granted wishes. However, the quarter proved much more complex than simple magic as he learns basic multiverse physics since the coin is a cosmic traveling machine that sent him into alternate realities (see Fair Coin).

One year has passed since he stopped an evil version of his best friend Nathan from destroying his loved ones. The coin no longer works as he used its power to repair the evil Nathan's destruction of the alternate universes. He gave it to his girlfriend Jena as part of a necklace. However, Zoe, a Jena counterpart from another realm arrives needing his help. Nathanial has sent an SOS. Unsure how Zoe got to his plane of existence since his coin died, Eph, accompanied by the two identical yet different girls he likes, investigates. They learn the multiverse is slowly committing suicide.

The second Coin science fiction is a terrific young adult thriller that makes great use of chaos theory and teen romantic angst. At times frantic-paced, yet the key triangle thrives and insures that Quantum Coin stays anchored. E.C. Myers provides a fabulous tale as seemingly heads the multiverse dies and tails the multiverse dies.

Be My Enemy
Ian McDonald
9781616146788, $16.95

In London brilliant fourteen year old Everett Singh witnessed the kidnapping of his father quantum physicist Tejendra by thugs. Soon afterwards the math prodigy obtained the Infundibulum complex digital map, which enables the user to plot an infinite number of alternate worlds. He learns the leaders of the Ten Known Worlds alliance abducted his dad to gain control of the Infundibulum. Everett outwitted Charlotte Villiers and the Order (see Planesrunner), but she still pursues him as do others like Everett M, from a parallel Earth.

The airship Everness piloted by Captain Anastasia Sixsmyth and his adopted daughter Sen with Everett on board has jumped to a frozen Earth far beyond the Plenitude to make plans to rescue his dad lost in one of the parallels. Forced to leap to another earth they meet the Thryn Sentiency who landed on the moon in 1964 and dead earth where the few human survivors in London battle a losing fight against nanotechnology led by Nahn.

The second Everness science fiction tale is a great thriller as the teen hero outthinks his opponents who continually underestimate him due to his age. The entertaining storyline is loaded with current science inside of a fabulous thriller. Filled with vivid alternate realms, plenty of humor, and a precocious teen hero, fans will want to join Everett and the crew of the Everness as they traverse the parallel earths.

The Skybound Sea
Sam Sykes
9781616146764, $17.95

Lenk the Swordsman and de facto by omission leader of a band of mercenaries (Denaos the thug, Asper the priestess, Dreadaelon the wizard, Gariath the dragonman, and Kataria the shict) knows he and his team have been fortunate to still be alive. Their enemies have been formidable at sea (see Tome of the Undergates) and on land (see Black Halo).

However, Lenk also realizes their biggest obstacle comes from within as in spite of the evidence to the contrary the sextet remains somewhat distrustful of one another; each assumes any of the others would stab not defend your back with only the payments keeping them together. The voice reminds Lenk to beware of betrayal. Still their adventures have changed each of them as the object of the six is no longer the fee though they expect payment in full, but to save the world from the return of the Kraken Queen as fee collection would be nonexistent if the world died. This evil's horde includes dangerous malevolent monsters, quisling humans, and super inhuman soldiers. However, it is the first of thousands of demons to rise from the water that has Lenk and crew doubting their chances of collecting their money.

Once again, the scope changes as the mission becomes apocalyptic in nature in the third Aeon's Gate sword and sorcery. The storyline is fast-paced as the six continue to bicker but with a nod to the Tuckman Group Development Model, they have gone through the phases of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. Though their banter at times seems somewhat off as if they reverted back to the sea adventures of the Tome of the Undergates, fans will enjoy this engaging epic fantasy.

The Kingsmakers
Susan Griffith, Clay Griffith
9781616146740, $17.95

Over a century and a half ago, the world was divided between the vampire and human zones. The "cold war "peace recently ended; hostilities between the humans and the vampires turning heated. Equatorian Empire Empress Adele leads her army against their more powerful opponents. On her side is Gareth the Greyfriar who saved her life from his sibling British Vampire Clan Lord Prince Cesare. Gareth believes his brother schemes to become the ruler of the Vampire Empire.

Cesare has double agents high in the human hierarchy of Adele's forces as well as inside the vampire court. Adele and Gareth know spies are everywhere prepared to betray them and their cause to their more powerful enemy. Increasingly Adele and Gareth conclude their lone hope to snatch victory from defeat is for the queen to use her geomancy powers that she once rejected as genocide, which may destroy the vampires but also has a strong chance of eradicating the humans too.

The third steampunk Vampire Empire fantasy (see Greyfriar and The Rift Walker) is a superb finish as both sides fight to the death to determine who will be the dominant species. The Griffith world seems genuine as it has throughout the saga. However, this series belongs to and with the lead couple remain consistent the human empress who has matured from when Cesare kidnapped her and Greyfriar rescued her, and her beloved vampire prince who believes his love for her is doomed. Action-packed, readers will relish this great ending to a strong trilogy as the Griffith couple provides a fabulous climax.

The Lost Stars: Tarnished Knight
Jack Campbell
Ace Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10014
9781937077822, $26.95,

The ruthless Syndicate finds its violent control of its people in peril because of the inability to defeat the Alliance forces led by "Black Jack" Geary nor defend some of their worlds from aliens. As the Syndicate appears on the verge of implosion, The Midway Star System becomes a hotbed of activity because the sector is a nexus of hypergates to and from other Syndicate systems. Distrust of the brutal Syndicate forces runs throughout this sector as the locals expect to feel the terrorizing crush of their "protectors" and worse from the "snakes".

Syndicate Commander Arthur Drakon led the ground forces in the Midway Star System, but he and what is left of his units are exiled. Instead of hiding, Drakon makes a rebellious bid to take over leadership of Midway starting with ridding the system of the snakes. To succeed, he needs to ally with a natural enemy CEO Gwen Iceni. Together they mount a counter attack on Syndicate units in the sector with a strong focus on those dominated by snakes. After declaring their independence from the Syndicate, each distrusts the other, but failure to do so will allow the snakes to regroup abetted by traitors.

This brilliant sidebar new series occurs during a period between the Beyond the Frontier last two entries: Dreadnaught and Invincible. Though there is plenty of military outer space combat, the storyline centers on the strange bedfellows' codependent but tremulous alliance that Drakon and Iceni forge to bring their nebulous vision of a better democratic future for Midway. Jack Campbell runs a strong saga shown from the viewpoints of the Syndicate at a time when the vicious totalitarian military regime teeters on the brink of total collapse.

Between Two Fires
Christopher Buehlman
9781937007867, $25.95

The Lord God had turned his face from men. His devoted angels know they must protect the children of Adam from the Fallen. As the Lord made no answer to the plight of man, Lucifer tells his followers it is time to test God's will by releasing the Great Death Plague onto the Lord's greatest insult the sons and daughters of Adam. The fallen leader says this will mark the beginning of the second war of heaven.

In 1348 in Normandy so many have succumbed to the Great Death, burials have stopped. Four excommunicated former knights turned brigands (Thomas, Godefroy, Jacquot and the fat one) travel the land scavenging for food while forced to eat spoiled meals. They reach a barn in a devastated village. There they meet the Girl who expected their arrival as an angel told her. The Girl realizes Godefroy wants to rape her while Thomas protects her killing two of his companions. She informs her savior that the Black Death is the opening salvo in Lucifer's plan to win the second war of heaven with mankind caught in the middle of the combat zone. The Girl persuades Thomas to escort her to Avignon where she will confront evil.

Between Two Fires is an engaging good and evil medieval thriller. With a sense of eeriness throughout, Thomas and readers wonder if the orphaned Girl he escorts is a Lucifer witch or a heavenly messenger. Although the key cast (except for the mysterious Girl) is stereotypical of the Heaven War trope, fans will enjoy Christopher Buehlman's trek across war fourteenth century ravaged and now plagued-torn France.

Personal Demon
Susan Sizemore
9780425254721, $7.99

In Chicago, demon Ivy Bailey the vampire hunter insures the city's undead population strictly adheres to the "rules". When someone breaks one of the edicts, she hunts the felon down.

In 1888 London Christopher Bell defeated the evil Jack the Ripper. The English vampire's investigation leads him to Chicago. There he notices something that looks eerily familiar stalking Ivy. Christopher warns Ivy and offers to watch her back, but she declines. Meanwhile someone is magically murdering witches with demons as the most likely culprits. Ivy senses a connection as she hunts the serial killer while a malevolent creep stalks her; Christopher ignores Ivy's bravado as he pursues their common Personal Demon.

The first Laws of the Blood urban fantasy (see Heroes) in several years is an engaging grim entry that brings the vampire enforcer road show to Chicago. A major reason this entry is fun is the diverse outlook on how humans, vampire, demons and others should co-exist as the Brit and the American define community differently. Readers will appreciate the triangle battle with the murderer as death stalks the Windy City.

Dark Light of Day
Jill Archer
9780425257159, $7.99

In a world in which the demons won the battle of Armageddon, human survivors worship demons as gods if they want to live. The demons established a strict code to insure no fratricide.

In this new earth, twins Nouiomo "Noon" and Nocturo "Night" are total opposites with an unheard of twist. She holds the power of a Magester that is never possessed by a female; while he contains the healing magic of the Mederi that almost always belongs to a woman. Noon conceals her magic as many would declare her an abomination against the laws of demons. She attends St. Lucifer's where she meets powerful student Ari Carmine. While friend Peter Aster seeks the reversal spell to change Noon's forbidden magic, Mederi disappear. Noon investigates the vanishings.

With a nod to James Blish's Black Easter and The Day After Judgment, the first Noon Onyx urban fantasy establishes an earth where the demons rule after winning the war. Noon is a great protagonist as she knows the realm has rigid enforced rules that might mean a female Magester must die. The whodunit is engaging but it is the entrance into Archer world that casts a spell on readers.

Anton Strout
9781937007799, $7.99

The Belarus family is a longtime fixture in Manhattan. Siblings Devon and Alexandra are totally opposites in outlook; he runs the family realty firm while she is an artist; he is a certified a-hole and she is a nice person. Ironically though neither knows it, both in their diverse way are chips off the old block of an ancestor who built Belarus Mansion by Gramercy Park.

When Devon dies in a freak accident, Lexi takes over running the business. However, she thought running the real estate firm would prove difficult, but Lexi finds something much more complex when a tattooed stranger attacks her and a stone gargoyle saves her. Centuries ago her relative who built the famous mansion Alexander Belarus was a spellmason who created the gargoyle Stanis to protect his descendants for over a century. As she tries to learn more about her ancestor, why her family is under siege and more about whom or what Stanis is; she also is trying to keep the enemy from taking a big bite out of the city.

The first Spellmason Chronicles urban fantasy is a super thriller as the heroine begins to learn family secrets while under a baptism of fire. The storyline rotates perspective between Stanis and Alexandra as he lives to protect her from adversaries who want her dead though she has no earthy idea why. Filled with Anton Strout's vintage dark humor and plenty of action and suspense (see Simon Canderous' "Dead" tales), readers will enjoy the Belarus tour of New York.

To Be A Family
Joan Kilby
Harlequin SuperRomance
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373718085, $5.50,

In Australia, schoolteacher Katie Henning finds her first book Lizzie and the Monkey on sale in the local bookstore. Her publisher wants Kate to write more children's' books.

Her ex-fiance John Forster comes back to town accompanied by his six year old daughter, Tuti, who grieves the recent death of her mom. John feels guilt and shame for dumping Katie when he accused her of not fully fighting her breast cancer. Katie agrees to help Tuti adapt to becoming an Aussie. As John watches the loving interaction between his ex and his daughter, he wants to rectify the biggest error of his life.

This is a warm second chance at love relationship drama. The two adults and the child are fully developed with each suffering from tragic circumstances though John's is self-inflicted. Although Katie seems to forgive John too easily, fans will enjoy this Australian romance.

The New Hope Cafe
Dawn Atkins
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373718092, $5.50

Cara Price's plans for her and her daughter Beth Ann collapse when her abusive former husband Barrett is released after three years of a six year sentence. She planned for his prison time to enable her to get a teaching degree and new identities for her and her child. Now she is one the run because she knows the beast will come for them.

They end up stuck in New Hope, Arizona when their car breaks down. Cara takes a job at The Comfort Cafe to earn the money to pay for repairs. The owner's nephew Jonah Gold the cook concludes the new help is poorly concealing her fear of someone. When Barrett arrives in New Hope, cancer victim Jonah seems like the only hope (or is he?) to keep mother and daughter safe from a bullying psychopath who charms with ice cream and guns.

Though the premise has been used before, readers will enjoy this taut romantic suspense with the tension coming late. The cast is solid as Jonah recovers from a cancer scare and the two females show their fears of Barrett in different ways. Dawn Atkins provides an enjoyable tale as mother and daughter take their last stand at the New Hope Cafe.

One Final Step
Stephanie Doyle
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373718108, $5.50

Still reeling from the scandal that destroyed her career when she was caught with married POTUS, image consultant Madeleine Kane accepts Michael Langdon as a client. Her job is to change his image from playboy to serious car designer. Michael needs the change in order to team up with another vehicle manufacturer to mass produce his environmentally friendly car; she needs the job to redeem her image from the White House fiasco.

They are perfect for each other as she helps him move passed what happened when he served time as a teen and he helps her move past the scandal. As they mentally heal, they fall in love. However each is reluctant to change the professional to the personal, but especially Madeleine who went down that path.

One Final Step is an entertaining contemporary romance starring two flawed individuals who find their relationship helping them to heal even before love accelerates their respective will-being. Character driven, fans will enjoy this engaging tale while wondering whether M&M can take that One Final Step.

The Texas Ranger's Reward
Rebecca Winters
Harlequin American
9780373754267, $5.25

In Salt Lake City, Melissa Dalton works at the Lone Peak Children's Physical Therapy Clinic. The physical therapist's new patient is seven year old Casey Stillman who broke his femur falling from a horse. Casey no longer needs his crutches, but refuses to put them down and bear his weight on his legs. Melissa greets Casey and his dad private investigator Travis cheerfully and even obtains a laugh from the now reclusive child. Travis is stunned and jealous with how well the physical therapist gets his son to walk without the aid of the crutches. To reward the child, she gives him a special leash to walk his dog Dexter.

Travis realizes that Melissa could be the sister of his late murdered wife Valerie. He tells her that he was a Texas Ranger whose spouse was murdered by an avenging killer who remains on the loose and that she looks like Valerie. When someone breaks into her office, Melissa calls Travis. He agrees to help her as he is grateful for what she has done for his son. Although each is attracted to one another, he fears placing another wonderful woman in danger and she remains traumatized by the assault of her former husband at a time when the danger mounts.

This is an entertaining second chance at love romance with late suspense that deftly ties loose ends. The fast-paced storyline grips the audience starting with Casey's therapy and never slows down as the past arrives to haunt the lead couple.

Falling For The Cowboy
Mary Leo
Harlequin American
9780373754274, $5.25

In Briggs, Idaho, pediatric dentist Dr. Blake Granger has a problem as his receptionist Kitty will soon go on maternity leave. Kitty's sister Maggie Daniels offers to replace her sibling temporarily to ease her sibling's fears. However, Maggie, a former marketing executive has no plans to remain in the small-town. Knowing he needs help with the dental practice especially as a single dad raising a ranching tomboy, he hires her.

From that first encounter at the donut shop, Maggie and Blake are attracted to one another. Both knows acting on their feelings will lead to each being hurt as he is small-town and she is big city; besides which he learned firsthand what a career woman chooses if it is between the love of a husband and daughter, and a job. Still neither can say no.

The often used theme of big city careerist and rural rancher falling in love (see the Hallmark movie Straight from the Heart) is made fresh by the strong protagonists and a deep support cast. The key to this delightful contemporary is neither lifestyle is condemned as long as a person uses their backbone to choose what is right for them. Fans will enjoy Maggie and Blake falling in love encouraged by their respective families.

Living The Fantasy
Kathy Lyons
Harlequin Blaze
9780373797196, $5.25

Quirky Games, Inc. CEO Ken Johnson seeks a queen, but not any royal will do. He needs to find Guinevere in Houston to help promote their new game, Winning Guinevere. Ken knows the significance of this actress on his firm; if this game fails to sell Quirky files for bankruptcy.

At the agency Ken hired to find his star, he sees his Queen leave the elevator and assumes Ali Flores is a model. In fact Ali is a shy office worker who hates her current job and happened to be in the building meeting her BFF, who is working the Quirky account, for lunch. Ken hires Ali who immediately takes to her role and her new employee as he changes his goal from selling his game to Winning Guinevere the woman he loves.

Living the Fantasy is an engaging heated romance starring a hunky geek and a no longer reticent heroine. Readers will enjoy the protagonists' escapades in and out of bed as they turn their sexual role playing into a loving reality.

Follow My Lead
Lisa Renee Jones
Harlequin Blaze
9780373797202, $5.25

Reality TV show, Stepping Up, begins dance auditions for the second season shows. Rival variety show hosts Blake Nelson and Darla James are hired as part of the new season. Blake will film the opening auditions in Denver as he did with the successful first season (see Watch Me). Darla has been named a judge though she must prove her worth if she wants the job for the entire year's run; which she does to pay off her parents' enormous debts.

Darla and Black may be competitors, but they are also attracted to one another. He pushes a relationship while she hesitates. Still they begin a secret tryst that if exposed will nuke their careers.

The enjoyable second Stepping Up season focuses on auditions and the shaky top secret affair, but neither subplot is fully developed as the heated storyline comes across as emaciated. Still this is a fun read especially following the wannabe performers as they dance and the reactions by the judges to their performances.

Confessions of an Angry Girl
Louise Rozett
Harlequin Teen
9780373210480, $9.99

High school freshman Rose Zarelli is upset with life ever since her father died as a civilian contractor in Iraq. She resents her mom ironically a teen shrink who buries herself in her work rather than deal with her daughter's grief; and Rose is irate with her brother who buries himself at college rather than deal with the grief of his family females.

At school, she suddenly feels like a loser. She depends on her BFF Tracy, but her buddy, a wannabe cheerleader, has new nasty friends whom Rose prefers to avoid. A party incident makes Rose a pariah. The one exception to the too cool crowd is Jamie who Rose likes and wants to be his girlfriend though Regina claims that honor. At the same time, Rose's pal Robert wants to be her boyfriend.

Putting aside the title as Rose rarely seems angry as she feels despondent and alone while she grieves her loss. Although much of the support cast is stereotypes of high school dramas (i.e., the mean head cheerleader), Rose holds the interesting storyline together as Louise Rozett provides a deep look at a teen struggling with getting on with her life while dealing with a tragedy and monstrous changes in her key relationships.

Melissa Darnell
Harlequin Teen
9780373210565, $9.99

In Jacksonville, Texas until recently Savannah Colbert never comprehended why the Clann overtly loathed her. At school Tristan Coleman refused to acknowledge she existed as he was warned to keep his distance. That ended when she came back from a week of absenteeism totally changed as Sav and Tristan became an entry (see Crave).

After a warning from the Vampire Council to never see Tristan or else, Sav ends their relationship to protect her beloved from what she is tuning into. Tristan refuses to accept her assertion that it is over as he knows there is more to this. Vowing to find a way for them to be together, neither is ready for what awaits them.

The second Clann teen urban romantic fantasy is an engaging coming of age thriller. Both protagonists mature out of necessity as much as due to their love, while the support cast enhances the insight into the Darnell vampire mythos. Leisurely paced for the most part, readers will enjoy this fresh vampire romance.

Alice in Zombieland
Gena Showalter
Harlequin Teen
9780373210589, $18.99

On what should have been her sweet sixteenth birthday, Alice Bell tasted tragedy. Zombies killed her mom, dad and younger sister, and Alice's innocence. Besides numbing grief and bone marrow deep need for revenge, Alice regrets that she believed her late father was a lunatic when he insisted monsters lived.

Alice believes she is targeted by these evil beasts for death too. She knows she cannot confront the malevolents by herself, but never expected Cole Holland, the student at school with the worst reputation, to become her defender and mentor. With him and his friends accompanying her, Alice prepares for war against the zombies; unaware that her new ally has secrets that make zombies look like preschoolers.

The first White Rabbit Chronicles is an exciting teen urban fantasy starring a terrific protagonist whose entire life changes in a nanosecond. The key cast is fully developed while enhancing Alice's coming out party. Although references from the Carroll's classic starts as fun, these citations eventually distract from what overall is an entertaining zombification of Alice.

Nicola Cornick
9780373776672, $7.99

In 1817 elderly Lord Templemore asks his heir Lord Wardeaux to investigate whether maid Margery Mallon is his long lost granddaughter. Marjory dreams of one day having enough money to open up a confectioner's shop as she loves to bake.

Marjory arrives at Mrs. Tong's Temple of Venus brothel to barter her baked goods in exchange for items her brother can sell in his store. On the way out, she meets Henry Ward. He ignores her insistence she is not one of the girls when he kisses her. Henry begins courting Marjory to learn about her background. He knows if she is the granddaughter she will inherit instead of him, but owes Templemore the truth. As they fall in love, she finds out about his perfidy while the Ton scorns her and a dangerous adversary stalks her.

The latest Scandalous Women of the Ton Regency romance (see Desired and Notorious) is an enjoyable historical with a solid supporting mystery of what happened two decades ago. The protagonists are a nice pairing as he wants the best for her while she has been a footnote in previous entries. Readers will enjoy this fast-paced thriller as the villain will stun most fans.

Hidden Paradise
Janet Mullany
9780373777198, $14.95

Paradise Hall resort in Somerset, England caters to guests who want a complete escape from the twenty-first century. Instead of wire and wireless, those staying (and working) at Paradise Hall will find themselves in a late Georgian era setting.

One of the owners Chris invites his close friend Widow Louise Connolly, a Jane Austen expert, to come to Paradise Hall. She decides to go because she hopes to "see" her beloved late Julian there. Leaving Montana, she arrives at Paradise Hall where her friends greet her like a conquering heroine. She and journalist Mac Salazar meet and begin a tryst. She knows they are playing roles and when the fiction ends it is time for her to go home.

Hidden Paradise is a fun heated tale with several romances (besides that above there is younger couple Rob and Di) in a "historical" setting. The cast is fully developed as fans will believe they entered a long ago era of English decadence when we arrive at Paradise Hall.

A Fool's Gold Christmas
Susan Mallery
9780373777020, $16.95

Dancer Evie Stryker's professional cheerleading career ends with a broken leg. Now she is back at home in Fool's Gold, California, a place she fled as a teen. Her mom and three brothers welcome her back in the family fold as if there were no estrangement. As she heals, Evie works at the local dance studio which is hosting the annual holiday production of The Dance of the Winter King. However, Miss Monica, the geriatric owner of the dance studio, sells the place and runs off with her boyfriend. Everyone turns to Evie to run the gala. She reluctantly agrees but plans to leave Fool's Gold as soon as she can.

Attorney Dante Jefferson has adjusted somewhat to living in this Sierra Mountains town, but has headaches from the elephantine stomping of little people's feet in the studio above the law office he and his partner Evie's brother Rafe (see Summer Days) use. Dante pleads with Evie for relief but she looks at him like he is a lunatic; as the show must go on; not even the producer of the pageant for at least five centuries running away will stop the performance of The Dance of the Winter King. As the lawyer and the dance instructor fall in love, both have strong reasons to avoid any relationship, but this is A Fool's Gold Christmas.

The final Stryker siblings' Fool's Gold romance (see All Summer Long and Summer Nights) is a fine holiday family affair. The too precocious preadolescent dancers steal the show from the adults in this engaging tale of redemption and self-forgiveness.

An Outlaw's Christmas
Linda Lael Miller
9780373777013, $16.95

In December 1915 Texas, rather return to the family Triple M Ranch in Arizona, Sawyer McKettrick chooses to become marshal of Blue River, Texas. Sawyer heads to the town when a blizzard leaves him injured. He manages to make it to just outside the schoolhouse where teacher Piper St. James finds the shirtless Sawyer and helps him inside though she knows her Good Samaritan action will ruin her prim and proper reputation.

Though he insists he is a McKettrick, the teacher assumes he is an outlaw. As they stay indoors while the storm blankets the town, Piper recalls her dreams of raising a family with a beloved mate but knows her guest is a rolling stone; while Sawyer respects his hostess but is not ready to settle down though a pageant has him considering little McKettrick children performing in future galas.

The latest McKettrick holiday romance (see A Lawman's Christmas) is a warm historical starring two wonderful protagonists. Character driven by the lead couple, fans will enjoy An Outlaw's Christmas as their chance wintry encounter revives her dormant dreams and changes his dreams. Linda Lael Miller provides her fans with a passionate Yuletide Americana.

Forever Werewolf
Michele Hauf
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373885558, $5.50

"Forever Werewolf." Rhys Hawkes sends his wolf-vampire son Tryst to Castle Wulfsiege in the Hautes-Alpes region of France. Tryst meets Lexi Connor, daughter of pack principal Edmonton Connor's daughter. Tryst and Lexi are attracted to one another but she rejects her feelings as she refuses to betray her father by becoming involved with an unacceptable hybrid. When an avalanche buries much of the castle, Tryst helps. He later investigates the poisoning of his beloved's sire though he admits to himself that his motives are to persuade father and daughter to take a chance on him. This is an engaging paranormal romance starring two strong loyal protagonists.

"Moon Kissed." In the Twin Cities, Belladonna Reynolds starts to jog home when three dudes chase her. Severo the werewolf takes her to a safe spot until the blood suckers leave. He saves her from gang rape and dining on her blood. He wonders if he met his life mate as Severo is attracted to Bella. However, her best friend Seth informs her vamps and weres live as he dates one. Severo thinks Seth is seeing Evie whom he calls Elvira. That means Bella needs to write his eulogy soon and if the crazed Elvira thinks Bella is Seth's lover, she is in trouble too. When the vamps remain fixated on their search for her, Severo escorts her home and moves in with her to keep his mate safe. As they fall in love, she remains under siege and the beastly werewolf side of Severo has to accept or kill his lifemate who has become his beloved enemy. This reprint starts off as Beauty and the Beast with an initial werewolf twist, but takes another ironic spin.

The Wolf Princess
Karen Whiddon
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373885565, $5.50

"The Wolf Princess." Her concerned royal family sends for American Dr. Braden Streib to come to Teslinko to help Princess Alisa perform her shape-shifting. Braden is amazed by her ability not to shift for months and remain sane. She is intrigued by the dark glasses wearing visitor who treats her so differently from her suitors. He reciprocates but as a hybrid feels unworthy of his beloved. However, extremists send assassins to kill Alisa who they feel is an abomination to the purebred superior species. Braden risks his life to keep The Wolf Princess safe. This is an exhilarating Pack paranormal romance starring a fascinating hero whose blindness adds depth to the tale. Although the climax feels abrupt, fans will enjoy the latest Pack entry.

"One Eye Open." In Upstate New York, fearing for her missing sibling, Brenna Lupe searches for her brother Alex; DEA Agent Carson Turner also searches for Alex; he believes his former partner murdered his wife and children. She needs help so she turns to Carson who tells her what he believes about her sibling; she refuses to accept what he says about her brother. She hides her shapeshifting essence from him even as they fall in love while teaming up in the hunt for Alex. Still someone wants them dead. Although the romance feels too sudden considering their diverse opinions on her brother, this reprint of an early Pack paranormal romance is an action-packed tale that grips readers with wondering if Alex is a cold blooded killer.

Shades of Temptation
Virna DePaul
9780373776740, $7.99

In San Francisco, California Department of Justice Special Investigations Group Agent Carrie Ward struggles mentally with her hesitation before killing Kevin Porter before he could kill her. Though she has doubts, she welcomes returning to work even if that means facing Agent Jase Tyler who she wants to make love with but refuses to be a notch on his belt.

Though he dates bimbos, Jase is attracted to Carrie who almost bit his ear off. . They are assigned as leads on a serial killer investigation. Each knows ending the murders comes before their temptations, while the psychopath targets Carrie.

The second SIG romantic police procedural (see Shades of Desire, which introduced the leads of this entry to readers) is a fast-paced thriller from start to finish. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing especially Carrie who realizes even evil can have some goodness inside. Although the plot has been used a lot including a similarity to Shades of Desire, fans will enjoy this taut romantic suspense.

The Accidental Bride
Christina Skye
9780373776597, $7.99

In Arizona, twenty-seven years old Jilly O'Hara loves working in the kitchen of her restaurant Jilly's Place though she hates the social schmoozing side. However, suddenly while in the kitchen she cannot breathe and is filled with severe pain as she falls to the floor. Jilly wakes up in a hospital where she learns she suffered a heart attack caused by a previously unknown congenital defect.

Her Summer Island, Oregon BFFs ((Grace Lindstrom (see A Home by the Sea), Caro McNeal (see The Knitting Diaries "Return to Summer Island" entry) and Olivia Sullivan)) know Jilly only goes at one pace hyperspeed so they decide to force her to take time off. The trip sends Jilly to Lost Creek Spa in Wyoming where she meets veterans Walker Hale and Winslow the dog who are both recovering from war injuries. When the owner elderly Mrs. Hale persuades Jilly and reclusive Walker to pretend to marry so she can host one last wedding bash, the pair conceals from one another that they wish it was the real thing.

This knitting romance focuses on love healing two wounded warriors. The BFFs with their knitting needles and Mrs. Hale add depth while Winslow serves as the matchmaker as she falls in love with the dog before she does with the ex-soldier. Fans will enjoy this warm romance as we wonder whether Walker retreats or boots to the ground.

Sweet Laurel Falls
RaeAnne Thayne
9780373776702, $7.99

In Hope's Crossing, Colorado, intoxicated teens crash while fleeing a police siren. Maura McKnight-Parker's daughter Layla died in the crash (see Blackberry Summer).

Still grieving her loss, Maura is shocked when her oldest daughter Sage returns to Hope's Crossing accompanied by her biological father Jackson Lange who until recently was unaware he sired an offspring with the woman he left behind two decades ago. Jackson has plenty of fences to mend with his loved ones. His first goal is to connect with Sage. His second objective is to come to grips with the fact that he still loves Maura but knows helping her cope with her loss supersedes his desires. Finally he must decide whether to reconcile or not to reconcile with his father who betrayed him all those years ago. As the extended family bonds, Sage's secret could shatter the healing.

The latest Hope's Crossing contemporary drama (see Woodrose Mountain) is an engaging tale that continues to look at the emotional impact of the car accident on all the townsfolk. The second chance romance enhances the prime tale of redemption (perhaps too much as the cast faces issues that occurred years before the recent tragedy). Still fans will enjoy this warm story of love healing.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Mitchell On Trumpet, Book 1 (book and DVD)
Harold E. Mitchell, author
Santorella Publications
13 Pleasant Avenue, Danvers, MA 01923
9781585607198 $18.95

"Mitchell on Trumpet, Book 1" is a manual of complete trumpet method including 82 balanced lessons "from the very beginning to 'G' above high 'C.'" In addition to the book of lessons and introduction, there is an accompanying DVD which accompanies the first four lessons, featuring jazz performance artist Chris Tedesco. Here is a complete collection of exercises, scales, tips on technique, breathing, control, tonguing, and instruction in performing all major and minor scales. There is also a trumpet fingering chart, glossary of music terms, and a quick reference guide. Examples of studies included are lip flexibility exercises, breathing tips, rhythm studies, and much more. "Mitchell on Trumpet, Book 1" is trumpet performance instruction at its best from a master.

Songs of the Nations (music book and CD)
Jim Mayhew, author
Mel Bay Publications
PO Box 66, Pacific, MO 63069
9780786684304 $24.99

"Songs of the Nations: American Indian Music Adapted for the Native American Flute" is a collection of Native American songs from a multitude of tribal traditions and sources, adapted for the Native American flute using the Nakai TAB system of fingering. Containing over 100 pages of songs from Cheyenne, Lakota, Ojibwa, Choctaw, Pawnee, and many other origins, "Songs of the Nations" is a treasure trove of Native American adapted flute songs. Relying heavily on the song collecting efforts of Frances Densmore for the Smithsonian Bureau of American Ethnology, "Songs of the Nations" lists all its sources in the bibliography. Accompanied by a CD containing performances of thirty of the selected songs, "Songs of the Nations" is a stellar effort to compile and present valuable musical heritage material presented in a modern performance medium, with ancient roots. Students of ethnology, musicians, and lovers of beautiful natural music will enjoy hearing and performing these beautiful songs. Brief explanatory notes assist in understanding the origin and intent of each song.

Nanise' A Navajo Herbal
Vernon O. Mayes and Barbara Bayless Lacy, authors
Jack Ahasteen and Jason Chee, illustrators
Five Star Publications, Inc.
P.O. Box 6698, Chandler, AZ 85246
9781589852174 $19.95

"Nanise' A Navajo Herbal: One Hundred Plants from the Navajo Reservation" is a special illustrated plant guidebook identifying 100 plants found in the area of the Navajo reservation, a 25,209 square mile area which covers four states and is roughly equivalent to the area of the state of West Virginia. "Nanise'" which is the Navajo word for "vegetation" is described as a botanically accurate specialty field plant guide for outdoor adventurers, hikers, and Navajo culture aficionados. Each plant is labeled by its common name or names, in English, its Latin name, and its Navajo name, along with a precise brief description and distribution and list of Navajo uses for the plant. Black and white illustrations of the flower, leaves, fruit, and whole plant are displayed for each plant named. In addition, further references are cited and there is also a center collection of color photographs of many of the plants with accompanying names and page numbers. The plants selected to be included came from a wealth of over 1,500 species by the Navajo Health Authority, Ethnobotany Project staff, and was approved by the Navajo Medicine Men's Association. Some of the plants may be familiar, such as sumac, vervain, mistletoe, and horsetail. Others may be less well known, such as gilia, or cliffrose. In addition to the plant descriptions and illustrations, there is an illustrated appendix of miscellaneous related information, such as dye or food recipes, and instructions for games played by the Navajo using plant materials. There is also detailed information on the nutritional content of such plants as prickly pear fruit, pinyon seeds, purslane goosefoot, and sunflower seeds. Finally there is an annotated bibliography of books of related interest areas. "Nanise', A Navajo Herbal" is a book of great beauty, accuracy, and practicality which should interest all students of Southwestern area cultures, as well as a casual horticulturist.

Crow Story: A Tale from the Oak Grove
Librado Press
P.O. Box 2801, Reston, Virginia 20195
9781879571105 $7.95

"Crow Story" is a beautiful modern folktale inspired partly by poetic memories and folktale traditions of the Chumash tribes of Santa Barbara, and partly by the destruction of an ancient live oak tree in the San Roque area of Santa Barbara. Illustrated with stunning original black and white lithographs of abstract art representing parts of the story, "Crow Story" is deeply connected to both a reverence for a nearly lost set of Native American mythos, culture and language, and a painful reaction to the (modern era) destruction of a sacred, ancient oak tree, named Evo in the story. A photograph of the real tree shadows the back cover of "Crow Story." The artist/author has created a fitting memorial to the imagined memories of crows, trees, and humans of the Santa Barbara area before contact between the indigenous peoples and western Europeans occurred. As a memorial, "Crow Story" is enriched by multiple sources and traditions, and the author's own sensitivities. Beautiful word pictures of the natural setting through seasonal changes enrich every page. "What power absence has," thought Hayser looking at the empty field that had been home to Evo. Hayser's heart reached out. He did not feel Evo. He felt emptiness. Tears rose from his heart. 'Evo, Evo (P. 47).'" It is very moving and also very fitting that proceeds from the sale of "Crow Story: A Tale From the Oak Grove" will be donated to he Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and to the Barbareno -Ventureno Band of Mission Indians to promote their Chumash cultural programs.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Cliff Anthony
AMC Publications
9780984768707, $19.85,

Newspapers are going the way of the dinosaur, but there are those fighting to keep this institution alive. "Page-A1" is a novel from Cliff Anthony surrounding a newspaper trying to get by as the economy tanks. With a strong dose of humor, he draws a fun picture of newspapers and their struggles in the modern day that is sure to entertain those who remember the papers fondly. "Page-A1" is worth considering for general fiction collections.

The Perfume Alibi
Jeffrey Cruden
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781478169642, $14.95,

Being able to slip into a new role easily has more uses than the silver screen. "The Perfume Alibi" is a riveting tale of mystery and noir as Jeffrey Cruden tells the story of Hollywood Character actors turned contract killers, as he channels the genre of the past to create a riveting story of two men leading double lives while evading the police out for their night jobs. "The Perfume Alibi" is an enticing twist of mystery, highly recommended.

K. R. Lugo
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462093533, $20.95,

Some women notice they have a power, and use that power ruthlessly. "Schism" is a novel following young hotshot homicide detective Bob Harris as he finds a string of murders with one suspect that no one else seems to be able to touch. Harris has to resist much to get to the truth behind it and bring justice to those responsible. "Schism" is an enticing pick for mystery and thriller lovers, highly recommended.

The Risk of a Fall
T. W. Vanderneck
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781477561751, $9.25,

The love we share can often be harmful. "The Risk of a Fall" is a novel from T. W. Vanderneck touching on the pain that Dementia afflicts on a family as Lorna struggles to help her aging Grandmother with her dementia, even as her condition starts to adversely affect their relationship, their love is pushed to it fullest, and may not be enough. "The Risk of a Fall" is a fine read for anyone who seeks a story of a family's crumbling nature in the face of disease.

Balancing Act
Diane Tupper
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781469753089, $11.95,

A new career in mid-life doesn't come easily. "Balancing Act" is a novel from Diane Tupper who brings her own experiences to the table, telling of law student graduate Kate who in her mid forties embarks on a career in law, and is faced with the overwhelming endeavor of balancing her career with her family life as a mother. "Balancing Act" is a story that will resonate with many overburdened career women, recommended.

Broken Angels
Harambee K. Grey-Sun
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475005417, $13.00,

As some wait for death, they make their attempt to save the world in their own ways. "Broken Angels" follows dying young man Robert, who awaits his death and affliction with the White Fire virus, which allows them to manipulate photons of light. Working as a Watcher, those with the disease begin to call themselves Angels, a claim that Robert finds dubious as he works with his close friend Darryl to do what he can...and finds that the apocalypse may be in the distance. "Broken Angels" is an intriguing twist of fantasy and modern issues, highly recommended.

Help! I'm Raising My Grandkids
Harriet Hodgson
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475068405, $13.95,

Raising grandchildren is different from the first time raising kids. "Help! I'm Raising My Grandkids" is a parenting advisory guide form Harriet Hodgson as she advises readers on what to expect with the generation gap of raising children, as well as the problems that may come for being a parent again well into one's twilight years. With plenty of sage wisdom for stressed out grandparents, "Help! I'm Raising My Grandkids" is a much recommended addition to parenting collections.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

The Messenger (Mortal Beloved, Book One)
Pamela DuMond
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475222623, $10.99/$2.99 Kindle,

Pamela DuMond started out life with a stuttering problem, which probably helped develop her prodigious imagination. What is interesting about her is that she discovered the Erin Brockovich's life story and pitched it to a production company. We all know the results of that move. Pamela has published several YA fiction stories, or Young Adult books that appeal to adolescents. Her books are highly regarded, and she looks like she'll be on a roll for a long time! Pamela was born in the Midwest, but relocated to LA, where she is a chiropractor, cranio-sacral therapist, and author.

Madeline Blackford is a sixteen-year-old girl who lost her mother in a bizarre car crash when she was a baby, which she herself survived. She lives in Chicago, and is encountering her share of teenage angst. She accidently falls (or was pushed) from the el platform and wakes up in 1675 in another girl's body named Elizabeth with a nasty gash on her head, which was all disconcerting, until she discovers the love of her life (and the ages):

"When somebody tall and strong wrapped a muscular arm around my shoulders from behind, pulled me backwards and pinned me firmly to his chest. I tried to scream but he covered my mouth with his calloused hand and whispered in my ear, 'If you shout they will find you. Despite our differences I would never hurt you, Abigail."

Pamela DuMond takes the reader on a wild ride, from modern day Chicago with all its adolescent insecurities to the Endicott settlement in New England. Madeline learns that she is meant to be a messenger and that her mother is somehow involved, but what that means is slowly laid out in the tale. DuMond is a superlative writer who sets the stage for an historical romantic adventure, and then fiendishly leaves the reader hanging at the end. Will we read the next book? You bet! MESSENGER is refreshing and original.

Imposter for Hire
Sandra Levy Ceren
Modern History Press
c/o Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
9781615991426, $19.95,

Sandra Ceren has forty-plus years of experience as a psychologist, specializing in pre-marital counseling. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Family Psychology and holds a diploma from the American Board of Psychology. Ceren published her first mystery, PRESCRIPTION FOR TERROR, in 1999. IMPOSTER FOR HIRE is her third mystery in the series. Ceren has also published short stories in anthologies and magazines.

Dr. Cory Cohen receives a call from her romantic interest, private eye Ben Fortuna, for her help in a missing persons case that has the anorexic wife in the throws of panic. Her husband is a petroleum engineer who has invented a procedure to reinvigorate wells in Iran. Obviously, there are several interested parties who want to steal his research in any way possible, and when the engineers' kids also disappear Cory and Ben have to figure out who is behind the kidnaping:

"Cory recalled one of her patients, a geologist. He had gone to work in the Gulf of Mexico for one of the petroleum companies attempting to drill in dried-up wells. Frustrated by the project, he'd returned last year. He said the system using steam and water to extract the oil was tedious and anyone who discovered a better way should earn a prize, especially if he mastered an ecologically friendly method."

Cory and Ben divide up duties on the case so that Ben is handling the legwork and Cory's job is to try to keep Allison, who is anorexic and bulimic, from killing herself. On the way from San Diego to San Francisco, Cory meets a strange woman named Ingrid who claims to be running away from her abusive husband. Ingrid is being followed by a strange man, who then begins dogging Cory, and it is up to her to find the connection. A straightforward consulting job turns into a dangerous case that challenges Cory and Ben at every turn. Ceren keeps the action crisp, the characters interesting, and keeps the reader glued to the page. An excellent read!

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Cat Sayings
Bradford G. Wheler
Book Collaborative
PO Box 403, Cazenovia, NY 13035
9780982253847, $24.95,

Author, Bradford G. Wheler had a vision for a book, a book that was not the norm, but one that would stand out and be noticed. The title of this work, "Cat Sayings."

This is a book that honors the beloved cat, but not necessarily in the way you may expect. Each page has on it what I would call a mini masterpiece of an artists creation showing their perception of different cats, in different situations and settings. Some are colorful, some are muted, some are amusing, some are cute, some are striking, some are whimsical, each unique and eye catching, each definitely bringing the topic alive in the minds eye.

I spent a lot of time on each page of this book, reading the short excerpts that went with each picture, and enjoying the talent shown in each one. One excerpt reads "Cats always know whether people like or dislike them. They do not always care enough to do anything about it (Winifred Carriere, 1912-2002). How true is that! Actually when I found one I really enjoyed I had to show everyone in the house. We shared quite a few giggles.

There are nine Chapters in this book we have: Cats Rule, Wild Cats, Kittens (my favorite), Humor (another favorite), Of Cats & Dogs, The Cat Personality, Death Of A Friend, Love Of, and Cats Vs. People. The artists in each topic have created the perfect image to bring this topic to life. At the end of the book you will find information on each artist and where you may find their website.

I loved this book. I am more of a dog person than a cat person, but I do think cats are beautiful and this book was a joy to read. Very well done and I am proud to recommended it.

The Chest of Visions Secrets of Caperston
Tim Ferguson
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Rd, #515
Parker, Colorado 80134
9781622305988, $14.95,

In this book we meet some young people from two different universes. In the one, the Savior Jesus has not yet arrived and they are challenged with problems they are not sure how to handle. Two youths from the different universes become friends, one knows our Savior, one does not. Now young Mattpaul is challenged by what he is being told and what he holds as tradition. Learning about the ways of the Lord are not always easy to understand, will this encounter make a difference.

This was a different read, one that opens the door for discussion with young people. I read this book with a thirteen year old girl and once we were finished I asked her how she felt about our experience. She said it definitely made her think about many things in her own life and in your walk with God. She told me at times she was a little confused but all in all she enjoyed what we read and what she learned. She could identify with some of the challenges presented and that was good. I feel this is a good book to be used with a group of young people where there can be discussion on the different happenings in both Universes. I believe this work can be very useful.

Fithful Shadow
Kevin J. Howard
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd, #515
Parker, Colorado 80134
9781432794354, $15.95,

Hold onto your hat because you are in for a thrill of a ride in this book by author, Kevin Howard. We are taken to Yellowstone where there is a terrible fire burning. We meet Ranger, Joe Rand, who lost his son and is dealing with deep emotional issues. We also meet some firemen and a group of young people who are working at the Park for the summer. These youths are pretty busy with the normal guy/girl activities and the author does play this up quite a bit, perhaps a little bit more than he should have. However, you do get to know these young workers and what happens to some of them is scary.

As the story continues on people begin to disappear, some right in front of others who have no idea where they went. It appears that a creature, one that has been known about for many years by the local Indians, has been driven out of his underground lare by the smoke of the fires, and is now taking residence in the Inn, feasting on their guests. The problem - how do you fight a shadow? That is where Ranger Joe and a few others begin the battle, will they win?

I liked this story. I liked the characters and I feel the author did a good job in pulling you into what was happening at the Park. It was creepy, but that is what this tale is all about. Many died that I didn't want to see die and at the end you do wonder who is going to be the winner, or do they really ever win? This is a read that is definitely one of those ' weird-creepy' tales, you know what is behind the tree type reads. Or did you hear that noise? I enjoyed it and I think you will as well.

The House At 25 Clearview Drive
Clayton J Liotta
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781479119936, $12.95,

Do you remember the excitement when a new neighbor was coming? As a child did you hope upon hope that perhaps they would have children and maybe,just maybe you would have a new friend. In this delightful tale by author, Clayton Liotta that is what we find. Clues are being left as their baggage begins to arrive that there is a child coming, but is it a boy or a girl? The wonder grows.

This is a great tale, written in rhyme and brought to life with outstanding illustrations. It is a story both young and old can relate to so it is a joy to read it to your little one and perhaps share your own memory. Great story, great illustrations, recommended.

When Verdell Comes To Visit
Clayton J Liotta
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781479126545, $12.95,

In this delightful tale it appears that Verdell is coming for a visit. Now Verdell always seems to bring some very interesting things when he visits, some good, some not so good. We learn that Verdell loves to talk and cook and shop and by the end of the first day our little boy is wiped out. What will tomorrow hold?

This is a cute tale, as usual, and what I have found in all of Mr. Liotta's books, the illustrations are top-notch and bring every word of the story to life. I believe it will help to show children that everyone who comes to visit has some things that we may not like, but still they are our friends so we learn to be tolerant. A nice tale, well done and recommended.

High Country Killers (Book 4 of the Jake Silver Adventure Series)
Jere D. James
Moonlight Mesa Associates, Inc.
18620 Moonlight Mesa Rd.
Wickenburg, AZ 85390
9781938628092, $15.95,

Jake Silver is on the move again in this action-packed read, High Country Killers. Silver is going after some dangerous men in this new adventure, men who are killing off ranchers and then abusing the woman of the house.

The storyline of this fourth book is outstanding. Every locale is clearly detailed. The author, Jere D. James, has a way of taking the reader into the very soul of each character in the story. Every character is carefully described, and readers can feel their evil, their goodness, and their greed. Some you love to hate, and others you hate to love.

This tale is quick moving, yet does not leave out any of the details that are important to the outcome. It is a story of adventure, love, anger, and heartbreak. It's one of murder, greed, and lust, and one that takes the reader down a shady road. Although there are numerous pitfalls along the way, Jake Silver pulls you through to the other side. It is a story that touches many emotions and ignites many fires.

I have read all the Jake Silver books and even though I want to get down and ugly with some of the decisions Jake makes, I love each and every book. Jake Silver's honesty and courage are certainly a badge to wear.

The ending, which I will not reveal, was shocking. Not so much that the evil-doer was punished for his action, nor that it happened, but that someone else took the blame for what did happen. Someone I never dreamed would.

Trust me. This is one story that is super-packed with adventure, romance, mystery, and surprises. The twists and turns will wind around your mind and keep you spinning, and the ending will have you drop your jaw in surprise. Excellent!

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

I'm Fed Up with the Tea Party!
Philip S. Salisbury
c/o Buy Books On The Web
1094 New Dehaven Street, #100
West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
9780741470737, $9.95,

The Tea Party, for better or worse, has definitely uprooted the political system. "I'm Fed Up with the Tea Party!" is Philip S. Salisbury's stated grudge against the movement, feeling the party goes against the issues it supposedly it supports such as spending and the national debt, including opinions on the impact that Super PACs have had on the system. "I'm Fed Up With the Tea Party!" is a collection of political opinion worth considering.

Falstaff's Big Gamble
Hank Quense
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781478116196, $13.99,

Tragedy simply becomes comedy in the eyes of some. "Falstaff's Big Gamble" is a novel from Hank Quense, as he lampoons Shakespeare's work by twisting them onto a fantasy world where their struggles suddenly lose a lot of their tragic nature and their truth takes a whole new turn through it all. For fantasy readers and Shakespeare fans with a sense of humor, "Falstaff's Big Gamble" is not to be overlooked for those seeking laughter.

The Bonesaw Trail
Dorian Dalta
Balboa Press
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452551135, $8.99,

Travel takes us away from our comfort zone and threatens us with change. "The Bonesaw Trail" is a novel from Dorian Dalta, who tells of two individuals, Bonesaw and Johnny who are taekn from their homes on a long journey, driven by the mystical and fleeing their lives as they set themselves out to meet one another in a world's adventure. "The Bonesaw Trail" is a unique novel blending the wonder of the road trip with the ideas of friendship.

Seeking a God to Glorify
Leroy T. Howe
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466293847, $15.00,

Knowledge is a powerful thing, and there are those who seek to suppress it, and those who seek it. "Seeking a God to Glorify" is a Christian search for knowledge and understanding of God's place in the pursuit of education, as Leroy T. Howe, United Methodist minister, offers his insight on scripture and the role of God for those who search for the light of knowledge. "Seeking a God to Glorify" is a strong pick for those who want to better understand God and everything else about faith.

S. A. Glenn
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781475931129, $28.95,

There is a purpose in many things, even the most bizarre of our lives. "Katherine" is a novel of paranormal historical romance set in 1868 as young Samuel Lee Simms finds new work in the Carolinas and a charm in young Katherine, who may leave his life as soon as she enters it. A gypsy enters their lives, and charges them with their past lives a hundred years before, and they find not all is sweet in their lives with a murderer in their midst. "Katherine" is a strong pick for those seeking historical romance with its own winding surprises, very much recommended.

When Reason Screams No and Intuition Screams Yes
Vtec Janus
IDS Publishing
9780987117809, A$26.95,

A blind leap of faith is sometimes needed to go forward in life. "When Reason Screams No and Intuition Screams Yes: An Amazing and inspiring True Life Story of Courage and Faith" is a memoir from Vtec Janus who touches on the crossroads of his life and how he considered all the options and made his decisions based on his family's history and faith. An enticing read of one man's decisions, "When Reasons Screams No and Intuition Screams Yes" is a well worth considering for memoir readers.

The Planet-Girded Suns
Sylvia Engdahl
Ad Stellae Books
9780615645179, $10.95,

What lies beyond our own galaxy? "The Planet-Girded Suns: History of Human Thought About Extrasolar Worlds" explores the interest in what lies beyond Neptune and Pluto in our solar system and what we thought rested on them. Sylvia Engdahl writes that it was once thought that life on other planets was more common than we do now, and touches on historical views for an intriguing look at the evolution of man's wonder of the galaxy. "The Planet-Girded Suns" is a fascinating spin of history and science, recommended.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Time Will Tell
Donald Greig
Thames River Press
9780857286246, $27.95,

Music crosses all languages and time for those able to understand it. "Time Will Tell" tells the story of musicologist Andrew Eiger as he seeks the truth surrounding medieval sheet music he discovers in his quiet Midwestern college. Delving into the history of music and those who study it, Donald Greig presents a riveting and much recommended addition to those who want to better understand the study of music and mysteries that even a simple sheet can hide. "Time Will Tell" is a strong pick for anyone seeking a novel with strong ties into musical history.

Rattlesnake Fever
Lorie Blundon
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781475930023, $32.95,

An uncle she never knew, only heard about is a hole in family history. "Rattlesnake Fever" is a novel from Lorie Blundon, following Malorie, who after her grandmother's death, seeks the truth about the Uncle she never knew, digging through what her grandmother left behind and piecing together the mystery of what she learns is a murder. Learning the dark secrets of her family in the process, "Rattlesnake Fever" is a fine story centered around coming to terms with familial dysfunction one never truly saw.

Thoughts That Don't Rhyme
Marwa Farouq
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781469934525, $13.00,

The world is ever changing and leaving us confused on how to keep up with it all. "Thoughts That Don't Rhyme" is a collection of memoir and essays from Marwa Farouq as she ponders her place in the world as a Muslim female and becoming a human being living free of labels. Uplifting and insightful, "Thoughts That Don't Rhyme" is an enticing and much recommended addition to memoir collections.

After The Apocalypse
David Anderson
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781105532887, $28.30,

As the world collapses, humanity tries to piece itself back together. "After the Apocalypse: The New War" is set amongst two centuries in the future as the world faces calamity in 2012. A group of monks emerge with the knowledge of the past, and conflict will soon follow that knowledge. "After the Apocalypse" is a strong pick for those seeking post-apocalyptic fiction with a new age twist.

Burnt By Sun
Tim Pompey
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475295269, $10.00,

The bright sun brings hot days, but the chance to do many things. "Burnt By Sun" is a collection of short fiction from Tim Pompey, who focuses on the summer life of the American south, Tennessee in particular. Telling a very charming tale of life and living, living and learning through it all and facing the summer heat, "Burnt by the Sun" is an insightful and fine pick for general short fiction collections, much recommended.

Fancy Gap
C. David Gelly
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781469955490, $14.99,

A monster in human form terrifies us. "Fancy Gap" is a novel following Quinn McSpain and Louisa Hawke are on the trail of a cruel individual who are targeting children and leaving them in fates no one should ever seen. Rushing against time to stop another killing, they must come together and work together, and face their own troubles of age before it's too late. "Fancy Gap" is a strongly recommended addition to mystery and thriller collections, highly recommended.

The Last Day in Karachi
Alia Khan-Hudson & Robert L. Hudson
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470120474, $14.95,

Life shattered, we try to piece it together when it all seems hopeless. "The Last Day in Karachi" follows Sabah Noor as she is forced from her home in Lahore, Pakistan due to circumstances and comes to America as an eastern Muslim immigrant, facing all the challenges that come with that status. Drawing strongly on author Alia Khan-Hudson's own experiences and culture in general, "The Last Day in Karachi" is a much recommended pick, not to be missed.

Paul T. Vogel

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

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