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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 13, Number 8 August 2013 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Andy's Bookshelf BarJD's Bookshelf
Beni's Bookshelf Bethany's Bookshelf Bonnie's Bookshelf
Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf Carson's Bookshelf
Crocco's Bookshelf Daniel's Bookshelf Gail's Bookshelf
Gary's Bookshelf Gloria's Bookshelf Gorden's Bookshelf
Henry's Bookshelf Janet's Bookshelf Karyn's Bookshelf
Logan's Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf Marjorie's Bookshelf
Mayra's Bookshelf Peggy's Bookshelf Regis' Bookshelf
Sandra's Bookshelf Susan's Bookshelf Teri's Bookshelf
Theodore's Bookshelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Lone Wolves
John Smelcer
Leapfrog Press
P.O. Box 505, Fredonia, NY 14063
9781935248408, $16.00,

Amanda Langendoerfer

"Lone Wolves" is a vivid tale which draws the reader into the harsh, yet compelling, beauty of the North. Smelcer's intimate knowledge of Alaska captures a world which, while seemingly isolated in many ways, has a deep connection to community and cultural heritage. The inclusion of the Ahtna Native language and tribal history continues the preservation of this culture while simultaneously connecting to the younger audience with contemporary issues. A refreshing read with a charming and youthfully mature protagonist, Lone Wolves is a compassionate and inspiring tale which highlights the importance of family, community, and heritage. It should also be noted that "Lone Wolves" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Unstoppables
Bill Schley
Foreword by Graham Weston
John Wiley and Sons
c/o Wiley Professional Trade Group
111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
9781118459492, $24.95,

Emanuel Carpenter, Reviewer

Since the Great Recession began in 2008, more and more people have looked towards entrepreneurship as a solution to joblessness. And with the need for entrepreneurs comes the need for information in books like The Unstoppables: Tapping Your Entrepreneur Power by Bill Schley. Schley is the co-founder of BrandTeamSix, a firm that helps new business owners. But does the book help them?

It may surprise you to discover that the first half of the book reads like a long, dry, White Paper. What's even more shocking is that the book has a multitude of typos, something you don't expect in a traditionally published book such as this. And though Graham Weston, co-founder of Rackspace, wrote the foreword, you may be turned off by the non-stoppable references to his company's success.

The book's saving grace comes in Part II, where the book transforms into a cornucopia of brilliant ideas on the difference between optimizers and entrepreneurs, the importance of teams, how to sell, and how to market your company. That in itself makes the book worth getting and keeping as a reference guide for entrepreneurs.

The book concludes by sharing why entrepreneurship is so important for America. Schley even gives suggestions as to how to deliver business ownership classes in schools and universities. The ideas make a very interesting read.

If you can get past the typos and the long commercial for Rackspace, you will learn a lot from The Unstoppables.


Finding Inner Peace: The Key to Happiness
Alice Hocker
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B00AVAXZKG, $2.99,

Irene S. Roth

How many of you search for happiness and peace and yet you are very still unhappy and unfulfilled? Do you always want more and more and yet you feel less and less fulfilled? If you are one of these individuals, Alice Hocker's book Finding Inner Peace: The Key to Happiness is for you

It seems that from the time we are born, we are seeking and searching for love, acceptance, and a sense of belonging, a feeling of security, to be respected, to feel values, to respect yourself, and to be recognized. Yet, so many of us don't get all of these things, regardless of how hard we try. We feel frustrated and exhausted, and our quality and meaning of life suffers.

One of the main reasons why we're so unhappy is because our life is led by our self-centered ego. When we live this way, even our happiness is short-lived. We may get all the things we want, yet we still feel empty. And the more we seek, the more frustrated we become because we are looking for the wrong kinds of things to satisfy us.

We must let go of trying to control everything in our lives and just let everything and everyone be. This can be so freeing and gratifying. It can also take you off the pedestal of the extreme lows and highs of life and help you to live a more abundant life that is directly connected to your inner being.

To achieve this, we have to turn inward for our contentment and happiness and not outside. We have to alter how we perceive ourselves. We need to stay in balance with who we are and our real source. We should also live from a place of gratitude instead of always expecting more and more. When we change our attitude from wanting to gratitude, we will be much happier and much more content. This gratitude will help us to exude more love towards others. And when we give love to others, we will also receive it abundantly.

I loved this book from beginning to end. The reader will be transported into a new orbit of gratitude and self-respect after reading this book. Thank you Alice for writing such a great book!

This book review was first published on Blogcritics.

Haunted Falls
K. Farmer and B. Stienke
Timber Creek Press
9780989122030, $14.49,

Israel Drazin, Reviewer

I really enjoyed this book, the plot, people, suspense, humor, and the colorful western language the characters used. Farmer and Stienke wrote six books, four that are military action thrillers and two historical western fictions. This is the second western. It follows The Nations, has the same main hero, US Deputy Marshall Bass Reeves; but readers who did not read The Nations will still be able to follow this novel and enjoy it because it is a totally new adventure.

Bass Reeves, Selden Lindsey, and Bill Dalton were actual living men, and we are introduced in this novel to many interesting facts about them and their era. There is also imaginative and somewhat mystical material in the novel, such as the behavior of an Indian Shaman and the restless spirit of a dead girl and a sacred wolf/dog aiding Bass's friend, but even people who dislike mystical aspects will still enjoy this tale because these events are presented so delightfully.

Oops, I Lost My Sense Of Humor
Lois Wells Santalo
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, Indiana 47403
9780595258406, $12.95,

Jessica Wood

For the young, old age seems a long way off, something they need not worry about for years to come. Yet recent studies have shown that many physical problems of the elderly start in their thirties and forties, and with reasonable care these problems might have been avoided.

We all want to live to a ripe old age, but only if we can carry on with our life while bypassing debilitating diseases. We hope to be that rare person still running marathons, or writing books, at age 90. Yet often we fail to take the necessary steps to get us there.

Of course, good genes help. But we should do all we can, because it's later than you think. That far-off time is rushing toward you. Astonishingly soon, you'll begin to wonder what happened to that person who could dance most of the night and still go off to work in the morning.

As a survivor of both breast cancer and pancreatic cancer, author Lois Wells Santalo speaks as an expert on living long and prospering. In her book, Oops, I Lost My Sense of Humor, she describes her operation for pancreatic cancer, undertaken at age 81 amid doubts by the doctor that surgery could be successful at such an advanced age. The doctor said, "I wouldn't attempt this on a person even slightly obese." She insisted everything had to be right: no heart condition, no threat of organ failures on the operating table. "I was lucky," Lois says. "A folk dance enthusiast, I'd developed through dancing a strong heart and maintained youthful internal organs."

While facing the dreaded O-day, the operation which would either save or end her time on earth, the author probes deeply into the question of the meaning of life. Looking back, she describes major events including the loss of two much-loved husbands, her conflicts with her mother, her love of opera, and even a road trip across country that was undertaken at age seventeen when she'd never seen a mountain and felt terrified of the "naked geology" of the West. Later, the wife of a concert pianist, she was called upon to host musical salons and accompany her husband to high-society events even while the couple scraped by on minimal G.I. bill funds. Her life was challenging but never dull.

Working for many years as a reader and ghost writer for her literary agent, the author had struggled mightily but with minimum success to meet publishers' guidelines in her own writing. After her operation, she threw out the guidelines and wrote from the heart, seeking to express what she alone had to say to the world. The advent of Print on Demand publishing made this possible, and in the eleven extra years so far granted to her, she has produced six novels as well as the memoir.

The last section of the book is a triumphant update of her survival: "Ten years and counting." Her story is an inspiration to the upcoming retirees on how not to go gentle into that good night. Highly recommended.

Play Dead
Michael A. Arnzen
Raw Dog Screaming Press
9781935738336, $15.95,

Lee Allen Howard, Reviewer

"'When an artist makes a card, they channel the Fates. And that's playin' with fire.'" The same can be said of award-winning horror author Michael A. Arnzen's latest novel, Play Dead. Cleverly disguised as a pack of cards--four suits, thirteen cards each--the book has fifty-two chapters in all, which Arnzen deftly deals. And they play like an actual game: you never know what card will turn up next or how it will affect the outcome.

Set in Las Vegas, the book introduces quirky characters plagued with vices that consume their lives, whether lived in a homeless shelter or a posh casino where the liquor and cash flow like blood from a victim's stab wound. The characters take lives to create a suit of photo cards in order to qualify as players in a game of "Butcher Boy," a contest in which their own lives are the stakes.

The story opens with Johnny Frieze, down on his luck, losing a poker match that he must pay off with the only thing of value he has left: a gold incisor. Watch as Johnny bangs his head on the sink to extract the tooth. Arnzen shows us the snapshot and doesn't flinch.

Like a game of high-stakes poker, the story progresses hand after hand with increasing intensity, the characters tempting fate while they seal their own. As Johnny regains his lucky streak, he moves from the homeless shelter to the home of an aging slots queen, picking up a girlfriend in the process. Can he save his lover and play the game too? Can he play the game--and win?

Arnzen is a master of the concise. This book is relatively short, under 300 pages, but packs a powerful wallop. He has published several volumes of horrific poetry, including Gorelets: Unpleasant Poems, and the Gorelets Omnibus. Like his anthology of dark flash fiction, 100 Jolts, Play Dead is published by the independent Raw Dog Screaming Press and due out this summer in trade paperback. In 2005 the hardback was packaged as a limited special edition in the "Grim Grimoire Bloodline" series, featuring a handmade 3D resin cover designed by Z Malice & Co. Freakcidents is Arnzen's collection of thirty poems about sideshow freaks. In conjunction with Nathan Rosen of and Raw Dog Screaming Press, Arnzen is plastering iceboxes across the world with his Fridge of the Damned Magnetic Poetry Kit.

Arnzen is a Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker multiple award winner. The first he won for his debut novel, Grave Markings. He is a Ph.D. and professor of English at Seton Hill University, where he plays a major part in the school's MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction.

Go UnDiet: 50 Small Actions for Lasting Weight Loss
Gloria Tsang
HealthCastle Media
34A-2755 Lougheed Highway, Suite 606
Port Coquitlam, BC V3B 5Y9 CANADA
9780983216797, $21.95,

Paul Lappen, Reviewer

Like most people, you have tried every diet known to man. Whatever weight you are able to lose comes right back. After 14 or 28 days, or however long the diet lasts, do you go through the whole cycle again? Instead of getting discouraged, or believing that you are destined to be overweight forever, there is an alternative.

Forget about dieting. Forget low-carb/high-carb, or low-fat/high-fat. This book provides easy actions, that anyone can do, that can only help your weight loss. In addition to reading the nutrition label, also read the ingredient list. The shorter the list, the better; if it contains anything that sounds like it belongs in a chemistry experiment, put it back on the shelf. If you feel the need to cut back on anything, cut back on your salt intake. Items that say they are "low fat" use chemicals to replace the taste that was removed with the fat.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are best, but don't ignore those that are frozen or canned; they can be just as nutritious. Stay away from products with cartoon characters on the box. Also stay away from products with partially hydrogenated oil. When it comes to meat, it has less fat and calories than many junk foods. Choose meat from animals that are raised naturally, and totally avoid processed meats. Drinking several glasses of water per day can be very boring, so add a tea bag or some frozen fruit.

Use produce to put some color in your diet. When looking for a multivitamin supplement, choose one that is right for your age and gender. Don't worry if you can't prepare a home-cooked meal every night; any home cooking is better than nothing. Don't be afraid of fish; it isn't all high in mercury.

Don't try to do everything in this book at the same time. Pick just one action, and do it for a week. When you have it firmly under control, add another action to it. Losing weight does not get much easier than this. It is very easy to read, and will work for anyone.

Privacy Wars
John Trudel
Trudel Group
9780983588634, $14.95,

Tyler Francke, Reviewer
The Newberg Graphic, September 26, 2012

Electronic or Internet privacy is the subject of local author John Trudel's latest novel, "Privacy Wars," his second piece following his debut effort last year, "God's House." Trudel's work is a true example of art imitating life. A retired electrical engineer and developing technology consultant, he draws from his real-life experiences working with the likes of Intel, Hewlett-Packard and IBM for his stories.

"I got to work with fascinating technology and interesting people from all over the world, and I kept thinking, 'I could put this in a novel,'" he said. "So whenever something weird would happen, I'd write it down and throw it in a file."

He's put that file to good use in the development of five total novels (his third - "Soft Target" - is due out next year). They're all what he calls "cybertech thrillers," his attempt at forging a new subgenre that combines real technology and history with elements of politics, suspense, espionage, adventure and even a touch of romance.

"What I do is I take real situations, real people, real technologies and real science, and I stretch them," he said.

As evidence that he's been successful in his goal, he turns to the back cover of "Privacy Wars," on which is printed recommendations from authors who specialize in a variety of genres, as well as Alex C. Johnson, who is actually not an author at all but a partner at a large, Portland-based patent law firm.

"As a high-technology patent lawyer, I see an accurate depiction of today's legal and political context, and a thriller driven by plausible extrapolations of current technology and science," Johnson wrote of the book.

All of Trudel's novels are set in the same world - a version of our own, set just a few years in the future. Like "Privacy Wars," much of the action is based in Oregon - although he is purposefully vague about specific places and cities.

And while his books share some characters, the protagonists are usually very different. For example, while "God's House" starred a rogue CIA operative, the main character of "Privacy Wars" is a scientist and teacher who finds himself falsely accused of serious crimes and beset by a number of powerful and sinister forces.

Trudel said he likes to leave his fictional world open-ended to give himself freedom in writing future books, as well as in possible crossovers to other mediums, like film and television.

"I like to keep my options open," he said.

Although he admitted the jump from technical, nonfiction writing - which he did often during his professional career - to novels has been difficult, he said local writing communities have helped him immensely.

"It's just a good environment here," he said. "It's very interesting, and a good place for a writer."

Trudel and his wife make their home in Newberg and Mesa, Ariz. "Privacy Wars" was published earlier this month. It is expected to be available in hard copy and e-book form on soon, and in select bookstores by the end of October. For more information, visit

Andy's Bookshelf

Ask Dr. BlackJack
Sam Barrington
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781477299326, $14.95,

Blackjack, also known as twenty-one, is the most widely played casino banking game in the world.[1] Blackjack is a comparing card game between a player and dealer, meaning that players compete against the dealer but not against any other players. Blackjack is played with one or more decks of 52 cards. The object of the game is to reach 21 points or to reach a score higher than the dealer without exceeding 21.

The player or players are dealt an initial two card hand and add the total of their cards. Face cards (Kings, Queens, and Jacks) are counted as ten points. The player and dealer can count his own ace as 1-point or 11 points. All other cards are counted as the numeric value shown on the card. After receiving their initial two cards, players have the option of getting a "hit," which means taking an additional card. In a given round, the player or the dealer wins by having a score of 21 or by having the highest score that is less than 21. Scoring higher than 21 (called "busting" or "going bust") results in a loss. A player may win by having any final score equal to, or less than 21 if the dealer busts. If a player holds an ace valued as 11, the hand is called "soft", meaning that the player cannot go bust by taking an additional card; otherwise, the hand is "hard".

The dealer has to take hits until his cards total 17 or more points. (In some casinos, the dealer also hits on a "soft" 17, e.g. initial ace and six.) Players who do not bust and have a total higher than the dealer, win. The dealer will lose if he or she busts, or has a lesser hand than the player who has not busted. If the player and dealer have the same point total, this is called a "push" and the player typically does not win or lose money on that hand.

Many rule variations of blackjack exist. Since the 1960s, blackjack has been a high profile target of advantage players, particularly card counters, who track the profile of cards that have been dealt and adapt their wager and playing strategies accordingly.

In "Ask Dr. BlackJack", author Sam Barrington draws upon his more than 30 years of experience and expertise in playing this popular casino game to deftly write a 156 page instruction compendium that covers the 'nuts & bolts' of the game while offering a wealth of practical player tips reinforced and illustrated by real-world player examples. Thoroughly 'user friendly', "Ask Dr. BlackJack" is an invaluable introduction to the game and enthusiastically recommended for anyone headed for a casino blackjack table! It should also be noted that "Ask Dr. BlackJack" is also available in hardcover ($23.99) and Kindle ($3.99) editions.

The John Marsh Journal: Volume II
Brian Robins
Pendragon Press
PO Box 190, Hillsdale, NY 12529
9781576471630, $86.00,

John Marsh (31 May 1752 - 31 October 1828) was an English music composer, born in Dorking, England. A lawyer by training, he is known to have written at least 350 compositions, including at least 39 symphonies. While today known primarily for his music, he also had strong interest in other fields, including astronomy and philosophy, and wrote books about astronomy, music, religion, and geometry.

Marsh lived in Dorking, Gosport, Romsey, Salisbury and Canterbury before settling in Chichester in 1787 until his death in 1828. As a concert organizer, he was responsible for the music making in the towns and cities where he worked, especially in Chichester, where he led the subscription concerts for some 35 years.

Marsh was perhaps the most prolific English composer of his time. His own catalog of compositions records over 350 works, of which he lists 39 symphonies. Of these, only the nine that Marsh had printed are extant, together with three one-movement finales.

Marsh was a man of varied interests, and his 37 volumes of journals are among the most valuable sources of information on life and music in 18th-century England. They represent one of the most important musical and social documents of the period. It remained unpublished until the first volume was published in 1998. In one passage, Marsh describes the great Handel Commemoration of 1784 in London.

Deftly edited and extensively annotated by Brian Robins, "The John Marsh Journals: Volume II - The Life and times of a Gentleman Composer (1752-1828)" completes the personal journal-based life of John Marsh that began with the first volume, "The John Marsh Journals Vol. 1 Revised Edition" (Pendragon Press, 9781576471739, $84.00, 799 pp.). Enhanced with a number of historical illustrations, a catalog of the composer's musical compositions, a roster of articles and other literary works by Marsh, a three page bibliography, an index of Marsh's compositions and literary works, and a comprehensive general index, "The John Marsh Journals: Volume II - The Life and times of a Gentleman Composer (1752-1828)" is a monumental and chronologically organized work of impeccable scholarship. A seminal study, no academic library's European Music History collection can be considered either comprehensive or complete without the inclusion of the two volumes on journals of John Marsh as published by Pendragon Press as part of their outstanding series 'The Sociology and Social history of Music'.

Andy Jordan

BarJD's Bookshelf

Desolate Heart
Sidney Archer
Ecanus Publishing Co., LLC
Ramsgate, Kent, United Kingdom
9780957412675, $14.99,

Desolate Heart features a mysterious painting where the hero, Andrew Wade, seems to be trapped in exile through an evil spell conjured by a local medicine woman for a young woman with a fatal attraction to him. 100 years later, the painting attracts Abigail Matthews, heroine. Abigale is compulsively drawn to the roadside antique shop in the Ozarks Mountains, where this unusual painting is for sale. She is literally drawn into the painting and transported into Andrew Wade's existence where neither has the power of escape. True love is the key to their escape, can they keep that love strong?

With a few different directions from a typical romance, Desolate Heart keeps the reader intrigued in a pleasure read. Expect intelligent vocabulary and description to set a good scene. Just the sort of book that I want to read to relax, not be shocked or disgusted. Sidney Archer touches the darker, deeper romance without erotica or profanity.

A Peace At A Time
C.J. Braden
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781480017214, $12.00,

As a child, Braden tells us, she had expectations for her life that didn't develop. She took a long and round-about route through her days, spending fifty-five years in a spiritual desert, battling enemies on her own power. Believing she was the responsible party, she determined to develop personal power to appear to be strong, capable and in control. She studied some spiritual material, but largely felt that God and God's people were phony...yet there was that 'whisper' to her spirit. As time after time, when control failed and betrayal ran rampant while marriages, health and relationships all crumbled around her, the whisper remained.

At age 59, a chance invitation by a friend to join in a three person Bible study led to tremendous and miraculous changes. For the first time, this one woman saw the light of Christ and could wrap her head around it. "A Peace At A Time" tracks her wandering through a Godless spiritual desert to the point of salvation and a forward path of speedy spiritual growth.

"A Peace At A Time" has been well-received by women's groups where Braden has shared her story and book. The book is more than a catalog of one person's experiences and certainly not a catalog of anyone's recommended or demanded beliefs or convictions. The life skills stories carry profound reflection on the point: had she known how close God was to her at these times, things could have been so blessedly different. Now that the author is aware that God is close by her, she has trust in His partnership with her as the tangles of the past are forgiven and paths leaving forward are cleared.

I, the reviewer, was the third person at that Bible Study. Not only was it a time of turning for C.J., we all had exceptional moments of clarity about where we stood with God. We were able to have vigorous discussions and sharing without fear and rancor destroying the fellowship. Because of those summer mornings, we've seen others hear the story and/or read the book to find places in a life that they can identify with. Places that are soft, rotting spots that they were not sure could be fixed. We've all found encouragement from printed evidence that somewhere in our time warp, someone has experienced a similar condition assuring us that God is home and taking our calls.

This is C.J. Braden's debut book. I've encouraged her to lift parts of it and expand them, fictionally if necessary, to get more out there from this story. The health conditions that came with the fifty-five years of desert are still trying to derail her, but she's moving toward offering more of her talent for putting words together in future works.

JudyAnn Lorenz, Reviewer

Beni's Bookshelf

Ann Aguirre
Ace Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10014
978042525811, $7.99,

Perdition is a fast-paced action sci fi adventure that takes place aboard an orbiting prison ship with no guards and no rules, and is set in the universe created by Ann Aguirre in her Sirantha Jax series.

Perdition is also a no-holds-barred, gripping story.

Dred, the leader of a marry band of cutthroats, finds her zone under eminent attack by two rival gangs, the Grigors and Priests. Her only hope of survival is to team up with a death cult lead by a woman named Silence.

Dred fights for survival every day... but there is a traitor in the mix. With several suspects to choose from, the traitor turns out to be someone unexpected.

Action, romance, betrayal and survival all weave into a gripping, fast- paced story that flows well, as all great book do. Perdition is one of the best sci fi books of 2013: it's Ann Aguirre at her best.

Wolf in Shadow
John Lambshead
Baen Publishing
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781451639100, $15.00,

Deamons, fae, witches, shapeshifters and guns: oh my. Wolf in Shadow is set in urban modern-day London. Rhian, a Welsh lass who is running away from tragedy moves to London into the East End. There she takes a room with Frankie, who turns out to be a practicing, consulting witch.

Rhian then discovers her blackouts are caused by a wolf pendant she found in the old country. Attacked by Fae and rescued by Deamons, Rhian finds herself in the midst of a battle to save London from an otherworld portal being opened, releasing death and destruction unto London.

John Lambshed takes the reader on a fun, fast paced romp through urban London, providing a delightful English flair. If you like urban fantasy, you will love Wolf in Shadow.

Generation V
M.L. Brennan
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451418401, $7.99,

Fortitude Scott ('Fort' to his friends) is the typical 20-something dealing with a boring job, old car and family trouble, including a older brother, a domineering sister, and an old-money mother. Of course they are vampires. So is Fort, but he doesn't want to be one.

With a new vampire in town, Fort's family hires a sassy, shape-shifting bodyguard to protect young Fort. When young girls go missing, Fort and Suzume take on the hunt for their killer.

M.l Brennan's Generation V puts a new twist on the urban vampire story. The character development and plot are refreshingly well done, which made the book a joy to read. For a first novel, it is exceedingly well-done.

Beni Bacon

Bethany's Bookshelf

The Missing Semester
Matt Kabala & Gene Natali Jr.
Privately Published
9780985531591, $16.99,

One of the serious omissions of our public school system is that we do not teach students about money management, the hazards of making unwise financial decisions, the dangers of misusing credit, and effective strategies for saving and investing. That's why "The Missing Semester" by Matt Kabala and Gene Natali Jr. should be carefully read by every highschool graduating senior moving directly into the world of work and every college student struggling to make ends meet. "The Missing Semester" is a succinct, 102 page compendium comprised of sound 'real world' instructive advice on everything from understanding debt, to car loans, student loans, credit cards, Roth IRAs, ways to save, and how to invest. Informed, informative, and thoroughly 'user friendly', a copy of "The Missing Semester" should be in every high school and college library in the country.

Winning Investment Decisions
Walter F. Wild, Ph.D.
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
Bohlsen Group (publicity)
9781450076579 $29.99 hc / $19.99 pbk. / $3.99 ebook

Professional psychologist and manager of several investment portfolios Walter F. Wild, Ph.D. presents Winning Investment Decisions, an eyes-wide-open examination of the realities, dangers, and opportunities facing modern-day investors. Drawing upon wisdom from the fields of both finance and psychology, Winning Investment Decisions instructs the reader on how to wisely make one's own investment decisions, without paying others to manage one's money (thus risking losses to either incompetence of malfeasance). " may lose money even with an accurate tip. If you as a layman have received a tip, you may expect that many others before you have received the same information. For example, suppose that the information is about a disaster that has not yet been announced. Learning of this unknown disaster, many will have immediately sold the stock short... If you sell short now, you stand the decided risk that, when the disaster is publically announced, the stock will rise rather than fall! Why should it rise in response to a disaster? Because all those previous short sellers will choose this time to cover their short positions." From common psychological hazards, to risk/benefit analysis, to adjusting investment strategies for the stages of life and more, Winning Investment Decisions lives up to its title and is highly recommended.

Susan Bethany

Bonnie's Bookshelf

42 Rules for Superior Field Service
Rosemary Coates & Jim Reily
Super Star Press
20660 Stevens Creek Blvd., Suite 210
Cupertino, CA 95014
9781607730705, $19.95 (pb), $14.95 (ebook),

I found it interesting that the authors of "42 Rules for Superior Field Service: The Keys to Profitable Field Service and Customer Loyalty", Rosemary Coates and Jim Reily, did not know each other before writing this book. They spent two years interviewing executives from various companies and combined that information with their experience in global manufacturing and field service to create this material.

Although there are 42 Rules in this book like others in the series the book is structured a bit differently. You'll find the material organized in these sections:

Part I: Sales and Marketing
Part II: Operations
Part III: Supply Chain and Finance
Part IV: People
Part V: Internal Departments
Appendix A Contributors' Biographies
Appendix B Software Solutions for Field Service
Appendix C Consulting Audit Checklist
Appendix D Field Service Key Performance Indicators
Appendix E Assessing Your Field Service Current State

There are many tips from executives in large companies like Cisco and General Electric that will help readers think bigger when it comes to field service. So many topics are covered in this book that it will make your head spin... procurement, mergers and acquisitions, counterfeit parts, maintenance contracts, trunk inventories, dealing with international staff and more. The information is broken down into bite sized chunks that are easy to digest.

My favorite rule was #4 "Form Customer Advisory Boards to Build Loyalty". The time to get customer input is before a crisis happens. The authors recommend that you invite your top 20% of customers in terms of revenue and find out what they want and what they need. This ties in nicely with a later chapter that discusses customer surveys and feedback.

If your company provides field service to customers then you absolutely must read this book and buy it in bulk for your employees. Smart readers will recognize that they can take the material in this book and create a training program for employees that will catapult their field service above and beyond their competitors.

42 Rules of Cold Calling Executives, second edition
A Practical Guide for Telesales, Telemarketing, Direct Marketing and Lead Generation
Mari Anne Vanella
Super Star Press
20660 Stevens Creek Blvd., Suite 210
Cupertino, CA 95014
9781607730996,$19.95, ebook $9.99,

When I want to read on the topic of selling I look first at the author's background before buying the book. Mari Anne Vanella certainly has the expertise and experience to write on this topic. Her company, Vanella Group, Inc., is a telesales firm with clients in the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley. Ms. Vanella certainly knows what she is talking about.

We have all been on the receiving end of a cold caller who knows nothing about our interests or needs. I particularly enjoy the calls from mortgage companies who want to refinance a house I don't own. That is why cold calling has such a negative connotation and the author of this book addresses that issue up front in the introduction. Her goal is to teach readers strategies for removing the "cold" from cold calling.

In addition to discussing the necessary research needed before a cold caller picks up the phone the author also covers the importance of asking questions and listening to the answers, why a cold call shouldn't be a "selling" call, how to monitor and improve your own calls using voice mail, how to track down the best prospects, what to say when you find them, the importance of good note taking and more.

Although this book is written for someone who cold calls executives the material can certainly be useful to anyone who does cold calling. Twenty-seven years ago I worked for a headhunter who used cold calling to reach prospects. I had the delightful task of managing these callers and I wish I had a copy of this book back then. It would have made my life much easier.

My favorite chapter in this book is Rule #6: Identify Prospects From Prospects. Cold callers often give up easily when in reality they should be asking if they are talking to the right person and, if not, who would be the right person to call. This seems like common sense but not every cold caller is trained to think like this.

From now on when I receive an inappropriate cold call I will recommend this book to the person on the other end of the line. I enjoyed reading this book and I know they will too!

Bonnie Jo Davis

Buhle's Bookshelf

Constipation Causes & Cure, second edition
Dr. Anand Dhingra
Divya Gahbh Sanskar & Anusandhan Kendra
1419638696 $TBA / Rs. 150

Now in an updated second edition, as well as its first publishing in the U.S.A., Constipation Causes & Cure is East Indian author Dr. Anand Dhingra's in-depth, homeopathic guide to easing a common yet troublesome health problem. The causes of constipation are discussed at length, including unhealthy diets, inadequate exercise, too little fluid intake, weakness of the enteric nervous system, overuse of laxatives, and other health problems or side effects of certain medications. Treatment recommendations include improvements to one's overall lifestyle, such as changing one's diet to lessen "heavy" (oily) foods, taking one's time while eating, and incorporating exercise into one's daily life (especially certain yoga postures which are discussed at length, with simple black-and-white diagrams). Perhaps the most controversial recommendations are the guidelines for fasting and receiving enemas (similar processes are commonly called "colon hydrotherapy", "cleansing", "master cleanse", or "detox"). Fasting and enemas are not risk-free procedures; enemas have been associated with heart failure, and an improperly administered enema can perforate the colon, causing blood infection or death. Neither fasting nor enemas are advocated by the vast majority of physicians outside of specialized circumstances, such as when preparing for a colonoscopy. Readers contemplating either fasting or enemas, let alone both, are strongly advised to consult their doctor first. However, the positive nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle advice of Constipation Causes & Cure is absolutely invaluable.

Black Eagle Down
Mike Kuzara
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
c/o Bohlsen Group (publicity)
9781477264065 $27.99 hc
9781477264072 $16.95 sc
9781477264058 $3.99 ebook

Black Eagle Down is an exciting novel of political intrigue - yet its most heated action takes place in the rugged and isolated wilderness of northeastern Wyoming's Big Horn Mountains. Hunters Alois, Ace, Gronksy, and the faithful dog Dozer are camping in anticipation of elk season when they observe strangers in three groups behaving suspiciously. The newcomers are actually jihadists, on a mission to shoot down Air Force One and murder the President of the United States! Yet the jihadists are themselves being manipulated by a corrupt Wyoming Militia and its accomplices in law enforcement, while the media spreads lies about the President's death. Ace must act decisively to protect not only his friends, but also the First Family from an insidious and ruthless enemy, even as a harsh winter descends upon the Wyoming mountains! Black Eagle Down seizes the reader's attention from first page to last, and is especially recommended for fans of suspense.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Sublime Planet
Magdalena Ball & Carolyn Howard-Johnson
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781482054705 $12.95 pbk. / $4.95 Kindle

Award-winning poets Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdalena Ball present Sublime Planet, a poetry compilation with a strong ecological theme. Some of the free-verse poems have been previously published in a variety of print and online journals; now they are gathered into a single volume to celebrate Earth Day, and promote environmental awareness. Lucid and erudite, Sublime Planet succinctly reminds one that the body that it is part of a much greater ecosystem, and stirs the soul with its call to the duty of stewardship. "The Giraffe": A tongue generous / as my head he reaches / for me, barriers no match / for his long neck, sniffs / my hair, kisses my face. / He is unaware / he is endangered, / I unaware he might / be dangerous.

Hollywood or Bust
Susan Marg
Cowgirl Jane Press
9780578118826 $14.95

Hollywood or Bust: Movie Stars Dish on Following Their Dreams, Making It Big, and Surviving in Tinseltown collects more than 500 quotes, wisecracks, tell-it-like-it-is tips, and words of wisdom from popular stars and directors, including Ben Affleck to Jackie Chan, George Clooney, Carole Burnett, and many more. Grouped by subject, these vignettes offer a condensed glimpse of the trials and tribulations of the showbiz industry, and are just plain fun for a quick browse anytime. Hollywood or Bust also makes an excellent giftbook for anyone who loves TV and movies! "I'd say the cut-off point for leading ladies today is thirty-five to forty whereas half the men in Hollywood get their start then. It's a terrible double standard." -Kathleen Turner, actress

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

The New Testament: Modern Evangelical Version
Pastor Bob Helm, translator
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
Bohlsen Group (publicity)
9781479774180, $23.99,

Translated into contemporary 21st English by Pastor Bob Helm, "The New Testament: Modern Evangelical Version" is an 802 page compendium comprised of the books of the New Testament taken directly from the original scriptures known as the Septuagint or Greek New Testament. Another distinguishing feature is that while the original numerical identification of passages is retained, the text is presented in paragraphing that would be found in present day novels or textbooks. Additionally, after each book of the New Testament is an invaluable Study Guide, making "The New Testament: Modern Evangelical Version" strongly recommended for individual and group biblical studies curriculums. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' and accessible, "The New Testament: Modern Evangelical Version" is an appropriate and valued addition to personal, church, seminary, academic, and community library Christian Studies and Biblical Studies reference collections.

Prayers, Papers & Play
Barbara Canale
Liguori Publications
9780764821547, $10.99

There are a great many temptations afford young men and women attending college or university. That's why "Prayers, Paper, and Play: Devotions for Every College Student" by Barbara Canate will prove to be a welcome resource in helping those college students to maintain a healthy balance of the intellectual and the spiritual, the social and the sacred. Of special note are the prayer themes for the summer break. "Prayers, Paper, and Play: Devotions for Every College Student" is very highly recommended for all Christian college students regardless of their particular denominational affiliation.

Michael J. Carson

Crocco's Bookshelf

Planet Willie
Josh Shoemake
Opium Books
c/o Amazon Digital Services, Inc
B00D23HE2Y, $5.99

A Heavenly Detective

Being dead and hanging out in heaven isn't Willie Lee's cup of tea. After being murdered as a mortal, his 'future' becomes rather boring, until he is given a task to change from his angelic state to incarnate and become a detective back on earth.

Sporting a no-holds-barred attitude, Willie provides plenty of humor (at times, off-color) throughout the story. He wastes no time enjoying a politically incorrect life, which includes plenty of booze and women.

This is not your typical book; the characters are exaggerated and a bit outrageous. Watching Willie balance his angelic thoughts and actions with earth's many temptations, is amusing.

Trying to complete his original task, Willie would also like to solve his own murder mystery. Is he a successful detective? Find out by reading Planet Willie by Josh Shoemake. It's an unusual story, demonstrating a change of pace to be entertaining.

Magic Bridge by Thomasina Burke
Fun House Publishing LLC
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B005ZK7Z08, $2.99

A trip around the world!

Browsing for a good novel, I was fortunate to locate this treasure, Magic Bridge. The pitch for the book described the setting in Arizona, and having lived in Phoenix, I was excited to take the trip. It was nostalgic visiting Phoenix and other memorable places in the great state of Arizona.

There's more to the story than beautiful landscape, however. We share the lives of Bridgette and Matt, who meet in Crown King, Arizona. Not only do they fall in love and marry, but they travel the world, and as lucky readers, we get to hike right alongside the couple.

As with any relationship, there are ups and downs, and Bridgette and Matt live through adversities most relationships hope to escape. Promises are made and Bridgette is put to the test in keeping her word.

What balances the heartbreak of the story is being able to travel the world with two characters that relish life, and are intelligent, interesting, and very real. The true meaning of friendship is a major theme in Magic Bridge, and Bridgette and Matt's friends are the cream of the crop.

Booklovers, who appreciate history, and stories about genuine relationships, will be captivated taking a trip around the world with Bridgette and Matt.

Florence Osmund
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Captivating me immediately, I anticipated a story filled with rich history and conflict of the 1940's and 50's. My expectations weren't met after reading the first couple of chapters.

The story was about a young woman, Marie, who lived her first twenty-something years as a white woman, only to discover the father she never met, was a Negro. Conflicted with being biracial was the heart of the story. But Marie's conflict involved excessive commentary lacking an equal amount of struggle.

While it was a noble story, with a link to history, I felt so much more could have been expounded to add historical depth. It mentioned a few events, adding language, music, and culture, but I longed for more.

My favorite character was Richard, Marie's ex-husband. He sprinkled conflict into the story and I looked forward to his unexpected visits.

Daughters, by Florence Osmund, is a feel good story about relationships that will leave you thinking about your own believes and prejudices. Simply touching on historical accounts of the era, it may serve as a motivator for research.

Mary Crocco, Reviewer

Daniel's Bookshelf

Dead Zero
Stephen Hunter
Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue Of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781439138663, $ 9.99,

I found a copy of this book in my library to read books, which unknowingly got lost to review. I earlier did his book on Soft Target, so I wanted to showcase his timely stories of Afghanistan, terrorists, and his newest with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I have enjoyed his books with Bob Lee Swagger for a long time and I felt I should share my thoughts on this author's knowledge and expertise on weaponry along with an exciting main character interwined throughout the historic years. Hunter has that knack of telling a story and spining the pages of the history book of his fictional character placed right in the middle of the historic time-line.

Ray Cruz is on a mission, which is originally was to take out Ibrahim Zarzi known as the 'Beheader." He is in the Afghanistan desert and mountains up with the goats seeking his whereabouts and another group are sent in to get him. They are enemies of what Ray was trying to accomplish. The FBI and others are trying to prevent Ray Cruz's mission, so they recruit Bob Lee Swagger to help one sniper and 'weapons expert.' They use Swagger to help track him down and stop him from getting to the Zarzi. He admits he is on the side of the fellow sniper even though the FBI and the other government agencies are doing their best to inluence Swagger to align on their sides. They want it known that Cruz is going to do hard time for his rogue behavior. Swagger has some contacts with Cruz and at one point earlier on, the apartment, where people who are from Cruz's racial ties get attacked where Swagger and Cruz meet. The explosion is caused by a powerful weapon that blow through the door. The person Swagger is to meet to find out about him is dead, and Cruz manages to flee before the FBI show up. Swagger is injuried, and now the FBI want to know his alliance to what side, since he did this interview on his own without their knowledge.

Now Cruz is being pursued to try to convince Swagger to bring him in and contact him. They are unaware of the hidden force who is after Cruz while he was after Zarzi. He is upset that his Corporal named Skeleton was killed in Afghanistan, while he was pursuing him. Cruz blames him for his death, and thinks Zarzi was behind the killing of his counterpart team mate by blowing him up. He also realized someone was following him, so he felt they were connected to Zarzi. They were in fact, hired contractors. He noticed they were white and not from the country. Some other rogue group hired to do the mission of getting Cruz and anyone who was after Zarzi.

It took some time, but Swagger convinced the FBI that Cruz could be restrained and the culprits who needed to be watched or stopped where the hired group that had killed Corporal Skeleton in Afghanistan. They are following Swagger and Cruz by some mysterious coincidence and several times both of them came close to be killed. Cruz is at a car wash and all of a sudden he is attacked. The FBI believe there is a serious problem with these attacks, and the doubts of whom is doing this is going to have to be brain-stormed. Zarzi has plans in place, and the team has to stop him before death and destruction take over with unknown consequences. Now it's time for the authorization of a American sniper to do his magic where the final bullet has to count for something after a tragic loss.

Stephen Hunter has written sixteen novels and he has done two published works on film criticism and one non-fiction account of attempt on Harry Truman's life, entitled American Gunfight. Bob Lee Swagger has been his main character throughout his family genealogy and events he depicts through out the history years showing his toughness and skills with a weaponry. I have followed many of his stories involving this character. I eagerly await his next choice for a story involving him or something like Soft Target.

Calico Joe
John Grisham
Dell Books
c/o The Random HousePublishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780345541338, $7.99,

I have to be honest as my book reading with Grisham has been pretty slight to-date, I managed to read a few of his books through the years. I remembered my first reading of his novels with The Firm. I liked his style and fresh view of a law firm which followed not too far after with Tom Cruise being in the movie. I read many following novels, but after awhile the law firm stories projected me to read more detective fiction, suspense and thrillers with an occasional science fiction novel thrown in for good measure. I know authors stick with what they know, and eventually branch out, but very cautiously. I would too, if I was a writer. Your main subject matter would be the bread and butter of your writings. I managed to get courage to grab this book to read hoping for a fresh insight novel on a different one from Grisham. He surprised me with a good story, (I know he can write them) and that is why I choose Calico Joe. I wanted to read something different from the lawyer/novelist/thriller. My words tell you he did, and I hope he experiments more.

Out of the blue a player materializes and the fans get to know the man from early on from a rise out of the minors. His noticeable efforts while a young boy idolizes this player, Joe Castle. He hails from Castle Rock and slowly proving himself to be worthy of attention by the contributions he does for the team. Paul Tracey keeps track of him, while his dad is a pitcher in the major leagues playing for the Mets. Paul is a pitcher too, and he opts out after a bad outing allowing two homers, that costs his team the top spot in the season. They finish second instead, but Paul decides that is enough baseball for him. He was embarrassed by his dad suggesting he bean the hitter to squelch his home run attack. Paul's coach won't allow him to do that, and fate took it's turn to a lost.

When Warren is on the road the family enjoy his absence from them with his abusive nature. His dad Warren Tracey is a mean and bitter man. Paul has some perks being able to hang out with his mother and visit the game sitting with the other player's wives and offspring of them. Paul is able to visit the locker rooms and meet the players. Those are the good points of his life. The negative being how his father and mother, and the rest of the family don't get along due to Warren's abusive temper.

Paul keeps following Calico Joe as his feats break records. He manages a consistent hitting streak and up to twenty-one homers in his first year. Now he comes to New York to face the Mets in a show down between Warren Tracey. He has been pitching better and brought his record to 7-7 on the day. Paul and mother attend the game. Now it's coming to the time when those fateful couple of bats change the lives of three people. It is that outcome that Paul who left baseball, Warren's career changes and Calico Joe disappears from the baseball world scene. Paul's feeling for his father aren't the same and he is even not any closer when his dad is struck with cancer.

Paul goes back in flashback with going back to Joe's home town and going back over the start of how Joe got to that great start and year. He learns how Joe was doing in his hometown, and this sparks an important event, that will clear the air between two people who faced each other on that fateful day on August 24, 1973. Calico's legend must go forward as his career needs a legacy. Paul becomes the person who can do that, when he seeks the help of one individual who needs to step forward.

John Grisham has written 30 novels mostly in the legal fiction with a few novels in just general fiction. His passion has been baseball and that is reflected in some of his stories. A Time to Kill to the new one in the fall entitled Sycamore Row. Theodore Boone series is a newer series. This year he has newer ones coming out both in his legal work and the Boone Series. His latest novel out now in the legal fiction genre' is The Racketeer. I guess I will have to look more often to see what he is up to after this effort.

Daniel Allen

Gail's Bookshelf

Cold-Case Christianity
J. Warner Wallace
Foreword by Lee Strobel
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434704696, $16.99,

Accomplished veteran homicide investigator Jim Wallace, was an "angry atheist" until he walked through the doors of Pastor Warren's Saddleback church and met Jesus Christ. A "spiritual skeptic" for thirty-five years, he had rejected the Bible and thought Christian principles were not worth consideration until a "fellow officer" invited him to that church service.

The sermon "caught his attention" with what appeared to be eyewitness accounts from the Gospels, something Wallace was familiar with in his cold-case work. Afterward he bought a Bible and applied "cold case" and Forensic Statement Analysis (FAS) tools to biblical "linguistic tendencies," a method that looks for evasion or deception in words or statements.

Accustomed to cold case investigations of past events, without living witnesses or physical evidence, he recognized that also described New Testament events and began to read. By the time Wallace finished he believed "Mark's gospel was the eyewitness account of the apostle Peter." He no longer thought Christ was simply a good teacher. Now he knew Jesus was the Son of God "...because of the evidence, not in spite of it," writes Wallace.

Today he sees Christian beliefs under attack, with publication of anti-Christian books from authors like Dawkins, The God Delusion, to Hitchens God is Not Great, or Harris's The End of Faith. Statistics show fewer people identify themselves as Christians today and young people are leaving the faith and churches in droves because of "intellectual skepticism" that breeds doubt and disbelief. Former Senator, Rick Santorum blames higher education and said in an interview with Glen Beck "... that 62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it."

It's for these reasons that Wallace penned "Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels" to reveal how he, a cold-case detective and devout atheist, came to believe Jesus Christ was God's Son.

Divided into two parts, the first ten chapters teach ten cold-case principles homicide investigators use and how to apply them. The second segment identifies four standards that gauge bias, accuracy, author and corroboration when evaluating eyewitness reports and evidence. He uses gripping homicide cases to illustrate concepts that add to the books readability.

Apologetics is "the discipline of defending a position:" Wallace does that and more with Cold-Case Christianity, a book that reads like a good detective story. If you want to be an "informed Christian," equipped to "defend the faith," what you believe and why, Wallace's engaging book is for you.

Lee Strobel believes, readers will "...find this investigative adventure to be an irresistible, eye-opening, and potentially life-changing journey full of helpful insights and wisdom..." I can only agree. YouTube:

Women of Wisdom (WOW) Menu Collection: Delicious Meal Planner'
Lynn Wolter
Create Space Publishing
4900 LaCross Road
North Charleston, SC 29406
9781481265843, $14.99,

I like to cook and look for interesting menu suggestions and tasty sounding recipes, although they aren't often found in the same book. However Lynn Wolter's new menu collection does just that. She lists complete menus that include entree's, salads and desserts and their recipes in her new cookbook, Women of Faith! (WOW) Menu Collection.

Lynn's talents include hospitality and cooking in addition to her passion for cookbooks of which she has many. From Fanny Farmer's 1896 Cookbook to hard and soft bound gourmet recipe books. She relies on them all in her role as event coordinator for Northshore Baptist Church 2,800 plus congregation in Kirkland, WA.

There, she plans, prepares and caters monthly luncheons for "Women of Wisdom," the women's ministry division known as "WOW." Lynn's well-earned reputation for delicious individual luncheon menus includes never using the same menu twice in "13 years" of monthly catering. She also caters for weddings, receptions and showers with her "tried and tested recipes."

This menu collection draws on that experience and her vast recipe collection to offer menus and recipes for every occasion. Some come from "over three generations" of favorite family recipes, others are "refined" by Lynn's experimentation, still others are from accredited sources, all of which contribute to her general, seasonal or holiday inspired collection. One thing all recipes share is their appeal, simplicity, easy-to-follow instructions, common ingredients and spices that mean no last minute run to the store for missing ingredients.

Contents include 169 mouth-watering recipes found in 36 complete menu suggestions. For example, the menu for Valentine's Day features Ham and Red Pepper Quiche, Spinach salad and strawberries with Cherries in the Snow for dessert (pg. 6). My "sweet tooth" insists I try the dessert, made of cream cheese, sweet milk, angel food cake, topping and cherry pie filling.

The "tea party" menus include "curried chicken, chocolate cups w/Raspberry Mousse, Mocha Tartlets and Cheddar, Sunflower Seed and Olive" dip for example. However, the "Angel Kisses" recipe, Lynn found in Saudi Arabia, made with egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar peppermint extract, pecans and chocolate morsels is a dessert perfect for the Fourth of July. (Did I say I have a sweet tooth?)

The handy alphabetized "subject index" is cross-referenced by both food type and recipe name with corresponding page numbers in case you can't remember the name of the recipe. Black and white pictures, humorous commentaries, facts and other trivia sprinkled throughout are from Lynn's husband Bill who believes humor is the "spice of life" instead of cooking spices.

If you like to entertain and need innovative menu suggestions consider Women of Wisdom's delicious menus and recipes when you share your "gift of hospitality." To purchase online:

The King: The Bowers Files' #6
Steven James
Signet Select
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451239785, $9.99,

The long anticipated Bowers Files sequel breaks in stores today, July 2nd. Once again Steven James grabs readers by the throat and doesn't let go in The King, book six of his over-the-top popular Bowers Files series. This time readers find agent Bowers at the FBI Academy in Quantico, where he teaches his state-of-the-art geospatial investigative theories. His daughter Tessa and fiancee, Lien-hua Jiang have put their heads together to plan Patrick's and Lien-hua's soon-to-be wedding. Patrick's life as a special FBI agent has drawn to a close and the future of their new family looks bright.

And it was, until Patrick's arch enemy, Richard Basque, a psychopath he caught as a young Milwaukee homicide detective is granted a new trial. Basque is soon "...set free based on controversial forensic evidence and conflicting eyewitness testimony." Now he's a psychopath bent on revenge, who plans to gain Patrick's undivided attention with a new killing spree. However, the story doesn't begin there.

Instead the narrative opens in the apartment of Corey Wellington, an attorney in apparent good health, just a bit depressed over his recent breakup with a girlfriend. He thought life was good, so why was he awake at 5 A.M. wondering... what it would be like to be dead, to finally be free of all the hardships and struggles and disappointments of life. When his next thought assured him, your life isn't that bad!

He couldn't know he would soon lose the mental Ping-Pong gymnastics he carried on with himself. That he would grab the "longest knife" from the "knife block" in the kitchen, walk into the living room and with a "...swift, smooth motion drive the blade high into his abdomen and lean forward." He only knew he had to get this right or it would be a long and messy, messy death.

In his last seconds Corey heard the door open and saw "...a woman and young man enter the living room..." His soft words "help me" ignored as the couple said, " shouldn't be long..."

Thus begins a fast-moving, action-packed tale of revenge, international conspiracy and terrorism that reads like two stories in one until James knits them together as the book draws to a close. That story-melding brings many "ah-ha" moments where readers realize the brilliance of James' plot-within-a-plot that never disappoints, instead it's one that demands to be read at a blistering hot pace.

Steven James builds unbelievable, mind-boggling suspense through characterizations and plot without relying on the shock value of curse words, blood and gore. He is not an author to discount or dismiss.

The Bowers File long-running series draws to a close with the release of Checkmate, summer of 2014.

Darwin's Doubt
Stephen C. Meyer
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062071477, $28.99, Kindle $13.59,

Creationists and evolutionists have long debated their respective views over the origins of man. Did man evolve from the lower animal forms or did man suddenly appear as the Bible suggests. Although Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection favors evolution, even Darwin acknowledged there was a significant historical event he couldn't account for called the "Cambrian Explosion."

He called it a "troubling anomaly" in "The Origin of Species" and trusted future science and exploration to find the answer. However nothing has explained the event that documents a sudden appearance in the "fossil records" of animals with no sign of previous ancestors. The fossils that have been found are too simple to explain the complex animal forms that suddenly appeared.

That's why Stephen Meyer penned "Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design" that follows his "Book of the Year," Signature in the Cell where he advocated intelligent design. In Darwin's Doubt he continues the argument that favors " creatures are best explained by an intelligent cause..."

The first part, Mystery of the Missing Fossils describes the problem and looks at the failed attempts of biologists and paleontologists to resolve the mystery.

How to Build an Animal in part two explores what it takes to make an animal with the "biological information necessary to build the Cambrian animals forms." In these chapters he questions whether natural selection and random mutations could possibly produce the necessary "biological information" these fossils required.

He concludes with "After Darwin, What?" where he measures current evolutionary theories and argues for intelligent design. In these chapters Meyer identifies God as the Intelligent Designer.

Harvard Medical School genetics professor, Dr. George Church said, "Darwin's Doubt" represents an opportunity for bridge-building, rather than dismissive span evolutionary gaps:

Black and white illustrations, a section of colored photographs and 83 pages of notes and references complete Meyer's well-written book that argues for Intelligent Design, one of the most controversial issues of modern time.

Meyer's, featured in two front page stories of the New York Times, works in Seattle where he directs the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute. He's also appeared on Christian networks and national radio and television networks throughout the nation.

Regardless of your beliefs Darwin's Doubt demands to be read, though it's not an easy read.

God's Little Instruction Book for the Class of 2013
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9780781408448, $6.99,

Graduation is a time to celebrate achievement, to pause and reflect on past accomplishments, to look towards the future as one journey ends and another begins. For some it's a pause on the path to higher education while others prepare and submit resumes to search for work. Regardless of the individual path, this little book of timeless truths, encouraging quotes and scripture reminds and guides graduates with succinct wisdom from those who have gone before them.

Each page of 'God's Little Instruction Book for the Class of 2013' contains an inspirational quote and parallel scripture penned by inspirational teachers, leaders and influential pioneers like Oswald Chambers, Elisabeth Elliot and Benjamin Franklin.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow writes, "Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody." The scripture from Luke 11: 9, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" highlights that essential truth.

Or Oliver Goldsmith who said, "Success consists of getting up just one more time when you fall" details Philippians 4:13 that says, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

Sometimes a word of encouragement is needed for a difficult task. Andrew Murray writes, "We have a God who delights in impossibilities." Supported by Matthew 19:26, where "Jesus said...With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

A world of possibility beckons to the post graduate as they step out in faith to learn "what's next" armed with the simple wise instruction found in these pages. Small enough to fit in backpack or purse, this would make a perfect gift for your graduate.

The Dangerous Book for Christians
Jeff McCracken, Sr.
Xulon Press
2301 Lucien Way, Suite 415
Maitland, FL 32751
9781626973695, $14.99,

Do miracles like the Bible records happen today? Pastor Jeff McCracken, author of a Dangerous Book for Christians says they do at Rainier Assembly of God in Rainier OR where such miracles are verified and documented. The only requirement is faith, an infectious faith he wants all believers to experience that he calls "contagious faith."

Which begs the question, what is "contagious" faith" and what does it look like? Pastor Jeff believes its more than confessing Christ and attending church. He believes "contagious faith" follows when believers put "feet" to the faith of the Bible and trust in God's miraculous power to heal, as well as to save, bless and restore through the "Power and Presence of the Holy Spirit."

That's why he considers the ideas he "...expresses in this book dangerous..." for "comfortable pew warmer" Christians who leave operation in the "spiritual gifts" to others. He believes in "healing, prophecy and the Apostolic Influence" for all believers and that's what he writes about in Dangerous Book for Christians - individual healing, prayer and faith.

I reviewed his book because of one healing in particular, that of a teenager, born with a "club foot that was miraculously healed at the altar one Sunday night." The young girl had undergone twenty-one corrective surgeries the first six months of her life that didn't correct her right foot, only left it scarred.

God did what man couldn't do when the seventeen-year-olds club foot incredibly "grew three sizes" to match her left foot August 27, 2006. She was incapable of running until that night when she ran "laps around the inside of the sanctuary" with another teen healed of a leg infection.

When I questioned Pastor Jeff about the miracle he encouraged me to call and talk with Brittanie which I did. Her soft-spoken voice rang with genuine joy as she shared her life-changing event with me even though it was seven years later. Although she no longer lives in the immediate area she authorized her contact information for the review. However, I felt it best to use the church's telephone or email for anyone who wants to talk with her.

Besides documenting several miraculous testimonies, Pastor Jeff writes "nuggets of truth" that empower readers to become "Ambassadors of Heaven," and learn how to influence friends and loved ones for the "Kingdom of God."

The book begins with "Five Healing Variables" that include "God's Will...the one who prays...the prayer recipient...neighbors, and principalities." The middle portion concerns what prophecy is, why it's important, "common areas of error in prophetic ministry" and why "...modern day prophets are scriptural and relevant today." The book concludes with topics of "leadership" and a "real world approach to Five Fold Ministry" where the "Body of Christ" works together in biblical roles of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. For more information contact Pastor Jeff online:

This amazing pastor continues to mentor and "train people for healing ministry," " at his church and a sister ministry devoted to prayer and healing, the Lower Columbia Healing Rooms. I believe his thoughts and ideas are Holy Spirit inspired and deserving of attention.

Eternity: a Graphic Novel
Randy Alcorn, author
Javier Saltares, illustrator
Kingstone Media
PO Box 491600
Leesburg, FL 34749-1600
9781936164257, $16.99,

New York Times best-selling author, Randy Alcorn released his first Bible based graphic novel in June with the largest publisher of Christian themed comics - Kingstone Media. The graphic novel titled Eternity depicts the classic Bible story of Phineas the Rich Man and Lazarus the beggar. The underlying theme reveals earthly choices carry eternal consequences. Alcorn uses literary license to add "fictional details and dialogue" yet he writes, the added details are "...supported by other scriptures."

Javier Saltares creative artistry portrays imageries of first century Jerusalem, warrior angels, Christ's death, resurrection, heavens opulent vistas and frightening images of hell with realism. I especially liked his caricature of the Archangel Michael, the commander of Heaven's army who isn't allowed to rescue Christ from the cross, held back by obedience to his Master's Word.

Stunning imagery enhances Alcorn's words to represent the reality of heaven, hell and the "great fixed chasm" that separates the two. Themes of repentance, life after death, eternity and decisions that affect them weave throughout the story. Appropriately illustrated by the Rich Man's question to Father Abraham after he dies, "Do you not hear my regret?"

"You regret, but you do not repent," said Father Abraham. "Indeed you cannot, for your condition became permanent the moment you died." The simplicity of the message brings tears for what the Rich Man has lost, perhaps because it's a choice everyone must make or bear the consequences.

Words and pictures display Lazarus and the Rich Man's differences, the choices they made and why Lazarus was a test sent by God the Rich Man failed. In addition to what the great chasm is, why the gulf can't be crossed and why "every man's fate is fixed at his death..." For a preview video and play the featured video

Christian News Northwest, June issue, featured the graphic novel in addition to an interview with Art Ayris, CEO of Kingstone Media from Christian Newswire. Ayris spoke about the growing popularity of faith-based movies and The Bible, the number one cable show, then said, "...why not comics...Eternity not only raises the bar but introduces Randy to a new demographic."

Especially since the demographic he refers to are influenced by New Age beliefs adopted by celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, who denies that Jesus is the only way to salvation and heaven: Substantiated by a Barna survey that revealed many believe all faiths are valid, 63% don't believe Jesus is the Son of the one true God, 51% don't believe Jesus rose from the dead and 65% don't believe Satan is a real entity:

Eternity is more than a graphic novel; it's a dramatic work of art that carries the salvation message to an unbelieving generation in words and artistry that can't be ignored. The graphic novel leaves the reader with the question, "which man would you rather be?"

The Amish Canning Cookbook: Simple Living at Its Homemade Best
Georgia Varozza
Harvest House
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402
9780736948999, $14.99,

Georgia Varozza, author, Harvest House editor and "certified master food preserver," shares her expertise and knowledge in The Amish Canning Cookbook, Plain and Simple Living at its Homemade Best. Her detailed step-by-step instructions and tips about basic food preservation are for both beginners and seasoned canners, complete with lists of tools and delicious recipes.

In the introduction she lists fourteen reasons to adopt this "old-time homemaker's skill," essentially a how to for fitting canning into otherwise busy lifestyles. Such as, to save money, prepare foods without preservatives or additives, unexpected guests and for personal satisfaction.

After a brief history of canning she details the pros and cons of two canning methods, "boiling water-bath canning" for "high-acid" foods and "pressure canners" for "low-acid" foods. She also describes and lists an assortment of necessary equipment that makes canning safe and easy, and then admits to owning a personal "collection of useful gadgets."

Not only are recipes included, her tips, techniques and specific details for how to can, from fruit butters, to jams, jellies, fruits, vegetables, meats, soups, stews and more are invaluable. She considers "fruit butters an old-fashioned delight," that uses less sugar than jams and jellies, however, she writes, butters require longer cooking, yet they don't require pectin. Her basic "fruit butter recipe" can be adapted to most favorite fruits first cooked down to a "fruit pulp."

I still remember my Gram's watermelon pickle rinds, although I've not seen a recipe to make them in years until I found one listed on page 104 in the pickle section of Georgia's cookbook. Made me remember one of my Gram's favorite saying from WWII years when I asked why she cut up something everyone else threw away and she said, "Waste not, want not." In a way that's what canning is all about.

In addition to learning how to adapt recipes to individual family tastes and how to preserve them safely, this complete guide takes all the mystery out of canning for novice canners while offering insider tips to seasoned canners.

The final chapter, What Went Wrong list things to look for in finished products that indicate improper sealing, off odor or color, leakage or bulging seals that can be dangerous.

The index is alphabetized by topic and recipe which makes the cookbook easy to use. Most pages include a two inch "notes section" to record food type, amount and date canned important to remember.

Reading this cookbook is like sitting down with a friend whose available 24/7 to teach you how to preserve food. Georgia simplifies a process that intimidates many and makes it sound easy, doable and safe. Whether you're a seasoned or a novice canner and want to learn more about canning, Georgia's complete guide to canning cookbook belongs in your kitchen.

Angels in the Fire: The Dramatic True Story of an Impossible Rescue
Dann Stadler
Bethany House
11400 Hampshire South
Bloomington, MN 55438
9780764211140, $14.99,

Angels in the Fire reads like a fascinating fictional suspense, however the Stadler's story isn't fiction according to police, firemen and other eyewitness accounts. It's a tale of miraculous intervention after a drunk driver hit their car head on at 75 miles per hour. By the time police and firemen pulled Dann from the burning wreckage there wasn't time to reach his trapped wife, Tracey.

At that moment "...a silent lone figure" walked from the nearby woods. Bystanders said the figure, "...his face aglow..." reached into the burning car, lifted the terrified woman from the wreckage and placed her alongside the road. That's where Tracey's story begins.

The couple was on vacation in Florida to visit Tracey's family with their nine-month-old daughter, Meghan. They also planned to celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary with Tracey's twin brother Tommy and his girlfriend. The future looked bright for these twenty-seven-year-old college graduates. They both had landed well-paying post-graduate jobs and recently signed papers on a new home. And the future was bright until a drunk driver turned south onto the northbound Florida freeway they traveled.

Dan has no memory of the impact, only his warning to Tracey when she said she was undoing her seat belt, "'s more uncomfortable lying in a hospital bed because you didn't have your seat belt on." He couldn't know how prophetic his words would be.

Tracey, on the other hand, retains vivid memories of being trapped after the impact, of the angel who rescued her and where she went, but has no memory of the crash itself. Only her recall of the intense pain when she opened her eyes and saw "...everything below her waist was crushed..." the car's engine and dash crumpled against her legs. When she saw rescuers pull Dann through the driver's side window, her silent prayer, "please, God don't let me burn."

That's when the "lone figure" Tracey would later identify as an Angel appeared. Her memory of meeting Jesus, the "...freedom, the joy...the all-encompassing peace..." still brings tears. She also remembers that Christ healed her face and neck burns, otherwise she couldn't have survived the severe burns and trauma. And the angel's final words after he pulled her from the wreckage, "...everything is going to be all right."

The inspirational testimony of the couple's years-long recovery from agonizing burn treatments, orthopedic surgeries to repair broken bones and learning to walk again inspires faith and trust in a merciful God. Their ability to forgive the drunk driver who died on impact is an extension of God's grace in them, as was Tracey's ability to bear children after her pelvis was crushed.

Tracey's near death experience, her " changing vision of God's supernatural power..." and their long road to recovery is documented at Dann's Saturday's Promise blog:

Besides a suspenseful read, the story of "two lives forever changed" is for anyone who struggles with debilitating circumstances, especially those who doubt miracles still happen today.

Praying the Prayers of the Bible
James Banks
Discovery House Publishers
P.O. Box 3566, Grand Rapids, MI 49501
9781572937505, $12.99,

The Lord invites everyone to "Come and talk with Me" in Psalm 27:8, yet many find prayer difficult. Sometimes lack of self-worth prevents prayer, other times the pain, fear or sorrow is too great to put into words, while others feel intimidated and don't know what to say to an "all-powerful, all-knowing Creator." For these reasons and more Dr. James Banks penned praying the Prayers of the Bible, to encourage personal prayer and inspire readers with prayer examples from the Bible.

The collection of categorized prayers is divided into nine different prayer themes, further divided into "full length prayers" and "prayer starters" to help "jump-start" prayer. Brief "reflections" introduce each theme, similar to devotions that elaborate on God's Word.

Themes include prayers... praise and honor God say thank you strengthen faith...give ourselves to God
...our everyday needs confess sin and humble ourselves guidance and direction help and protection
...of those who struggle and need answers
...and blessing prayers

The book ends with a Scripture index and thirty "when to pray" guides, complete with scripture and words for difficult prayer periods. For example, if you need encouragement, feel tempted, need to forgive, lack peace, need strength, feel lonely, sorry, lack hope, need advice and more yet the words just aren't there.

I enjoyed Dr. Banks note about Robert Murray M'Cheyne, a Scottish pastor from the 1800s that encouraged his congregation to "turn the Bible into prayer." That also told me prayer has been a long-standing problem, it's not just a modern-day issue.

Yet, how can better thoughts and words for prayer be than to speak God's Words back to Him in prayer. Especially when Isaiah 55:11 reminds readers God's Word will never return void? "...So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing where I sent it."

Although small in size, this powerful book equips readers to "make the Bible's prayers" their own. God desires relationship and wants to communicate with His children, to trust Him enough to simply talk with Him like you would a trusted Friend. Praying the Prayers of the Bible is destined to become a dog-eared, cherished part of anyone's prayer life.

Gail Welborn

Gary's Bookshelf

Defending Jacob
William Landay
Dell Books
c/o The Random HousePublishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
97804402462138, $7.99,

Wow, "Defending Jacob" is not just a great legal thriller but also a well written story of how parents deal with the legal system that accuses and tries their son for murder. With characters that are well defined, the novel races along through the ordeal of a trial and shows the stress on the family as well as how others in the community treat the family. "Defending Jacob" is also a multi layered tragedy that will hold a reader's interest all the way to the very last page. The slam bang surprise ending is sure to please anyone who wants a great thriller. "Defending Jacob" is one of the best books for a summer read, I have encountered in a long time and it would make a perfect movie.

Hanging Curve
Troy Soos
Kensington Publishing Corp
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022
9780758288332, $14.00,

Troy Soos the author of the Mickey Rawlings baseball mystery series that are named after famous ballparks is back with this installment. This time Rawlings is recruited to play in a game against an all black team in April of 1922. But even Rawlings a professional ballplayer can't help the white team beat the black team. After the game the black pitcher is found hanged. Rawlings wants to know who killed the pitcher and why. What he uncovers is more than just a murder. I especially like how Soos' has always combined the best elements of baseball and mystery fiction. But this time the story is very different. The book is more a social commentary of the United States that shows segregation to be an accepted practice. The irony of it all is that the whites consider themselves good Christian folk. Soos writes fiction that takes place so long ago and show so well that societies change in technology and other aspects, but human nature doesn't. Hanging Curve is so much more than a mystery title by a very gifted storyteller.

Don Pendleton's Stony Man Precipice
Gold Eagle
World Wide Library
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9
97880373804405, $6.99,

"Stony Man Precipice" is another great action thriller in the long running series that is still going strong. This time Phoenix Force and Able team must stop a missile threat to South Korea's capital. No fan of this series and action adventure should miss "Stony Man Precipice."

Second Honeymoon
James Patterson and Howard Roughan
Little Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
1271 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9780316211222, $28.00,

Several newlyweds are being murdered shortly into their honeymoons. It appears there is no connection because they are not in the same city, the people had no link to each other and each is very different in the way they were killed. Former FBI agent is brought in on one of the cases to try to find out who and why one couple was bumped off. He begins to uncover a lot more than he ever expected to find. Patterson and Roughan have turned out numerous thrillers through the years and "Second Honeymoon" is another mind boggling twists and turns thriller, as readers page spin through this tale that ends with a very surprising conclusion.

12th of Never
James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
Little Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
1271 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9780316210829, $27.99,

"12th of Never" begins with a dark and stormy night when a pregnant Lindsay Boxer must find a way to get to the hospital to deliver her child. As the novel races along, the members of the "Women's Murder Club" face their own challenges while Lindsay and the San Francisco police department must solve a series of grisly and bizarre murders. Once again the team of Patterson and Paetro take readers along for a fast paced suspenseful ride that concludes with a very satisfying ending. "12th of Never" is another great tale by two masterful story tellers.

James Patterson & Marshall Karp
Little Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
1271 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9780316210683, $27.99,

Normally I love Patterson books but I have to say "NYPD Red" seemed to just drag along. The premise of a special police unit in New York that can not make a mistake protecting celebrities was a great idea but for some reason the novel gets bogged down and never gets any better. "NYPD Red" was a major disappointment.

Middle School My Brother is a Big, Fat Liar
James Patterson and Lisa Papademetriou
Little Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
1271 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9780316207546, $15.99,

For those of us who have read and enjoyed the Middle School books, "Middle School My Brother is a Big Fat Liar" is a little bit different. This time it is Georgia, Rafe's little sister telling her side of what life is like living with Rafe. Where Rafe showed it's not easy being in middle school Georgia informs the public how difficult it is to be a younger sister. "Middle School My Brother is a Big, Fat Liar" is a welcome addition to the series.

The Fast and the Furriest
Andy Behrens
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1
New York, NY 10019
9780375859007, $7.99

Being a child of 12 is pretty hard in itself but for Kevin Pugh it's even harder. His father, a former Chicago Bear football player who is adored by the public wants his son to follow in his footsteps in some kind of sport. Kevin knows his dad is pressuring him but he just is not very good at any type of sport. Their dog Cromwell just lays around the house getting fat and unhealthy until one day he and Kevin are watching a dog competition. Suddenly Cromwell springs to life and it is his action that changes both of their lives forever. "The Fast and the Furriest" is a delightful YA novel that has a very positive message to anyone to learn about themselves.

Blueberry Bubble Gum
Mahamad Ali Elfakir Illustrations by Victor Guiza
Elfa Books
c/o Outskirts Press Inc
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134,
9780578109749, $11.95,

Max, a boy seven years old, does not like to do things many grownups tell him to do. As the story begins he finds out what happens when he does not listen to his parents who have told him not to chew the blueberry bubble gum that he was given. Because he chews a piece of the gum, he is taken to a strange world where he has to earn his way back to the life he knows. "Blueberry Bubble Gum" has several messages to kids that are very subtle while the author tells a very interesting story that people of all ages can read and enjoy.

Are There Zombies in Heaven
Eric "The Mobius Kid" Morlin
Wilder Publications Inc
P. O Box 10641, Blacksburg VA 24063
9781617204432, $15.00,

"Are There Zombies in Heaven" is a very strange collection of poems that are unlike anything I have ever read. That's not a bad thing though because the author has a very different take on many things we do in everyday life. Two examples are "Carpenter" and "Frozen Fireworks," those two like all the other ones are warped but interesting reading. None of the poems in "Are There Zombies in Heaven" are the normal mushy sappy ones we are all used to which makes it a unique and recommended collection of writings.

Head Lights For Dark Roads
Diane Quimby
Vabelle Publishing
P.O. Box 1052, Carrollion, Georgia 30112
9781938230134, $12.50,

"Head Lights for Dark Roads" deals with the author's own car crash and brain damage she received as a result of the accident. Quimby takes the reader through her struggle to come back from a coma and re-learn functions that many of us take for granted. Quimby is very open to let readers know that she realizes that she will never be the same person she once was. She also tells how humor, a positive outlook, the many therapists, friends, family, and faith in God are so important to a person's progress to fight their way back. "You turn lemons into lemonade" is a fitting statement for this very positive account of one woman's journey through a life threatening situation. "Head Lights for Dark Roads" is a memorable title that is a very positive role model to anyone facing any type of negative situation.

Cell Phones
Dr. George Carlo and Martin Schram
Caroll & Graff
c/o Perseus Book Group
250 West 57th Street, 15th Floor
New York, NY 10107
9780786709601, $15.95,

In the last few years there has been a great deal of controversy about the correlation between cancer and cell phones In Italy in the early 1990s there was a problem with cell phones and heart pacemakers. It was found that the cell phone would shut down the pacemaker when the two were in contact. Aware of this, the industry in 24 months did everything it could to solve the problem. Later it was revealed that the cellular phones could cause cancer. There were studies done in Australia, Canada, and the United States. This time the industry has done everything it can to dispute the findings. All of the studies said that the proximity of the antenna that gives off harmful radiation was the cause of cancer, headaches, and other health problems George Carlo one of the most noted researchers has advised cell phone users to use an earpiece The FDA has made this judgment on the whole business of cell phones. "We're saying two things. One is that we have reviewed independently the currently available data and we do not see a health risk from the current data. However, if someone wishes to take precautions, they should limit the duration of their calls. They should...take the measures that move the antenna away from their head, including hands-free sets and other types of precautions, as a precaution while they wait for the answer to come in." "Cell Phones" is a frightening expose that tells all about the industry and how the cell phone can be harmful to a person's health.

Gary Roen

Gloria's Bookshelf

Doc, A Memoir
Dwight Gooden & Ellis Henican
New Harvest
c/o Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
9780544027022, $27.00,

This almost surprisingly read-able and engaging new book tells a tale well-known to almost every New York baseball fan, and probably even to those not in either of those categories. In the books opening pages, Dwight Gooden says, in words difficult to dispute: "You'd have to look hard to find another young athlete in any sport who had risen so high so quickly and then fallen so hard. Too much, too fast, too young."

As a devoted baseball fan since the days of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and ardent Mets fan for the past 27 years, I clearly remember thinking, when "Doc" Gooden first came up to join the major league baseball team, "these guys have everything thrown at them: money, women, more of both than they can possibly know how to handle, and they're just too young to be able to deal with it all." Although certainly not the first, that was certainly the case with the author, who in 1984 at 19 became the youngest starting pitcher in MLB history, was Rookie of the Year and recipient of the Cy Young Award. The book opens with a wallop and mostly doesn't slow down from there, chronicling as it does the highs and lows of those years, starting with his incredible rookie season when the Mets won it all, but including suspensions for drug use and a jail term after a conviction for endangering the welfare of a minor (his youngest child at the time).

I have to say that just past the half-way mark, for me, the cycle of addiction, followed by regret/repentance/recovery and then back again, got somewhat repetitive, as it did in Doc's life. (One can only imagine how similarly his loved ones felt at the time.) He says of cocaine: "It was love at first sniff," and of himself: "We were aggressive young men with money in our pockets and testosterone to burn." When he left the Mets, at age 30, he was the father of 6 [with three different women] of his now 7 children. Always close to his parents, he was unable, for a long time, to provide that closeness to his own children, something he is now doing his best to compensate for. Doc also discusses his relationship with and feelings (ambivalent at best) about Darryl Strawberry, 2 years older than him and Rookie of the Year in 1983.

The book is very interesting, and is recommended.

A Fistful of Collars
Spencer Quinn
Atria Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781451665178, $16.00,

In the fifth book in the Chet and Bernie Mystery series, our favorite four-legged private investigator, Chet the Dog, and Bernie Little, his partner in the Little Detective Agency, are back on the job - - albeit not the usual missing persons case, or even the less-desired divorce work. He has been hired, on very generous financial terms, at the recommendation of the mayor's office to make sure the young star in a new movie being filmed in their town stays out of trouble during the film shoot. The Valley, a town in the southwest desert, is hopeful of becoming a mecca for movie-making if all goes smoothly. [A big "if," in this instance, and definitely easier said than done.]

Things are currently not going that smoothly in Bernie's personal life, with his ex-wife continuing to be an annoyance [on good days] and his girlfriend, reporter Suzie Sanchez, having been offered a job with the Washington Post.

This delightful series brings the reader a mystery, a dead body or two [or three], and somehow makes Chet [who narrates the tale] a completely believable sidekick. He is the devoted companion to Bernie, an ex-cop and wounded war vet, but brings his own special talents to the job, and is completely irresistible. Well-plotted, this charming novel is the perfect thing when one wants to hunker down on a cold winter's night - or any other night, for that matter. Recommended.

(It should perhaps be noted that the author's latest book "The Sound and the Fury," will be published in September, 2013).

Kill You Twice
Chelsea Cain
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312619794, $7.99,

Archie Sheridan, a detective at the Major Case Task Force in Portland, Oregon, for years had headed what was termed the Beauty Killer Task Force, dedicated to tracking down and bringing to justice a megalomaniac serial killer whose victims were tortured and killed in gruesome ways, graphically described. Their target, Gretchen Lowell, a stunning blonde who claims she had killed more than two hundred people, almost claimed Archie as one of her victims, but despite slowly torturing him over a 10-day period [during which time, among other things, she removed his spleen - - without anesthesia, of course], she let him live. She is now locked up in the forensic psychiatric services ward of the State Hospital.

Six years later, now forty-one, Archie has only recently returned to work after two years on medical leave. He is called to a murder scene as the book opens; soon after another body is discovered with striking similarities. As Archie says about Portland, it is "known for its blush-tinted scenery, and its serial killers." There is still a strong connection between Archie and Gretchen, and ultimately he accedes to her calls asking him to come see her, at which point she says she can help him find the killer. His scars, which still itch and sometimes bleed, are a constant reminder of her brutality, but he can no sooner escape them than he can the power and sexual pull she still exerts over him.

The characters in the series are vividly drawn, and fully fleshed out. Susan Ward, reappearing three months after being fired from the local newspaper, the Herald, still very attracted to Archie; Susan's mother, Bliss, a former hippie, whose "eyes looked sparkly and spacey, like an anesthetized rabbit;" Henry, Archie's best friend and partner, himself recovering from a narrow escape from death, and trying without much success to keep his relationship with a fellow cop under wraps; Leo Reynolds, an attorney and the son of a drug kingpin whose sister's killer Archie had caught; among others.

In trademark fashion, as the investigation proceeds and the solution is in sight, the tight plotting grabs the reader by the throat and doesn't let go till the end, and the author pulls off one unexpected twist after another. And lest you think the book is entirely comprised of graphic violence, be assured that there are regular doses of humor in these pages.

Parenthetically, in case you're wondering, the title of this book comes from a couplet: "Sweet as sugar, hard as ice, hurt me once, I'll kill you twice." If this is your introduction to the Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell series, you'll understand it better after you read the book - not necessarily an easy read, certainly, but a highly recommended one. The next book in the series, "Let Me Go,' is due out in August of 2013, and I for one can't wait!

The Beautiful Mystery
Louise Penny
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250031129, $15.99,

This newest in the Armand Gamache series takes place far from the latter's usual territory. Gamache, Chief Inspector for the Surete du Quebec, and Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir, his second in command for more than a decade, have been called to a "near mythical monastery. . . which is home to two dozen cloistered, contemplative monks. Who had built their abbey as far from civilization as they could get." After four centuries, no one not among those two dozen had entered there, until the murder of one of their own brings the outside world in. The Gilbertines were an order of monks until recently thought by the world [including the Vatican] to be extinct, whose members had taken vows of silence, poverty and isolation.

What had changed that perception was a recording of the millennia-old chants sung, several times a day, by these monks, the result of which was a clamor for more information about them, and the unexpected success of the recording. This in turn had caused a rift among the monks, about half of them aligned with the abbot, who wanted their existence to continue as it had, and those who favored the suspension of their vow of silence, and the wealth that would surely come to the monastery in the aftermath of a second recording. Somehow that divide had led to murder. The dead man was the choir director, described by all as a genius, a brilliant musician with a glorious voice [as were all the others, though to a lesser degree].

The two detectives come to gain some insight into each of the monks: How they came to be here, in this remote place, with no link to the outside world, but men not unlike themselves. Jean-Guy, in particular, finds that one of the monks in particular is so like him that they are like opposite sides of the same coin. The rift in the monastery is mirrored by the one inside the Surete itself, with its roots going back some time, exacerbated by horrific events described in an earlier book in the series, its effects, both physical and emotional, still felt by both Gamache and Beauvoir. Those effects are again explored at some length, as are the thoughts and feelings of the protagonists.

About the title: The author summed it up in her Acknowledgements better than I ever could. It deals with the effects of music on our brains, in this case the majesty of the Gregorian chants: "I wanted to explore this beautiful mystery. How just a few notes can take us to a different time and place. Can conjure a person, an event, a feeling. Can inspire great courage, and reduce us to tears. And in the case of this book, I wanted to explore the power of ancient chants, Gregorian chants. On those who sing them, and those who hear them." And in this aim, the author has wholly succeeded. The reader too can, just for a moment, merely reading about the effects on those who sing them and hear them, get a glimpse of what that must be like. It's been a very long time since I heard a Gregorian chant, but its memory was still very strong in my mind's ear, if you will. The book, while slowing down somewhat in the middle, contains such consistently charming prose that this is a minor quibble, and the book is highly recommended. (It should perhaps be noted that this author's newest book, "How the Light Gets In," will be published in August).

The Other Woman
Hank Phillippi Ryan
c/o Forge/Tor
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780765369130, $7.99,

There is more than one "Other Woman" in this new novel by Hank Phillippi Ryan [following her 2010 "Drive Time," the fourth in the terrific Charlotte McNally series]. This time she introduces a new female journalist, Jane Ryland. For Jane, the other woman she is trying to track down is the one she suspects of being the paramour of Owen Lassiter, the political Golden Boy, charismatic former Governor and current candidate for Senate, in whose life there is, perhaps, more than one "other woman." For Jane's not-quite-significant other, Detective Jake Brogan, of the Boston PD, the "other woman" is the one whose dead body is discovered [on page one], the second in a week found in the river, under one of Boston's bridges, with nothing to identify her: no ID, not even a pair of shoes, for the police to work with. The tabloids have of course dubbed the women as victims of The Bridge Killer, though the police vehemently deny that a serial killer is in their midst. And there will be more "other women" before this tale is through.

Jane's personal backstory plays an important part in the plot: an award-winning investigative tv reporter, when she refuses to give up her source on a scandalous piece she did about a married businessman magnate who patronized a prostitute, she and the tv station for which she covered the story are found guilty in the ensuing defamation lawsuit, a million-dollar verdict the result. She is, of course, promptly fired, although she soon manages to get a job as a reporter on a Boston paper. On the romantic front, she and Jake find that their respective professional obligations make any relationship difficult, at best.

Other bodies turn up, and the 'serial killer' theory harder to deny. The political story as well is a tough one for Jane to uncover. There are a couple of females who could be described as potential stalkers, their motives unclear. But who was the real threat? And who the killer? The author sleekly weaves together several threads, with corresponding and changing pov, each time leaving the reader with mini-cliffhangers, and building the suspense to the point that this reader was racing through the pages in the final third of the book.

Ms. Ryan's bona fides in writing about a media reporter turned print journalist, involved in a political fray, are hard-won: She is a multiple-Emmy-Award-winning reporter on Boston's NBC affiliate and former US Senate staffer and political campaign aide, and her credentials are evident on every page. I found this a terrific summer read, and it is highly recommended.

(It should perhaps be noted that the author's newest book, "The Wrong Girl," is due out in September, 2013.)

Point & Shoot
Duane Swierczynski
Mulholland Books
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017-0010
9780316133302, $14.99,

The last in the Charlie Hardie Trilogy, this book was quite a departure for me. It is part sci-fi, part comic book [many of which this author has written, with great success], neither of which is usually in my 'comfort zone' of reading material. But I had read "Hell & Gone," the 2nd book in the trilogy, which I loved, and this newest book quickly had me under its spell: Fast-paced, suspenseful, fanciful, and a lot of fun.

In that prior book, Charlie, a former police consultant from Philadelphia, had spent the last two years babysitting the homes of the rich in LA; his last job had ended disastrously, with a shoot-out of historic proportions: Charlie, who soon earned the nickname "Unkillable Chuck," was nearly drowned, shot in his left arm, shot in the side of his head, and almost shot in the face at point-blank range, and ultimately incarcerated, underground. To quote from the back of the book: "Having accepted the ultimate punishment for his escape from the world's most secret prison, Charlie Hardie finds himself trapped inside a satellite parked in orbit 500 miles above the Earth. He's got a year's supply of food, air and water, and no communication back to Earth, and he must complete his twelve months' duty or the evil conglomerate that banished him will make his wife and son have an 'accident.'" All this is spelled out in the opening pages of the book, and to say any more would constitute an unforgivable spoiler.

The tale is comprised of many improbable components, including but not limited to several megalomaniacal characters; sibling serial killers, the return of Deacon ("Deke") Clark, a lot of mayhem and the accompanying blood, and chapters headed by classic lines from old movies. One never knows what's coming next. Suffice it to say that this is a terrific follow-up to a wonderful book - I must admit I have not read the first of the Trilogy books, "Fun & Games," but will correct that as soon as possible. It should be clear that "Point & Shoot" is recommended.

Helsinki White
James Thompson
Berkley Prime Crime
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780425253441, $15.00,

Inspector Kari Vaara, the protagonist in this series, in which this is the third entry, has a reputation as a "hero cop," having been shot twice in the line of duty and decorated for bravery both times. Possessed of "annoying incorruptibility," he has just been offered, and accepted, a job running a black-ops unit in his native Helsinki, using crime to fight crime with hand-selected (and admittedly sociopathic) cohorts who have "secrecy, autonomy, and the resources to buy anything they need for the job."

As the tale opens, Kari is recovering from brain surgery to remove a tumor, the unsettling after-effects of which are psychological/emotional rather than physical. His motives were primarily altruistic: "I took this job and started this illegal operation after being promised that it was for the purpose of helping people" specifically "young women being forced into the slave trade and prostitution." He has, however, been misled: things take unexpected turns, and he soon discovers that "corruption has no limits among the powerful, even when it involves murder."

The plot is a complex one, involving as it does national problems, not entirely, or even partially, fictional, primarily the racism and anti-immigration feelings rampant in modern society in Nordic and other European Union countries, and in other parts of the world as well, with rising fears about "the contagion of non-white immigration." The author makes these social issues palpable.

Though not the page-turner I initially expected, this is an absorbing book, well-written, and one in which, be forewarned, the closing pages are not for the faint of heart. I enjoyed this book so much that next up for this reader is "Helsinki Blood," published one month following this entry in the series.


The Devil Laughed
Gerrie Ferris Finger
Five Star Books
10 Water St., Ste. 310
Waterville, ME 04901
9781432826970, $25.95,

The newest entry of the Moriah Dru/Richard Lake mystery series finds the pair summoned from Atlanta, Georgia to the mountains of North Georgia for the 4th of July holiday by their friend, Superior Court Judge Portia Devon. Of course, things swiftly turn from laid-back to professional for both of them - - Dru, 6' tall ex-cop, now private detective and owner of Child Trace, and Lake, an Atlanta Police lieutenant - - when a sailboat that had mysteriously disappeared four years earlier emerges from the waters near Portia's property. The dead body of one of the four occupants of the boat had been found, apparently murdered, with no trace of the other three.

In a reversal of her normal professional duties, Moriah is hired by the thirteen-year-old daughter of one of those three to find her mother, who she is convinced is still alive. The precocious child possesses a hefty inheritance and pays Moriah handsomely, and she decides that "with a bona fide client I could delve into the tragedy to satisfy my curiosity - - to say nothing of solving the case, always an overriding goal." The unfolding tale uncovers a rather complex mystery, which takes Dru and Lake to other areas in Georgia (including to a place actually, we are told, called No More, Georgia) into the Cafe Fear, North Carolina wine country, a place so insular as to be nearly, if not actually, incestuous, with nearly all of the characters closely related.

The writing perfectly exemplifies, and captures, the Southern charm for which that part of the country is justifiably known. I found the local vernacular, or perhaps regional jargon is a better phrase, a delight, e.g., "cool cucumbers have seeds inside, too;" Moriah's assistant, intrigued with a task he's been assigned, telling her the job "thickens my gravy;" Moriah saying "some hinge in my mind wants to open and spill memory;" the angry client at one point looking "as venomous as an asp being prodded by teenage boys," with the occasional "Lordamighty" thrown in. The timing of the publication of the book was perfect: it was just the thing for an enjoyable beach read, and is recommended.

Helsinki Blood
James Thompson
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399158889, $26.95,

Inspector Kari Vaara, of the National Bureau of Investigation, the protagonist in this series, in which this is the fourth entry, has a reputation as a "hero cop," having been shot more than once in the line of duty and decorated for bravery both times, and possessed of "annoying incorruptibility." In the prior book in the series, "Helsinki White," he was offered, and accepted, a job running a black-ops unit in his native Helsinki, using crime to fight crime with hand-selected (and admittedly sociopathic) cohorts, his "brothers in arms, brothers in blood."

The book opens a very short time after the events described in the last book. Kari is still recovering from brain surgery to remove a tumor, the unsettling after-effects of which, while now lessening, were psychological/emotional rather than physical. As I wrote about that book, his motives were primarily altruistic: "I took this job and started this illegal operation after being promised that it was for the purpose of helping people" specifically "young women being forced into the slave trade and prostitution. (A welcome by-product of bringing those criminals to justice was the ten million euros he had "liberated" from a faked blackmailer, aiding his present efforts.)

Those are still his primary motivations, especially when he is approached by a woman who begs him to find her 19-year-old daughter, who has Down syndrome, who has been duped and is being held against her will with an intended future as a prostitute. He believes that "if I could truly save this one girl, in some tiny way, it would justify all I've done. It wouldn't make things right or restore balance to my inner world, but the symbolism would be there, proof that doing good is possible for me." And maybe get his wife back: Vaara's life, mind and body are in shambles, only made worse when his wife of two years, shattered by the events in the prior book and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, has left him, and their baby daughter, and sought refuge (ironically) with her drug-addicted brother in Miami. Honor-bound "to the concept of duty, that sacrifice for the good of others is not only laudable, but expected, especially when it comes to family," he is determined to see that justice is again served, even after his investigation soon reveals that some very important people are involved, to his, and his family's, peril. This book, as readers of the prior books in the series know, is not for the faint of heart.

It is, however, recommended.

The Boyfriend
Thomas Perry
Mysterious Press
c/o Grove Atlantic
841 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9780802126061, $25.00,

The protagonist and his adversary in this newest terrific, suspenseful read from Thomas Perry have many similarities: Both Jack Till, retired LAPD homicide detective now working as a private investigator, and the man he nicknames The Boyfriend are both highly intelligent, patient, meticulous, proficient with various kinds of weaponry, and very lethal. Mostly they are both loners. Till, however, has a daughter with Down Syndrome of whom he is very protective. His wife had left them and divorced him shortly after she was diagnosed, unable to cope. Holly is now 28 years old, employed at a florist shop and living in a group home where she is well looked after. Till had retired after 23 years as a cop, and now embarks upon a relentless search for a killer.

The man Till is seeking is completely cold-blooded. He preys upon young, beautiful women, all of a very similar physical type, and all 'working girls,' albeit highly-paid escorts earning several thousand dollars a day, as opposed to streetwalkers. And all very vulnerable to the young, good-looking charmer, to their peril. He has apparently killed several of them in all different parts of the country. He has come to Till's attention when the parents of the latest victim seek his help, when the police have, literally, no clues as to his identify. He agrees to take the case and undertakes the investigation, and soon uncovers the connection to the other murders. After 23 years as a cop, he "had an instinctive sense that this man was something he hadn't seen before."

Thomas Perry is the author, among his 21 previous books, of the wonderful Jane Whitefield series, and his newest is as much a page-turner as were those novels. He manages an ending that is wonderfully elegant. This was a terrific read, and is highly recommended.

Gloria Feit

Gorden's Bookshelf

The Delphi Agenda
Rob Swigart
First booksBnimble Publishing
9781617506024, e-book price: $2.99 US

When you first start reading Swigart's The Delphi Agenda, you feel you have picked up a Dan Brown novel with a female protagonist. There is a very distinct similarity in the writing. Swigart doesn't have the same unique feel of exploring a little understood niche of history that Brown has but there is enough real history to pull the tale into readable believability. Another difference is that Swigart has a more modern view of an ancient conflict... But for anyone who likes the mix of history with suspense this is a great book to pick up.

Lisa Emmer studies old papyrus manuscripts. She is picked up by the French police when her mentor and friend Dr. Raimond Foix is found murdered. The police suspect she might have something to do with the murder but nearly immediately she finds out that his real killers have targeted her. She has inherited more than just the physical belongings of Raimond. She has inherited his enemies, friends and other parties looking to claim what they can from the conflict. She has to discover the truth behind an ancient battle that has been going on for millennia before she becomes the next casualty in the conflict.

The suspense is fast, the history plausible enough and the characters and plotline are compelling. This makes this mystery/suspense and easy recommendation for anyone who enjoys these genres. The story begins a little too closely to Brown's stories but it soon finds its own niche. The biggest weakness is the end. Swigart loses focus in the last few pages and although the story has a solid conclusion it feels soft. Another minor problem are the assassins. Some of their characterizations are a little too extreme to fit well in the plotline. But the whole tale is easily worth picking up.

Ice Hunter
Joseph Heywood
The Lyons Press
c/o The Globe Pequot Press
246 Goose Lane, Suite 200
Guilford, CT 06437
9780762777075, e-book price: $9.99 US

Ice Hunter is a slightly different detective mystery. The cop is a conservation officer or, in the vernacular, a game warden. CO Grady Service lives and acts like an old time game warden where justice is better than the letter of the law. He is a native of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and a ex-college hockey player. After putting another player in the hospital, he decided to leave the game and joined the Marines in time for Vietnam. For most of the decades after he has been a CO in the Upper Peninsula.

A poacher with a vendetta, who Grady put away after he assaulted him during a bust, is getting out of jail. While looking over a protected wilderness area, he crosses paths with someone examining the rocks in a river bed. These two seemingly unrelated facts build up to murder, blackmail and Grady having a high powered rife pointed at him.

The pace of Ice Hunter is frantic, possibly too frantic. Every other page seems to have some type of incident happening from being called as backup to a domestic dispute to being in the middle of a drunken brawl. Some have a place in the underlying tale but many are there as placers between the scenes. Heywood has his Grady Service more active in policing than most inner city beat cops. Game wardens have tough jobs but Heywood tries to put every unusual incident that might take place over a season or even a year in just one story. But the fast pacing does move the story making Ice Hunter a fast read.

The one feature of the book that I found very annoying is from the publisher. The ebook formatting is slightly off making the paragraphs harder to read. Too many publishers are still not paying enough attention to the format rendering of electronic devices.

Ice Hunter is a very solid read with a good story. Any reader who has ever been in the Upper Peninsula will have even a more enjoyable time with the story. Grady Service is a character that is not frequently found in contemporary writing so the combination of a solid story and unique characters and locations makes this a good detective mystery to read. The current ebook list price seems a little high for the story but it would be a steal during a sale.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Henry's Bookshelf

Cocktails: Fancy and Delicious Recipes for All Tastes
Eliq Maranik
H. F. Ullmann
c/o 60 Cycle Media Relations LLC
38 High Avenue, Nyack NY 10960
9783848002849, $14.99,

Cocktails are back in style. This book includes traditional ones and innovations on them, and also new ones devised for contemporary tastes. Among the traditional are the martini, in fact a short section including the classic dry martini. But along with this are the chili martini, the French martini, and even a chocolate martini, among a few others. Gin and tonic, Singapore
sling, and whiskey sour are other all-time favorites. On the page facing the tried-and-true Bloody Mary is the Bloody Devil concocted by adding peppers to the former's recipe.

Recipes using fruits, coffees, relatively new flavored brandies, and herb, floral, and vegetable garnishes reflect the contemporary interest in finding and creating new tastes. Place names and sometimes the names of the particular liquor or ingredient are often used for the name of the cocktail.

Maranik is from Sweden, where her book became an award-winning bestseller. There's a cocktail here for every taste preference from unadultered, tweaked, blended, obscured, sweet, cloying, etc., and for every curiosity. The pictures of every cocktail are high-quality color food photos. Introductory sections cover mixology equipment, glasses, the liquors and liqueurs and other basic elements (e. g., bitters, sodas), and tips on proper and in some cases eye-catching presentation as with a food serving.

Maranik's book plainly and attractively fills an area of foods and entertaining for anyone wishing to be the complete hostess.

Western Artists And India
Shanay Jhaveri
Shoestring Publisher, India
Antique Collectors' Club (distributor)
6 West 18th Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10011
8190472046, $60.00,

"Western Artists And India: Creative Inspirations in Art and Design" is not typical art history or criticism, nor exploration into aesthetics. The author is immersed in the subject, has not simply studied it. Identified as "editor," Jhaveri has not simply collected and organized the material, but imbues it with her own Indian sensibility and desire to have the reader have new appreciations and understandings. Author of the previous work "Outsider Films on India: 1950-1990" and a some-time resident of England, he has a grasp of both Western techniques based on modern formalism reflecting industrialism and technology and also age-old Indian spirituality expressed in the often beguiling Indian art entailing varying degrees of mysticism.

The pattern of the book (format is too conventional and formal a word) overall suggests the naturalness, serendipity, amorphousness, color, and sense of the presence of person given off by Indian art.

Sections of pages of illustrations of art work by famous or noted Western artists come between other sections of interviews with living, working artists and essays on instructive themes, historical topics, or individual author perspectives, experiences, or insights. Works by Western artists Alexander Calder, Eric Fischl, Frank Stella, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and others who are distinctive and influential both as examples of modernist art and individualistic styles are set between the essays and interviews. It is in the illustrated essays where the Indian art and cultural influences of objects, clothing, activities, traditions. etc. are found. Thus over the course of every 15 pages or so, one recurringly comes across examples of major Western modernist art and images of traditional and in many cases ancient Indian society.

The book is a timely exploration and disclosure of the little-recognized links and associations between modern Western art and Indian society (somewhat along the lines of studies in the field of spirituality). It is not basically an ethnographic study, as one finds in studies of the influence of African art on early modern European art (e. g., Picasso) for instance. The subject matter of "Western Artists and India" is more cross-pollination or implication of deeper, humanistic roots, not a comparative cultural or ethnographic study.

Henry Berry

Janet's Bookshelf

Thick Fog In Pacheco Pass
R.P. McCabe
Pen & Ink Publishing Ltd.
1435 East Venice Ave., #104-261
Venice, FL 34292
9781484939420, $13.03 pbk / $4.99 Kindle,

Thick Fog In Pacheco Pass is a romantic mysterious novel title and one that was chosen by R.P. McCabe for his latest book which features Charlie Caldwell, a young man in search of resolution for a troubling experience that happened in his teenage years.

The story, set in 1972, is narrated by Caldwell after he returns from a tour of duty in Vietnam. A romantic figure - Charlie, a loner whose early childhood in small town America was blighted by his father's drunken behaviour, had to work hard to overcome the label of white trash. A football natural, he made it to the high school team and acquired a girlfriend from the right side of town, Miranda DeCosta. Acceptance and success under the patronage of Miranda's father, town big-shot, Sal DeCosta, looked to be just around the corner for Charlie until he unexpectedly came upon Miranda in a situation that changed his life forever.

Thick Fog In Pacheco Pass, equal parts romance and mystery, the author, R.P. McCabe is a writer whose well paced story telling skill keeps the reader absorbed as Charlie, now an adult, returns to his hometown of Divina. He wants to resolve with Miranda the event that took place ten years ago which shattered their romance and was integral to his decision to leave town.

Shortly after arriving in Divina, Charlie learns that Miranda was brutally raped and murdered - the Sheriff has arrested a local drunk who really can't remember where or what he was doing on the night of Miranda's death. As in most small towns, the residents fall under the description of the good, the bad and the ugly. Charlie, on his first day in town is unlucky enough to renew acquaintance with a particularly ugly member of the community, the Sheriff's Deputy, and is warned to get back in his battered truck and keep right on going.

The characterizations of members of a small community, some nice, some nasty are well done - the well intentioned nosiness or bigotry encountered by Charlie, believable and in keeping with a small town whose residents are isolated by lack of financial opportunities.

Charlie, met by a blank wall when he tries to discover the circumstances surrounding Miranda's murder has dinner with her best friend - she confides that Miranda was most likely pregnant before her death. Small towns love labels and Miranda had been labeled as the town whore. Shocked by this, Charlie wakes the next morning and figures maybe the Deputy was right - leave the investigation to the proper authorities and move on.

Before leaving, to clear the fog and alcohol from his brain, he jogs in the hills at the back of town where he meets Audrey, a hot babe, recently divorced with a twelve year old daughter. The attraction is instant and mutual. Yup, you guessed it - Charlie decides to stick around for dinner with Audrey and whatever comes after. Quite a lot comes after and if you like plenty of romance with your mystery then Thick Fog In Pacheco Pass is certainly the book for you.

Charlie, decides to give both his affair with Audrey and his long held desire to be a writer a chance by renting a small condo Audrey and her husband had built for his mother. Unable to escape Miranda's death, Charlie, convinced the wrong man has been arrested, is drawn into the mystery and signs on as the defence attorney's investigator. There on in the plot heats up and so do the town's residents. Charlie and Audrey, in danger as a result of Charlie's findings it's an exciting read to discover who killed Miranda and why.

R.P. McCabe and Charlie Caldwell, a good combination, Thick Fog In Pacheco Pass is an intriguing summer read.

Winter at Death's Hotel
Kenneth Cameron
Sourcebooks Landmark
1935 Brookdale Road, Suite 139
Naperville, IL 60563
9781402280825, $14.99 pbk. / $10.09 Kindle

Winter at Death's Hotel is an unusual novel; part a well researched documentation of life in late 1800's New York and part a grisly suspenseful, sometimes disturbing thriller that pits amateur detective Louisa Conan Doyle (yup, she's Arthur's wife) against a mad, bad, serial killer.

Set in the up-market Britannic Hotel, author Kenneth Cameron weaves a tale of mayhem and murder amidst the daily comings and goings of the hotel's clients and does it wonderfully well. Teddy Roosevelt, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Conan Doyle, NYPD officers and characters that call the sidewalks of New York home are portrayed with vivid imagery, the plot, intricate and at times, seriously scary.

Louisa Conan Doyle's raison d'etre is to serve/obey husband Arthur, the creator of Sherlock Holmes. Louisa, unlike other middleclass women of her time, has a mind of her own - one that begs to experience life outside the stifling confines of society and husband Arthur's patronizing view of appropriate female behaviour.

The story begins when Arthur and Louisa arrive at the Britannic Hotel, the starting point for Arthur's US lecture tour. On day one, Louisa notices in the lobby a pretty young woman accompanied by a handsome man. Their eyes meet and Louisa is struck by the young woman's happy expression. Appearing to know the hotel detective they disappear up the hotel staircase and Louisa daydreams about the couple's relationship.

The next morning, Louisa, up early, leaves a sleeping Arthur to buy a newspaper. Horrified to read a woman's mutilated body has been found in a Bowery alley, she studies the artist's sketch of the unidentified woman's face. Louisa is certain the drawing is of the happy young woman she saw in the hotel lobby. Back in her room, Louisa tells Arthur of her discovery. Arthur, in real life no Sherlock Holmes, orders her to forget the woman and any thought of contacting the NYPD, his main concern being that the use of his name may attract bad publicity from the gutter press.

Louisa, unhappily, does as she's told and with her maid, Ethel, packs for their departure on the morning train. At the door of the hotel, accompanied by Arthur, Ethel and a wagon load of cases, Louisa trips on the entry way carpet and sinks painfully to the floor - she has sprained her ankle.

I'm really glad she did this as stuffy stingy Arthur goes on his lecture tour alone and Louisa, left behind to convalesce, takes centre stage as a fully rounded (in more ways than one) literary figure in an exciting tale.

Louisa wastes no time contacting the police about the dead woman but is treated rudely, her identification of the murder victim disparaged and dismissed. Undaunted, she writes a letter to Police Commissioner Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy, with something to hide, directs her information be investigated but not too closely.

Another woman, similarly mutilated, is found murdered. Louisa, determined to find the identity of the first victim meets Minnie, a newspaper reporter. Lonely without Arthur and without any gal pals to turn to, Louisa is drawn to Minnie, a young woman battling to succeed in the male domain of newspaper reporting. Friendship develops as they help each other - Minnie in search of a scoop, Louisa in search of justice for the women who have been so brutally murdered.

Spooked by things that go bump in the night in her hotel suite, Louisa is sure the hotel or one of its habitues is somehow involved in the murders. What's behind the facade of the Britannic Hotel? Something very nasty is going on and Louisa aims to find out who is involved and why. How she does this is a harrowing thrilling read and one I enjoyed.

Arthur and Louisa's lives, forever changed by the events that happen behind the Britannic Hotel's double brick walls, the last paragraph of Winter at Death's Hotel appears to leave the way open for author, Kenneth Cameron to write more chapters devoted to Louisa Conan Doyle's investigations. I hope so; she's a woman I'd like to hear more about.

No Substitute For Money
Carolyn J. Rose
Carolyn J. Rose, Author Publisher
9780983735960, $10.49 pbk. / $0.99 Kindle,

Barbara, Cheese Puff, Dave and Allison, an interesting fun bunch of gals and guys (Cheese Puff's a boy dog) are the star players in Carolyn J. Rose's latest mystery, No Substitute For Money.

Barbara Reed, a financially embarrassed substitute teacher, lives in a condo with her long time buddy, Cheese Puff. Enamoured of a drug-cop detective, Dave Martin, Barb really hopes the feeling is mutual but is wary of their affair becoming perfect. The P-word, a harbinger of disaster; the string of marriage partners, jobs, hairdos... anything really, that sank without trace when the P-word dropped by has convinced Barb that in her life, nothing and nobody's perfect.

Completing grad school, she is hoping for a job at the local high school in Reckless River, Wahington. Meanwhile, the affair with Dave is heating up and he's talking co-habitation; co-habitation which includes his teenage daughter, Allison. Barb and Allison like each other so happy families could be a reality if only Barb would stop dithering and forget previous P-word stuff-ups.

Have to say that I'm not a fan of teen-age characters in adult mystery novels - they are mostly irritating/boring or both. Congratulations to writer Carolyn Rose, her characterization of teenage Allison is appealingly realistic and at times, funny.

Mrs. Ballantine, a neighbor tripping around overseas, has offered Barb the use of her car for the duration of the holiday. This is a lucky break for Barb, as her ancient jalopy succumbs to an unknown illness and she has no option but to leave it at a garage for repairs. There is a problem though; a tall dark thuggish guy is hanging around Barb's condo asking for Mrs. Ballantine - he wants to know where she is and he wants to know right now. "Or else", implied, Barb feels threatened.

She contacts Mrs. B. who denies any knowledge of the thug, advising Barb she'll sort the thug out when she comes home. Not much Barb can do and as sister, Iz is on course to visit, she has troubles of her own. Iz, a relative you wouldn't give a forwarding address to if you moved house, is Barb's only living relative. Iz doesn't like her sister's choice in men or lifestyle, and loudly (some would say aggressively) vocalizes a trillion recommendations for change.

Barb's car, miraculously fixed at an affordable cost, becomes a problem. Doors unlocked, doors left open, mysterious wrapping paper and packages left on the floor and the seat - what's happening? And, more importantly: who is to blame? Dave becomes involved in the mystery and so do the drug squad. This threatens to short circuit Barb and Dave's love affair - Barb sure that the P-word has done it again is miserable.

A kidnapping and threatening phone calls makes life not only interesting but pretty damn dangerous, until Mrs. Ballantine, thug in tow turns up and takes charge. Stuff starts happening and it happens fast. All the players: Dave, the drug squad, Iz and her new love, Mrs. B and thug, Barb and Allison get involved in a night of unexpected exciting events where the bad guys get what's coming to them and Barb and Co. can look forward to a not perfect (perish the thought) but happy future.

No Substitute For Money, full of quirky, nutty/nice characters is a good read - Carolyn J. Rose an accomplished genre writer who knows how to keep a story percolating.

Janet Walker, Reviewer

Karyn's Bookshelf

Melanie Crowder
Houghton Mifflin Company
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
9780547976518, $15.99,

The destinies of two orphans collide as an epic drought scorches their country. Sarel and her dogs are alone on her family's burned-out homestead. Her parents, shot by men looking for water, are buried nearby. Musa, trained by his mother to find flowing water, has escaped from men who imprisoned him and exploited his skill. Bloodied, dust covered and dehydrated, Musa stumbles into Sarel's yard. At first deeply distrustful of each other, Sarel and Musa soon realized that to survive, they must work together. Their skills compliment each other. Sarel knows where to find food in the parched earth and Musa, water. But as their drinking supply dwindles, and new water fails to materialize despite Musa's best efforts, they must summon deep wells of courage. In her debut novel, told in alternating chapters from Sarel, Musa and the dogs' perspectives, Crowder proves a formidable new writer to watch. The story of Sarel, Musa and the dogs' perseverance against unrelenting grief, hunger, thirst and danger, is masterfully penned. The characters, places, situations and suspense richly, indelibly linger. One to start and finish in a single sitting; an unforgettable, can't-put-it-down, award bound new favorite.

A Smidgen of Sky
Dianna Dorisi Winget
Houghton Mifflin Company
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
9780547807980, $16.99,

Piper Lee isn't ready to let go of her daddy, whose body was never found when his airplane crashed four years ago. But her mother is ready; she is preparing to marry someone new. Piper Lee is about to get not only a stepfather, but also a stepsister, named Ginger. Piper Lee's last ditch effort to stop the wedding, by locating Ginger's irresponsible, long-absent mother in the naive hope that Ginger's parents will get back together, backfires with unanticipated, weighty consequences. And when she goes online to find out more about her father's death, Piper Lee unwittingly puts herself and Ginger in serious danger. Winget's debut novel gently, skillfully traverses a host of issues, from unrelenting grief to family blending to internet enticement, in a way that will resonate with middle grade readers, A warm, believable, notable debut.

Beyond Courage
Doreen Rappaport
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA 02144
9780763629762, $22.99,

Courageous acts of resistance by Jews, across World War II Europe, saved untold lives and helped thwart Hitler's Nazi regime. The stories of resisters that comprise "Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust" are boldly yet appropriately penned, highly comprehendible for middle school readers and well illustrated with more than 200 photos, maps and other visual aids. These are often deeply personal accounts that reach far beyond the broad brush of war statistics to indelibly honor those who risked everything. Often dying in the process, they smuggled young children to safety, led ghetto uprisings, derailed trains, set off bombs, murdered captors and took other actions to save Jewish lives. Some resisters were Jews, others were Jewish sympathizers. Many were not much older than the book's target audience of 10 to 14-year-olds, a fact that will linger with readers. Deeply engaging and often intensely emotional, the stories will dispel any remaining notion among young readers that all Jews let themselves be led to slaughter. The accounts of those who fled into Europe's deep woods, and there established whole, hidden resistance villages, particularly impress. The personal stories are backed by easily comprehendible, related historical details about the war. An unforgettable new telling.

Delicious Vegetarian Main Dishes
Jennifer S. Larson, author
Brie Cohen, photographer
Millbrook Press
c/o Lerner Publishing Group
241 First Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN 55401
9780761366355, $26.60,

This is a simple, accessible primer for kids who are just starting to find their way around a kitchen, and who might be at an age to begin asking for vegetarian meals. Larson, the mother of two elementary schoolers, clearly understands this age group and perfectly tailors the recipes and supporting elements for them. Four pages of basic cooking knowledge kick things off, with reminders about the dangers of hot stoves and knives, an illustrated guide to cooking tools and an explanation of basic cooking techniques, from grating to draining to measuring. That's followed by eight highly appealing, easy to make, fully illustrated recipes using common ingredients like tortillas, black beans, eggs, tofu, pasta, couscous and a wide variety of vegetables and herbs. The limited number of recipes is key; kids won't feel overwhelmed by too many choices. The results will be something they actually want to eat. Detailed, step-by-step instructions are simply worded, walking kids easily through each recipe. A great, child-friendly addition to any family cookbook shelf.

Karyn Saemann, Reviewer

Logan's Bookshelf

Black Male Teachers
Chance W. Lewis & Ivory A. Toldson, eds.
Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.
9781781906217, $124.95,

Education is the gateway for minorities in America to gain access to economic success. This is especially true for male African American students where there is no male role model in the home. The problem is attracting qualified African American men to a teaching career -- particularly within inner city school systems with high minority student enrollments. The collaborative editorial work of academicians Chance W. Lewis (University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC) and Ivory A. Toldson (Howard University, Washington, DC), "Black Male Teachers: Diversifying the United States' Teacher Workforce" is a 279 page compendium eighteen informed and informative articles by experts in the field who specifically address a diversity of aspects and problems with respect to recruiting and increasing the numbers of black male teachers in public school systems throughout the United States. A seminal and critically important work, "Black Male Teachers: Diversifying the United States' Teacher Workforce" is a core addition for academic library Educational Studies reference collections.

10 Essentials to Save Your Sight
Edward C. Kondrot, MD
Advantage Media Group
c/o Cher Murphy PR
9781599323299 $24.95

Homeopathic Ophthamologist Edward C. Kondrot practices both traditional and alternative therapies for the prevention and treatment of eye diseases, including macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, eyestrain, and much more. 10 Essentials to Save Your Sight spells out his insights in accessible, reader-friendly terms, with ample "Caution!" caveats whenever discussing treatments that absolutely require the guidance of a trained professional (such as the controversial options of "light therapy" or "sunning"), due to the inherent risks of improper use. 10 Essentials to Save Your Sight challenges conventional wisdom at times, from revealing how the ingestion of fish oils can potentially be harmful to one's vision, to the Bates method for self-training vision improvement, to the proper implementation of homeotherapy and much more. 10 Essentials to Save Your Sight is absolutely and emphatically not a substitute for health care from a trained ophthamologist, but may prove insightful and useful to anyone struggling to preserve their own gift of sight.

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

What's In Your 24?
Dana Simone Stovall
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781478711773 $9.95

What's In Your 24? is a self-help guide to effective time management and setting priorities for personal happiness. Although What's In Your 24? is written especially with stressed-out wives and mothers in mind, readers of both genders and all backgrounds will find its advice absolutely invaluable. Chapters cover how to take control of internal and external chatter, distinguish when and how to appropriate time for one's own needs (including regular exercise!), suggestions for a more satisfying day-to-day life, and much more. "One of my favorite times to exercise is at the office during listener-only conference calls. Just put your phone on speaker and mute, raise the volume, and hit the floor and do abdominal exercises during the entire call. Don't forget your dumbbells. You can even add a 90-degree wall squat." What's In Your 24? is quite brief from cover to cover, but its tips, tricks, and sensible wisdom are highly recommended.

Advance My Baby
Paula Tarver & Jeanne Martin
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781481733878, $56.99,

"Advance My Baby: The Ultimate Secrets of Healthy Development for Your Baby - Birth to 3 Years" is an impressive self-help manual for parents that instructs them with respect to developmental milestones played out on a monthly progression scale. Knowing what to expect and when will enable parents to immediately take action with respect to any remedial developmental assistance. Superbly organized, definitive, and 'parent friendly', "Advance My Baby: The Ultimate Secrets of Healthy Development for Your Baby - Birth to 3 Years" is an ideal instruction guide that covers all gross and fine motor skills, language, emotional growth, cognition, social interactions, and self-care skills to be expected in the first three years of life. Of special note are the visual cues embedded in the text with blue boxes and red-framed insets. Comprehensive, reliable, knowledgeable, practical, and ideal for a community library Parenting Studies collection, "Advance My Baby: The Ultimate Secrets of Healthy Development for Your Baby - Birth to 3 Years" is especially recommended reading for 'first time' parents and has a great deal of value for even more experienced parents form whom their new baby is not their first child.

Margaret Lane

Marjorie's Bookshelf

The Tennis Partner
Abraham Verghese
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022-5299
9780060174057, $14.99,

Verghese has written two memoirs. This is the second about his friendship and tennis partnership with a young Australian intern who worked for him. As the story develops we learn that the young friend, David Smith, has a cocaine addiction which eventually ends in his demise. At the time Verghese was a doctor in the department of internal medicine at Texas Tech School of Medicine in El Paso and doing well professionally. In his personal life he was going through the breakup of his marriage, and this tennis partnership was something that sustained him through a particularly troubling period of his life. Tennis figures prominently in the book, and if you don't like tennis this wouldn't be the book for you. Verghese is a fanatic about tennis, even keeping a journal of plays and what he did and should have done in a game. In David Smith, who was on the pro tour for a short period, he finds a partner who loves the game as much as he does. They play on a regular basis. But David has a troubling relationship with a young woman, and, as it turns out, with several women. Verghese's unhappy marriage unravels, he moves out, but still remains an attentive father to his two young boys. The story is compelling because in it we see the downfall of a young man from the perspective of the doctor, friend and tennis partner. We learn something of the world of doctors, their inner world, of drug addiction, and how drug addiction ruined a promising life and career. Verghese is a decent writer and is very honest in his story telling. This book is a touching memorial to his tennis partner. Verghese is now a professor at Stanford University, and we await his next memoir or novel for more insights into the medical profession.

The Old Buzzard Had It Coming
Donis Casey
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E First Avenue, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781615950171, $14.95 pb, Kindle .99,

This story opens in January, 1912 in a small town in Oklahoma. An old drunk and wife beater is shot and the story unfolds from there. Suspects are his oldest son, then battered wife until we learn the real killer in the surprise ending. Casey writes in a folksy manner, sometimes over writing, but since this is her first book, we can hope her writing improves as the series goes on. Alafair Tucker is the amateur detective with seven children of her own, married to a prosperous farmer next one over to the farm where the murder takes place. The plot thickens as we find out that one of Alafair's daughters, Phoebe, has been secretly seeing the murdered man's oldest son, John Lee, and that she seems to be involved in the murder of John Lee's father. We cannot like the murdered man who treated his family badly. We can like the Tucker family and the farm they have made for themselves. Cousin Scott is the Sheriff who is hell-bent on finding the murderer. But so is Alafair. She fears the wrong person will be charged with the crime, and so takes some risky chances to bring the right person to justice. It is a nicely woven tale, simple and folksy. Casey even gives us recipes at the end of the food mentioned in the book. We are taken back to farm life in a seemingly less complicated era, and it is a nice fantasy.

Marjorie Thelen, Reviewer

Mayra's Bookshelf

Sweet Karoline
Catherine Astolfo
Imajin Books
3715-14 Street NW
Edmonton, AB, Canada T6T 0H9
9781927792070, $14.95 pbk / Kindle $3.99,

"I met Ethan on the day that I killed Karoline." Thus begins this psychological mystery. One has to admit, it is a great hooky first line for a book!

What if, in a moment of thoughtless anger, you were to wish your best friend's demise, then, soon after, that friend ended up dead?

This is the story of our smart, beautiful, psychologically fragile protagonist Anna Williams who, tortured by feelings of shame and guilt after Karoline's death, suffers an emotional breakdown.

Yet...did Anne really kill Karoline? I couldn't help but wonder as I turned the pages, asking myself, "Is she a psychopath?" I kept having the unsettling sensation that what I was reading wasn't what it appeared to be. In this sense, this is a deliciously engaging novel.

Through Anna's twisted perspective, and with the help of brief and somewhat odd journal entries, author Catherine Astolfo explores the complex relationship between the two friends. The reader will get a glimpse of Anne's inner journey as she uncovers painful childhood events and discovers a family history filled with unexpected crimes and betrayals.

Sweet Karoline is an exploration into the dark corners of a young woman's psyche as she falls into a vortex of greed, lies, and deceit.

I enjoyed reading this novel. It was different from many other books I've read recently. Written in a stream-of-consciousness manner that well suits the complicated mind of the protagonist, this multi-layered, well-paced story could be considered literary mystery. Astolfo pays a lot of attention to language and her prose, drily witty at times, is eloquent and fluid. What leads people to harm others? What prompts a good person to commit evil acts? These are just some of the questions explored in this dark tale of suspense.

If you enjoy a good psychological mystery, you should try this one out. Recommended.

The Curse Giver
Dora Machado
Twilight Times Books
P.O. Box 3340
Kingsport, TN 37664
ASIN: B00DSUQL4I, Ebook $3.00

Intrigue, romance and adventure await you in Dora Machado's latest fast-paced, plot-twisting fantasy, The Curse Giver, just released by Twilight Times Books.

The story begins with our innocent healer heroine, Lusielle, as she is about to be burned on the pyre after she's sentenced to death for a crime she didn't commit. But just as the flames are about to engulf her, a mysterious stranger on a horse storms through the crowd and rescues her.

Brennus, Lord of Laonia, is tormented by the curse that has destroyed his people. To undo it, he must kill Lusielle in the most vicious of ways, for she is the one who bears the mysterious birthmark.

However, destiny plays a trick on them. Now together, amidst a world teetering on the brink of war, predator and prey grow too close for their own good. Passion flares as in a twist of fate, together, they try to defeat the terrifying curse and destroy the Curse Giver...

Lovers of dark romantic fantasy will relish The Curse Giver. This was a wonderfully entertaining, absorbing read. The stakes are high, the conflict compelling, and the sympathetic hero and heroine will make you fall in love with them. But the best thing about the novel is the writing itself. Lyric at times, Machado's prose flows beautifully throughout the pages, bringing to life her fictional world in full, vivid detail.

The Curse Giver is a memorable adventure for fans of fantasy and one I can certainly recommend.

Mayra Calvani

Peggy's Bookshelf

A Portrait of Murder
Beth Pratt
Smashwords, Inc.
15951 Los Gatos Blvd., Ste. 16
Los Gatos, CA 95032
B00DSAYCYO, $2.99,

By day Veronique Berri gives art tours at the Musee d'Orsay, but by night she's a cat burglar. Or rather, she was a cat burglar - as in art thief - until six months earlier when she kicked the habit. Then an outright fake of Manet's "Portrait of Victorine Meurent" appeared during a series of power outages in Paris that crippled the art museum's security system. Veronique simply could not resist one last heist. Not all goes according to plan. As she makes her exit, she stumbles upon the body of museum curator, Colette Laroche in front of Manet's "Olympia." The murdered woman has been dressed up like the model in the painting. As if Veronique hasn't blown up her attempt at normal life enough for one night, her ex-partner-in-crime, Andrew McFadden shows up to seduce her back to her old life. But with her theft of the portrait now tied to a murder, she goes on the prowl for a killer instead. Faced with a cast of quirky characters, any one of whom could be the murderer, she is soon embroiled in a deadly, de facto game of CLUE a la Paris. Beth Pratt combines the art world, grand theft, and murder in this heart-pounding whodunit. "A Portrait of Murder" is a spine-tingling and sexy mystery for your summer reading list.

The Dogs of Christmas
W. Bruce Cameron
Forge Books
c/o Tor-Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765330550, $15.99,

Coming this October -- a dog story and a Christmas story rolled into one. What could be better than that? A dog story and a Christmas story rolled into one -- and brought to you by Bruce Cameron.

Reclusive computer geek Josh Michaels lives alone outside a small mountain town in Colorado. His girlfriend left him for another man six months earlier and shredded his self-confidence. The last thing he wants is a dog. So when his callous neighbor drops off his pregnant dog on his way out of town, Josh is ripped from his shell into full panic mode. And before he knows it he has a dog and five puppies. A frantic call to the local animal shelter for a way out of his predicament gets him the help he needs but not in the way he expects.

Not even Scrooge could resist this warm and funny romp with a box full of puppies. "The Dogs of Christmas" is the feel good book this holiday season, one you can read aloud with the family beside the Christmas tree.

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Regis' Bookshelf

Transitioning Embedded Systems to Intelligent Environments
Dr. Satwant Kaur
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781490408446, $19.95,

A future filled with devices to enhance life on our planet, certainly to help save it from wasted annihilation, is the fascinating vision of Dr. Kaur in her book, Transitioning Embedded Systems to Intelligent Environments: A Journey through Evolving Technologies. Dr. Kaur lists dozens of scenarios where she not only describes how existing technology can be improved, but she also suggests ways of doing it, particularly using advanced devices made by Intel. Clearly she is an idealist hoping her book will stimulate inventive thinking.

Dr. Kaur first explains that "an embedded system ... has intelligence built in for computing and decision making." The embedded system might be as simple as one miniature Intel processor chip wired into a computer breadboard environment, or it might be much more complicated such as the entire computer depending on its level of functioning. Thus systems can be both micro and macroscopic.

Embedded within the tiniest manufactured computer chip are even smaller transistors, capacitors, and electronic entities. These allow it to make an intelligent decision, depending on electrical input, as it works in tandem with other chips. Yet on a larger scale, entire computers would be intelligent systems embedded in an operating room when they provide decisive life preserving data about blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen levels and respiration for medical personnel performing delicate surgery.

In Transitioning Embedded Systems to Intelligent Environments: A Journey through Evolving Technologies, Dr. Kaur explains how the shifting of even the smallest intelligent system can affect our home life, our energy sources, our health, and our transportation. As an example, my wife and I were given a robot vacuum cleaner (Roomba) as a gift. I was skeptical about using it, but while watching the contraption do its job, I could imagine robots on a much larger scale cleaning office cubicles, or delivering mail, or transporting information from one manufacturing floor to another.

Dr. Kaur sees embedded systems dramatically affecting our health. She talks about chips or strap on devices that could constantly monitor our vital signs, alerting us and our doctor when some unhealthy condition occurs. Already there are pacemakers and glucose monitoring devices for diabetics which keep them out of danger. Other devices might even monitor unhealthy stress levels.

My daughter owns a new automobile that not only tells its mileage but also her miles per gallon. It also monitors air pressure in each tire. It has a built in camera that allows safe backing up by glancing behind on a dashboard screen, eliminating mere mirror reflections. Dr. Kaur talks about "intelligent merging ... guidance systems (vehicle)" and a host of other possible environmental enhancements to make transportation more pleasant and less hazardous.

Finally, Transitioning Embedded Systems to Intelligent Environments: A Journey through Evolving Technologies discusses ways the earth's natural energy resources can be monitored, distributed, and consumed more efficiently. She not only talks about engineering home appliances, furnaces, air conditioners, to be more energy efficient; but also how to create central panels so home owners can monitor their effectiveness. Then, too, it would be great to know the best time of day to run high energy items so as not to overload electrical grids. Most of us in big cities already know the effects of "brownouts."

If you are looking for a book that will fire up your imagination, read Transitioning Embedded Systems to Intelligent Environments: A Journey through Evolving Technologies. It was fun for me to read about Dr. Kaur's ideas, and then to sit back and imagine a dramatically different world - maybe even a robot era.

The format of her book is very predictable. Each section brings together a world of futuristic ideas and then explains what kind of devices Intel has created that might be used to build them. Although there is some technological jargon, for the most part, any layman can enjoy this book. I would recommend it to all who are interested in gadgetry, inventiveness, computers, Intel products, a greener world, a healthier self, the preservation of earth for future generations. To enjoy it, all you need is a healthy dose of imagination.

Ghostly Summons
John A. Karr
Dark Continents Publishing
340 Church Street, Tiskilwa, IL 61368
9780984893140, $17.99,

At near top speed, a sleek Warthog fighter-bomber slices the atmosphere on a "harmless" practice bombing mission. Its pilot eyes with anticipation the upcoming marshy area near Pamlico and Croatan Sounds. That's precisely where he would drop his large explosive. He has always been a top-notch flier and prided himself on his target accuracy.

Until now!

Ready to hit the release button, somehow he pushes a little too hard a little too early. He sends the powerful deadly missile on its way. Dropping at 32 feet per second/per second, within a very short time, the bomb hits the dense marshy area and explodes. An immeasurable amount of Sound water lifts whatever debris it contains high into the air. With it was a - what was it - a clod of marsh grass? the roots of a dead tree? perhaps a large fish or a mammal of some kind?

It couldn't possibly be a corpse; not out here at this distance from the North Carolina shore. In Ghostly Summons, the story jumps quickly to introduce Lars Kelsen, a man troubled with rare hallucinations. With some therapy, Lars has learned to deal with most of them. Yet, he often has premonitions when a visitor would appear . Normally, he could distinguish real people from the make-believe characters that sometimes haunted him. As he arrives at his work cubicle, suddenly, "A feeling tugged at his consciousness and he turned before he realized it, knowing as he did so what he'd see." To his utter disbelief, he spies a visitor - a naked woman sitting in an extra chair not far from his desk.

As Ghostly Summons quickly moves on; Lars discovers that this exposed woman looks so real that he questions his reasoning. But then, he always questions his judgment. He always worries about insanity. And to his horror, what intrigued him most of all was the fact that the nude before him sat - staring - staring - saying nothing as if "the last remaining glint of life had been snuffed from her eyes. The gaze of the dead."

As quickly as she materialized, she vanished. Lars is convinced he saw traces of muck and seaweed draped over this ghostly figure, but when he walks over to examine her empty chair, it's dry - damn clean; not a trace of sand. It had been years since he worked as an investigative reporter, but from past experience, one memory of this corpse's torso stood out in his mind: a scar - a small wound - a tiny deadly entrance hole in the direct center of her bloated left breast.

Shock overwhelms him. He cannot rest physically or mentally. He is almost certain the tiny scar was a bullet wound. Who was this woman? Where did she come from? Why did her spirit visit him? She obviously wanted something. His detective skills? If she had been murdered, was she a personal Ghostly Summons?

Lars attempts to forget the incident as he had forgotten similar apparitions in past years. Yet, he appears to accidentally step on small clues in his path, as if stepping on cracks in the sidewalk. He becomes so curious that he starts to follow them - better said, the clues seem to yank him into a nightmarish web.

Here, I will leave a fascinating bizarre murder story that seems to deal with the paranormal. Are they imagined or does Lars actually witness these bizarre ghostly apparitions? If you are looking for a well written tale where reality becomes questionable when a visitor refuses to leave Lars alone, read Ghostly Summons. This book will grab you from its inception. Of course Lars becomes determined to solve this mystery, but at what cost to his own sanity? And what connection is there with the misguided bomb near the Outer Banks? Get Ghostly Summons to keep you up each night! It's a good story!

Regis Schilken

Sandra's Bookshelf

The Keeper Of The Diary
Judith Diana Winston
Chewut Press
3435 Ocean Park Boulevard, Suite 107-37
Santa Monica, CA 90405
9780964328211, $24.95,

I have never read a book like this one before. It is called Visionary Fiction. In fact I did not even know there was this type of genre. What I do know is that the author is brilliant. The story begins with a young woman who lives in San Francisco and has a promising business as a fashion photographer. Yet she has a strong desire to move to L.A. Her friends think she is crazy to go to a place she hates and live there. Yet it is like a strong current is running through telling her she must move.

While she is there she works where ever she can get a job. She is broke most of the time and can't even come up with the money she owes her roommate for her half of the apt and bills. Then one day she gets a call from an old friend who says he found a job for her. It was to be a photographer to tourist heading to Egypt on vacation. It is only for two weeks and the job pays will pay $2,000 dollars and also pay for meals and hotels on the trip. Cassie decided to take the job as she needed the money.

One day she discovers a diary in her camera case. As she goes to pick it up she is shocked and her fingers burnt. As she begins to read it she is pulled into what is written. I was pulled into this story also.

This story is mysterious, mystical, full of surprises and life changing for Cassie. For me I had to read some parts twice to understand where the story was taking me. This is not a fast read nor is it a lite one. For me the story did not sit well because of my beliefs. But I have to be honest and will give this book five stars.

A Christmas for Katie
Shelley Shepard Gray
Avon Inspire
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022
9780062242563, $3.99,

I love reading books about Christmas and the Amish religion also. This little book did not let me down. It is the story of Katie who is six and a half years old and Amish. Katie has a mission to get the plastic nativity scene in front of the library fixed up by Christmas Eve. Miss Donovan the librarian does not show much interest in doing so.

Katie told her mom that "Miss Donovan seems sad because she does not have a love life." Katie's poor mom told her not to be butting into someone's personal life and that she has a head of grey hair all because of Katie.

Then one night Miss Donovan was getting ready to close the library for the night, when the new deputy Conner Fields comes in and asked if he had time to check out some books. While he was there they both heard a noise from outside and an old woman was on the ground saying someone attacked her.

From here on the book is pretty predictable.

I do want to say "Mom and dad if you are looking down then I' m so sorry for the way I acted as a child." Katie and I have a lot in common.

Rated G

A Christmas for Katie
Shelley Shepard Gray
Avon Inspire
Avon Inspire
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022
9780062242563, $3.99,

I love reading books about Christmas and the Amish too. This little book did not let me down. It is the story of Katie who is six and a half years old and Amish. Katie has a mission to get the plastic nativity scene in front of the library fixed up by Christmas Eve. Miss Donovan the librarian does not show much interest in doing so.

Katie told her mom that "Miss Donovan seems sad because she does not have a love life." Katie's poor mom told her not to be butting into some one's personal life and that she has a head of grey hair because of Katie.

Then one night Miss Donovan was getting ready to close the library for the night, when the new deputy Conner Fields comes in and asked if he had time to check out some books. While he was there they heard a noise from outside and a woman was on the ground saying someone attacked her.

From here on the book is pretty predictable. But I have to admit that when they found the person who took the figures was a Christmas hoarder was a surprise to me. I never even knew there were people who hoarded Christmas items. But then this is a work of fiction so who knows for sure.

I do want to say "Mom and dad if you are looking down then I' m so sorry for the way I acted as a child." Katie and I have a lot in common.

Rated G

The Road to Grace
Richard Paul Evans
Simon & Schuster Inc.
1230 Avenue of the America's
New York, NY 10020
9781451628180, $19.99,

There are so many things I have enjoyed in this book. One is the beginning of each chapter it will say Alan Christoffersens Diary. An example of what I mean is on chapter 13 and it reads as the following. "Whether cautionary or exemplary, there has not yet been a life lived that we cannot learn from. It is up to us to decide which ours will be."

Alan is walking from Seattle, WA to Key West, Florida. Along the way he meets many people each with their own story. I will share with you two people he has meant. One is a polish man who has an unimaginable story of being in a concentration camp and losing his whole family. I have to be honest and say his story made me cry.

Then we have the one about the differences in being a tramp or a hobo. Hobo's, do a lot of panhandling and begging for money. Tramps don't beg unless they have too. Tramps work and travel from job to job. They don't have a home or car so they hitch hike.

To me what I found to be really profound is the author telling us what the Grace of God really is. How he found it and how we can also.

Rated G

Sandra Heptinstall

Susan's Bookshelf

In Search of Our Origins
Jamshed Akhtar
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
1456335677,$9.45 PB, Kindle $2.95,

About Jamshed Akhtar: Jamshed Akhtar is a writer / researcher, about 65 years old, with a degree in Electrical Engineering from AMU (1969), Aligarh, India. He is involved in the study of religion since 1985. Akhtar is closely associated with several Muslim organizations dealing in scientific study of Islam. In 1996, Akhtar had written a research based fiction. This book entitled 'The Ultimate Revelations' is probably the first and only Science fiction in the world, with Quran as the central topic. The book was well covered by almost all the major news papers of India and UAE. Akhtar has also presented his researches on revealed knowledge in different workshops and seminars, in India. In UAE, Akhtar's book was presented at 'The Book Mall' by Shaikha Azza, daughter of the ruler of Sharjah. Akhtar has also appeared on the 'Discover Islam' talk shows on Sharjah TV to explain his researches.

The book: In Search of Our Origins, presents complex but interesting information on the origin of life and man. The 119 hints/pointers, extracted from the analysis of the original words of the Quran, seem to tell us how the first molecule of life arose on the planet, what was the mechanism involved, where the event occurred on the primeval earth, and what did happen subsequently. The pointers then tell us how the life is linked to man, how the first man and his mate were created, where they were nurtured initially, and when and where did they appear on the earth. The research also discusses entities like Jinn and malaika (angels), and the concept of Paradise with respect to Adam, within the parameters of the Quran and modern physics. Akhtar argues that the phenomenon of revelations is extraterrestrial, and presents a mechanism for verification of the information that has the potential to permanently lay at rest the debate between creationists and evolutionists.

When I started this book, I was unsure what to expect, however what I found was a compelling read full of interesting information.

The author has researched the subject of our origins in depth and presented the reader with a well-balanced book, which is easy to understand. Not only has he has studies the Quran in depth, and indeed other religious teachings, has also looked at the scientific explanations of our origins throughout the ages and presented his findings in an unbiased way.

Even though, through necessity, there are references to particular articles and paragraphs in studies and books, the author has managed to produce around these, a book which the reader finds easy to understand and absorb.

The insight into the Quran, its teachings, other beliefs and scientific theories about our evolution made this a fascinating read and personally, I found it very interesting. I also found it refreshing to be able to read a book of this genre without feeling as if you had to decide whose side you were on.

Children of the Fall Volume 1: Wails of Mother Earth
Nicholas J Landon
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
1468056220, $9.90,

Brief bio: Nicholas Landon is an independent author living and working in Southern California. When not writing he takes a special enjoyment in observing various societies and cultures. This love of philosophy, sociology, and religion can be seen in his writing, where they often play a prominent role.

There is no law. There is no morality. There is no peace. Compassion is a weakness, and Faith is insanity.

Such is the world of Thomas Fremont. Struggling to survive in the desolate terrain of southwestern America, all he knows is violence and cruelty. It has been ten years since the government abandoned the region, collapsing into anarchy. Ten years of pain and fear. In this land, Thomas is but a slave, pressed into serving at the whim of the occupation forces left over from the fall.

All he wants is peace and safety from the endless violence. But such blessings come with a price...

This story is set in the future; a time when war is rife, the fight for survival a daily struggle and greed is paramount. Already, the earth is in ruins, vast area's laid to waste and all the major cities destroyed. Those who remain only want to have somewhere to live, enough food to live on and to survive at any cost. A world divided into factions, each desperate to be supreme and following their own rules.

Thomas Fremont is one such person, still a teenager, surviving in a world wrought with danger. He can barely remember his parents or a time when he wasn't fending for himself, keeping his head down and doing anything he must to avert attention from himself. He lives in the Dark Quarter, a conscript, to be used by the soldiers and higher authorities any way they wish. However, he thinks himself lucky, he works outside the city, for no one wants to go inside, death and the unknown lurk within.

For some people though, fate has a way of intervening, changing life forever in a single moment, and for Thomas, this happens when he is assigned to enter the city limits, placing himself in a dangerous situation. A cruel world lies within; a world where a wrong gesture or movement can mean instant death, for life is cheap. Unexpectedly, he finds himself placed in unusual circumstances where he has to make a decision, which once taken is irreversible, and he is committed to that path, finding along the way that his choices are hard and decisions critical.

Charged with an important assignment by his superior and, eager to please, he sets off on his journey, however, it becomes one of self-discovery, when he finds himself placed in a previously unimaginable position. The route he travels finds him asking questions and feeling emotions he never thought really existed, the consequences of which change his life forever.

Set in the future, this book is thought provoking, looking into the mind of a young man who has learnt about life through his own experiences, and the words written long ago in the few books he has managed to find. Starting as a science fiction story it quickly evolves as its captivating storyline with strong characters encompasses a myriad of emotions before finishing on a surprising note.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and look forward to the future volumes in the Children of the Fall series.

Susan Keefe

Teri's Bookshelf

Steven F. Havill
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464200694, $24.95,

When you retire, you plan to rest and enjoy life at a quieter, safer, pace. Isn't that the way it is for all of us? For former Sheriff William K. Gastner. that was his plan. For many of his sleepless nights, he enjoys watching the night sky up on a mesa away from all lights and people in the desert of New Mexico. So when he sees distant headlights with small bursts of light, instantly his suspicions are aroused. Why is anyone out in the desert at this time of night when everyone else is at their home, sound asleep?

A longtime friend, Miles Waddell has plans for this mesa and plans to put his money into his dreams of an astronomy-themed amusement park complete with radio telescopes, a luxury hotel, a five-star restaurant, theater, and even a locomotive to transport people. Who could be against this endeavor?

Apparently someone is not looking forward to this new development and cuts down six utility poles that hold the power lines for this new dream. Unfortunately, one of the terrorists is instantly killed when one of the poles falls on him. Quickly Gastner concludes that this was not a one-person plot but someone drove away in a vehicle. Also this someone also shot and killed a deputy who had attempted to halt his escape.

Obviously, the law enforcement officers are scattered over a wide area and appreciative of the help from their former boss. With Gastner's attraction for being at the wrong place at the wrong time, he comes across a young officer in an awkward situation. She had just pulled over an RV and now the owner is pointing a shot gun at her. The former sheriff's quick responses save the day again.

That's way too much excitement for the former sheriff who is looking forward to the return of his thirteen-year-old godson. Francisco Guzman is a music prodigy who is returning home to play a special concert with a surprise. Hasn't there been enough excitement already?

"NightZone" is a fast-paced believable story focusing on an aging retiree who can't completely leave his old life in law enforcement. The characters are believable and flawed while still be likable. The action is non-stop and realistic with the crime overtaking the priorities of life. Also the idea of fulfilling personal dreams at any age is refreshing.

Steven F. Havill is an author by night while continuing his day job in New Mexico while during the day, he is a high school biology and English teacher. Previously, Mr. Havill has written novels about America's West, the Bill Gastner series published in the 1990s, the Posadas County mystery series featuring Undersheriff Estella Reyes-Guzman, and the Dr. Thomas Parks novels. This particular novel is considered to be in the Posados series but really feature Bill Gastner. As usual, Steven F. Havill has written an enthralling mystery that keeps the reading wondering up to the last page.

It should also be noted that "NightZone" is also available in a paperback edition (9781464200700, $14.95).

Villa Triste
Lucretia Grindle
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, 16th Floor
New York, NY 10017
9781455505371, $14.99,

In present day Florence, Italy, Giovanni Trantemento is brutally murdered and it is the job of police detective, Alessandro Pallioti to discover the motive and the person responsible for this crime. The detective explores the life of this reclusive soul who recently received an honor for being a partisan hero during Italy's occupation by the Nazi forces. What is unknown except to the murderer and the police is that the victim's mouth was filled with salt, the known mark of a traitor. Only by understanding the past, can Pallioti solve this case through using the diary of a young woman who lived in this area of Florence back during World War II.

For 1943, the lives of Isabella and Caterina Cammaccio begins with Caterina looking forward to her approaching wedding to a doctor in the Italian navy while she continues her work as a nurse. Isabella as a young university student seems aimless and quickly joins those who need assistance to escape the country.

Villa Triste fluctuates between Pallioti's investigation presently and the lives of Caterina and Isabella through a diary that he has found in the victim's house. With each page read, Pallioti views the situation and every day lives of this partisan movement. The detective quickly realizes that to solve the crime of today, he needs to know about the past.

VILLA TRISTE is a well-written novel blending the past and the present into an enthralling story. With realistic characters and historical events that were authentic, this novel excels with being both a mystery and historical fiction. Each aspect of the story is very well-organized and developed into a logical and thrilling climax in this page turner. With each development, the reader feels that they are either with the detective or Caterina. Even with a novel of this length, the intensity never lessens and is a book that you never want to leave.

The author, Lucretia Grindle grew up with half her year in the America while the other half in the U.K. Now she makes her home in Maine. Definitely, whatever Lucretia Grindle writes, read it. You won't be disappointed.

Teri Davis

Theodore's Bookshelf

The Golden Calf
Helene Tursten
Translated by Laura A. Wideburg
Soho Crime
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781616950088, $26.95,

It is really refreshing to read a Scandinavian police procedural that is a straightforward investigation of a crime or murder, peopled by uncomplicated detectives. Such is this novel, the fifth in the Detective Inspector Irene Huss mystery series, which begins with one murder and is followed by more which eventually prove to be related.

The first victim is a wealthy restaurateur, found by his wife with two bullet wounds in his head. Another three murdered persons are found with the same wounds. The only thing apparent initially is the first victim's wife, who also was a business associate in a dot-com venture with the three later victims. The question immediately arises, is she the murderer or possibly the next victim. And the plot unfolds.

Huss is a complex character, competent detective, mother of twins, and wife of a celebrated chef. The author painstakingly creates a satisfying police procedural, weaving together a believable story woven from a set of facts that are derived from a combination of financial fraud, organized crime and just plain human emotions. It is written simply and translated well, and is recommended.

Dick Francis's Bloodline
Felix Francis
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014

The second standalone written by Dick Francis' son follows the same formula that served the father so well: A mystery set in the English racing world, populated by the trainers, jockeys and track officials. In this case, the plot involves the Shillingford family, especially race-caller Mark and his twin sister, jockey Clare. When Clare rode a horse that came in second when it should have won, he believed Clare lost on purpose and over dinner they had a heated argument.

Later that night, Clare fell 15 stories from a London hotel to her death, an apparent suicide. Bereft, Mark starts asking questions, seeking a reason for her death. What was the meaning of a short written message which the police believed to be a suicide note, but really is ambiguous? What, if anything, does the discovery of several blackmail victims in the racing world have to do with her death?

The author shows the same talent as Dick Francis for creating suspense, pitting danger and personal jeopardy for his protagonist on the way of solving the mystery. And the reader will be hard put to tell the difference in the writing between father and son. It is virtually indistinguishable.

Highly recommended.

The Disciple of Las Vegas
Ian Hamilton
Picador USA
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1800
New York, NY 10010
9781250031938, $15.00,

Many years ago, around the time of the dot-com boom, an idea occurred to me for a different type of protagonist: a security analyst who applied his/her talents to solving financial crimes. So it was with great anticipation that I approached this novel, in which Ava Lee, a forensic accountant, works to recover funds fraudulently stolen from her clients. After all, there isn't too much difference between what an accountant and a security analyst does: Both study the books of companies and work with numbers.

Unfortunately, Ms Lee not once in this novel performs such duties. Instead she works to recover funds by cajoling perpetrators or using strong-arm tactics or other types of pressure. The plot is relatively simple: The younger brother of a Filipino billionaire loses more than $60 million of company funds playing poker on the internet, having been cheated by the two men running the site.

Despite my disappointment that my vision of a more technically oriented approach to the subject does not come to pass, this novel moves along at a brisk pace and is enjoyable on its own level. Ava is resourceful, shrewd, and capable in more ways than one. Perhaps questionable is why the author chose to make her gay, but that is relatively unimportant unless it comes to play a role in succeeding books following this debut.


The Woman Who Wouldn't Die
Colin Cotterill
Soho Crime
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781616952068, $25.95,

This newest in the Dr. Siri mysteries not only takes on the Laotian coroner's obsession with contact with the dead, but provides us with a lot of background on the good doctor and his wife and the role they played in the revolution. At the same time, the novel is a first rate mystery. It begins when Dr. Siri is offered a "vacation" upriver to supervise the recovery of the brother of a Lao general whose body is supposedly at the bottom of a river, lying in a submerged boat for many years.

The general is prodded to undertake the excavation of the boat by his wife, who is influenced by a woman clairvoyant who was supposedly shot to death, only to reappear after the body was burned on a pyre. The woman claims she can speak to the dead and knows where the body is located. Wary but open to the suggestion that the woman might teach him to be able to contact the dead, Dr. Siri goes along.

Meanwhile, Dr. Siri encourages his wife, Madam Daeng, to write an autobiography, from which we learn a lot about her earlier life as a participant in the liberation forces. This book, as were previous entries in the series, is an education into the people and culture of Laos. The dialog is wry and often humorous, and the novel is recommended.

The Confessions of Al Capone
Loren D. Estleman
c/o Tor-Forge
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780765331199, $27.99,

The question is: Is this book a novel in search of history, or history in search of a novel? Certainly, it is a well-researched effort, recalling the career of Al Capone, one of the most notorious crime bosses in the history of the United States. His career is traced through a series of meetings with Peter Vasco, posing as a Catholic priest, who is placed in a position of intimacy with Capone after his release from prison for tax evasion by J. Edgar Hoover in an effort to obtain evidence to go after his associates in Chicago.

Characterizations are the key to the novel, portraits that are incisive and penetrating. J. Edgar Hoover comes up short as a person. Vasco, who is merely a clerk in the FBI, suddenly becomes a special agent and blossoms as an undercover agent, more than unlikely in real life. His putative father, Paul, is an amusing personality. Other characters are merely fill-ins.

It is a gripping tale, well-written. The author apparently set out to capture the essence of Al Capone, and it seems he was successful. Whether he did so for the others who populate the pages is questionable. However, the confessions, after all, are those of Al Capone, and as such are vital and readable.

Highly recommended.

The Heist
Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor
New York, NY 10019
97803455430423, pp., $28.00,

I found this novel to be superficial. The press release accompanying it says, among other things, that it is filled with "popcorn thrills." I find it doubtful that it would make a good movie or television episode. Why it took two talented, best-selling authors to write it leads one to scratch his/her head in wonder.

It would appear that FBI Special Agent Kate O'Hare was created hopefully as another heroine like the popular Stephanie Plum character from another Evanovich series. Not even close. She is a shallow personality full of cliches, as is the novel itself. The plot is simple (no pun intended): Kate captures a con man, Nick Fox, only to see him released by her superiors to propagate a bigger con to capture a fugitive financier who stole $500,000 and is secreted on an Indonesian island. To make matters worse, Kate is partnered with Nick in an attempt to capture Fox, recover the money and return him to the United States for arrest. Of course the whole operation, including the kidnapping, is illegal (but then is the FBI or the U.S. government free from such accusations?).

On a positive note, the writing is smooth and the reading is easy. Enough said.

Speak of the Devil
Allison Leotta
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781451644852, $25.00,

Not having read the author's two previous novels, I'm not quite sure whether or not some background is missing from this one which might have been helpful in the reading. Ms. Leotta served as a federal prosecutor in the nation's capital for a dozen years, and I would have expected more legal and courtroom material than were included in the plot. Instead, it read more like "Love Story," a sentimental blob of a tale mixed with a side story about a gang and its vicious crimes, including rape and murder.

One wonders if the novel is a Crime and legal thriller or a cozy. More attention is paid to the protagonist's love life and planned marriage than her efforts as a federal prosecutor to develop a case against the gang members. Anna Curtis, the prosecutor, spends more time planning her wedding than preparing the case against the gang, known as MS-13.

The characterizations are wooden, and all the key players seem to be stereotypes. Anna's fiance, Jack, has little more than a walk-on role, and his six-year-old daughter is too cute for words (many of which probably are beyond the ken of a child that age). Similarly, this criticism can be applied to others playing a role in the plot. Ordinarily, I would not raise the subject of an author's gender. Never have. But in this case, without meaning to come off as misogynistic, I believe pointing out that this novel was written by a woman is more than justified.

Robert B. Parker's Ironhorse
Robert Knott
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399158117, $26.95,

The author co-wrote with Robert B. Parker the screenplay for the movie based on The Master's last western, "Appaloosa". So he obviously learned at the foot of the creator of Spenser, Jesse Stone, Sunny Randall, and Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch. Short chapters, succinct dialogue and, obviously, a good tight plot. And, to a great extent, succeeds in re-creating it.

Returning to Appaloosa by rail, the Marshal and his deputy are confronted by a great train robbery. It appears that the governor of Texas, traveling to Indian
Territory with his wife and two daughters, is carrying $500,000 in cash for a business deal. The Pullman car and following wagons are decoupled from the forward cars and engine on a steep rise, allowing them to roll backward. Eventually, Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch unhook the car they are in to give chase. And so begins the tale.

While the writing comes close to the Parker style, the almost 400 pages seems a rather lengthy number for a typical Parker novel. And in attempting to emulate the Virgil-Everett conversations a la Parker: close but no cigar. Virgil is hardly a talkative character in previous novels, but in the present one is more voluble. Those comments notwithstanding, it is a well-told story, and is recommended.

Murder Below Montparnasse
Cara Black
Soho Crime
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781616952150, $25.95,

A couple of disparate situations comprise the plot in this 13th Aimee Leduc mystery: The main story revolves around the illegal art world and an unknown Modigliani hidden for 70 years, while Aimee's partner, Rene, unwittingly becomes involved in creating a computer program for an American start-up that enables illegal front-running, a type of insider trading. As the novel opens, Rene is being transported on a private corporate jet to Silicon Valley to take up his duties as chief technology officer at a significantly higher salary and stock options.

At the same time, Aimee receives an envelop containing 5,000 francs from an old Russian emigre to help him because he "owes her mother." It turns out that he needs more than help because a valuable painting, a Modigliani portrait of Lenin, is stolen from his room. The rest of the novel is Aimee's attempts to find the missing art as well as her mother and the various culprits.

The past novels in the series have been based on crimes occurring in various parts of Paris, and this latest entry stretches the plot because Montparnasse plays such a minor role. Nevertheless, as in all Aimee Leduc stories, Paris plays a major part as background. Somehow, this reader felt the novel did not quite reach the level of past entries. While the writing and descriptions were of the usual high quality, the progression seems strained, and the ending forced. But then, I suspect that ending is the setting for the next time we meet Aimee, which I await with great anticipation.


Ordinary Grace
William Kent Krueger
Atria Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781451645828, $24.99,

Sometimes an idea grabs you and won't let go. That's how this novel came about. The story occurred to the author who was busy writing his popular Cork O'Connor novels and festered in his min d for a couple of years before forcing into the open and onto paper. And it is a good thing it did, because it is a touching tale of a Minnesota family in the summer of 1961.

The novel is a moving portrayal of small town life, of two young boys growing up, of life and death and the lives of those affected by such loss. It is narrated 40 years later by the now-grown-up 13-year-old who looks back at his memories and examines various events and concepts important to him.

"Ordinary Grace" is a departure from the author's previous work and written with even more sensitivity than the wonderful crime novels for which he is best known. In fact, his next one, "Tamarack County," is scheduled for release in August. In the meantime, I suggest you take this one up and read it. Highly recommended.

The Family Way
Rhys Bowen
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250011633, $24.99,

When Molly Murphy married Capt. Daniel Sullivan, she promised to give up her detective agency and engage in no further investigative efforts. So much for promises. Now in her seventh month of pregnancy, she can't change. So when she gets a letter addressed to her now defunct agency, she just plows ahead.

The plot involves three separate circumstances, all of which Molly ties together, more often, as she notes, by the luck of the Irish rather than by deductive reasoning or good, solid detective work: First, a series of baby snatchings on the Lower East Side. Then there is the subject of the letter (a young Irish girl whose relatives have not heard from her in many months). And lastly, a bomb plot, either by anarchists or the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

Unlike previous Molly Murphy mysteries, which take place at the turn of the 20th century, there is little here of the flavor of Little Old New York. Perhaps that is because Molly is sent off in the heat of summer to her mother-in-law's Westchester home to cool off (which, obviously, doesn't occur). Somehow, Molly manages to develop as a person, while her new husband comes across as a typical loutish male (although, from time to time, shows a certain degree of insight and compassion).


Death of Yesterday
M.C. Beaton
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10017
9781455504763, $23.99,

Contrary to the old adage, familiarity breeds contentment. After all, a series that has been around since 1985 must have something going for it. And the Hamish Macbeth novels certainly do: The small-town Scottish police sergeant himself and his uncanny insights and uncommon and unorthodox manner; a cast of characters that repeatedly stays on form; plots that follow a pattern but are different from one another; Macbeth's eternal hard times from his superiors; his forlorn love life; his pets, a wild cat and a dog; and a lightheartedness that is easy to take and read.

The latest entry has the death of a woman haunting Macbeth although her arrogance originally annoyed him when she reported a possible date drug rape. This gives the author the chance to subject Macbeth and other police officers to a type of omerta in the small northern Scottish village where the crime took place. So, no witnesses. How to solve the mystery? By plain hard work.

This is the 29th Hamish Macbeth mystery. It is replete with a flavor of good single-malt scotch, as usual. And just as important, the author describes the bleak economy in northern Scotland, lack of jobs, employees fearful of being fired from the only employer in town, and the general social milieu of small-town snobbishness.


Breaking Point
C.J. Box
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399160752, $26.95,

One thing you can always count on in a Joe Pickett novel: The environment and topography of Wyoming plays a vital part in the plot. This book is no exception. "Breaking Point" starts with an actual true story as its foundation: the Sackett Case, by which the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 9-0 ruling, declared that the EPA had overstepped in its dealings with the Idaho family.

Similarly, the regional director of the EPA in Denver, began an action against Butch and Pam Roberson, acquaintances of Joe and Marybeth Pickett, setting off a maelstrom in its wake, including four deaths, a forest fire of monumental proportions, and a variety of other results. When two agents serving a compliance order arrived at a plot on which Butch was starting to build a retirement home, they were shot and buried on the property, and Butch fled into the mountains. A massive effort led by the regional director to capture Butch was begun, with Joe forced to guide a posse of agents in his wake.

This reader could envision a much different conclusion than the one the author chose, but up until that point, I found the novel powerful, especially the forest fire scenes and Joe's efforts to return from the mountain. It is a riveting description of the wilderness, and Joe's return apparently sets the stage for his future efforts.


Theodore Feit

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

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