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

MBR Bookwatch

Volume 11, Number 10 October 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

Masako's Story, second edition
Kikuko Otake
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781463443375 $19.99

Now in a revised second edition, Masako's Story: Surviving the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima is anthology of poetry by a survivor who lived only one mile away from where the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Although Masako, her daughter Kikuko, and her two sons managed to survive, her soldier husband was not so fortunate. For fifty years, Masako never spoke of the horrors she had witnessed; then at last, she began to open up about her experiences. Kikuko has transformed Masako's words into unforgettable verse. Masako's Story vividly conveys the gut-wrenching impact of indescribable tragedy and horror suffering in the wake of an atomic bomb attack. "The blood clung to your hair / Pasting it to your skulls and streaking your faces, / So that you, daughter, looked like Oiwa-san. [a Japanese ghost woman] / The white dress you wore was filthy and tattered, / And dyed ghastly red by the blood. // I searched for more bandages. / But there were no more... / I could do nothing... but watch my children bleed." A handful of black-and-white photographs illustrate this elegy of grief, suffering, and speaking out against the horrors of nuclear weapons. Masako's Story is an impassioned call to remember the immense suffering such weapons bring, exhorting that readers never forget the devastation wreaked on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and never allow another use of these weapons of death. Highly recommended.

A World Without War
D. R. Thompson
Del Sol Press
9781934832141, $15.95,

World Peace has become a point of mockery at some times, but is there a real way to attain it? "A World Without War" is a collection of essays from D. R. Thompson, as he presents his educated opinion on how such a dream world could truly be possible in our future. With a unique writing style and plenty of ideas to further a goal of a world without national violence, "A World Without War" is an idealist's read on how to push forward to a world worth living in.

The Other Side of Alzheimer's
Martha-Lee B. Ellis
Balboa Press
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452545714, $14.99,

Alzheimers is watching a loved one slip away from you, slowly. "The Other Side of Alzheimer's: What Happens to You When Your Spouse Has Alzheimer's" is an advisory guide for those who have heard this devastating diagnosis, as Martha-Lee B. Ellis touches on the nature of Alzheimers and how it impacts our lives. With sage advice on anticipating the gauntlet of problems that comes with the tragic disorder, "The Other Side of Alzheimer's" is well worth considering for senior health collections.

A Fool for Lesser Things
Ted Prokash
Joyless House Publishing
9780615444475, $12.95

Paradise rarely feels as such. "A Fool for Lesser Things" is a novel from Ted Prokash following six Midwestern friends as they come to the Caribbean and face their life's challenges there among everything else. A very human story with plenty to ponder on life and everything else, "A Fool for Lesser Things" is a choice and much recommended addition for contemporary fiction collections.

The Door is Open
Andrew Cort
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781477461242, $8.95,

For those who follow the wisdom of the spiritual, they are always seeking answers, and the answers are waiting to be found. "The Door is Open: The 7 Steps of Spiritual Awakening That Western Scripture and Mythology Have Been Trying to Tell Us Along" is a guide of metaphysical spirituality as Andrew Cort advises readers to piece together their own grasp of spirituality and metaphysical ideas, taking concepts from many major faiths. "The Door is Open" is worthy for consideration for followers of something beyond the mundane.

Stairway to My Heart
Marion Marchetto
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
978147592, $28.95,

The wishes of our parents may be a heavy burden upon us. "Stairway to My Heart" is a novel of early twentieth century high society and the pressures placed upon their children. Cordelia's mother, a seamstress, wants nothing more than for her to marry well. Kevin's family seeks to him to find a worthy bride, and the daughter of a seamstress doesn't seem to be the most obvious choice in the matter. A love based on parental ambition, they marry, but their future is uncertain. "Stairway to My Heart" is a strong romance with a curious message, well worth considering.

Second Chances
Brenda Chapman
9781459702042, $12.99,

With adulthood on the horizon, many teenaged women embrace the coming changes in their own ways. "Second Chances" is a coming of age drama, telling the story of Darlene as she faces a summer with her corruptive cousin Elizabeth, as they face the chaotic times of 1971 cottage country America. Eluded by her own dreams, Darlene will learn much in the days. "Second Chances" is an enticing read for general fiction for both young adults, and those who remember that tumultuous period in their lives.

I Live, You Move On
Lendy E. Demetrius
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781456762018, $14.99,

The things we built our life upon may not always be what we think they are. "I Live, You Move On" is collection of stories weaving life into the decisions made for our future from the perspective of urban women. From women trying to understand how to work love and life into their career to trying to find the marital bliss they thought they had again, these stories have tales that will resonate with many readers. "I Live, You Move On" is a fine blend of dramatic romance, not to be overlooked.

Beneath the Rock
Tommy Birk
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781462083138, $18.95,

The mental scars of war can plague us for years to come. "Beneath the Rock" is a novel of coping with the pains of war. Two soldiers, scarred by the war on both sides of World War II meet, along with one of their sons, who had experienced the Vietnam War. As they try to search for purpose after their trauma, they find family and an unusual faith through it all. "Beneath the Rock" is an enticing addition to general fiction collections tackling a very important issue, highly recommended.

The RichLife
Beau Henderson
RichLife Advisors
9780984501021, $17.99

Rich and wealthy aren't the same thing. "The RichLife: Ten Investments for True Wealth" is a financial advisory guide form Beau Henderson as he advises people on how to maintain their money more effectively, build a financial IQ, and keep their money alive and avoid the disasters that can send one from riches to rags. "The RichLife" is a strong addition to self-help and personal finance collections, recommended.

G. Common
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432793548, $11.95,

Even as we stare into the stars, the creatures of the celestial realm still hang overhead. "Phantom" is a science fiction novel that blends in the interactions of a young Nephilim who is drawn into a war between worlds, an angel in a time where some have forgotten them. A very spiritual twist on science fiction, "Phantom" is a strong addition to general fiction collections, highly recommended.

The Effect
Linda Hoy
9781846949067, $18.95,

Those who enter science often look for answers, but some things science has yet to fully answer. "The Effect: Where Science Meets Spirituality"is a discussion of metaphysical spirituality from Linda Hoy who presents a break down into this discussion of mysticism and how it can meet with science, as we try to divine our fates, the afterlife, and the ultimate nature of our purpose in the universe. "The Effect" is not to be overlooked for spirituality collections, recommended.

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

Oil Slave
J.C. Kelly
River's Edge Press
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
0780615644066 $2.99

What happens when the world runs out of cheap oil?

This question has been reviewed in many nonfiction titles that construct "what if" scenarios and many a fiction apocalyptic novel; but few are as powerfully rendered as OIL SLAVE, which begins with a bang and proves impossible to put down: "Last night, the sun went down on our way of life. It sank into the hills, and the scorched hills whimpered as the thieves came out to loot."

The protagonist immersed in chaos is one Valerie Pushem, who has been drafted into a new military unit and is protected by her government status as she travels around a changed America on assignments that eventually lead her to realize her government's real intentions during the crisis.

Resource shortages are changing the nation with prolonged blackouts leading to chaos and disruption and increasing government involvement in regulating and protecting citizen lives. Valerie enjoys the return to simplicity and likes being forced out of routines - but is one of the first to be called into federal service as a Special Charge Police officer; there to represent the government and help keep peace and enforce security.

In the course of her duties she uncovers a deeper threat: one to the values of equality and liberty that once made America strong, and which have eroded along with the oil reserves that once powered a free nation. As she reveals thinning lines between slavery and work and fair treatment and forced labor for a greater good, Valerie finds her initial ideals and appreciation of a simpler life are unfounded, and becomes even more uneasy with her role working for the government's SCPO unit.

Her search for rebel hideouts bears fruit, but also reveals an underlying reality to the energy crisis that threatens the entire democratic system she holds dear.

Ultimately her attraction to the military, to government purposes and perspectives, and to her own sense of loyalty and duty are called into question: "If the lights were to go out permanently, I would not be erased from existence. These old-fashioned practices of the military continued to appeal to me as I liked the simplicity of papers and pens and the reek of history...Joe and I were made to be soldiers. In order to fulfill our roles we had to set aside compassion and focus on our missions. But then they changed the rules of the game and redefined what it was to be a worthy human."

In striking contrast to other apocalyptic novels about the end of resources, OIL SLAVE is largely about changes and challenges to freedom, social change, morals and ethics, and government versus personal interests. Any looking for more than a simple survival account will find OIL SLAVE a solid pick: vivid, exciting, and packed with moral and political reflection lacking in most competing apocalyptic novels.

Five Versus Five
Jodie Sankey
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781477465899 $9.99

In 1990 a government experiment with a clandestine drug fails, and all participants are eliminated. Except for one. Amy is sixteen and a normal teen in most respects; but when she enters a competition with one million pounds going to the winner, a latent power is uncovered that will change her life and test the boundaries of friendship, ethics, morality and survival.

Five Versus Five is reminiscent of The Hunger Games, in that competition becomes linked to survival. It's also about a girl's blossoming powers, stormy emotions, and how these feelings tie in to a more insidious underlying ability that is blossoming within her.

The first chapters are replete with typical teen angst: Amy has a bone to pick with just about everyone, is prone to flying off the handle, and experiences the usual emotional problems with just about everyone in her life - with a difference. A dark voice within her is prompting her to violence, and is winning. As Amy begins to respond to confrontation with an almost inhuman strength and innate fighting instinct, she slowly comes to acknowledge that her blackouts, the voices in her head, and her impossible reactions to fighting are beyond the norm.

Soon Amy finds her own father and close associates are involved in a truly dangerous game: a secret group of assassins have made Amy into a killer - and want her to join their purpose. Love, hate and warfare begin to mix as Amy's key relationships, from her father to Jesse, Jake, Cot, and others, all reveal underlying secrets and purposes. And a training program will either help her to control her powers or will hone them so that she becomes something dangerous and deadly.

Chapters packed with drama and action follow Amy into a dark world as she enters the game of her life: a game that will determine her future interests and where her latent talents will develop.

Romance and violence entwine as Amy faces some of the hardest decisions of her life: decisions that will determine the course of her existence or end it.

Riveting and fast-paced, FIVE VERSUS FIVE is a recommended read for young adult and adult readers alike - with the note that there are periods of graphic violence throughout, making it a pick for mature readers.

Out of the Shadow
J.S. Winn
Amazon Digital Publishing
9781467540063 $2.99

Any reader interested in compelling mysteries will find OUT OF THE SHADOW a powerful read, telling of one Becca Rosen, who survives a rape and just wants to move on with life. The only trouble is: she's being stalked by a psychopath who has a different agenda for her, and the police are convinced she's faking the rape to get away with her husband's murder.

Desperate, Becca hires a psychotherapist to help her handle the flashbacks and nightmares that are plaguing her - only to find that hypnotherapy is peeling back some dangerous layers of memory even as three men, new in her life, may not be as they seem.

Her search for support and understanding from her mother falls short, her involvements with men seem confused and filled with possible danger, and as Becca faces her innermost fears, outward threats and perils rise to haunt her anew.

Becca's realization of her childhood traumas and their affect on her adult perceptions and choices makes for a moving account that gently weaves within it a concurrent mystery revolving around Becca's husband's death and her own experiences of violence.

When Becca's best friend Angela is threatened, Becca must pull out all stops to help her; even confronting her own repressed memories to get to the bottom of why she's become involved in a deadly game.

First- and third-person perspectives alternate in a series of twists and turns that offer a stunning conclusion to a story replete with intrigue and deceptions.

Like the layers of an onion, OUT OF THE SHADOW peels away personalities, motivations, underlying motives, and dark, long-hidden secrets that immerse a circle of people in a web of dangerous associations.

The conclusion is riveting, unexpected, and as satisfying as the rising psychological suspense which begins from the first page and ends with a bang.

The Devil Dancers
T. Thurai
Hot Monkey Publishing
ASIN: B005KDFWP0 $4.90

Ceylon in the mid-1950s was a pivotal time, with forces erupting that would challenge and change the country's direction, ultimately creating a 25-year civil war that would become a way of life for many. While The Devil Dancers is a historical novel about these events, it's replete with cultural and political observations grounded in fact, and will prove a rich read for any interested in complex, detailed historical accounts.

But the entire 25-year period of civil war isn't the focus: it's just the background, here. At the heart of The Devil Dancers are six main protagonists and a host of tertiary figures who move deftly in and out of each others' lives over a four-year period.

From a Prime Minister indebted to a powerful Buddhist abbot for his political position to a former monk and revolutionary's encounter with a woman who could help him forget his past, this novel is packed with insights into the violence and conflict that are imbedded in social and political change.

The involvement and evolution of romance, spirituality, and family dynamics in the fabric of a society that is unraveling makes The Devil Dancers a multi-faceted and complex read that will demand of readers the ability to appreciate both historical setting and the mingled and changing fortunes of peoples from very different social strata.

One might anticipate from all this that The Devil Dancers would be ponderous and difficult to read: not so! From the first paragraph readers (even those unfamiliar with Ceylon history and politics) will be drawn into the landscape and flavors of the country: "9 a.m. The sun is already at its height, the air humid and thick. In the street below, morning has erupted, an explosion of noise, colour and heat. Watched by a crowd of eager customers, a man on the pavement is cooking hoppers on a charcoal stove. The aroma of food wafts under the noses of passers-by, a humble reminder of life's pleasures. A pedlar lurches past, strings of clashing saucepans strapped to his back like fish scales. Shoppers haggle shrilly with traders; neighbours shout greetings from doorways; bicycle bells trill urgently as riders dodge pedestrians and animals. Like dragonflies, women in jewel-coloured saris dart through the crowd, hovering around market stalls before disappearing in a flash of blue or green."

Fictional characters interact freely with figures from historical record, the motivations and failings of a range of protagonists are included in descriptions filled with psychological and social insights, and T. Thurai's writing imparts information deftly in a manner that assumes no prior familiarity with Ceylonese culture or history: ""There are plenty of other parasites in this country: people in positions of authority, who will resist change, who want power only for themselves. That is bad for Ceylon.""

The theme of a nation being slowly reborn is carried through each protagonist, who finds himself or herself reborn in the transformative process of a nation inching towards new options.

Especially notable are moment-by-moment descriptions of two ethnic groups dividing the nation, which move from political to personal circles as the Tamils and Sinhalese destroy neighbors and former friends, creating barriers of violence and uncertainty through which new relationships and friendships navigate like ships gone awry. Individuals with no political connections find even family relationships move from uncertain to dangerous: "Using her stick as a scythe, Manju swipes at a tall arum lily, severing its head from the stem. She does not have the luxury of choosing between her children, indulging her whims as to which she finds acceptable and which not, abandoning one and favouring another. By her efforts alone, the family has stayed together. Until now."

How such deep wounds heal and how such deep rifts eventually result in the reunification of individuals, community and country lends to a powerful saga of love, violence, and perseverance, recommended for any lending library strong in historical fiction.

Inside the Beijing Olympics
Jeff Ruffolo
9781456609429 $7.99

Author Jeff Ruffolo isn't just another reporter coming from 'the outside' reporting the events surrounding the Beijing Olympics: he was the only American in the senior management team of the 2008 Summer Olympics, and here provides a first-person account of his experiences and how he arrived at his unique position with the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee from his job as an Olympic broadcaster.

There were no predecessors to follow in his journey to Beijing - and plenty of political, social and cultural barriers to field single-handedly. In fact, as explained in the introduction, Ruffolo never wanted to write this book, either. It took looming unemployment to force him to put pen to paper to write about his Beijing experiences; and once he did, the book blossomed to what you see here.

This isn't your usual scandal sheet about the Chinese, not a critical survey of their policies and politics, and not intended as a light leisure expose or read: those seeking such elements will be disappointed.

Instead, it's so much more: an open, honest assessment of experiences at the Beijing Olympics and the hard-working action taking place behind the scenes, exposing routines and decisions the general public seldom hears about, even with all the front-line reporting about China and the Olympics teams.

Ruffolo's assessment of the Chinese people as a whole is enthusiastic, candid, and captivating: "As the sole American given the title and position of Senior Expert for the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, I personally saw the greatness of the Chinese people which was clearly evident during the most majestic Olympic Games ever." It's also in honest, refreshing contrast to those who don't even think about China without pre-conceived notions and a critical perspective.

Unlike others who have journeyed to China and then wrote about it, Ruffolo actually moved there and gave his heart and soul to interacting with the country. His enthusiasm and admiration for the Chinese people is unbridled and refreshing: "Having first travelled here in 1999 and then moving here full time in the Spring of 2007 to work for BOCOG, I have focused my life (and this book) on the positive rather than the negative. To have this "once in a lifetime" position at BOCOG, I left everything behind in America to come to China and work for these Olympic Games."

So what events encouraged a card-carrying Republican to accept a job in China? Unemployment and opportunity led Ruffolo on an unexpected journey: " through books, magazine articles or TV networks (including today's 24-hour cable news networks) the media elite in the United States constantly hammer out either an ambivalent or generally negative posture about the People's Republic. And when it came for me to make a personal decision to say either yes or no to working for the Chinese government and its largest airline, China Southern, it was an easy decision for this card-carrying Republican. I said yes in a heartbeat. I was starving."

Chapters are explicit about the process of journeying to China, preconceptions and surprises encountered once there, and provide insights on Chinese etiquette and business which will prove essential to any business reader new to interactions with the Chinese: "Let's say that you are at a formal dinner. The Chinese always conduct business at dinner because they feel they can speak freely and relaxed away from the office. This is why the Chinese always take a walk during lunch. It is not necessarily because they want the exercise. By taking a walk outside the office, they feel free from prying eyes. That makes it nearly impossible for anyone else to listen to what someone walking down a busy city street might say. This gives the boss the freedom to talk about any subject without possible future recrimination. So, at dinner it is critical where you are seated. The boss will always take the prime seat at the table. When you approach the table, the boss will ALWAYS tell you where to sit."

The focus is as much on understanding the Chinese point of view as it is about the Beijing Olympics, which are the focus of explaining and celebrating China's achievements and approaches.

From ongoing issues with security and clearance to Ruffolo's navigation of barriers to participating in the Beijing Olympics' management, this is packed with eye-opening insights, rare interactions and encounters, and accounts of journalism challenges along the way.

In short, ANY reader who would understand not just Olympics management but the cultural, media and business world processes that make up China MUST read this eye-opening account, which is as lively and engrossing as it is educational and insightful.

The Accidental Caregiver: How I Met, Loved, and Lost Legendary Holocaust Refugee Maria Altmann
Gregor Collins
Bloch-Bauer Books
9780985865405 $14.99 pbk.
9780985865412 $2.99 Kindle (please be advised there is a special 'bonus video' section on site where people who buy the book will be sent free video of Maria and Gregor Collins about town.)

Gregor Collins spent years in reality TV and as an actor, appearing on E! Entertainment, and saw successes in his career until everything came to a sudden standstill and unemployment reared its ugly head. An acting class taken during the lull jump-started his career back up, and led him to new and unexpected adventures - especially the one recounted in his memoir THE ACCIDENTAL CAREGIVER.

When he moved back into acting, becoming a caregiver for an old woman was the furthest thing from his mind. It was his acting friend Tom who answered a Craigslist ad to become a caregiver to an elderly European woman - and who leaned on Gregor to meet his new charge.

In January 2008 he's beginning to solidify his disillusionment with the acting industry: "There's an emptiness inside me, a fear that nothing will ever work out and that I'll be a loser the rest of my life. The glamor in this business is a myth."

His friend Tom is urging him to become a part-time caregiver to his charge Maria - and so he gives in and finds himself instantly infatuated with her - and accepting the position of caregiver despite having absolutely no experience.

Collins provides candid, lovely assessments that ring with honesty and vivid color: "Her inflection and choice of words are a blend of Julia Child and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. When she speaks it's like a rollercoaster whipping around a track - up and down and side to side - and then her sentences always ends on this impossibly delightful up note. She's a human songbird."

As he gets to know his new charge he discovers this woman in her nineties holds a vivid and unparalleled account of Nazi Germany - and his caregiving duties become a journey of discovery as he delves into her life and experiences and comes up with more life meaning and insights than all his struggles with Hollywood have given him.

Romance, passion, historical insights, acting world conflicts - all meld into a story of caregiving and discovery which is riveting and hard to put down: "Ernest Hemingway said, "Nothing good gets away." But how do I know if what I haven't yet achieved is what I should still be fighting for? So many questions, so little answers. But the truth is always in the now. And the now includes Maria. And that's all that matters."

Collins' journey will take him to Europe where he will explore Maria's past and walk in her footsteps through her old haunts, it will take him to the present, with his own struggles with identity, acting, and self, and it ultimately brings the reader along on a journey to inspect life's meaning and the impact two very different individuals from very different worlds will have upon one another.

Perhaps best of all, THE ACCIDENTAL CAREGIVER shows that age has no boundaries when it comes to love and meaningful influences in life; ultimately celebrating not only Maria's life, but the possibilities of and magic inherent in saying 'yes' to something different and unexpected.

It's a celebration of life - and is a joyful read recommended for a wide audience.

Diane Donovan
Senior Reviewer

Dunford's Bookshelf

How to Forgive
Shlomit Yona Oz
Balboa Press
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452548319, $8.99,

Forgiveness is often difficult to do. "How to Forgive: The Path from Resistance to Acceptance to Forgiveness to Love" is a self-improvement guide about learning how to embrace of forgiveness. From moving on from the pain of the passed, dropping judgments, finding peace and spreading that peace, "How to Forgive" is a powerful read with a great message, much recommended.

Art of Winter
Julie M. Covert
Whitehead Press
978098569002, $38.00,

Winter allows nature's brush to go wild. "Art of Winter" is a photographic essay from Julie M. Covert as she seeks the artistic nature of winter, and nature's unique ways of using ice and water in colorful ways, showing the crystallization of frost, along with her own commentary on the the beauty of winter and why she has come to strongly enjoy it. "Art of Winter" is a full color and much recommended pick for coffee table book collections, highly recommended.

Land for Love and Money
Reid Lance Rosenthal
Rockin' SR Publishing
9780982157657, $16.95,

Tending a land we call our own is a wonderful experience that can't be fully described. "Land for Love and Money" is a guide to caring for land from Reid Lance Rosenthal as he advises readers on acquiring their own land and caring for it, from the financing aspect to understanding the true values, and making everything work for you. "Land for Love and Money" is worth considering for anyone wants a bit of the heartland to truly call their own.

A Life as a Stock
C. M. Fields
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781462026593, $14.95,

As the world's finances explode, very few will have the ideas to set it right. "A Life as a Stock" takes cue from modern problems and the potential of an imploding Wall Street and worldwide meltdown. A young broker Rick McMahon meets with Lara Brown, a world renown reporter are on a collision course. Rick's dreams of being a big time player hang in the balance..."A Life as a Stock" is highly recommended for contemporary fiction collections focusing on dealing with very major concerns.

Meeting Scandal
Katy McDermott
1094 New Dehaven Street, #100
West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
9780741475718, $17.95,

There are many things that test the tenacity of a relationship, and murder is one of them. "Meeting Scandal" is a mystery follows Laurie and Tim, an engaged couple who are coming to Laurie's friends as a couple for the first time. Their supposed vacation turns into something anything but a vacation, as a hotel worker turn up dead. Dragged into the drama of the hotel they stay at, they realize they may have the best chance of getting to the bottom of it. "Meeting Scandal" is a riveting mystery that should prove hard to put down.

Margie Shepherd
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781425187316, $24.99,

Taken for everything she's worth, getting back what's hers wouldn't be easy. "Travesty" is a memoir from Margie Shepherd who tells of her daunting ordeal, of how after plastic surgery, she was kidnapped and had her money drained from her accounts With a massive legal battle to regain what she lost, and the longer path to get something that resembles justice. "Travesty" is a strong addition to memoir collections focusing on personal tragedy.

Seventh Journey
Robert J. R. Graham
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781462069811, $18.95,

If technology can control the mind, who knows what evil would be visited upon it? "Seventh Journey" is the first book in Robert J. R. Graham's science fiction and fantasy spin of the future, where a megalomaniacal corporation creatures a sound wave that can control the human mind. The researcher responsible realizes what he has created, and seeks a way out, only to embrace another dimension, and find it is not Earth alone in danger. "Seventh Journey" blends some interesting concepts to make for a good read.

The Body's Role in Addictions
Jean Armour
Balboa Press
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452547589, $8.99,

Addictions screw with the chemistry of the body, and passively control us. "The Body's Role in Addictions" discusses the impact that addictions have on our bodies, as Ms. Jean Armour states how to understand the body's biology and use it as a tool in conquering one's vices and addictions for better health in the future. With plenty of sage advice, "The Body's Role in Addictions" is a strong pick for health and wellness collections, recommended.

Thomas Matthew
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432792015, $15.95,

Lost on a strange world where you don't understand anyone. "Cuquita" is a novel from Thomas Matthew, telling the story of a stranded alien on Earth who has quite the wait ahead of her until her ride home may appear. An original spin of science fiction that offers an intriguing view of humanity, "Cuquita" is a strong addition to general fiction collections.

I Will Never Forget
Elaine C. Pereira
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781475906905, $20.95,

Losing one's mind is often used as a metaphor, but when it's real, it's truly tragic. "I Will Never Forget: A Daughter's Story of Her Mother's Arduous and Humorous Journey Through Dementia" is a memoir from Elaine C. Pereira as she shares her mother's story of facing this form of Alzheimers and what ti did to their relationship as a daughter watched her mother slip away. A touching tale that will resonate with others facing this unfortunate time, "I Will Never Forget" is a strong pick for any reader facing a similar situation.

Carole Simpson
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452062358, $18.95,

Every profession has had long standing barriers of race, and more and more, they are broken to pieces. "NewsLady" is the memoir of Carole Simpson as she shares her story of breaking through race barriers in her newscasting career, going through one barrier to another to becoming the first non-white moderator of a presidential debate. A poignant read of growing up in Chicago and succeeding as a woman in a competitive corporate world, "NewsLady" is a read much worth considering.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

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

Even as times are tough, we can endure through the roughest of it all. "The Upside of Down Times: Discovering the Power of Gratitude" is an inspirational read from Lisa Ryan as she advises readers on how to better cope through even the worst of times and focus on the positive even when it all seems negative. "The Upside of Down Times" is a strong pick for motivational collections and those who want the drive for greater success in their lives.

Queen of the Waves
Janice Thompson
Summerside Press
9781609366865, $14.99,

The touch of luxury brings an omen of doom. "Queen of the Waves" follows Tessa Bowen, as she's offered a chance at a much more luxurious life when an heiress doesn't want the burden of her fortune any longer. Taking on her identity, she enjoys herself and may find love, but the fate of the ship she is on, the Titanic, may make her life on top short lived. A fine read of romance and history, "Queen of the Waves" is not to be overlooked by those seeking Christian romance.

A Traitor's Loyalty
Ian C. Racey
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, 18th floor
New York, NY 10016
9781936467310, $14.95,

Not every German fully supported the actions of the Third Reich. "A Traitor's Loyalty" is an alternate history novel where Nazi Germany claimed victory in Europe in World War II. Simon Quinn, British agent, returns to Berlin to track down an agent who may yet defect, but there are others who are not loyal to the party of Hitler, no matter their devotion to the Fatherland. "A Traitor's Loyalty" is an intriguing spin of alternate history and politics in a world somewhat different from our own.

Now It's Funny
Michael Solomon
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463749552, $9.99,

We can be hit with so much that eventually all we can do is laugh about it. "Now It's Funny: How I Survived Cancer, Divorce, and Other Looming Disasters" is a humorous memoir from Michael Solomon who presents his own journey into the joys of fighting cancer and how everything else about life threw itself at him at the same time, and how he emerged from it all laughing. "Now It's Funny" provides its own inspiration, and is well worth considering.

Denny Daikeler
Balboa Press
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452543239, $12.99,

As we try to understand the world, we are presented with many intriguing questions of the world and its nature. "Messages: Flowing with Synchronicity" is a spiritual read as Denny Daikeler recounts her journey through the nature of spirituality and how she came to understand her own soul and her place in the world. "Messages" is an intriguing and enticing read, very much worth considering.

Flag on the Summit
Aprilish Ch. Sangma
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781462071968, $14.95,

The memories of childhood can stay with us for a lifetime. "Flag on the Summit" is a novel surrounding five friends and the memories they form growing up, and how this sisterhood stays with them even as they enter adulthood and careers for years to come. "Flag on the Summit" is a thoughtful read of our dreams and the people who help us pursue those dreams throughout our lives.

Messiah Within
Robin H. Clare
Balboa Press
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452549255, $11.99,

There is a bit of divinity in us all. "Messiah Within: A Guide to Embracing Your Inner Divinity" is spiritual and inspirational guide as Robin H. Clare advises readers to get in touch with their inner divinity. She hopes to guide readers to finding their peace, and how to spread that peace to others for greater and more universal peace. "Messiah Within" is a charming read for those both faithful and spiritual, worth considering.

The Candle of God
Donna Spector
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432788865, $10.95,

Time runs short, even for the young. "The Candle of God" is a novel set amongst the struggles of fourteen year old Danny, who fights cystic fibrosis which could lead him to an early grave. When searching for the strength to conquer it, Danny meets many intriguing characters who may be his family and many more who may not be. "The Candle of God" is an enticing read of hope and healing for terminal youth diseases.

Blind Innocence
A. Adams Jones
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781475901542, $16.95,

People are often too quick to take advantage of others. "Blind Innocence" tells of the plight of Tarrell, a mentally challenged young man who struggles through a life of abuse and deception from anyone and everyone around him, from his biological family to his adoptive family, and everyone else, with only one friend to help him through these tough times. "Blind Innocence" is a strong pick for those seeking a drama centered around mental disability.

Honeymoon with Harry
Bart Baker
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475256550, $11.99,

The ones we love are magnets for the ones we hate. "Honeymoon with Harry" is a novel from Bart Baker, as he presents his acclaimed novel that may be soon turned into a major motion picture. Harry's daughter wants to wed Todd, and Harry has nothing but disdain for Todd. But the two will soon learn that even in hate, they may have to work together to get out with their own hides. "Honeymoon with Harry" is a fun read that will be hard to put down with riveting drama worked in.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Who's In Charge
Donna Harla
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432764333, $9.95,

Teaching is often dictated by those who are not teachers. "Who's In Charge: An Educational Outlook for All" discusses the problems with the standardized test driven educational system in America and what can be done to help students, by allowing teachers to take greater control of their classrooms, and using their own expertise to help students do what they came to do: learn. "Who's In Charge" has much to ponder for those who want something better out of the future of education.

Finding My Voice
Nita Whitaker LaFontaine
Swift Ink Books
9780985264802, $21.95,

A voice can resound in one's head for decades. "Finding My Voice: My Journey through Grief to Grace -- Living with the Loss of Don LaFontaine" is a memoir from the wife of voice over legend Don LaFontaine, as she recalls the memories with him, his battle with cancer, and everything else surrounding her life with him. An honest and personal read with plenty to consider, "Finding My Voice" is an excellent memoir that proves very much down to earth, highly recommended.

At the End
John Hennessy
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475171884, $9.99,

As humanity is on the brink of extinction through its own excess, survival takes priority. "At the End" is a novel of a world struggling, as billions of the world's population begins to vanish over the course of a few days. Maggy and her two friends try to head west as the world seems to be exploding under them in the process. "At the End" is a riveting and intriguing novel of the end, highly recommended.

Getting Beyond Whatever
Dr. Shale Preston
Balboa Press
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452503523, $15.99,

The teenage years are years of change, and may often confuse and leave them in depression. "Getting Beyond Whatever: The Guide to Teen Self-Esteem and Happiness" is a guide for parents and teenagers to help them overcome the 'whatever' nature that many teenagers seem to embrace directly or indirectly. Advising how to overcome this attitude and put them back in control of their lives, "Getting Beyond Whatever" has some excellent advice for the awkward stage of a teenagers life.

Secrets of an Irresistible Wife
Bisi & Yomi Adewale
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432772727, $13.95,

A bond of husband and wife is not a bond to be underrated. "Secrets of an Irresistible Wife" is a wife's guide to the modern life, where one is faced with the many jobs of caring for your spouse, caring for your career, your children, and yourself. With advice for anything and everything from the job to the bedroom, "Secrets of an Irresistible Wife" is well wroth considering for those who aim to please in their lives.

The Wisdom of Wood
Mary L. Peers
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781460907276, $13.99,

Our legacy can always bring us to our limits of challenge. "The Wisdom of Wood" follows Sophie as she inherits her grandfather's work surrounding an unusual ring. When she comes of age, she undertakes her grandfather's work, and finds something that's anything but normal, as she tries to find the meaning of the mythology she unearths. "The Wisdom of the Wood" is an enticing fantasy that draws heavily on symbolism and real world mythology, recommended.

Freedom From Within
Teresa Alexander
Balboa Press
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452501802, $33.99,

Freedom of the soul is something often grossly underrated in our lives. "Freedom From Within: A Gift of Love" is an inspirational and spiritual read from Teresa Alexander. She encourages people to find that freedom of youth in their lives once more, and how to use that freedom to find one's peace and joy. With plenty to ponder about finding a life much more worth living, "Freedom from Within" is a driven memoir with plenty to consider, recommended.

Family Affairs
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466458062, $8.99,

Coming to terms with one's own sexuality often comes with a gauntlet of reactions. "Family Affairs" follows the struggles of Samoa and Alice, two young woman who come to realizations of their love, and the weight of the pressures of their highly religious families against them, facing tragedy after tragedy in their lives. A powerful and insightful read that entices readers and it hooks them with drama, "Family Affairs" is a must for contemporary urban fiction collections, recommended.

E. M. Schorb
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781467072892, $19.95,

Writing is a career few truly retire from. "Carbons: A Career in Letters" is a memoir from E. M. Schorb as he touches on his career in writing, touching on the letters he shared with others in his field and his pursuit of excellence and reverence among his peers. "Carbons" is a fine memoir of working in the modern writing world and the life of a poet and writer.

MP Kollman
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432791735, $15.95,

Cause and effect is a never ending chain. "Sequela" is a novel following the results of a court case and when it all seems to be done. Years later, the results of a murder are still playing out as family remains in despair from everything that has spelled out. As Sandy Grayson tries to cope and keep the few people in her life together, "Sequela" is a strong addition to fiction collection with a strong personal message, recommended.

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

The Toadhouse Trilogy, Book One
Jess Lourey
Toadhouse Books
9780615644578, $14.99

In Depression Era Alabama, teenager Aine and her younger brother blind Spenser live with Grandma Glori. Day after day nothing changes in their routine.

Out of nowhere Grandma warns Aine and Spencer to flee with Gilgamesh while seeking three objects that will take them to their mom in Tor Na Nog. Before the shocked kids can leave, they learn Grandma's companion Moondragon is dead and soon afterward Bilbos sliced Glori in half. Gilgamesh takes the siblings into a Fairy Ring followed by their new friend Tru. As Bilbos pursues them, they dive into the Toadhouse. He explains to them they have resided inside a book that Bilbos will destroy as he comes after Aine. Only the three objects can save her and her sibling as they must enter other novels to survive and bring balance to their world.

With a nod to Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next, The Toadhouse Trilogy, Book One is a great young adult fantasy starring a wonderful courageous cynic who risks her existence to save others. Using two forms of metafictive devices, readers will enjoy the this Fast-paced adventures of the siblings' lost in the lands of The Time Machine, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, A Tale of Two Cities, and the Ramayana.

Cover Her Body
Eleanor Sullivan
Yesteryear Press
c/o Wyatt-MacKenzie
9781936214556, $14.99

In 1833 in devout Zoar, Ohio, midwife Adelaide Bechtmann heads to the nearby river seeking peace. Instead she finds sixteen year old Johanna Appelgate dead in the river. Horrified Adelaide pulls the teen's body from the river, but realizes the floater did not die from drowning as her lungs lacked water.

The Separatists elders reject Adelaide's contention of a murder as the leaders conveniently insists accidental death. Shocked by their reaction, Adelaide takes a harder blow to her gut when her husband Benjamin warns her to back off. Needing to know the truth as she fears a remedy she gave to the pregnant young woman might have killed her, Adelaide ignores the elders and her husband to investigate the wrongful death.

This is a superb nineteenth century amateur sleuth mystery that brings to life the rigid Separatist community that expects full adherence to the edicts. Adelaide is a superb protagonist as her conscience to learn the truth battles with her desire to adhere to the sect's rules; in some ways her inquiry turns this refreshing Americana into a coming of age tale.

The Miracle Inspector
Helen Smith
Tyger Books
9780956517050, $12.99

In London, Lucas and Angela are a twentyish couple in love. However, while he works for the government Ministry the Inspector of Miracles (he has not found any so far); she due to her gender must stay at home at all times with few exceptions. Angela is discontented with the ennui of her existence, but knows the all-male government rules makers will kill or incarcerate female rule-breakers. The one exception that matters to women is the allowance to visit other family females, which Angela and others claim a wide pool of relatives.

Lucas' godfather Jesmond gives Angela a journal written before the government crackdown. She cherishes the love letters and romantic poetry and pleads with her spouse for them to relocate to the freer Cornwell. He considers her request, but Lucas is busy investigating whether little Christina is his first miracle. Increasingly desperate, Angela plans to travel top Cornwell with or without her spouse.

The Miracle Inspector is a timely dark horror satire that uses hyperbole as men protect women from their weaker nature. The lead couple is a fabulous pairing as she wants more than just his loving protection and he is clueless as to why she wants more. Though British in writing style, Helen Smith's jocular dystopian seems apropos to America where small government advocates legislate laws to control a woman's body.

Dead Ends
Sandra Balzo
Severn House
110 East 59th Street, 22th Fl.
New York, NY 10022
9780727881748, $28.95,

Wisconsin police reporter AnnaLise Griggs takes a month long leave of absence to help her ailing mom Daisy in their hometown Sutherton, North Carolina. Noting her mother's failing memory; AnnaLise suggests the town create a website with a blog.

Urban County, Wisconsin D.A. Benjamin Rosewood, his wife Tanja and their teenage daughter Suzanne arrive in Sutherton. Having had a tryst with Rosewood, an abashed AnnaLise stays out of his way as much as feasible in the small town. Tanja dies in a car crash when she drives her Porsche off Sutherton Mountain. AnnaLise and Daisy came close to following her over the edge. Police chief Chuck Greystone and his team learn someone shot Tanja with AnnaLise a major suspect. A second homicide and a failed attempt to kill Daisy follow.

The second Main Street Murders (see Running on Empty) is a great regional rural whodunit. The action never slows down as a killer stalks victims whose only seemingly connection is AnnaLise. Dead Ends is a terrific mystery.

Falling Glass
Adrian McKinty
Serpent's Tail
c/o Meryl Zegarek Public Relations
255 West 108th Street, Suite 901
NY, NY 10025
9781846687839, $14.95,

Killian the Irish traveller enforcer retires from his debt collecting and finding missing people because his is a young person's game and not that of a forty years old male whose body reminds him his DNA is noted for reducing the average life span. Still he is highly respected for keeping the mess minimal as he always tried to use his head and not his weapons to complete the task effectively.

However, following the purchase of two expensive apartments, Killian needs money. He accepts affluent Irish businessman Richard Coulter's offer of $500,000 to find his ex-wife Rachel and the two children hiding in Northern Ireland. The fee is exorbitant so Killian concludes his client hides his real purpose. Unbeknownst to Killian, Coulter has doubled down by hiring a professional who kills first.

This is an exhilarating noir starring a brave antihero. The fast-paced storyline never slows down as the audience wonders what Killian will do when he meets Rachel and the kids especially since he expects Coulter has a dark outcome planned. The Russian hit man adds suspense while there is also amusing asides and Michael Forsythe (see the "Dead" trilogy) gets the Life game started. Readers will enjoy this action-packed noir anticipating a high noon showdown in Northern Ireland and a stunning coda.

The Haven
Suzanne Woods Fisher
c/o Baker Publishing Group
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
9780800719883, $14.99,

Lancaster County Game Warden intern Will Stolz arrives at Stoney Ridge to protect two endangered Peregrine falcons and their eggs. Will stays at the farm of widower Amos Lapp whose daughter Sadie has just come home accompanied by a baby after visiting her older married sister Julia and her sibling's husband Roman in Ohio. Amos' youngest daughter Mary Kate and their housekeeper Fern Graber also reside on the family farm.

Sadie expects her reputation torn asunder due to the infant given to her at a bus station. Meanwhile, Twin Creeks' teacher Gideon Smucker loves Sadie, but has been shy about courting her. When he learns of her baby, he fears he waited too long while Will makes it clear that he is attracted to her.

The second Stoney Ridge Seasons Amish family drama (See The Keeper) is an exciting tale starring a strong cast as readers will enjoy the interactions between the caring heroine, whining Will, gossipy M.K., helpless Gid, wise father and the common sense housekeeper. Although the ending feels rushed, readers will enjoy Sadie's saga.

Bone Shadows
Christopher Valen
Conquill Press
2325 Jarco Drive, Holt, Michigan, 48842
9780980001754, $15.00,

St. Paul Homicide Detective John Santana investigates the apparent downing death in the Mississippi River due to alcohol of twenty-three year old Scott Rafferty. John interviews the victim's parents (narcotics cop Hank Rafferty and Judge Rachel Harper) and girlfriend Kimberly Dalton, daughter of a cop; as well as psychiatrist Dr. Benjamin Roth who the deceased Iraqi vet was seeing for PTSD.

All evidence points to a tragic accident, but freelance award winning but defrocked reporter Jack Brody offers him a counter theory in which Scott was murdered by a serial killer working the I-94 corridor. Diligently John follows up on Brody's data with an interview of the parents of a drowning victim who send him to a private investigator Jordan Parrish they hired as they believe their son was murdered. Parrish tells John she thinks so also. FBI Agent Ed Kincaid warns John to back off or else. Having faced horror when he lived in Columbia, John refuses to quit as increasingly he believes Parrish and Brody are right.

The latest John Santana police procedural (see White Tombs, The Black Minute and Bad Weeds Never Die) is a superb detective tale starring a dedicated cop and a strong support cast; some of whom want him to take down a killer and others who hinder his inquiry. The storyline is fast-paced but provides a deep methodical investigation. With a romantic subplot that blends nicely into the thrilling tour of the Twin Cities, fans will appreciate Bone Shadows as Christopher Valen provides another great entry in a super series.

The Jewels of Paradise
Donna Leon
Atlantic Monthly Press
c/o Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003-4793
9780802120649, $25.00,

Opera expert Dr. Caterina Pellegrini has been an assistant professor at a Manchester, England conservatory for four years where she teaches music theory to the uninterested. Though she hated the ugly city and her students, Caterina enjoyed her research into Baroque music.

However, she accepts an assignment in her hometown Venice to catalogue the contents of three-century old trunks allegedly containing items owned by baroque composer Bishop Agostino Steffani and determine who the rightful owner is. His descendants are vultures greedily competing for who owns and sells whatever is found.

While Commissario Guido Brunetti takes a respite, Donna Leon introduces readers to another interesting Venusian Dr. Caterina Pellegrini who in her thirties struggles with what she wants out of life. The storyline is filled with plenty of fascinating historical tidbits about Agostino Steffani and the Baroque music era that is fun to read but distracts from the ownership mystery. Although there is too much late seventeenth century-early eighteenth century information and contains an improbable climax, The Jewels Of Paradise remains overall an intriguing thriller.

The Eyes of Lira Kazan
Eva Joly and Judith Perrignon
Bitter Lemon Press
37 Arundel Gardens
London, W11 2LW, United Kingdom
9781908524003, $14.95,

In Abuja, Nigeria, following the assassination of his friend and colleague Uche, fraud squad investigator Nwanko needs to get his wife and children out of the country. The British government offer to take him and his family safely away if Nwanko agrees to say nothing about the corrupt Nigerian government he has been investigating for the last few years. Realizing his choice is death for his loved ones and himself or keeping quiet, he agrees to leave Lagos pretending he knows nothing.

In Nice, the wife of an affluent Faroese banker drowns. The police insist an accident occurred but junior prosecutor Felix thinks otherwise. In St. Petersburg, Lira the investigative journalist understands the hazards of her pursuits and especially fears for the safety of her child. However she diligently probes the business dealings of wealthy Russian Louchsky. These three dedicated individuals will converge in London as Nigerian oil and undercover operatives target them for elimination.

The Eyes of Lira Kazan is a powerful satire that mocks the marriage between dirty money and "values" spouting politicians. Using hyperbole, Eva Joly and Judith Perrignon insist the affluent silence the crusaders by threatening innocent family members. However the keys to this engaging crime thriller is how haunted Nwanko, Felix and Lira feel about the potential assaults on their loved ones from mercenaries and untruth spins about each of them by the dirty money crowd.

The Geneva Trap
Stella Rimington
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315
New York, NY 10010
9781608198726, $25.00,

At a Swiss tennis club Russian agent Alexander Petrov states to British operative Russell White he needs to speak with "Lees Carlisle." The Russian also says no one else before leaving. Russell tells what happened to Terry Castle at the M16 station in the British Embassy in Geneva. They agree that Petrov, once listed as Second Secretary, Soviet Trade Delegation, wants to make contact. In Vauxhall Geoffrey Fane knows the Russian wants to speak with Liz Carlisle of MI5.

Liz recalls meeting Petrov years ago; she agrees to see him in Geneva. Fearing Cold War II, he warns her of a cyber-attack on software controlling unmanned drones. He further insists his country is not behind the assault but is unaware who is. Since the drones are a joint venture with the Americans, the British Intel warns London based CIA chief Andy Bokus.

The latest Liz Carlyle espionage thriller (see Rip Tide) is a great action-packed tale as the protagonist and her unit search for a traitor within and the enemy without in order to prevent a new Cold War that could turn hot rather quickly. Although a personal scenario adds depth to Liz' personal side, this also detracts from what spy aficionados want: an otherwise fantastic thrilling international espionage saga.

The Aden Effect
Claude Berube
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402
9781612511092, $27.95,

Newly appointed American Ambassador to Yemen, C.J. Sumner understands she has two objectives besides watching for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. First she to negotiate with the Yemeni authorities to allow American companies to drill for oil off Socotra Island. Second she needs to establish a cooperative team to include the local government and other interested nations to end piracy off on the Aden Sea south of Yemen and north of the Horn of Africa. Madame Ambassador's efforts on both fronts prove futile. Sumner hires former US navy officer Connor Stark, who knows the area as a mercenary, as her defense attache.

Stark arranges a meeting between Yemeni shipping company CEO and the ruling family. At the same time, American diplomatic security operative Damien Golzari investigates a death of a State Department employee's son when he finds evidence of illegal khat drug sales in the states that tie to a shipping company in Yemen. Sumner sanctions a humanitarian aid mission on Socotra, but pirates attack while Stark leads a counter attack. Golzari and Stark soon realize there is a more powerful adversary behind the troubled Aden Sea.

This is an exciting naval thriller that showcases how difficult it is for USA to help the local nations bordering on the Aden Sea with their myriad of problems while also furthering American interests on the region. The storyline is action-packed throughout, but goes hyperspeed when Golzari and Stark meet. Although the key support cast lacks depth, fans will relish this deep look at Yemen.

The Rendition
Albert Ashforth
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G
Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608090594, $25.95,

In 2007 in the Baltics, war between Serbia and Kosovo is heating up. American intelligence officer Alex Klear enters Kosovo to abduct Ramush Nadaj; as the plan is to rendition the leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army. The mission proves not fully planned as everything goes wrong ending with Klear captured and tortured by the KLA for two days before his partner Buck Romero retrieves him.

While Klear physically heals in Germany at an American military hospital, he decides his covert field days are over as he lost something during the hours of torture especially since his superiors who sent him in hastily hold him culpable. Colonel Sylvia Frost recruits Klear with a do-over mission that will enable him to strike back at the KLA who haunt him and rendition Nadaj. However, once again Klear faces lies as the KLA want him dead and the German police want him arrested for an alleged murder.

This is a great espionage thriller starring a terrific spy whose perseverance and diligence lead him to uncover a diabolical plot as Kosovo Independence Day nears. Fast-paced from the opening failed rendition and never slowing down; fans will appreciate Klear's escapades as he knows he is the pasty if the mission fails.

The Ragnarök Conspiracy
Erec Stebbins
Seventh Street Books
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616147129, $15.95,

FBI agent "Mad John" Savas is still grieving though over a decade has passed since his son died in the 9/11 terrorist mass murders. John believes he will always be angry and in mourning until the day he dies. However the Fed takes some solace in his job as a counterterrorism unit Intel 1 agent. Divorced John also feels his romance with FBI agent Rebecca Cohen gives him a sense of normalcy in his troubled mind

An unknown cabal using runes of Norse code to communicate is assassinating and bombing Muslims around the world. John has an affinity with the unknown anti-Muslim killers who take the war on terrorism back to the source. Still he tries to do his job right as he keeps reminding himself terrorism is terrorism. When Muslim-American agent Husaam Jordan joins the unit, Savas and others resent him initially until he proves himself worthy of their respect and support.

This is an entertaining thriller in which the protagonist must overcome his prejudice to not just work with a Muslim-American, but to end the assaults on innocent Muslims. The fast-paced storyline strongly pushes tolerance though he recognizes how difficult that can be to someone who lost a loved one due to intolerance. Although some of the key life changing events lack depth to persuade readers of their authenticity, fans will enjoy this unique global war on terrorism thriller as we get inside the head of an emotionally hurting counter agent.

The Bookseller
Mark Pryor
Seventh Street Books
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616147082, $15.95,

In Paris, former FBI profiler Hugo Marston enjoys the City of Lights while working as the head of security at the American embassy. However, while touring the city, his idyllic time ends when he watches in horror as someone with a gun abducts elderly book dealer Max Koche from the victim's Seine bouquiniste. Hugo becomes frustrated with the local gendarme who seems disinterested in attempting to rescue the kidnapped Max.

Not one to sit idly on the sidelines, the Texan expatriate investigates. He obtains help from sort of retired CIA agent Tom Green and soon learns Max is not the first bookstall owner kidnapped. Evidence mounts that the bouquinistes are victims of gang warfare as they become Seine floaters. Hugo and journalist Claudia de Roussillon begin a romance that is in peril when he learns Max was a Nazi hunter with a stunning tie to Claudia's father.

This is enjoyable French investigation in which Paris as seen through Hugo's eyes comes to life. Hugo is a solid hero though his inquiry may make him persona non grata and expelled from France. Although the violent abductions and homicides are somewhat muted, the storyline is fast-paced from start to Hugo and Tom confronting their adversary who expects their visit.

Dead Peasants
Larry D. Thompson
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250009494, $25.99,

In Beaumont, Texas, after winning an enormous wrongful death civil suit for three families of dead refinery workers, attorney Jack Bryant retires. He plans to spend time with his son J.D. an ex-marine who is a walk-on trying to make the nationally ranked TCU football team, and to do pro bona legal services for the poor in Fort Worth.

The "Boss" hires a hit man to kill several former employees, but make it look like accidents. Meanwhile Widow June Davis shows Jack an exorbitant insurance check made out to her late husband's employer. She explains that the payoff is exponentially greater than what her spouse could have made at the auto dealership in a booming economy. Jack accepts June as a client as he files in civil court for her to collect the life insurance money.

The murder for insurance money of "Dead Peasant" is an engaging legal thriller with a powerful underlying concept. The fast-paced storyline is at its best when the focuses are on insurance practices or in the courtroom. However, Jack spends too much time as a detective, which detracts from an otherwise intriguing tale.

Little Star
John Ajvide Lindqvist, author
Marlaine Delargy, translator
9780312620516, $26.99

In 1992 failed rocker Lennart Cederstom seeks mushrooms in the woods when a BMW comes driving at high speed past him. He soon finds a bag, a grave and a howling baby with a perfect E pitch. Lennart brings the abandoned infant home where he and his wife Laila discuss what to do with the child. They agree to raise the child they name Theres as their own.

Years later languid teen Theres murders her adoptive parents. She moves in with her older adoptive brother ex-con Jerry in Stockholm. Also recognizing the quality of her voice, Jerry enters Theres in a national singing competition on TV. Another adolescent outsider sees Theres on the show and recognizes a kindred spirit. Teresa goes to meet Theres and when they do, they turn Sweden into their personal battleground.

This is a well written violent satire that mocks pop music, pop teens, pop websites and pop bullies. The two females come across as real amoral soulless individuals. They chillingly kill anyone in their path in a sort of bloodier Bonnie and Bonnie (no Clyde need apply) as they make Thelma and Louise look like nuns. Fast-paced, readers who enjoy something different (and gory) will appreciate the tea for two.

The Accomplice
Charles Robbins
9781250010513, $24.99

Henry Hatten was press secretary for Tyler when the latter lost the race for Governor of Iowa probably because the former failed to finish an unethical but needed assault. The only moderate Republican running for the presidential nomination in a field of conservatives, Nebraska Senator Tom Peele hires Henry who knows Iowa, the first key state in the process. Though spending time in Iowa is not enticing as Henry recalls someone telling him that if you have six months to live stay in Iowa as it will feel like ten years; still he thinks the charismatic Peele has a strong chance of winning.

However, Henry soon learns of married Peele's potentially fatal flaw: beautiful women. On top of that Henry finds the candidate who allegedly adheres to his values and their election chairman act like many politicians corrupt and avaricious. Soon all hell breaks out when a murder occurs with Henry stuck either holding the bag or covering the bag.

Timely with condemnation, the Accomplice is a delightful political thriller that enables the audience to observe what goes on behind the curtain on a major run for the White House. Ethical politician seems like an oxymoron as even knowing to keep oneself clean fails to prevent scandalous, illegal and in this case murderous behavior from happening. Purist Henry is superb as a sort of Forty Year Old Virgin surrounded by hedonist devils who ask not what they can do for their country - ask what their country can do for them.

Blood Sacrifice
Michael Lister
Pulpwood Press
9781888146967, $16.99,

After several bloody cases (see The Body and the Blood, Flesh and Blood, Power in the Blood and Blood of the Lamb) and the destruction of his marriage, prison chaplain John Jordan needs a breather. The former cop is staying at St. Ann's Abbey retreat center in Bridgeport, Florida Panhandle. He sees police lights nearby and goes to help Chief Steve Taylor, a former deputy to John's dad Potter County chief. As everyone waits for Taylor, John interferes with the body proving the victim who he knew as Tommy Boy was not a floater. Taylor lectures him and Jordon knows he erred. Sister Abigail who has been counseling Jordon lectures him too.

Someone brutally murders Gulf Coast Paper Company heiress Tammy Taylor who was undergoing an exorcism conducted by the retreat's Father Thomas Scott. Increasingly Father Thomas looks guilty of the savage murder in which he insists demons inside the victim killed her. Sister Abigail, believing he is innocent, asks John to investigate. John assumes earthly matters involving the Gulf Coast Paper Company's selling its property to developers is more likely the motive rather than demonic possession.

The latest John Jordon whodunit is a great investigative tale with several viable suspects including Father Thomas and Chief Taylor among others. The storyline focuses on the conflict between hard core religious beliefs in demonic possession and hard core economic credo in developing one of the last pristine natural Florida areas. Readers will appreciate Chaplin Jordan's inquiry as the hero wonders whether Tammy is a Blood Sacrifice to the Christian God or capitalist god.

Hemingway's Girl
Erika Robuck
New American Library (NAL)
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451237880, $16.00,

In 1935 Florida, the Bennet family American patriarch dies leaving behind a Cuban widow, three young daughters and no money. The oldest child nineteen years old Mariella Bennet bets on a boxing match in which Ernest Hemingway referees. She loses but meets the famous writer, who, accompanied by his second wife Pauline and their two sons, recently moved to Key West.

Hemingway hires Mariella as a housemaid. He takes the teen to a fight where she meets pugilist WWI veteran Gavin Murray who is working on the Overseas Highway. He is attracted to the spunky young lady as is Hemingway. As the thirtyish males vie for the attention of the much younger maid, she likes both of them but Papa is married as a Labor Day Hurricane batters the Keys.

The key to this engaging historical drama is Hemingway seems real as he transitions into "Papa" while the rest of the key players come across as genuine too. Although the enjoyable storyline starts slow while the characters, relationships (including unneeded ones) and the setting are introduced, the plot accelerates once the two overlapping triangles form. Fans will enjoy Depression Era Papa Hemingway's Girl.

Three and a Half Virgins
John Blumenthal
Farmer Street Press
9780967944418, $8.99

As her husband turns forty with the middle age bulge beginning to show, Deirdre wishes her spouse Jimmy Hendricks ("No relation") a happy birthday by informing him she is divorcing him. Stunned as if he is trapped in a Purple Haze and feeling almost as alone as he felt when he and Deirdre were allegedly happy over the last few years, Jimmy recognizes that he is a recovering idiot. He muses about what could have been if he was not an idiot when he attended high school and college and dreams of a reunion with any or all of his ex-girlfriends.

He decides to visit them to ask them to forgive his stupid troglodyte behavior though he also hopes for a heated tryst or three too. His best friend Morris the Orthodox Jew accompanies Jimmy on his redemption tour. Jimmy starts with the minister's daughter Laura Beasley of Rimbaldi High School. Next up is Samantha Jane Conrad at Fryman College. Third at bat is Molly Martinez also at Fryman College. Then there was Christine while Molly was away at a family funeral.

With a nod to Denis Leary's Bad Boy movie, Three and a Half Virgins is an amusing character study of a man looking back at his transgressions towards women. Each female owns a chapter so that the audience knows how they felt about Jimmy during and after. Although the storyline is thin, readers will enjoy Jimmy Hendricks' forty years old idiot gig.

The Barcelona Brothers
Carlos Zanon, author
John Cullen, translator
Other Press
2 Park Avenue, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10016
9781590515181, $15.95,

In Barcelona, Epi and Alex Dalmau enter a dive where one can buy drinks as well as whores and drugs. To Alex's horror, Epi batters the skull of their Moroccan friend Tanveer Hussein with a hammer before fleeing the bar. To protect his brother, Alex informs the police that a "Paki" who fled from the bar killed Tanveer.

While the police hunt for the Pakistani, Alex tries to learn why Epi murdered Tanveer. Meanwhile Epi remains obsessed with his ex-squeeze Tiffany Brisette, who was stepping out with Tanveer.

This is a dark Spanish thriller that uses flashbacks to purvey to readers how Epi, Tanveer and Tiffany got to that deadly assault. The storyline pulls no punches when it comes to racial profiling, fatherless children as adults perpetuating the fatherlessness, and life in the sewers of the slums. Carlos Zanon provides a tense stark warning that Spain better beware and deal with the brutal undercurrent that threatens society.

Frame Up
James Phoenix
Grey Swan Press
9780983490036, $27.95,

Private eye Fenway Burke has not gone to his office in six months while living on board a rusted houseboat in Marblehead Harbor north of Boston. Fenway is close to being an alcoholic as he is recovering from his divorce.

His childhood friend Tiny, who runs Boston's largest bookie joint, hires Boston to do a job for him. Shawn Corbett, a son of a friend of Tiny's mom, resides in Walpole; sentenced for life for killing a man. Three witnesses testified that he pulled the trigger and other evidence points to Shawn who insists he is innocent. As Fenway chats with the uncooperative detective and the cooperative public defender, bodies are everywhere starting with the murders of the three witnesses. Realizing he will have no seventh inning rest during the investigation, Fenway must end the killing spree of a hit man before he becomes the victim of a walk off homer while also seeking the affluent and influential employer who hired the hit man.

Fans of Parker's Spencer will enjoy James Phoenix's take on the mean streets of Boston even though the protagonist can only name two players and lacks the sardonic wit of the Red Sox nation PI centerfold. With a pleasant supporting romance enhancing the top rate investigation, readers anticipate the Green Monster showdown between the professional killer and Burke with the odds on the other guy.

Killing the Emperors
Ruth Dudley Edwards
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590586389, $24.95,

Irate Russian business mogul Oleg Sarkovsky knows the London art world betrayed him and he seeks vengeance for his foolish purchases based on expert advice. He begins his vendetta with a string of abductions of those he holds culpable for his mistakes to include kidnapping Baroness Ida "Jack" Troutbeck, Tate galleries director Sir Nicholas Serota, teacher Dr. Hortense Wilde, and artists Anastasia Holliday, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.

The art world panics out of fear of being the next snatched or worse not being the next victim. While the culprit is silent on his or her demands except for the business of the kidnappings, the realization by the impacted shallow community is that those abducted all defended the conceptual art school. Meanwhile mystery writer Robert Amiss investigates the kidnappings with the goal of rescuing Jack.

The latest Baroness Jack Troutbeck and Robert Amiss Series (see Ten Lords A-Leaping) is a super satire that mocks conceptual art as "rubbish" and its defenders as "nihilistic" con artists. Using real persona alongside fictional characters enhances a fabulous lampooning of the world of art.

Mixed Signals
Jane Tesh
Poisoned Pen Press
9781464200618, $24.95

In Parkland, North Carolina, the two house mates, private investigator David Randall and psychic Camden, come home when the latter goes over to say hello to their neighbor Jared Hunter. Camden finds him stabbed to death while David calls the cops. The police suspect David's client Boyd Taylor killed Jared.

Soon after discovering the body Camden has flashbacks to the murder, but Boyd is not included in what he envisions. David learns that Jared and Bert Galvan the son of the Parkland Herald editor, were involved in a break-in at the Parkland Museum of History. Meanwhile the Parkland Avenger is a failing fool in which the Super Hero Society of Parkland insists this bumbler is not one of them.

The latest entertaining Grace Street investigation (see Stolen Hearts) is an engaging cozy that has too many eccentric characters making it difficult to keep track of the several subplots. The narrator Randall is a fascinating protagonist as he works the whodunit and sees Kary while fearing his mom's interrogation over the death of his daughter. Fans will enjoy this zany regional cozy as Christmas arrives in Parkland.

Face of the Enemy
Joanne Dobson and Beverle Graves Myers
Poisoned Pen Press
9781464200328, $24.95

America changed on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Throughout the country, patriotism and fear intensified to stratospheric levels. Several thousand miles away from the sight of the deadly assault, New York City, like all of the United States, begins to mobilize.

The FBI invades a Brooklyn boarding house to take away Japanese- American artist Masako Fumi Oakley, wife of an ailing professor. Stunned by the legal abduction is Nurse Louise Hunter who is tending to the professor's health needs; she vows to get Masako freed from Ellis Island and back with her spouse. When someone murders Masako's art dealer while he closed down her show, the police suspect her as the killer mostly because of her ethnicity. Louise investigates; helped by boarding house resident Cabby Ward the reporter and Police Lieutenant Michael McKenna who wants the real killer caught instead of a Japanese scapegoat that the Feds prefer.

The parallels between the aftermath reactions to 12/7 and 9/11 are uncanny as Joanne Dobson and Beverle Graves Myers captures the targeted reactions by "patriots" acting out of ambition or fear. The investigation is enjoyable although the G-men are stereotyped as ambitious and uncaring re the truth. Still this is an engaging entity as America prepares for war after Pearl Harbor which seems so similar to America preparing for war after the Towers, the pentagon and Pennsylvania.

Bleeding Through
Sandra Parshall
Poisoned Pen Press
9781464200298, $24.95

In Mason County, Virginia, veterinarian Rachel Goddard and Deputy Sheriff Tom Bridger live together in an old farmhouse. The pair accompanied by two-dozen teenagers is picking up trash on a rural roadside when they find a corpse inside a plastic. One of the students seventeen year old Megan Beecher realizes the victim is her missing sister in law school student Shelley.

Tom investigates the murder of Shelley, which he thinks ties back to her legal efforts to free convicted murderer Vince Lankford for beating to death Brian Hadley. Meanwhile, Rachel's frightened sister Michelle the psychiatrist has fled her Maryland home and DC office to hide from a persistent stalker in her sibling's Virginia farmhouse. Michelle's husband Kevin says there is no one after his wife; knowing her sister's phobic dependencies and trepidations Rachel agrees with her brother-in-law until the stalking turns on her affirms even the paranoid can sometimes be right.

The latest Rachel Goddard mystery (see Under the Dog Star) is a strong thriller with two fabulous cases. Tom works the law student murder with his assumption being either Hadley's family killed Shelley or her premise that Lankford is innocent is right and the real murderer silenced her. At the same time Rachel tries to keep her sister safe starting with Michelle's mental state to the realization there really is a stalker. Both scenarios are super as Sandra Parshall provides a fabulous mystery.

More than Sorrow
Vicki Delany
Poisoned Pen Press
9781590589878, $24.95

War correspondent Hannah Manning slowly recovers from a brain injury caused by an IED in Afghanistan at her sister Joanne's farmhouse in Prince Edward County, Ontario. Whenever Hannah enters the root cellar, she blacks-out and sees visions of a former owner, Maggie Macgregor. During the American Revolution, Maggie's Loyalist husband was killed and she fell into abject poverty.

Hannah takes walks with Afghani expatriate Hila Popalzai, who cannot discuss her past with anyone as the memories are too nightmarish. When someone murders Hila, the police question Hannah who offers nothing of usefulness in solving the homicide though the cops believe the reporter hides information. As Hannah tries to remember anything her friend said and whether her brain trauma is leading to hallucinations, a viable threat towards her beloved ten year old niece Lily surfaces to get at the journalist.

Though the two subplots loosely merge in an exciting climax, the past and present feel like two different stories that never fully come together; as the modern day mystery is filled with suspense that grips the reader while the historical feels intrusive. Still overall fans will enjoy this thriller as the Canadian farmhouse ties two wars over two centuries apart.

Two Destinies
Elizabeth Musser
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9780781405010, $14.99,

In 1994 French citizens Rislene Namani and Eric Hoffmann meet and fall in love. However, her Algerian family is Muslim while his American family is Christian. To see one another, she has to sneak away which makes her feel guilty. Rislene fears her father's growing fanaticism even with him unaware of his daughter's conversion to Christianity. Neither has told anyone about their love and desire to marry though Eric believes his sister will be supportive.

When father announces Rislene will wed a selected Muslim in the home country, Eric seeks a way to save his beloved especially fearing her father or her intended will kill her if she remains committed to Christianity as that is a transgression punishable by death in the eyes of her family. As civil war explodes in Algeria and social unrest explodes in France, Eric and Rislene have their faith in the Lord and in their love to keep them optimistic that their seemingly Two Destinies will merge into one.

Three decades after the first two Secrets of the Cross Christian thrillers (see Two Crosses and Two Testaments) and starring different protagonists with a new war in Algeria and strife in France, Two Destinies is an enjoyable tale of love and belief. The storyline is at its best when it compares the similarities and differences between the religious and cultural aspects of Islam and Christianity through a strong fully developed cast. Although there is a tendency to preach, readers will enjoy Elizabeth Musser's return to the French Algerian connection.

Westward Hearts
Melody Carlson
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North
Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736948715, $13.99,

By 1856 widower Elizabeth Martin and her two children (Jamie and Ruth) visit her parents for Christmas. Her younger brother Matthew Dawson arrives late filled with rage. His fiancee eloped with his BFF. Soon the four adults agree to head west, a dream Elizabeth shared with her late husband James.

The extended family travels in three wagons modified into prairie schooners as they leave Kentucky for Kansas City. There they join a wagon train. Elizabeth and guide Eli Kincade are attracted to one another, but she has doubts as his past is shrouded in mystery while she fears the impact on her children and feels she betrays her beloved Jamie. Eli has issues too

The first Homeward on the Oregon Trail is an enjoyable western romance that brings to life the dangerous trek across Pre Civil War America. The cast is fully developed especially the Dawson-Martin brood, who each possess different personalities; while Eli brings enigma to the mix. Filled with action, readers will enjoy traversing the Oregon Trail with Melody Carson as our wagon master.

The Judas Line
Mark Everett Stone
Camel Press
c/o Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603819015, $15.00,

Assassination and perfidy are in the DNA of Olivier Deschamps. However, unlike his extended family who thrives on the thrill of the kill and power of betrayal, Oliver is weary of murder and treachery by his siblings who are encouraged by their sire's belief in survival of the deadliest. He steals his family's secret weapon the evil Silver ancient artifact before changing his name to Jude Oliver and vanishing.

Over the next fifteen years Jude keeps a low profile having made only one friend Father Mike Engle since he deserted his family. Olivier's vile distaff side cousin Burke arrives and kills his neighbor with a bite before using a knife and magic to attack his relative in order to claim Silver. Instead Jude kills Burke followed by the Patron Voice of "him" on his phone demanding he bring home the Silver. A desperate Jude visits Mike to tell him that he needs to find the one goodness artifact that can destroy Silver. With adversaries wanting the Silver and them dead, and allies offering help, the former assassin and the priest begin a trek to find the Holy Grail and perhaps holiness within their souls.

This is an exciting Christian fantasy starring a fascinating pair on a quest to eliminate evil. Their engaging journey introduces the duo and readers to demons, angels and biblical protagonists like Cain. Fast-paced and bloody, fans will enjoy the aptly titled The Judas Line as Mark Everett Stone provides a fabulous thriller.

Death In The Memorial Garden
Kathie Deviny
Camel Press
c/o Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603818995, $11.95,

Desperately needing repairs due to loose stones temporarily kept in place by grout; Grace Church is located in a deteriorating neighborhood filled with the poor and homeless. Father Robert Vickers feels at home here as he believes God assigned him Grace Church to provide some good to the dwindling flock.

Henry the caretaker digs up at the burial of wealthy longtime patron Neola Peterson in the Memorial a wine crate containing unknown ashes and a pair of shoes; the latter shocking a mourner. The Bishop announces he will visit Grace Church on Sunday. Father Robert with help from his eccentric congregation and quirky staff try to fix the place up for the Bishop's visit. However, someone else wants the church closed. This individual climbs the church tower and throws rocks at the homeless Claire the Pigeon Lady who dies from the assault, and Father Robert. The perpetrator must be stopped before he causes irreparable damage to Grace Church.

This is an interesting working poor neighborhood cozy starring a priest who tries to save souls while also attempting to make life better for those around him as he stretches church canon to do what he believes is right. The amateur sleuthing is entertaining but it is the plight of a deteriorating neighborhood symbolized by its falling apart church that brings freshness to Death in the Memorial Garden.

Jen Estes
Camel Press
c/o Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603818957, $15.95,

Baseball reporter Cat McDaniel lost her first Big Leagues' position when she exposed deadly wrong doings at the Las Vegas Chips. Though she did the right thing, Cat has become persona non grata in the sport she loves. Thus when Buffalo Soldiers' General Manager Roger "Rakin'" Aiken invites her to town for a job interview, Cat is ecstatic. Aiken says the team reporter position is hers in the spring if she covers the team's winter Latin American training facility in Santo Domingo. Cat accepts the terms, but is aghast when Aiken tells her his spoiled daughter Paige, expelled from Fillmore University, will be with her working as a scout assistant to Joe O'Donnell. Besides baby sitting out of control Paige, the only drawback to shuffling off to Buffalo is her boyfriend Benji teaches in Vegas.

The pair meets Worldwide Baseball Talent Management agent Chance Hayward, who charms Paige and disgusts Cat. When the three find the corpse of a prospect on the beach followed by a woman screaming at Chance for a death of a loved one, Cat investigates Worldwide Baseball Talent Management agency with help from Paige's ex, coach Junior DeLeon as she learns how the unscrupulous take advantage of the local young talent; unaware that her inquiry could be strike three for her.

The latest Cat McDaniel baseball mystery is an engaging amateur sleuth that is at its best with the insider look at the importance of baseball in the Dominican Republic. Paige is a foolish individual who will either step up to the plate or be benched permanently while Cat feels annoyed by her antics. Readers will enjoy Curveball as Cat deals with a splitter spitter bean-ball.

K. D. McEntire
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616146320, $16.95,

While at the hospital visiting comatose Eddie Barry, she promised his late dad she would find his lost spirit cord but failed so far, Wendy helps the ghost of a girl who just died go into the light. Just one month before her mom The White Lady went insane when her soul shred into pieces and she tried to kill her and First Rider Piotr.

Now that her mom has moved on and Piotr left with his own issues to resolve, Wendy continues to help spirits move into the light. However, she must deal with a maternal family of Reapers she only recently learned existed; these relatives are unhappy and envious of her Lightbringer skill that is more powerful than any of theirs. She also believes she must stop the Walkers from eating any more of the youthful innocent Lost. Finally with the Riders disbanded and the White Lady gone, the Council takes control of Next. With no one covering her back, Wendy becomes a target by those who covet her power.

The second Lightbringer fantasy is a terrific thriller that expands the McEntyre mythos in surprising but enjoyable ways. The storyline starts slow but fascinating with the hospital banter setting the Ghost Whisperer tone before accelerating into a faster than light tale. Readers will relish Reaper as no respite for weary Wendy as several adversaries want to dine on her soul or pass her through the light.

Guile of Dragons
James Enge
9781616146283, $17.95

In the Whitehorns, the Longest War between the Seven Clans of dwarves of Thrymhaiam and the dragons went unabated seemingly forever beneath the Northhold. When the dragons gain new allies in the dead kings of Cor and the masked gods of Fate and Chaos, victory seems imminent as they cut off their enemies from the Graith of Guardians as they kill many dwarves; take numerous prisoners; and change some with their evil dragonspells. The dwarves' stronghold Northhold is on the brink of collapse.

The last hope for the dwarves is Morlock Ambrosius, son of traitor Merlin Ambrosius (and Nimue Viviana). However, Summoner Earno thinks Morlock betrays the dwarves like his sire did when shipments stop and Guardians vanish. Morlock and his foster father Tyr syr Theorn try to discover who is betraying the dwarves when the lad learns the true secrets of the Longest War.

The first book in the latest Morlock Tournament of Shadows fantasy is an exhilarating prequel thriller that showcases the escapades of the hero as a young dwarf (before his later adventures - see The Wolf Age, Blood of Ambrose and This Crooked Way). In many ways Morlock is more fascinating in this epic as he considers himself a son of syr Theornthan the legendary Merlin. Readers will appreciate the action-packed storyline as Morlock may be the last savior of the dwarves but has to constantly prove his loyalty.

Marriage Can Be Murder, Every Wife Has A Story
Susan Santangelo
Baby Boomer Mysteries Press
9780985779900, $15.00,

On Nantucket Island, Jenny and Mark are marrying while her brother Mike and his wife Marlee who wed in Tahiti will renew their vows in front of family. The father of the bride Jim is unhappy with the location and having to travel to a remote island; while the mother Carol is pleased for her children especially since competent wedding planner Tiffani of Cinderella Weddings hosts the event.

Carol knows that Bob, husband of her BFF Nancy, is having an affair with Tiffani. Though Carol conceals what she knows in spite of pangs of guilt, Nancy learns who her spouse is cheating with. Nancy turns to Dream Dates on-line dating. During a midnight bladder call, Carol sees Bob standing over the corpse of Tifani at an eerie spot that haunts her. Though she tells the police, Carol, with Jim not quite as adamant for her to mind her business, investigates for the sake of her friend.

The third Baby Boomer Mystery (see Retirement Can Be Murder and Moving Can Be Murder) is a wonderful extended family affair as even the canines Lucy and Ethel help in the investigation. The cast is fully developed with most boomers understanding Carol's bladder "talking" to her. The inquiry is fun as Susan Santangelo provides an engaging wedding amateur sleuth.

Life Drawing For Beginners
Roisin Meaney
5 Spot
c/o Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9781455504084, $13.99,

In Carrickbawn, Ireland secondary school teacher Audrey decides to host an adult night-school class Life Drawing For Beginners to make a little money and have something to do on a Tuesday night to break up her rut. Audrey hires single mom Jackie as a model for her six week class. Two sexagenarians protest the nudity before class begins.

Five students sign up for her six week class. Polish immigrant Zarek becomes a student to break the monotony of his boring cafe job and have one night away from his loud roommate. Meg, Irene and Fiona have never attended an adult art class before. Single dad James has moved to town with his daughter, but plans to stay aloof as he thought he was enrolled in a French class except he is attracted to Jackie. Meanwhile Audrey asks the grumpy pet store owner "How much is that doggy in the window?" as she has fallen in love with the puppy. None of the seven participants are quite like the image they try to portray to the other attendees.

This is a warm Irish character study starring seven engaging people with diverse personalities but sharing in common struggles with their respective lives. The myriad of subplots blend nicely together into a panorama drama though reads more like short stories connected by the life-drawing class than a novel.

Mad River
John Sandford
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399157707, $27.95,

The biggest mistake Marsha Hogan made was wearing an expensive diamond necklace at her 35th high school reunion. Becky Welsh, a teen from the other side of the tracks, serves food at the gala and covets the jewelry. Her boyfriend Jimmy Sharp and friend Tom McCall decide to steal the necklace for Becky.

The robbery turns ugly when Marsha's daughter Agatha starts screaming; Jimmy kills her. Before leaving he grabs a packet from the desk as the three miscreant teenagers flee. They quickly kill a stranger to steal his car. They continual their murdering spree killing relatives while also sending their blood bath to TB news. Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Chief Lucas Davenport assigns his top investigator Virgil Flowers to work with a host of various law enforcement agencies hunting the deadly trio; all unaware what the motive behind the seemingly Bonnie and Clyde (and Clyde) deadly joy ride is.

The latest superb Virgil Flowers police procedural (see Shock Wave and Bad Blood) is a great manhunt thriller. The fast-paced storyline is filled with shocking twists of a Mad River, but especially a late one as the audience nears the delta in which John Sandford proves he is one of the sub-genre best when the author laid out clues but hid them brilliantly. Virgil is diligent when it comes to cases and his woman; however, it is the antagonists as pathetic psychopaths abandoning hope for a better life who make this mystery superb when they chose fifteen minutes of infamy as high profile killers.

The Devil in Silver
Victor LaValle
Spiegel & Grau
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9781400069866, $27.00,

Working stiff Pepper is a big man who gets into a fight with Donald's nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie. However his three opponents turn out to be undercover cops so he is handcuffed. The officers don't want to be bothered with documentation of this embarrassing case so they dump Pepper in New Hyde Hospital in Queens for a three day stay. To keep him sedated Pepper is given a horde of drugs and strapped to his bed.

One month later, Pepper awakens to find he is one of the inmates of this crazy house. He easily adapts to his new environs as he adjusts to his eccentric neighbors, enjoys the Hugo letters and starts a tryst with Xiu just before she is scheduled for deportation back to China. Wanting to be her hero, Pepper vows to keep her in the states while Dr. Anand diagnoses him as suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Then there is the restrained individual behind the silver door who the inmates claim is Satan visiting them when the asylum is dark.

With the obvious nod to Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest as recognized by Victor LaValle, The Devil in Silver is an entertaining character driven tale that makes the case that the differences between the insane patients and the normal staff is insignificant. That premise abates the Satan subplot suspense but also enables the audience to compare doctors, nurses, administrators and support to the inmates with the conclusion questioning who the insane are.

The Look of Love
Mary Jane Clark
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061995576, $7.99,

"The Look Of Love." Daughter of the owner of the luxurious Elysium Spa Jillian Abernathy sends a Facebook message to Piper Donovan in which she says she saw the Glenna Brooks' cake and wants to hire the professional cake decorator to do one for her wedding. Piper accepts as she will spend a full paid trip in Southern California at a fabulous resort and have time to recover from the hurt that FBI Agent Jack Armstrong did to her. Inside the exclusive spa, Jillian's maid Eserpanza enjoys putting on the posh clothing her employer owns. When she answers a door expecting another wedding gift for Jillian, a man tosses acid in her face. Soon afterward she is murdered. Others are also attacked and killed. Though she knows better having done some dangerous sleuthing before (see To Have And To Kill), Piper investigates.

"The Bracelet." 'Piper Donovan loves her brother Robert but loathes his wife Zara as he is kind and caring while she is selfish and avaricolus. When a gold bracelet vanishes, evidence overwhelmingly condemns Zara as the thief. Piper struggles between the cops and her family.

The Look of Love, as the second Piper amateur sleuth, is an enjoyable whodunit though the rapid fire changing of perspective (average chapter size is under 4 pages) is distracting especially when the three "papa bears" are front and centered. The Bracelet is a super-fast pit stop short-short read in which Piper struggles with what is right and for whom. In both cases, Piper is an engaging protagonist as she works on a cake, mending her broken heart and solving a mystery.

The Way to a Duke's Heart
Caroline Linden
9780062025340, $7.99

In 1810 Lord Charles de Lacey, heir to a dukedom, ignores responsibilities for decadence. However, he is shockingly awakened from his hedonism when a blackmailer demands payments or he and his siblings will lose their entitlements due to the potential exposure of his father's scandalous behavior.

As manager of her brother's businesses, Tessa Neville is in Bath looking into whether he should invest in a canal. She and Charles meet and it is hate at first sight. However, Charles suspects Tessa is in league with the person he suspects is extorting funds from his family as she meets with this reprobate. As such he follows her everywhere until they compare notes and realize they suspect duplicity by the same scoundrel.

The final Truth About the Duke Regency romance (see Blame It On Bath) is a pleasant historical starring two wonderful protagonists engaged in a gender war. Although there is too much reiteration of the overarching theme, fans will enjoy Lord Charles getting his comeuppance and hope that the blackmailer does too.

Sins of a Virgin
Anna Randol
9780062025791, $7.99

During the war, Madeline Valdan worked for the Crown as an undercover agent. With the war over, the Crown downsizes Madeline who has no money or prospects except her body. Known as a scandalous courtesan by the Ton, a desperate Madeline knows only one way to obtain funds. Thus she boldly enters White's where she states to the astonished male aristocracy that she is auctioning off her most prized possession to the highest bidder, her virginity.

Bow Street runner Gabriel Huntford has hunted down many criminals over the years, but the SOB who killed his twin sister remains elusive. As the price for Madeline goes stratospheric, Gabriel works an assignment that sends him from a school to her bidders; he hopes this will grant him access to those he deemed may have killed his sibling. As Madeline and Gabriel team up, they soon admire and respect each other while falling in love. However, a serial killer targets Madeline.

The first of a trilogy starring former criminals-spies is a delightful historical romantic suspense. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing while the support cast enhances the engaging storyline. As the runner and the courtesan risk their lives to catch a killer, the predator is in plain sight but impossible to identify due to fabulous red herring targets. Madeline is the next victim.

Sable Grace
9780062079640, $7.99

Several weeks have passed since Kyana, then a Dark Breed hybrid Vampyre-Lychen living in St. Augustine, became the Chosen Goddess of the Hunt (see Bedeviled). Residing in Olympus, though she feels unworthy and unready, her predecessor Artemis mentors her. Kyana's relationship with Ryker the Chosen God of Gods is going strong.

Haven informs Kyana he will soon die as evil Cronus escaped incarceration and begins enlisting a horde to kill his rebellious offspring and their supporters and allies. She knows once a Tracker always a Tracker so Kyana plans to find and end Cronus' reign of terror. Unhappy with what his beloved intends to do, Ryker insists on accompanying her even into Hades.

This is a great urban fantasy as readers anticipate the confrontation between the bad and the ugly (there is no good) in most likely Hades, St. Augustine or both. Kyana has matured since Ascension as a person and as a fighter as she is not as quick to charge the hill as a berserker in a rage but now remains calm and strategically thinking. With homage to Greek mythology and Kirby's DC comics New Gods, fans will appreciate the loving couple taking the fight to Cronus.

Shelley Shepard Gray
Avon Inspire
9780062089755, $12.99

Police Detective Luke Reynolds is convinced he knows who killed Perry Borntrager (see Missing), but has to find evidence to prove his theory. Luke knows when he finds the proof; it will devastate further the Crooked Creek Amish community of Critterden County, Kentucky, still reeling from the fact that someone pushed Perry into the abandoned well.

Jacob Schrock expects the law to come to him soon after they finish looking at Perry's girlfriend and the deceased's best friend Walker Anderson. The night that Perry vanished, Jacob had a brawl with him. He conceals their fight as well as his love for Perry's grieving sister Deborah who now works at his family's store. When Reynolds questions Jacob, Deborah is shocked as the man she is falling in love with may have killed her brother.

The third Secrets of Crittenden County (see The Search) is a fabulous Amish police procedural as the answers to who killed Perry and much more are resolved. The characters are fully developed and the impact on the shocked Amish community stunningly portrayed as fans will relish the climax to this fast-paced whodunit.

A Lady By Midnight
Tessa Dare
9780062049896, $7.99

In 1814 Kate Taylor loves living in Spindle Cove, but has not found love there. Still she has made many friends in the village so overall is satisfied with her life.

Corporal Samuel Thorne remains aloof staying far away from kissable Kate. However, not too distant as he has vowed to himself to keep her safe and happy though at times he wishes he was her one, but also knows she deserves better. Strangers arrive in Spindle Cove seeking Kate who they insist is a wealthy relative. Distrusting these visitors, Thorne insists he is Kate's fiance and ergo under his protection. To his consternation, her trust in him just makes him want her more, but he remains steadfast that she is better off with someone her equal. Kate has found love in Spindle Cove and refuses to back away.

The latest Spindle Cove Regency romance (see A Night To Surrender) is a tender historical starring two protagonists who seem star-crossed. The lead couple makes the engaging storyline fun to read as he wants her even more so when he steps forward to protect her and she knows he is her one. Readers will appreciate this fabulous early nineteenth century wondering whether her real identity will end the relationship.

Princess Elizabeth's Spy
Susan Elia MacNeal
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780553593624, $15.00,

Following the Battle of Britain, the country remains on alert anticipating a blitzkrieg invasion. In that fearful atmosphere, American expatriate Maggie Hope left her position as Mr. Churchill's Secretary to become an MI5 agent in training though she knows her superiors, peers and instructors consider espionage a man's job in spite of her being one of the best code-breakers.

Her first assignment annoys Maggie as she expected to head to the continent not Windsor Castle where she goes undercover as fourteen year old Princess Elizabeth's math tutor. However, instead of ennui, Maggie finds the castle finds a disturbing one as she investigates a murder that leads to a possible traitorous conspiracy reaching high in the royal family.

The second Maggie Hope WWII mystery (see Mr. Churchill's Secretary) is an entertaining whodunit that brings to life Windsor Castle and England during the war. Maggie is a superb heroine as she begins to realize the scope of sedition and knows if she fails the Battle of Britain will have been lost at Windsor. The storyline starts slow while the cast is introduced; but once that is done Princess Elizabeth's Spy turns into a fabulous thriller.

Return to Atlantis
Andy McDermott
9780553593662, $9.99

Archaeologist Nina Wilde and her husband former SAS soldier Eddie Chase have three interrelated ancient statues that will release energy not seen since before the fall of Atlantis. However, nothing goes right as the statues are stolen. Soon afterward Nina witnesses Chase killing her friend INTERPOL Cultural Property Crime Unit chief Ankit Jindal in Peru.

On the one year anniversary of their marriage, Nina wonders how Chase is doing as he vanished three months ago after murdering Kit. Her search for the stolen statues is her only relief from her depression. At the same time, Eddie misses his wife, but knows he must prove his innocence and catch Kit's real killer if he is to have a future with his beloved Nina. He gets an anonymous tip that's ends him to Japan; while she learns the statues were sold to a wealthy industrialist in Tokyo. However, Chase realizes his true mission is to keep Nina safe as she has become the focus of some nasty souls.

This is an exhilarating over the top of Mount Kita thriller that originally was published as Temple of the Gods. Chase and Wilde are on separate thrilling adventures with his to save his life and hers to save the planet. Their merging in Japan speeds up the planetary doomsday countdown. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy the latest Wilde-Chase escapades.

Raven Blood Eye
Giles Kristian
9780345535078, $7.99

In 802 England, Osric the orphan knows nothing about himself before he joined the villagers two years ago. The villagers of Abbotsend in the Kingdom of Wessex distrust him partially because his past is unknown and mostly because of his blood red eye. He works for mute Eahlstan the carpenter cutting and shaping timber as well as performing menial tasks.

Jarl Sigurd the Lucky arrives with his Norsemen after crossing the Njord Sea to Abbotsend insisting they are traders. They notice Osric's red eye and believe Odin the God of War has given him the blood clot. Wulfweard the Christ priest calls them Satan spawns, but calmer heads hope to send them peacefully on their way. However, Wulfweard puts hemlock in their mead; speaking Sigurd's tongue Osric warns him. They slaughter the townsfolk warriors and burn down the village but take Osric and thanks to the lad Eahlstan with them renaming the teen Raven though some of his new friends, like the villagers, distrust him. The lad's adventures are just beginning as he seeks the Holy Gospels of St Jerome allegedly guarded by King Coenwulf of Mercia and meets Cynethryth.

The first Raven Dark Ages epic is an exciting look at the early ninth century when Norsemen raided the English coast. The storyline starts slow as Giles Kristian introduces his large cast, but accelerates once the Norsemen leave Abbotsend aflame. The well written action-packed storyline is filled with drink and blood as fans of Beowulf era historical epic adventures will want to follow the escapades of Raven marked by Odin.

Fear the Darkness
Alexandra Ivy
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9781420111378, $7.99,

Having spent much of her life incarcerated by a demon lord, Cassandra the prophetess struggles to cope with the visions that always leave her vulnerable as others want to use her skill for their purposes.

Caine the former drug dealer in his previous life has returned with an obsessive need to keep Cassie safe. He wants his charge, but vows not to act on his desire as Caine fears he would harm Cassie who he knows deserves better. Having needs she never felt before, Cassie refuses to allow Caine to ignore their attraction. When she jumps his bones, he cannot stop her. Soon afterward, based on a dire vision, Cassie, fearing for Caine's life, runs away from her protector. He follows leading to the Dark Lord's horde capturing both of them while their allies prepare to rescue them.

This Guardians of Eternity paranormal romance (see Bound by Darkness) is a super thriller starring two Weres dealing poorly with their relationship while confronting the Dark Lord's malevolent minion. Fast-paced, series fans will enjoy the battle between the forces of good (including stars of previous entries, which behooves newcomers to read previous books first) and evil as the Dark Lord appears on the brink of crossing into this dimension.

Perfect Knight For Love
Jackie Ivie
9781420124002, $6.99

In 1689 Thayne MacGowan saves Amalie from a nasty fall as Lord Dunn-Fyne traps them. Dunn-Fyne wants to know if the new bairn is a boy. Thayne says she is a daughter of him and his wife Amalie. In truth the baby is the offspring of brutal Dunn-Fyne and his late wife Mary (of Thayne's clan). Thayne and Amalie head to Castle Gowan while Dunn-Fynn escorts them.

Dunn-Fynn offers Amalie a real man, but she declines claiming the bairn was theirs and she was married to Thayne. Her declaration makes them married under Scottish law. Thayne knows her declaration will restart the feud with Mackennah as he is engaged to the laird's daughter. Thayne tells her Dunn-Fynn will rape her so she must stay at his side. Near Castle Gowan, his men replace Thayne and Amalie. They flee with the baby. Thayne kills Dunn-Fynn but takes a knife to the butt. Jamie plans to tup Amalie but she knees him and flees as Thayne arrives. He vows to kill his brother if he hurts his wife. Amalie asks Thayne to let her go as she conceals that she is the daughter of an earl who fled London and a marriage her father pushed. He says she claimed him so they are married. He will consummate the act when they reach the castle, but he knows his troubles have just begun.

This historical romance focuses on a complex relationship between the lead couple as external interests are impacted by their relationship. Although the duke and duchess are pathetic and Amalie a spoiled whiner, fans will enjoy this seventeenth century Scottish romance that makes a strong case that a leader is not necessarily the chief.

Summer Lies
Bernhard Schlink, author
Carol Janeway, translator
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307907264, $25.95,

"After the Season." On Cape Cod, the flautist and the foundation worker meet and fall in love, but he detests the ultra-wealthy and she is one of them.

"The Night in Baden-Baden." She angrily accuses her playwright boyfriend of cheating so feeling she gave him a free pass, he has sex with a waitress.

"The House in the Forest." They are novelists raising their daughter in the countryside bur she is a success and he is not.

"Stranger in the Night." On the plane, he is stunned by his row mate's tale of a woman, a sheik, a death and five million euros, but shocked when the narrator wants his passport.

"The Last Summer." The retired professor wants one last time with his loved ones before he drinks the toxin that will end the pain of terminal bone cancer, but his wife finds the bottle before he uses it.

"Johan Sebastian Bach on Reugen." Though he resents his father for not being there for him, they attend a Bach festival together when he realizes who the distant one in their relationship truly is.

"The Journey to the South." Elderly bitter Nina who hates her family seeks the lover she gave up years ago, but he reminds her she chose.

These seven strong character driven short stories focus on irrational rationalizations justifying decisions and behavior by the various protagonists.

The Annals of the Omega Project
Thomas A. Cahill
EditPros LLC
423 F Street, suite 206, Davis, CA 95616-4144
9781937317034, $19.95,

University of California, Merced Physics Professor Ken O'Neal flies from Sacramento to Denver musing how he already misses his wife of thirteen years Jill who remained behind due to a seminar. On the flight he appreciates the flair and attention attendant Michelle Kolberg gives to everyone on board. Twenty-four years old Michelle likes people even as she muses over whether she is the only virgin flight attendant. However, she suddenly sees herself though his eyes and likewise he sees himself through hers. Both are stunned by this telepathic connection and begin to search for other sensitive souls.

The pair creates the Omega Project at Merced. However, their good intentions come to the attention by Covens who employ mind control to feed off the brains of telepaths. When the brain of student Bonny is assaulted, war explodes between the benign Omega and the ruthless Covens led by Emil who kills without a thought while the wild card is Gypsies.

The key to this exciting good and evil battle is that in war innocent pawns die as the not pure Gypsies learn the hard way. Each side is 200 proof of either goodness or vile evilness; as the bad guys have centuries of experience and no moral compass while the heroes suffer doubts and guilt. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate these two adversarial visions of telepathic use.

Lightning's Child
Michael A. Smith
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466378094, $17.50,

At GeneWorks in suburban Maryland, Director of Research geneticist Diane Kowalski and her team make a major breakthrough on dramatically increasing the life span of humans. However, someone(s) destroyed her experiments; placing the company at financial risk.

Desperate to prevent anymore industrial sabotage, the firm hires private investigator Jack O'Sullivan to investigate. As she gives him a tour, he struggles to focus on the assignment as images of making love to her keeps intruding on his thoughts. Jack and Diane track clues that take them to GJ Mendelsohn Research Laboratories as they find proof that founder Thomas Winthrop and his family seem to have applied the life span secrets but share it with no one.

This is a superb complex DNA thriller in which Michael A. Smith explores societal aspects of longevity of a family who lives several generations beyond the norm; in other words being able to play with your great-great grandchild. The intelligent storyline is filled with twisting action starting with a car accident that severs part of Thomas' leg and a complicated romance as the past and the future merge with increasing complexities for those in the middle. With a nod to Tuck Everlasting, readers will appreciate this strong character driven tale as taking a drink from the Fountain of Youth is only the beginning.

Brachman's Underworld
Vlad Vaslyn
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463698911, $17.13,

Raging Delilah Brachman visits Lowell General Hospital to see her dying father the colonel; whom she has not seen in twelve years. He apologizes for pushing her away when she was twenty, but Del tells him to stuff his too late at being there for her. Still she gives him hope that she forgives him but sarcastically dashes it with euphoria that he is dying. Del leaves only to get caught with a little boy in a crossfire between cops and a felon; she shields the child with her body.

When Del awakens she learns the only decent thing she did in her miserable life has given her temporary in-betweener status with six days to find a way to avoid oblivion. Her ticket is to ride the Tuesday Train while awaiting judgment. In her take no prisoners style Delilah battles Noc the diabolical lonely demon and Honest Jack the torturer. Combating this pair and other hellish, heavenly and outside entities is child's play for acerbic Del who holds all with contempt as she rips asunder horns and halos by tearing away their veneer. However, Del faces internal strife when she meets Lucy who offered her friendship and is attracted to Kevin as her manta is the only good relationship is no relationship.

Sarcastic Delilah brings freshness to the afterlife in Other Lowell and Lowell with her attitude towards others humans, demons, believers, etc. as she makes Don Rickles seem more like Mother Theresa. Readers will surprisingly go from believing Del gets what she wrought to empathizing with her as her emotional defense mechanism in life and death is hammering others. The acrimonious protagonist makes Brachman's Underworld a unique reading experience.

Murder Among Friends
William Cahn
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470173333, $14.95,

In 1946, Robert Stevens, Kingsland Gordon and David Penner meet at Midwestern University. They quickly become roommates and best friends. A few years later all three are successful, but remain roommates. Robert becomes Wade County District Attorney; Kingsland is a highly regarded lawyer; and David a super salesman.

Late at night, Robert orders Kingsland and David to his office. Police Inspector Spahn and Detective Carr arrest David for murdering with a fireplace stoker his boss Pierre Lancer, the father of his fiancee Georgette. Robert pleads with a stunned Kingsland to defend their friend as the DA believes his pal is the best attorney in the county; he reluctantly agrees though he is not a criminal lawyer.

This is a terrific post WWII era legal thriller that brings to life the 1950s in New York State. The story line focuses initially on the cherished close friendship between the lead trio who possess different personalities before switching to the murder case, which appears to end their tight relationship. The legal scenes are top rate as readers obtain a deep look at courtroom rights a decade before Miranda. Though the storyline starts slow as fans meet the amigos, William Cahn provides a fabulous historical.

Courting Carolina
Janet Chapman
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10014
9780515151060, $7.99,

Ski bum Alec MacKeage works on a wilderness trail in Spellbound Falls when he hears a woman's bloodcurdling scream over the noise of a storm. He rushes to the site where he finds two men attacking a female being protected by a dog. He intervenes knocking out both thugs with the help of the canine. Alec takes her to his camp and strips the unconscious woman he calls Jane Smith so that she does not catch pneumonia from her wet clothing.

Carolina Oceanus is grateful that she her companion Kitty the wolf are okay. She fails to notify her matchmaking parents who seek the right suitor for their daughter. As Carolina and Alec fall in love, he reconsiders his ban on relationships until her raging dad arrives with demands on Alec and rivals with pedigree to compete for Carolina's hand in marriage.

The latest engaging Oceanus romantic urban fantasy (see Spellbound Falls and Charmed by His Love) is a fun tale starring two delightful protagonists and a strong support cast to include Kitty. Fast-paced though thin, fans will enjoy Courting Carolina as Alec's advantages start and finish with love connected by a debonair bond.

The Legend of Tyoga Weathersby
H.L. Grandin
Acorn Book Services
9780985726720, $16.00,

Early in the seventeenth century, the Weathersbys settled on land in the New World. The natives were wary of all the Europeans. However in 1622 Tyoga's grandfather rescued Powhatan Chief Opencanecanough, who makes him and his kin friends for life. The tribe also recognized that this clan, like the natives, lives in harmony with the land.

In 1688, Tyoga's father recognizes his six years old son's nature awakening. He warns Tyoga that one day he will fulfill his destiny and be victorious, but how he handles winning will determine whether he is the victor or just a predetermined fated choice. Six years later, Tyoga and his blood brother Res Qua Ra Wa are in the woods when the latter steps on a trap. Tyoga saves his best friend's life from marauding wolves as a legend begins to form. He falls in love with Cherokee maiden Sunlei, but realizes for her to live, he must ignore his feelings.

This engaging epic historical tale paints a vivid picture of Colonial Virginia but also contains a strong message encoring people "This above all: to thine own self be true" (Shakespeare). The storyline follows the adventures of Tyoga (and his BFF) as he tries to do what he believes is right and honorable, but also questions when he is doing deeds that others including his fate tell define as good rather than his beliefs. Loaded with action, The Legend of Tyoga Weatherbys is a brisk unique psychological thriller that ponders nature, nurture and self-identity.

A Kingdom's Fall
Douglas R. Brown
Rhemalda Publishing
PO Box 1790, Moses Lake, WA 98837 US
9781936850556, $15.99,

In their thirst for oil for their war machines, the ruthless Tek invaders brutally devastated Epertase and annihilated Lithia. Taking advantage of the chaos of the crippling victory, Gildonese King Fice annexes land with his goal to become the ruler of the kingdom of Epertase. Besides his army, Fice uses his uncanny otherworldly talent to sway others even enemies to support his royal claim.

Epertase Queen Alina finds her nation has no time to heal from the invasion as a revolt from within has split the kingdom. Alina barely survives assassination attempts from allegedly loyal trusted advisors and supporters. Her only hope for her country resides with the hero of the Tek War, Rasi the former Epertase warrior turned anti-war farmer.

The second Light of Epertase military fantasy is a superb thriller that grips fans (especially those who read the exciting Legend's Reborn) from start to finish. Once again Douglas R. Brown makes a powerful case that war is hell and should never be glamorized especially by armchair chicken hawks who send others to die. Mindful of Harold of Wessex having fought a powerful enemy force just before the Battle of Hastings in 1066 (see, readers will relish the action-packed A Kingdom's Fall.

Douglas R. Brown
Rhemalda Publishing
PO Box 1790, Moses Lake, WA 98837 US
9781936850709, $13.99,

Bernard Henderson found his pet project on Sandalil Island off Costa Rica. He and his mercenaries catch one male though they lose part of the crew and kill other tribal members. He and his surviving team take him back to the States to begin a breeding program. Now he sells wergs as popular pets that he insists are safe and loyal to their owners in spite of these tamed animals more commonly known as werewolves. His WereHouse firm struggles to keep the supply equal to the demand.

Columbus, Ohio Fire Department emergency medical technicians Christine Alt and Billy are on call one day when a loose werg assaults them. Billy vanishes while badly cut up Christine goes to the hospital. The werg's blood entered her system through her mouth so Christine begins to change, and now knows the truth about WereHouse's commodity; Henderson and his crew stalk her.

Tamed is a fascinating, action-packed urban fantasy that grips readers from the opening scene off Costa Rica (mindful of Jurassic Park's locale) and never slows down until the final confrontation. Along the way, Douglas R. Brown provides strong societal
messages on consumer protection against the big bad capitalist werewolves and their advertisers who can sell dreck as the outcome of healthy nutrition to people, and the prevention of animal and human cruelty. Although the entertaining storyline turns from a fresh take on the werewolf mythos into a more standard hunt theme, readers will enjoy werewolves as pets.

Downward to the Earth
Robert Silverberg
Orb Books
c/o Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765331731, $15.99,

After years of exploiting the natives of Holman's World, the human Company left. Though the Company never looked back at what they did to the flora, fauna and two sentient populations (the elephant-like Nildoror and the ape-like Sulidoror), a remorseful Gundersen returns to Belgazor as the planet has returned to its pre Company name. He seeks redemption for what he did as a manager.

Gundersen meets the last of the humans at the decaying hotel. He is taken aback to observe the Sulidoror are doing many of the assignments the Company enslaved the Nildoror into doing when he last was here. He heads to the interior where the Nildoror allow him to continue if he returns with the human who committed an atrocity against their species. Later he meets transformed by the Nildoror rebirth ritual Kurtz and decides to undergo the same.

This is a reprint of a classic 1970 science fiction in which Robert Silverberg makes his two alien species seem genuine as he questions what is sentient (similar to Avatar). Readers will feel Gundersen's guilt as he seeks atonement for what he allowed to happen to the indigent species including the abrupt departure by the earthlings after years of enforced servitude. With a nod to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, this is a strong look at the Europeans leaving Africa in the 1960s.

The Immortality Factor
Ben Bova
Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765306425, $15.00,

Grenford Laboratory Director Arthur Marshak discovers a method for human organ regeneration that enables the host body to replace ailing parts. The announcement causes a tsunami of support and criticism. Some called him God's agent on earth while others claimed he was a blasphemer.

Arthur agrees to appear before a Congressional "science court" in Washington, D.C. so that his project is not destroyed by politicians pandering their political base as he believes strongly that his achievement is a great gift to mankind. On the science court board is Arthur's estranged brother, Jesse, a winner of humanitarian awards for his work with the poor in the Bronx. Jesse opposes the technique claiming another example of money buying health as only the wealthy would be able to afford it. He has personal reasons to be against it too as he and Arthur fell in love with Julia, but he married her and then there is their late mother to split them further.

This is an insightful exciting medical thriller that makes a strong case to keep politics out of scientific research. The story line is at its best during the tribunal hearings as all sorts of irrelevant headline grabbing sound bites is tossed continually including by the "judges". The relationship triangle feels stiff and out of place as means to add sibling conflict. On the other hand a hostile business takeover attempt though not as explored like the politics intervening in science is interesting as the other firm has agenda to squash certain unacceptable research. Fans will enjoy Ben Bova's latest tale as he argues politics and science research are a bad combination.

The Deception at Lyme: Or, The Peril of Persuasion
Carrie Bebris
9780765327987, $14.99

Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy, accompanied by his sister Georgiana and their infant Lily-Anne, travel to Lyme on a combination holiday and family matters. Fitzwilliam and Georgiana are at the seaside village to collect the personal items left behind by their naval cousin William who died in combat.

Not long after they arrive in Lyme, at the base of the Cobb seawall, they find the body of pregnant Mrs. Clay, who had just married Sir Walter Elliot. Apparently the victim was carrying the offspring of William. Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth believe the loose woman was pushed to insure inheritance did not change. As they investigate the pair begins to believe William was a murder victim too. Allied with Captain Frederick Wentworth, the Darcy detecting duet make inquiries into the death of a woman at the seawall and the death of a sailor at sea.

The latest Mr. and Mrs. Darcy amateur sleuth (see The Matter at Mansfield and The Intrigue at Highbury) is a delightful Regency mystery in which characters from Jane Austen's Persuasion play key roles. The lead couple and his sister are fully developed; while the rest of the cast is solid to the delight of Janeites. With insight into naval matters in the early nineteenth century enlightening and adding to an exhilarating whodunit, too much overseas activity slows down the otherwise fast-paced strong historical investigate thriller.

Jay Lake
9780765327154, $15.99

Green was sold by her father as an infant to the Immortal Duke. She was trained as a courtesan assassin, but instead of using her skills to further her owner's ambition, she killed her owner and created the God Endurance before fleeing (see Green).

The Interim Council of Copper Downs needs her assistance. Bittern Court diplomats have arrived from Green's homeland. They conceal their agenda except for the demand that pregnant Green return home to them. At the same time, magical practitioners are murdering the deities. Green is confused even though she understands a fight to fill the power vacuum is occurring. Mother Vajpai the assassin dedicated to the Lily Goddess like Green is has teamed up with the brutal Surali; and the Pardines non-humans declare war over the stolen Eyes of the Hills jewels. Finally the God of Pain demands her son once born and powerful murderous priests Osi and Iso have plans to use the chaos caused by the death of the Immortal Duke.

This is an entertaining fantasy starring an unlikable fresh heroine who has no qualms with assassinating her enemies though she does not revel in the kill. There are several exciting subplot that are held together by Green who struggles with her pregnancy reducing her skills (think of Frances McDormand in the movie Fargo). Although the Jiminy Cricket like "mentoring conscience" leads to overly long soliloquies, genre fans will enjoy the latest adventures of Green.

In War Times
Kathleen Ann Goonan
9780765332431, $15.99

In 1941, enlisted soldier Sam Dance enjoys playing the saxophone, but the Army notices his inclination for math and science so they think he might make an ideal code-breaker; the brass assigns him to attend college level classes. While his Physics Professor Dr. Eliani Hadntz seduces him, she also informs him of her concept to tie physics and the human mind so that she will be able to rescue Europe from the Nazis. At about the same time, Sam's older brother dies when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor.

Sam and his jazz playing friend Wink work on the Hadntz device that shifts the realities of the space-time continuum. By doing this, he and Wink see the worst of Hitler, but make progress until they begin to place their machines around the world praying that this time they have seen the war to end all wars by preventing humanity's basic mob trait tendency towards abuse and violence.

Using a comparison between the evolution of jazz and science starting in WW II through JFK and beyond, Kathleen Ann Goonan provides a powerful exciting science fiction thriller that calls for an encore. Sam is terrific as the star performer holding the tale together on both counts; all that jazz and physics. The story line is fast-paced as the hero dances to a different beat once he meets Dr. Hadntz, but saving JFK brings other consequences. Alternate history has never been better than IN WAR TIMES.

In a Fix
Linda Grimes
9780765331809, $14.99

Ciel Halligan the "aura adaptor" can make herself look exactly like someone else so that it is almost impossible to separate her from the original person. To catch the overall demeanor of her subject requires a little background into the person. Thus Ciel makes a nice living by taking the place of a client.

Ciel's current customer is high society Wilhelmina "Mina" Worthington who cannot be with her boyfriend Henry "Trey" Harrison III at a luxury cabin in the Bahamas. At the cabin Trey shouts at "Mina" to leave the bungalow; someone else does likewise. Ciel rushes outside just before an explosion occurs. Trey and the Good Samaritan are gone. While her adoptive cousin Billy and FBI agent Mark warn her to stay out of this mess, Ciel investigates. Her findings lead to Vikings.

This is a fresh romantic urban fantasy starring a wonderful heroine whose ability to emit a copycat aura is genetically driven while others like Mark share her skill. The cast is solid especially the lead triangle as Ciel is attracted to both overly protective hunks. Though Ciel's motive to investigate is weak, readers will enjoy this unique paranormal amateur sleuth.

This Case Is Gonna Kill Me
Phillipa Bornikova
9780765326829, $14.99

In New York, due to her connections with a powerful vampire family, Yale Law School graduate Linnet Ellery obtains an associate position at White-Fang law firm where the partners and most of the senior staff are vamps. She finds being a human at the law firm bitingly tough as she runs into prejudice all the time.

As the lowest lawyer, Linnet takes over a case that has gone nowhere for years involving a billion dollar security firm owned by werewolves. Chip Westin who has been the solo attorney on this inheritance fiasco warns her "This Case Is Gonna Kill Me" and probably her. They work together late when a werewolf arrives at the office and kills Chip; Linnet somehow survives and kills the deadly beast. She begins to uncover information that the werewolves prefer buried and target her to stay silent.

This is an enjoyable legal urban fantasy starring an intelligent, "lucky" heroine who makes the Bornikova mythos of vampires, werewolves and other of their ilk seem genuine by her interactions with the paranormal. Mindful of Fred Ward's character in Cast A Deadly Spell, Linnet uses her knowledge of the law to battle the supernatural. Although the storyline starts slow as the realism of a newbie in an office setting is highlighted and the supernatural as genuine established, the plot accelerates into a delightful thriller.

The Unincorporated Future
Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin
9780765328816, $27.99

When the only Unincorporated Man Justin Cord was assassinated, Sandra O'Toole replaced him as leader of the Outer Alliance. The group's personal freedom message resonates strongly among colonists living in the Asteroid Belt and the orbs beyond. The United Human Federation control Mars and earth with every person under corporate control.

Thus UHF President Hektor Sambianco remains steadfast with his quest to destroy the freedom rebels even if millions must die. The war is bloody, but OA General J.D. Black overcomes the overwhelming resourcing advantages of UHF with ingenious strategy leading to victories though his opponent brutal brilliant Admiral Samuel Trang proves a strong leader too. As millions die, O'Toole wonders if victory is worth the cost of human extinction; while Sambianco pushes victory at any cost. Meanwhile unbeknownst to either side, artificial intelligences are in a civil war whether to help or exterminate the humans.

The final unincorporated science fiction is an exciting finish to a strong thought provoking outer space thriller. The storyline is action-packed while also looking deep at the timely morality of war with leaders knowingly sending pawns to die as well as civilian deaths. Although more military than political-social themes of the previous works (see The Unincorporated War, The Unincorporated Man and The Unincorporated Woman), fans will enjoy this entry; as Stalin stated" "'when one man dies it is a tragedy, when thousands die it's statistics"; when millions die...

Fair Game
Taylor Keating
9780765365491, $7.99

The world is a terrible place to live with disease and fighting seemingly everywhere. Game designer River Weston uses her programming skills enhanced by her Fae magic to create the Hollow Man that keeps soldiers and other humans safe during combat. However, the program proves unsafe when it releases a virus that merges with a human virus into an unstoppable super-virus.

At the same time Guardian Chase "Hawk" Hawkins, having spent time on the astral plane, has returned to his body. He and his unit head to earth to destroy technology before technology destroys earth. Hawk also comes for his beloved former cell mate River who has inadvertently escalated the destruction pace.

The third Guardian dark urban fantasy is an exciting thriller that behooves the audience to have read the previous tales (see Mind Games and Game Over). The entertaining storyline focuses on combatting a new threat to the decimated earth while initially placing Hawk and River on opposite sides of the save the earth either to technology or not to technology. Readers will enjoy the return of this pair as earth is Fair Game.

Black Bottle
Anthony Huso
9780765325174, $27.99

Lovers Caliph Howl the blood mathematician mage and Sena Iilool adept of the Shradnæ witches control Stonehold. However, during the combat, Caliph died and soon afterward Sena, using an incantation from the ancient Cisrym Ta tome, brought him back to life.

Word spreads to the nearby empires in the south whose monarchs want the Cisrym Ta and will sacrifice anyone to obtain it. Arriving from Pandragor, Taelin Rae wants to establish the Nenuln Church in Stonehold but feels she must kill the evil Sena who is an affront to God. At a time when Caliph is expected to attend a regional leader summit, a plague has crippled Stonehold and there is the enigmatic Uncle Nathaniel, who works in mysterious ways as he assists his nephew with ancient enemies.

The sequel to The Last Page is an entertaining but convoluted high tech fantasy with much of the action occurring from passive sources like dreams and books. Caliph and Sena are courageous champions while the mystery of Nathaniel enhances the tale. Still not for everyone, fans who relish the convergence of math, science and fantasy in a complicated but difficult to follow thriller will enjoy Anthony Huso's blood magic.

Ghost Key
Trish J. MacGregor
9780765326034, $24.99

High in the Andes in Esperanza, Ecuador, the two transitional half ghost souls of the nearly dead FBI Agent Tess Livingston and Minneapolis journalism professor Ian Ritter force Dominica the hungry ghost to leave her homeland (see Esperanza). Raging at what happened Dominica holds the half ghosts culpable though she knew better then to tangle with transitional souls. She escapes by using Tess' niece Maddie as her host body.

She and her parasite followers reach Cedar Key, Florida where they begin using the locals as their uninvited hosts. Some residents like single mom and son Kate and Rocky Davis, and Fed psychic Nick Sanchez recognize the threat, but Dominica's biggest concern comes from her one time lover, Wayra the were-dog whose greatest passion is his loathing of her.

Dominica's return is an engaging Florida Key supernatural, but offers standard fare as all the horror elements have been used before especially the isolated town in books and movies. Entertaining as the good and evil battle for control of human bodies, fans who appreciate tales of hauntings will enjoy the Hungry Ghosts' second act.

Fate of Worlds: Return from the Ringworld
Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner
9780765331007, $25.99

All the spacefaring Known Space species covet the endless resources especially the technology of the Ringworld. However, to the shock of every one of the four rivals, Ringworld abruptly vanishes. Left behind are three hostile military fleets as war seems imminent between them even though the prize is gone.

Each species leaders are angry while their people rage over wasted deaths. Someone must pay for this affront with the craven Puppeteers as the obvious choice since they launched their entire Fleet of Worlds galactic empire to avoid a supernova core explosion over two centuries ago. Earthborn Louis Wu and Hindmost the exiled Puppeteer escaped from Ringworld just before the stunning disappearance. Hindmost covets regaining the power he lost when he was exiled while other Puppeteers likewise want control but most cowardly choose flight over fight.

This is not an easy read as the first part of the storyline parks at the "Strange" quark level with much of the early on being a rehash of minute particle data of what previously occurred. For die hard Ringworld fans only (see Destroyer of Worlds and Betrayer of Worlds), readers will wonder what happened to Ringworld?

Trucker Ghost Stories
Annie Wilder, editor
9780765330352, $12.99

"Trucker Ghost Stories: And Other True Tales of Haunted Highways, Weird Encounters, and Legends of the Road" is a fun collection (unless you are the authors) of short shorts written by people who insist they met unnatural phenomena while on the road. The true encounters are divided into four chapters: Just Plain Weird, Messages and Assistance from the Spirit World, Haunted Highways: Legends and Lore of the Road, and Time Slips. In some cases, the entry reads like a campfire ghost story and in others like the driver entered the "Turnpike to the Twilight Zone" as R. Dustin Mercer discusses about a trip in the Pittsburgh area he has done many times but this time is eerily different. The first entry George Stern, Jr. "Demon In Texas" sets the tone as no one will sleep near an Indian burial ground. Matt McFadden's firsthand account of the "Girl in the Window" staring at him as he drives. Stacy Eldrige discusses Uncle Jim's "Uninvited Passenger" who faded into thin air. When Lee Honawu was fourteen he drove his grandma's truck with his younger brother as a passenger only they saw a "Skinwalker in Arizona." If you are looking for tight editing and perfect grammar you need take a detour away from this anthology; as a major part of what makes these stories fascinating are the observers' writings on roads like "Old Highway 666 in New Mexico" by Susan Miller and "Ghost Rider on Highway 666" by Carl Smith.

Girl of Nightmares
Kendare Blake
Tor Teen
9780765328663, $17.99

Six months ago on mortal time, Anna Korlov dragged the lethal Obeahman through a portal to Hell she opened. Thus she saved the lives of her former boyfriend teenage ghost hunter Cas Lowood and his friends Thomas and Carmel, but sacrificed herself as to accomplish the feat of yanking the monster into Hell she had to go there too (see Anna Dressed In Blood).

Grief enhanced by survivor guilt and her sacrifice has Cas unable to accept Anna's death. Cas believes his Anna deserves heaven, but fears she is trapped for eternity in Hell unless he can rescue her but has no idea how. Adding to his sense of trepidation is he sees and hears Anna when he dreams and even when he is awake. Persuading Thomas and Carmel to assist him, Cas begins a quest to free his Anna even though that means he will "march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause" (The Impossible Dream).

This sequel is a great horror thriller that deploys a radically different approach from the bump in the night Anna Dressed in Blood; as this time the storyline simmers with atmospheric psychological tension as Anna comes across (through Cas' filter) frightened instead of infantry brave. Cas holds the tale together with his obsession that has his BFFs fearing for his emotional state and readers wondering whether he is projecting as a defense mechanism his fears about Anna leading to his seeing her. This is a deep thriller that fans will appreciate.

Primal Possession
Katie Reus
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451237781, $7.99,

Residents of serene Fontana, North Carolina are shocked by the hideous activity of the Anti-Paranormal League. The APL has invoked a campaign of hate crimes against the paranormal and terrorist attacks against human civilians who live in harmony with the supernatural residents of Fontana.

The APL target human December McIntyre for her acceptance of shifters although she still struggles with what one of them did to her sibling and with her attraction to Liam Armstrong; he realizes at first sight she is his mate. Knowing she needs protection from these home-grown terrorists, December turns to the shifter pack number two Liam. As they fall in love, Liam risks his life to keep his December safe.

The latest Moon Shifter romantic urban fantasy (see Alpha Instinct) is a superb take that makes the paranormal seem normal through the actions of the APL and several local allies. Action-packed, readers will empathize with December as her traumatic memory of what a shifter did to her family and other fears of their kind battle with her love and feeling safe with him. Katie Reus writes a wonderful winning thriller.

Pitch Perfect
LuAnn McLane
9780451237804, $7.99

Though she claims she needs to prove to her dad she can thrive without his wealth, deep down Mia Monroe knows she needs to prove her assertion to herself. Thus she buys a clinker with what little money she calls her own and drives to "destination unknown." Her resolve takes a hit when her car breaks down in Cricket Creek. Kentucky. Having no money for repairs or alternate means of travel, Mia "Money" as she goes by is stranded as she obstinately refuses to ask her daddy for help. Her father hires a private eye to follow his beloved daughter from a distance to ensure she will be safe.

First baseman Cameron Patrick has a second chance for a career playing for the popular local team the Cricket Creek Cougars; but he must stay pristine clean. Mia obtains a job working for the Cougars. When he meets Mia, he spells her name as Trouble with a capital T and she proves him right. As they fall in love, Cam wonders if he has to choose between his love for the woman who gets him into perpetual tsuris and his love for baseball.

The latest Cricket Creek contemporary sports romance (see Catch of a Lifetime) is an entertaining lighthearted tale starring a baseball player and a mistress of mayhem. Although the plot follows the expected path around the diamond, fans will enjoy this zany amusing tale filled with eccentric players, fans and Mia's horde within a storyline faster than Ricky Henderson stole bases.

Ruined by Midnight
Emma Wildes
9780451237798, $7.99

The shiniest diamond of the Ton Lady Elena Morrow awakens in a strange room with no idea how she got there from the theater and why the most roguish rake of the Ton Randolph "Raven" Raines, Viscount Andrews shares the bed with her. He awakens as confused by what has happened to him and why he is sharing a bed with Lord Whitbridge's daughter. After initially bickering over marriage in which they agree not, the pair finds they are locked inside a room with no means of escape.

Her family wants her back safe, sound and scandal free. However, they fear the Ton will notice that not just Elena is missing but Ran the rake is missing at the same time. Elena's father pleads with Lord Benjamin Wallace, known for resolving political problems, to find his beloved daughter. Though outside his expertise, Benjamin agrees to help the distraught uncle of his wife Alicia, who resolves to have a marriage of love and passion in and out of the boudoir. As time runs out, the incarnated couple falls in love.

This Whispers of Scandal Regency romance is a fabulous brisk historical as the ultimate extreme matchmaker deploys a daring diabolical scheme. Fast-paced with two delightful romances, readers will enjoy Benjamin's investigation as he falls in love with his wife and the subject of his search also do the same thing with each other. Though he and Ran thank their anonymous benefactor for opening their eyes and hearts, Benjamin also now dreads the infamous words "You have a visitor."

Woodcutter's Grim series Volume II
Karen Wiesner
Whiskey Creek Press
PO Box 51052, Casper, WY 82605-1052
9781105200663, $3.99,

"Moonlight Becomes You." Lawyers Heather Rowe and Lance Shaussegeny have a one night stand before he leaves for his home Woodcutter's Grim, a place he explains to her he will never be able to leave. Their tryst results in her giving birth to Gavin, a child with strange traits. He wishes his mate would come to him and believes she would not turn to his rival Eddie Underwood. When Gavin becomes ill Heather searches for Lance to help their son. Enthralling

"Bewitched." The stranger seemed to come out of nowhere. Glynnis Shaussegeny is stunned by her attraction to Aric Sayer and him to her. However, her family is cursed so Glynnis plans on avoiding Aric; unaware that he has a terrible secret that he knows should make him avoid her. Exciting

"One Night of Eternity." Gavin Shaussegeny knows how the family curse is deployed, but does the unthinkable when he cheats on his wife Marnie. He regrets his transgression as he loves his wife, but knows his tryst has activated the curse in which he will repeat his sin forever unless Marnie truly in her soul forgives him. Creative and poignant

"Beauty Is The Beast." In an attempt to end his family curse, Ransom Shaussegeny turns into a werewolf trapped inside the beast. Tess Moore is the beauty he falls in love with, but deep in his heart believes she could never love a monster like him. Heartwarming.

The second Woodcutter's Grim anthology contains four excellent paranormal romances in which members of the cursed Shaussegeny family meet their beloved mates. Each tale is loosely based on a fairy tale as Karen Wiesner provides fresh adult renditions in a fabulous collection.

The Glass Butterfly
Louise Marley
Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9780758265685, $15.00,

Knowing her Fey gift failed her and stunned by what she learns about one of her patients therapist Victoria Lake believes the threat this psychopath says will happen to her estranged twenty-year old son Jack will be the next victim if the shrink tells anyone. To protect Jack, Tory fakes her death and leaves the area without telling the only person she loves in the world.

Though he ridiculed his mom over her claims of psychic abilities, Jack reconsiders his scorn as he feels his mom is not dead in spite of a police inquiry and his attending her funeral. He needs to see her to insure she is safe so he begins a search. At the same time Tory changes coasts relocating in Cannon Beach, Oregon as Paulette Chambers. As she makes friends with Hank, Iris and Johnson, she misses Jack and Giacomo Puccini, but knows she did the right thing until she realizes her dreams of nineteenth century Tuscany warns her that it is not over.

This is a terrific suspense that blends a touch of the Fey with the life of Puccini inside of a taut contemporary thriller. Fast-paced, fans will appreciate the son and the villain searching for the therapist as all roads converge on Cannon Beach.

The Warlord of Willow Ridge
Gary Phillips
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
9780758203854, $6.99,

Heading to San Francisco, O'Connor's bike dies near Willow Ridge. With no funds, he decides to hide in Willow Ridge, which once was an affluent gated community, but now has many abandoned vacant houses, some trapped families and several low life punks like the Mas Treces gang who established a meth lab there. He squats in one of the buildings.

Connie begins to clean up his temporary abode, but soon gets involved with the residents when he confronts gangbangers and thugs. To his shock he enjoys his time in the burb and begins an affair with Gwen Gardner. However as the Mas Treces and their rivals the Vandal Viking fight for Willow Creek lab rights, Connie finds himself protecting his neighbors.

The Warlord of Willow Ridge is an exciting thriller as a noirish loner knows it is time to pull a sting and make like the wind, but finds he is reluctant to leave the burbs. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy Connie kicking bad dude butt though like him wonder why he stays in a place he never belonged to before.

A Lack Of Temperance
Anna Loan-Wilsey
9780758276346, $15.00

In the Victorian Age, Hattie Davish is a traveling secretary going to whatever town in any state her mentor sends her to work. She currently arrives in Eureka Springs as secretary to Temperance League's President Mrs. Trevelyan. Hattie's first impression of her new employer is not a positive one as she sees her employer take an axe to the Cavern Saloon and sets fire to the place because the objective is to damage the establishment so it goes out of business.

A riot breaks out while Mrs. Trevelyan vanishes. Hattie thoroughly searches the hotel for her boss, but fails to find the elderly woman. She next turns to Mrs. Trevelyan's trunk held in storage seeking a clue. Instead Hattie finds Mrs. Trevelyan's corpse. The police arrest the Cavern Saloon owner, but Hattie has her doubts that he killed the woman. Deciding to learn the truth, Hattie seeks those with a motive to kill the iron temperance president only to find many people wanting her dead including league members.

The first Hattie Davish historical mystery captures the essence of the Temperance Movement through the fervor zealousness of members like the victim and those who want these busybodies to stay out of their freedom to imbibe or not. Hattie is terrific as an amateur sleuth who holds the storyline focused while enabling the audience to see deeply into a major late nineteenth century social issue with ramifications today (forerunner of the failed Prohibition and drug wars).

Elvis and the Blue Christmas Corpse
Peggy Webb
9780758241436, $23.00

In Moorville, Mississippi beauty parlor owner Callie Valentine Jones still remains married though separated from Jack except he is staying at her house while he recovers from leg surgery caused by a jaguar trap (see Elvis and the Tropical Double Trouble). Callie wants children while Jack, like her Uncle Charlie, works for the Company so she fears being a widow single mom.

When Santa cannot perform at the mall's Christmas Open House weekend charity event, Charlie volunteers. At the gala, Santa's sled lights up, but the man playing Rudolph dies and Charlie is injured from electrocution. Cousins Callie and Lovie accompanied by Elvis the reincarnated basset hound turned Santa Paws investigate but find several viable suspects.

The latest Southern Cousins Mysteries (see Elvis and the Grateful Dead, and Elvis and the Memphis Mambo Murders) is an engaging amateur sleuth as the intrepid trio trip over bodies while searching for the culprit. The trademark zany whodunit is amusing as Peggy Webb exaggerates Southern stereotypes as the cousins and the reincarnated canine seek a Blue Christmas killer.

Mistletoe, Merriment and Murder
Sara Rosett
9780758269218, $7.99

Event organizer Ellie Avery has mixed feelings about the Christmas season. On the one hand she is ecstatic that her husband Mitch is home for the holidays with her and their two kids before deploying with his Air Force Base squadron shortly. On the other hand she is unhappy that rival organizer Gabrielle Matheson has set up shop in North Dawkins, Georgia as the newcomer is stealing clients that Ellie thought would use her services. At a squadron party hosted by Ellie at her home, she and Gabrielle get into a public argument.

Feeling guilty for her childish display, Ellie meets Gabrielle at the home of the latter's sister Jean to apologize. When Ellie arrives for the rendezvous, she finds Jean's dead; her head is smashed in. Gabrielle arrives soon afterward and tells the Sheriff Ellie found the body. Making matters more suspicious is that the murder weapon was given to Ellie at her party as a gag gift. Shockingly Gabrielle teams up with Ellie in search of the real killer.

The latest Ellie Avery amateur sleuth (see Mint Juleps, Mayhem, And Murder; and Magnolias, Moonlight, And Murder) is an engaging whodunit that once again enables readers to see close up the lives of air force spouses and dependents living on a base in a military town. The storyline is filled with twists and a strong cast as Ellie investigates the murder with her competitor joining her.

Born to Bite
Hannah Howell, Diana Cosby, and Erica Ridley
9780758273437, $15.00

"Never Been Bitten" by Erica Riley. In 1830 England, Lydia Breckenridge hires Ellie Ramsey to prove that Martainn "Cain" Macane is a vampire. They dance and he goes to take a nip, but she bites him instead. Cain is shocked by her action and more so when she vanishes with no one remembering seeing her except Cain.

"Dark Secret" by Hannah Howell. In 1514, orphaned Murdina Dunbar learns she has a cousin Adeline who took a bairn and fled into the hills to be with the MacNachton clan. However, she finds no new clues so she stops at Dunnantinny Keep to earn money as a maid and seek new information. Laird Sir Ranald Dumfries directs Murdina to spy on guest Sir Gillanders Baldwin who he thinks is a MacNachton demon. Unable to resist Gillanders kisses her and believes she is his mate as he stalks Ranald for killing his cousin

"Highland Moon" by Diana Cosby. In 1297, healer Rowan Campbell flees from men calling her a witch. She helps a man trapped inside of a stone circle. Aedan MacGregor says he is a poisoned vampire who needs to drink her blood, which she reluctantly allows. Tasting the blood, he knows she is his mate. Aedan tells her he will protect her though he has a traitor to catch. They make love and he is stunned when she glitters as if she is fey.

The entries are entertaining historical vampire romances though the thin storylines are similar with an innocent female unaware of the existence of vampires and sensitive lead males assisting them with their transition.

Bella Fortuna
Rosanna Chiofalo
9780758266538, $15.00

In Astoria, New York, the DeLuca women design and sew couture-lite gowns for their patrons at the family owned Sposa Rosa boutique. One of the daughters Valentina has become engaged to Michael Carello, her knight in shining armor since he rescued her from an irate villain (local shopkeeper) when she was a tweener.

They are to wed shortly in Venice. However, as the time for the nuptials is very near, Michael has second thoughts and ends their engagement. Heartbroken by the man she planned to marry since she was ten years old, Valentina travels to Venice anyway. There Valentina enjoys the magic of the city as she begins to understand how Bella Fortuna she really is.

This engaging Italian-American family drama is an entertaining tale that paints vivid pictures of Venice and a Queens neighborhood in a second chance at La Dolce Vita. Though the storyline flows as anticipated, fans will enjoy Valentina find her vita in Venice.

Dial C For Chihuahua
Waverly Curtis
9780758274953, $7.99

Geri Sullivan is irate rather than hurt when her husband demanded a divorce as she paid the bills while he attended graduate school; once he received his advanced degree he told her he loved his new secretary Amber. She agrees to his request as Geri wants the rat out of her life and besides she keeps Albert the independent cat (I know oxymoron). Deciding she needs a canine to feel less lonely, she goes to select a dog only a Chihuahua with big brown eyes staring at her in a take me way hooks Geri. After taking Pepe home, Geri learns her new companion speaks Spanish and some English and that she apparently is the only who understands him.

Eccentric private detective Jimmy G. hires Geri to find the missing billionaire husband of Rebecca Tyler. Geri and Pepe head to his home only to find him murdered. The widow is the suspect while Pepe is biased as he is attracted to Rebecca's Pomeranian and the victim had many enemies. However when his pet human becomes endangered, Pepe puts aside treats and female canines to keep Geri safe.

This Barking Detective Mystery is an engaging quirky private investigative anthropomorphic thriller though talking animal sleuths have been used a lot (see the Chet and Bernie hard boiled noirs by Spencer Quinn). Though his attitude is similar to Midnight Louie (by Carole Nelson Douglas) Pepe still brings freshness to the sub-genre with his passion for females, food and his feisty partner. Canine detective fans will enjoy his first bite at crime solving.

Lady Gone Bad
Sabine Starr
Kensington Brava
9780758266002, $14.00

In 1893 Deputy U.S. Marshal Rafe Morgan enters the Red River Saloon in Delaware Bend, Texas to arrest Lady Gone Bad. He plans to take the outlaw to Judge Parker and Marshal Boles though he knows the Bend is unsafe for lawmen. He also hopes to find his abducted sister Crystabelle. Lady soon has him handcuffed while playing the crowd against him. Wearing a boy's garb, she flees town but rescues Rafe from a mob lynching.

The mob pursues Rafe and the lad across the Red River. They are shot, but her singing gives them a respite. He arrests her though she saves their lives again and takes them to shelter when a storm hits. When he escorts her in cuffs to Paris, he is shocked to find he is a wanted man as Deputy Marshal Lampkin got to town before him. They flee into Outlaw Country where she seeks Copper, her stolen horse with a special horseshoe. Lady and Rafe reach a deal that he helps her find her horse and evidence on the man who killed her parents, and she helps him prove his innocence. As they fall in love, he revises his options while someone wants her dead.

This engaging western romance provides a strong sense of time and place three decades after the Civil War ended. Readers will enjoy the brave heroine who thinks in shades of gray while her beloved marshal thinks in black and white. Although the lead couple stopping in the middle of danger to make love seems inane as their enemies are not taking a time out, fans will enjoy Lady Gone Bad.

How to Lose a Demon in 10 Days
Saranna DeWylde
Kensington Brava
9780758269157, $14.00

Grace summons Caspian a crown prince of Hell. He calls her witch and she calls him demon as they strike a deal in which she offers him sex his style and he deals with her problems caused by her former boyfriend violent Russian mobster Michael who legally gained custody of her son Nikolai.

As they team up to send Michael and his demon defender Ethelred on one-way tickets to hell, the witch and the crown prince find the sex heavenly. Grace and Caspian begin to wonder if there is any future beyond the bloody contract while dealing with his heated boss, her bewitching family, the avenging spirit of a hooker, and the Russian mafia.

This is an amusing erotic paranormal romance although the horde of characters requires a scorecard to decide who is on whose side as the cast can overwhelm the plot; hell it is hard to tell who is real or a demon Memorex moment. The twisting storyline is fun while there is also a serious undertone involving violence against women. Fans will enjoy the skin ripping banter between the demon and the witch as we learn "Faust never got laid."

The Edge of Nowhere
Elizabeth George
Viking Children's Books
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780670012961, $18.99,

Her raging psychopathic stepfather pursues fourteen-year-old Becca who needs to silence her since he learned of her uncanny ability to hear people's thoughts that he is a vicious criminal. Becca takes the ferry from Seattle to Whidbey Island with no resources or support. Kindhearted recovering alcoholic Debbie takes Becca into her home as they connect on a psychic plane.

Becca makes friends on the island while attending high school as she and Ugandan expatriate Derric become buddies as well as she and Seth the musician. When he takes a nasty fall and ends up in a coma, his adopted father an undersheriff and other law enforcement officials investigate who pushed the teen off a hiking trail ensues.

With Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley (see Believing the Lie) taking a respite, Elizabeth George writes her first young adult thriller. The teen paranormal mystery is entertaining due to the likable and believable heroine. Although the engaging storyline feels too long especially the overly-extended Derric subplot, readers will enjoy the mystery of Whidbey Island.

Broken Harbor
Tania French
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780670023653, $27.95,

Someone attacks a family of four at their luxurious house, one of the few completed at the Brianstown development built on Broken Harbor as construction stopped due to lack of funding. The patriarch Patrick Spain and the two children (six years old Emma and three years old Jack) are dead from stab wounds; while the mother Jennifer is in ICU struggling to survive. Dublin Police Detective Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy (support player in Faithful Place) and his partner, rookie Detective Richie Curran lead the investigation at a locale that reminds the veteran of the tragic childhood suffered by him and his emotionally disturbed sister.

They learn that Patrick was downsized so the construction halted. The two cops consider whether Jenny committed a triple murder suicide though her injuries lean towards unlikely. Kennedy and Curran consider family and friends but find no one who loathed the Spain brood nor any motive for murder. Thus they relook at the parents who seem like victims but consider perhaps one of them had snapped.

The latest Dublin Murder Squad mystery (In the Woods and The Likeness) is a superb psychological suspense police procedural. The storyline is fast-paced as readers witness the second and third order effects on Dubliners. Character driven, fans will wonder whether the matriarch is a victim or killer as Tania French provides a strong whodunit with a stunning late twist.

The Headmaster's Wager
Vincent Lam
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307986467, $25.00,

In the 1960s in Cholon, Vietnam, Chinese expatriate Chen "Percival" Pie Sou is the headmaster of the most prestigious English language academy in the country. Percival ignores the war between the two Vietnams while fully aware that he is considered a Chinese foreigner after over three decades in the Saigon area and marriage to an upper crust wife Cecilia.

When the government decrees only Vietnamese is to be used at schools, Percival's beloved son Dai Jai ignores the edict and gets in trouble with authorities. Percival helps Dai flee Saigon for China where he hopes his son marries a Chinese woman. With his son apparently safe in his homeland, Percival begins an affair with Jacqueline, a half-French and half-Vietnamese student. She gives birth to his offspring just as the Tet Offensive occurs. A betrayal by a trusted employee and friend leaves Percival on a Viet Cong hit list

This is a strong look at the Vietnam War from the perspectives of mostly the Chinese expatriate and several locals. Thus Vincent Lam provides insight into survival techniques and divided loyalties in which BFFs for decades betray their friend as the chaos of war engulfs Saigon and the South.

Sand Witches In The Hamptons
Celia Jerome
DAW Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756407674, $7.99,

Graphic novelist Willow Tate is a Visualizer, a person who can draw creatures from Otherworld, a realm in which earth mythological species live and magic is practiced. Currently she is drawing dots while trying to hide a rash and stop a bloody nose.

She also has a stalker who starts off befriending her before turning ugly. Willow makes it clear she wants nothing to do with him so he escalates his activity. She goes home to Paumonauk Harbor, Long Island surrounded by bodyguards sent by her doom-seer father. Willow soon realizes everyone has that same rash and bloody nose and eventually figures out that sentient sand people are giving everyone rashes and are by removing the sand from the village and dumping it in the ocean. This is dangerous as ultimately the village will sink under the sea. Everyone expects Willow to find a way to appease the sentient sand beings while also dealing with her psychopath who rationalizes what he does because his beloved Willow loves him.

The latest Willow Tate Visualizer island fantasy (see Lifeguards in the Hamptons and Night Mares in the Hamptons) is a fabulous island fantasy starring a brave heroine surrounded by individuals who can do the impossible, her beloved Matt the vet, and a sick stalker. Although over the top of Jayne's Hill, series fans will enjoy this entry as the sand witch developers ignore the environmental impact on lesser species like humans.

Ghost Of A Dream
Simon R. Green
Ace Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9781937007737, $7.99,

Ghost Finders teammates (JC Chance the chief, Melody Chambers the scientist and Happy Jack Palmer the telepath) remain shocked and isolated after learning that the Flesh Undying's Bad Guys infiltrated key positions at the Carnacki Institute (see Ghost of a Smile). The trio knows they no long can depend on Carnacki for support when they "don't take any sh*t from the Hereafter".

They currently work a haunting at the Haybarn Theater though there is no logistical support from Carnacki. However, none of the intrepid Ghost Finders realize that the theater hosts adversarial spiritual enemies including the infamous Phantom of the Haybarn staging a paranormal battle lights out show.

The latest Ghost Finders urban fantasy (see Ghost of a Chance) is an entertaining lighthearted frolic as the Haybarn becomes a supernatural OK Corral. Fast-paced and filled with action, neither the spirits nor the ghost finder team (unless you read previous entries) is three dimensional. Still fans will enjoy this entry as everyone knows the show must go on.

Philippa Ballantine
9781937007751, $7.99

The citizens of the Empire of Arkaym depend on the brave Order of Deacons to keep them safe from the Geists who penetrate the barrier between the normal realm and the Otherside. After the recent harrowing events in the Hive city of Orithal (see Spectyr), Deacon Sorcha Faris remains in a comatose state; she is unable to communicate with anyone including the inability to use her mental Bond to reach her partner Merrick Chambers.

Thugs trying to get at Sorcha's lover the Young Pretender Raed, abduct the helpless Deacon. An Irate Merrick investigates the kidnapping while also is assigned to look into something new at Emperor's court. He knows his priority as a Deacon though he is unhappy with the timing of the assignment.

The latest Book of the Order fantasy follows up with the aftermath of what happened to the lead trip in Spectryr; thus it behooves the audience to have read at least that book and preferably its predecessor Geist first. The trip mostly work apart throughout the storyline with Sorcha's predicament obviously the most harrowing while her two males face Hobson Choices.

Ann Aguirre
9781937007744, $7.99

Sirantha Jax looks forward to traversing grimspace, but leaping through time will have to wait for the moment. Having pledged to help Loras, Jax feels obligated to assist him as he tries to liberate his race, the La'hengrin, from biological slavery that limits their ability to fight back against their alien conquerors the Nicuans. Carvati's Cure would enable the La'hengrin to fight for their freedom.

On La'heng, Jax joins the guerilla resistance to free Loras' people though she knows her side faces seemingly insurmountable odds but though she looks forward to jumping the star roads of grimspace, she risks her life to help free an enslaved race. Six months later, the war continues with no Endgame in sight as many from both sides die with the stubborn Nicuans refusing to give up their control of the La'hengrin or the world they conquered.

The Endgame Sirantha Jax science fiction (see Aftermath and Doubleblind) is a great finish to a strong outer space saga. Fast-paced and filled with action, Ann Aguirre makes it clear that war is vicious, bloody and gory as everyone including the ethical heroine (and readers) feels they entered hell.

Benedict Jacka
9781937007720, $7.99

Everyone involved looks forward to the White Stone tournament at Fountain Reach between Light and Dark apprentice mages. At a London Starbucks, Crystal the Light mage tries to hire freelance diviner Alex Verus to provide consulting security services at the event in which she insists the Council will provide the battle mages if needed. He realizes she is a mind mage and shocks her when he declines.

The Council's Talisad asks Alex and his apprentice Luna to investigate the disappearances of several of the tournament participants without a trace. They head to Fountain Reach where he finds to evidence of abductions but no suspects. As he realizes his enemies want him dead too, Alex protects Luna's classmate Anne from paranormal and human assassins while concluding that a Council member probably is behind the assaults, which means whatever he does he will end up in trouble as happened when he first became exiled from the mage world.

The excellent Alex Verus urban fantasy (see Fated and Cursed) is a superb entry as the independent diviner distrusts the mage community as the Light and Dark are partisan bickerers who insist they are always right and the Council is too impractically narrow-minded. Fast-paced, once again the key this thriller is the Benedict Jack's world of battling mages drinking coffee in Starbucks seems real.

Jeanne C. Stein
9781937007768, $7.99

Anna Strong misses her new boyfriend Stephen the reporter as Skype is good for greetings but not to exchange bodily fluids. Meanwhile her former human lover Drug Enforcement Agency agent Max informs Anna that he is worried about their friend, Culebra the shapeshifter owner of Beso de la Muerte. She has avoided Cuelbra since she learned about his life as a drug cartel assassin before he quit being a murderer after his family was killed. Additionally Anna has kept her distance from Max too after helping him on a recent case (see Crossroads).

However, Culebra's friend Julio needs help as a cartel kidnapped his family. Culebra persuades Max to help him as the target is a drug kingpin and he wants Anna to help as as innocent civilians are involved. However, her instincts to stay out of this mission prove correct when betrayal and death stalk her.

The latest Anna Strong Vampire urban fantasy is a great stunner as revenge and redemption prove dangerous for anyone in the way. Fast-paced from the moment Culebra tells his sordid past to Anna and never slowing down; fans of the series will be stunned by this powerful twisting thriller.

Slow Apocalypse
John Varley
9780441017577, $25.95

Eddie Parker worked on bacteria that would clean up oil spills and from there he soon became part of the Prometheus Project to increase oil production via enhancing pressure. However, Eddie conceals his secret agenda to unleash a bacterium that solidifies Saudi Arabian oil for what the country's terrorists did on 9/11. At the Ghawar oil reserve, Eddie releases his destruction. Eddie's plan deploys perfectly except for one minor nuisance. The solidification fails to stop in the Arabian Peninsula as the bacteria goes internationally viral.

In Southern California, screenwriter Dave Marshall learns from a government insider friend that his script on oil actually is happening around the globe. As he prepares to keep his family safe from the worst that is coming, the world collapses into deadly local chaos.

This is an entertaining post-apocalyptic thriller in which the Marshall plan leads to a happy solution for him, his family and his friends as fans will appreciate how much oil is a cog in the modern world and not just as a fuel. However, with the focus on an affluent in the know protagonist, the pandemic impact of the vanished oil implosion on the unaware and less fortunate lacking resources is not explored as that would have proven much more exciting and enlightening. Still readers will enjoy John Varley's take on life without oil to grease the world.

Blood Of My Blood
Ralph Pezzullo
Zumaya Enigma
9781612710594, $12.99

Growing up in the Bronx, Smokey Annicelli and Evan Bravere were best friends who believed in the borough's motto ne cede malis. Smokey became a cop while Evan became a Hollywood star. Evan calls Smokey to tell him he cannot take it anymore and gets a pledge from his BFF to watch over his two children Ricky and Renatta before killing himself.

Seven to eight years later, ex-cop Smokey lost contract with the kids until Ricky the rock star contacts him. Not long afterward, cop Luke Thorn sends Smokey to a Manhattan address where Ricky has nine bullets in his back. Smokey investigates the murder of his godson as he feels guilt for not adhering to his death bed pledge to his childhood best buddy.

The second Smokey Annicelli mystery (see Eve Missing) is an engaging whodunit as the remorseful resourceful protagonist follows clues that stun him while he begins to learn who is behind Ricky's death and leads him to ponder about Evan's suicide. At the same time, an insidious clever two-prong assault on the hero occurs in which one is overt and the other diabolically covert. Readers will enjoy this entertaining whodunit while wondering the answer to the critical question of New York City, which we natives know: why there is a "the" in the Bronx and none of the other boroughs.

Diana Palmer
Harlequin HQN
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373776726, $24.95,

To reward former Special Forces Major Winslow Grange for leading the rescue of his kidnapped wife Gracie, billionaire Jason Pendleton gave him a ranch near Comanche Wells, Texas. Winslow hires Ed Larson as his foreman and the man's daughter Peg as his housekeeper. However, Winslow spends a lot of his time on causes he believes in, but when home he avoids his attraction to Peg who loves him.

His current mission is to help General Emilio Machado regain leadership of Barrera, a tiny nation in the Amazon rainforest. While he is in South America, Peg fears for his life. Photojournalist Clarisse Covington arrives at the ranch and tells her that she just saw Grange and he wants to see her. With Clarisse paying for het flight, Peg travels with the reporter to Barrera where her actions place the women in peril and jeopardize the liberation operation.

The two women are stereotypical of the good and bad girl respectively; while Grange is a unique hero who adheres to his values though it would have helped to better understand his motives with whom and what influenced him in his past. The prime romance is slow to develop while ironically the storyline is at its best when Clarisse and deadly mercenary Roarke are the lead. Diehard fans of Diana Palmer's Jacobsville tales (see Renegade) will enjoy this entry.

Run the Risk
Lori Foster
Harlequin HQN
9780373776955, $7.99

Two years ago, Police Detective Logan Riske's best friend Jack Carmin was murdered. The cop suspects' club owner Morton Andrews was involved with the hit but the witness Rowdy Yates vanished. However, as his partner warns him about his obsession, Logan locates Rowdy's mousy sister Pepper though she uses the surname Meeks. Musing about her he assumes her brother has turned her into a recluse while ironically she believes her sibling has protected her at risk to his life.

Logan goes undercover as Pepper's construction worker neighbor Stark. He persuades her to go out to dinner with him as he hopes to use her to get to her hidden sibling. However, Logan is taken aback with his attraction to a reluctant Pepper who prefers to be left alone though she feels the same desires as he does.

The first Love Undercover romantic suspense is an enjoyable thriller as the sexy undercover cop and the damsel in distress hiding her body and herself fall in love. The romance is fascinating, but it is the powerful police procedural subplot that grips readers throughout.

The Woman He Knows
Margaret Watson
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373718047, $5.50

Darcy Gordon hides in Chicago from her abusive former husband Tim knowing she will never go back to Milwaukee alive. She works at Mama's Place run by Nathan Devereux. While closing, a car crashes through the restaurant window hitting Nathan before driving away. A horrified Darcy assumes she was the target while her boss lies in a hospital. She would flee if she could, but knows she must remain where she is for now.

Nathan's brother Patrick, an FBI agent in Detroit, comes to Chicago to run the restaurant and learn who and why. As they fall in love, he knows she hides something that paralyzes her with fear and she knows she must leave before she brings more harm to the kind Devereux family.

The latest Devereux family romantic suspense (see A Safe Place) is an engaging thriller starring two stubborn strong protagonists and a vile villain. The storyline is straightforward but enjoyable as Darcy trusts no one not even the Fed she loves while fearing what her presence will do to the Devereux family.

The Truth About Tara
Darlene Gardner
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373718030, $5.50

Coming from Kentucky, injured minor leagues baseball pitcher Jack DiMarco arrives in Wawpaney on Chesapeake Bay's Virginia Eastern Shore seeking to speak with physical education elementary school teacher Tara Greer. He gives her a computer generated age progression picture of Haley Cooper who looks exactly like Tara. Jack explains his sister is the private investigator looking into the case of a missing child who vanished in Louisville twenty-eight years ago.

Tara denies she is that girl as she says she has lived here all her life. Jack believes her assertion and tells his sibling Maria by cellphone that she is not the one. While Jack visits a nearby orthopedic surgeon about his apparent career ending injury, Tara begins to reconsider what her mom has told her about her past. She begins to believe she may be that missing child even as Jack is back to help her with her identity crisis.

Supported by a solid secondary cast, the lead trio makes for a strong romantic family drama as readers wonder whether the truth will set mom and daughter free. Fast-paced with a fabulous late twist, fans will want to know The Truth About Tara.

Out of Bounds
Ellen Hartman
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373718016, $5.50

Madrid Pirates basketball player Wes Fallon is shocked when he learns he was traded to the Serbian team. When he sees a dog running in traffic, he goes to help only to have a beer truck clip his hip. His brother Deacon arrives at the hospital to tell him his basketball career is over as he reinjured the shoulder in the accident. Worried about Wes' mental state, Deacon hires his sibling to work the Hand to Hand project for their Fallon Foundation he runs with his wife Julia. Wes agrees just before he goes back to sleep.

After leaving the hospital, Wes heads back to New York to join the Foundation. Deacon tells him we have a problem in Kirkland, New York. Blogger Chloe Chastain called with a concern over a missing $65,000 that she and local business owner Trish Jones raised under the Fallon Foundation. He arrives in Kirkland where he meets Trish's daughter Posy who he knows conceals something involving the transaction from him. As Wes investigates and Posy remains elusive, they fall in love but he feels caught between loyalty to his beloved brother who has always been there for him and his woman.

This engaging Fallon contemporary romance (see The Long Shot) stars two delightful protagonists in a fun tale. The support cast is strong especially little Angel the canine practitioner of chaos theory and Julia whose betting prowess keeps Barry Manilow's career alive. . Fans will enjoy Out of Bounds as Wes and Posy need to start over but will they do it together since the money
intrudes on their love.

Savage Redemption
Alexis Morgan
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373885534, $5.50

Chief of security at the O'Day estate, human-vampire chancellor Conlan Shea knows he has the position due to his friend Joss being married to Rafferty O'Day the vampire as no one hires a disgraced ex-convict for such a job. When a firefight ignites just outside the gate, Shea races to the scene. Outside lying prone is an injured person; lying there is Kat Karr and nearby her two young nieces (eight years old Rose and five years old Maggie). Three years ago Karr cost Shea his heart and left him to rot in prison for two years.

Councilman Cyrus Eddington is irate that his mercenaries may have left Karr alive and her nieces inside the highly protected O'Day compound. The Coalition has a death warrant on Karr for her firebombing her lab and killing a fellow scientist so O'Day will have to tell chief investigator Ambrose O'Brien that she is at his estate. Karr informs O'Day with Shea listening she was hoping he would protect her nieces who have no one else as their parents and grandparents are dead and soon so will she. Eddington calls O'Day accusing him of harboring a killer and threatening sanctions that would cripple the clan. Unaware of what is going on and needing to protect the clan, Shea flees with Karr to prove she is innocent or die trying.

This is a superb action-packed romantic fantasy starring two likable protagonists and a strong support cast. Fast-paced from the opening firefight until the final confrontation, readers will enjoy going on the lam with Shea and Karr inside the Morgan mythos (see Vampire Vendetta) as they elude Eddington's horde while seeking evidence that exonerates the heroine.

Shifter's Destiny
Anna Leonard
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373885541, $5.50

With their family dead from the flu, in New England, Elizabeth Sweet fears the Community leader Ray will claim her younger sister Maggie as his ward and she will never be free of him Thus Libby and Maggie try to escape from the Community, but the Elders never allow anyone to leave. Men grab the siblings only to have a white form charge through the trees and slam into the males. The form is a horse who allows the females to get on its back before fleeing with them. The Sweet sisters are stunned when the steed stops and they see the horn.

The unicorn turns out to be Josh the shapeshifter who must fulfill his legacy with a virgin bride before the rut of his lower head takes over, but to his chagrin is attracted to "impure" Libby. However, Josh also knows the siblings need protection as the Community purses them to kill the older sibling and bring back the younger one to their leader.

This is an exciting shifter romance filled with plenty of action. The fast-paced storyline grips the audience, but it is the lead trio who keeps the readers' attention; as Josh is heroic, Libby sacrificial, and Maggie brave and humorous. With a late twist that some fans will dislike (I liked the timely simplistic symbolism), fans will enjoy Shifter's Destiny.

The M.D.'s Secret Daughter
Jacqueline Diamond
Harlequin American
9780373754243, $5.25

When they lived in Texas Nurse Jan Garcia never told her former fiance Dr. Zack Sargent that she kept their child rather than give her up for adoption when he accepted false allegations about her that led to his ending their relationship. In Southern California, a widower raising his third grade stepdaughter Berry, Zack is shocked to see Jan at the elementary school with apparently her daughter whom he assumed she adopted; though he knew worked at Safe Harbor as he now does too. In fact he is unaware that seven years old Kimmie is his.

Before she can tell him the truth, he realizes her Kimmie is his. As they struggle to deal with the needs of their respective daughters with the truth, Jan and Zack remain in love, but she distrusts him and he feels betrayed.

The fully developed cast (including two kittens) makes for an engaging Safe Harbor Medical family drama (see The Detective's Accidental Baby). Although the theme has been used too often and The M.D.'s Secret Daughter never veers from the linear path, fans will enjoy this fun tale.

Rescued by a Ranger
Tanya Michaels
Harlequin American
9780373754236, $5.25

Affluent and influential Eileen and Philip Hargrove want their four years old granddaughter. The child's mom widow Heather knows they will do anything to achieve their objective including bribery and character assassination. Realistically Heather knows she cannot compete with these amoral SOBs in a custody fight. She vows she will never allow them to have her child so she changes her name and flees with Josie.

Heather and Josie stop in Fredericksburg, Texas. Next door is by the book Texas Ranger Zane Winchester who she meets when she panics while he tends to Dolly after the child fell. . Zane has his own family issues as his ex-wife exiled their teenage daughter Eden from Southern California to live with him; Eden hates Zane. To his amazement, Eden and the females next door become friends. His efforts to become acquainted with the mom are met with scorn and distrust as he recognizes that she is running from someone. As the adults fall in love, her past arrives with a vengeance.

From the onset readers will empathize with Heather's plight as she tries to protect her daughter from their vile paternal grandparents while fearing the Ranger she fell in love with will arrest her. With a strong cast including the former in-laws who believe they are above the law privileged elite, readers will enjoy this taut Texas tango.

Hannah Harrington
Harlequin Teen
9780373210527, $9.99

Sixteen years old Chelsea takes pride over being a gossip who cannot keep a secret and her status as number one BFF to the high school's queen Kristen. At a New Year's Eve party, an intoxicated Chelsea sees Noah making out with a boy she does not recognize. Nauseated she announces what she saw. Joey and Warren say they will talk to Noah. Soon afterward, Noah ends up in the hospital unconscious after a horrific beating in a parking lot.

Kristen warns Chelsea to remain silent or else they all will be in trouble not just Joey and Warren who the BFFs assume assaulted Noah. Feeling guilty she tells her dad. At school, Chelsea becomes persona non grata as a RAT. Vowing to never again gossip, an ostracized Chelsea feels her fall from grace but begins to make new friends.

This is an intriguing teen character study starring a strong cast as seen through Chelsea's firsthand account. Although Chelsea's change of attitude even with fallbacks seems mentally too easy (even a trauma leaves habits hard to break) and abrupt, young teen readers will appreciate this deep look at the wide impact of hate crimes in which silence supports the violence.

Close Enough to Touch
Victoria Dahl
Harlequin HQN
9780373776887, $7.99

After years in Los Angeles to escape a raging former boyfriend, twenty-eight years old broke make-up artist Grace Barrett flees by bus to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Her plan is to stay a short while as she has an employment opportunity in Vancouver. In town she takes the free bus to 605 Sagebrush, known locally as the "Stud Farm" where her Great Aunt Rayleen rented her an apartment.

Grace meets cowboy Cole Rawlins who explains Rayleen only rents to men. A runaway as a teen, Grace trusts no one, not the hunk next door or her relative. As that hunk Cole, Aunt Rayleen, Jenny the bartender and Grace's new boss Eve try to break down her protective barrier, she finds herself making friends and falling in love.

The healing of Grace is a terrific contemporary as she gradually begins to accept that some people have no motive to use and abuse you. Cole has his own issues that he must overcome if he and Grace are to be a loving couple as Aunty Rayleen (think of Patrick Dennis' Auntie Mame in Wyoming instead of Manhattan) envisions. Readers will enjoy the healing power of love as Victoria Dahl provides a warm romance.

Northern Renegade
Jennifer LaBrecque
Harlequin Blaze
9780373797097, $5.25

Marine Gunnery Sergeant Liam Reinhardt had planned a career with the military, but he failed his last physical when a faulty heart valve was discovered. The sharpshooter, who had been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, was forced into a medical retirement. Additionally, Liam's wife divorced him, which is not much of a shocker to the soldier as broken marriages are a second order effect of constant deployments. Needing time alone to consider his options and mentally heal from two strikes, Liam motorbikes to an isolated place he visited sixteen years ago as a teen Good Riddance, Alaska.

His next door neighbor is columnist Tansy Wellington who, like the vet, needs time alone as she recovers from the end of a long relationship with Bradley the butthead, so she came to her stepsister's isolated town Good Riddance, Alaska. When Tansy and Liam meet, sparks ignite. Each feels a short tryst before getting on with their lives is the prefect cure for their ailments. However, neither the former sniper nor the writer wants to end their time together.

The latest Alaskan Heat romance (see Northern Exposure) is a wonderful gender war starring two likable protagonist and quirky locals who are betting on Wellington to defeat Reinhardt. Fans will enjoy the battle as he fears total surrender of his heart and she believes they need to combine forces in love. Fans will enjoy this lighthearted frolic.

Just One Night
Nancy Warren
Harlequin Blaze
9780373797103, $5.25

In Manhattan, World Week editor Gary Wallanger tells his star international hot spot photojournalist Rob Klassen he is on medical leave until he recovers from the bullet to his femur so he tells him to go home. Gary also lectures Rob that his job is to report the news not make the news. Rob heads to the house of his beloved late grandma he considered home in Fremont, Washington.

Realtor Hailey Fleming is listing the house of Rob's late grandmother. When she arrives at the home, she is taken aback by the hunk sleeping in the bed. Each admires the home, and they both annoy and attract one another also. The pair shares Just One Night of mind blowing sex that both want another Just One Night and another. They realize their idyll ends when he returns to the field.

This is an entertaining Wrong Bed romance starring a realtor and the owner of the house she is selling who fall in love with the home before each other. Fans will enjoy this heated tale as love seems not enough to keep this pair together once his thigh heals.

Silent Witness
Shirley Wells
Carina Press
c/o Harlequin
ASIN: B0070Y3N9E; 978037306252, $7.99

Sue Kaminski hires banished cop (and convict) turned private investigator Dylan Scott to investigate the murder of Carly Walsingham. Sue's husband Aleksander, who was the victim's former spouse, was convicted of the homicide. Residing in prison, Alek continues to claim he is innocent; his second wife and his parents believe him.

Though Dylan knows almost all inmates sound honest when they proclaim their innocence and the evidence overwhelming condemns Alek, the sleuth looks at others connected to the victim as possible suspects and finds several with motives. Thus Dylan looks deeper at Carly's second husband Dr. Neil Walsingham, his present and past mistresses (Megan Cole and Sonia Trueman) and veterinarian Dr. Jamie Tinsley.

The latest Dylan Scott Mystery (see Presumed Dead and Dead Silent) is an enjoyable whodunit starring a wonderful lead character who has made strides in fixing his personal relationships (with his wife, mom, teenage son and newborn). However, it is his whodunit investigation that makes for a strong read as Shirley Wells deploys the theory of relativity to great use with several key players painting radically diverse pictures of the victim while the sleuth looks at commonality to support a profile.

Ghost Town
Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson with Tim Waggoner
Gallery Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451613827, $15.00,

In late October at a bookstore in Exeter "the most haunted town in America" books suddenly fly off the shelf like missiles killing employee Tonya Jackson. At about the same time, the Ghost Trackers (Trevor Ward, Drew Pearson and Amber Lozier) arrive in Exeter to give a presentation at the "Dead Days" convention and sell some books.

Soon other mysterious deaths occur that has the three Ghost Trackers concluding that the Dark Lady is behind the paranormal serial killings. This follows by realizing who awakened the dormant Dark Lady; as the trio must choose whether this individual is a friend or foe while a town filled with locals, visitors and three Trackers face death.

The latest Ghost Trackers paranormal mystery is an engaging tale with the protagonists searching for a deadly ghost. Some of the breathing support cast is stereotypical, but the lead trio and the key ghosts are fully developed. Fans will enjoy the hunt for the lethal spirit and the twist of who is the catalyst as this is a fun ghost hunting and busting thriller.

Her Amish Man
Erin Bates
9781451662092, $15.00

In Sr. Louis, attorney Carl Trevathan asks his associate Leah McKenzie to bring a file to him. She enters his office only to watch two strangers kill him. Frightened, filled with blood splatter all over her, Leah flees the crime scene. Later she learns she is the only suspect in her boss' homicide while fearing the killers will come after the only witness.

Leah leaves Missouri for Arthur, Illinois where her estranged maternal family resides. When mom married an outsider, her Amish relatives shunned her. Now, Leah heads to the home of a grandma who she never met and who probably will not welcome her. On the way, she avoids a collision with a buggy driven by furniture maker John Miller, a war veteran seeking the peace of his youth. John takes the unconscious Leah to his mom's home. As they fall in love, he knows she is considered English so Leah is unacceptable by his family. However when St, Louis comes to Arthur, John's decision is made for him.

With a twisting nod to the movie Witness, Her Amish Man is a strong romantic suspense. Leah and John are fully developed protagonists while the support cast provides readers with insight into the Amish community via the reactions to the daughter of a shunned one. Readers will enjoy Erin Bates' engaging tale as Leah finds love admits her maternal roots.

How To Capture A Countess
Karen Hawkins
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451685176, $7.99,

In 1806 seventeen year old Miss Rose Balfour believes she loves Lord Alton "Lord Sin" Sinclair. She goes for a kiss from the seemingly aloof Lord Sin, but suddenly shows her age when she becomes frightened and pushes him into a fountain. Rose flees while Alton sits in a lily pond with everyone laughing at him.

For six years, Sin patiently has waited for an opportunity to embarrass the chit who made him look foolish. He persuades his aunt the Duchess of Roxburghe to invite the Balfour family to a party she hosts. However, his plan to humiliate Rose takes a hit when Alton sees her. She is no longer an inane schoolgirl, but instead an intelligent beautiful woman. As they match wits, they fall in love.

The first Duchess Diaries Regency romance is a fun historical gender war starring two likable wary adversaries and a strong support cast especially the Duchess who swears to not get involved though she is already considering her next matchmaking endeavor. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy this jocular tale as a Rose and a Sin fight, fuss and fall in love.

Targets Of Deception
Jeffrey S. Stephens
9781451688672, $7.99

Because the DC suits betrayed his field mission and allowed his team to die, agent Jordan Sandor left the CIA. He since has become a journalist. A friend from his operation days Dan Peters takes Sander to meet James Ryan to discuss a potentially nasty terrorism attack. As they drive together in Upstate New York, two thugs shoot a trooper and Peters. Sanders quick action saves his life and that of the wounded pair who are taken to a hospital. He later learns that Ryan was tortured and murdered.

In New York, terrorist cell leader Rahmad is upset that witnesses live. He assigns his best assassin to kill Sandor who is back in New York City and has Peter murdered. Rahmad must clean up the mess before his boss CIA traitor Traiman learns of the snafu. CIA suit Covington and FBI Agent Prescott argue over Sandor and Christine Frank the sister of Ryan who is actually James McHugh. Sandor and Frank head to Florida seeking McHugh's best friend Anthony Andrioli as increasingly it appears a new al-Qaeda assault sponsored by Traiman is pending.

This is a reprint of an exciting Sandor espionage thriller (see Targets of Opportunity and Targets of Deception). The storyline is fast-paced from the moment the hero and his friend drive into danger and never slows down. Although I had a problem with the constant switching between the names Sandor and Jordon, and Christine is never developed beyond female sidekick status, Targets Of Deception is an entertaining tale as Sandor trusts the company suits as much as he trusts al-Qaeda.

Widow's Web
Jennifer Estep
9781451651775, $7.99

In Ashland, lovers Gin "Spider" Blanco and Owen Grayson look forward to a future together. However, Owen's ex southern belle Salina Dubois arrives in Ashland planning to restore her murdered father's heritage and take back her lover from his current lowlife lover. Gin, an Ice and Stone elemental former assassin, knows Salina is a powerful water elemental magnolia.

Casino owner Phillip Kincaid hires Gin's Pork Pit restaurant to cater a party. At the gala, Gin prevents an assassin from killing Phillip though she wonders who is behind the murder attempt and why. Meanwhile Gin decides it is time to prove her rival for Owen's affection is a deadly elemental who has diabolical plans for Ashland.

The latest excellent Elemental Assassin urban fantasy spins a different dangerous web from previous entries (see Spider's Bite, Tangled Threads, Spider's Revenge, and By A Thread) as Owen's former lover provides the peril instead of someone from Spider's hit list. Fast-paced, the past haunts the present and future for Gin and Owen who want to give peace a chance but no one agrees.

Tallie's Hero
Sara Luck
9781451673869, $7.99

In 1878 in the Texas Panhandle, Jeb Tuhill plans to ask Katarina Falcon de la Garza to marry him. When he goes to ask her he finds her with his brother Jonas. Jeb leaves for Wyoming where British entrepreneur Moreton Frewen seeks investors and experts for his cattle ranch that has no cattle.

Heartbroken and disliking the coddling of investors, Jeb meets novelist Tallie Somerset, a divorcee who fled scandals in London. Her friend John Astor tells her to follow Horace Greeley's advice so she goes west to Wyoming. There she pretends to be married while attracted to Jeb. He feels fickle for falling in love with the Englishwoman but refuses to court a married woman though he is shocked when Tallie's Hero of her newest novel is him.

Sara Luck's latest western romance (see Susanna's Choice) is a superb Americana starring a fascinating lead couple in several locales but one vivid setting. The story line centers on Reconstruction ending as capitalist barons emerge. Although the reason for the heroine to hide her marital status seems senseless (at least to my twenty-first sensitivities); historical fans will enjoy the romance between the rancher and the writer.

Dangerous Liaison With Detective Lewis
Jillian Stone
9781451629057, $7.99

In 1887, an anarchist begins murdering industrialists and even in the House of Commons' chambers an MP who supports them. When the assassins murder the father of Fanny Nugent, Scotland Yard sends Detective Raphael Lewis to Edinburgh to protect her. Neither is comfortable with seeing one another as several years ago Rafe abruptly ended their engagement.

To his chagrin, she insists on honoring her late dad by entering the London Industrial Exhibition as he planned. Someone ruthlessly plots to prevent her entry. As she learns why he ended their relationship, they remain in love while struggling to survive the lethal trek from Edinburgh to London.

This Gentlemen of Scotland Yard (see An Affair with Mr. Kennedy) late Victorian romantic suspense is a strong historical as the early stages of police science and a Dickensian anti-industrialization fervor merge to the forefront with the romance supporting the action. The lead couple is a delight as they struggle with controlling their second chance at love feelings with both knowing staying alive comes before passion. Filled with fabulous twists, readers will appreciate this taut Old Scotland Yard thriller.

Wards of Faerie
Terry Brooks
Del Rey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345523471, $28.00,

Aphenglow Elessedil the Druid finds an ancient journal documenting the theft of the magical Elfstones many centuries ago. She takes his discovery to his relative Khyber Elessedil. She organizes a team to locate and retrieve the elfstones.

At the same Federation Prime Minister Drust Chazhul wants to eradicate the Druids; as his enemy's extinction would allow his scientific based people to rule the Four Lands. Khyber assigns Aphen to stay behind to protect the Druid city of Paranor, which is where Chazhul deploys his army to attack. Others are also interested in either possessing or concealing the elfstones.

Though the first Legacy of Shannara fantasy has the same overall deja vu feel of many of the previous series novels and newcomers at a minimum need to read the previous trilogy (High Druid of Shannara), saga fans will enjoy the latest quest. Filled with action, readers will want to join Khyber on the search, root for Aphen and boo the intolerant Chazhul.

The Space Between Us
Megan Hart
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778313083, $14.95,

Tesla Martin enjoys serving lattes to her loyal regulars at Morningstar Mocha. Though she likes all her customers, her favorite is charismatic Meredith. The woman can charm a story from anyone; for instance Carlos the writer admitted to jerking off to old people porn.

Meredith turns her magnetism on Tesla. Like all the caffeine addicts at Morningstar Mocha, Tesla relates her wild child history, who along with her brother Cap, is the offspring of commune living swingers. Magical Meredith and Tesla begin seeing the town together. Eventually Meredith persuades Tesla to sleep with her husband Charlie while she watches as a Peeping Thomasine. Tesla is attracted to both of the married couple; while Charlie wants both women; and bored Meredith remains a thrill seeking watcher who lives precariously through the lovers.

The Space Between Us is a deep but strange character study that looks closely at the wants and desires of each person in a threesome. Childhood flashbacks enable readers to understand Tesla's imprint while Charlie's need for two women is also understandable. However, it is the enigmatic charismatic Meredith who makes the contemporary fresh through her obsessive need for an emotional high from the stories of others. "There are eight million stories in the Naked City..." (Naked City) and Meredith needs to hear every one of them even as she leaves her narrators emotionally nuked.

They Disappeared
Rick Mofina
9780778313816, $7.99

Montana mechanic Jeff and Sarah Griffin, accompanied by their tweener son Cole, go on vacation in Manhattan. In Times Square, Jeff enters a shop to buy batteries while his wife and child wait outside. After he completes his purchase he goes to join his family, but they are gone. He searches frantically the stores in the area, but fails to find them.

A desperate Jeff goes to the police whose first inclination is the duo are okay and will see him later and second and only other thought if not he harmed his wife and son. Not willing to wait around, Jeff, feeling guilty over his previous thoughts of divorce, begins a frantic search for his family that leads him into the part of the city that tourists never visit.

This is an exhilarating thriller that never allows the reader a moment of respite as one twist leads to another as the clock ticks. Fans will root for this everyman to defeat the dregs of society as Rick Mofina provides a gripping taut tale summed up aptly by the title.

The Uninvited
Heather Graham
9780778313700, $7.99

In Philadelphia assistant history Professor Allison Leigh works as a tour guide at the Tarleton-Dandridge House. The docent wears attire similar to what Lucy Tarleton wore in 1777 when British General Lord Brian "Beast" Bradley murdered her before occupying the mansion. Everyone remarks how close a resemblance Allison has with the portrait of Lucy.

While shutting down, Allison finds another guide Julian Mitchell dead with his head on Bradley's desk; the victim was killed by the Revolutionary War era bayonet he held. At the same time at a hospital, a guest Todd insists a ghost followed him and his now comatose dad from the Tarleton-Dandridge House to their hotel. Former Texas Ranger turned FBI Krewe unit agent Tyler Montague arrives to investigate the homicide and the coma. Allegedly the Beast's portrait has killed many people over the decades though Tyler doubts a painting can murder anyone. Allison is livid that the Feds sent in a ghostbuster though she is attracted to the special agent as he is to the historian. As they team up, the two skeptics fall in love but begin to believe in malevolent ghosts.

The latest Krewe of Hunters paranormal romance (see The Unspoken and The Unholy) is an exhilarating whodunit with the murder investigation superseding the love subplot. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy a Krewe tour of Philadelphia as Heather Graham deftly mingles ghosts, murder and love.

The Demoness of Waking Dreams
Stephanie Chong
9780778313144, $7.99

The war between angels and demons has heated up with each side unconcerned with collateral damage to humans as the "good" species believes the end justifies the means and the "wicked" side echoes that sentiment. Complicating matters for both enemies is loyalty apparently has a price.

A decade ago, police officer Brendan Clarkson was murdered. He became a guardian angel, but his mortal time as a cop drives him to hunt the deadliest killers. His current target is deadly devious demoness Luciana Rossetti who escaped Satan's hell centuries ago and has been on a vengeance vendetta ever since. Luciana is aware that Brendan stalks her so she sets a trap to take him down in Venice. When they collide, neither is prepared for that messy mortal miasma of love to confuse their achieving their respective goal.

The latest Company of Angels romantic urban fantasy (see Where Demons Fear To Tread) is a superb paranormal species-gender war between two kick butt opponents who make readers believe in the Chong mythos. Fast-paced, readers will wonder how this star-crossed relationship will play out as love and war merges and divides the fully developed lead pair.

Return to Willow Lake
Susan Wiggs
9780778313847, $24.95

In Avalon, New York, BFFs Sonnet Romano and Zach Alger attend the wedding of Daisy Bellamy (see Marrying Daisy Bellamy). However, when the pair shares a night of lovemaking, they see the future differently in the morning after. She leaves Avalon to pursue a fellowship while his plans to marry Sonnet leave with her.

When she learns her mom is carrying with a b high risk pregnancy, Sonnet returns home to be there for her family with plans to leave again as soon as she can. However, instead, Sonnet remains in Avalon to care for her ailing mom as places like Bhutan will wait. Award-winning filmmaker Zach hopes the sequel contains a happy ending.

This is an entertaining second chance at love (on his part) and first chance at love (on her part) romance as fans of the Lakeshore Chronicles will welcome a Return to Willow Lake. Readers will enjoy their latest visit to Avalon learning what has happened to the families of previous novels; at the same the lead couple's future together seems doubtful.

When Lightning Strikes
Brenda Novak
9780778313519, $7.99

Public relations expert Gail DeMarco wants to tell her most important client movie A-list superstar Simon O'Neil that she can no longer help him, but knows her career would end if she kicked this simpleton to the curb. Simon's latest drinking and public fighting binge has led to a judge lecturing him while barring him from seeing his son. He may be the top movie star, but Hollywood is barring him too as he has become unreliable.

To redeem his horrific image and more important custody of his child, Gail tells Simon he needs to marry a wholesome woman. Simon likes the plan and tells his PR agent she is perfect for the role in his fake marriage. She reluctantly accepts the part of his wife but on the stipulation of no sex. They wed and honeymoon in her hometown of Whiskey Creek, California while his public and her family and friends refuse to believe this is not a publicity stunt as the couple begins to believe this is the real thing.

This is a fun romance that allows love to slowly develop from initial cynicism. The townsfolk are wonderful as everyday people who cannot accept that he Hollywood and Whiskey Creek would fall in love. Readers will enjoy the relationship metamorphosis of the lead duet from scornful arguing to teasing love.

The Unfinished Garden
Barbara Claypole White
9780778314127, $14.95

In rural North Carolina, Widow Tilly Silverberg raises her eight years old son Isaac and runs a landscape business as she loves gardens. She misses her late husband David who died three years ago but vows to be there for Isaac who loves "Tarheel" dirt though Tilly would rather be home in England.

Successful software developer James Nealy wants a normal life, but that means controlling his obsessive compulsive disorder that compels him to act even when he logically knows he should not. James thinks a garden would enable him to take his mind off the OCD impulses to avoid dirt and germs. He pleads with Tilly to help him, but she refuses as she dislikes his ordering her to do so. When her mom gets hurt, Tilly and Isaac head to England to be there for her. Her former boyfriend and his child are there while James needs to follow her though he knows she will think he is a stalker.

The Unfinished Garden is a strong character study that enables the reader to sympathize with the grieving mother and son, and to empathize with germaphobic OCD sufferer James while also wondering if he can accept no (and whether he could turn dangerous). His compassion even more than his compulsions bring freshness to the storyline as he is much more than just a disorder although dealing with his shtick can be nerve-wracking on those who want to play in his garden.

The Lovesick Cure
Pamela Morsi
9780778313762, $7.99

In Tulsa, Jesse Winsloe remains in shock after losing her faculty position as an earth science teacher at Lake Grove Middle School due to cuts and being dumped by her fiance principal Greg Wilkinson. Her mom Patsy suggests she visit zillion years old Aunt Will a renowned healer in the Ozarks.

Jesse agrees and heads to Onery Cabin in Marrying Stone to stay with the family's ancient one while her heart heals. Eccentric Aunt Will provides her the smelliest cure for a broken heart, but her putrid poultice apparently fails when Jesse meets single dad Piney Baxley a physician's assistant. When Aunt Will informs Jesse that she is dying, the Sooner begins to relook at all she has going for her starting with family and the real cure for lovesickness.

This is a fun homespun regional romance starring two engaging protagonists and an eccentric support cast. The amusing storyline is at its best whenever the plot focuses on the jocularity of relationships of the heart, but loses some of its passion when the tale turns towards a folksy fable. With the return of stars from previous Pamela Morsi romances (see Simple Jess and Marrying Stone), fans will enjoy How to Mend A Broken Heart; not the Bee Gees but Ozark style.

Where Azaleas Bloom
Sherryl Woods
9780778313694, $7.99

In Serenity, South Carolina Lynn and Ed Morrow are divorcing. Ed chooses golf courses rather than child payments for their two children (fourteen years old Alexis and ten years old Jeremy) leaving Lynn near panicked over have under $25 in her checkbook.

Her next door neighbors Carter and Raylene Rollins (see Honeysuckle Summer) like Lynn and the kids so they have them over frequently for dinners ignoring the proud mother's objections. Also dining at the Rollins' table is contractor Mitch Franklin, who is building an addition for the Rollins. A widower of one year with two grieving sons (Nate and Luke) away at college, he is attracted to Lynn and likes her kids. He offers her office work handling his contract documents. As they fall in love, neither is ready for a relationship because their respective children come before their heart.

The latest Sweet Magnolias romance (see Midnight Promises and Catching Fireflies) is a warm second chance at love family drama in which four offspring matter; as do the first spouses (his love for his late wife makes him feel guilty while her husband leaves her skittish). Although love supersedes messiness too easily, fans will appreciate the tender blending of two families in which with six you get Serenity.

Fall from Grace
Wayne Arthurson
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765324191, $14.99,

Canadian Leo Desroches knows his gambling led to his wife leaving with their kids. He knows the alcohol costs him jobs. Now he knows he got the Aboriginal Issues reporter position in Edmonton because of his mom the Cree and plans to keep it by avoiding his self-destructive behavior.

His editor assigns him to cover the homicide of a Native-Canadian prostitute strangled to death in an Alberta wheat field. He completes his article, which causes a stir. Leo follows up and soon concludes a serial killer is on the loose murdering Native-Canadian prostitutes who society prefers to be forgotten and the cops failed to connect the homicidal dots. Desroches' inquiry leads him to the Edmonton Police Service; only to have several cops abduct Leo.

Desroches is a fabulous protagonist who is a caring person wanting to do the right thing; but loses the battle to his addicted other side. The whodunit is well written as readers obtain a slice of life in Alberta. However, this is Desroches' story as he snatches defeat from victory every time he veers towards success.

The Other Woman
Hank Phillippi Ryan
9780765332578, $24.99

In Boston Channel 11 fired investigative reporter Jane Ryland when she refused to reveal the source of a story in court that led to grocery business mogul Arthur Vick suing and winning a million dollars from the station for libel. Jane knows that Vick broke his promises to call-girl Sellica Darden, who since vanished.

Boston Register city editor Alex Wyatt hires Ryland and assigns her to interview Moira Lassiter, wife of the former governor Owen who is running for the US Senate. Moira avoids the media using campaign experts Trevor Kiernan and Rory Maitland as blockers. When Jane finally gets Moira to chat, what she tells the reporter is a shocker; as she believes her husband is cheating on her. Campaign volunteer Kenna Wilkes and groupie Holly Neff have diverse plans for Owen and his past indiscretions surface. Meanwhile Police Detective Jake Brogan feels a serial killer targeting young women has surfaced when a second corpse near a bridge is found.

The first Jane Ryland investigation is an exciting thriller with plenty of villains (not all deadly) for the reporter and the cop to deal with. Fast-paced there is plenty going on in the several subplots that can become overwhelming. Still fans will enjoy Charlotte "Charlie" McNally's journalist peer taking center stage in this action-packed tale.

Golden Dawn
Thomas M. Kostigen
9780765329332, $24.99

British News foreign correspondent Michael Shea has given accounts in some of the most dangerous locales in the world. However, his motive for reporting the hot conflicts has nothing to do with objective observations; instead it is personal. Michael hunts for his Uncle Sean O'Shaughnessy, an IRA bomber.

Aware of the End Times prophecy, Iranian President Mahmoud Talib decides the present is perfect for fulfilling the ancient doomsday. He enlists O'Shaughnessy and Chechen terrorist Alu Abramov as key elements on a deadly devious scheme to deploy nuclear weapons; his objective is Iranian world domination. To insure there is no interference against his team of killers, Talib's assigns his best assassin Zhubin to kill Shea and his lover mystic Neda Ghazali, whose Golden Dawn sect protects the End of Times prophecy; collateral damage is expected.

Golden Dawn is an exhilarating action-packed thriller that contains too many subplots, which detracts from the fast-paced tale. Fast-paced, the lead protagonists are heroic while their adversaries 200 proof malevolent. With various corpses all over the places, diverse sexual deviant encounters everywhere and differing religious beliefs; readers will enjoy Thomas M. Kostigen's thriller, but hope he tightens the game in his next adventure saga.

The Lincoln Letter
William Martin
9780765321985, $25.99

The discovery of a President Lincoln letter written the day before his assassination would excite historians in of itself. However, the content is what has historians euphoric as Lincoln implies he kept a diary during the Civil War including the months before the Emancipation Proclamation. Everyone wants to find it as a race begins. Among the crowd searching for the historical priceless journal are reluctant Bostonian antiquarian Peter Fallon and travel writer Evangeline Carrington who are tired from the perilous search for historical documents (see Back Bay, Harvard Yard, The Lost Constitution and City of Dreams). Still unable to resist they reluctantly head to DC seeking the diary.

In 1862, Union Army Lieutenant Halsey Hutchinson finds the President's lost notebook. He plans to return it to President Lincoln, but loses it when someone steals the diary. Before he can follow up, Halsey is arrested on a murder charge.

Rotating between the Civil War and the present the latest Fallon "historical" mystery is a fabulous thriller as readers will want to read Lincoln's musings. The storyline is fast-paced, but difficult to accept twenty-first century people would kill hoping to expose that five score and ten years ago the Great Emancipator was a fraud. Still this is a taut tale as the diary seems real.

An Echo Through the Snow
Andrea Thalasinos
9780765330369, $23.99

In 1929 Stalin sends his army into Siberia. His troops viciously destroy anyone in their path. The Siberian Chukchi people watch in horror as their homes and their culture are devastated by the invaders. On the day they become engaged, Keeper of the Guardians Jeaantaa's fiance dies; her Chukchi people hold her culpable.

In 1992 Wisconsin, Rosalie meets Smokey a neglected Siberian husky at a junk yard. Familiar with abuse and phobic shy, she bonds with the dog. Rosalie begins dreaming of a grieving woman standing on ice. Haunted by Jeaantaa, Rosalie obtains Smokey over her raging husband's spittle. Not long after that rescue, Jan and Dave hire Rosalie as a dog handler for their sled and kennel.

Rotating viewpoints between the lead women who share in common a love of huskies, readers obtain a deep look at two diverse cultures. The destruction of the aboriginal Chukchi is harrowing and timely while readers will admire their resiliency. Rosalie's subplot is well written but difficult to accept. Why anyone professionally involved in dog sled racing would hire a worker with a poor record and no experience to become their dog handler is beyond me; albeit even accepting mystical channeling from Jeaantaa that turns Rosalie into an overnight superstar.

Daughter of the Sword
Steve Bein
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451464774, $16.00,

In the Heisei Era Year 22 (2010 in the Julian calendar), Tokyo Police Detective Sergeant Oshiro Mariko works in the narcotics division where her superiors and peers believe no female belongs. Her direct reports boss Lieutenant Hashimoto is particularly hostile towards her as he treats her with disdain and gives her the dregs of assignments.

Hashimoti tasks Mariko to investigate a failed attempted robbery of a centuries-old samurai sword. She finds out the blade is one of three forged by the legendary Master Inazuma, whose swords allegedly contain magic. Mariko also learns the secret history of Inazuma's magical swords as she begins to believe she is the latest chosen warrior using one even as the power threatens to destroy her.

This is a great police procedural urban fantasy that deftly rotates between Mariko in present day Japan and other warriors in past eras; the deep background in the various time periods enables readers to tell the taut storyline is real. Fast-paced from the moment Mariko starts her official inquiry into the failed theft and never slowing down, readers will the first Fated Blades thriller.

Lord of the Mountains
S. M. Stirling
9780451464767, $27.95

In Change Year 25/2023 AD, the war over control of what was the western United States between Montival and their allies like Clan Mackenzie and the Bearkillers against the Church Universal and Triumphant and its ally the United States of Boise continues. Recently Montival has won several battles. However, Montival High King Artos I (formerly Rudi Mackenize) possessing his Sword of the Lady and his Queen Mathilda (Arminger) know many more will die before peace can be achieved.

Directed by the Prophet, the amoral President of the United States of Boise attacks the forces of Montival and its allies. In turn Rudi deploys operational countermeasures to prevent a major breakthrough by the enemy.

The latest exciting next generation Change entry (see The Sword of the Lady and Tears of the Sun) goes deeper into a military fantasy as much of the storyline focuses on modern day troop deployment in a pre-technological world. The storyline is fast-paced from the onset and never slows down with an emphasis on the importance of tactical and symbolic leadership as the keys to the victors of this battle (though a glossary of the diverse groups and key players would help). Fans of the saga will appreciate this strong tale as the overarching theme moves forward while the loss of Rudi's longest running ally will be felt by all.

Queen of Wands
John Ringo
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781451637892, $25.00,

In Algomo, Mississippi devout Christian Barbara Everette is a soccer mom raising three kids (Allison, Jason and Brooke) and a husband Mark who appears to be in charge. Barbara asks Mark if she can take a needed respite from the family, which he approves as he assumes she will take a few days in Gulfport to clear her head. Instead, the Foundation for Love and Universal Faith (FLUF) agent has been hearing voices and seeing demons riding on people unaware of them. Barb assigns her oldest offspring teenage Allison to run the house while she is away.

Barb consults with sexagenarian FLUF agent Sharice Rickels who tells her she has gained the Gifts of the Sight of demons and the Ear of the thoughts of demons and other creatures. FLUF operative and Special Circumstance FBI consultant Augustus Germaine asks Barb and Sharice to come to Chattanooga where Asatru priestess Doris "Janea" Grisham is near death because her ka has been removed from her body. FBI Agent Kurt Spornberger arrives from Atlanta working the Madness cases as he and the FLUF operatives head to Moccasin Bend Mental Health Facility where evil abounds with walking dead people who lost their ka and ba. As Janea fights for her existence, Barb and associates fight to prevent a zombie takeover.

The sequel to Princess of Wands is a fun urban fantasy starring two intrepid heroines fighting evil on different planes though the book comes across more like three interrelated satirical tales rather than a novel. Mindful of Julie Kenner's amusing Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom but bloodier and gorier, fans will enjoy the adventures of Barb and Janea even with an odd ending.

Ice And Shadow
Andre Norton
9781451637915, $12.00

Ice Crown. The archeologists arrive at planet Clio searching for Forerunner ruins. The outsiders have been briefed about no involvement with the feudal natives. One of the off-worlders Roane takes shelter in an abandoned tower from a violent storm. Also waiting out the torrent in the tower are native armed men and a tied up battered female. Unable to remain aloof, Roane intervenes by freeing local Princess Ludorica. They escape together as Roane pretends she is a native, but soon helps the woman find the lost Ice Crown left behind by the ancient "Guardians" to enable the royals to rule.

Brother to Shadows. On the planet of Asborgan, The Shagga Priest expels Jofre from the brotherhood of assassins. He arrives at slummy Stinkhole where he rescues Zurzal the reptilian alien from muggers. Zurzal hires Jofre as his bodyguard while he searches for the several eons old ruins from the first galactic colonization. Others want the relics and try to kill the alien and his personal protector while the priest sends assassins to kill Jofre.

These are reprints of two entertaining Andre Norton "Forerunner" science fiction thrillers though neither is among the super saga's elite as both contain muddled plots.

When Diplomacy Fails
Michael Z. Williamson
9781451637908, $24.00

Ripple Creek Security assigns their best personal protection team to guard a client disliked by everyone in the firm. World Bureau of State Minister Joy Herman Highland is running for office while her bureaucratic obnoxious past has made her several enemies including people who worked for her. Still Alex Marlow and the team will do what it takes to keep Highland safe in spite of her campaign publically announcing everything in advance.

Highland's supporters fake an attack, which angers Ripple Creek. However, Highland's recent history comes home to roost when a real assaults occur. The security team protects the client from several shadowy adversaries who do not appear to be working as a cohesive team and some of the foes actually may be working for Highland.

The latest Freehold prequel (see Better to Beg Forgiveness and Do Unto Others) is an enjoyable political techno thriller that pulls no punches when it comes to the most dangerous species in history: politician sapiens. The storyline is fast-paced as the Ripple Creek unit tell the adventures in a sarcastic manner when it comes to Highland and her assistant while enjoying taking the fight to their client's myriad of enemies (though they admit to each other they would like to place an explosive up Highland's butt). Though there is a deja vu feel to the tale, this is a fabulous timely entry as the politician sapiens will do anything to win an election.

Supernatural: Rite of Passage
John Passarella
Titan Books
144 Southwark Street, London SE1 OUP, UK
9781781161111, $7.99,

Tora arrives just after a violent thunderstorm hits Laurel Hill, New Jersey. Wearing a bower hat and carrying a cane, he begins his carnage with three diligent experienced roofers falling to their deaths. He follows that up with a man on a ladder cutting his artery and three veteran parachute divers splatting the ground. Soon major deadly accidents come next.

Supernatural Hunters Bobby Singer and Sam and Dean Winchester are in Upstate New York taking out the three deadly Yerakides Harpies sisters. Following that mission, they head to Laurel Hill to deal with a paranormal psychopath. They inform the police that the recent deadly accidents and explosions are caused by amoral thieves planning a major series of robberies. However, as they work the case, the trio realizes they are not dealing with the Avengers' Steed, but with a powerful Japanese demon who thrives on lethal emotional chaos.

The latest super Supernatural adaptation (see Fresh Meat) occurs between TV Season 7, "Time for a Wedding" and "How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters". The storyline is fast-paced even before the three hunters arrive to challenge Tora as the harpies' segue is exciting though Lucifer's appearances are becoming weary. Tora with his demonic pleasure in what he has wrought while having a diabolical outcome in mind brings a fresh evil to John Passarella's strong thriller.

Murder Most Austen
Tracy Kiely
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250007421, $25.99,

Elizabeth Parker knows her future is nebulous as she is unemployed and unsure of her relationship with her boyfriend Peter. However, Elizabeth puts aside her woes as she and her great-aunt Winnie Reynolds fly to the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath; where the great author placed Northanger Abbey.

At the gala they run into Winnie's friend Cora Beadle and her daughter Izzy. When Professor Richard Baines announces his shocking theory that Ms. Austen's death was caused by syphilis, the Janeites are irate and think he is a lunatic; Cora especially rages. Soon after his pronouncement, someone stabs to death Baines at the Regency Masked Ball where he was garbed as Mr. Darcy. The police suspect Cora, his most vocal acerbic critic. Elizabeth and Winnie investigate and quickly find several other people with stronger motives than Cora to kill Baines.

The latest Elizabeth Parker Janeites amateur sleuth (see Murder Most Persuasive; Murder on the Bride's Side and Murder at Longbourn) is a terrific cozy due to a strong cast and scenes from out of Northanger Abbey. Elizabeth is a wonderful heroine as she works the case with assistance from her well-meaning but often mistaken Aunt Winnie. Though the engaging storyline offers few spins, sub-genre fans will enjoy Murder Most Austen as Jane stars.

Death on Telegraph Hill
Shirley Tallman
9781250010438, $24.99

In 1882 lawyer Sarah Woolson and her brother crime reporter Samuel attend a reception for visiting Irish poet Oscar Wilde the champion of the Aesthetic Movement at the Telegraph Hill home of San Francisco Weekly owner Mortimer Remy. After an interruption by a rival editor and a long winded talk by Wilde, the siblings leave. However, on the way home, a gun man shoots Samuel.

Irate at the near death of Samuel though she also realizes she may have been the target, Sarah investigates with the goal to expose the shooter; her family is appalled as they fear for her safety from this unknown assassin. At the same time the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals hires Sarah to represent them in a law suit to prevent a wealthy Mexican with city backing from building a bull-fighting ring.

The latest Sarah Woolson Mystery (see Scandal on Rincon Hill) is a fabulous historical whodunit starring a brave woman whose law practice is struggling as few clients want a female attorney. The storyline contains a strong amateur sleuth investigation and a solid legal case as Shirley Tallman provides a deep look at 1880s San Francisco.

A Killing in the Hills
Julia Keller
9781250003485, $24.99

At the Salty Dawg restaurant in Acker's Gap, West Virginia, seventeen year old Carla Elkins waits for her divorced mom, Raythune County's prosecuting attorney Bell Elkins, to arrive. Instead the teen watches in horror as a gun man shoots in the heads three elderly men (sexagenarian Daniel Dean Streeter, septuagenarian Paul Arnold "Shorty" McClurg, and octogenarian Ralph Leroy Rader) drinking coffee together. The trio dies instantly.

Sheriff Fogelsong leads the investigation in which many saw the horror unfold, none can describe the executioner. Bell, who has worked closely with Fogelsong on illegal prescription drug trafficking, joins the inquiry. Meanwhile Carla, displaying teen resilience by recovering emotionally rather quickly, decides she is best suited to helping her estranged mom find the killer and get closer to her mother too. At the same tome the local drug chief puts a bounty on Bell.

A Killing In The Hills is a terrific Appalachia murder mystery with a strong cast who brings to life dying in the hopeless whirlpool of poverty. The mother and daughter duet keep the vivid tale focused, but it is the residence of Acker's Gap who turns Julia Keller's thriller into one of the best regional whodunits of the year.

Last Lawyer Standing
Douglas Corleone
9780312552282, $25.99

In Honolulu, Assistant U.S. Attorneys William F. Boyd and Audra Levy offer criminal Turi Ahina a deal if he wants to avoid a long sentence for his meth lab. They expect Turi to go undercover inside the gang led by drug lord Orlando Masonet whom no one seems to have met. However, the cops arrest Turi for shooting Police Detective Kanoa Bristol. For the zillionth time, criminal defense attorney Kevin Corvelli defends Turi using the cop is corrupt as their arrack.

Running for reelection, Hawaii Governor Wade Omphrey, though not charged as he has an alibi, retains Corvelli when his mistress Oksana Sutin is found dead due to strychnine poisoning. The case remains unsolved but the damage to the Governor's bid for a second term seems insurmountable while Corvelli assignment is persuading the cops his client did not hire hit man Lok Sun or any other pro.

The lasts Corvelli legal thriller (see Night on Fire and One Man's Paradise) is an exciting though by the book Hawaiian tale in which the protagonist paints the cops on the take while convincing the same cops whose reputation he nukes that his other client is clean. Fast-paced and filled with twists though some seem obvious; fans will enjoy this entertaining complicated mystery as cynical Corvelli works his two cases in his wisenheimer manner.

Murder of a Beauty Shop Queen
Bill Crider
9780312640170, $25.99

At the Beauty Shack in Clearview, Texas someone mashes in the head of hair stylist Lynn Ashton using a hair blower. Blacklin County Sheriff Dan Rhodes leads the homicide investigation.

Owner Sandra Wiley, who found the corpse, tells Rhodes that Lynn was waiting for a late client after her and her other two employees (Abby and Lonnie) left for the day. He quickly learns Lynn apparently had trysts with married men and blackmailed them though Rhodes cannot confirm either of these allegations. While he and his team investigate the Murder of a Beauty Shop Queen, the murder of Jeff Tyler occurs. At the same time someone steals copper and car batteries, a pregnant Terrorist Terror of a goat frightens the townsfolk and amateur sleuth Seepy Benton insists he is not fictional sheriff Sage Barton.

The latest Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mysteries (see The Wild Hog Murders) is a strong police procedural. The key Rhodes' investigation is the enigmatic Lynn proves to be a mystery with every potential clue to whom she really was only obfuscating the inquiry. Benton provides comic relief to an engaging Texas whodunit as immigration and high school football collide.

The Barbary Dogs
Cynthia Robinson
9781250007278, $14.99

Wannabe poet Frank Kelly jumps off the Golden Gate Bridge. The suicide victim left behind a note asking his longtime friend opera star Max Bravo to handle his estate. Max quickly goes through the phases of grief as he concludes a dead friend in need is a pest.

The bisexual baritone becomes interested in Frank's swan dive when he finds a journal written in two distinctly different handwritings. Speculating that maybe Frank's final act was not a simple curtain call, Max learns the other scribe besides Frank appears to be thug Duffield Waverly Fallon, who died in the 1906 earthquake. With Dixie the Pug, the ghost of his Roma grandma and the streets of San Francisco, Max sings to Duffield's tune.

The latest Max Bravo caper (see The Dog Park Club) is an amusing wry paranormal frolic. Fast-paced, fans will want to accompany Max as he struggles with Fallon pulling his strings until he finally concludes the show will go on until he completes the demands by the ghost who acts as much like a prima donna diva as a Barbary Coast hooligan.

The Resistance
Peter Steiner
9781250003713, $26.99

In 1974, Secretary of State fires CIA espionage agent Louis Morgon after lecturing the field operative for incompetency and probably being a traitor. Stunned, Louis loses his wife and two children when they leave him as his spouse says he has become a withdrawn stranger to them. Despondent, he goes to France to live.

Morgon purchases a fixer-upper in Saint-Leon-sur-Dême. During the renovation he finds hidden documents and pistols tied to the French resistance in a crawl space under the floorboards. Believing a crime was committed during the Nazi occupation, Morgon brings the cache to his friend police officer Jean Renard. The gendarme feels personally affected as his father had the identical job as the letter writer under the Vichy puppet regime. Increasingly Morgon and Renard believe someone betrayed the resistance during WWII.

This is a superb Louis Morgon thriller (see L'Assassin and The Terrorist), which raises questions about war crimes, patriotism and survival when an occupied army controls your country. Ironically, Morgon plays less of a role than usual as he is more the second banana catalyst enabling readers to learn what happened in WWII France. Instead characters from the 1940s like Simon the Berlin Jewish French resistance leader, marvelous Marie and Nazis with hearts make this a winner as war is hell on everyone except fat cat chicken hawks.

Bloodstar: Star Corpsman
Ian Douglas
Harper Voyager
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061894763, $7.99,

The Salvationists colonized Bloodworld in the Bloodstar system as a perfect hell where the fundamentalist group can suffer penitence for mankind's sins. However, the enigmatic Qesh make initial contact on this hostile volcanic planet when they attack the fanatics who are divided whether to fight the demons or except punishment.

Humans first learned about the existence of the nomadic Qesh several decades ago, but found very little information on these migratory race who devour planets. The interstellar Fleet Marine Force sends Bravo Company including the Black Wizards to Bloodworld to battle the hostile Qesh. Black Wizards Navy Medic Elliot Carlyle has not completed his training when he sent with the Black Wizards to Qesh where the rookie with no combat medicine experience becomes the salvation or extinction of mankind.

This is an excellent futuristic military science fiction as Ian Douglas provides several fascinating societal issues inside of an action-packed thriller. Readers will ponder over the prejudice against reanimated humans, the rights of an outside the mainstream religious sects' right to sacrifice conflicting with the greater society sent to protect them, and first contact complexities. Elliot is a terrific protagonist who struggles to do his job and the right thing; though that at times seems impossible. Readers will appreciate the opening Bloodstar salvo that combines a fast-paced tale with thought provoking concepts.

Devil Said Bang
Richard Kadrey
Harper Voyager
9780062094575, $24.99

Avenging Nephilim James "Sandman Slim" Stark sarcastically thinks what a hell of a way to escape from hell (the second time around). To his chagrin the monster killing monster has become a cosmic joke as the new Lucifer (see Aloha From Hell); a job with more paperwork than a government agency. Stark loathes being Hell's top hell-raiser but also knows with his new armor comes a crosshair encouraging the wannabe horde (from heaven, hell and points in between and outside) to challenge for the filled leadership position.

To escape the bureaucratic work, Stark returns to Los Angeles, which can be more hellish than hell. He soon learns of a serial killing ghost terrorizing the city and worse his angelic side that he needs to become whole again has vanished inside of the lost days as a cabal rewrites reality. Maybe Milton is partially right that it is "better to reign in Hell than to serve" on earth.

The forth dark Sandman Slim fantasy is a fabulous sarcastic satire that humorously continues to mock society and organized religion though at a diminished rate compared to the end of days' twister of Aloha From Hell; as nothing remains sacred inside of the Kadrey pantheon. Action-packed with a nourish feel to the storyline, Sandman Slim learns for the second time you can't go home when someone can alter reality.

Wendy Corsi Staub
9780062070289, $7.99

For three years Allison Taylor has lived in Manhattan. She loves the city that never sleeps. However, she awakens to the horror of the 9/11 terrorist mass murders.

Horrified by what occurred Allison soon learns that lost in the mass murders is the killing of her upstairs neighbor Kristina Haines by apparently the serial killer "Nightwatcher" and that next door James MacKenna searches for his missing wife Carrie who he fears died in the Towers. At the same time homicide detective Rocky Manzillo continues his investigation into ending the Nightwatcher homicides unaware that Allison is marked for death.

The key to this powerful romantic suspense is the impact of 9/11 on New Yorkers as Stalin was wrong when he said: "The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of millions is a statistic;" as the timeframe matters. A murder of one person seems callously minor (except to family, friends and neighbors) when compared to over three thousand dead in a morning. Many first responders died alongside civilians in the Towers and risked their lives afterward at Ground Zero; Manzillo's investigation provides a normalcy like the November 1 World Series game in the Bronx (my husband said you could see the smoke) as life goes on but one must never forget this day in infamy. This is a great thriller.

Hidden Things
Doyce Testerman
Harper Voyager
9780062108111, $14.99

At two in the morning, Josh White calls his sleeping private investigator partner and former lover Calliope Jenkins to ask her to tell his wife Laurel what is going on. After hanging up, the clawed thing tells Josh he is home before killing him. Her live-in lover is irate over the call; Calliope apologizes before telling him to move out.

Police Detective Darryl Johnson and Federal Special Agent Walker question Calliope after informing her that the body of Josh was found just outside Harper's Ferry, Iowa. On her answering machine is a static call from Josh time stamped two hours after he died. Calliope looks over Josh's files before heading to Iowa, but ends up in the Hidden Lands.

This is an exciting noir urban fantasy starring a wonderful heroine who seeks answers only to find more questions as she investigates the murder of her friend. Vikous her guide and mentor brings an aura of mystery to this enjoyable whodunit as the clues are not what they first seem. Though the amusing teasing between the protagonist and her companion can become distracting, readers will enjoy visiting the Hidden Land.

When It Happens to You: A Novel in Stories
Molly Ringwald
It Books
c/o HarperCollins
9780061809460, $24.99

Greta wonders what went wrong with her marriage to Phillip that led to him playing sweet music with their six years old daughter's nineteen years old college drop-out music teacher Theresa. Upset as she thought they were a perfect couple, she turns to her mom Ilsa for solace. Insisting to forgive is divine; Ilsa takes in drug-addicted Milo, whose mother ran away from him. Meanwhile Greta turns to Peter while Phillip turns to Marina, mother of Charlotte's classmate cross dressing Oliver.

The premise of this interactive collection of stories is that relationships are difficult while loving relationships are exponentially more convoluted. The cast is solid as they learn life's lesson that to betray is human; to forgive impossible. Though the last story seems off kilter after the long and winding road to get there, readers will enjoy Molly Ringald's insightful look at people navigating the land mines that complicate relationships.

The Other Half of Me
Morgan McCarthy
The Free Press
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781451668230, $15.00,

In 1988 the Anthony siblings (seven year old Jonathan and his six years old sister Theo) are best friends as they live in Evendon Manor in Wales. Both know their mom Alicia and their nanny Miss Black dislike and for the most part ignore them. Still they have each other as they explore the estate especially the secret garden with its mysterious pool.

Brother and sister know their family has many secrets, but this pair cares about one in particular; what happened to their father. When their alcoholic mom collapses, their maternal grandmother Eve arrives. Eve insists their father died years ago, but Theo thinks she lies to them. Over the years Jonathan worries about his sibling. Theo seems to behave increasingly mentally ephemeral as slowly she is losing her grip on reality.

The Other Half of Me is a dark character driven family drama as the past haunts the present in vivid rustic Wales. Effortlessly rotating between 1988 and 2008, the storyline grips the reader who needs to know what happened to each member of the extended Anthony family.

Stephen Mitchell
The Free Press
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781439163382, $15.99,

This taut well written translation is based on the controversial work by esteemed classics scholar Dr. Martin L. West who claimed passages were added after Homer's original epic poem was first written; Stephen Mitchell omits those alleged additions. The excellent introduction by Mr. Mitchell to his version of the Iliad enhances the understanding of this still resonating narrative poem that glorifies war to make an anti-war case. The essence of the schism amidst the Achaeans (with Godly intervention) and its aftermath as the war with Troy continues with seemingly no end in sight is captured in this rendition of the classic. I have mixed feelings about this edition as I enjoyed reading the Iliad again, but feel some guilt for enjoying Mr. Mitchel's fine translation; back during the latter years of the Vietnam War, I read Richmond Lattimore's version while attending Lehman College. Still this is a great way for newcomers to read a classic ancient Greek epic poem still relevant and for those who have read previous interpretations to compare.

Gustav Gloom and the People Taker
Adam-Troy Castro, author
Kristen Margiotta, illustrator
Grosset & Dunlap
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10014
9780448458335, $12.99,

The neighbors on Sunnyside Terrace demand the city do something about the eye-sore Gloom House and its five year old resident Gustav Gloom. The Mayor's office sends Mr. Notes who asks Gustav if his parents are home; Gustav says he does not know as he does not know where their home is only they are not here on Sunnyside Terrace. After debating rudeness, seventeen minutes later Mr. Notes flees Gloom House.

Five years later, Gustav watches the What family move into the house next door. A shape tells him the younger of two daughters, ten year old Fermie What likes spooky tales. Worried about both girls but especially Fermie, Gustav plans to warn her. When Fermie watches her cat's apparent shadow pursue her cat she follows it into Gloom house. There she finds an enigmatic world in which books exist that have not been written yet and shadows, including her own, dine at a feast. The People Taker plans to abduct Fermie and her family and take them to the Shadow Country; only she and her new BFF Gustav Gloom can prevent this calamity.

This is a great tweener horror thriller starring two delightful ten year old children and a strong support cast including shadows like that of Mr. Notes and the vile People Taker. Adam-Troy Castro's exciting tale is enhanced by Kristen Margiotta's wonderful illustrations that affirm Gustav Gloom looks like the unhappiest child ever seen.

The Treachery of Beautiful Things
Ruth Long
Dial Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780803735804, $17.99,

Siblings Jenny and Tom were walking past some small trees at the edge of woods while he played his flute. She is horrified when the trees grab Tom. Over the next seven years her family takes Jenny to see psychiatrist though the nightmares never abate.

Now seventeen and filled with survivor guilt as well as knowing the trees abducted her brother, Jenny finally returns to the scene of the kidnapping where she hears Tom's flute playing. Following the tune, Jenny bravely enters the Realm of the diverse fae. Frightened but intrepid Jenny stumbles on her quest to bring home Tom. When she meets Jack a broken Fae who warns her to keep her distance, she cannot as she knows Jack would never harm her. Jack and Jenny team up to rescue Tom in a Realm in which betrayal is the norm.

This is an engaging tweener-young teen quest fantasy starring a wonderful courageous but scared heroine and the Fae who has her back (maybe as this Realm is known for The Treachery of Beautiful Things). Written as a series of superb short adventures with Jenny jumping from one fire to another against ruthless enemies, readers will enjoy this entertaining thriller though it never quite feels like a long novel.

Devil's Gate
F.J. Lennon
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781439186602, $15.00,

Kane Pryce burned out after years exorcising spirits though he is only twenty-eight years old. Suffering from PTSD, Kane left his day job as a paranormal Soul Trapper to focus on music as a band guitarist.

Although he vowed to never use his late dad's soul trap to enable spirits to leave earth (willingly or not), Kane realizes that something malevolent entices people to commit kill themselves at Pasadena's Suicide Bridge; these unfortunates remain trapped underneath the edifice. Reluctantly he decides to liberate the captive souls. However, to achieve his lofty objective, Kane must first learn what incarcerates them at the Devil's Gate before he goes after the evil with the Soul Trap.

The second Kane Pryce paranormal thriller is an exhilarating urban fantasy starring an anti-Ghostbusters reluctant hero. Ironically his walk on the wild side of Hollywood music and even crazier trysts seem as dangerous to Kane (self-inflicted) as the wicked monster who haunts Suicide Bridge. Readers will appreciate his latest battle with supernatural and natural psychopaths.

Chase Novak
Mulholland Books
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780316198561, $25.99,

In Manhattan affluent Alex and Leslie Twisden want children, but so far failed to have any. Leslie suggests adoption, but Alex prefers their DNA. Researching what is available, Alex learns of the success of fertility specialist Dr. Kis in Slovenia. Though reluctant, Leslie travels to the European nation with her spouse. Using animal extractions on the Americans, Dr. Kis manages a miracle when Leslie births twins, Adam and Alice though the two parents suffer horrible side effects.

A decade later, the mutant siblings, frightened by the behavior of their cannibalistic parents, run away from home. Alice and Adam seek Dr. Kis to learn what happened to their parents. Alex and Leslie follow their children.

Over the top of Mount Triglav and with a much darker and gorier nod to the movie Splice and the Wells' novel Dr. Moreau, Breed is an exciting thriller. Though Alex's obsession is never understood, fans who enjoy a fast-paced horror tale will relish this entry; while those with squeamish demeanors will either need to pass or diet.

Say You're Sorry
Michael Robotham
9780316221245, $24.99

During a blizzard that cripples much of England, someone brutally murders Patricia and William Heyman in the home. From inside the Heyman house, Augie Shaw called the police reporting the deaths of the couple. The police hold Shaw as the only suspect as he is uncooperative refusing to explain why he was at murder scene.

To help them on the case the police turn to psychologist Joe O'Loughlin to profile Shaw. Joe concludes Shaw suffers from delusions so is unlikely the killer as these homicides were militarily precised strikes. However Joe also believes the suspect conceals something that may not be connected to the murders. Joe and retired cop Vincent Ruiz find a link between the killings and two missing teenage BFFs (Piper Hadley and Tash McBain) who vanished three years ago.

The latest Joe O'Loughlin psychological thriller (see Shatter and Suspect) is a taut tale that starts off as a profile of a potentially schizophrenic murder suspect, but effortlessly switches gear into a race to save the Bingham Girls. The storyline is fast-paced from start to finish as the former cop and the clinical psychologist convince the police that time is running out for the living abducted teens.

Hunt the Wolf: A SEAL Team Six Novel
Don Mann and Ralph Pezzullo
9780316209595, $25.99

Sheik Abu "AZ" Rasul Zaman runs a lucrative international trafficking ring that obtains its product by kidnapping young women and girls to sell to customers at exorbitant prices. With the demand high and the supply steady, the al-Qaeda top level official uses his profits to fund international terrorist activities like the car bombing of the U.S. embassy in Morocco.

SEAL Team Six led by U.S. Navy Chief Warrant Officer Tom Crocker attack a warehouse in Karachi where AZ is hiding. He escapes, but the team finds plenty of evidence on the sex kidnapping trafficking in France and the Syrena apparently invovled with this illegal money making commodity.

The co-authors of Don Mann's memoir Inside SEAL Team Six: My Life and Missions with America's Elite Warriors provide an exciting action-packed thriller though over the top of K2 (not sure why the team took a timeout to climb it). Fast-paced from the opening destruction of the embassy in Morocco and never slowing down, fans will enjoy the exploits of Team Six as they kick terrorist butt.

An Autobiography
Agatha Christie
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062204578, $18.00,

This is a reprint of Agatha Christie's autobiography over a period between 1950 and 1965. Out of print for over three decades, this new edition includes a CD in which Agatha Christie talks about being a writer. Note that the famous eleven-day disappearance in 1926 (see the movie Agatha for speculation) is not explained which in turn is disappointing yet adds an aura of mystery to Ms. Christie. Born in 1890, her late Victorian childhood in Ashfield comes across as idyllic (but somewhat boring) except for her vivid description of her caring indolent dad and the Agatha's Husband game played with her sister. The action picks up in the second act with her first marriage to Archibald Christie, their child Rosalind and her first novel. Her second marriage to younger Max Mallowan during the Depression also provides insight into what made Ms. Christie tick while her characters like Poirot and Marple almost seem real. Ironically readers know of her novels, but few have seen her plays (like Witness for the Prosecution) on the stage. At times in her works, Ms. Christie sympathizes with murderers as their cause was just (see Murder on the Orient Express) which is intriguing. Filled with pathos and humor; and enhanced by photos, An Autobiography by Agatha Christie is a wonderful look at the life of the Grand Dame of mystery

The Roots of the Olive Tree
Courtney Miller Santo
9780062130518, $25.99

In 2006 in Sacramento Valley, five generations of firstborn females live together at Hill House. The matriarch is hundred and twelve years old Anna who has been a widow since 1934 and her three sons died over a half of a century ago; she has one daughter Bets who is eighty-nine years old. Bets gave birth to sexagenarian widow Callie (and four other offspring). Callie had fortyish Deb who just was paroled after two decades in prison for murdering her husband; she gave birth to twenty-something pregnant Erin with no spouse.

Four of the quintet welcome geneticist Dr. Amrit Hashmi who has their permission to study why these females live so long. Bet is the lone hold-out as she knows secrets that no one else, including her matriarchal family members are aware of; secrets she wants left concealed.

This is an odd entertaining family drama in which each first born female possesses different personalities while affirming the problems of bickering generations living under the same roof through first person accounts from the rotating quintet and others including media. With a nod to the Old testament "begat", the seemingly more important segues are not deeply explored (for example, an affair and a first born son); thus keeping the storyline shallow. Still fans who enjoy something different in epic family plots will want to visit Hill House.

And When She Was Good
Laura Lippman
9780061706875, $26.99

In 1989 her abusive father informs young Heloise Lewis "You have a nothing face." At the time she was hurt by his callowness though that was her cruel dad being his usual nastiness. Now she thrives on that non visage as a suburban Maryland single soccer mom who always attends her middle school son Scott's games. A widow, Heather runs the Women's Full Employment Network that is registered with the IRS as a not for profit lobbying for equal pay. However, in fact the firm is a front for a six stable call girl operation.

For a decade Heloise has been a doting mom, a successful madam and a failure lobbyist. However, her construct collapses when she learns that Scott's biological dad Val Deluca, who was her pimp, may get out of prison; a place she sent him to on a homicide life sentence conviction. Though Val knows nothing about an offspring or who betrayed him, Heloise is frightened as a recently caught suburban madam died mysteriously. She assumes Val would expect to return as her pimp or to kill her as he would suspect she betrayed him. Heloise knows it is time to reinvent herself.

Heloise is a fascinating character who co-starred with her sister in "Scratch a Woman" (see Hardly Knew Her anthology). A former call girl turned madam she has reinvented herself in the past, but has the complication of her tweener son. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate Heloise's plight as she leans towards flight over fight.

A Dangerous Inheritance
Alison Weir
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345511898, $27.00,

Katherine Plantagenet believes her father Protector Richard Plantagenet is a great man though she is illegitimate. She detests the rumors she hears about him at his court while her stepmother fears what Richard will do to his nephews. When Katherine falls in love, though she is a bastard, her beloved is unacceptable to her father; and when the princes vanish inside the Tower with her father named monarch in 1483 she loses faith in her sire King Richard III.

Her family pushed her older sister Lady Jane Grey on the thrown after King Henry VIII died. Lady Jane lasted less than a fortnight as Queen. Her younger sister Katherine Grey is somewhat persona non grata due to her family's machinations though she is heir to the throne of Queen Elizabeth I. When she marries without her Majesty's permission she becomes pregnant and Elizabeth incarcerates her in the Tower to insure no male threatens her still uncertain rule.

Rotating the tales, Alison Weir provides a fascinating historical as each shares in common being too close to the throne for the respective royals to ignore. Separately the plots are well written with plenty of the Ms. Weir trademark sense of readers being there. However, the move back and forth between the lead females, who lived several decades apart, requires constant adaptation to whose tale is being told; I would have preferred the first half being Katherine and the end of the Plantagenet reign, and the latter part focused on Katherine Grey and the rise of Elizabeth. Still Ms. Weir provides a strong look at the fate of two women with one deadly degree of separation from the throne.

The Memory Thief
Emily Colin
9780345530394, $15.00

Aidan Kimble informs his wife Madeleine that he, Roma, Jesse and J.C. are climbing Mount McKinley's south face. She pleads with him not to go there as she has a bad premonition. He promises her he will come back to her and leaves for Alaska. Not long after Aidan left, their four years old son Gabe tells his mommy that his daddy just visited him though Aidan is in Alaska. Soon afterward a despondent J.C. calls Madeleine to tell her Aidan died in an avalanche. J.C. vows to be there for his BFF's widow he secretly loves and her son whom he adores.

Nicholas Sullivan wakes from a coma in a hospital. He learns he was in a motorcycle accident, but suffers from amnesia; not even recognizing the pretty woman hovering over him. However, Nicholas feels haunted by a sad woman and a preschooler who he cannot recall ever meeting. Obsessed with learning who they are and why they haunt his dreams, Nicholas searches for them unaware that he is the instrument of fulfilling a promise.

This is an engaging paranormal romance starring a strong cast including the late Aidan (mostly through the memories of his loved ones). With nods to the movies A Guy Named Joe and Always, fans will appreciate this entertaining whimsical contemporary though the romantic subplot feels more like a requirement.

Nightingale Way
Emily March
9780345528780, $7.99

Investigative reporter Catherine Blackburn causes a furor with her latest article. She refuses to cower though threats to her life multiply and though her house has been firebombed. Cat did hire a bodyguard.

Her mom CIA operative Melinda assigns Cat's former husband Jack Davenport to insure her daughter is safe. He secretly observes her as she goes about her life in the DC area without a care in the world though Jack understands why she would feel that way after she buried their baby while he was away and consequently their marriage. Jack knocks out the guard and abducts Cat from DC suburbia. He takes her to his home near In Eternity Springs, Colorado to keep her safe. Cat rages over the kidnapping and that he still works for her mom. As each realizes they remain in love, Cat knows Jack would never give up his work forged in a fire when he was a child while he considers it is time to come in from the cold.

The latest Eternity Springs contemporary romance (see Lover's Leap and Heartache Falls) is an engaging second chance at love suspense thriller starring two fascinating protagonists with his missions serving as the great divide. The storyline deftly merges the healing magic of the town with a mystery and plenty of suspense.

Last to Die
Tess Gerritsen
9780345515636, $27.00

In Ithaca, New York, thirteen year old Claire Ward survives a car crash that kills her foster parents. In New Hampshire, fourteen year old Will Yablonski survives an explosion that kills his aunt and uncle in their farmhouse. In Boston, Massachusetts, teenage Teddy Clock survives the mass murder of his foster family.

Boston PD Detective Jane Rizzoli investigates the Beacon Hill massacre. At the same time, medical examiner Maura Isles takes Teddy with her when she goes up to Maine to visit her teenage ward Julian Perkins at Evensong, a special school for young trauma survivors interested in criminology. Jane is stunned as this is the second time Teddy survived a foster family massacre; she fears the culprit will invade Evensong.

This is a great and enthralling Rizzoli & Isles police procedural (see The Silent Girl) that grips the audience from the opening mass murders and a scene in Europe and never loosens its hold until the final thrilling finish; as fans will want to know who and why. Fast-paced, Last to Die is a terrific murder mystery. This is one author who keeps getting better with each book she writes.

A Sunless Sea
Anne Perry
9780345510648, $26.00

In 1864, Thames River Police commander superintendent William Monk and Detective Orme are rowing the river when they hear a woman scream. They head to the source on Limehouse Pier. A hysterical female shows them the mutilated body of Zenia Gadney.

Monk learns that a scientist Dr. Joel Lambourn visited the victim once a month until he committed suicide two months ago following the government denying his demand for opium product regulation including valid labeling. Monk and his team look closely at Dr. Lambourn's supporting research data that documented the numerous deaths related to the opium trade and the affluent families who have made a fortune on the commodity.

The latest Monk Victorian police procedural (see Acceptable Loss, Execution Dock and Death of a Stranger) is a fabulous timely historical as the "get money out of politics" constitutional amendment was an issue in 1864 London as the capitalists buy the politicians who pressure Monk to cease. Filled with action, readers will relish this strong entry that focuses on a major schism over the opium commodity exchange in which the Golden Rule applies that those who own the gold make the rule regardless of its impact.

The Map of Lost Memories
Kim Fay
9780345531346, $26.00

In 1925, twenty-nine year old unhappy Irene Blum feels that her superiors take her for granted while enforcing the glass ceiling after she fails to obtain the position of curator at the Brooke Museum that she knows she earned with stronger credentials than the chosen male. Henry Simms persuades Blum to resign as he convinces her to travel to Shanghai where she needs scholarly revolutionist Simone Merlin to help her find 10 ancient Khmer scrolls. If successful, Blum will receive the acclaim she deserves and can become curator of her own museum.

Fleeing Chinese authorities following a bloody incident, Blum leads her team (Merlin, Simms, Irene's companion Marc Rafferty and others) to Cambodia and the dangerous jungle. However, each member of the unit has a different secret agenda when it comes to obtaining and using the artifacts while Cambodian heritage protectionists stalk Blum and her cohorts.

This is an exciting historical thriller that brings to life China and Cambodia at a time when the West was still raiding national treasures. Mindful of Indiana Jones though a decade earlier as a peer of Howard Carter's King Tut tomb find, none of the adventurers have altruistic motives to locate the artifacts. Readers will enjoy this terrific treasure hunt as Blum discovers more than just the Khmer copper scrolls.

Close Your Eyes
Amanda Eyre Ward
9780345494498, $15.00

In 1986, eight year old Lauren and her six year old brother Alex fall asleep in the tree house in which they can see Long island Sound while their parents host a party. However, the police arrive arresting their father Egyptian immigrant Izaan Mahdian for killing their mother Jewish-American Jordan with a blow to her head. Their dad is convicted of first degree murder and os spending life at Attica. Their grandparents take in the kids but send them to boarding schools.

By 2010 neither sibling has obtained closure from the nightmare that destroyed their lives. Lauren believes her father is guilty and refuses any contact with him; Alex disagrees as he thinks their dad would never have killed his wife their mom. She is a realtor who vows to never marry though she loves her Gerry while he currently works in Iraq for Doctors Without Borders when he disappears.

Frantic over her brother, Lauren decides to look at the night that changed everything. Meanwhile pregnant Sylvia Hall leaves Colorado for New York to search for her best friend Victoria, who is struggling with drug addiction. They will soon meet and decide whether the truth will set them free.

This is an exciting family drama as the protagonist remains frozen in what she perceives her dad did to ruin everything. The storyline starts off as a fast-paced psychological thriller when the plot abruptly detours from Lauren's investigation to Sylvia and Victoria as if a new tale began (though the two subplots eventually merge). Still this second chance at redemption is a solid novel as Lauren affirms Alexander Pope's "To err is human; to forgive, divine."

The Inn At Rose Harbor
Debbie Macomber
9780345528926, $26.00

Still grieving the death of her spouse Paul in Afghanistan, Jo Marie Rose moves to Cedar Cove, Washington as the owner of The Rose Harbor Inn. The distraught widow prays the B&B overlooking Puget Sound helps her find solace by her reaching out to those staying at her inn.

Her first guest is former town resident Joshua Weaver, who has come home to help his family deal with his estranged dying stepfather. To attend her brother's wedding also back home to where her worst nightmare occurred is survivor guilt wracked Abby Kincaid who was driving when her teenage BFF died in a when her best friend was killed in a black ice crash.

The Inn At Rose Harbor starts a tender Cedar Cove spin-off drama that fans of the parent series will relish (not just because Jo Maria does meet some of the regulars). The three protagonists rotate lead as each struggle with traumas of unexpected death, grief, and inability to move on that connects the trio. Character driven with muted action, readers will appreciate this engaging tale of people coping poorly with the loss of a loved one.

Ground Truth
Rob Sangster
ImaJinn Books
PO Box 74274, Phoenix, AZ 85087-1004
9781610260961, $16.00,

Panicked Anita Hudson calls Stanford University Professor Jack Strider insisting his widowed father H. Peckford Strider was acting weird. Though he considers Peck to be odd, Jack visits his father who tells him the sh*t hits the fan when the news discusses the Pacific Dawn cargo ship containing six dead women. Peck tells his lover Anita she is dead too before he commits suicide.

San Francisco District Attorney Rick Calder informs Jack his father was involved with human trafficing selling young females many of whom had Aids. Rick also says he will find the link to hang Jack. The media storm ends Jack's academic career and his fast track to the Supreme Court. His mentor Sam Butler gets him a job working for former Secretary of State Justin Sinclair. Jack's first assignment involves a corporation working toxic waste removal in Juarez, Mexico. He soon learns to trust no one except his legal firm's Debra Vanderberg as he finds out the Ground Truth means millions of Mexicans will soon die.

This is an exciting legal thriller that grips the reader from the moment Peck puts the gun in his mouth and pulls the trigger, and never slows down as Jack changes his priorities. Though the villains seem more like caricatures of angry avaricious people, fans will enjoy this entertaining international law thriller as nothing is going to break the hero's ethical stride.

Black Moon Awakening
Lina Gardiner
ImaJinn Books
PO Box 74274, Phoenix, AZ 85087-1004
9781610260930, $15.00,

The Therian Senate assigns top field agent Jude Black the shapeshifter to investigate Eideroche Medical Research Center; accompanied to Jude's chagrin by the magistrate's nephew Perry the rookie. A loyal operative for a decade who understands the need to erase completed missions from his brain, Jude has issues for the first time with the Senate as they demand erasing what he knows about the vanishing of his brother Garrett.

Still he and Perry conduct passive surveillance for a few weeks. That changes when they observe two underworld thugs carry a woman into the center. Making an on the spot decision, Jude rescues Letitia Hawkes, but Perry is burned in the process. She is his race's enemy, a werewolf whom he is attracted to. However with his cover blown, Eideroche killers pursue the two shapeshifters as they fall in taboo love.

This is an exciting fast-paced romantic urban fantasy starring star-crossed lovers. Though the villains are evil incarnate with no redeeming qualities, this tale loaded with suspense inside the Gardiner mythos. Fans will relish this entertaining thriller as Letitia teaches Jude the eternal lesson of sentient species: the female turns the male into quivering knots.

By Starlight
Dorothy Garlock
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10017
9780446540094, $25.99,

In 1931, Jack Rucker's job is to shut down illegal speakeasies and arrest the bosses in Montana. He knows fighting comes with the turf and most, if not all, are run by a local mom using mom and pop operations. His current assignment shakes him up because seven years ago, Jack was in Colton where he promised to return to his beloved fifteen year old Maddy Aldridge. Facing her seems more dangerous than the Chicago Mafia.

Maddy runs the illegal speakeasy in the basement of her family's failing mercantile. She fears if the store goes bankrupt her ailing father will shatter emotionally. Her business partner Jeffers is a dangerous mobster surrounded by nasty thugs.

When Jack and Maddy meet for the first time since his promise, both know they remain in love. However, she distrusts him for never coming back as he pledged to her. He knows he must arrest his beloved and Jeffers while shutting down their speakeasy; fully understanding the second order effects.

This is an entertaining Depression Era romantic suspense that brings to life Prohibition in Big Sky Country. The lead couple is a delightful pair at cross purposes while considering a second chance at love. However, it is the speakeasy with mobsters, customers, employees and prohibitionists who make for an enjoyable Americana.

The Black Isle
Sandi Tan
Grand Central
9780446563925, $24.99

In 1922, Ling was born a few minutes before her brother Li. She was the stronger of the twins so starting with the midwife and her parents, Chinese society blamed her for being a female. Her family doted on the male hero while Ling was treated as a lesser sidekick. However, over the next few years Li took care of his sister. When they are seven, they sneak to the park where an old man encourages Li to break the neck of a cat, which he does to the horror of Ling. His action causes a schism between the twins and she suddenly has the ability to see ghosts.

Leaving their mom behind, the twins and their father leave Shanghai during the Japanese occupation sailing to the Black Isle though lonely Ling watched a young ghost swim and kept her brother alive though their blood connection. Lonely Ling sees ghosts everywhere in the Black Isle but ignores them except when her once gentle but abusive father and other men in her life make demands of her. Deciding to embrace her talent, she changes her name to Cassandra.

This is a powerful twentieth century paranormal historical anchored in a gruesome realism that displays the worst of humanity. The storyline reads like an autobiography as Ling-Cassandra tells her epic adventures during several troubled decades. Ling's voice makes for a discerning at times grisly (and repulsive but apropos) thriller in which fans will want to tour The Black Isle during this tumultuous era.

The Pleasures of Men
Kate Williams
c/o Hyperion Books
77 West 66th Street, New York, NY 10023-6298
9781401324230, $15.99,

In 1840 the Man of Crows serial killer has recession-rocked Londoners living in fear. He stabs his victims to death. However, his deadly signature is to stuff their plaited hair into their mouths; carve open their chest cavity; and place a penny on the heart.

Nineteen year old orphan Catherine Sorgeiul lives with her uncle Mr. Crenaban in a home marked by death masks and locked rooms forbidden to her. While she just wants to live with her Grace; her uncle wants to marry her off so he introduces her to Constantine Janisser whose extolled accomplishments have her sarcastically praising him to his amusement. She becomes interested when he mentions recent robberies near his office in which the thief leaves behind drawings of flora and fauna on the walls. Soon afterward Catherine, feeling an affinity to the Man of Crows' deceased, writes about the victims and eventually the killer unaware of what she has wrought on herself and those close to her.

The Pleasures of Men is a superb early Victorian psychological suspense that grips the reader from the moment we meet Catherine whose essays note the sham of Victorian society when it comes to the plight of single women without protection even from a killer. Fast-paced this is a taut historical mystery.

Just Chemistry
Vera Jax
Fanny Press
9781603815123, $12.95,

Logan, head of the successful Los Angeles branch of Blue Dreams Marketing, covets a position on the Board of Directors. He only competition is Martin, head of the equally thriving Houston office and son-in-law of the firm's CEO.

At a conference in Houston, he and Sam, the force behind the success of the Texas' office, meet on an elevator and are instantly in lust with one another. They share a nooner and much more though each recognizes their tryst is not a good career move. Logan's mentor Carl tells him that Martin is having an affair with Sam. He refuses to believe she would behave in such a manner though he ended their long distance relationship. Martin tries to blackmail Sam into a sexual encounter, but she refuses though that means her job. Martin will get the BOD position as previous complaints about his sexual harassment activities has been ignored by his father-in-law, Logan wants Sam back in his life permanently even if it costs him his remote chance at the BOD job.

Just Chemistry (of love) is a super erotic office romance starring two dynamic ethical executives. The storyline grips fans with that opening encounter of strangers in the elevator exchanging lustful glances and never slows down as they team up to try to bring down a protected predator. Although a coincidence brings the engaging lead pair together for the second session and the unlikely ending, readers will sing Sinatra's song Strangers in the Night: "Something in your eyes was so inviting; Something in you smile was so exciting; Something in my heart told me I must have you" as Vera Jax provides a "Lovers at first sight, in love forever" romance.

In Between Days
Andrew Porter
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307273512, $24.95,

On Houston, Elson the highly regarded architect and Cadence are divorced after three decades of marriage. Their two college aged children Richard and Chloe are not dealing well with their parents' breakup.

Cadence calls Elson to inform him that their daughter is flying home tonight as Stratham College has expelled her for an act of violence involving her boyfriend Raja. Elson's ex-wife also tells him that Richard, a graduate student at Rice, will pick up his sister as Chloe does not want to see her dad until tomorrow. With his family falling apart, his lover Lorna increasingly distant, and his career collapsing; Elson turns to alcohol to numb the pain of failure.

This is an intriguing family drama in which a monumental event (the end of a long marriage) has lasting impact on the couple and their children. Although reading more like four interrelated novellas, the Harding quartet are fully developed characters. Elson filled with thoughts of loser acts increasingly irresponsible; Cadence filled with self-pity and regret for marrying him struggles to find an identity besides ex and mom; Richard living at home feels torn between poet and supporting himself; and Chloe stunned by her parents' divorce makes bad relational choices that hurt her and her family. Fans will appreciate this deep look at the impact on people when a key identifier (family role) becomes extinct.

Elie Wiesel, author
Catherine Temerson, translator
9780307599582, $25.95

In 1975 in Brooklyn, Luigi the radical Italian revolutionary and Ahmed the Palestinian anti-Zionist abduct Shaltiel the Orthodox Jew. Luigi and Ahmed demand the release of three Palestinian prisoners in exchange for letting Shaltiel free. They hold him captive for eighty hours while the world media depict this previously nonentity in dramatically different ways.

The two kidnappers treat Shaltiel differently as Luigi has nothing against Jews while Ahmed loathes all Jews. Shaltiel is confused why him as he offers no value to anyone as a simple storyteller who enjoys telling tales. Still while in captivity and facing torture especially from the angry Palestinian Shaltiel begins to tell the story of his life. He starts with his family at Auschwitz where his grandmother died while a Nazi officer hid him. He thinks of his first meeting with his future wife Blanca and other family matters over the years as time is running out.

This is a taut thriller starring three fascinating but diverse individuals. Shaltiel tells his story while defending Israel's position towards the Palestinians as security for the Jewish State; Ahmed makes a case for a free Palestine; and Luigi takes a world position; none of them attempt to truly understand their two "companions.". Although the ending is contrived, readers will enjoy Elie Wiesel's latest work as Shaltiel's past is incredible and his present dilemma interesting with its psychological insight into captivity as everyone is a prisoner.

The Double Game
Dan Fesperman
9780307700131, $26.95

In 1984 young reporter Bill Cage interviews American espionage agent turned novelist Edwin Lemaster. After a few drinks, Edwin implies he considered working for the Soviet Union. That revelation led to Bill's journalist career dying before it began. Over the years he became a public relations specialist spinning stories for his clients. Bill married and divorced April, and they have one child David who lives with her.

Over two decades later, an acrimonious Bill accompanies his dad a retired diplomat to the funeral of a CIA agent. Just after the funeral, Bill receives an anonymous letter encouraging him to follow up on the 1984 allegation as he failed to get the rest of the story. Feeling motivated for the first time since his career died, Bill using references from spy novels, heads to Europe where his dad worked and lives, and where Lemaster's novels are located. In Vienna, he meets a former lover Litzi Strauss, as he investigates the spy who came in from the cold perhaps on the Soviet side.

This is a fun spy thriller that gives the audience a taste of some of the classic espionage tales as Bill turns to them for advice. The story line is fast-paced with much of the fun being Bill's ineptness as he seems more like Davey Osborne in Cloak and Dagger than Ian Fleming's James Bond, Joseph Conrad's Secret Agent, or James Fennimore Cooper's The Spy. Fans will enjoy this engaging frolic through the literary world of espionage literature with a wonderful biography (to include Lemaster's novels) as Don Fesperman pays homage to the genre with his enjoyable spy thriller.

Lionel Asbo: State of England
Martin Amis
9780307958082, $25.95

Lionel's mom Grace had seven children by her ninetieth birthday. The oldest and only female offspring Cilla and the youngest Lionel had the same father. The others (John, Paul, George, Ringo and Stu) came from five different dads. When Lionel was a couple days passed his third birthday, he set the State of England record for youngest felon when he tossed bricks at passing cars. His behavior over the next two decades proved constantly his Anti-Social Behaviour Orders affirmed by Lionel when he adopted the last name of Asbo as being representative of his sociopathic actions terrorizing London by his malt liquor imbibing pit bulls as much as himself.

When Cilla dies, Lionel's fifteen years old college bound nephew Desmond Pepperdine, who is having a tryst with Grace, needs a parent. Grace and the Beatles refuse so it leaves it up to Lionel who is left to hold the bag to mentor his nephew into being a miscreant chip off the uncle's block. At about the same time Lionel wins the wins £140 million national lottery so he turns into an affluent numb-nut Lottery Lout who bores with boring females.

This is an odd but scathing satire that rips the veneer off of a so called caring society in which the real golden rule is to hate everyone as everyone hates you. The biting storyline focuses on the uncle and nephew as the former's hyperbolic activities bring humor while his disappointing book-reading relative adds profundity. Although the over the top of Big Ben mockery is too long losing some of its sharpness, fans of sharp edged lampooning will appreciate the state of Asbo.

Om Love
George Minot
9781400042746, $25.95

Billy Winslow was once in amidst the East Village galleries. However, that seems like a lifetime ago as he has become a has-been. Anyone wondering what happened to Bill Winslow would know he joined the RamAnanda yoga studio on Second Avenue; hoping to find focus rather than his incoherent unfocused lifestyle.

At the studio, Billy is attracted to the youth of Rose, and the elan of Amanda. He and Amanda move in together. Billy heads to California to say his good bye to his dying dad. When, midway through the book, Billy travels to California to be with his ailing father during his final days, Minot finally hits his stride. A genuinely emotional story emerges, and the author takes the reader on a profound journey uninterrupted by random punctuation and yoga terminology. Returning to New York, Billy finds Amanda distant as she conceals a devastating health test results. Grieving for his dual loss of his father and for his relationship, Billy turns to art and yoga for solace.

Om Love is a convoluted fresh relationship drama starring a fascinating lead character. Billy makes the storyline work with his profound but strange syntax. Although several late twists are unnecessary padding, fans who appreciate something oddly different will enjoy yoga with bizarre grammar and weird punctuation.

Three Strong Women
Marie NDiaye and John Fletcher
9780307594693, $25.95

Her estranged father demands Norah who practices law in France, to come home to Senegal. Reluctantly Norah returns to her homeland and her abusive dad to find her brother in prison on a murder charge, her father is looking old, but with another offspring.

Senegalese expatriate Fanta lives a happy life as a teacher in Dakar. However, her spouse Rudy demands she come to France with him where he insists his wealth is; instead she learns the hard way that Rudy is delusional.

Her late husband's family kicks out impoverished Khady with nothing but bread though they mention a cousin Fanta residing in France. With no options in Senegal, the frightened widow heads to France hoping Fanta will help her, but makes a judgment error when a man offers her assistance.

This is a powerful but not an easy read that focuses on the plight of three Senegalese women trying to make it without a man in a sea of male sharks. Each of the title characters are fully developed so that the audience can empathizes with their increasing feelings of hopelessness while their inner fortitude strengthens in contrast. Readers will appreciate Marie NDiaye's insightful look at immigrants from the viewpoints of Three Strong Women (and the men in their lives).

Cool, Calm & Contentious
Merrill Markoe
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345518927, $15.00,

This intelligent collection of twenty essays overall displays Merrill Markoe's mirthful muses though it also contains some serious topics. The anthology starts off with the witty "The Place, The Food, Everything Awful: The Diaries of Ronny Markoe" the journal observations of her mom when she traveled the world; followed by an ode "In Praise Of Crazy Mommies." I second Ms. Markoe's emotions when she explains sharing her home with canine chaos in "Why I Love My Dogs" and "Jimmy Explains His Wake-Up Technique;" as my spouse insists my late marvelous Max was my significant other. In "When I Was Jack Kerouac" and "Virginity Entrepreneurs" readers obtain insight into the author's high school and college days in Miami and the San Francisco Bay area are overshadowed by being raped at Berkley. Readers will relish this strong compilation as all the entries engage the audience who will enjoy spending "Saturday Night with Hieronymus Bosch" and learning the Markoe mantra "On How To Spot An Asshole" boyfriend type.

T.C. McCarthy
Orbit Books
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780316128179, $7.99,

The Subterrene War is over (see Germline and Exogene) and the victors begin a sweep of those Germline genetically engineered female soldiers who refuse to accept termination. Stan Resnick is the best at hunting and executing runaway Germline; so why many celebrate the end of the hostilities, he remains on the job.

Resnick's current assignment is locating a religiously revered figure in Thailand. He knows how difficult her status makes it for him to even get near her as the government protects her. Stan not only must reach this Germline, he needs to obtain her cooperation in his hunt for Dr. Chen; the scientist allegedly tampering with Germlines' expiration measures to expand the lifespan of these genetically engineered females beyond the protocol of two years. Resnick, Lucy and Jihoon Kim begin their quest while rumors abound that the Chinese-Korean "Project Sunshine" has created much worse engineered monsters.

The third Subterrene War urban fantasy continues the profound look at what a human is and what faith is as the Germline believe they belong to God with their "faith and death" imprint while their creators are atheists (except in a foxhole) whose creations are killing machines in God's name. The cast is solid as once again Germlines seem real and the even more way out results of Project Sunshine does too. Ironically Kim used to monitor psychos like Resnick who eat and breathe war as the team up to prevent an engineered combat escalation. However, it is the thought provoking questions about organized governments and religions need to kill in God's name as a stairway to heaven for expendable soldiers that make this trilogy a winner.

Kiss of Steel
Bec McMaster
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139, Naperville, IL 60563
9781402270277, $6.99,

In London, Honoria Todd hides in the dangerous Whitechapel slums from the Echelon as she tries to keep her siblings safe and alive. However, anyone foolish or desperate enough to enter Whitechapel must deal with the master of this slum Blade, infected with the identical vampiric virus as the Echelon.

Blade lives to destroy the beast who changed him. When he realizes that same monster pursues the Todd trio, he decodes innocent Honoria would be a perfect lure. However, the one problem with his otherwise sacrificial scheme is he also needs her blood. All changes when a monster enters Whitechapel, as Blade will do anything including letting her go to keep his beloved Honoria (and her siblings) safe.

Kiss of Steel is an enjoyable steampunk horror thriller starring a vivid radically different London and two seemingly opposite protagonists. Fast-paced, readers will root for the brave intelligent heroine while unsure of the motives of the master of Whitechapel. Filled with action and especially vile villains with the one being particularly evil, fans will enjoy Bec McMaster's strong opening act.

A Lady and Her Magic
Tammy Falkner
Sourcebooks Inc.
9781402268120, $6.99

In 1817 the widow Duke of Robinsworth, Ashley Trimble struggles with the temper tantrums of his daughter Anne. At the same time Sophia Thorn is told she will lose her wings if she fails to help the petulant child. She arranges to meet father and daughter when she intervenes during an incident and calms down raging Anne to Ashley's shock.

Not long after their first encounter, Sophia and her grandma obtain invitations to a house party hosted by Robinsworth. He is already attracted to her, but she reciprocates when she hears him play the piano with passion. As they fall in love, Sophia knows the cost of loving a mortal is while Ashley fears her reaction when she learns everyone believes he killed his wife.

A Lady and Her Magic is a charming Regency romantic fantasy starring star-crossed lovers and a horde of mischievous matchmakers and match breakers. Fast-paced from the first meeting between the scandalized duke, the raging daughter and the feisty fae until the final scandalous encounter; sub-genre fans who enjoy something whimsically different will appreciate Tammy
Falkner's marvelous magical mayhem.

A Place Called Armageddon
CC Humphreys
Sourcebooks Inc.
9781402272493, $25.99

The once mighty Byzantine Empire crumbles from within and from the assaults of the Ottoman armies. By 1453, only Constantinople remains free of the enemy. Advised by Hamza Bey, Sultan Mehmet II leads a force of 100,000 warriors to take the "Red Apple" as a symbol of Muslim supremacy over the weak Christian infidels. Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos leads 10,000 soldiers defending the walled city, but without the professionals he knows they fight a losing cause.

One of these mercenaries Gregoras Lascaris vowed to never go home; as Constantinople is the place where his twin Theon betrayed him turning him into a disgraced outcast; his scarred visage reminds him of what his popular sibling did to him including taking his beloved Sofia. However, he returns to Constantinople to defend a city that he realizes has become a death trap since he left.

This is a powerful fifteenth century thriller that focuses on the Battle of Constantinople by rotating perspectives between various people from both sides. The storyline grips the audience as we learn why some from side come to fight (or defend) like Venusians, Achmed the farmer and John Grant the Scot. Although the myriad of cast can be confusing, each character adds depth to a vivid picture in which armchair fans will believe they are witnessing the siege of Constantinople from within and outside circa 1453.

A Place Beyond Courage
Elizabeth Chadwick
9781402271083, $14.99

Though only in his twenties, John FitzGilbert is the Marshal to King Henry I. He is loyal to His Highness and brave as he controls access to the monarch as well as living arrangements at court. Deciding it is time to marry; John weds fearful Aline and has two sons with his frightened spouse.

When King Henry dies, John must decide whether to support the successor claim of the royal daughter Mathilda or nephew Stephen. H swears fealty to King Stephen, but quickly realizes the nephew is a loser so he switches to Empress Matilda and her son Prince Henry. Taking advantage of the division, he obtains an annulment of his marriage to Aline and quickly weds Sybilla, sister of an enemy the Earl of Salisbury. Sybilla and John are happy together as they raise two sons while he holds on to what he gained until Stephen abducts his child William (see The Greatest Knight for his tale).

This is a terrific biographical fiction that fans of the era will enjoy as John the Marshal proves able, brave and opportunistic in a world filled with intrigue, but is truly tested when his favorite offspring is snatched. The cast starting with Henry I, those at court, John's two families and the civil war combatants enhance a deep look at a fascinating twelfth century powerful "chief of staff".

Enchanting The Lady
Kathryne Kennedy
9781402269820, $7.99

In 1882 London, duchess-of-honor Felicity Seymour is worried that she legally will lose her inheritance as she lacks the magical gifts of her parents; Prince Albert's rule states that no magic equates to no duchy. Lion shapeshifter Sir Terence Blackwell enjoys finding ancient relics, but also is a close friend of the Prince, who asked him to participate in the test of Felicity. She ignominiously fails, but Terence feels something was not right as he experiences a trace of relic-magic in use, which makes no sense.

Terence decides to court Felicity somewhat because he is attracted other; somewhat because he feels sorry for her as she is now a pariah like he is as a shapeshifter; and somewhat because what he believes destroyed her test is too similar to what killed his brother. He needs to know whether Felicity is the user or the victim of dark magic. However, Terence never expected to fall in love with her.

The Relics of Merlin's Enchanting The Lady is a reprint of a fantastic late Victorian romantic fantasy that casts a magic spell on the audience from the moment the heroine expects to fail her test and never let's go until the final magical revelation. The story line is fast-paced with an underlying paranormal mystery that enhances the prime romantic plot; the fantasy elements provide a unique look at 1882 England as Kathryne Kennedy provides her readers with a wonderful thriller.

Plain Fear: Forbidden
Leanna Ellis
9781402267536, $14.99

In Pennsylvania, over seven months pregnant Amish widow Rachel Schmidt Nussbaum feels guilty over her husband Josef's death in a road accident. However, though everyone in her family and community wants to be there for her and her unborn, she believes God is punishing her for her past wilding transgressions.

Rachel first hears his whispers before the stranger appears before her. He offers her a second chance with Josef as he insists she is the only one who could save him and Josef. Filled with remorse and confused, but willing to do anything for her late husband, depressed Rachel agrees to follow the stranger, unaware of the peril she places her unborn in and just who her guardian angel is.

The second Plain Fear Amish vampire romantic fantasy (see Plain Fear: Forsaken) is a superb thriller as the key cast seems genuine even those with fangs. Readers will sympathize with Rachel's unrelenting remorse while she desperately goes off with the stranger. Leanna Ellis entertains fans with this exciting vampiric Amish second chance at life and death.

Magic Gone Wild
Judi Fennell
9781402241918, $6.99

41,646 days ago in Pennsylvanian genie dropout inept Vana Aphrodite struggled with control of her power while making her master Peter's life chaotic and crazy. If she could do one thing for Peter, it would be to convince his family that he is not crazy when he talks about his genie.

Over a centuty later, the late Peter's descendent football star Zane Harrison arrives at his family's Pennsylvania estate. When he opens a trunk in the attic that once belonged to Peter, Zane learns that his lunatic relative was not crazy when he meets Vana. Zane blames her for his family's devastated reputation that still haunts the Harrison clan decades after his great-grandfather died. Vana is shocked by her attraction to her new master, but he coldly informs her he will sell the estate genie and all while she affirms that she remains magically incompetent.

This is an entertaining madcap urban fantasy romance starring a hapless genie and an angry football player who find love in a bottle. With a delightful twist as to why Vana stinks at magic and a warm nod to I Dream of Genie and Bewitched, fans will never look at chess the same way as this is a jocular romantic madcap frolic.

Lightning's Child
Michael A. Smith
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466378094, $17.50,

At GeneWorks in suburban Maryland, Director of Research geneticist Diane Kowalski and her team make a major breakthrough on dramatically increasing the life span of humans. However, someone(s) destroyed her experiments; placing the company at financial risk.

Desperate to prevent anymore industrial sabotage, the firm hires private investigator Jack O'Sullivan to investigate. As she gives him a tour, he struggles to focus on the assignment as images of making love to her keeps intruding on his thoughts. Jack and Diane track clues that take them to GJ Mendelsohn Research Laboratories as they find proof that founder Thomas Winthrop and his family seem to have applied the life span secrets but share it with no one.

This is a superb complex DNA thriller in which Michael A. Smith explores societal aspects of longevity of a family who lives several generations beyond the norm; in other words being able to play with your great-great grandchild. The intelligent storyline is filled with twisting action starting with a car accident that severs part of Thomas' leg and a complicated romance as the past and the future merge with increasing complexities for those in the middle. With a nod to Tuck Everlasting, readers will appreciate this strong character driven tale as taking a drink from the Fountain of Youth is only the beginning.

Brachman's Underworld
Vlad Vaslyn
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463698911, $17.13,

Raging Delilah Brachman visits Lowell General Hospital to see her dying father the colonel; whom she has not seen in twelve years. He apologizes for pushing her away when she was twenty, but Del tells him to stuff his too late at being there for her. Still she gives him hope that she forgives him but sarcastically dashes it with euphoria that he is dying. Del leaves only to get caught with a little boy in a crossfire between cops and a felon; she shields the child with her body.

When Del awakens she learns the only decent thing she did in her miserable life has given her temporary in-betweener status with six days to find a way to avoid oblivion. Her ticket is to ride the Tuesday Train while awaiting judgment. In her take no prisoners style Delilah battles Noc the diabolical lonely demon and Honest Jack the torturer. Combating this pair and other hellish, heavenly and outside entities is child's play for acerbic Del who holds all with contempt as she rips asunder horns and halos by tearing away their veneer. However, Del faces internal strife when she meets Lucy who offered her friendship and is attracted to Kevin as her manta is the only good relationship is no relationship.

Sarcastic Delilah brings freshness to the afterlife in Other Lowell and Lowell with her attitude towards others humans, demons, believers, etc. as she makes Don Rickles seem more like Mother Theresa. Readers will surprisingly go from believing Del gets what she wrought to empathizing with her as her emotional defense mechanism in life and death is hammering others. The acrimonious protagonist makes Brachman's Underworld a unique reading experience.

Murder Among Friends
William Cahn
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470173333, $14.95,

In 1946, Robert Stevens, Kingsland Gordon and David Penner meet at Midwestern University. They quickly become roommates and best friends. A few years later all three are successful, but remain roommates. Robert becomes Wade County District Attorney; Kingsland is a highly regarded lawyer; and David a super salesman.

Late at night, Robert orders Kingsland and David to his office. Police Inspector Spahn and Detective Carr arrest David for murdering with a fireplace stoker his boss Pierre Lancer, the father of his fiancee Georgette. Robert pleads with a stunned Kingsland to defend their friend as the DA believes his pal is the best attorney in the county; he reluctantly agrees though he is not a criminal lawyer.

This is a terrific post WWII era legal thriller that brings to life the 1950s in New York State. The story line focuses initially on the cherished close friendship between the lead trio who possess different personalities before switching to the murder case, which appears to end their tight relationship. The legal scenes are top rate as readers obtain a deep look at courtroom rights a decade before Miranda. Though the storyline starts slow as fans meet the amigos, William Cahn provides a fabulous historical.

Willow Rose
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781477662397, $16.08,

In 1983 after completing three years of med school at a university in his home country Denmark, twenty-two year old Christian Langaa is unhappy that his dad arranged with a friend Dr. Kirk for his son to stay in St. Augustine while attending med school there. He would prefer to stay home until he sees the country club opulence he will reside in for the next year and meets Maria the maid who will do his laundry and cooking unlike back in Odense since his mom died. Making it even tastier to the Dane is his host's daughter Heather and her friends.

Christian, Heather and others go on a trek to show him a live alligator in the swamps. However, he soon finds himself in a deadly situation until a jaguar appears out of nowhere to pull him from the alligators to safety before vanishing. Confused, Christian begins having visions that include his feline rescuers and wondering about the beautiful neighbors who seem to possess supernatural powers. When he meets Aiyana from next door residents, Christopher falls in love but the jaguar haunts him.

The first Daughters of the Jaguar thriller is a terrific romantic urban fantasy starring a male who seems to have it all and knows it. The character driven storyline narrated by the Danish medical student grips the audience from the moment the arrogant Christian finds the swamp too wild for his tastes and never slows down as he learns lessons in humility while obsessing over mysterious Aiyana.

Redwine Hill: The Secrets At Primevil Asylum
L.L. Stolmeier
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781477679883, $13.99,

When one turns sixteen, one turns insane. Collectors stalk teens to rob them of any values they have and take them to the nearest asylum. Teen orphan Charlotte C. Carrion knows she may turn crazy, but plans to elude being caught and locked up. When she turns sixteen while inside a Boston bakery, a Collector quickly catches Charlotte and with his gang escorts her to the nearest asylum Redwine Hill;, known by teens as 'Primevil' where torture and death await the incarcerated.

At Primevil, after a three month adjustment in solitary, Charlotte finds conditions at best nightmarish, but makes friends with Serenity and former inmate turned guard Jared. Charlotte realizes many of the inmates die and wonders why when Serenity disappears. Fearing the worst, a resolute Charlotte plans to find what happened to her new BFF and will risk her life to rescue Serinity if she still lives; while Jared tries to keep the brave teen safe.

Using the premise that almost all teens go crazy at sixteen so they need a lockup, Redwine Hill is a dark exciting horror thriller. Ye who enter Primevil Asylum to learn its evil secrets will find the place gory and deadly. Atmospherically gloomy with the only light coming from resilient intrepid teens like courageous Charlotte "Cantankerous" Carrion (adults are one dimensional losers) who are struggling to survive in a sort of like Lord of the Flies hellish prison with sadistic adult former inmates violently ruling the roost.

The HellandBack Kids: Be Careful What You Wish For
L. Helland
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781453852187, $12.05,

In the middle of the night in Boston, tweener Chris Hellandback runs into his parents' bedroom insisting something is in his closet. His father checks mumbling they may be back. He returns to his bedroom saying there is nothing in the room and that Chris and his siblings (Brittany; Trisha and Jon) will spend time with their great-grandmother in Scotland.

None of the kids look forward to boring Scotland with no electrons, but almost upon arrival they realize their elderly relative's ancient hospital she calls a home is filled with odd residents, wonderment and magic that transports them to diverse scenarios testing their weaknesses. Chris ends up in the realm of the world of the Bundlebobs where he meets the spirit of his late great-grandfather Alastair. Brittany ends up in fourteenth century London during the great bubonic plague pandemic. Trisha finds herself sleeping in a coffin in which she ends up in eighteenth century England where the man of her dreams is a nightmare. Jon lands in a corporate jungle filled with hostile boardroom betrayers who loath him as the anointed heir to the CEO.

This is a superb middle school fantasy as the adventures of the children rotate. The key to this exciting storyline is how different the personalities of the fearsome foursome are while confronted with nightmarish decisions that challenge your self-esteem while forced to face one's greatest weakness (fear). Fans will understand why The Hellandback Kids: Be Careful What You Wish For has won several awards as they each of the stars go off on a dangerous adventure.

Loving Lady Marcia
Kieran Kramer
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250009883, $7.99,

In 1814, fifteen year old Lady Marcia Sherwood meets the Lattimore brothers when they travel together to Liverpool. She is attracted to one of the siblings, but Finn breaks her heart leaving for the States the morning after her sixteenth birthday.

In 1819, the other brother Duncan sees her and knows he remains attracted to her as he learns she teaches school. When Marcia comes home, she finds Duncan there. He tries to court her but Marcia ignores his efforts though Duncan is unsure why. Marcia has rejected romance ever since Finn rejected her. At the same time an unscrupulous rival goes after her school while Finn is back from America. Duncan knows he has his work cut out to win the heart of the woman he loves.

This Regency romantic version of the Brady Bunch is an amusing historical with not so subtle references to the TV show; for instance, the names of the cast including Alice the housekeeper. Readers will enjoy this jocular jaunt while looking forward to more episodes from the Brady Bunch.

Soul Trade
Caitlin Kittredge
St. Martin's
9780312388256, $7.99

The denizens of Black London do not allow maternity leave as new mom Pete Caldecott can affirm. Neither does the Prometheus Club who, at a cemetery invites mom (and she her boyfriend Jack White) with an offer she cannot refuse to attend (or die) one of their secret gatherings. Jack says they should gracefully decline as he knows of this exclusive club, but Pete disagrees as she thinks they need to work with the members as they do not need another adversary.

The pair gets involved in Prometheus Club vicious in fighting while they learn why their new "allies" came to London, which places them in peril from all sorts of paranormal powerhouses. Meanwhile, Pete is haunted by a not any longer cold case in which she failed to protect children and Jack's past also returns in an ugly manner. Then there is Morwenna the dealer.

The latest Black London (see Devil's Business) urban fantasy is a superb entry as the heroine poorly balances motherhood with battling some nasty sorts including a form of PTSD as she has emotionally internalized her failures. Readers will appreciate this strong storyline as the working mom and her mate once again confront and kick butt evil.

Powdered Peril
Jessica Beck
St. Martin's
9781250001061, $7.99

In April Springs, North Carolina, Grace Gauge visits her BFF Suzanne Hart to tell her she ended her relationship with Peter Morgan as she claims he cheated on her. Early the next morning Suzanne arrives at her Donut Hearts donut shop only to find yellow paint splattered on her front window and bricks; the paint bucket nearby. She calls the police. Suzanne notices footprints in the paint and follows them to nowhere. ASPD Officer Grant arrives.

Chief Martin, who is seeing Suzanne's mom, informs her they caught the vandal, Peter Morgan, but someone murdered him. With Grace as a prime suspect especially after her slapping down the victim and his apparent retaliation via her BFF, she and Suzanne investigate the homicide only to find several people besides cuckolded females with motives for wanting Peter dead.

The latest Donut Shop Mystery (see Drop Dead Chocolate, Killer Crullers and Sinister Sprinkles) is an engaging amateur sleuth as the intrepid duo investigates who murdered the sleaze. The storyline is an enjoyable regional culinary cozy due to the small-town relationships including the donate maker adjusting to a new assistant.

Sleep No More
Iris Johansen
St. Martin's
9780312651244, $27.99

Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan suffered for years with nightmares involving what happened to her beloved daughter (see Eve trilogy - Eve, Quinn and Bonnie). Recently, Eve 's dark dreams focus on fleeing from a stalker in a forest. Her mom Sandra, asking for her help, informs her daughter that Eve's half-sister, Beth Avery recently escaped from a Santa Barbara mental hospital after years of institution.

Stunned as she was unaware of the existence of her half-sibling, Eve and her lover Atlanta PD detective Joe Quinn travel to Santa Barbara seeking to find Beth. In California, profiler Kendra Michaels assists Joe and Eve. At the same time as Beth begins regains memories that drugs buried for years, a professional killer sent by a powerful individual stalks her.

The fourteenth engaging Eve Duncan thriller is an exciting tale with an intriguing premise of the heroine meeting her previously unknown sister in trouble in a dream. Fast-paced from the first nightmare to the final confrontation, series fans will enjoy the perils of brave Beth as Eve and Joe helped by Kendra seek to protect her in trouble half-sibling.

Dance with the Devil
Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin's
9781250009135, $26.99

Zarek the Dark Hunter was banished to Alaska as punishment for his failure to protect humans under his shield from those who want mankind eradicated, but instead his charges were murdered. He expected Artemis to eventually kill him for this fiasco, but his immediate supervisor Acheron pleaded for his life. Thus Artemis, showing rare compassion has kept Zarek in frozen isolation for centuries until now.

Judgment time has arrived for Zarek. Artemis feels he must die, but Acheron disagrees and suggests an unbiased person rule on Zarek. They choose Astrid, the nymph of Justice and the youngest of the Fates, who is sent to determine whether Zarek is truly innocent of what happened. Meanwhile the immortal Thanatos is coming for Zarek, who he blames for the death of his wife nine hundred years ago.

Sherrilyn Kenyon provides a reprint of a deep novel that uses figures from mythology. Dance with the Devil is a powerful story that makes believers of skeptics that Ancient Gods and Goddesses, Dark Hunters, Dayslayers, and other mythological characters walk among us. The romance between Zarek and Astrid is brilliantly handled as both start as adversaries with her judging his merit, but soon want an eternity together. This is another fine myth that a romantic Fantasy Lover will cherish

Time Untime
Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin's
9780312546618, $25.99

Many millennia ago, Ren Waya was the Keetoowah warrior Guardian chosen to keep hell sealed while resetting the celestial calendar. Instead his closet friend, half-brother Coyote killed him. However, Ren returned as an acrimonious angry Dark Hunter.

Her late grandmother left Kateri Avani with a precious stone to protect as the Keeper of legend. She scoffs at her grandma's superstition until beasts like nothing she ever saw before attack her. When she meets Ren, Kateri recognizes him as the man who has haunted her dreams seemingly forever. However, she is not sure whether he is her fantasy savior-lover keeping her safe or the beast that kills her. With a depressed sense of deja vu, Ren knows what he must do to keep the malevolence from arising but sacrificing his heart may save a world but kill him all over again as the Time Untime to reset the calendar is coming.

The latest Dark-Hunter urban fantasy (see Retribution and The Guardians) is a great fast-paced suspense thriller that uses the Mayan prophecy to great effect. Kateri is a wonderful scientist in distress unsure whom she should trust; while Ren is a fascinating haunted protagonist who has played this tune before but prays for an identical big picture ending and a better personal outcome. Fans will enjoy the countdown as time runs out.

The Well of Tears
Roberta Trahan
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781612183725, $14.95,

The Order of the Stewardry wizards have waited for centuries for the time for, them to adhere to the pledge of fealty they made in the magically concealed Fane Gramarye Temple in the remote village of Pwll. There they vowed to support the one king of Cymru.

In 905, the time has come to anoint Hywel as the King of Cymru. Madoc the elderly Ard Druidh chief mage realizes that he must choose his successor at the Well of Tears, but before he does he sends Guard Captain Aslak to escort sorceresses back to Pwll. The soldier goes for Alwen, wife of King Bledig and mother of two teenage children (Rhys and Eirlys). Alwen, accompanied by her family, travels to Fane Gramarye. However, all is not smooth as traitorous evil from within also has begun to march preferring the chaos of war over the promise of peace if Hywel is crowned and also covets Madoc's heritage.

Though at times the overall entertaining storyline slows down due to too much mundane detail, fans will enjoy this engaging post Arthurian fantasy. Character driven by a strong cast who makes the Trahan mythos seems real while also somewhat limiting the action, readers will wonder who the traitor(s) is as the time to crown the King and select the Ard Druidh successor have arrived with good and evil competing for both jobs.

Out Of The Shadow
Jamie Winn
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
ASIN: B008PYM59C, $2.99,

The masked intruder took thirteen minutes to rape Becca Rosen. As he leaves he tells her he will be back. Stunned Becca wonders why her husband David failed to intervene even if he was not a very attentive spouse. She quickly finds him stabbed to death. She tells the police she was raped by someone who seemed familiar to her but not sure why. As there is no medical evidence of a rape, the cops, also knowing of her mental history, logically assume she made up a sexual assault as her alibi to cover her murdering her spouse.

Becca wants to move on, but someone, she believes her rapist, stalks her with immunity as the law discounts her complaints. At the same, Becca begins to suffer from horrible dreams and horrific flashbacks to a childhood of abuse. She wonders if the murder, rape and other intrusions by her attacker are tied to the recalling of her terrible youth. Desperate as she fears for her mental state as much as for her physical, Becca turns to psychologist Dr. Sarah Abrams to help her with what appears to be a repressed memory syndrome.

Out Of The Shadow is an exciting character driven thriller as no one seems to be who they claim they are. The suspense grips the reader from the moment the psychopath not only rapes Becca, but chillingly warns her he will be back, which he does in person and behind the scenes. Fans will wonder who he is and why he awakens Becca's repressed childhood memories.

Blame It On Texas
Christie Craig
Forever Romance
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780446582834, $7.99,

Alabama kindergarten teacher Zoe Adams was watching Unsolved Mystery Hunters when a segment on a kidnapped girl hits home lead to strange memories. With a sudden need to know about her past, Zoe heads to Texas for answers.

Zoe hires the Only In Texas private investigate firm to search for her heritage. Wearing a clown costume after a gig at his niece's birthday bash (to include bashing his abusive brother-in-law) PI Tyler Lopez takes charge of the inquiry. He and Zoe are attracted to one another, but Tyler keeps reminding himself she is a client and Zoe has a past to meet before she can consider a future. However, someone wants Zoe to leave the Lone Star State immediately preferably in a box while Tyler, used to protecting women from predators, vows to keep her safe and learn the truth.

This Hotter in Texas (see Don't Mess With Texas) romance is an amusing frolic. The fun storyline is an overused theme yet Christie Craig provides a fast-paced tale starring two protagonists battling over banana sandwiches while falling in love. Though the villains are an acrimonious miserable group with no redeeming quality, fans will enjoy Zoe does Texas.

Angels Landing
Rochelle Alers
9781455501380, $7.99

New York City dedicated social worker Kara Newell travels to Charleston, South Carolina in response to an enigmatic request from David Sullivan, Taylor Patton's attorney. She explains to David that she does not know Mr. Patton, but the attorney says Mr. Patton knew her. In a conference room she finds a horde of people angrily staring at her as the lawyer states deceased Taylor left his estate to his biological daughter Kara on the condition that she restore the National Historical registry site Angels Landing on Cavanaugh Island. Confused Kara knows her father resides in Little Rock but David persuades her to spend a week at the estate instead of allowing avaricious relatives to sell to developers.

David calls his cousin Cavanagh Island Sheriff Jeff Hamilton, a retired twenty year marine to keep an eye on Kara as her new family is not happy with learning Taylor had a child. Jeff, who returned to the island to help his beloved Grandmomma Corinne, says he will keep the newcomer safe. However, he becomes more active when someone tries to frighten Kara to run back to New York or Arkansas.

The second Cavanaugh Island Low country romance (see Sanctuary Cove) is an exhilarating contemporary starring an intrepid heroine and the ex-marine cop who loves her. The storyline is somewhat predicable, but made incredibly fresh by insight into the local history of islander African-Americans. Readers will appreciate the return to Cavanagh Island.

Kristen Callihan
9781455508587, $7.99

In 1883, widowed Daisy Ellis Craigmore feels euphoric to have escaped the stranglehold of a lousy six-year marriage to an abusive mate though she knows that is not nice thinking. However, she did her time in marriage with 366 days, ten hours, fifteen minutes faking mourning. She considers herself no longer a Craigmore in sham mourning. Now she plans to enjoy life.

However, her euphoria ends abruptly when she witnesses a homicide. Ian Ranulf, the Marquis of Northrup, pushes passed the crowd claiming to be a doctor though he had not practiced in almost two decades. He knows what happened here as he avoided his kind for seventy years but his kind has intruded on his self-imposed exile. When he smells a woman nearby, he moves the body to find Daisy underneath. Questioning her while keeping her safe, Ian knows he must eliminate the culprit before the law finds the rogue. However, his attraction to Daisy is an unwanted mistimed need that Ian cannot ignore.

This Darkest London Victorian historical fantasy (see Firelight) is a fabulous paranormal investigative thriller with an incredible opening scene. The lead couple is a nice pairing as the murder mystery plays matchmaker while neither feels comfortable with falling in love at this time. Kristen Callihan provides an entertaining paranormal whodunit as London remains dark even in a Moonglow.

Last Wool And Testament
Molly MacRae
Obsidian Mystery
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451237828, $7.99,

As she nears her destination Blue Plum, Tennessee, thirty-nine years old Kath Rutledge is speeding so she can attend the funeral of her beloved octogenarian grandma Ivy McClellan. Sheriff Deputy Cole Dunbar stops her but offers no sympathy for her loss. He gives her a ticket, nastily calls her grandma "Crazy Ivy" and acrimoniously says Ivy's death was convenient.

Kath inherits her grandma's Weaver's Cat yarn shop and the late woman's small house. The TGIF (Thank Goodness It's Fiber) crew encourages Kath, a textile preservationist, to stay and run the place. Though she plans to leave, Kath is shocked when someone else claims ownership of the house. Grieving Kath moves into a cottage at the Homeplace & Living History Farm while she settles the estate. Even more stunning is that she learns that her grandma was the only suspect in poisoning homicide. Though she expects those like Dunbar will label her as crazy Kat, she investigates the murder obsessed with a need to prove her grandma's innocent while a despondent ghost searches for the murderer too.

The first Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery is a delightful paranormal regional whodunit that stars slow as the readers meet the cast and location, but soon accelerates into an enjoyable investigation. Kath is a fascinating lead character as she deals with grief and an obsessive need to save her grandma's reputation; the ghost matches her compulsive need for the truth while their bantering enhances the tale as does the eccentric TGIF needle arts group. Readers will appreciate this engaging ghostly amateur sleuth.

Meljean Brook
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10014
9780425256046, $16.00,

Several years ago, Annika Fridasdottor inadvertently placed at risk Iceland when she revealed the mechanical secrets that protect the island from the Horde and other invaders. However, her sister Källa said she was culpable and was exiled from Iceland. Filled with guilt, Annika took a position on the airship Phaeton in search of her sibling.

Years ago an experiment went bad leaving David Kentewess without the use of his legs and a hand, and left his mother dead. Physically, David lives a normal life due to nanoagents and prosthetics while working as a volcanologist. Emotionally he misses his beloved mother; so for two decades David obsessively needed to complete her last request to return her to her home Hannasvik, but has lost hope of ever succeeding though he keeps trying. Booking passage on the Phaeton, David meets Annika and thinks he recognizes the accent he last heard so many years ago. However, instead of exposing her as he threatens to do, David and Annika are stranded on a fjord with an obsessed maniac in pursuit.

The latest Iron Seas romantic steampunk fantasy (The Iron Duke and Heart of Steel) is a superb thriller that grips the reader with the conflicting obsessive quests of the protagonists with each on a personal mission that makes them enemies who initially judge the other as unworthy. Filled with action on the ship and the glacier, fans will be Riveted by Meljean Brooks' latest adventures.

Catherine Mann
Berkley Sensation
9780425250990, $7.99

At a military trial at Nellis AFB, JAG Major Sophie Campbell and test team director Major David Berg argue whether fire control officer Captain Tate erred when his AC-130 aircraft shot into a private citizen's home. The missed firing led to a little boy Ricky Vasquez unable to use his legs and his family facing medical induced bankruptcy. This, along with his belief in his test crew, has David needing to know the truth as the child reminds him of his beloved daughter Haley Rose. As a single mom Sophie also empathizes with the injured child.

David persuades Sophie to help him investigate the tragic incident so that a career will be somewhat salvaged and a family could sue the right culprits and win. As they make their inquiries, they fall in love. Both know as single parents their offspring come first, which is what someone in the shadows is counting on when the culprit targets scaring off Sophie.

The latest Dark Ops military romantic suspense (see Protector) is an exciting stay at home thriller starring two obstinate protagonists. The fast-paced storyline grips the audience from the opening courtroom scene and never let's go until a final confrontation. Although the entertaining plot never veers off the expected course, fans will enjoy this engaging tale as David believes Tate is innocent but the villain still has to be an insider.

Not Proper Enough
Carolyn Jewel
9780425250976, $7.99

In 1817 London widow Lady Eugenia Bryant chaperones-mentors her friend naive Hester Rendell though her first season. The only down note on Ginny's return to the Ton after a four-year mourning period for Robert is seeing her late husband's best friend Marquess Grenville Foxman Talbot who insulted her when Robert was alive.

Fox dreams of making love to Ginny, but also in his reverie he promised Robert to keep her safe. Ginny is upset with herself for being attracted to the boorish man who treated her with contempt. Ironically he was rude because she was a temptation that would have led him to betray his BFF. Now he wants to make it up for his sake as the pair begins a tryst.

This Reforming the Scoundrels Regency romance (see Not Wicked Enough) is entertaining due to the engaging verbal barbs between the lead couple. Although the storyline is somewhat thin, subgenre fans will enjoy the gender battle between Fox and Ginny as the memory of beloved Robert remains a barrier from the pair making their affair permanent.

The Last Renegade
Jo Goodman
9780425250969, $7.99

In 1888 while traveling on a train Kellen Coltrane meets popular dime store novelist Nat Church as the latter is dying from wounds to his stomach. Before he dies, Nat asks Kellen to complete the mission he failed to perform. Thus Kellen goes to Bitter Springs, Wyoming Territory to help "Penny Royal" who hired Church to end the bloody spree of a rancher and his three sons.

Kellen is stunned to learn Penny Royal is Lorraine Berry, owner of the Pennyroyal Saloon and Hotel. Raine is stunned by how young Kellen is as she thought the legendary Church had to be much older. Attracted to her, Kellen decides to remain in town to protect her from the brutal Burdick brood under the guise of Nat Church.

This is an exhilarating western romance, which pays homage to the dime store pulp fiction of the late nineteenth century. Fast-paced with strong twists, the protagonists, the antagonists and the townsfolk bring 1888 Wyoming to life; as readers will feel they stepped off the train alongside Raine while he attempts to bring justice, love and literature to Bitter Springs.

Archangel's Storm
Nalini Singh
9780425246580, $7.99

Overlooking the Hudson at the home of Raphael the Archangel, Dmitri the added almost millennium old vampire and Honor Archangel's Blade the powerful Guild Hunter ancient language expert marry (see Archangel's Blade for their adventure). During the reception, Raphael's spymaster Jason the angel learns that Archangel Neha's consort Eris was murdered. Compounding the horrific timing is Neha was already certifiable, but now grief further drives the archangel over the edge.

To prevent a Neha rage that would devastate earth killing the innocent, Jason offers to find the killer. Having been betrayed by her late consort and her sister years ago, Neha agrees with the stipulation that Jason blood vows to her niece, offspring of Nivriti and Eris. As Jason and Mahiya investigate though wary of one another, more homicides follow.

The latest Guild Hunter romantic urban fantasy (see Archangel's Consort) is a terrific whodunit as two distrusting souls fall in love but never lose sight of the mission. Fast-paced from the moment Jason learns of the murder, readers will enjoy visiting the vivid Singh realm as time is running out on planet earth as we know it.

Dragon's Moon
Lucy Monroe
9780425246627, $7.99

In 1142 Scotland, three Chrechte, Faolwolf shifters (Galen, his twelve years old sister Ciara, and Luon) are on the sacred hunting grounds when they accost two young raven shifters. Galen and Luon threaten the frightened pair to the horror of Ciara when a roaring dragon kills the two males. A shocked Ciara rushes home but when she informs her mom that Galen is dead, her mother commits suicide. Grieving for her losses, Ciara vows to never love anyone again.

In 1149 Scotland, Ciara meets Ean Prince Eirik, the only known dragon shifter who she hates for killing her loved ones seven years ago. However, Ciara knows from her dreams she must find the lost wolves' sacred stone or the Chrechte race will become extinct. To accomplish her quest she needs help, which only Eirik can provide.

The fourth Children of the Moon romantic historical fantasy (see Moon Craving and Moon Burning) is a superb medieval paranormal Scottish Highlands thriller. The quest is riveting while the romance between enemies gripping (including other couples). However, it is the deep look at shifter subcultures that make for a powerful thriller while more mall murders follow.

Playing To Win
Jaci Burton
Berkley Heat
9780425247839, $15.00

Cole Riley plays football and women with the same intensity as he expects to score any time he holds the ball. Ironically, though the women adore him and the fans recognize his talent, Cole dislikes people. Media types are placed in a special category of intense loathing.

However, his doing whatever the hell he wants places his football career in jeopardy as increasingly he has become persona non grata. Public relations specialist Savannah Brookes is hired to change Cole's image from the centerfold of bad boys. She has doubts about changing his behavior while he has doubts about wanting to change his behavior. As the Southern belle orders the football star around while establishing the no touch infraction, he decides pass interference penalty is worth the cost.

The latest Riley sibling Play-by-Play sports romance (see Changing the Game, The Perfect Play and Taking a Shot) is an engaging tale starring two obstinate protagonists. Part of the gender war fun is the lead couple switching from offense to defense and back when one runs with the ball and the other tries to make the tackle. Readers will enjoy this heated football romance as the two minute drill begins.

The Dirty Book Club
Savanna Fox
Berkley Heat
9780425253151, $15.00

In Vancouver, the book club meet at Rogue restaurant to discuss their latest read. Kim suggests their next entry be a fun erotic historical novel The Sexual Education of Emma Whitehead.

One of the members widow Georgia Malone feels an affinity with the lead character Emma a young widow who has not found any joy in sex. As she starts the new selection, the marketing expert also meets her firm's newest client NHL star Woody Hanrahan and assumes he is nothing like the hero Alexandre mentoring the title character in the joys of sex. Though known for his serial women, Georgia cannot resist Woody. As they enjoy their sexual interlude, Georgia knows that is not enough for her as she wants the hat trick of love, commitment and all of him; but Woody's two goals are the Stanley Cup and no strings sex.

This is a fun tale starring likable polar opposites who spend too much passive time. The premise of an erotic nested story within a heated storyline works nicely as Georgia compares herself to Emma and Woody to Alexandre. Fans will enjoy this sports romance in spite of the limited action.

Died With A Bow
Grace Carroll
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425251560, $7.99

In San Francisco, the one thing that makes Rita Jewell happy is going to her workplace at Dolce's where she sells upscale attire and accessories to the Nob Hill socialites who possess an air of entitlement in spite of the recession. However, the boutique is not making the profit it did before the downturn so cocky fashionista Vienna Fairchild, the centerfold of elitist entitlement, is hired. The new salesperson works on commission while guaranteeing she will earn more money than Dolce and Rita combined.

Vienna's family and friends swamp the store buying a sundry of items while Rita is exiled to the back to answer calls from mostly men asking for the newcomer. Dolce takes Rita and Vienna to a charity bachelor auction. Vienna gives Rira the ticket saying her boyfriend will kill her if she accepts the date. The next morning Rita finds Vienna's corpse on the floor of Dolce's wearing that same black evening dress. Knowing SFPD Detective Jack will once again suspect her as the killer (see Shoe Done It) since she had the means, the opportunity and the motive; Rita once again investigates.

The second Accessories Mystery is an entertaining amateur sleuth tale that mocks the compulsive obsessive buying behavior of the entitled fashionista who remain clueless re whether they are impacted by the recession. The heroine is a delightful individual who uses her knowledge of clothing to investigate. However, it is Vienna whose charisma especially her ability to sell (herself which leads to merchandise sales) to customers who makes the tale as she "Educates Rita" on the art of selling while her manner obviously angered someone. Cozy readers will enjoy this lighthearted cozy though suspecting Rita seems a sub-genre habit.

The Ninth Step
Grant Jerkins
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425255988, $15.00

In Mantissa Cove, driving under the influence veterinarian Helen Patrice smashes into the vehicle driven by high school geometry teacher Edgar Woolrich. Edgar's wife dies in the accident. Panicked Helen flees the accident scene and wastes no time in having her car repaired and painted so that no signs of the crash shows on her vehicle.

Filled with guilt, Helen fails at a suicide attempt so she joins Alcoholics Anonymous. However, she considers quitting when she learns the ninth step in the AA program is to face those you hurt. At the same time the vet struggles with remorse over the vehicular homicide hit and run, obsessed mathematician Edgar applies statistical analyses to reduce the field of who probably killed his wife. When they meet, she fails to tell him the truth until she realizes it is too late. Then the note arrives asking if she told her Edgar she killed his spouse?

This is a superb dark thriller starring two characters connected by the tragedy. Helen and Edgar seem real with each coping poorly with what happened. Edgar's probability analysis enhances a strong twisting storyline. With a changing relationship between the protagonists and that stunning note; readers will appreciate The Ninth Step.

Murder Unmentionable
Meg London
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425251577, $7.99

In Manhattan Emma Taylor was Femme Magazine's stylist while her boyfriend Guy Richard was an internationally acclaimed photographer. The small town southerner enjoyed the Big Apple until she caught Guy serial cheating with models. She dumped him, quit her fashionista job and moved into her Aunt Arabella's home in Paris, Tennessee.

Emma plans to turn her aunt's lingerie shop Sweet Nothings into a unique experience for customers by selling vintage. A contended Emma is shocked when Guy comes to town as the only Paris he would visit is in France. He pleads with her to come back with him and offers her a dream job she can't refuse. They meet for dinner but model Nikki is all over Guy so Emma leaves. The next morning, Emma wakes up to find Aunt Arabella standing near Guy's corpse on the floor. The police, encouraged by an officer who loathes Emma for rejecting him years ago, suspect her of killing Guy. Desperate she investigates but a second homicide diminishes her suspect pool while the local law enforcement continues to look at her as a person of interest.

The first Sweet Lingerie whodunit is an entertaining regional amateur sleuth as Meg London captures the essence of a small southern town's quirkiness especially the difficulty to hide secrets when everyone knows everyone; yet Emma learns the townsfolk learn survival techniques as kids. Fans will enjoy drinking Tennessee tea while reading lingerie and Murder Unmentionable.

Iced Chiffon
Duffy Brown
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425251607, $7.99

In Savannah, Georgia, due to a prenup Hollis Beaumont keeps everything when he and his now ex-wife Reagan Summerside divorce. However, he agrees to let her keep their fixer upper Victorian Cherry House. A realtor Hollis turns to Cupcake for comfort while Reagan and her Aunt Kiki open up the Prissy Fox consignment shop out of her house.

Reagan "borrows" Hollis' Lexus to deliver a fountain to Raylene Carter. However, Kiki opens the trunk only to find too much "junk" inside as the corpse of Cupcake occupies the space. The police suspect Hollis killed her following a public argument. Needing money for his legal defense, Hollis informs Reagan he needs to sell Cherry House. Reagan refuses to give up Cherry House so believing his insistence that he is innocent, she investigates the murder of Cupcake.

The first entertaining Consignment Shop Mystery is a humorous amateur sleuth tale +
due to the wry asides by the heroine. The investigation is fun due to Reagan and her "posse" as they find several people wanting to crush Cupcake. Though Reagan's logic to look into the murder seems weak, fans will enjoy touring Savannah with Reagan as a guide as Duffy Brown writes a lighthearted amusing amateur sleuth.

Postcards from the Dead
Laura Childs
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425252758, $25.95

The Loomis krewe parade marches down the French Quarter during Mardi Gras. TV reporter Kimber Breeze interviews people for the event at the Hotel Tremain. Next on line is Carmela Bertrand, owner of the Memory Mine scrapbooking store, who never gets her fifteen seconds of fame. Someone left Kimber hanging off the hotel balcony with a cord around her neck.

Carmela failed to neither witness the actual murder nor see who the killer is. Soon afterwards postcards signed by Kimber arrive at the Memory Mine. She talks with her best friend Ava Gruiex, the owner of Juju Voodoo, about the situation; they agree a killer is trying to frighten her just in case she can identify the culprit. Having solved several mysteries (see Fiber & Brimstone and Death Swatch) together, the BFFs ignore the threat and investigate.

The latest Scrapbooking amateur sleuth is a wonderful whodunit as this time the heroine vows to not investigate but feels compelled when the postcards start coming. Carmela and Ava are brave buddies who team up in search of the person sending Postcards From The Dead.

Wall-to-Wall Dead
Jennie Bentley
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425255568, $7.99

Avery Baker gave up her work as a textile designer and her boyfriend Derek Ellis gave up his work as a doctor to do something they love. They became business partners flipping various abodes while also sharing love for each other demonstrated by Derek's proposal to Avery who accepted.

Their latest venture is fixing up a condo in Waterfield, Maine so that the owner can sell it. However, a creepy woman Hilda Shaw stalks their every move just like she does to all the residents. Everyone loathes the busybody spy, Avery understands why. However, Avery is stunned to find Hilda's corpse. The police chief insists the woman died accidentally from anaphylactic shock. When a second person dies, Avery believes a murderer resides amongst the condo dwellers and resolves to identify the culprit before she or Derek become obits.

The latest Do-It-Yourself Mystery (see Flipped Out) is an engaging amateur sleuth due to a strong eccentric support cast and the lovable lead couple. A sort of locked condo whodunit, fans will enjoy Wall-to-Wall Dead as Avery investigates the homicides.

The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate Rose
Susan Wittig Albert
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425247761, $24.95

In 1931 Darling, Alabama, the Darling Dahlias garden club members agree to a rose planting alongside of the cemetery to commemorate Confederate Day and bring some joy to the lives of the struggling townsfolk. However, the Dahlias also know that most of their family and friends are not in a festive mood as they struggle to survive the Depression.

State auditors investigate the county's finances and find missing funds. Indolent county treasurer Earle Scroggins places his employee Verna Tidwell on furlough implying she is behind the $15,000 unaccounted funds. The Darling Dahlias trust diligent Verna who is their club treasurer; so led by club president Elizabeth Lacy begin an inquiry into who stole the money. At the same time historian Bessie Bloodworth and librarian Dorothy Rogers look into the meaning of an enigmatic code stitched into the inside of a family heirloom pillow that belonged to the latter's late grandma.

This is a great Depression Era regional cozy starring a wonderful cast. Symbolized by a rose is not a rose when its name is hibiscus, fans will appreciate this 1930s Sweet Home Alabama historical (see The Darling Dahlias and the Naked Ladies) enhanced by Depression Era Southern Recipes.

Death Where the Bad Rocks Live
C.M. Wendelboe
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425256114, $15.00

The FBI assigned academy instructor Manny Tanno to investigate a murder on the Pine Ridge Reservation near Wounded Knee, South Dakota though he preferred not to do field work anymore. Not welcomed by the elders, the former Oglala Sioux tribal cop worked the case anyway (see Death Along the Spirit Road). Now the Feds have assigned him permanently to the Pine Ridge Reservation.

In Badlands National Park, a contractor removes live ammo from the isolated Stronghold sector once used as WWII bombing training site only to find human remains. An unknown killer murdered years ago to probably hide something in this barren wasteland and has recently begun killing again including a failed attempt to murder Manny. As the Fed investigates he gets no cooperation from the locals who distrust the FBI and hindrance from the Oglala Sioux Tribal Police.

This entertaining Native American police procedural stars a confused hero who struggles with his sense of self identity as an Oglala Sioux FBI Special Agent. The investigation is engaging and the locale symbolically fascinating. Although the storyline does not always flow smoothly, fans will enjoy Tanno's struggles to do the undefined in his mind right thing.

Buffalo Bill's Dead Now
Margaret Coel
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425252710, $25.95

In Wyoming the Wind River Reservation tribe is ecstatic that after over a century the regalia worn by Arapaho Chief Black Heart in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show are finally coming home as Trevor Pratt is shipping them from Germany. These relics will be placed in the Arapaho museum.

To the aghast of those opening the containers, nothing is inside. Attorney Vicky Holden and Catholic Father John O'Malley cherish their Arapaho friends and feel the despondency of the elderly. They search for the stolen heritage and quickly find avaricious killers prepared to murder anyone starting with the now dead Pratt to include a lawyer and a priest who get in the way of their profits. However, worse than the greedy deadly SOBs in the minds of the amateur sleuths are the horrid realization that some of the younger tribe members prefer to take the money and run over their heritage.

As always in this series with the entertaining Wind River Reservation Mysteries readers obtain a taste of modern day Arapaho life while shining a spotlight on the tribe's heritage as the present repeats the past (the regalia was also stolen decades ago too). Although the investigation by Vicki and Father John is fun though similar to previous entries (see The Spider's Web), fans will appreciate this engaging tale as the regalia provides fresh meaning to avarice.

Foul Play At The Fair
Shelley Freydont
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425251553, $7.99

Feeling the bridezillas and their momma grizzlies sucked out her soul, bone weary Liv Montgomery, accompanied by Whiskey the Westie terrier, leaves Manhattan for Celebration Bay, New York. Liv assumes the stressful inane demands of an event planner will prove much smaller in her new location.

Though her predecessor Janine Tudor wants to drive her back to the Big Apple, Liv works as the town's event planner. Her first local gala, the Harvest by the Festival is a success though she a problem with the newspaper editor Bristow of the Clarion. However that proves a minor nuisance when her assistant Ted shows her the corpse of Pete inside an antique apple press. Pete fled town three decades ago after committing an odious crime; but came home as part of the Zoldosky performing troupe. Liv investigates the current homicide that she believes ties back to what happened thirty years ago.

The fun first Celebration Bay Mystery is an engaging whodunit starring a burned out protagonist who though she fled the city remains in a constant state of stress. The townsfolk are quirky and the first of what appears to be many galas in the festival capital of New York adds local color to the murder mystery. Though Liv has no reason to investigate except to remove the pall shrouding her initial event, fans will enjoy this regional amateur sleuth.

Treacherous Toys
Joyce and Jim Lavene
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425251584, $7.99

On furlough from the University of South Carolina and expecting her position to be cut due to budget shortcomings, associate professor Jessie Morton worries that she can no longer afford her current residence as her apartment has been converted into a condo and prays her car held together by aging bubble gum works.

The Renaissance Faire Village in Myrtle Beach hosts a fantastic Christmas frolic that the proprietors hope bring in many new customers. Jesse has worked summers there and is currently doing the six-week gig as an apprentice elf to toymaker Father Chris Christmas over the holidays. Her lover, the Village bailiff Chase Manhattan is ecstatic Jesse is working the holidays at the Renaissance Faire. However, someone shoots Chris and hits Jesse on the head. The police arrest the victim's wife Christine while Chase and Jesse watch over her eight children until she makes bail. Jesse believes Christine is innocent so she starts investigating which almost deadly.

The latest Renaissance Faire Mystery (see Harrowing Hats, Deadly Daggers and Ghastly Glass) is an engaging whodunit made fresh by changing the season as the heroine provides a tour of the Renaissance Faire Village during Christmas (instead of the summer). This exciting amateur sleuth (with Jesse's success rate on solving homicides while risking her life on cases the cops fumble; she should turn pro to pay her bills) is filled with quirky characters as team Lavene provide another engaging murder investigation.

Supernatural Born Killers
Casey Daniels
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425251522, $7.99

Formerly a tour guide at Cleveland's Garden View Cemetery (resting home of President James A. Garfield), Pepper Martin has been promoted to community relations manager. Even more than her previous job this position maximizes Pepper's skills especially since she is a medium who communicates with spirits. Her boyfriend Quinn the homicide cop does not believe in that woo-woo mumbo jumbo and denies that he appeared in her apartment to tell Pepper something important when he died for two minutes after taking a bullet while on duty.

With a help from a few friendly spirits, Pepper plans the cemetery's annual reception to increase sponsorship membership. At her apartment, she and Quinn see a growing puddle that she claims is a ghost, which he cannot see. The ghost has left puddles in her office too, but only when Pepper and Quinn are together. After playing charades they realize the spirit is Quinn's deceased partner Jack Haggerty. Quinn is determined to recover the body and hunt down the killer while Pepper plans to help him even as she deals with her eccentric parents and a multi-millionaire attracted to her and Superman.

The latest Pepper Martin paranormal mystery (see Tomb With A View) is a suspense laden thriller filled with intrigue and humor yet insures readers believe in ghosts. The romance between the protagonists heats up, but it is the whodunit in which things are not quite what they seem (gestalt optical illusions or not at its finest) that makes for an enjoyable spirited investigation.

A Spoonful Of Murder
Connie Archer
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425251478, $7.99

Life for Lucky Jamieson is turmoil and grief when her parents died in a car crash. She moves back to her hometown Snowflake, Vermont where the big business is the ski slopes. Lucky inherits her late parents' By the Spoonful soup shop. Unsure whether she wants to run a restaurant or what to do with the family home, Lucky considers her options especially what to do about Grandfather Jack, who shows signs of Alzheimer's.

One morning after a brutal ice storm, Lucky takes out the garbage only to find the frozen corpse of a repeat customer blond haired Patricia Honeywell just outside the soup shop. The police quickly arrest Lucky's soup chef, Sage DuBois for murdering Patricia. Without him, there is no soup kitchen and besides she thinks her chef is innocent so Lucky, taking her mind off her grief, investigates.

The first Soup Lover's Mystery is an engaging amateur sleuth due to the troubled heroine and the delightful Vermont location. Lucky feels unlucky at the moment as she is unsure about her future, what to do about her granddad, and unable to move on with her parents' deaths.
Although the storyline is typical of the culinary cozy, fans will thoroughly enjoy A Spoonful Of Murder as Lucky dives head first into a bowl of trouble.

Sour Apples
Sheila Connolly
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425251508, $7.99

One year ago her Boston bank downsized her so Meg Corey bought an apple orchard in Granford, Massachusetts. Though she is learning on the job especially from her manager Briona Stewart, Meg feels good with the change in employment and likes selectman Seth Chapin.

Her only friend at the bank, Lauren Converse arrives in town as the campaign manager for former local football hero Rick Sainsbury who is running for Congress. Seth overly shows he loathes Rick but will not tell anyone why. Meanwhile a cow kicks and kills experienced dairy farmer Joyce Truesdell while her husband Ethan was away on business. However, the autopsy proves a homicide occurred and the police suspect Ethan killed his wife. Meg wonders if the motive had to do with government-owned land that the deceased was leasing and complaining was toxic. Unable to stay out of the inquiry, Meg investigates.

The latest Orchard Mystery (Bitter Harvest and A Killer Crop) is a fun amateur sleuth in which the whodunit comes towards the middle of the engaging storyline as life in a small western Massachusetts town takes center stage. Although meg has no reason to investigate as she only just met the victim once and never the husband until after the murder, fans will enjoy the heroine taking a bite out of crime in this fun regional cozy.

The Kingmaker's Daughter
Philippa Gregory
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781451626070, $26.99,

The Kingmaker Richard Neville, as the Earl of Warwick plans to see one of his daughters (Anne or Isabel) sits on the throne as wife to King Edward IV while the loser in his marital sweepstake would wed either royal brother George or Richard. However, independent Edward destroys Warwick's scheme when he marries his choice of a wife while ignoring the demands of the Kingmaker.

An irate Neville arranges a marriage between George and Isabel while supporting his son-in-law's revolt to take the throne from Edward. Meanwhile Anne becomes a widow at fourteen with no protection until the other royal sibling Richard marries her. Proving a chip off her sire's block, she thrives on regal intrigue that places her, her husband and their children in peril as the War of the Roses continues unabated.

The latest Cousins' War of the Roses historical thriller (see The Lady of the Rivers, The Red Queen and The White Queen) is an exciting tale filled with political intrigue as no one is safe from betrayal. Fast-paced, readers will relish observing the behind the scenes actions of a strong woman who like all females in the fifteenth century hides what she does in a male only world.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

The James T. Bialac Native American Art Collection
Mark Andrew White, General Editor
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
University of Oklahoma
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
9780806143040, $29.95,

Featuring selected essays of discerning Native American art criticism by Christina E. Burke, W. Jackson Rushing III, Rennard Strickland, Christy Vezolles, Edwin L. Wade, and Mark Andrew White, "The James T. Bialac Native American Art Collection, Selected Works" is a colossus of stunning photos and commentary on one of the most significant collections of North American Native American art in this century. Consisting of over 4000 items including paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, kachinas, jewelry, rattles, ceramics, baskets and textiles, the collection was amassed by an attorney art appreciator between 1960 and 2010, when it was bequeathed to the University of Oklahoma. The collection will be displayed at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art as well as at other Arizona locations. Representing a multitude of indigenous cultures, from Inupiak of Alaska to the Hopi, Pueblos, and Navajo of the Southwest, and including many important Plains artists' works, the collection sample features paintings and prints, pottery, kachinas, and baskets as well as jewelry and other art works. Many famous contemporary Native American artists are represented, including Fred Kabotie, Joe Hilario Herrera, Helen Hardin, George Morrison, Walter Richard "Dick" West, and more. In addition to the stunning photos of collection gems, there are six chapter essays of related critical overviews, covering both the history and legacy of the Bialac collection and important information about Native American painting schools, styles, and movements, as well as further analysis of contemporary Native American painting, kachina dolls both contemporary and traditional, and other three dimensional art from Native American origins. The stunning color photographs of collection items is breathtaking and vivid. Collectors, students, and appreciators of fine Native American art will want to include this volume in all valued collections. "The James T. Bialac Native American Art Collection" is also available in a hardback edition (9780806142999, $49.95).

Trickster's Point
William Kent Krueger
Atria Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781451645675, $24.99,

"Trickster's Point" is the most recent Cork O'Connor mystery set in northern Minnesota in the historic and beautiful Iron Range area, with an ongoing cast of well delineated characters from the Ojibwe or Anishinabe Iron River Band. Eagerly anticipated and impatiently awaited, "Trickster's Point" fully delivers a sound package of complex, privately motivated actors, swift action and a plot twisting delivery style that rivals the patterns of classical dance, and character profiles so deep, satisfying and real you can sink your (literary) teeth into them. All this is set against the starkly beautiful, haunted landscape of northern Minnesota edging into Canada and the Boundary Water Canoe Area. Like all of Krueger's O'Connor mysteries, "Trickster's Point" is authentically permeated with a true reverence for setting, as well a respectful and realistic portrayal of modern vs. traditional Anishinabe cultural values, outlook, and background. As usual, Cork is immediately and suspiciously involved in a bloody and mysterious murder which quickly morphs into a dual murder with later connection to a tragic suicide. Most mysterious of all, the murderer is shown to have been taught the old Ojibwe hunting skills, for the first two deaths are a result of a handmade arrow, exactly like those used and made by Cork O'Connor, who was taught to hunt in the old way by Sam Winter Moon, an early mentor. Cork follows an unorthodox path of investigation influenced by his mixed white and Shinnob blood, motivated by a need to absolve himself from blame for the murder(s) and the search for understanding of a boyhood friend, Jubal Little (Wolf), the first famous victim. Readers will enjoy the reacquaintence with former characters both from inside and outside the boundaries of the Ojibwe Reservation. Most important of these, perhaps is 90+ year old Henry Meloux, a mide, or shaman of the Anishinabeg. Ojibwe words and language are interwoven into conversation, history and detail in a masterful way, teaching both valuable cultural history and important plot points to drive the story. "Trickster's Point" is a demanding, driving read, but it's immense appeal makes certain of its success in finding a true home in the reader's heartfiles. It is good to read of the beautiful land and waters of the Iron Lake Ojibewe once again.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Give Yourself Permission to Shine
Grace King
Balboa Press
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452548685, $11.99,

Our potential to burn brightly in our lives is only limited by ourselves. "Give Yourself Permission to Shine: Through Faith I Found Love" is an inspirational read from Grace King, who uses faith as an advisory for finding one's own spirituality. Drawing from her own tragedies and fight against her demons, she shares how faith gave her the power to flourish. "Give Yourself Permission to Shine" holds an uplifting message, much recommended.

You Can Run...
Gloria Antypowich
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432790820, $18.95,

People are social creatures, not meant to hide themselves from the world. "You Can Run..." is a drama from Gloria Antypowich, as she tells the story of successful yet isolated Shauna Lee Holt who hides from her world. When life starts to demand she opens up, she finds that it may not be the worst thing in the world, but it isn't completely roses either. "You Can Run..." is an insightful and recommended addition to general fiction collections, not to be missed.

The Void
Bryan Healey
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463507886, $7.49,

Hearing everything but able to do nothing. "The Void" is a novel following the struggles of one man, faced with a supposed brain dead coma, but conscious enough to hear the world around him, but unable to communicate. As he hears them about to pull the plug, his life rushes back to him, as he slowly waits for his death, wondering where he went wrong. "The Void" is an intriguing psychological thriller, recommended.

The Gifted One
Dr. Andy McCabe
Balboa Press
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452500454, $17.95,

A full and vibrant life is all we can ask out of ourselves. "The Gifted One: The Journey Begins" is an inspirational read from Dr. Andy McCabe as he advises readers on how to attain a more complete and happier life, living more comprehensive and successfully. With plenty advice to increase one's overall well-being in many dimensions by encouraging people to risk something to change themselves, "The Gifted One" is a fine and inspirational read, not to be overlooked.

The Alaska Oil Conspiracy
David DesAutels
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468122671, $12.49,

Oil is a deadly game. "The Alaska Oil Conspiracy" is a novel surrounding oil companies and the drive for higher profits through politics. An Alaskan oil drilling operation goes shady, Geologist Dan Kesler and Engineer Jenna Price have to got through some powerful blockades to let the shady activities known, but the price they will pay will prove very high. "The Alaskan Oil Conspiracy" is a strong pick for those who like high risk political thrillers, highly recommended.

Mickey & Nadika
Jenna Lindsey
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781475921748, $16.95,

Every person has their talents, and sometimes talents are lost to time. "Mickey & Nadika: An Adventure Across Time and Space" is a science fiction novel, where Telekinetic Mickey tries to understand his powers, before he's pulled three hundred years into the future to save the universe. Finding out he was destined to die in a car accident at his home time, Mickey finds something worth living for. "Mickey & Nadika" is an enticing sci-fi romance, very much recommended.

Emily's Seams
J. E. Flanagan
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781461085638, $8.95,

Death and Life is not a simple binary status. "Emily's Seams" follows Emily's depression and her way out of it as she encounters an abandoned hospital that presents her an opportunity to break out of her funk with a ghostly friendship, with ghosts she never believed they would exist. Exploring what it means to live by touching on what it means to die, "Emily's Seams" is a thought provoking and highly recommended story, not to be overlooked.

The Case of: Is Santa Claus Real?
David W. And & Anita R. Hill
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432777135, $24.95,

Christmas is now known as a massive commercial extravaganza, losing touch with its religious meaning. "The Case of: Is Santa Claus Real?" is a Christian study of faith and ministry as David W. And & Anita R. Hill provide their own exploration of the true St. Nickolaus and the holiday without all the glitz, glamour and money, hoping to give the religious story behind Christmas that is often forgotten. "The Case of: Is Santa Claus Real?" is reading that shouldn't be overlooked by Christian readers.

Mystery Time
Janet Hannah
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432788445, $16.95,

When someone notable faces premature death, the motives can skew the case. "Mystery Time" follows the case of a dead American microbiologist in Prague. Professor Kraus and his colleague Alex Kertesz who were there at the microbiologist's death, and have a family heirloom snatched in the process. "Mystery Time" is a worthwhile read for those who love fast paced mysteries, recommended.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

Goodie One Shoes
Roz Siegel
Hilliard Harris
PO Box 275
Boonsboro, MD 21713-0275
1591333113, $18.95,

Roslyn Siegel is a Ph.D. and during her career edited and wrote for Simon & Schuster, Random House, and Consumer Reports. She also penned book reviews and articles for such publications as the New York Times, New York Magazine, The Village Voice, Cosmopolitan, Publishers Weekly, and other periodicals. Siegel has written two non-fiction books. GOODIE TWO SHOES is her first mystery.

Being a New Yorker, Siegel lives in the middle of the fashion world. So it is perfectly logical that she would envision her heroine, Emily, the wife of a well-to-do lawyer with a Russian mistress and a penthouse apartment, as an English teacher with a yen for a more hands-on life. Thus Emily chooses to flee her failing marriage and settle in a basement apartment, while she builds a shoe business called Emily's Place. Emily has a deep love for her spacey sister and anyone who is down and out. It's not long before one of her employees is found brutally murdered...with a shoe...and Emily's life is turned upside down once again:

"I pictured Kim lying on that cold sidewalk. Then I pictured her lying in a cold, damp grave. What would happen to her body - lost so far from home?

She had no one else. Just me. I had to claim the body. I had to see that she that she was properly buried in this foreign land. And I had to find out who killed her.

After I had a good cry, and a morning cup of coffee, I searched around in the pocket of my raincoat and found the card of the detective who had saved me. From assault and battery charges---had I just pushed that other cop or kicked him? - and had kindly seen that I got home."

Roz Siegel writes a crisp mystery with LOTS of shoes...a real education for the shoe challenged. Her heroine, Emily, is a strong and smart woman pushing away a husband who is cramping her style, even as she creates an atmosphere in her store for average people to come in for a shoe experience normally reserved for the rich. The murderer lurks throughout the book, and Siegel entertains with this gem.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Turbo Charged Recipes
Dian Griesel, Ph.D. with Tom Griese
The Business School of Happiness, Inc.
P.O. Box 302
Washington Depot, CT 06794
9781936705078, $14.95,

This is a great book for people who are healthy eaters, or for those that would like to be, but its also so much more. In the beginning of the book you have a great introduction section. They give you eight easy steps to follow that will help you move towards a healthy lifestyle. In that small section, you will find it packed with great tips that are not hard to follow. The author than goes into some more explaining and follows is an explanation of Turbopower Foods. Here you will find foods such as: Fish, Nuts, Beans, Eggs etc. with much helpful information as to why they should be eaten and also how. I found this very interesting. One of my favorite parts was "Flavoring With Herbs and Spices." I never know what spice goes best with what food. Now I do. It continues on with information about beverages, that is something you don't often see, and going organic or not,. Wow, talk about useful information, it's all here. Following we are blessed with page after page of recipes from Dips and Dressings to Desserts, and everything in between.
Is this book only good for those doing the Turbo Charged Lifestyle? I don't think so, although I feel it is geared towards them. As far as I can see, anyone can use these great recipes and information. It has an introduction that gives you a glance at the mind set you need to have for eating healthy. The book has recipes on everything including veal, sea bass, lobster and, of course, ground beef, roast and tuna. It boasts lots of variety and lots of tasty results. The squash and zucchini soup was my favorite. (although I eat a lot of squash) There is even a vegetarian section. I think this is a must for anyone looking for new ideas in the kitchen, is wanting to improve their health, and lose a few pounds. This book is great for everyone who eats, and that of course would be all of us. Very well done and well worth you time.

Fallen Masters
John Edward
Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
c/o Tor/Forge
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
978076332714, $25.99,

First off this was a very good book, although the way that our author weaved it together is a little different than most. We begin by meeting the main characters and some lessar ones as well that together will round out this entire story. You know there will be supernatural happenings as from the start you will meet, Charlene St John, as a small child, who knows a tragedy has happened before anyone is told of it. She is also in this story as an adult who has the singing voice of an Angel and will be used greatly to help mankind. You meet other characters. We have Mama G, a psychic, Dave Hampton, a popular news man, Dawson, a well known author, Dr. Tyler Michaels, a surgeon who is all about himself, the President of the USA and his family, Religious leaders, and Rae, a tender nurse who plays an important role in many lives. That is just to name some, but not all of the characters in this novel. Each one brings a slice into the picture and the lives and gifting of each one play an important role in the outcome of the world.

It appears that a large dark mass is making its way towards earth, and this one is different than anyone has ever seen before. It seems to have a life of its own, with an evil purpose, that of destroying mankind. No one knows what to do, how to stop its destructive path, until those from the other side make themselves known to bring mankind into the unity of love and goodness. Now this is not an easy job as the darkness from the other side is also at work, swaying men's hearts to bring pain and suffering to each other. We witness death and accidents, earthquakes, and plane crashes, evil carrying bombs and the innocent slather, yet there is the glimmer of light, the essence of hope building in mankind. The war is on.

As I said I liked this book. I am very aware of the forces of good and evil that sweep across our world everyday. I liked the way author, John Edward, brought to life the good and evil. the deception of the evil with mankind was very well developed and showed how evil works with mankind to hurt and destroy, and he also showed the true deception of the darkness leading those by playing on their pain and hurts, needs and wants and nudging them to commit horror with the promise of a better tomorrow for themselves. They don't see the lie until it is too late.

On the flip side, Mr. Edward brought to life the battle that the forces of good must undertake to protect and try to pull mankind into the goodness that would make a difference for all. He showed the battles they often must undertake and the sacrifices that are often needed to bring to pass the desired results that would benefit mankind . This story is about good versus evil, darkness against light, hope against despair. It is a true look into the battle that is fought everyday, with very few knowing it is waging. Does the good win against the mass of darkness that will destroy the world, is mankind doomed to its own destruction because of their evil ways? The answer is for you to find out. Thank you, Mr. Edward, for a book that screams forth the truths that mankind so desperately needs to hear. Very well done.

The Ark
Ken Newman
Sunbury Press
2200 Market Street, Camp Hill, PA 17011
9781620060742, $14.95,

I have always loved the story of Noah's Ark so I was thrilled to read and review this book. I was in for quite a surprise, and a great one at that at what greeted me. Our author, Ken Newman, placed Noah and his family in modern times, but definitely different times. It appears many in the world are under great turmoil and hard times seem to be all around. Noah is still a good, God fearing man in this book, despite the evil worship of other gods around him. Unfortunately for Noah, even his wife has turned from serving the true God, although his love for her is ever strong. I wondered how this would effect Noah's future. A rebellious wife could be a problem.

I was quite impressed to see the Nephilim in this tale and the large part that they played. That was a good move on the authors part and brought some real depth into the read, and interest as well. The story moves on to their being trouble in Noah's household and soon there is separation from his child, and separation from his wife. This comes at a time when Noah is commanded by God to build an ark for the great flood that is coming upon the earth. What a mess! Now all the forces of darkness are aimed at killing Noah and his family and destroying the ark. Will Noah fail to complete God's command and will his family be left behind? Will the Nephilim and the Spirits of darkness declare victory? You will have to find out.

I really liked this book, it was very different from what I was use to from a Noah Ark tale, yet held tightly to the goodness of God and the commitment that Noah had to Him. The storyline had many twists and turns in it which made for quite a bit of excitement throughout. The characters were very well defined and it was clear whose side of the line they were on. I liked how the author twisted things around so you, as the reader, are definitely surprised at some of the outcomes. You just didn't see it coming is all I can say. Locals were well described, you felt you were waking down some of those dark roads that were described. Yikes! Well done. I was totally shocked at the ending, there is no way I could have seen that coming. Good job. All in all, this is a great book, changed around some from the Bible tale that we all know so well, that's for sure, but God is still God, and Noah is still Noah, that does not change. Well done, Mr. Newman.

High Country Killers: Book 4 of the Jake Silver Series
Jere D. James
Moonlight Mesa
c/o Western Book Publishing
18620 Moonlight Mesa Rd., Suite A
Wickenburg, AZ. 85390
9781938628092, $14.95,

Jake Silver is on the move again in this action packed read, "High Country Killers." It appears that our Deputy is going after some pretty dangerous men on this new adventure. Men that are killing off ranchers and then abusing the woman of the house. But why? And who is behind all of these killings? Jake wondered. It was his job to find out, being a U.S. Deputy Marshal and all. However, what about Becky, the love of his life, and his young daughter? Jake struggled with his decision but somehow, as always the call to right a wrong and the call of traveling the wilderness was more than he could turn from. So his adventure begins and Becky, who is again with child, is left to fend for herself and her young daughter. However, while Jake is hunting down killers and flirting with a beautiful young widow that he meets, Becky is making some life changing decisions that will blacken the future for herself and the ones she loves.

The story line of this 4th book is outstanding, every local is detailed so it is clear to your minds eye. Jere D. James has a way of taking you into the very soul of each character that he introduces to the story. They become alive in your mind and emotions. Each character is carefully described, you can feel their evil, their goodness or even their greed. Some you love to hate and others you hate to love The 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. One of murder, greed, and lust, and one that takes you down a shady road. Although there are numerous pit falls along the way, Jake 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 that Jake made, I love each and every book. . I like Jake Silver, his honesty and courage are certainly a badge to wear, but I was quite upset with some of his decisions in the last read and I have to be honest his decision to leave Becky again in this read, and her with child, sent me over the edge. 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!

The Sixth Sense
Lawrence W. Cold, MD
Grass Valley Publishing
c/o CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781478267607, $14.95

Dr. Lawrence W. Gold has written a book that is quite amazing. It is a medical fiction story that is definitely not the norm. We meet Dr. Arnie Roth, a doctor whom you soon grow to love, one who really cares about his patients, and his friends and family. Dr. Gold does a good job laying the foundation of the story. Tragedy strikes our doctor as he becomes sick with encephalitis, almost losing his life. However, something strange happens at his recovery, it appears our Doctors nose can now detect every smell that others are not aware of. At first this seems to be quite amusing and actually brings help to some of his patients, but as time moves on problems develop that are anything but enjoyable. Dr. Roth, knowing by his smell, realizes that something terrible has happened concerning cancer drugs and patients that have not improved or worse, have lost their lives who have taken them. What has happened and who is behind all of this? The plot thickens and you are in for quite a ride as the truth is uncovered.

I enjoyed this book. First, let me say, that I have quite a sense of smell myself. I detect many odors that others are not aware of and have at times saved lives due to quick action. So, I could relate somewhat to what was happening to our Doctor in this read. The author did a great job pulling together the many people who were in one way or another helped by Arnie's gift of smell. He brings them into the storyline and craft-fully weaves their lives together, not an easy task. There is greed, mystery, challenges, sorrow and joy all merged into this story bringing you one great read. It takes a seasoned writer to craft a page turning read around ones gift of smell, but Dr. Gold did just that. Recommended.

Colorful Kisses
Melissa Fusarelli
Perfected Pen, Inc
1229 South US Highway One
Vero Beach, FL 32962
9780982773796, $12.95,

I have to say what an original idea for a children's book, "Colorful Kisses." We all love to give our little ones kisses, they are our expression of love to them and from them. However in this read they may be more than that. In this colorful children's story a twist has been added that definitely will enhance the way your feel about every kiss. Author, Melissa Fussarelli, adds color and emotional expressions to different kisses. Each page is fully illustrated allowing the reader to experience, through visual, what is being felt. The author expresses, "A kiss leaves feelings for colors to find." Interesting thought.

Here are a few examples from this work:" Brown angry kisses as you slip in the hall. And you blame your towel for making you fall." Here you see the child slip and the expression on her face definitely shows her anger at this happening. You see the joy of a Pink Kiss as the book reads,"Pink is your morning kiss, as you smile at me. Soft and sweet it feels, just like cotton candy." The page is covered in pink and the smile of the child is bold.

Kisses are something we all can relate to. Our author has used something a child is comfortable with to open the door for them to see their different emotions that all experience in a new light. I believe this will help a child to be free in expressing their feelings. The illustrations definitely bring the words to life, bold and colorful. This book is a little out of the box, but that is what makes it so great. Recommended.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Escape from Eternity
Nate Scholze
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432789060, $15.95,

One mystery may lead us to another. "Escape from Eternity" follows Laura Whitmore and her collision with an unknown British man who leads her to more curiosity than a man from across the pond usually brings. Delving into the realms of science fiction with a hefty dose of drama, "Escape from Eternity" is a captivating and much recommended addition to general fiction collections, not to be missed.

Artifacts of Death
Rich Curtin
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781453890851, $12.95,

A dead body in a small town can lead to many questions. "Artifacts of Death" is a mystery set in the deserts of Utah, as a man turns up dead shot and impaled. Deputy Sheriff Manny Rivera tries to find what's going on, ruling the simple solution of drug deal gone bad from the table, and the people get antsy, not wanting the rumors to damage the town's tourism. "Artifacts of Death" is a riveting read of desert drama and mystery, very much recommended.

Approaching the Corporate Heart
Margot Cairnes
Balboa Press
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452534039, $19.95,

There are people in business; ignoring this has long-standing damage potential. "Approaching the Corporate Heart: Breaking Through to New Horizons of Personal and Professional Success" is a business advisory guide from Margot Cairnes, as she advises those in the corporate culture to revamp their attitudes towards the people they work with and their business to avoid the spiritual and emotional damage that comes with how many modern businesses approach it. "Approaching the Corporate Heart" is a solid and much recommended pick for self-help collections relating to business.

The God Antenna
Niko Zinovii
Zinovii Art Studio
9780985223007, $13.95,

As we meet new worlds, everything we know is challenged. "The God Antenna" is a science fiction novel from Niko Zinovii as he explores the time of First contact with other worlds and the changes that it does to the world, exploring the impact of the contact and blending in traditional and biblical mythology and everything else. With plenty to think about stewed in, "The God Antenna" is a read that is very much worth considering for those seeking science fiction with an original take.

Operation Fer-De-Lance
Marc Sanders
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781469929453, $14.95,

When the enemy places everything into one last strike, you have to brace for it and fight back. "Operation Fer-De-Lance" is a modern thriller as author Marc Sanders writes of the Al-Qaeda's massive plot against the power and information of America to send them into chaos. Richard Webb must lead a unit to stop the plot before it happens, but there may be more hazards than they can manage. "Operation Fer-De-Lance" is worth considering for fans of intrigue and modern thriller.

Schwinn Black Phantom
Sue Perkins
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781466921337, $24.23,

No one wants to be a cripple, and it will be fought every step of the way. "Schwinn Black Phantom: What Happened in 1949, We Kept to Ourselves" is a novel of facing adversity as Warren is afflicted with polio and refuses to accept defeat and being a cripple. Against all odds, he lives a full life, a life worth looking back on. "Schwinn Black Phantom" is an enticing read of life and overcoming it, very much recommended reading.

Mint on the Pillow
JoAnn Irwin Crawley
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781468506150, $28.99,

Health care is founded in the second half of the phrase - care. "Mint on the Pillow: A Nurse's Story" is a memoir from a woman with four decades of experience as a nurse, who is seeking to share her own story on the realities of modern healthcare, and her own ideas on how to solve the problems that the health care industry, the nursing wing in particular, constantly face. "Mint on the Pillow" is a strong addition to general memoir collections, especially to those with an interest in health care.

The History and Evolution of Healthcare in America
Thomas W. Loker
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781475900736, $25.95,

Medicine has greatly improved in the last few hundred years. "The History and Evolution of Healthcare in America: The Untold Backstory of Where We've Been, Where We Are, and Why Healthcare Needs Reform" explores the history of healthcare and how it has become corrupt in recent history. Thomas Loker discusses the flaws in the American health system and how it's spiraling out of control, and what can be done to rein it in. "The History and Evolution of Healthcare in America" is well worth reading for those who want to better understand modern American healthcare.

The China Oil Plot
Chuck Van Soye
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432791308, $12.95,

The world's thirst for oil is unquenchable. "The China Oil Plot: Operation Ace in the Hole" is a novel focused on the lust for oil, and the oil boom of Venezuela. Bret Lee and his wife delve into the complex circumstances surrounding where powers from all over are leveraging to claim their share of the oil supply. "The China Oil Plot" is a riveting read that will keep the pages turning, a choice pick for those who want a novel that explores a modern critical issue.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Observations of the Coral Reef
Hunter Vaughan
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470007898, $6.95,

The curve balls of life challenge us to piece it all together. "Observations of the Coral Reef" is a collection of short fiction and memoir from Hunter Vaughan as he ponders many aspects of life in many avenues and what it all means to him. "Observations of the Coral Reef" is a humorous and unique twist of life and all of tis woes, very much recommended.

Sergio Magana
Blossoming Books
9788896865064, $17.99,

For those who follow the metaphysical, 2012 is the start of something major. "2012-2021: The Dawn of the Sixth Sun" explores Mayan mythology and lore to understand what will come with December 21st, 2012, where many believe the Mayans have foretold the end of the world coming. Bringing a spiritual understanding to it all and the world behind it, "2012-2021" is well worth considering for followers of metaphysical philosophy, highly recommended.

Tampico's Gold
Elizabeth Braun
Austin & Macauley Publishing
9781849630252, $8.99,

Being an outsider trying to merge into the culture around us can often be a daunting task. "Tampico's Gold" is a novel from Elizabeth Braun following English woman Elizabeth Braun as she moves to Mexico with her husband in the early twentieth century. Outcast as alien by the locals, she tries to joint he culture and refuses to be in solitude. A story that will resonate to anyone who has been in a similar fish out of water situation, "Tampico's Gold" is an insightful addition to literary historical fiction collections.

The Assassin's Tear
Karen Azinger
Kiralynn Epics
9780983516033, $9.95,

Fantasy and reality are not all that far apart. "The Assassin's Tear" is a collection of short fiction from Karen Azinger, who presents delves into the realm of fantasy by using his own original creation Erdhe and delving into history and mythology as well to create intriguing stories that ask questions and make readers ponder our world. "The Assassin's Tear" is strongly recommended for short fiction collections focusing on fantasy.

The Xavier Mosaic: Prince Asyrias
Emma Austen
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468115260, $22.95,

The beast within is often a curse, but it can become a blessing as well. "The Xavier Mosaic: Prince Asyrias" follows a man who appears to be half-beast in Silas. As he rescues a girl when an exile from his home village, he seeks to save her, and in return, she tries to save him, as they try to find the truth behind their city and country. The first entry in the series, "Prince Asyrias" is an enticing twist of fantasy, very much recommended reading.

The 5 Moons of Tiana
Paul T. Harry
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9780615528311, $16.10,

Into deep space, we have the unknown and danger at every turn. "The 5 Moons of Tiana: The Chronicles of Rez Cantor" is a science fiction epic of adventure, as Paul T. Harry tells of heis hero Rez Cantor, who is racing through the universe to save his empire and save his family. Journeying to each of the nearby moons, he must touch on each of them in order to thwart the plot to topple his country. "The 5 Moons of Tiana" is a riveting science fiction read that will be hard to put down, highly recommended.

The Orange Robe
Marsha Goluboff Low
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781450230131, $23.95,

To understand the world, one must see more of it. "The Orange Robe: My Eighteen Years as a Yogic Nun" is a memoir from Marsha Goluboff, as she shares her story of graduating to college and traveling to the Middle East and Asia among other places to take up the robe of the Yogic monk, and in the process of her travels seeing many things that couldn't be called holy or spiritual in any way. "The Orange Robe" is a thoughtful read of world travel and the nature of the Yogic monk, highly recommended.

Austin Thomas
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466391666, $14.95,

There are those who were vital in establishing the American west but aren't icons of history. "Logan" is the story of Logan Vandeveer, a Kentucky Texas Ranger. Austin Thomas delves into real history to create a dramatic narrative surrounding who he holds as an unsung hero of the the west, and his bonds that he formed with the natives and the other readers. "Logan" presents an intriguing story of the old west and those forgotten, a much recommended addition to historical and western fiction collections.

Shadows of the Past
E. A. Jensen
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432787967, $13.95,

The war between the supernatural costs human lives. "Shadows of the Past" is a novel of Krisa Heinrich, a woman who wanted to leave it all behind. Forced to return to her hometown and face off against the Vampire Council and their influence on her own family. Having to get to the bottom of a string of killings with lots of red tape strewn about, "Shadows of the Past" is a much recommended for those who are enticed by modern vampire driven fiction.

How to Build Kingdom-Minded Organizations
Mark A. Griffin
Privately Published
9780615617510, $21.99,

There's more to one's church than just the church. "How to Build Kingdom-Minded Organizations" is a guide to better Christian leadership by taking a business minded approach to allowing an organization to flourish and promote Christian values when keeping a business alive seems all the too difficult. With plenty of sage advice, "How to Build Kingdom-Minded Organizations" is worth considering for any Christian business leader.

Warding Off Demonic Attacks In Jesus Name
Robert Peprah-Gyamfi
Thank You Jesus Books
c/o PrimeStar Publicity & Public Relations
9780957078017, $14.99,

One of the promises Jesus Christ is recorded in the Gospels is that in his name his followers would be able to cast out demons from those afflicted with them. "Warding Off Demonic Attacks In Jesus Name" is the explicit and detailed story of how Dr. Robert Peprah-Gyamfi was able to ward off a demonic attack as a practicing Christian and restore himself to health as a result. This 198-page personal testimony and witness demonstrates and exemplifies how any Christian can avail themselves in accesses the power of Christ in their own struggle with demonic principalities and worldly wickedness. "Warding Off Demonic Attacks In Jesus Name" is highly recommended reading for all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation.

Paul T. Vogel

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design