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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 5, Number 12 December 2005 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Atwood's Bookshelf Bethany's Bookshelf
Betsy's Bookshelf Betty's Bookshelf Bob's Bookshelf
Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf Carson's Bookshelf
Cassandra's Bookshelf Cheri's Bookshelf Christina's Bookshelf
Christy's Bookshelf Dan's Bookshelf Debra's Bookshelf
Emanuel's Bookshelf Fortenberry's Bookshelf Gary's Bookshelf
Gorden's Bookshelf Greenspan's Bookshelf Harwood's Bookshelf
Henry's Bookshelf Lori's Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf
Mayra's Bookshelf Riley's Bookshelf Robyn's Bookshelf
Roger's Bookshelf Sharon's Bookshelf Silver Fox's Bookshelf
Tarbox's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf Vogel's Bookshelf
Volk's Bookshelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Crab Cake & Pepper
Frank Weaver, Jr.
Publish America
P.O. Box 151 Frederick, MD 21705
ISBN: 1413731406, $19.95, (301) 695-1707

Aaron Paul Lazar

Crab Cake & Pepper is more than a folksy yarn about a boy and his dog. It digs deeply into a ten-year-old boy's psyche and brings us along for the ride of a lifetime, replete with family, a struggling friendship, rousing adventures, and a surplus of belly laughs.

Set in the rural backwoods of Pennsylvania in April, 1951, Crab Cake & Pepper sings with the love of nature and family. Jack "Pepper" Whelan Jr., one of five children, anticipates the opening of trout season with the glee found only in childhood. Along with his best friend, a bright, spirited border collie named Crab Cake, Pepper prepares for the big day by digging for nightcrawlers with the help of his mom's soapy dishwater, and paying off his siblings to do his early morning barn chores. He's ready to rise at dawn to beat the other anglers to his secret fishing hole, where he hopes to land the legendary monster trout known as Ol' Uncle Louie.

Meanwhile, recently escaped convicts, "Crazy Eyes" Zitoulleo and "Tattoo" MacGrew, navigate toward the same fishing hole. Tipped off in prison, the bumbling duo overhears a tale of a metal box filled with stolen loot that rests at the bottom of the cold stream. To make matters worse, Pepper runs into Thursy Patterson, a boy with whom he's shared an uneasy friendship. Thursy is quick to anger and ready to fight with little provocation. When he asks Pepper to join him for the big fishing event, Pepper squirms, unwilling to reveal his choice fishing spot.

A series of unfortunate events propel Pepper, Thursy, and Crab Cake into the midst of a manhunt, particularly after they witness the attempted drowning of a game warden. Their luck deteriorates as the boys are kidnapped by the desperate villains. These experiences draw Pepper and Thursy closer, where true friendship glimmers. Meanwhile, Crab Cake is bitten by a copperhead. The canine's life hangs in the balance for days, threatening in the backdrop during the final thrilling fight between the foul buffoons and the plucky boys.

Mr. Weaver has a knack for creating believable, humorous, and endearing characters. His grasp of the backwoods dialect is adroitly captured. Childhood memories will float to the surface of readers' minds as they follow through the woods and fields while the delightful border collie frolics in the background. The scenes between the boy and his dog are beautifully portrayed and emotive. When Crab Cake nears death, emotions not unlike those felt during Lassie Come Home will clog the throat of the most sophisticated reader.

Crab Cake & Pepper offers universal appeal for the adventure of a lifetime. Children of all ages will enjoy the ride.

The Clarinet Polka
Keith Maillard
St. Martin's Press
174 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10010
ISBN: 0312308892, $24.95

Anika Paaren-Sdano

First, imagine walking into a neighborhood bar and encountering a man, a Vietnam veteran, and striking up conversation - a somewhat familiar and common picture. The man is gruff, somewhat abrasive, but ironically likable. He is eager to share his stories with any listening ear. Now, imagine the same man, only this time at a church dance, the Paczki (pronounced poonch-ki) Ball, to be exact. Author Keith Maillard created the ball to be the Polish-American equivalent of Fat Tuesday, celebrating the day before the beginning of Lent in the Catholic Church. Indeed, one would be much more likely to run into our Vietnam vet, Jimmy Koprowski, at the Paczki Ball, as he is a recovering alcoholic, and a Polish-American. However, at first and for good reason, he seems easier to visualize celebrating in a bar.

The Clarinet Polka is a first-person account of very personal story-telling. Jimmy even refers to readers as "you" occasionally when telling of his journey beginning just after being released from the service. His tale is infused with the Polish traditions of his family and Polish-American neighborhood in the fictional mill town of Raysburg, West Virginia. When Jimmy's sister Linda starts an all-girl Polka band, readers are led through an education about the varying kinds of Polka music, how it morphed into a more American sound, and how important maintaining the traditions of the old country was to the Polish people of Raysburg.

Jimmy befriends Janice, a band member, whose family tale of tragedy while living in Poland before immigrating to America, is shocking, yet entirely fictional. Maillard turns to writing historical fiction here, using his extensive research of WWII and the experiences of Polish families during the German and Russian invasions. As Janice discovers her family's history, her relationship with Jimmy intensifies.

He has an ongoing relationship with Connie as well, and these two women bring out opposite sides of his character. He is an intriguing contradiction. Throughout the story Jimmy is capable of the most despicable behavior, involving women and alcohol, but turning around and becoming a loving older brother, caring friend and responsible mentor to others. At times, he seems to be the lowest of the low, but readers wait, page by page for him to turn himself around for good. Toward the end of the book (without revealing too much), a reader isn't sure what's going to happen to Jimmy. With only a few pages left, the question remains, but hold out. The end is worth the wait.

Maillard's creation in Jimmy is so personal, it seems almost autobiographical. Be sure to read the Acknowledgements and Notes section at the end of the novel; here Maillard explains in detail his inspiration for the story as well as his research. As a whole, The Clarinet Polka is very impressive, indeed.

Ted Hughes: Collected Poems for Children
Ted Hughes, author
Raymond Briggs, illustrator
Faber and Faber
ISBN: 0571215017, 16.99 Brit. pounds, 259 pages

Ann Skea, Reviewer

Ted Hughes was for several years one of the judges of the poetry which was submitted by children to the Daily Mirror's Children's Literary Competition. He read thousands of entries and, in the process, he became very aware of the differences between a child's approach to poetry and that of an adult. He learned, he said, that "children's sensibility and children's writing, have much to teach adults". He learned that their world "is not just a miniature world of naive novelties and limited reality" but a world where there is still much to be explored. And he learned that children explore the world with curiosity, perception, a readiness to change and "a no-holds-barred approach to problems" which adults, mostly, have lost.

So, in the poetry which Hughes wrote for children he never condescended to them or treated them as miniature adults. He never undervalued their ability to understand anything which was presented to them in their own terms. He tried, as he said, to write poetry which would appeal to the child's heart and mind, open up the imagination, and keep the creative abilities fluid and alive. And he tried to write in language which was not childish, yet was "within the hearing of children".

The sheer variety and number of poems in Ted Hughes: The Collected Poems for Children show just how important Hughes considered writing poetry for children to be. And the range of ages to which these poems are intended to appeal is equally broad. He once wrote that "It may well be, as the Chinese Sages declare, that a man in whom the child's heart and mind has died is no better than a dead man". So, these poems should appeal to the child in all of us, which is always good news for those of us who read to children. Collected in this new book are almost all the poems which have been previously published in Hughes's volumes of poetry for children.

There are the simple, amusing poems from The Cat and the Cuckoo and The Mermaid's Purse; the more serious, beautifully evocative pictures of animals from Under the North Star; and the diverse views of animals expressed by the teacher, the farmer, the poacher, the vicar and the children from What Is The Truth. Sadly, the framing story of What Is The Truth is not included. Nor are the poems about that wonderful character Ffangs, the Vampire Bat. But Nessie is there; and so, too, are those weird relatives from My Family and Other Animals, including the grandma who knits woolly suits for goldfish, and the sister who is a crow.

Other poems which are included are those from Season Songs, and the whole range of Moon poems, some of which originally appeared in the limited edition Earth Moon, published by Olwyn Hughes's Rainbow Press and illustrated by Hughes himself **.

The book is arranged roughly according to the age group to which particular sequences of poems are likely to appeal, ranging from four-year-olds upwards. And Raymond Briggs's illustrations are more abundant in the earlier part of the book where the youngest children are likely to be most entertained. Yet because of Hughes's own attitude to children's poetry, this arrangement is rather arbitrary. Seven-year-olds for instance, are as likely to enjoy the poem about the Aunt-eating thistle at the front of the book, as they are to be intrigued by the rhythms and the seasonal changes of 'There Come Days', which is near the back. Just as older children will understand and feel sorry for the hunted creature in 'The Stag', and will also be amused by that curious beast which is "not an elephant or any such grasshopper" but Nessie, "the Monster of the Loch".

Many of these poems are very English in their seasons and in their reference to specific locations, which makes them less accessible to children from, say, Australia. But there are Black Bears, Elk and Loons too, which don't normally inhabit the English countryside. And other creatures, like the fearsome Wolverine and the Moon-Hyena, which can only be found in myth and imagination.

There are some dated references, too. Not many children, or even their parents, will know anything about "Lord Fauntleroy", who is mentioned in 'A March Calf'. Yet the vivid picture of the new-born calf which Hughes creates in the poem is none the worse for that.

Raymond Briggs's black and white drawings are appealing and informative for children but sometimes rather too literal for adults and, very occasionally, (as in the illustration for 'The Loon', which is a species of diving bird) completely misleading. But the drawings are interesting, and often amusing, and are there in abundance, which that makes this thick book something that a child might browse through even before they can read.

For parents and teachers and anyone who enjoys reading poetry to children and seeing them respond to the imaginative power of poems, this book is an invaluable resource which, like other classics of children's literature, will remain a favourite for years. For children (or just for the child in us) it is a book to treasure.

A number of poems are listed in the Index as "Uncollected". None of these is previously uncollected. The poem 'Gulls Aloft' , which is listed amongst the Mermaids Purse poems is, however, an uncollected poem.

The Value of Valor
Lynn Ames
Intaglio Publications
P O Box 357474, Gainesville, FL 32635-7474
ISBN: 1933113464, $16.75, 282 Pages

Arlene Germain

Katherine Kyle, Press Secretary to the President, and Jamison Parker, Time magazine writer, return for the third installment of Lynn Ames' immensely popular Kate and Jay trilogy. The unthinkable has happened and our two lovers' once happy existence has been irrevocably affected. Or has it? A diabolical organization has set its sights on the advancement of its global timetable which necessitates, at any cost, the elimination of the President of the United States. Will this tragedy occur? Add to the mix a riveting series of unexpected plot twists, suspenseful turns of events, and fascinating secondary characters, and you have an entertaining, gripping, and romantic race to the finish line.

Lynn Ames' focus in her novels has been to create a socially relevant and thoroughly entertaining reading experience. The first two novels in the series, The Price of Fame and The Cost of Commitment, delivered both in an engaging and timely way. Here with The Value of Valor, Ames has taken a giant leap forward. This is her best work thus far. The action sequences rocket along at incredible speed, the intimacy depicted is both exciting and steamy, and the characters display a depth of credibility. That necessary element to any good piece of fiction, the suspension of disbelief, is so masterfully developed and sustained that the reader becomes engaged and completely submersed in the storyline. The author has achieved this effect so seamlessly, which is a credit to both the writing and the editing, that the reader, indeed, will not want to put the book down until that last word has been read.

Another hallmark of this novel is the Ames' creative ability to make the political events seem not only possible but plausible. Perhaps, twenty or even ten years ago the storyline would appear too fantastic to sustain the interest of the discerning reader. However, with Ames' insider savvy regarding political machinations and the not too distant events all have experienced, any sort of global agenda directed toward the country and its leaders is not beyond the realm of reality. It is with both this knowledge and understanding that Ames has fashioned a work of fiction which can be understood on several conceptual levels. The Value of Valor is so much more than just another adventurous romantic story. It is a suspenseful and absorbing novel that provides the reader with many issues to ponder long after the cover has been closed. This novel emphatically represents the impressive growth in the author's writing style and technique. It is for all these attributes that this reader eagerly awaits the next installment in this series.

Losing Innocence
Brian R. Smith
Publish America
P O Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705
1424100380, $19.95, 201 pages

Shelley Baar

I chose this book for review because it shared many similar feelings I encountered in an abusive marriage. Since I am a survivor of spousal abuse I related with this story and the message that there is such a thing as true love. I don't find many authors that truly touch on the abuse and recovering from such emotions of life only to continue to find the right person to trust and love, forgetting that you once have gotten burned. The subject of domestic abuse is not a normal subject when looking for an enjoyable book, but Smith weaves a story that makes you laugh and cry.

Brian R. Smith pulls you into his story with raw emotion, I found myself not wanting to put this book down. Page after page he draws you into his well defined characters that you rally for until the very end. This novel has a powerful pull on the heartstrings that is filled with human drama and unexpected truths.

Brief quotation from the book:

It was her favorite photo. Five and three years old. Young… innocent... not yet touched by Jeff's wrath or his fists. God, I hope he isn't hitting them. Surely they'd tell me.

Memories flooded Mia's mind, the lazy days of summer playing whiffle ball, endless turns on the swings, learning how to rollerblade and bike…Her lips trembled at the angelic smile, on Vince's face. So warm, and loving. He always knew when she was upset, and tried to comfort her. But lately…lately that little heart of gold had begun to tarnish with the acid of his father's hate.

Jesse's grin drew her attention next. So full of love and innocence, she wished he could always stay that way. He'd done okay so far, but how long would that last with the head games Jeff played? God, she wished Jeff was dead. It was wrong, yes…she'd never wished harm on anyone. But deep in her heart, or maybe that knot in her gut, she knew that someday the vitriol that spilled out of Jeff was going to splash on her babies and burn them too.

"Losing Innocence" is a suspense/love story that will appeal to a wide range of people, especially women and/or men who have been through an abusive relationship, whether as a child or through spousal abuse. The age range is any adult or even older teenager who will get the message that there is a good life after abuse. You don't have to stay with someone that degrades you. This novel touches on ethical issues of what would a person in these shoes do?

Brian R. Smith succeeds in conveying in his novel the message that he is trying to accomplish. I cannot say what message it is, because it will ruin the ending of the book itself. It is very entertaining, one page to the next, I was either in tears or laughing. I have no other suggestions for Smith for the next time around in print, except to publish something soon.

Brian R. Smith lives in Sycamore, Illinois, is a graduate of Hamilton College and as of late, has no other published books. According to his website he is working on "The Bastard's Plaything" and "The Tree", which I am sure I will be reading once they are in publication.

What other related or relevant titles might interest a reader? "Songs of the Humpback Whale," by Jodi Picoult or "Black and Blue," by Anna Quindlen.

Mia and Lance both come from abusive relationships, neither one looking for another relationship to bring them down, both holding on to the fact that being alone is better than being hit. They find one another and fall in love, the stars must have been in the right place. Much to the chagrin of being happy, Mia's abusive ex-husband tries to thwart their happiness by using their children as pawns. The game he plays throughout the book leaves the reader with a much beloved twist at the end. Will his plans succeed and the cycle continue or won't they? That is only up to the reader to find out in the ending chapters. This novel has a powerful pull on the heartstrings that is filled with human drama and unexpected truths.

Abuse comes in many forms, physical being the one that is the most noted because of the physical scars it leaves behind. Smith also touches on the emotional scars that are caused from verbal and emotional abuse that indeed touches the heart of America. This emotional baggage is usually carried throughout a lifetime, which Smith takes note of and gives a person hope.

Down These Narrow Alleys
Lisa LaTourette
P.O. Box 151 Frederick, MD 21705
ISBN:1413764800, $14.95

Ben Jonjak

Lisa LaTourette is a very talented author. Her stories are real and natural and there is never the sense of too much straining behind her words. "Down These Narrow Alleys" is a relatively short collection of stories and poems that deal mainly with the melancholy desperation that surrounds so many true-life situations. This is one of those rare books that you read and which pleases you because you see a part of yourself reflected that you didn't think anybody else could possibly understand. I only wish that it had been entirely short stories, but I've never been a huge fan of poetry anyway.

"Down These Narrow Alleys" has stories which deal with everthing from drug abuse and obesity, to marital infedelity and community service. Although these are intense situations, this book does not exploit these moments, but rather explores them in a manner completely (and thankfully) different from how Hollywood and television has groomed modern audiences to consider them. LaTourette has taken the human angle and approach to these scenarios, and the result is carefully considered and revealing.

Consider the story "Black Sheep" which details a young woman's first experience with heroin. It would have been easy to glamorize the heroine in the sense of some MTV video, or to villify her and dismiss her as a junkie. But LaTourette approaches this hugely emotionaly charged moment not as an end, but as a snapshot of this woman's life. We learn that the girl has recently dropped out of college, and that she has always had disciplinary problems in the past. But you also get the sense that this woman is intelligent and artistic and may have just had the misfortune of being born into a scenario that does not fit her. At the end of "Black Sheep" nothing is resolved and you understand that a person should not necessarily be judged on the strength of one act as our society often unfairly does.

Some of the stories end on a whimper rather than a bang, but Lisa LaTourette definately demonstrates that she knows what good narrative structure is. Her writing is light and not unnecessarily descriptive. As I mentioned before, I was not a huge fan of the poetry, but "Down These Narrow Alleys" has 6 short stories that I am sure compose more than half of the book's total word count. This is a collection that I couldn't more highly recommend.

Rick Bass
Houghton Mifflin Company
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
ISBN: 0395926173, $22.00, 205 pp.

Coletta Ollerer

A short but powerful story concerning the events of an historical raid by Texans into Mexico in the mid 19th century. Texas had become a sovereign state with Sam Houston as its President with the battle of San Jacinto shortly after the humiliation of the Alamo.

Two Texas patriots, Thomas Jefferson Green and William Fisher, are combing the countryside in Texas searching for volunteers for their assault on Mexico. Green and Fisher need forty more for their number and are able to convince forty two from the town of La Grange. James Alexander is among those who are pulled into the prospect filled with dreams of glory and excitement. He is sixteen. With a force of five hundred, they left La Grange. Only a handful would return. James Alexander ponders, "It was a feeling like the Holy Spirit descending. Your hands and feet tingle. You feel that all is predestined and you have prepared for glory. You cannot imagine loss or the anonymity brought by time." (p12)

James Alexander narrates the events of the march. They needed provisions. "Everything we saw was ours -- ours to defend, and then ours to possess." (p12) Green and Fisher have unofficial orders from Sam Houston to invade Mexico if there is a prospect of success. They are to "let the enemy feel the fierceness of just resentment and retribution." (p11) Houston urges them to cross the Rio Grande. They travel up and down the north side of the Rio Grande looking for bandits before taking Houston's directive. Only three hundred and eight of the original five hundred follow Green and Fisher into Mexico.

Their first target is Guerrero. They enter unopposed to find it occupied by poor peons. They take the local priest hostage for a ransom of $5000. The town leaders could come up with only $361. They leave refusing the money and releasing the priest. Going on to the next town, Ciudad Mier, they took another priest back to their camp as a hostage. This time Mexican Generals Pedro de Ampudia and Antonia Canales commanding one thousand men arrived at Ciudad Mier and advised the town fathers not to pay the ransom. Green and Fisher decide to attack and take Ciudad Mier and a bold plan provides some success but the sheer numbers of Mexicans resulted in the surrender of the Texan forces.

This is the beginning of misery for the Texans. They begin a year of uncertainty, deprivation and horror as they are defeated and captured. They escape and are captured again. They are held at the fortress at Molino del Rey where they are put to work building a road. Finally, though, they are taken to the dreaded prison at Perote, the Castle of Perve. "It had literally been carved into the mountain. . . . So perfectly did the fort blend into the rainy black mountain that at first glance I didn't even see it. Once I had detected its subtle pattern against the mountains, a kind of horror grew as I realized the size and extent of it -- that the entire mountain face was a fortress and prison." (p161) This is an horrific adventure seen through the eyes of a sixteen year old about a foolish decision he makes and the consequences. It will not soon be forgotten.

Soul Food: Recipes for a Happier Life
Kate Kippenberger MSc (Hons)
Simon & Schuster (Australia) Pty Ltd
Suite 2, Lower Ground Floor, 14-16 Suakin Street, PYMBLE NSW 2073, AUSTRALIA
ISBN: 0731812646, AUD $14.95

Rose Glavas, Reviewer

This is an excellent little book to have around for a bit of inspiration when life keeps us too busy to contemplate the little things that bring meaning to our existence. The inspirational thoughts cover some important themes such as relationships, respect, animal energy, tolerance, plus many more. One of my personal favourites is the animal energy page, it goes like this:

"In our busy lives filled with family, work and friends we sometimes forget the calming and healing benefits associated with stroking and cuddling our pets. The energy we gain from a pet's unconditional love is enormous. So today, allow yourself uninterrupted time with your pet and appreciate the sense of calm and healing energy it gives you."

Although there are many books that are similar to 'Soul Food', this is still an excellent addition to this genre. The feel I get from this title is soothing, hopeful, and focused. The illustrations are fantastic too, and add to this book well. The author, Kate Kippenberger manages her own company and is a trained industrial psychologist. Her work involves management consulting, counseling and writing. She lives in New Zealand with her husband and child, where she writes a daily column for 'The Press' newspaper.

The way I would use this little book would be to have it handy, for example on my desk, in the kitchen or even in the car, so that I could read the passages one at a time when I had a few moments to reflect on what was written. This would also make an excellent gift for somebody dear to you that has, perhaps, had some recent difficulties in their life. I would also recommend 'Soul Food' as a gift for that friend that has everything. All of us occasionally need to be reminded of the little things in life that bring us meaning.

Steal These Ideas: Marketing Secrets That Will Make You A Star
Steve Cone
Bloomberg Press
731 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10022
ISBN: 1576601919, $18.95

Peter Hupalo

Steal These Ideas: Marketing Secrets That Will Make You A Star by Steve Cone is a solid and readable book about advertising, branding, promotion and PR. While the book has lessons for small business owners seeking to improve their marketing, the book is probably most useful to marketing professionals at larger or mid-sized companies or non-profit organizations. Cone is the head of advertising and brand management at Citigroup Global Wealth Management. Previously, he was the head of marketing of Fidelity Investments. Cone was the one who decided to use ultra-successful mutual fund manager Peter Lynch as a Fidelity spokesperson. Peter Lynch, of course, became a quasi-celebrity. Cone says companies should almost always try to use spokespeople to connect to their customers.

Cone writes: "Most of the World's inhabitants look to a personality of some sort to explain their very existence - God, Jesus, Buddha, Mohamed, and all the other major religious figures revered over the centuries. So it should come as no surprise that a distinctive personality can make a significant impact in an advertising strategy." Spokespeople can be celebrities or non-celebrities. Celebrities are expensive. For small businesses, the CEO will probably be the main spokesperson. Small businesses can't afford Tom Cruise or whoever as a spokesperson.

Cone discusses the importance of public speaking to successful promotion and gives tips for improving your public speaking skills. Cone says companies using celebrities should choose celebrities who are willing to be integrated into all media - TV, radio, Internet, and print. Cone tells us if a celebrity gets into public-perception trouble - think O.J. Simpson - he/she can always be dropped as a spokesperson with little negative impact to the marketing campaign.

Spokespeople don't even have to be real. "Animated characters are the easiest of all spokespeople. They are likable, do not have attitude, usually avoid getting into personal trouble, and rarely turn off constituents with their political views…" writes Cone. Animals are another possibility. We learn the AFLAC Duck is the second most popular advertising character, according to a Yahoo! survey, beating out even the Pillsbury Doughboy. While animated or animal spokespeople might be "remembered fondly for generations," Cone says it's crucial the character and the company's message be integrated effectively. Cone tells us the AFLAC Duck is being downplayed, so AFLAC can emphasize their insurance services more. (Maybe the sudden success went to the Duck's head and he's become difficult to work with?)

Cone tells us branding goes way back. Cone writes: "Most brands almost always imply a guarantee of a product or service. Roman marble merchants actually deserve credit for the first brand warranty application. To advertise that marble was totally pure they would tag marble slabs sine cere, which eventually became the word 'sincerely' in English. In Roman times, it meant without wax, implying the marble you purchased was pure and free from cracks filled in with wax. Merchants who sold marble that was illicitly marked sine cere were executed."

Unfortunately, today, there is some wax in marketing. Steal These Ideas: Marketing Secrets That Will Make You A Star touches on politics and promotion. Cone says politicians often think of people as "voters" while people seldom see themselves as "voters." Similarly, businesses see people as "customers" when people seldom see themselves that way. Cone writes: "People truly think of themselves as voters only when they walk into the voting booth. And then their decision is: 'Do I vote for Nitwit A or Nitwit B?'"

To be successful, Cone emphasizes it's important to target the right message to the right person at the right time. He calls this "RightTime" marketing. But, it seems RightTime marketing goes too far when individual voters are told a candidate's three key issues are the same three issues the voter selected as most important during polling months before. An interesting chapter covers sponsorships. Cone says sponsorships rarely generate measurable revenue, but can build a brand. Drawing conclusions about his work in negotiating Key Corporation's sponsorship of Key Arena, Cone shows the complexity of sponsorship agreements and considerations. Other chapters discuss building brand loyalty programs and non-profit fundraising.

Steal These Ideas: Marketing Secrets That Will Make You A Star is a great marketing book. Marketing professionals can learn about TV, display advertising, and sponsorships. Small business owners can pick up insights into the value of radio advertising for a local business, how a question and answer format impels readership, and other topics more useful to small business marketing.

Interview with the Devil
Rick McCoy
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
ISBN: 1403305072, $13.50, 220 pp.

Julian Vaughan Hampton

In the book Interview with the Devil, Rick McCoy takes a dramatic look at the perspectives within spirituality through the dimensions of a talk show. The main character, Alex, uses his forum as a talk show host to interview religious leaders, confronting them about issues affecting the church and community. His show takes a dramatic turn, as the host must interview his greatest adversary, the devil. Biblical principles clash against the devil's deception in this battle of faith and wits. The concept of the novel is intriguing, and the book's author, Rick McCoy does a terrific job of facilitating the debate. This book would be an excellent read for those questioning the word of God, for individuals that may not understand those who question the word of God, and general mystery readers alike. The pace was a little uneven, when McCoy quickly moved through the dialogue. Overall, Interview with the Devil offers a combination of mystery and spirituality, and the internal search throughout the book provides a foundation for a descriptively deep story.

Just Like That
Karin Kallmaker
Bella Books
P.O. Box 10543, Tallahassee, FL 32302 1-800-729-4992
ISBN: 1594930252, $12.95, 240 pages

M. J. Lowe

"Everybody knows that a single woman with good money is in want of a wife (1)." English Lit majors and fans of Jane Austen will recognize this paraphrase from the opening of Pride and Prejudice. Karin Kallmaker's latest romance, Just Like That -- set in the wine country of Northern California -- is a very modern, decidedly lavender, adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

Syrah Ardani is 30, recently returned from years studying Oenology in France. The only daughter of the widowed Anthony Ardani, the owner of Ardani Vineyards, Syrah lives and breathes the vines like her father and is comfortably settling into life at home. Yet clearly something with the family business is… off.

Jane Lucas, Syrah's long time friend, struggling artist and former heart-breaker-butch, is about to fall hard for the new, very eligible dyke in the area, Missy Bingley. Initially Jane, who has decided to "settle down", appears to be on the calculating side about Missy with comments like, "... Definitely a dyke. And femme, so, hey, I'm thinking she needs a wife like me. I've got all the qualifications. I can fix stuff, dance, like to talk and think sex is really fun. My only strike against me is the money thing (3)."

However, Jane is thunderstruck when she meets Missy. Missy Bingley, forty-something, successful businesswoman retiring to rehabilitate her newly acquired historic Netherfield estate, appears equally smitten with Jane. Does love at first sight exist?

Before long, Syrah realizes that her gentle, intuitive, wine-knowledgeable father is the definition of naive with what has to be the antithesis of a head for business. While she was gone, he has incorporated the vineyards, over-extended his capital and been unable to cover his debt. The future of the Ardani Vineyards is in danger and the creditors have gone to court. An "axe man" is being sent to take stock of the situation.

Toni Blanchard is that "axe man." She is also very attractive. Syrah first sees a photograph of her from a Fortune magazine article and describes her thus: "Dark hair twisted at the neck and East Coast stylish, Toni Blanchard gazed out from the page with an expression Syrah could only describe as haughty. If the toes on her shoes had been any longer they'd have curled like some court jester's. Everything about her dripped wealth and superiority(12)."

An intelligent, thoughtful, skilled woman, Toni's job is to make difficult recommendations for companies that are in receivership, and she is well respected in her field. She is also the daughter of Anthony's old college friend. This connection encourages Anthony to believe that Toni will "fix" the situation. The vintner never seems to understand that Toni's role is to represent the court and creditors.

Toni arrives in the area emotionally shell-shocked. Her lover of several years, Mira, has dumped her for another woman, moved out and taken possession of funds that are not hers. Staying with her old friend Missy Bingley while reviewing the Ardani accounts, Toni begins to find some peace in the green hills of northern California.

She realizes that she had not been in love the last several years and that Mira's actions -- while unethical and unpleasant -- hurt her pride more than her heart. Still, Toni is jaded and that makes her doubt the sincerity of the woman who is courting Missy. Furthermore, falling in love is the last thing Toni needs right now; yet there is Syrah, a lovely, radiant, spirited earth goddess seeming to draw Toni to her.

Needless to say, several complications ensue. The future of the Ardani Vineyards hangs precariously. Both Toni and Syrah must deal with their preconceived notions of the other and their stubborn egos in order to have a chance at following their hearts. They must also contend with the nefarious manipulations of Mira and Caroline.

Indeed, Kallmaker has created a decidedly nasty nemesis in Lady Mira Wickham. Even after an unpleasant break up, Toni -- and this reader -- was surprised at how spiteful and meddlesome Mira could be. Missy's snarky nickname for Mira is "reech beech" and that seems mild by the end of the story. For that matter, Caroline, Missy's sister, runs a close second for the title.

Austen fans will recognize several familiar names in Just Like that. Bennett, Netherfield, Jane, and Bingley are among the names and characters borrowed from Pride and Prejudice and some of the structure of the story is similar to Austen's. However, there should be no question in readers' minds but that Kallmaker has written a contemporary novel, with complex realistic characters set in an engaging region. She also provides interesting viniculture background. This is a lively romance with hot sex. The lead characters are sometimes frustratingly stubborn, yet this reader found them compelling and was curious to discover out how Kallmaker would solve the problems they faced.

Austen has been called the mother of the romance novel and there is a nice symmetry to Kallmaker, today's best-selling writer of lesbian romances, paying tribute to the roots of the genre with Just Like That. She has given us a new look at prejudice and a different view of pride all painted with the dark purple of a fruity Shiraz. Kallmaker has bottled a wonderful year for her readers, Just Like That. Decant it and enjoy.

Oliver's Must Do List
Susan Taylor Brown
Illustrated by Mary Sullivan.
Boyds Mills Press
A Highlights Company
815 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431
ISBN: 1590781988, $15.95, 1(800) 490-5111; 1(570) 253-1164

Lynne Marie Pisano

As soon as Oliver the rhinoceros gets out of bed, all he wants to do is play. But Oliver's mother can't play, she has too many things to do on her "must do list." Sweet Oliver tries to amuse himself by telling knock-knock jokes to the mirror, pretending to be a race car and building a fort, but he still wishes his mother had time to play. By the time Oliver's mother is done with her chores, she is tired and it is time to go to bed.

The next morning, Oliver comes up with an great idea. He makes his own "must do list" and gives it to his mother. It says, "Tell a joke. Drive a racecar. Build a fort. Count the stars and find the Big Dipper." As Oliver waits for his mother's reaction, she says, "Knock, Knock!"

This exceptionally worthwhile parent/child book will inspire parents to take the time to play with their child---a very important item on a parent's "must do list," that often gets overlooked. Adorable digital illustrations bring adorable Oliver and his busy mother to life and show their dilemma and solution with humor and grace. "Oliver's Must Do List" is a must-buy for any parent or grandparent/child duo!

A Gentle Approach to Teaching Children to Swim
Berna Bennett
Illustrated by Mark Bennett
ISBN: 0965813908, $8.95

Magdalena Ball, Reviewer

Learning to swim is a skill that parents simply cannot afford to leave to chance or just skip. Even if you don't have access to a swimming pool on a regular basis, there are always situations, from pool parties to beach visits, or even dams. Children who can't swim are at a serious safety disadvantage. Besides, swimming is one of the best exercises, full of health benefits, ranging from muscle development to cardio vascular heath due to the gentle resistance which water provides. It is good for all builds and ages, and even those with disabilities can benefit from learning swimming skills. There are plenty of excellent swim schools in every city and town and every country, but if you have your own pool, it can really rankle to have to gather up the children and trudge over to a public swimming pool for lessons. If you have a 2-3 year old, you might find that lessons can only be had by a professional if you don't need to come into the water with your child. Some children aren't ready to be separated from their parents at this age. In fact, it isn't that hard to teach your children to swim, and even if your children are taking professional lessons, you can significantly speed up the learning process by having a few teaching skills of your own. Berna Bennett is a teacher of more than 20 years experience, and her process is, as the title suggests, one which is gentle and affirming for both child and parent. Her book A Gentle Approach to Teaching Children to Swim. is both easy to follow and full of fun games which will certainly increase your child's confidence and ability in the pool, and ultimately, will teach them to swim.

The book is broken up into age groups, with chapters for babies as young as 6 months old to 24 months, water awareness for ages 2-3, real beginning swimming for ages 4-6, basic swimming styles like freestyle and backstroke for those ready to learn to swim "properly," and advanced swimming styles like breast stroke, butterfly, and diving from a board for those who can already swim. There is also a chapter for older children who are afraid to swim. Each chapter is well set out, with clear explanations, simple diagrams, and step by step progressive instructions. The book is also useful for adults wanting to teach themselves some of the more advanced strokes. Some of the early age group lessons can even be done in a blow up paddling pool.

Throughout the book, Bennett is always sensitive to the individual needs of her students, and implores teachers to observe, and gear training around those needs in the most positive and gentle of ways. For the youngest of learners, the book is full of games, and the learning process is really fun:

When a child first accomplishes something like jumping in the water, and is not sure he liked going under, Mr. Toad, Ducky Wucky, and Tommy Turtle start jumping for joy at the side of the pool to show their approval. The only way to stop them from jumping for joy is for the child to kiss them. This creates such a distraction that the child quickly gets over any apprehension he might be feeling, because of his absorption in the animals' antics. To continue the make believe, I give names to some of the exercises we do in class, like "kangaroo jumping," or "elevator."

Although the book is targeted towards potential teachers, and you could theoretically use these methods to teach other people's children to swim (although I would have thought professional accreditation was a must for anyone looking to charge for swimming lessons), this is a fantastic manual for parents wanting to teach their own children. If you have your own pool, the processes outlined in this book aren't only painless, they are positively pleasant. Bennett is as good a teacher of teachers as she is a teacher of students. With an inexpensive and easy to use book like A Gentle Approach to Teaching Children to Swim there is no reason why all children can't learn to swim at an early age. I personally tested chapter 4 ("Water Awareness") with my 3 year old, and have been watching her go from non-swimmer afraid of going past the steps to a happy confident swimmer, able to walk around the entire edge of the pool, be pulled around on a kickboard while kicking her feet, blowing bubbles, and doing kangaroo jumps, choo choo trains, and alligator kicks. As for me, my butterfly is coming along swimmingly.

For about the price of two lessons at the local public school, you can get hold of Berna Bennett's excellent book (the PDF version can be printed page by page as you need them, or just reviewed briefly online before heading out to the pool), which will help you give your children a gift of water safety and pleasure. The book's well structured layout will make this one you will turn to again and again, rapidly paying for itself.

Solitude of Self: Thinking about Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Vivian Gornick
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, New York, NY 10003
ISBN: 0374299544, $17.00, 144 pp.

Mona Lisa Safai

In the early 1800s, the feminist movement gradually began to take shape in America. Society was structured as a male-dominated, Christian believing, and overall socio-politically republic for the well being of all men without regard to women, African Americans or other minorities. Women were raised to be good wives and mothers. When faced with extenuating circumstances such as a failed marriage, they were legally unable to protect themselves. They were protected by their legal guardians; first, their fathers, then, their husbands. Few women raised objection to their sheltered lives. Many accepted without questioning the laws or consequences of such inequality. Finally, one such woman did. Elizabeth Cady (later Stanton) became a foremost leader in the feminist movement.

Vivian Gornick is a talented novelist whose focus on women's issues continues to spark any reader's intellect and imagination. In her latest work, SOLITUDE OF SELF, she depicts Elizabeth Cady Stanton who is by far one of the less heard about but most inspiring feminist leaders of women's rights in the 19th century. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a feminist determined to rectify the injustice of inequality between men and women by demanding suffrage, reform of marriage and divorce laws, recognizing the stronghold of religion, and challenging society's perception of women.

Gornick expresses that Stanton's arrival and involvement encouraged other women who were once silent on the many women's issues began speaking their minds. An entire intellectual world opened up and friendships were formed through correspondence amongst a network of women moving toward one cause - women's rights. Their history signifies the persistence and power which women have within them. Gornick's biography accentuates not only a life well spent to gain justified rights for her and others; but also to bring equality into a society that only spoke of the principle from its founding. She ignited a movement which turned the principle of "equality for all" into a reality.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) grew up in a socially conservative home in upstate New York. However, she had the radical blood to go against mainstream views even at an early age. In 1840, her intolerance of inequality kindled a slow blaze that would last for a fifty year struggle. She attended an antislavery conference in London where they refused to seat her because she was a woman. For the first time, she realized how the rest of the world perceived her - as only a woman. This incident began her crusade toward women's rights. In 1848, she met Susan B. Anthony, her friend, organizer, political ally, and champion in the cause. They never parted through the entire journey toward suffrage. Gornick includes their exchange of letters while campaigning across the states in churches, town hall meetings, convention centers, and Congress.

In the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, she formulated the Declaration of Sentiments which stated the grievances against women and demanded suffrage. As time progressed, Stanton's views shifted to marriage and divorce. She believed there needed to be a radical reform in marriage and divorce laws because the institution of marriage forces both genders to inevitably neglect laws imposed by custom or policy, break them to satisfy desire, or subjugate one gender to obey the other. In order to achieve political equality for women, laws needed to be created which encouraged the growth of inner lives.

As a modern feminist, Gornick embraced Stanton's wisdom and felt empowered by her words and philosophy. By the 21st century, the feminist movement underwent many transformations, defeats, and victories. Gornick and Stanton share a commonality which is the unwillingness to live with inequality. She continues to write and share unique perspectives of women's stories through intellectual and emotional integrity. Her latest books include The Situation and the Story: the Art of Personal Narrative and Fierce Attachments: A Memoir. It is not uncommon to recognize Gornick's descriptive words which play into a deeper analysis of the roles and discrepancies which exist in American society. Often, she reveals her own thoughts and feelings about the forces at play. However, the conclusion of fowl play or a just call is always left to the reader.

In 1865, the feminist movement had lost ground. The Civil War ended and African American men demanded their own right to vote. Elizabeth Stanton's stand on this issue split the women's movement in half. She believed in universal suffrage. While many within her movement were willing to wait longer, Stanton was unwilling to compromise. All must have suffrage, regardless of sex or color. Otherwise, a true democracy cannot exist unless everyone can be initiated into the governmental system.

When the 16th Amendment arose, many competing interests wanted in. Stanton wanted the amendment to enfranchise women. Unfortunately, the 16th went on to authorize income taxes. Women would have to wait until the 20th Amendment to receive their vote. Tragically, Stanton would not be able to see her long fought victory.

A few years before Stanton's death, she realized that until women release themselves from religious beliefs, they cannot attain the vote. For over fifty years of advocating, fighting, and persuading minds that women must have the right to vote, she now understood that she had made a miscalculation. Throughout the years, Stanton believed that women must have suffrage first. Then, they can break from the imposition of religiosity. After pondering the issue and carefully rereading the Bible, she concluded that religion holds the greatest obstacle for women to obtain the vote. They must free themselves from religion first so they can gain political equality.

Gornick is intriguing, intellectually stimulating, and true to her subject. Her work is based on letters, memoirs, notes, clippings, resolutions, and personal sources which add humanity to an individual larger than life. The writing is incisive, knowledgeable, and well-thought out. Readers of history, social movements, politics, and women's studies will enjoy reading this biography. Although this is a work about a remarkable feminist, I believe the biography is not only written for only one group, sex, or genre reader. I certainly know had Elizabeth Cady Stanton been alive today, she would equally welcome all readers. It is a book for the universal.

The Tender Bar: A Memoir
J.R. Moehringer
77 West 66th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10023 (800) 759-0190
ISBN: 1401300642, $23.95 US/$32.95 CAN, 384 pages

Jennifer Redmond

Crossing the Bar

Most memoirs are like a straight shot of booze - there's very little nuance, even with the better brands. The author's story might be moving, even evocative, but it is seldom clear until long into the book what exactly he's trying to say with his narrative. It's not enough, after all, to have lived an interesting life - many people can make that claim, and a few could probably even relate their story well on paper, given time (and a good editor). But any story, fiction or not, is only as meaningful as its theme, which is why so few modern memoirs have both a general appeal and that elusive, eternal quality which marks a work of art.

It won't take readers many pages into J.R. Moehringer's The Tender Bar (Hyperion, Sept 2005, $23.95) to realize just where they are going - what the book is about, if you will - but that in no way keeps it from being an enjoyable ride. By enjoyable, don't imagine I mean simply humorous, though it quite often is, or kind, though it sometimes is that, as well. What makes this book work is that it's like life - funny and wrenching and sad, in equal measures - and often unexpectedly. That "cocktail" of potent ingredients is what makes The Tender Bar an instant classic.

The book is set in Manhasset, Long Island, "…a pastoral suburb…seventeen miles southeast of Manhattan," which Moehringer quickly informs us was the inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald's fictional town of East Egg in The Great Gatsby. That great novel and this tale share not only a common setting, but a theme, that being the nature of illusion. Fitzgerald himself wrote, while working on Gatsby, that the "burden" of the novel was "the loss of those illusions that give such color to the world so that you don't care whether things are true or false as long as they partake of the magical glory"

Magical glory, when we first meet young JR, is a limited commodity - the Mets, The Voice, and Dicken's (The Bar). The Voice is the radio voice of his deadbeat disk-jockey dad, who was absent in every form but audio throughout the narrator's childhood. JR found a series of men to fill that vacant paternal role in the neighborhood bar, which was called a few different names over the years, but basically is The Bar. Each of the men showed him a measure of affection, or at least loyalty, and all of them taught him something important about life and love, if only by example.

The Tender Bar brims with characters - not those whimsical made-for-TV folk that populate so much modern writing, but actual people. I felt I already knew these guys, Uncle Charlie, Joey D, and the rest of them, when I encountered them in the dim splendor of Dicken's, on a Coney Island beach, or in JR's grandfather's miserable hovel. One remarkably animate character is that house itself, which goes by an unprintable nickname. A seedy, crowded, collection of rooms occupied by the patriarch's down-on-their-luck progeny, it never remotely resembles a home.

The least well-drawn of the main characters in The Tender Bar is JR's mother, the only ubiquitous feature of his erratic childhood. She's mostly known to us, and to him, by a blankly stoic expression and upbeat cliches. Her infrequent tearful breakdowns are followed by manic cheerfulness. (One scene that completely rings true - for his mother and mine - is her driving along in a beat-up clunker, admiring the rich people's nice houses and belting out show tunes). I think Moehringer's mom-myopia comes with the territory, for we never really know our parents until we ourselves are adults, if then, and often when it is too late to finally begin to completely understand or forgive them.

Needless to say, most of the action in The Tender Bar takes place in The Bar, where most of the working class populace of Manhasset gathered, ate and drank, celebrated everything from victorious ballgames to marriages, drank some more, laughed, and even grieved - over a stiff drink.

Taverns have such a bad name now, due to the handful of hard-drinking selfish losers that can be found in each one of them, that we've forgotten that bars can also be fine places to unite and commune with one's fellow man. A gathering place in which to study and savor the many differences (from sartorial choice to drink preference to favorite songs and books) that make the human race a hell of a fascinating tribe. They don't call them "watering holes" for nothing.

Moehringer's childhood was marked by the pervasive feeling of being outside - shut out of a world that might in fact be illusory, but feels and looks real enough, when seen from the outside. The illusion that having enough money will make one feel safe and included inspired generations of Gatsby wannabes and still inspires them today. Kids born on "the wrong side of the tracks" dream of money and fame because they long to belong. JR's dreams were much the same back then as theirs are now: Can I get there? Can I ever, really, get "inside"?

You might think that a bar would be a bad place to learn about illusions, but having been a bartender myself, I can tell you that a public house is a fine place to observe disillusionment firsthand, a nightly front-row seat in which to see dreams die and hopes be dashed.

By the book's bittersweet end, it's obvious that JR's college scholarship changed his life, helping to propel him (like so many of us) out of a lifetime of dead-end jobs. Moehringer, who won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing as a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, writes with simplicity and clarity about a subject that is neither simple nor clear - our country's economic caste system. For America's working poor, the number of potentially life-changing academic scholarships currently available to their children is small and ever dwindling; convenient labels like "us" and "them," still keep those without proper credentials, be they bloodlines or credit lines, from gaining access to the club.

The Fastest Ship
Larita Arnold
ISBN: 1411639502, $9.95, 220 pp.

Shirley Roe, Reviewer

Elena Williams, daughter of the Governor of Jamaica, is kidnapped by pirates in the mid 1800's. Her fiance searches frantically only to discover she has married another man. Elena now lives in England with Admiral Jack Ashbury and although she is expecting a child by her fiance Colonel Whitworth, she has no memory of her past life.

The Fastest Ship is a tale of swashbuckling pirates, true romance and high adventure in the Caribbean Sea. Pirate McGwyer is a privateer, hired by the English government to rid the seas of foreign vessels. He meets and falls in love with Christina, a brown skinned island girl. Author Larita Arnold spins a tale of intrigue and excitement as we learn how Elena was kidnapped by McGwyer in revenge for the death of his wife Christina and her unborn child. Confined to the caves of Barbados, she discovers the pirate's gold. How does Elena Williams become Angelica Ashbury? Will she return to Jamaica with her fiance or stay in England? What will become of the pirates treasure hidden away in the caves of Barbados?

Captivating colorful characters are endearing to readers as the tale unfolds. Faultless technological research of the HMS Warrior, England's first iron-clad ship, add realism and timeline to this novel. The pace will hold the reader's attention until the last page.

Author, Larita Arnold lives in Colorado with family and owns a silver jewelry company. Recommended for historical fiction and adventure buffs. Books may be purchased directly from the publisher or

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Stephen R. Covey
Simon & Schuster
Rockefeller Center, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, 10020
ISBN: 0671708635, $14.00, 358 pp.


Stephen R. Covey, an MBA from Harvard University, having served as professor of Organizational Behavior and as the director of university relations, presents "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", the habits, which will change the way a person sees himself and the people around him, thereby, bringing a complete transformation in his attitude, his behavior, and eventually, his life!

This book revolves around the fact that there are two kinds of people in this world, ones who takes the responsibility for their actions, and the others who blame everything but themselves for their actions. The book encourages the reader to focus to get into the former category, so that they can mould their lives in the way they want to become more effective. The book start off by explaining the human paradigms, perceptions and the habits, and then, explaining the need to develop the seven habits and how to develop those habits. Each of the chapters begins with an inspirational quote which sets the tone for the chapter. Covey seems to be in no hurry at all to tell the seven habits. He gives enough time to the reader to understand a concept, absorb it in his mind and feel its importance. Before telling a habit, he makes sure that the reader realizes the need to inculcate the habit. He begins with a real life example, usually from his own family, where there is need to change the behavior to deal effectively with the situation and then explains how by developing the habit, the situation can be easily dealt with.

Metaphors have been used beautifully in the book to explain all the concepts. Covey begins to talk about something amusing and soon the reader finds himself learning an important concept which he could have never conceived to have come out of that situation. The seven habits explained seem to be very simple and yet very difficult to apply in the real life simply because these habits cannot be acquired in a few days but may take a lot of time to develop. But Covey explains them in such a way that the reader simply cannot resist himself to give them a try. The explanation of the habits is so vivid, so beautiful that the reader just cannot ignore them; he can feel the difference in his personality, his relationships, his thinking, by the adoption of these habits. Stephen has presented the habits in different parts, but still manages to let the reader feel interlink between the habits in an incredible manner. He explains the hierarchy of habits, how one habit can be developed effectively only when the previous one has been adopted; how some of the habits help a person to achieve the real independence; how some habits make a person interdependent, the true essence of the societal world; and finally, how can one sustain and enhance these habits, that is, he gives the reader an axe with the help of which he can continuously work on enhancing the cultivation of these habits. Another great thing about this book is the use of quotations of famous personalities, and how they affected the thinking of Covey himself, a person who has dedicated his life to teaching principle-centered living. This emphasizes the fact that there is always room for improvement, and this is what sets a person on the path of continuous learning, a learning which is going to teach the amazingly simple, but highly effective facts about personal change. While explaining the habits, Covey beautifully redefines some of the most common words. A wonderful thing about Covey is that when he talks about something, he simply doesn't give the message and move on to something else; instead, he goes into the minutest details of what he is talking about; he is passionate about what he is talking; and it is because of this zeal, that he leaves a strong impact on the other person. So, when he redefines a word, he does it in a graphic manner, thus leaving an impression on the reader.

In the end, Covey shares another of his personal experience, about the development of his relationship with his wife; and this experience gives a clear idea about the enrichment of a person by nurturing the seven habits. Finally, he gives answers to some of the questions which are often asked to him, which gives more insight into his thinking process. He shares his learning process and the difficulties faced by him in cultivating the seven habits. Another unique feature of this book is the Problem/Opportunity Index, in which Covey explains how a particular problem can be solved by applying the principles discussed in the book. This direct relation of the solutions to the real life problems with the application of principles discussed in this book makes the experience of reading this book all the more exciting. When you read this book, you find yourself in a completely different environment, an environment of rich learning, a place where you can see a very unique mirror, a mirror in which you can see what is inside you, and this self-realization arouse in you a deep desire, a strong wish- to change, to adopt, and to cultivate the magical "seven habits"! I invite you to enter the most enriching phase of your life- the cultivation of "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People".

The Dragonfighters of Kulamain
Karen M. Penn, Lulu Press
P.O. Box 2344, Napa, CA 94558
ISBN: 1411645685, $13.62, 154 pages

Tami Brady, Reviewer

Two ordinary boys, Tory Hastings and George Googles, are suddenly thrown into a very extraordinary world. Tory and George had been told that their fathers had been close friends, just like themselves. That their fathers had died in a freak boating accident in which George's father had tried to save Tory's father's life.

Then, a few months before Tory's birthday, he learns that his father was a dragonfighter in an alternate reality called Kulamain. The boy learns he is also destined to follow in his father's footsteps. At the same time, George finds out that he is meant to be Tory's protectorant as his father was to Tory's father.

The Dragonfighters of Kulamain is a fun and exciting adventure in a world full of dragons and magic. I really enjoyed the fact that dragonfighters actually ride real dragons protected from extinction centuries ago. I can see the potential for lots of exciting adventures for Tory, George, and their fellow dragonfighters. I look forward to these adventures.

Waiting for Beethoven
Laurel Yourke
Marsh River Edition
M233 Marsh Rd., Marshfield, WI 54449
ISBN: 0971890978, $8.00, 45 pages

Susan Tollefson

Communion with the World

I love Laurel Yourke's poetry because it captures the full spectrum of human experience, from joy to sorrow, from lightness to darkness. She told me this collection, "Waiting for Beethoven," was written with an audience in mind that included people new to poetry. She hoped to entice such readers into poetry's pleasures with her warm, accessible voice and poems of every day life.

She has accomplished her goal and much more, giving us jewels of apparent simplicity that yield rich layers of meaning. She achieves her effects by drawing heavily upon the natural world, and through her use of metaphor, sensory language, and the range of subject matter--from smiling flowers to a magical polar bear her narrator sees in her office. She also surprises us with darkness of various forms surfacing just when the language lulls us into thinking everything is fine.

Her effective use of the natural world's splendors varies from an impending rain storm in the opening poem, "Waiting for Beethoven," to the swans in "Lake Furen, Hokkaido," to the hawk patrolling her back yard in "Wallace Stevens and the Hawk."

A master of metaphor, Yourke works the metaphor until all its sides and angles are revealed. Whether it's a poem about metaphor, "Milking Metaphor," where she confesses "Milking is hard work: Early mornings,/tired twilights" or "The voice of the sea pounds in time with the pulsing of your heart" in "Voyage of St. Brendan," she illuminates meaning with her deft weaving of metaphors into the poems.

The opening poem, "Waiting for Beethoven," captures the universal moment before something happens, made rich by the comparison between the hush before a storm and the "pause between the movements of sonatas." And that moment is exquisite with longing, not only for what happens next but for relishing the layers of the wait. "The interlude expands, expansive as a sigh." It's a poem everyone can relate to for we've all felt the charged quiet before a happening, relished the richness of anticipation. "The moment stretches, swells, elongates into/a silence heavy with sound - ." The ending lines almost, but not quite, release us from our longing with the promise of fulfillment, "the long instant/before the soft splash,/and then the thunder." But she doesn't release us fully, we are left with yearning.

"The Minnow" is my favorite poem because the reader takes a magical trip with the narrator, a trip of transformation, on the literal level, into a fish-like creature, on the metaphorical level into a self freed of daily concerns and moving toward the water of pure consciousness. I believe it is a metaphor for the poet becoming a poet. The poem is full of arresting images. The fish, which at first appears in her dreams, is "Dark, small, slimy, it seems to leak foul juices," suggesting that muck is necessary in the creative process.

And then "One morning she finds the fish swimming directly toward the iris of her eye…" This line delights with its surprise and venture into magical realism. The narrator is fertilized by its penetration and transforms into a "breathless, weightless" creature that swims "without a splash" toward "the starlight and the sea." The beauty of the closing image sends a shiver through the reader, makes her imagine herself as free, and lingers just the way a good poem should.

"Better Than Sex Cake" surprises with its juxtaposition of the lightness of the title with the ominous undertone of a winter morning baking where "...the yolk stares back from the bowl,/angry as an eye…"The narrator's self doubt surfaces through lovely, lyrical writing describing coalescing clouds "like winter skin" and a sun "spilling everywhere,/coloring everything, dazzling/". But the narrator literally loses her grip and the bowl goes flying and she wonders "When they decided/you can't eat too many eggs/and why she thought/she could make this cake." Amidst the lyricism of a winter morning baking a cake is the moment when the narrator feels discouraged by the stricture of "they" and even doubts her own abilities to make a cake so bold as to declare itself better than sex.

Another beautiful poem is "Her Hands," because it captures the poignancy of a mother's limited ability to protect her child. In the poem she can't soothe the pain in his ears, but the closing lines show the baby and mother crying "for all the coming lessons/on the limits of what her magic hands can do." Again, Yourke takes a universal and important truth for every mother and child and makes it so real we each stop and think to a moment when we couldn't protect our child and wince at the painful memory, the wound lanced through the lyricism of the poem itself.

Yourke's poetry presents the moment we all yearn for: that instant of communion with the world in all its mystery and splendor. And we are made better for the contact.

Atwood's Bookshelf

Clever Maids: The Secret History of the Grimm Fairy Tales
Valerie Paradiz
Basic Books
387 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016-8810
ISBN: 0738209171, $23.00, 222 pp.
ISBN: 0465054919, $13.95

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were prolific German scholars, yet the work they are best known for, the one that will eternally bear their name was not actually authored by them. The genesis of the Grimm's "Children's and Household Fairy Tales," is the fascinating subject of Valerie Paradiz's new book, Clever Maids: The Secret History of the Grimm Fairy Tales.

The brothers Grimm could have gleaned the bulk of the tales from the dusty old books they were wont to frequent, but, spurred by German nationalism in an era of Napoleonic domination, they were searching for something simpler, richer, something more quintessentially German. They believed that a "Volk" spirit (i.e., the spirit of the commoner) could more accurately be found in the hearts and souls of young German women, who had heard the tales from their mothers and nannies. Although there were some male contributors, the focus of Paradiz's skillful narration traces the assemblage of "Children's and Household Fairy Tales" to at least twenty core female collaborators who provided the Grimms with over half of their stories, including some of the collection's most memorable: "Sleeping Beauty," "Little Red Riding Cap," and "The Goose Maid."

The real genius of Paradiz's book is her ability to interweave the fairy tales with the biography. For instance, the"The Singing Bone," a grisly tale of fratricide, was communicated to Wilhelm Grimm by his future wife,. Dortchen Wild (one of the book's main collaborators), while she and Wilhelm were embroiled in what appears to have been a lover's triangle with Ferdinand Grimm. The chapter entitled "The Six Swans" juxtaposes a tale of sisterly self-sacrifice with Lotte Grimm's unwillingness to be a domestic slave to her four brothers.

Paradiz is a something of a social historian as well as a German scholar (she includes many quotes directly from original source material), and her feminist slant is well taken. In addition to portraying the domestic woes of Lotte Grimm and the lack of credited authorship for most of the collection's female collaborators, she also successfully illustrates how the tales themselves portray the social inequity of those that told them. It was as if, in telling these stories to the Grimm brothers, the young women were "giving a voice to their voicelessness." Clever Maids is a scholarly but immensely readable work, and will captivate anyone interested in folk history, German scholarship, or women's studies.

The Prince's Diary
Renee Ting
illustrated by Elizabeth O. Dulemba
Shen's Books
Fremont California
ISBN: 1885008279, $16.95

What was Cinderella's handsome prince doing while his future lady was toiling away at her work and wishing for a way to the ball? The Prince's Diary, a sweet new picture book from Renee Ting and Elizabeth O. Dulemba, answers that question. The book gives a charming and humorous flip side to the famous fairy tale, showing the prince bored stiff by his mother's marriage schemes and by all the young lovelies who would like to be his bride. What would he like to do instead? He wants to visit the whistling, rag-bedecked girl he keeps spotting.. He doesn't know her name, but he writes in his diary, "I think I'll call her Cinderella."

Does the book take some liberties with the fairy tale? Definitely. There is a ball, a glass slipper, a prince, and a toiling girl named Cinderella (I mean Cynthia), but that's about it. Which is absolutely fine: folk tales are intrinsically changeable. The famous Disney film took incredible liberties with the story: the Grimm's collected tale "Ashenputtel" contained no fairy godmother at all, but a magic tree (which hinted at the ghostly existence of Cinderella's dead mother) that shook down magical dresses from its enchanted leaves.

Although the step-mother's evil intentions towards Cinderella are creepily palpable in the Disney version of the story, the film actually sapped the original tale of some of its darker elements (in the original tale, the step-sisters don't just get their hopes dashed, they get their feet bloodied and their eyes pecked out). The Prince's Diary goes a step further in lightening the story and gives us a cheery, unflappable Miss, who although apparently barred from the ball by her step-mother (and who doesn't make a gown-decked appearance at all), never lets her spirits droop and who never stops smiling.

Smile or no smile, the big question we must ask any version of the famous tale is this: does Cindy get her man? If a horse ride, shared blackberry scones, and furious step-relations are any indication, then this "Cinderella" hints at a happy ending worthy of all its predecessors. Elizabeth Dulemba's comical, perky drawings and Renee Ting's sweet text make this picture book a wonderful addition to the Cinderella tradition.

Kathryn Atwood

Bethany's Bookshelf

Better Homes And Gardens Biggest Book Of Diabetic Recipes
Meredith Books
1716 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309-3023
0696225816 $19.95

The newest cookbook from Better Homes and Gardens, this culinary compendium of more than 300 recipes specially designed for the nutritional needs and restrictions imposed by diabetes is spiral bound, features easy-to-read type for comfortable cooking, is enhanced with 32 full-color photos, notes total carb counts for every recipe, offers "doable" strategies for managing diabetes from counting exchanges to tracking down hidden sugar, and is ideal for planning meals on a daily and weekly basis. From Asparagus & Potato Skillet; Spiced Pot Roast with Root Vegetables; Cilantro Chicken with Peanuts; and Spicy Jalapeno-Shrimp Pasta; to Acorn Squash Bisque; Lasagna with Zucchini & Walnuts; Southwestern Breakfast Tostadas; and Cherry Cobbler with Corn Bread Biscuits, each recipes comprising Better Homes And Gardens Biggest Book Of Diabetic Recipes, has preparation times, bake times, oven temperatures, number of servings, and "Exchanges" information. If you have a diabetic in your family, then your kitchen cookbook collection would be wonderfully enhanced for them and your whole family's dining experience with the inclusion of the Better Homes And Gardens Biggest Book Of Diabetic Recipes!

Julie Van Rosendaal
Whitecap Books, Ltd.
351 Lynn Avenue, North Vancouver, BC, Canada, V7J 2C4
096875631X $19.95 1-888-980-9852

Julie Van Rosendaal began developing low-fat recipes with her father (a doctor with high cholesterol and an insatiable sweet tooth) at an early age. After years of researching and experimenting in the Kitchen, Julie began to create still delicious but nonetheless healthier dishes of high-fat, high-calorie dishes and baked goods. She also started to live a healthier lifestyle and dropped 165 pounds. In "Grazing", Julie has compiled the best of her easy-to- prepare, low-fat, portable, good and good for your recipes for "finger food" dishes that take less time than ordering a pizza. Eating smaller meals and snacks over the course of the day (rather than two or three big ones) is a standard eating pattern for today's busy men and women. With the help of "Grazing", this culinary life-style can turn out to be the healthiest and most convenient way to eat!

The Healthy Beef Cookbook
Betsy Hornick
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5773
0471738816 $21.95 1-800-225-5945

Betsy Hornick, with the assistance of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the American Dietetic Association, and Richard Chamberlain (owner and head chef of Chamberlain's Steak and Chop House in Dallas, Texas), has compiled more than 130 lean beef recipes and presents them within the pages of The Healthy Beef Cookbook. Lean beef is low in fat and an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals. When prepared properly, lean beef is as nutritious and healthy as it is tasty and delicious. From Dijon-Wine Steak Kabobs with Mushroom Wild Rice; Tenderloin, Cranberry, and Pear Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing; Mediterranean Burgers with Hummus; and Ancho Chili-Rubbed Beef Steaks; to Bow Tie Pasta with Beef and Beans; Beef and Broccoli Soup; Roasted Herb- Rubbed Beef Tri-Tip with Orange and Red Onion Salt; and Five-Spice Tenderloin Steaks with Creamy Polenta, here are recipes suited for any family or celebratory dining occasion. Enhanced with appendices ranging from "The Skinny on Beef and Health", to "Beef Basics from the Experts", "Easy Steps to Cooking Lean Beef", "Guide to Using Alternative Cuts of Lean Beef in Recipes", "Quick Guide to Matching a Beef Cut with a Recipe"; and "Measurements and Equivalents", The Healthy Beef Cookbook is a highly recommended and guaranteed popular addition to any personal kitchen cookbook collection!

Ajanta: Regional Feasts Of India
Lachu Moorjani
Gibbs Smith, Publisher
PO Box 667, Layton UT 84041
1586857770 $34.95 1-800-748-5439

A seasoned expert in the cuisine of India and owner of the Ajanta restaurant in Berkeley, California, Lachu Moorjani draws upon a lifetime of culinary experience in Ajanta: Regional Feasts Of India, a superbly presented and beautifully illustrated compendium of authentic Indian dishes made thoroughly accessible to even the most novice kitchen cook through clear, methodical, step-by-step instructions. With recipes organized regionally and ranging from side dishes like Baingan Bharta (Purred Roasted Eggplant with Onions, Tomatoes and Spices); to fancy breads such as Naan (Flat Bread made with Leavened Dough); to gourmet quality entrees including Marzwangan Korma (Lamb Cooked in Red Pepper and Tamarind Sauce), Ajanta: Regional Feasts Of India would make an elegant, sophisticated, and enduringly popular addition to both personal and community library kitchen cookbook collections.

Checkered Flag Cooking
Kent Whitaker
Quail Ridge Press
PO Box 123, Brandon, MS 39043
1893062767 $16.95 1-800-343-1583

With "Checkered Flag Cooking: An Insider's Guide To Tailgating At The Races", Kent Whitaker has combined his passion for great cooking with his passion for race car events to produce an impressive collection of recipes ideal for tailgate dining, grilling, and race-day cookouts. Far more than just assemble of burger and rib recipes, Checkered Flag Cooking features dishes suitable for breakfasts, appetizers, includes dips and sauces, as well as beverages. Enhanced with profiles and photos of drivers, crew members, fans and officials, Checkered Flag Cooking also features "Top Ten Foods for Tailgating; "Racing Words Ya Gotta Know"; and a "Guide to Racing Flags. From Easy Breakfast Burritos to Zip-Close Messy Omelets; from Mini Pizzas to Smoked Sausage Bites; from Cajun Butter Grilled Shrimp to Mushroom Beef and Noodles; from Pancake Mix Cookie Bars to Peanut Butter Brownie Sandwiches, Checkered Flag Cooking is a "must" for anyone wanting to dine with delight and diversity as a part of their competition car racing experience.

The Natural Nutrition No-Cook Book
Kymythy R. Schultze
Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
1401903517 $14.95 1-800-654-5126

The Natural Nutrition No-Cook Book is an impressive compendium of delicious and "kitchen cook friendly" recipes for people and their animal companions. After the opening chapter "In the Kitchen and at the Market", Kymythy Schultze organizes and lays out her recipes into chapters devoted to Beverages; Dressings, Dips, Sauces, and Salsas; Fruit; Meat and Fish; Nuts and Seeds; Soups; and Vegetables. Beautifully illustrated with color photography throughout, the recipes range from the simple "Melon Mania" to the more complex "Great Pumpkin Soup". Of special note are the two appendices: "Shopping List" and "Resources". The Natural Nutrition No-Cook Book is especially and enthusiastically recommended to those who like to prepare delicious meals for themselves, their friends and their families, that their animal companions would also find of interest and nutritional value.

The American Cancer Society's Healthy Eating Cookbook
American Cancer Society
1599 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30329
0944235573 $24.95

Now in a newly updated and expanded third edition, The American Cancer Society's Healthy Eating Cookbook is packed from cover to cover with more than 300 simple, nutritious, delicious, "kitchen cook friendly" recipes that reflect the latest research and recommendations for healthy eating and healthy living. Some of the dishes are from friends and celebrities in the worlds of entertainment, sports, and business. From appetizers like Ginge3r Steak Rumaki; to soups like Mock Sour Cream; to salads including Vivica Fox's Perfect Caesar Salad; to poultry dishes like Herb-Baked Chicken; to seafood entrees such as Ed Begley Jr.'s New Orleans Catfish; to pastas like Creamy Fettucini with Sun-Dried Tomatoes; to vegetarian dishes like Chinese Meatless Balls; to chili's and stews like Robert Hook's Hot Hollywood Chili; to salsas including Pineapple, Peach, and Jalapeno Salsa; to side dishes featuring Turkish Tomatoes and Rice; to magnificent desserts like Creamy Chocolate Cheesecake, The American Cancer Society's Healthy Eating Cookbook is a compendium of fine dining recipes that will satisfy any appetite and please any palate. Enhanced with "Simple Tips in the Kitchen", budget and "best buy" shopping tips, healthy eating ideas, even quick tricks for judging portion sizes, The American Cancer Society's Healthy Eating Cookbook is an important, popular, and enthusiastically recommended addition to any personal or community library's kitchen cook collection!

The Breastfeeding Answer Book: Pocket Guide Edition
Nancy Mohrbacher
La Leche League International
PO Box 4079, Schaumburg, IL 60168-4079
0976896915 $37.95 1-847-592-7554

This handy, highly portable, and thoroughly "user friendly" edition of The Breastfeeding Answer Book by Nancy Mohrbacher (an accredited La Leche League Leader and international board-certified lactation consultant) is a core reference for anyone working in the field of lactation. The information is current, definitive, and organized for quick and easy reference. Nancy Mohrbacher has breastfed her own three boys for well over a year, and has been working with breastfeeding families since 1982. President of the Northern Illinois Lactation Consultant Association, she draws upon her many years of experience and expertise to compile, write and organize the best breastfeeding reference in the field today -- one which can confidently be recommended for anyone with an interest in medical, emotional, cultural, and familial breastfeeding issues.

Competitions for Talented Kids
Frances A. Karnes and Tracy L. Riley
Prufrock Press
PO Box 8813, Waco, TX 76714-8813
1593631561 $17.95 1-800-998-2208

Competitions for Talented Kids is a straightforward listing of more than 140 competitions in academics, fine and performing arts, leadership, and service learning. Each listing is 1-2 pages in length and includes details such as address, website, and contact information for the contest; a brief description; which children are eligible; how to enter; judging criteria; winner notifications; awards; general advice; and more. A small part of Competitions for Talented Kids is consumable, inviting kids to write down goals for a competition, lists of things they need, and more. A supplementary list of helpful resources rounds out this practical and useful reference guide for helping kids get involved in honing their talents and becoming the best they can be.

Hot Air Balloon
Vanessa Trien
c/o Waldmania!
130 Maywood Drive, San Francisco, CA 94127
CD $15.00

Expertly produced, flawlessly engineered and mixed by Neale Eckstein at the Fox Run Studio, Hot Air Balloon showcases eleven original and lively songs written and performed by Vanessa Trien that are certain to delight, entertain, and even teach their young listeners as they embark on a kind of musical journey that draws upon a mix of blues, pop, bluegrass, acoustic folk, country, and old-time rock-n-roll! Enthusiastically recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library CD music collections, the pieces comprising this outstanding "feel good" CD include Hello World; Good Morning!; Rockin' Rocket; Backward Alphabet Craze; Bluenanas and Bananaberries; Dance Our Blues Away; Wyona Wide; End of the Line; Await the Day; Island in the Sun; and the title piece, Hot Air Balloon.

Smart Apple Media
c/o The Creative Company
123 South Broad Street, Mankato, MN 56001

"Action for the Environment" ($216.80 list, $151.60 library) is an eight volume series of books specifically providing accurate and up-to-date information on a wide range of environmental threats, problems and issues. Enhanced with full-color photography, charts, and illustrations in full support of a 32-page "reader friendly" text designed for students with grade 4 reading skills and higher, this outstanding series consists of Clear Air (1583405941); Energy Supplies (1583405976); Food For All (1583405984); Garbage Disposal (158340595X); Protecting Habitats (158340600X); Saving Wildlife (1583405968); Transportation Solutions (1583405992); and Water Supplies (1583406018). Special "Action Stations" highlight the campaigns of various environmental organizations and suggest practical steps young readers can take to reduce environmental destruction. Additionally, each volume has its own table of contents, index, glossary, sidebars, and thematically appropriate Internet websites. Although each volume is available individually ($217.10 list; $18.95 library), school and community libraries would be well advised to acquire the entire set to accommodate their young patrons needing a good reference resource when writing papers or studying specific environmental issues.

The Pesky Bird
Marianne Markarian & Margaret Markarian Wasielewski
Pomegranate Publishing
PO Box 84, Carpinteria, CA 93013
0976737701 $16.00

Imaginatively written by Marianne Markarian for young readers ages 8 to 12, "The Pesky Bird" is an entertaining story with a theme about social acceptance, set in a small Armenian village in the early 1900s. Nicely enhanced with Margaret Wasielweski's softly drawn images, this is the story of young Marion, who loves to climb trees, but is forbidden to do so now that she has come of age. But tree climbing is a temptation that is hard to resist and Marion soon finds herself caught in a sticky situation. But it turns out to be one that clever Mariam can find a solution to. "The Pesky Bird" is a pleasantly told and highly entertaining picturebook story that would make an excellent addition to both school and community library collections.

On That Christmas Night
Mary Joslin & Helen Cann
Good Books
PO Box 419, Intercourse, PA 17534-0419
1561484946 $16.00 1-800-762-7171

With "On That Christmas Night", children's author Mary Joslin retells the traditional Christmas story with due reverence, mystery, and awe in recreating for young readers that holy night when Baby Jesus was born. From Mary and Joseph's search for a place to stay for the night, to the arrival of three wise men from the East who came bearing gifts for the newborn King, "On That Christmas Night" tells the complete story of the first Christmas. Enhanced with the charmingly memorable artwork of Helen Cann, "On That Christmas Night" is a very special and highly recommended contribution to family and community library Christmas picturebook collections.

The Legend Of The Christmas Kiss
Barbie Jenkins & Joyce Revoir
Howard Publishing Company
3117 North 7th Street, West Monroe, LA 71291-2227
158229450X $13.99 1-800-858-4109

The text of "The Legend Of The Christmas Kiss" by Barbie Jenkins is a poem, beautifully illustrated by the artwork of Joyce Revoir. This is the picturebook story of how the angels sent a beautiful snowfall on the very first Christmas when one little angel wanted to bless the newborn Jesus with the gift of her kiss. But something special happened to her kiss after passing through the clouds below. It became a glistening speck, drifting down and landing on the Christ child's cheek. Then a multitude of angels added their kisses to hers, and the earth is covered in a true winter wonderland. "The Legend Of The Christmas Kiss" is a unique and welcome addition to the growing library of Christmas theme picturebooks. for young children and their parents.

The Nutcracker
Karen Kain & Rajka Kupesic
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
088776696X $18.95 1-800-788-1074

Misha and Marie are thrilled that Christmas is coming and there will be a party with dancing in the family barn. Marie receives a wooden nutcracker from her Uncle Nikolai as a present. On Christmas Eve, Misha and Marie are in bed and beset with nightmares. But then they are rescued by the Nutcracker Prince, swept up into the realm of the Snow Queen and come to the palace of the Sugar Plum Fairy for a night of wonders. A magnificent addition to any family, school, or community library Christmas picturebook collection, "The Nutcracker" is a classic Christmas story that is beautifully retold by internationally renowned ballerina Karen Kain and marvelously illustrated by the museum quality artwork of Rajka Kupesic.

Apple Tree Christmas
Trinka Hakes Noble
Sleeping Bear Press
c/o Thomson Gale
15822 Bernardo Center Drive, Suite C, San Diego, CA 92127-2320
1585362700 $16.95 1-800-231-5163

Originally published more than twenty years ago, "Apple Tree Christmas" is an entertainingly written picturebook by award-winning children's book author Trinka Hakes Noble which is enhanced with her watercolor artistry. The old apple tree on the Ansterburg family farm next to their barn had provided sweet apples for pies and apple butter. It's twining vines provided a place to swing and climb. And one special branch was Katrina's spot to sit and sketch and daydream of her future as an artist. But just before Christmas, an ice storm brought down the lovely old tree, and along with it, Katrina's special place to draw and create and dream. Christmas will be ruined this year and for many years to come! Until Papa did some very special things that enabled the old apple tree to continue as a part of an Ansterburg Christmas. Sweet, charming, entertaining, Sleeping Bear Press is to be congratulated for bringing Trinka Hakes Noble's "Apple Tree Christmas" back into print for the Christmas season enjoyment of a whole new generation of young readers.

Bethlehem Night
Julie Stiegemeyer & Gina Capaldi
Concordia Publishing House
3558 South Jefferson Avenue, Saint Louis, MO 63118-3968
0758609078 $12.99 1-800-325-3040

The New Testament story of Jesus birth as recorded in Luke 2:1-20 is deftly told by Julie Stiegemeyer for young readers preschool through first grade. Beautifully illustrated by Gina Capaldi, "Bethlehem Night" is inspiring, entertaining, ideal for parents reading to their children, and a simply lovely addition to any family, Sunday School, or community library Christmas picturebook collection.

Susan Bethany

Betsy's Bookshelf

A Complicated Kindness
Miriam Toews
BTC Audio Books
c/o Goose Lane Editions
469 King Street, Fredericton, NB, Canada, E3B 1E5
0864923279 $24.95 1-888-926-8377

Driving aimlessly around the countryside with her pot-smoking boyfriend, sixteen-year-old Nomi Nickel rages against her runaway mother deserting her, the imposition of English assignments by her teacher, and fate in general. Brilliantly narrated by Cara Pifko, technically flawless production values, and a strongly recommended addition to community library audiobook collections, A Complicated Kindness is Miriam Toews' deftly written novel about a teenage girl going AWOL in Mennonite Country which is now available in a 3-disc CD format with a total running time of four hours.

The Gift of the Hawk
Randy Lundy
Coteau Books
2517 Victoria Avenue, Regina, SK, Canada, S4P 0T2
1550503030 $10.95 1-800-440-4471

The Gift of the Hawk is a collection of brief, free-verse poems that search for truth amid darkness, violence, and death, and rejoice in the joy of love amid a complex world. Some poems employ artful spacing to better convey their rhythm and impact, while others place stark meaning in a frame of few words. The Gift of the Hawk is best read in one fell swoop, yet its message reverberates with lingering complexity. "Epitaph for an Unwritten Poem": - a tiny fossil / from a prehistoric sea / locked forever / in my quiet heart - // cold stone.

Razor Digital Entertainment
c/o 411 Video Information
PO Box 1223, Pebble Beach, CA 93953
$14.99 each, color,

Three "Dance Inspired Yoga" DVDs from Razor Digital Entertainment demonstrate smooth, gentle workouts designed to relieve stress, improve flexibility, and leave the practitioner feeling relaxed and revitalized. Alive in Your Body (159552164X, 60 min.) offers a full-length, beginning workout to increase energy flow and promote improved balance and well-being in mind, body and soul. Rejuvinating Core Stretch (1595521658, 30 min.) focuses on simple, flowing movements, specific breathing techniques, and mind body focus to promote both internal and external harmony. 7 Essential Stress Relievers (1595521666, 60 min.) presents exercises that can be followed daily as an antidote to tension, many of which can be done right at one's desk. Hosted by choreographer and fitness expert Michelle LeMay, who personally transformed her own exercise regimen from heavy duty aerobics and weight training to this less stressful form of fitness that helped her alleviate pain from old injuries, the Dance Inspired Yoga series is highly recommended for men and women of all ages and fitness levels.

Dogwise Publishing
PO Box 2778, Wenatchee, WA 98807-2778
$29.95 each, 1-800-776-2665

Dog conformation and gait expert Rachel Page Elliott, the first recipient of the American Kennel Club's Lifetime Achievement Award, presents two DVDs that carefully analyze the movements of different breeds of dogs with both black-and-white and color footage. Dogsteps: What To Look For in a Dog (1929242255, $29.95, 65 min.) is the companion to Elliott's award-winning book of the same name, and features canine subjects photographed in slow motion, performing various gates as well as tasks for which they have been bred. Anatomical diagrams and film clips of both still and moving X-rays offer an in-depth look at the bone and joint motion inside a dog. Canine Cineradiography: A Study of Bone and Joint Motion as Seen through Moving X-Rays (1929242263, $29.95) further supplement the Dogsteps book and DVD with an extensive examination of canine bone and joint movement, featuring individually selected, filmed, and fluoroscoped dogs moving on a speed-controlled treadmill in a specially designed laboratory. Plain text captions and graphic effects further enhance the explanation of a veterinarian as to how variances in canine structure help or hinder performance. Both DVDs are especially recommended for veterinarians, dog breeders, and dog show judges and enthusiasts alike.

Story Watchers Club Adventures in Storytelling: Keys to Imagination!
Sax Media Group
Andrea Blain Public Relations (publicity)
9750 Crawford Ave., Skokie, IL 60076
0977034305 $19.95

Story Watchers Club Adventures in Storytelling: Keys to Imagination! is the latest in a DVD series designed to introduce young viewers ages 5-12 to the amazing wonders of storytelling, as practiced by different cultures worldwide and used to entertain, teach, and bring laughter. A multi-cultural clubhouse for kids of all races and backgrounds forms the stage from which award-winning storytellers such as "Bob" of The Story Peddlers and Barbara Schutzgruber bring fanciful tales to life. From dancing polar bears to Cinderella from the Fairy Godmother's point of view to how amazing creations of folded paper or string figures can vividly bring a story to life, the tales in Keys to Imagination! are sure to captivate young audiences. DVD special features include a "meet the storytellers" segment, a sing-along music video, a behind the scenes vignette, and clips of children telling stories. A wonderfully stimulating exercise in creativity, especially recommended for families and youth clubs. 45 min, color.

Wonders of the Asian World: Cambodia, Thailand & Laos
Schlessinger Media
7 East Wynnewood Road, Wynnewood, PA 19096-0580
141710337X $29.95 1-800-843-3620

The latest addition to Schlessinger Media's Wonders of the Asian World DVD series, Wonders of the Asian World: Cambodia, Thailand & Laos explores the most treasured sites of Southeast Asia, from the famous temples of the Khmer Empire at Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom of Cambodia, to the ancient capitals Sukhothai and Ayutthaya of Thailand, to the ages old capital city Luang Prabang of Laos, which features an amazing blend of traditional Lao and colonial European architecture. A beautiful tour of great architecture, Buddhist monasteries, and the rich traditions of cultures from centuries past, Wonders of the Asian World is breathtaking viewing and also suitable as an educational show for young people in grades 7 & up, with an available online teacher's guide, closed-captioning, sample discussion questions and activities on the DVD, and English and Spanish language tracks. Highly recommended. 62 min., color.

Photographs In The Mud
Dianne Wolfer & Brian Harrison-Lever
Fremantle Arts Centre Press
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR 97213
1920731202 $24.25 1-800-944-6190

In 1942 war raged in Papua New Guinea between the Japanese army and Australian forces. There have been any number of excellent military histories and biographies on this particular facet of World War II. But Dianne Wolfer's "Photographs In The Mud" (superbly illustrated throughout by Brian Harrison-Lever) is the first and best attempt to show young readers the heartbreak and tragedy of war as seen through the eyes and family photographs of ordinary soldiers on both sides of the conflict. Jack said goodbye to his wife joined other Australian soldiers trying to halt the advance of the Japanese army. Hoshi bid his wife and baby daughter farewell and fought many battles with his comrades. War changes men. Sometimes for the worse. Sometimes forever. A strongly recommended addition to grade school and community library picturebook collections (especially in this time of global conflict that finds American men and women far from home on a number of foreign battlefields), "Photographs In The Mud" is an even handed and heart wrenching treatment alternating Jack and Hoshi's respective experiences, hardships, and loneliness as they were to eventual face each other in mortal combat.

Teachers, Change Your Bait!
Martha Kaufeldt
Crown House Publishing
PO Box 2223, Williston, VT 05495-2223
1904424619 $24.95 1-877-925-1213

Specifically written for classroom teachers and curriculum developers for grades K through 12 by Martha Kaufedlt (an experienced classroom educator, including the responsibilities of having been the lead teacher and restructuring coordinator for a demonstration brain-compatible school), Teachers, Change Your Bait!: Brain-Compatible Differentiated Instruction explains how teachers can apply brain-compatible learning theory in a practical manner to ensure that no child is truly left behind in the classroom. Chapters discuss how to develop accurate student profiles, how to adapt presentation and content to the different tastes of individual students, how to help students show what they know and have learned in order to best plan further instruction according to their needs, and much more. A cornucopia of valuable ideas for hooking student interest and helping a classroom full of dramatically different students function smoothly.

The Island: Ireland from the Air
Pop Twist Entertainment
Janson Media
88 Semmens Road, Harrington Park, NJ 07640
1568392664 $24.95

The Island: Ireland from the Air is a gorgeous DVD tour of the Irish landscape, filmed entirely from the air to reveal how water, earth, and stone have formed the rugged character of "the island". Featuring many dramatic locations never before filmed on television or video, ancient tombs, medieval castles, and 5,000 year-old stone circles, sea cliffs, plunging valleys, remote mountains, and more, The Island is a breathtaking visual experience accompanied by an original music score composed by Brian Byrne and performed by the RTE concert orchestra. A commentary narrated by Cathal O'Shannon rounds out this dazzling tribute to the stellar beauty of the Ireland. 80 min., color.

Betsy L. Hogan

Betty's Bookshelf

The Magdalen
Marita Conlon-McKenna
A Forge Book/Tom Doherty Associates:
New York, NY
ISBN: 0765305135, $14.95

Nowadays, children are conceived out of wedlock every day in this country and when the mothers decide to keep and raise them, as I did, no one even raises an eyebrow. But what was it like in Ireland in the middle of the twentieth century, when a woman got pregnant and didn't marry? Marita Conlon-McKenna's book, The Magdalen, paints a disturbing picture of life in Dublin's Holy Saints Convent, one of the homes to which "fallen women" (called "Magdalens", after Mary Magdalen, a fallen woman whom Jesus once befriended) were sent by their shamed families to live during their pregnancies. There, as they await the coming of their babies, the Maggies are nominally cared for by the celibate and childless nuns who look down on them and force them to work from morning to night cooking and cleaning in the convent and doing the laundry of the townspeople, who prize their work as they shun and mock the Maggies themselves.

The mothers only get to stay with their babies for a few weeks before being forced to send them to the orphanage. The lucky babies will be adopted by God-fearing Catholic women who are properly married and can offer a "good" home. The rest will be raised in the orphanage, with the girls who grow up there returning to the convent to work in the laundries until they die, without ever knowing any other life. What becomes of the Maggies themselves? Some of them, with no place else to go, stay there until they grow old and die. Others leave and go back to the lives that brought them there in the first place. Esther Doyle, the book's main character, is determined that she will be different. She will have and keep her baby and she will make a new and better life for herself - but first, she has to survive her pregnancy and the horrors of life as a Magdalen.

Conlon-McKenna's writing pulls the reader immediately into the sad, claustrophobic world of Esther Doyle and it doesn't let her up for air until the last page, at which point any reader with a heart will be rooting for Esther and the rest of the Maggies. An unwed mother with no family or husband to help her needs someone to turn to for support, and if she decides to give that baby up for a chance at a better life, she desperately needs someone who is willing to walk with her through that difficult decision without making her feel worse. All the women in the Magdalen homes found was sorrow and harshness. Reading this book made me remember again why the local crisis pregnancy center has my whole-hearted support - it offers practical services to needy pregnant women, services given free of charge, with gentleness, and in Christian love.

The Black Swan
Mercedes Lackey
Daw Books, Inc.
375 Hudson St., New York, NY, 10014
ISBN: 0886778905, $7.99, 416 pp.

Sci fi author Mercedes Lackey is more than just a writer. She is also intimately familiar with the habits of wild birds, due to her work as a licensed wild bird rehabilitator, and they tend to show up in many of her books. In The Black Swan, she shares with her readers her knowledge of swans, owls, and raptors as she retells the story of Swan Lake.

Odile, the sorceress daughter of Baron Eric von Rothbart (himself a master sorceror), is the black swan of the title. Appointed by her father to be the guardian of his swans, she struggles with her duty to the flock and her need to become a powerful sorceress in her own right (which she believes will finally earn her her father's love and approval). Von Rothbart's swans were all once human females. Now, they only exist in human form by the light of the moon, since each has been bewitched by Von Rothbart in revenge for unspecified acts of unfaithfulness that each girl is guilty of.

Lackey does not clearly state why von Rothbart is so bitterly opposed to faihtlessness among women, or why he is so sure that no woman (not even Odile) is in the end trustworthy, but the way he has all violets on his property rooted up and destroyed (the same violets that Odile faintly remembered perfuming her long-gone lady mother) makes one suspect that his wife had been less than true.

At any rate, his life mission now is one of revenge on all womankind, as he hunts down and collects faithless women for his enchanted flock, which he uses (along with his unwittingly drained daughter) for some of his magic power. Since he believes that no one can really be trusted to be faithful, he isn't worried about losing when he offers the flock one desperate hope for freedom: if one of them can entice a man to fall in love with her and pledge eternal faithfulness, despite knowing who and what she is and why she has been ensorcelled, and he can then remain faithful to her and to his pledge of loving none other for one full month, von Rothbart will set the swan-maidens free from their enchantment. If her suitor fails (or she does), the flock (amd the magic power they represent) will belong to von Rothbart until the end of time.

Then, a handsome prince, Siiegfried, stumbles upon the flcok at moonlight and falls madly in love with Odette. Siegfried is known for his womanizing and inability to stick to one owman for long, but this time he seems to be in love, and the flock believes their freedom is near.

However, Von Rothbart is not worried. He knows Siefried's character - indeed, he set up the meeting with Odette himself - and he has his own plans laid. and when they come to fruition, the swan-maidens will be his for all time.

However, a big part of his plan involves his daughter, Odile, and that might not be such a good idea. Once desperate for his approbation and love and approving of his treatment of the faithful swan-maidens, she has begun to rethink things on the long, stressful trip her father forces her and the flock to undergo. As the flock depends on Odile for protection and shelter, she comes to see them in a different light, and she and Odette forge first a grudging respect for each other and then, a reluctant affection. But when the trip is over, will their new relationship hold when von Rothbart's plans stand clearly revealed? Or will the Black Swan prove she is worthy to be her father's daughter?

Betty Winslow

Bob's Bookshelf

Girl Trouble
Christopher McDougall
ISBN: 006081909X, $12.95. 278 pages

Subtitled "The True Saga of Superstar Gloria Trevi and the Secret Teenage Sex Cult That Stunned the World", this is an account of how a chart-topping superstar ended up in a Brazilian prison for five years. In 2004 Trevi was cleared of rape and kidnapping charges and left prison but the damage was already done; her career was in shambles. McDougall's narrative charts the rise and fall of the Mexican pop star while also addressing the often disputed extent of Trevi's involvement in the sex-slave scandal. Although the focus is on Trevi, a larger issue McDougall brings into focus is the mindset of the music industry superstars who are guided and advised by svengalis whose wishes they follow to the last letter. Why these individuals are so easily manipulated is also discussed.

My Brother's Keeper
Patricia McCormick
ISBN: 0786851732, $15.99

Toby Malone's family is definitely in serious trouble. The boy's father has left and his mother is deeply depressed. Things go from bad to worse when Toby realizes his older brother Jake is becoming dependent on drugs just the way his father was with alcohol. Because he idolizes his brother, Toby tries to cover up for Jake but that only makes the situation worse. In this novel aimed at a teenage audience, Patricia McCormick investigates the real life issues of divorce, separation, divided loyalties, puberty, and drug abuse. Unfortunately, all of these things are factors in many youngsters' lives today.

The Sinking of the Eastland: America's Forgotten Tragedy
Jay Bonansinga
Citadel Press
ISBN: 0806526483, $14.95, 280 pages

It was a disaster that claimed more lives than the Chicago Fire, yet the the sinking of the S.S. Eastland in the Chicago River ninety years ago has been overshadowed by many other disasters that actually claimed fewer lives . In this new look at the tragedy Jay Bonansinga chronicles the events leading up to the terrible event and its aftermath.

A city block in length and standing almost fifty feet high, the Eastland was Chicago's premier cruise ship which took people on excursions on Lake Michigan. On July 24th, as over 2,000 employees of Western Electric Company crowded on board the docked vessel, the doomed ship leaned back toward its dock, then plunged sideways and capsized. A total of 844 men, women, and children died as horrified bystanders watched and then launched a futile rescue effort.

Filled with the gripping stories of the survivors and rescue workers, Bonansiga's narrative also investigates the ship's history, providing an analysis of the how modifications of the vessel allowed it to carry more passengers at the expense of safety. Reading like a novel, this riveting account of the Eastland tragedy sheds light on an event that is pretty much unheard of outside of Chicago today.

The Imagineering Workout: Exercises to Shape Your Creative Muscles
Edited by Peggy Can Pelt
ISBN: 0786855541, $15.95

Here's a fun way to stimulate the creativity while learning new ways to problem-solve tasks or assignments. The one page exercises in the book come from a host of Disney Imagineers who have made a career of turning fantastical ideas into magical realities. They point the way to creatively overcoming the challenges faced in not only the "creative" realm but also the everyday workplace. No matter the reader's age, the advice proffered by these experts is intended to assist in inspiring new approaches with interactive, ingenious, and practical methodology for creatively attacking a problem.

Bob Walch

Buhle's Bookshelf

Only Make Believe
Howard Keel with Joyce Spizer
Barricade Books, Inc.
185 Bridge Plaza North, Suite 308-A, Fort Lee, NJ 07024
1569802920 $24.95 1-800-592-6657

The autobiography of the late Howard Keel (1919-2004), Only Make Believe: My Life In Show Business was written with the assistance of creative writing instructor and former private investigator Joyce Spizer. Keel was a star during the golden age of Hollywood musicals, yet he is perhaps most renowned to younger generations for his decade-long role of Clayton Farlow on the wildly popular television show "Dallas". From his rough beginnings as the sun of a coal miner who committed suicide when Keel was a young boy, to his first "big break" courtesy of Oscar Hammerstein II when he was cast in the role of Billy Bigelow in the Broadway production of Carousel, to his American film debut and unsteady personal life, affairs with Hollywood's leading ladies, and three marriages. The true story, in his own words, of an actor who saw his rising star fall with the decline in popularity of musicals, only to make it rise again.

White Justice In Arizona
Clare V. McKanna Jr.
Texas Tech University Press
PO Box 41037, Lubbock, TX 79409-1037
0896725545 $27.95 1-800-832-4042

Clare V. McKanna Jr. has been teaching Native American history at San Diego State University since 1987. In White Justice In Arizona: Apache Murder Trials In The Nineteenth Century, McKanne Jr. focuses upon how the judicial system of nineteenth-century Arizona denied Apaches justice. Apaches learned the hard way that their customs and methods for maintaining social control were drastically at odds with a new, alien, and mystifying legal system. Many did not know English, and the public defenders appointed to them were largely inexperienced or neglectful, as there was no money to be made representing indigent clients. White settlers and juries had been conditions to believe, through popular culture, word of mouth, and sensationalized newspaper headlines, that Apaches were the most dangerous and bloodthirsty of Native Americans; and so any Apache accused of killing a white person was likely to be treated as a blood enemy to be destroyed in the all-white courts, rather than innocent until proven guilty. A stark, sharply critical, and edifying look at the iniquities of false justice.

The War On Truth
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
Olive Branch Press
c/o Interlink Publishing Group
46 Crosby Street, Northampton, MA 01060-1804
1566565960 $20.00

The War On Truth: 9/11, Disinformation And The Anatomy Of Terrorism by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed (Executive Direction of the Institute for Policy Research & Development, Brighton, England) is the sequel to "The War on Freedom" and provides the most comprehensive critique of the American government's official version of what happened when al-Qaeda operatives attacked the United States. The War On Truth draws upon government documents, whistle blower testimony, and the findings of official inquiries to analysis both the initial attack, its precedents (such as the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center in New York), and the subsequent "War on Terror" launched by the Bush administration and its allies. Written from a decidedly Islamic perspective, The War On Truth is informed and informative reading for anyone studying international terrorism, national security, and the clandestine machinery of Western power. Other highly recommended works by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed include "The War on Freedom: How & Why America was Attacked: September 11, 2001" and "Behind the War on Terror: Western Secret Strategy and the Struggle for Iraq.

The Devil and the Disappearing Sea
Rob Ferguson
Raincoast Books
9050 Shaughnessy Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6P 6E5
1551927373 $15.95

The Devil and the Disappearing Sea or, How I Tried to Stop the World's Worst Ecological Catastrophe is the true story of the Aral Sea disaster - an ecological breakdown in Central Asia that has caused the world's fourth largest body of water to shrink to 20% of its 1960 size. Experts predict that it will vanish by 2020, to the lethal detriment of the many people who need its water to survive. Author Rob Ferguson went to work on an environmental project to save the Aral Sea in January 2000; at every turn he met corruption, bureaucratic obstacles, inefficient local environmental authorities who cared more about protecting their own pride than the vanishing sea, and the Russian mafia. By the time he was forced to leave Central Asia, he was under suspicion for murder. The Devil and the Disappearing Sea weaves the sad but true story with dark comic flare, and is wildly entertaining even as it is disheartening about hope for humanity's ability to co-exist with nature. Perhaps most terrifying is the author's measured predictions of a future global water crisis, as ecological mismanagement expands deserts and overwhelms fresh water supplies. Though The Devil and the Disappearing Sea is written to bring its message especially to lay readers, this cautionary tale is also emphatically recommended for ecological and environmental studies lists, and a "must-read" for anyone involved in an environmental conservation project, particularly those taking place in unfamiliar cultures overseas.

Top Shelf Productions
PO Box 1282, Marietta, GA 30061-1282

Six new titles from Top Shelf Productions are especially recommended to the attention of comix and graphic novel enthusiasts. Rick Koslowski's "The King" (1891830651, $19.95) is a unique story of an enigmatic Elvis impersonator who's making his reputation in the Vegas strip and in the world. A mystery man who hides his face behind a golden helmet, his performances are mesmerizing, so much so that his fans start believing he really is Elvis Presley. When a former tabloid journalist makes it his personal mission to find out The King's true identity and debunk this strange performer's comeback as Elvis, he runs into more than he bargained for! Alex Robinson's "Tricked" (1891830732, $19.95) follows the lives of six unusual people in a story structure that is as complex as it is innovated! Also by Alex Robinson, a new edition of "Box Office Poison" (1891830198, $29.95) is a 608-page graphic novel for the mature reader with its themes of dreary jobs, comic books, love, sex, messy apartments, girlfriends, undisclosed pasts, and crusty old professionals. Aaron Reiner's "Spiral-Bound" (1891830503, $14.95) is a deftly drawn and written graphic novel featuring memorable and occasionally outrageous ensemble cast. Part of his "Girlfriend Trilogy", Jeffrey Brown's "AEIOU" (1891830716, $12.00 explores the subtleties of relationships with emphasis on the differences between knowing someone and loving them. The collaboration of Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele, "The Surrogates" is the first issue of a five part science fiction action/adventure miniseries for mature readers. Set in 2054, life has been reduced to a data feed. There has been a fusion of virtual reality and cybernetics. It's a perfect world where it's no longer necessary to leave home. But it's also a world of techno-terrorists and detectives Harvey Greer and Pete Ford of the Metro Police Department must stop them before they ruin a "perfect world".

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Realistic Model Railroad Building Blocks
Tony Koester
Kalmbach Publishing Company
PO Box 1612, Waukesha, WI 53187
0890243689 $19.95 1-800-533-6644

One of the newest additions to the "Model Railroader" book list, Realistic Model Railroad Building Blocks: An Introduction To Layout Design Elements by model railroading expert Tony Koester focuses upon how to apply Layout Design Elements - that is, visually and operationally recognizable models of small parts of a full-sized railroad - to create a more realistic and aesthetically pleasing model railroad. LDEs work for full-sized railroads; and so they work just as well for hobbyists. Chapters cover how to select and model towns, junctions, yards, engine terminals, industries, ports, bridges, "signature" scenes, and much more. Offering practical techniques that break down the steps of using LDEs to the simplicity of assembling a picture puzzle, Realistic Model Railroad Building Blocks is enthusiastically recommended for serious model railroad connoisseurs.

Moon Handbooks: Florida Gulf Coast
Laura Reiley
Avalon Travel
c/o Avalon Publishing Group
1400 - 65th Street, Suite 250, Emeryville, CA 94608
1566915716 $17.95 1-800-345-5473

One of the newest additions to the justifiably acclaimed Moon Handbooks series of "user friendly" travel guides, Florida Gulf Coast by local travel writer Laura Reiley is a blend of in-depth regional and local information, along with strategic advice for the traveler. Complete with suggested routes, activities, and a wealth of practical, accessible, up-to-date information arranged by those counties located along the gulf coast of Florida, this handy and highly portable little compendium offers things to see and do from birding, to parks, to museums, to emergency resources, to nightlife entertainments, to food and lodging ideas. Especially in the wake of the worst hurricane season in recorded history, those traveling to and through the gulf coast region of Florida will appreciate what Moon Handbooks: Florida Gulf Coast can offer them to help make their trip successful and memorable.

Sacramento Valley Fishing Paradise
Ray Rychnovsky
Frank Amato Publications
PO Box 82112, Portland, OR 97282
1571883169 $22.00

The waters of the Sacramento Valley teem with sturgeon, salmon, bass, steelhead, crappie, bluegill, and more, to offer the dedicated angler a great variety of fish. The "Sacramento Valley Fishing Paradise" by expert angler Ray Rychnovsky is a detailed and thoroughly "user friendly" guide to the Sacramento River and all of its tributaries and lakes up to an elevation of 2000 feet above sea level. Anglers will learn when, where, and how to catch each major game fish anywhere in the valley. Enhanced with historical points of interest, advice for "best fishing" by the month, by location, and by the species, Sacramento Valley Fishing Paradise is especially recommended for anyone planning a fishing trip to the waters of the Sacramento Valley.

Periodization Training For Sports
Tudor O. Bompa & Michael C. Carrera
Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.
PO Box 5076, Champaign, IL 61820-5076
0736055592 $19.95 1-800-747-4457

Now in a newly revised and expanded second edition, Periodization Training For Sports: Science-Based Strength And Conditioning Plans For 17 Sports is divided into three major sections: "Foundations of Strength Training", "Program Design", and "Periodized Training. Co-authored by Tudor O. Bompa who in 1963 developed the concept of periodization training for strength development and enhancement in Romania, with health and lifestyle expert Michael C. Carrera (who currently serves as Vice President of Exercise Planning and Development for Truestar Health), Periodization Training For Sports takes the reader through an entire course of physical studies beginning with an introduction to basic principles of strength and muscle training for sports, to a yearly training plan, to dealing with fatigue, muscle soreness, and recovery. Periodization Training For Sports is an invaluable resource and strongly recommended reference for anyone seeking to improve their athletic performance for all manner of sports activities.

34 Soccer Goalie Drills
Marty Schupak and the Youth Sports Club
Youth Sports Club
9 Florence Court, Valley Cottage, NY 10989
0974851760 $24.95

Youth athlete coach Marty Schupak and the Youth Sports Club present 34 Soccer Goalie Drills, a no-nonsense DVD guide to techniques for improving one's goalkeeping skills, intended for soccer goalkeepers of all ages and skill levels. Subjects covered include goalkeeping conditioning drills, diving skills, breakaway goalie defense, lateral skill techniques, punting techniques, games, bonus tips and more. A superb, easy-to-follow resource for both individual study and physical education, recommended for aspiring goalies age 10 and up. 34 min., color.

Golf: The Game That Defined A Century
Charlie Jones, narrator
Marathon Music & Video
c/o 411 Video Information
PO Box 1223, Pebble Beach, CA 93953
0741109891 $12.98

Golfweek, the premier news source among golf enthusiasts, presents Golf: The Game That Defined A Century, a fascinating DVD retrospective of the people, places, and events that have shaped golf from 1900 to 1999. From the evolution of golf equipment, to the impact of golf on television, to the battles for gender and racial equal access to country clubs and public courses, Golf: The Game That Defined A Century explores the intersection of a beloved pastime and the advance of history. Narrated by Charlie Jones, Golf: The Game That Defined A Century visits pivotal people and places in the continuing evolution of golf from a rich man's hobby to the widely popular leisure and professional sport it is today. Approx. 2 hours 15 min., color.

The Economics And Politics Of Wealth Redistribution
Gordon Tullock; Charles K. Rowley, editor
Liberty Fund, Inc.
8335 Allison Pointe Trail, #300, Indianapolis, IN 46250-1684
086597537X $20.00 1-800-955-8335

The seventh volume of the acclaimed "Selected Works of Gordon Tullock" series from Liberty Fund, The Economics And Politics Of Wealth Redistribution begins with an examination of the primary arguments advanced in favor of wealth redistribution. Gordon Tullock (currently a professor of law and economics, and a Distinguished Research Fellow in the Center for Study of Public Choice at George Mason University) then goes on to explore the real-world mechanisms and politics of redistribution in democratic countries, finding that redistribution primarily benefits the middle class and the politically savvy, while neglecting the deserving poor. This seventh volume drawn from the lifetime writings and lectures of one of America's most respected economists, concludes by proposing radical reforms to the modern welfare state.

Marketing Nutrition
Brian Wansink
University of Illinois Press
1325 South Oak Street, Champaign, IL 61820-6975
0252029429 $34.95 1-800-545-4703

Marketing Nutrition: Soy, Functional Foods, Biotechnology, and Obesity by Brian Wansink (Professor of Applied Economics of Marketing and of Nutritional Science, Cornell University) focuses on an increasingly problematic issue in American society: how can people be persuaded to eat more nutritious foods, including vegetables and soy foods? Almost everyone knows that fruit is better for one's health than a cookie, yet not so many will pick an apple over a cookie for a dessert when the opportunity comes to choose. Marketing techniques for unhealthy foods push consumers into poor diet patterns that result in obesity, from childhood on up. Wansink reveals that the same marketing tools, techniques and insights that make non-nutritious foods popular can also bolster the appeal of nutritious foods. Techniques such as targeting foods toward the "gatekeeper" or family cook first (whose selections have more impact on what the family eats than anything else), labeling foods to sound delicious, marketing techniques to introduce unfamiliar foods and acquaint them with popular awareness, and much more are discussed in depth. An insightful book that deftly blends the scientific knowledge of a nutritionist with the wisdom and practical skill of a trained marketer.

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Amadeus Press
c/o Hal Leonard Corporation
151 West 46th Street, 8th floor, New York, NY 10036
$24.95 each 1-800-637-2852

Music aficionados will enjoy "The Classical Hour at Steinway Hall" color DVD series, featuring timeless music performed by career experts. The Classical Hour at Steinway Hall: Nobilis Trio (HL00331682, 64 min.) features the stringed instrument professionals Ruggero Allifranchini (violin), Suren Bagratuni (cello), and Stephen Prutsman (piano) as they perform Mozart's Trio in B-flat Major K. 502 and Bedrich Smetana's Trio in G Minor Op. 15. The Classical Hour at Steinway Hall: Kristina Reiko Cooper, Cello & John Novacek, Piano (HL00331680, 64 min.) offers a sensational performance of an eclectic mix of classical music, including Gabriel Faure's Apres un Reve, Frederic Chopin's Polonaise Brillante Op. 3, David Popper's Hungarian Rhapsody Op. 68, and much more. Both DVDs are enhanced with interviews of the expert performers, and are superb gifts for classical music enthusiasts.

Warm Embrace
James E. Wall
King Of Kings Records
c/o The Creative Service Company
4360 Emerald Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
KOKR-4371 $15.98

"Warm Embrace" features the work of music producer, keyboardist, and fourth generation gospel minister James E. Wall. This impressive collection of gentle instrumental music is ideal listening for those seeking music that will enhance their relaxation, healing, and inspired awareness. Inspired by love, nature, spirituality and healing beliefs, the ten pieces comprising this remarkable and flawlessly recorded recording include Loving Care (3:10); Healing Touch (5:50); Morning Sunrise (5:24); Love Affair (4:51); Desert Sunset (4:35); Cool Waters (5:20); Soul Refresher (5:14); Peace (4:41); Paradise (5:50); and the title piece, Warm Embrace (5:16). Soothing, melodic, lyrical, therapeutic for the mind and the soul, "Warm Embrace is enthusiastically recommended listening -- especially for those harried and stressed out by life's many challenges and issues.

Along The Way
Algin Scabby Robe
Canyon Records Productions
3131 West Clarendon Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85017
CR-6386 $14.98 1-800-268-1141,

Algin Scabby Robe (Black Lodge Singers), one of today's leading pow-wow singers and songmakers, presents his own collection of contemporary round dance songs. Impressively recorded, "Along The Way: Round Dance Songs" is a compilation of twelve of Algin's contemporary round dances songs featuring: Sina - Missing You (3:20); Don't Miss Out (2:56); Buffalo (2:41); The Walk (3:02); Sundown (3:46); Young Scouts (3:13); My Friend (4:11); Nita-ta- Keet (3:48); The Bulls (3:15); Ma and Pa (3:29); Wishes (3:41); and Blackfoot (3:01). With a total running time of 41 minutes and seven seconds, "Along The Way" is a welcome addition to the growing library of recorded Native American music. Also highly recommended recent releases for Native American music collections from Canyon Records Productions are: McClellan, Robedeaux and Stoner's "For Our Loved Ones" (CR-6397, $14.98); William Horncloud's "Rabbit Dance: Songs of the Lakota" (CR-6081, $14.98); and "More Kids' Pow-Wow Songs" (CR- 6387, $14.98) from Black Lodge.

Collectables Records Corporation
PO Box 35, Narberth, PA 19072-0035

Collectables Records is a premier publisher of timeless and technically impressive musically recorded performances by original artists at exceptionally reasonable prices for both the individual music enthusiast and community libraries alike. Among their recent and highly recommended releases are "Sweet Harmony" (COL-CD-8484, $7.98) by New York's premier vocal group which includes such hits as 'Turn around Look at Me' and 'Chapel in the Moonlight'. Listeners to "Hideaway" (COL-CO-6709, $12.97) will enjoy the best of America including 'Watership Down' and 'Jet Boy Blue'. Danny Kalb and Stefan Grossman's "Crosscurrants" (COL-CO-6723, $12.97) has among its ten memorable selections 'Devil Round the Moon' and 'Death Letter Blues'. Twenty-four selections showcase the best of The Crests' "Sing All Biggies" (COL-CO-7819, $12.97) including the classic 'Earth Angel' and the enduringly popular 'Party Doll'. "Coast Along With The Coasters" (COL-CO-6523, $12.98) is a compilation of twelve of their best including 'Stewball' and 'Bad Blood'. Gilbert Gil's "Nightingale" (COL-CO-6596) is produced by Sergio Mendes and features ten selections including 'Sarara' and 'Samba de Los Angeles'. Originally released in 1957 and now available to a whole new generation of appreciative listeners, "The Delta Rhythm Boys" (COL-CO-6391, $12.97) offers thirteen of their best including 'It Ain't Necessarily So' and 'Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered'. The superb piano artistry of Don Shirley Plays Gershiwn/Standards (COL-CO-2789, $16.97) offers sixteen pieces ranging from the 'Porgy & Bess Suite' to 'Polka Dots and Moonbeams'. "Nat" is Nelson Riddle's orchestral portrait of the immortal Nat King Cole offering twelve showcased selections including 'It's Only a Paper Moon' and 'Ramblin' Rose'. For the Latin Music enthusiast there's Rene Bloch's "Mr. Latin' comprised of twelve energetic pieces ranging from 'Mr. Latin's Mambo' to 'Pachanga Terrifica'. Collectables Records titles cover virtually every popular musical genre. For a complete listing of thir hundreds of CD recordings, visit their thoroughly impressive and "user friendly" website at -- where they also list on-site discounts for the economically minded.

La Noche Buena
World Library Publications
3708 River Road, Suite 400, Franklin Park, IL 60131-2158
Rock Paper Scissors (publicity)
216 West Allen Street, Suite 137, Bloomington, IN 47403
1584592419 $17.00

A unique and very highly recommended addition to any multicultural Christmas music collection, "La Noche Buena: Christmas Music Of Colonial Latin America" is an outstanding compilation of sixteen superbly performed pieces drawn from the decades between 1570 to 1680 where it was played in Spanish Catholic cathedrals throughout Latin America. Drawing from Mayan, Incans, West African, and Spanish sources, these pieces told the Nativity story through music in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. SAVAE (San Anstonio Vocal Arts Ensemble) blends its seven voices with pre-Colombian, African, and European instruments to recreate these flawlessly recorded selections which include: Hoy es dia de placer (2:03); Christus natus est (2:15); Serenissima una noche (3:20); Hanacpachap cussicuinin (3:05); Dame albricia mano Anton (3:30); Tarara yo soy Anton (3:34); Eso rigor e repente (3:16); Magnificat tertii toni (4:53); Conceptionem virginis Mariae (2:15); DXiochi, xiochi conetzintle (2:14); AQ siolo Flasiquiyo (4:18); En un portalejo pobre (2:49); Los coflades de la estrella (4:45); De carambanos el dia (3:29); and Convidando esta la noche (2:54).

Michael J. Carson

Cassandra's Bookshelf

Ari Gold
Bruno Gmunder Publishing, Germany
Zeughofstrasse 1, 10997 Berlin, Germany
ISBN: 3861877244, $29.70

Ari Gold: The Remixes
Special edition CD
Bruno Gmuder

Ari Gold Post-card book
Bruno Gmunder
Verlag Gmbh, Kleiststr, 23-26, 10787, Berlin, Germany
ISBN: 3861877244, $6.50

In case you aren't young enough to know Ari Gold is a funky, butt-shaking, get down with it music sensation. Now this is pretty hot stuff for a boy who started his career singing at his brother's bar mitzvah at the age of five. After his graduation from Yeshiva high school in Manhattan, Ari attended Yale and then finished up his B.A. at New York University. Meanwhile he followed his true vocation performing at the famous Joe's Pub, Fez, China Club, Barracuda, and the infamous CBGBs. He shocked by singing love songs man to man. His debut recording won the Out music award for outstanding debut recording of 2002. His "I'm all about you" debuted on the top 20 United Kingdom charts becoming a top dance hit. Shot in Miami, the video became the rage on MTV. This is why you should know about Ari.
His appearances in revered youth culture magazines like "W," "Vibe," and "Heeb" send shock waves through both male and female fans. He is the price of pop style. His performances with Melissa Etheridge, Christina Aguilera, Dolly Parton, Carole King, Billy Porter, RuPaul and Chaka Khan have electrified the R&B, spacey pop, and futuristic Jazz scenes. He appeals to the 18-22 set and anyone whose down with the goove. That's why this new, lush, photo book, post-card book and cd are eye and ear candy for those in the know.

Bruno Gmunder publishing has put together a 96 page book full of color photography and illustrations by the likes of Aaron Cobbett, Matthew Rodgers, Duane Cramer, John Falocco, Boy George (that's right that Boy George!), Jason Lloyd Miller, Alan Emmins, Carco Carocari, Joe Oppedisano, James Houston, Mr. Means, John Phillips, and Lex Wolfcraft. For Ari fans and fans of male beauty this is an exciting, stylish, book. Many of the images include Ari's "chai" which he wears with as much pride as his gay identity. "Chai" means "Life" in Hebrew. This is a delightful celebration of the human body, the homoerotic--think Greek sculpture. The multi-dimensional interpretations of Ari Gold's body by the various artists reflect their individual styles and aesthetics. Some are very cool, others are hot, some of dreamy and some are just plain fantastic. None are offensive which is a nice change coming from this genre.

I particularly like the photograph of Ari in a sort of black net half tee shirt by Aaron Cobbett. It's very intense and sexy.Duane Cramer shows a different side of Ari, a sort of open and where do I go from here look. Ari's own lyrics for "Love Will Take Over" underscore the feeling of the photographs: "Hate will subside-And love will take over." There is something soulful and sincere that Cramer has captured. John Falocco's photographs are tougher showing Ari in his fashionista personna--modified flat mohawk, stylish under-shirt, gold jewlery, and bed-room eyes that make a teenagers heart melt. Boy George's "bad boy" ari photographs are all about fun and vogue. I can't get into all the images so this is only a taste or a teaser, depending on how you relate to bodies in general and stylish photography, interesting music with socially concerned lyrics, and well executed photographs in color and sensational black and white that will make all your friends jealous when you send them through the mails. The post-card book is a little touch of eye candy from the larger coffee-table model and runs only $6.50 if you can't afford the lavishly produced big volume.

I guess as an art historian/critic I appreciate any kind of beauty as long as it's tasteful. I like this book because it isn't vulgar and it's something of a conversation piece. And you can dance to the music. It's an entertaining collection of pictures if not high art.

Joan Snyder
Hayden Herrera
with essay by Jenni Sorkin and introduction by Nornan L. Kleeblatt
Harry N. Abrams, Inc. publishers
100 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011
ISBN: 0810959321, $50.00, CAN. $70.00, UK 27.50 pounds, 180 pp.

This is a beautiful book with sensational color plates. I also saw the exhibition which was organized by the Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA., at the Jewish Museum, New York. This book was published to coincide with the exhibit which opened August 12, 2005 - October 23, 2005. It moves to the Danforth opening November 10 to February 5, 2006. So you can always take a trip to see it.

For those of you who don't know Joan Snyder's work I'll try to picture it for you. Snyder is an artist who has been painting since the early 1960s. Her work received critical acclaim in 1971. The show and book cover over forty years of her art. She is identified most frequently with Abstract Expressionism--think de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, etc. This simply means painters who use process as their language: drips, slashes, thick paint (like Van Gogh) raw canvas, loops of thin paint, washes, and found materials in their work. Snyder was one of the few women of the younger generation to embrace and extend this type of painting. She became involved with women and art, since she was both a woman and an artist, at a time when the emerging women's liberation movement was taking off. The imagery of the body, the paradox of contained and container (inside/outside sensations of the body) came into vogue among artists-and particularly female artists. In these artists who embraced feminism in the early years and tried to find images for their experiences as women in society and culture the boundary between the outside and inside became confused and ultimately redefined. The scattering and redistribution of bodily parts was the antithesis of the classical nude. This taking apart of the body-particularly the female body was done in the spirit of revolt and Snyder was in the vanguard with her abstracting notions of women's bodies.

To Snyder painting is her religion: "It's the altar I go to to face myself." (17) The artist calls herself a survivor who mainly "raised herself." The idea of a "female sensibility" became central to her art and she used sensuous materials in her canvases to convey this. She saw that she could use brushmarks and color to convey her ideas through the application of paint on the surface and through texture. She was influenced by the early work of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg as well as such historical artists as Kandinsky and Klee. Her work is informed by classical music and jazz. She uses strokes that she says are "...sometimes soft...sometimes laugh and are often violent...they bleed and cry and struggle to tell my story with marks and colors and lines and shapes. I speak of love and anguish, of fear and mostly of hope."(33)

These are really beautiful, sexy, poetic, and complex paintings well worth a look. More than that they are socially concern paintings that deal with a host of social issues using abstraction and figurative elements. In works like "Flesh Art," she cuts into the canvas and creates soft pockets with colored edges that seem to bleed. They are playful and serious statements on women's lives and their suffering. She tells of her own suffering with the breakup of her marriage to the photographer Larry Fink, the sense of loss after a miscarriage, and the joy's of rebirth when she had her daughter Molly. Her frank discussion of female sexuality, bi-sexuality and the space of dialogue where stereotypic notions of women's sexuality are overturned is refreshingly frank. In painting after beautiful painting she talks about trying to break out of various boxes that people-society tries to put you in. "Love's Deep Grapes," a painting in which she inserts plastic grapes and tries to express her feelings about the breakup of her relationship with Fink is typical of her art.

Herrera's essay is very informative and includes many quotes, as well as illustrations, that help to support her insights into Joan Snyder's art. Jenni Sorkin on the other hand tries to set Snyder's art in the context of the art world over four decades. She discussed the formal aspects of the artist's development over time and the critical climate that Snyder was working in. Sorkin also situates Snyder in a circle of artists, including her female peers, that were trying to overturn the excessive masculinity that dominated the history of art: no female art teachers in all female art schools, no women artists in histories of art, few, if any women in major exhibitions and almost no museum retrospectives. This is why 2005 is such a banner year! Not only was I treated to a major retrospective of Joan Snyder but I also had the pleasure of seeing the Museum of Modern Art mount a spectacular Elizabeth Murray show with a fabulous catalogue and pop-up book of the artist's work. Times have certainly changed since the 1970s and Snyder's early involvement in "consciousness raising" groups. Now she is a role model for younger women artists. Just as she pumped "the blood back into the art world of the 1970s and 1980s," she hopes a new generation of creative women will do the same for the 21st century.

Although I have my reservations about all of the essays in this book, particularly the introduction by Norman L. Kleeblatt, Susan and Elihu Rose Curator of Fine Arts at the Jewish Museum because of his excessive mea culpa about being a man reading Snyder's art and his ridiculous emphasis on gendered readings of just about everything, I still recommend this book.

Kleeblatt really irritates me and I am a BIG feminist with a string of credentials from the 1970s on to the present--I find his notions that a sense of "order" analytical skills, and forceful opinions belong solely to one gender. This is old-style stuff bordering on "essentialism" the idea that one sex has a monopoly on particular characteristics that can be attached to the female of the species. The simple truth is that we are all human and our personalities and characters are the sum total of our genes and experiences, I.e. I have a family history of allergies ergo I am allergy prone. Females are educated in the conduct and language of femininity; Males are educated and brought up to be men. As a consequence, it is my belief that none of us really know who we are only how we are supposed to be, regardless. Just one person's opinion.

Herrera's essay is too dry for my tastes despite the lushness of Snyder's paintings. The chronological, autobiographical time line with pictures gets a little tedious but is saved by the big, color plates that accompany the text. And Jenni Sorkin's art historical take on Snyder's art is a little academic for the general reader. Still the whole idea of the gap between object and viewer is well articulated as a dialogue across the silence and the tension between various bodies and the world; between regulated sexuality and imagined relations is well articulated.

I highly recommend this book because I am struck by Snyder's honesty about her lived experiences as a woman and artist, particularly the acknowledgement of her 18 year relationship with her female partner. Besides the book is just plain beautiful with some of the best color plates I've ever seen in an art book. Abrams is the state of the art publisher of art books and they have done themselves proud with the Joan Snyder book. It's well worth the price.

Cassandra Langer

Cheri's Bookshelf

Rangers at Roadsend: The Celaeno Series
Jane Fletcher
Bold Stroke Books, Inc.
314 Conestoga Road/Wayne, PA 19087 or
ISBN: 1933110287, $15.95, 312 pp.

Rangers at Roadsend, a murder mystery reminiscent of Agatha Christie, has crossed many genres including speculative fiction, fantasy, romance, and adventure. The story is an incredible whodunit that has something for everyone. Jane Fletcher, winner of the Golden Crown Literary Award 2005 for Walls at Westernfort, has created an intelligent and compelling story where the reader easily gets drawn into the fascinating world of Celaeno, becomes totally absorbed in the well-designed plot, and finds herself completely enamored with the multi-faceted characters.

Sergeant Chip Coppelli, of C Patrol, a Ranger at Fort Krowe, is the heroine in a land where women roam and rule the earth. A truly admirable character, Chip is a fearless leader who strives to keep the inhabitants of Celaeno safe from lawbreakers and wild beasts. When rumors abound about Chip's new recruit, Private Katryn Nagata, Chip will stop at nothing to discover the truth concerning these allegations. She intends to find out why Katryn, a militia sergeant of Woodside, was transferred to her squadron in Landfall as a private, especially since she is older than the average new recruit and proves to be an accomplished markswoman with a bow and arrow, indicative of a person of higher rank. It doesn't help that the attractive woman immediately captures Chip's attention and affection. Against the advice of her best friend, Sergeant Kim Ramon of B Patrol, Chip falls in love with Katryn despite the suspicions that surround her. Added to the mystery of Katryn's past actions, Chip has a few secrets of her own, further complicating the plot.

Besides the rich prose, a distinction that sets Fletcher above the norm, is the clever interweaving of clues -- the reader has fun trying to solve the murder of the unpopular, hated Sergeant Ellis. Fletcher takes special care so that the reader doesn't discover the killer too soon. Even with meticulously laid out clues, there are no plot holes to contradict the explanation of how the murder took place. All the bases are covered leaving no other person a viable candidate.

Rangers at Roadsend will captivate and delight readers of all tastes, even those who say they are not fond of speculative fiction, including fantasy. Fletcher writes an engaging and believable tale with humor, metaphors, and honesty. It's not just the story that is compelling, but the way the author writes it that grabs the reader's attention. Fletcher is able to convey volumes of emotion in a single sentence, for instance, p. 92, "Katryn's company was the most enjoyable torment she [Chip] had ever known." Her descriptions are vivid yet succinct as on p. 78, "As ever, the market was crowded. Sounds, smells and gaudy colors fought in a riot for the senses." Her humor is evident as on p. 79, "I'm trying to work out what 'Chip' is short for." "It's not short for anything. It's a small fried piece of potato." Fletcher uses excellent metaphors throughout the text including how Chip feels about the romantic aspect of her life. The reader learns about Chip's track record with women when Katryn throws up in the gutter, and she thinks, "it was a pretty good summing-up of her love life in general" [p. 89].

A five-star novel, Rangers at Roadsend will have you riveted, all the while fantasizing about living in a society where women are the masters of the Universe…the rulers of the world. Jane Fletcher, an amazing talent, gifted storyteller, and extraordinary plot developer, is one of the best authors of contemporary fiction today - in all genres. Rangers at Roadsend will convince you of that.

Force of Nature
Kim Baldwin
Bold Stroke Books, Inc.
314 Conestoga Rd. Wayne, PA 19087 or
ISBN: 1933110236, $15.95, 240 pp.

Kim Baldwin, Golden Crown Literary Society Award finalist for her outstanding action adventure debut novel, Hunter's Pursuit, has written a charming romance that will equally delight her fans. Force of Nature, set in rural Michigan where tornadoes and other natural disasters abound, packs an emotional wallop. Author Lori L. Lake writes, "There's something about it that's just Real - and vastly satisfying."

Gable McCoy is a pharmacist by profession and, because of her commitment to public service, is a volunteer firefighter for the Plainfield Township Fire Department, The forty-six year old embarks on a full-out mobilization of the county's search and rescue squad due to an impending tornado. After nearly succumbing to the disaster, Gable manages to avoid harm when she meets Erin Richards, a divorced, thirty-nine year old music teacher, trapped in the basement of her destroyed home. Baldwin's authentic dialogue and brilliant descriptions of the setting makes it easy to visualize being there - soaked, freezing, scared but brave - while intimately learning about the characters as they get to know each other during a long, dark, and stormy night.

The sign of a gifted writer, besides drawing her readers in with a fascinating tale, is being able to describe an event (catastrophic or otherwise) so vividly that the reader can feel it, taste it, hear it, smell it, and see it, even if she has never experienced these circumstances prior to reading the novel. "Adrenaline jolted her [Gable] from her inertia and she dove into the pipe, ignoring the stench of rotted matter and the cold slimy water that soaked her to the skin. It [the tornado] was upon her in an instant, trying to suck her from the pipe, tugging at her with fierce determination" [p. 15]. Kim Baldwin adeptly depicts the fictional world with sharpness to rival the real world, writing realistic action, emotion, and descriptions in every scene.

Baldwin is also adept at characterization and develops interesting character arcs explicitly. It's easy to get into the character's head to see exactly where they are coming from, what they are feeling, what makes them tick, and how life's events and their own maturation changes them. The inner turmoil is evident as Gable answers the call of duty, "She felt the full weight of that responsibility as a ferocious wind gust tried to wrestle the steering wheel from her hands. Butterflies crowded her stomach as she struggled to keep the Jeep on the road. Lives might depend on you today. She had to bury her fear and try to remain focused" [p. 14]. Notice how the internal dialogue easily mingles with descriptions of how the storm literally takes control of Gable's car, "a ferocious wind gust tried to wrestle the steering wheel from her hands," while it figuratively takes control of her emotions, "She felt the full weight of that responsibility," and how Gable summons up enough courage to do her job. The reader learns and cares more about the courageous woman behind the action as the story unfolds.

After the tornado, Gable is unable to locate Erin until the younger woman shows up at the firehouse as a new recruit. Falling in love with Erin, believing she is straight, Gable laments between secretly loving her and wanting to remain friends even if it could never be more than that. Another exquisite example of effective internal dialogue happens when Gable goes clothes shopping with her friend and endures Erin's undressing without being able to touch her because she can't risk disclosing her true feelings. "Her self-therapy included a pep talk. You have to get over this. You're being ridiculous. She's the best prospect for a friend you've had in ages, and you're going to screw that up if you keep mooning over her like this. She's straight. Get over it already" [p. 60].

Life threatening tornadoes and fires are not the only forces of nature to affect these two admirable women. Internal conflicts can also stand in the way of true happiness. Erin goes through a major transformation as she discovers things about herself she never thought about until she met Gable and works through the demons of her past.

Readers who take pleasure in courtship, appreciate characters who work through their angst, have a soft spot in their hearts for romance, and lust for adventure, will enjoy Kim Baldwin's five star novel, Force of Nature. Even if a person has never inhaled smoke from a fire, or lived through a natural disaster, Baldwin writes it in such a way that it's very easy to imagine exactly what it must be like.

Cheri Rosenberg

Christina's Bookshelf

Catch a Tiger by the Toe
Ellen Levine
Viking Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, New York, N.Y. 10014
ISBN: 0670884618, $15.99, 192 pages

Thirteen-year-old Jamie Morse is like other kids her age in the 1950's, almost anyway. She lives in New York City, loves going to the movies and looking through magazines, works hard in school, and listens to special radio programs with her family at night. There is a difference though, and Jamie keeps this a secret for as long as she can until one terrible day. She's sick of hearing about politics, about "Commies," those "Reds," the "Moscow Menace," and phrases like "Got to get rid of the Commie traitors in our government." Her whole world turns upside down. Even her best friend won't talk to her.

Jamie's story mirrors what many families faced during the "Red Scare." It isn't the only time principals in the American Constitution have been threatened and by one of its own. It surely won't be the last. 'Catch a Tiger by the Toe' stirs up conversation and debate, but that's okay. Americans have the right to exercise the Amendments and shouldn't be persecuted for assembling peaceably. Neither should they be punished for their ideas.

Story Excerpt:

(scene setter) Two men from the FBI have just stopped Jamie and begin asking her questions.

"It's a survey about newspapers. Does your Dad read the New York Times? The National Guardian? The Daily Worker?"

These men must have thought I was real dumb. Sure, they're doing a questionnaire. My foot!

"My foot!" I said. I startled myself as well as them. I ran around Mr. Talker, up the block, and headed for the playground. I wasn't going home with them following me."

Levine knows how to write an opening. In this story she opens in such a way as to pull readers in quick. Before they know it readers have read a whole chapter, and then another, and then another.

'Catch a Tiger by the Toe' is written in first-person through the main character's eyes, teaches as well as entertains, and is set at a time when McCarthyism has an affect on everyone.

Ben Franklin - America's Original Entrepreneur: Franklin's Autobiography Adapted for Modern Business
Blaine McCormick
Entrepreneur Press,
2445 McCabe Way, Suite 400, Irvine, CA. 92614 1-800-864-6864
ISBN: 1932531688, $26.95, 260 pages

You may think looking into a historical figure's theories and words-to-live by for entrepreneurship is the last place to look, yet not when examining Ben Franklin. His wisdom is as relevant today as it was when first created. Franklin's written balance and accomplishments are just as influential in these writings as his writings are in the foundation for the democratic republic, embodied in the constitution.

Professor McCormick explores the views and wit of Ben Franklin. Our founding father had an impact on the American national character. His extraordinary and complex life as a printer, entrepreneur, postmaster, and diplomat, among other activities had a profound impact on the development of the United States. The inventor enjoyed reinventing himself and disliked everything that tended to debase the spirit of the common people and his opposition to arbitrary authority, made him a trusted figure. So, if you want to be a better business person read this translation of one of the smartest and most humble man ever. And, to learn more about Franklin's life read the book's last chapter 'The Rest of the Story.' It's a timeline of events describing the rest of the man's life.

"The book has been written to make Franklin's amazing story accessible to the modern business reader. It is the only modern translation of Franklin's autobiography."

Table of Contents:

Part 1 - The Making of an Entrepreneur (chapters 1-24)
Part II - The Rise of an Entrepreneur (chapters 25-58
Part III - The Legacy of an Entrepreneur (chapters 59-82

Excerpt from the book:

"Franklin deliberately managed his public reputation to maximize his business opportunities with both creditors and customers. This chapter details the early growth of his business and how two of his competitors ruined themselves. At the end of the chapter he gives us a marvelous guideline for making ethical decisions:

You should design your institutions assuming that you may not always be the one in power."

Ben Franklin: "One of my goals was to pay off the debt I was under for setting up my own shop. I avoided any appearance of either laziness or poor money management."

Franklin wrote 'Poor Richard's Almanac' that contained witty sayings. Scattered throughout the book are boxes filled with his counsel. "Poor Richard once said, '"The noblest question in the world is What Good may I do in it?"' and '"Poor Richard once said, '"Gifts burst rocks."'

Franklin encourages readers to be the best they can be. His theme is one of virtues, humbleness, honesty, and of thriftiness - old fashioned yes, but if it works, what does that matter?

This book deserves a wide readership, but is especially for those looking to aide their business and themselves. Any serious student of entrepreneurship will want to keep this authorative volume close at hand.

Christina Francine Whitcher, Reviewer

Christy's Bookshelf

Bushido the Virtues of Rei and Makoto
Arthur J. Stewart
Celtic Cat Publishing
P.O. Box 23694, Knoxville, TN 37933-1694
ISBN: 0965895068, $15.00, 79 pages,

Arthur Stewart is a man of many coats: ecologist, senior scientist, essayist and poet. His first poetry anthology, Rough Ascension and Other Poems of Science, was published in 2003. He follows with Bushido, a collection of poems and essays concentrating on honoring life in today's world. Bushido is a Japanese term referring to the samurai's way of life, and in this anthology, Stewart focuses on two of the seven virtues of Bushido: Rei, which means respect, and Makoto, which means truth and sincerity.

Stewart covers a melange of subjects, from global warming to water pollution, ecology to botany, his father's stumble and subsequent injury to a Ghanaian man who struggles to feed his family but refuses to catch fish because their soul may belong to an ancestor. And every once in awhile delights the reader with an unexpected bit of witticism. Interwoven through it all is the author's obvious awe, respect and love for all life and the planet we inhabit, which makes one take pause and consider and nod their head in agreement. Beautifully done.

Whiskey Sour
J. A. Konrath
77 West 66th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10023-6928
ISBN: 1401300871, $21.95, 270 pages

Lieutenant Jacqueline Daniels - Jack to her friends - seems to be in a perpetual state of depression. It seems her dedication to her career cost her her first marriage and now her latest boyfriend. But when the mutilated corpse of a young woman is found in a garbage can outside a convenience store, those thoughts are replaced by her fierce determination to find a killer calling himself the Gingerbread Man. With her partner Herb Benedict beside her, Jack trails the killer, who takes a liking to her and tries to kill her. But a gunshot wound to the leg doesn't stop Jack from tracking the Gingerbread Man, while trying to stay out of the way of two FBI profilers who profile everything but their serial killer.

This is a fun read. Jack Daniels is a gutsy female cop who plays straight man to all the quirky characters around her. Her former partner, Harry McGlade, is a jewel. The plot is good, the dialogue witty, and the one-liners from the author a highlight. It's of no surprise to this reader that Konrath has a background as a comedian. Looking for a book that will keep you in stitches? Try this.

Impact Vector
Daniel Wilder
Whiskey Creek Press
P.O. Box 51052, Casper, WY 82605-1052
ISBN: 1593745338, $13.95, 326 pages (trade paperback)
ISBN: 1593745346, $5.99 (electronic download, PDF or html)

Migel Guido is a physics professor who lives a quiet life with his wife and son while secretly experimenting with creating artificial gravity. Unknown to the world, Migel is immortal and in hiding from the Commission, a powerful group of military and government officials and businessmen that wants nothing more than to bring Migel into their fold for testing or to annihilate him. When the Commission eventually finds him, Migel's wife and son are killed and once more he is on the run, helped by Carlos Juarez, a former student.

Over the next few years, Migel migrates to California, where he changes his name and identity and resumes his experiments. He befriends a well-known botanist, Nyatui, and his wife, Lily. Carlos relocates close to Migel and, along with Nyatui and Lily, helps him build a space probe. Once the probe is launched, it sends back terrifying data. A large mass is on a ten-year collision course with Earth and, according to Migel's calculations, the impact will end all but the most primitive of life. Migel comes out of hiding long enough to alert the scientific community but barely manages to escape the Commission once more.

During the next ten years, Migel and his friends begin to prepare for the relocation of living life to Mars, while working on a device that will destroy the mass. But it seems their efforts are thwarted at every turn by the Commission, which arrogantly plans to establish and rule its own society with hand-picked survivors. Time is quickly running out, and as the mass hurtles toward Earth, only days away, Migel and the Commission play a dangerous game of hide and seek among the stars.

Author Daniel Wilder's background as an information technology professional, along with his love of physics and astronomy, prove themselves in IMPACT VECTOR. Although meticulous detail is given to the technicalities of space travel, Wilder's narrative is clear and concise to the point that a layman can easily understand. Filled with gut-wrenching suspense, the reader will be quickly turning pages, breathless with anticipation. An exhilarating read for lovers of science fiction, action thrillers, and suspense, as well as anyone who enjoys an absorbing, entertaining book.

Song of Cy: Understanding Grief
Katlyn Stewart
Whiskey Creek Press
P.O. Box 51052, Casper, Wyoming 82605-1052
ISBN: 1593743491, $12.95, 184 pages (trade paperback)
ISBN: 1593743505, $5.99 (electronic download, PDF or html)

Katlyn Stewart is an author of many talents, as proven by her successful efforts in switching between writing fiction and nonfiction. With dignity and sensitivity, she revealed her abusive childhood in NIGHTMARES ECHO and has now once more disclosed a traumatic time in her life - the one thing above all any parent does not want to face - the death of her beautiful daughter Siane, in SONG OF CY.

This is one of the best books dealing with grief I've read to date - I don't believe there is another book written so extensively and so sensitively about the subject matter. Ms. Stewart writes about the trauma left behind by the death of a close one and provides a wealth of information on facing and dealing with grief. She focuses on the reactions of parents, stepparents, siblings, grandparents, spouses/partners, friends, young children, and teenagers. She describes the various mental and physical effects of grief, relaying symptoms of physical trauma and mental disorders that can develop. She offers numerous helpful suggestions in coping with the death of a loved one, while emphasizing that each person deals with death in their own unique way.

A book for every home's library. Highly recommended.

Ed McBain
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
ISBN: 0743250354, $24.95, 294 pages

The Deaf Man returns to wreak havoc in #54 of the 87th Precinct novels. This time, the Deaf Man is sending the detectives at the 87th Precinct several messages a day, beginning in the form of anagrams, proceeding to quotes from Shakespeare. As usual, the cops are left feeling like dummies while trying to figure out what the Deaf Man is going to do next. Last time, he caused a race riot in their lovely city. And they all know he isn't up to any good this time. Unbeknownst to Steve Carella and the other detectives at the 87th, Ollie Weeks, aka Fat Ollie, is working a homicide in his section of the city which could lead them to the person closest to the Deaf Man.

Parallel to the frantic effort to find the Deaf Man and put an end to his shenanigans, Fat Ollie is falling for a Puerto Rican cop, something this bigot isn't quite prepared for. He also stumbles upon the transvestite who stole his 36-page manuscript, which Ollie thinks is going to be a bestseller. Romance is in the air for Hal Willis and Eileen Burke, while Bert Kling and his honey are facing troubles. Steve Carella, the one detective who remains a constant, is having trouble dealing with the fact that his mother is marrying an Italian businessman and will be living in Italy while his sister is marrying the prosecuting attorney who let his father's murderer go.

Ed McBain is perhaps the best mystery writer to grace this planet, I think because he allows his readers vast insights into his characters, isn't afraid to show their biases and petty thoughts, and keeps the comedic bar pretty high. More than anything, though, is the fact that while reading his work, one feels as if McBain is sitting in the same room, telling the story. He will be missed.

Christy Tillery French

Dan's Bookshelf

Herman Hesse
Fine Communications
New York, NY
ISBN: 1567310079, $TBA

Siddhartha, a bildungsroman by Herman Hesse, first published in 1922, is simply one of the greatest books ever written. I say that not because I agree with its essential philosophy (which is problematic in some of its over-simplicity), a predisposition that far too often accounts for why critics recommend or do not recommend a work of art, but because it is the embodiment of one of the oldest maxims that defines great literature: saying the most in the least amount of words. Technically, the book- which I have read several times, the last over a decade ago, is a long novella of just under 40,000 words (in English translation- and I read the famed Hilda Rosner version; the original German may be a few hundred words longer or shorter) yet the amount and depth of information it reveals about its titular protagonist has rarely been equaled in works five to ten times its length. It is this remarkable poetic compression that is at the heart of the book's greatness; and a style rarely used. Recently, I just finished reading Isaac Asimov's Foundation And Empire (the second book of his original Foundation trilogy) and was struck at how similar the two (or three- counting the original Foundation) books were in their approaches to narrative and characterization. It is well known that Asimov's masterpieces- which go well beyond the sci fi genre- were based upon the excellent historical stylings of Edward Gibbon's The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, and it is in that fact that the key to Siddhartha is turned.

Even though Hesse's book is fiction, and its lead is not based upon the real Siddhartha Gautama (the original Buddha), although he makes a fictive cameo, Hesse employs the same pseudo-historical approach to the tale. This allows for him to leap over great periods in the main character's life by tossing off bon mots and facts as if they were generally known beforehand by the reader. Later, many of these observations are revealed or reinforced by the 'on stage' actions of Siddhartha and his colleagues. Of course, this is not the usual style of character revelation- which is dependent upon scene setting, interior analysis, symbolism, etc. Instead, Hesse's narrative simply puts the characters into situations where they have to tell what they feel. Siddhartha encounters the Buddha, the prostitute Kamala, or the ferryman Vasudeva, and instead of 'showing' us, he 'tells' us what is going on with the characters. Yet, he does it so well that to 'show' us would require the novel being stripped of all its originality, and fabular qualities, in favor of another didactic tract on how to live one's life. Yet, slyly, the very fact that the characters, especially Siddhartha, tell us so much reveals their character very effectively. Siddhartha, himself, glosses over years in a few sentences, but the very fact that he does not feel inclined to tell us- or himself in interior monologue- certain details says quite a bit about his way of dealing with the world and himself. Rationalization is a quality few characters have as a prime one, so the fact Siddhartha has it in spades sets him up very uniquely.

I see this form of characterization as 'silhouetting' for what stays hidden, but can be presumed, is as important as that known. Asimov also uses this technique to great effect in his portrait of Foundation and Empire's villain The Mule. Little is known or revealed about the mutant until the last chapter, when all the hints coalesce into one of the great villainous perorations in literature; surpassing that of many arch-villains in thrillers and detective novels. The Mule, like Siddhartha, is sketched in great detail by all that is left out when key points are made. It's a wonder more writers have not picked up on this technique. Another aspect of the great characterization comes from the very contradictory nature of the tale's lead. Only a great character could utter such New Age banalities as, 'It seems to me, Govinda, that love is the most important thing in the world. It may be important to great thinkers to examine the world, to explain and despise it. But I think it is only important to love the world, not to despise it, not for us to hate each other, but to be able to regard the world and ourselves and all beings with love, admiration and respect,' as well as something truly profound as this: 'Wisdom is not communicable. The wisdom a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish.' A final point on the characterization is that too often bad critics have conflated Siddhartha's beliefs with Hesse's, when clearly such a schism in the level of thinking, as detailed above, is not a flaw in the intellect of the lead character, but Hesse neatly limning a great and realistically flawed character. The two are not always the same.

As for the basic tale: Siddhartha is a young man who lives with his father and grows up with a best friend named Govinda. The two men seemingly seek the same thing- enlightenment, but have differing ideas on getting to that goal. They are opposites, yet in union on many things. This theme is foreshadowed in the book's opening sentence: 'In the shade of the house, in the sunshine on the river bank by the boats, in the shade of the sallow wood and the fig tree….'. Look at all the opposing images: light/shade, homes on land/boats on rivers, heat/wetness. Throughout the tale Siddhartha finds and becomes close to people who are his opposite in some way. Siddhartha is ever restless, so both youths hit the road by joining a band of Hindu beggar-ascetics called Samanas. This contrasts with their upbringing, yet both youths take the plunge into the new, and spend three years as Samanas, until Siddhartha sees that even the oldest of their band has not really accomplished his goals. Again restless, Siddhartha seeks to leave the band. Rumors of a man named Gotama (the Buddha) having achieved Nirvana sets the two youths out to seek a new master, although Siddhartha is skeptical. The head Samana objects to their leaving, yet Siddhartha reveals hidden powers by somehow brainwashing the leader into assent. Upon hearing Gotama, Govinda is smitten, but Siddhartha is not. He reckons a steep contradiction in Gotama's beliefs: How one can embrace the unity of all if they are told to overcome the physical world? While Sidddhartha affirms (or feigns) his belief that Gotama has achieved his own enlightenment, he doubts that the man's teachings can do the same for others. He recognizes that a superman, as Gotama, may find such philosophy useful, but doubts its utility in mere mortals, for he already suspects that preachments have their limits in ameliorative power. Here is how he tells the Buddha:

'One thing, o most venerable one, I have admired in your teachings most of all. Everything in your teachings is perfectly clear, is proven; you are presenting the world as a perfect chain, a chain which is never and nowhere broken, an eternal chain the links of which are causes and effects. Never before, this has been seen so clearly; never before, this has been presented so irrefutably; truly, the heart of every Brahman has to beat stronger with love, once he has seen the world through your teachings perfectly connected, without gaps, clear as a crystal, not depending on chance, not depending on gods. Whether it may be good or bad, whether living according to it would be suffering or joy, I do not wish to discuss, possibly this is not essential- but the uniformity of the world, that everything which happens is connected, that the great and the small things are all encompassed by the same forces of time, by the same law of causes, of coming into being and of dying, this is what shines brightly out of your exalted teachings, o perfected one. But according to your very own teachings, this unity and necessary sequence of all things is nevertheless broken in one place, through a small gap, this world of unity is invaded by something alien, something new, something which had not been there before, and which cannot be demonstrated and cannot be proven: these are your teachings of overcoming the world, of salvation. But with this small gap, with this small breach, the entire eternal and uniform law of the world is breaking apart again and becomes void. Please forgive me for expressing this objection.'

The two childhood friends part over their schism, as Siddhartha decides to pursue hedonism. He comes upon a ferryman, who does him a favor, and gets him across a river. He meets and is seduced by a prostitute named Kamala, who demands he succeed in material ways. She gets him employ with the merchant Kamaswami. Siddhartha learns business and Kamala takes him as her lover. Years go by, and life passes in a blur of sameness. He becomes a hollow man and loathes his life, despite his riches and beautiful lover. So, he leaves it all behind. He heads back towards the river he crossed decades earlier, and considers suicide. Instead, he falls asleep. A monk sees him, and decided to guard the sleeper till he awakens. It is Govinda. The two old friends talk after Govinda fails to recognize his friend, yet both see that they have failed to reach their goals. They part, and Siddhartha meets the same ferryman from earlier in his journey. His name is Vasudeva, and he offers Siddhartha employ and lodging. Vasudeva has found peace via his years on the river, and listening to its motion.

More years go by, and Kamala appears at the river, with Siddhartha's eleven year old son, also named Siddhartha. She has become a follower of Gotama, and sojourns to see him before he dies. A snakebite kills her, though, and the elder Siddhartha cannot control his brat offspring, who runs away, having stolen the two ferrymen's money. He attempts to find his son, but Vasudeva convinces him it is futile:

'The ferryman's smile lit up; softly, he touched Siddhartha's arm and said: 'Ask the river about it, my friend! Hear it laugh about it! Would you actually believe that you had committed your foolish acts in order to spare your son from committing them too? And could you in any way protect your son from Samsara? How could you? By means of teachings, prayer, admonition? My dear, have you entirely forgotten that story, that story containing so many lessons, that story about Siddhartha, a Brahman's son, which you once told me here on this very spot? Who has kept the Samana Siddhartha safe from Samsara, from sin, from greed, from foolishness? Were his father's religious devotion, his teachers' warnings, his own knowledge, his own search able to keep him safe? Which father, which teacher had been able to protect him from living his life for himself, from soiling himself with life, from burdening himself with guilt, from drinking the bitter drink for himself, from finding his path for himself? Would you think, my dear, anybody might perhaps be spared from taking this path? That perhaps your little son would be spared, because you love him, because you would like to keep him from suffering and pain and disappointment? But even if you would die ten times for him, you would not be able to take the slightest part of his destiny upon yourself.'

Siddhartha now understands what he only knew intuitively when he rejected Gotama's lessons earlier, for Gotama's way was not the way of the river, which merely seeps in, and does not preach. More years pass, and Siddhartha finally learns from the river what it taught his friend: as the river flows into the ocean and is returned as rain, all life is connected in such an endless cycle. Then, Vasudeva announces his end has come- as ferryman and living being. He wishes to join the great cycle of life and death, says goodbye to his longtime apprentice, and disappears into the jungle. More time passes, and Govinda comes to the river, seeking out a wise old man who has found the peace he never has. Again he does not recognize Siddhartha, yet asks him to help him get the enlightenment Gotama's ways never provided. Siddhartha reveals himself and explains that such wisdom is either gotten or not. There is no learning it, and even were there mere words can never plumb such depths. Govinda is disappointed, until Siddhartha asks his old friend to kiss him on the forehead. Out of respect, Govinda does, and suddenly understands it all. Both men's lifelong quests have succeeded, and the book comes full circle, to where it started, with the two lifelong friends in a moment of union, by a river.

This book distills so lucidly its philosophy in ways that many far more turgid tomes do not, and, again, what is not specified is as important as what is- such as in the conversation between Siddhartha and Gotama, which presages the systematic dismantling and demolishing of the tenets most describe as being an Eastern philosophy. Far from the book being an Eastern cultic argument, as many loopy, awestruck, but feeble-minded Western pseudo-intellectuals believe in their caricaturized misperceptions, the book is actually a vivid affirmation of material Western values subordinating a few Eastern precepts, and rendering them into a typically Western smorgasbord of do-it-yourselfism. Here are some choice soundbites that really tear at the meat of the Eastern way of life:

'When someone is seeking,' said Siddhartha, 'it happens quite easily that he only sees the thing that he is seeking; that he is unable to find anything, because he is only thinking of the thing he is seeking, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: to have a goal; but finding means: to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal. You, O worthy one, are perhaps indeed a seeker, for in striving towards your goal, you do not see many things that are under your nose.'

That this plaint is directed against the Eastern mode of thought shows how little difference Hesse saw between it and Westernism. And this is the author's indictment being spoken, because it has no equivocation, and is an equal opportunity basher of all religious thought.

'I learned through my body and soul that it was necessary to sin, that I needed lust, that I had to strive for property and experience nausea and the depths of despair in order to learn not to resist them, in order to learn to love the world, and no longer compare it with some kind of desired imaginary vision of perfection, but to leave it as it is, to love it and be glad to belong to it.'

This too is a Western thought; Siddhartha defending the smorgasbord described above. And, all this is foreshadowed in the very first chapter, when Siddhartha defies his father's refusal of permission to join the Samanas by standing and looking out a window all night, and vowing to do so until his father relents. Not only is it a classic portrayal of a father-son relationship, but also of a coming of age moment, and- most importantly- as the definition of the Western self-made man. It is for this reason, not the layers of Orientalist claptrap, that the book was so popular in the 1960s and 1970s, for in Siddhartha's growth from Hindu to ascetic to Buddhist to hedonist to man of his very own virtues and flaws the hippies-cum-yuppies (think Jerry Rubin and company) saw their own secretly desired life courses sketched in a wonderfully written syllabus. Siddhartha is eminently identifiable to the modern Westerner, and heartily empathized with. And this blurring of the East and West continues the fact that the ever-seeking main character is never definitely portrayed as either leaving something behind, or seeking after something. Yet, there is no doubt that Govinda is always seeking. Even up to the very moment before his kiss of Siddhartha brings him bliss he is insatiate:

Govinda said: 'But are what you call 'things', actually something real, something which has existence? Isn't it just a deception of the Maya, just an image and illusion? Your stone, your tree, your river- are they actually a reality?'

'This too,' spoke Siddhartha, 'I do not care very much about. Let the things be illusions or not, after all I would then also be an illusion, and thus they are always like me. This is what makes them so dear and worthy of veneration for me: they are like me. Therefore, I can love them. And this is now a teaching you will laugh about: love, o Govinda, seems to me to be the most important thing of all. To thoroughly understand the world, to explain it, to despise it, may be the thing great thinkers do. But I'm only interested in being able to love the world, not to despise it, not to hate it and me, to be able to look upon it and me and all beings with love and admiration and great respect.'

'This I understand,' said Govinda. 'But this very thing was discovered by the exalted one to be a deception. He commands benevolence, clemency, sympathy, tolerance, but not love; he forbade us to tie our heart in love to earthly things.'

Note the contradictions of the East and West within the main character until the end, as well the schism between the two friends. They are still opposites, for even though both reach the goals they set out to when young, they do so in different ways. Siddhartha through trial and error, in the mold of the Western scientific method, and Govinda via osmosis, as many Eastern ideals are seemingly transmitted, whether truly understood or not; although one could argue that Siddhartha was merely recapitulating his experience of wisdom gained from the river with his friend, with himself in place of the river, and Govinda as Siddhartha. Yet, I think not, for Siddhartha's (and Vasudeva's) absorption of the river's wisdom seems merely to be metaphoric, and an after the fact rationalization, whereas Govinda's seems to be a genuinely supernatural act, as described. Regardless, though, it begs a final question of whether Govinda's transmutation at the end is truly real, or as deep as Siddhartha's. It's no accident that the final image and focus of the book is not on the Western lead character, but his Eastern sidekick, for the book is an indictment, or, to be kinder, a trial of the Eastern way of life.

Whether it passes that test or not is for each reader to decide, as is the test all great art faces in front of its audience. To recapitulate the book's greatest virtue, I say: YES!

Collected Stories Of Wallace Stegner
Wallace Stegner
Wings Books
Avenel, New Jersey
ISBN: 0517121883, $TBA

Wallace Stegner is primarily known for his novel Angle Of Repose, and as a 'Western writer', but this is a misnomer, for that implies that the setting for his stories is also the subject of his stories. It is not, and he does not have much truck with the Larry McMurtrys nor Zane Greys of literature.

Throughout this massive tome of thirty-one of his best tales, Collected Stories Of Wallace Stegner, he acquits himself as a very solid writer, at his worst, and a near-great at his best. His tales tell believable stories, and his characterization never falls below solid. At his best he is capable of excellent short stories that almost reach into greatness. A good example of one of his best stories is the first one in the collection, The Traveler, in which a man traveling out west, in the winter, finds that he is stranded when his auto breaks down. The nearest house he can get to finds a young boy with his ill grandfather, and he is needed to take the sleigh into town to fetch a doctor for the old man. A moment is reached when the narrator realizes that his own dilemma does not take precedence, and when the boy reaches out to a stranger without fear or suspicion. It is the type of tale that Stegner excels at- one that deals with human beings and their primal emotions. He is not as good when he deals with more cerebral themes, or is averse to character driven tales. Plot machinations and lengthier pieces do not serve him as well, such as the two longest stories in the book, de facto novellas Genesis and A Field Guide To The Western Birds, where a curmudgeon wryly comments on the antics of a would-be virtuoso. The tale The Berry Patch is another good example of Stegner at his character study best. As is the story Buglesong, which follows a sadistic boy on his trapping rounds. Read the attempted detachment with which both writer and subject deal with what confronts them:

Picking up trap and stake, the boy kicked the dead animal down its burrow and scraped dirt over it with his foot. They stunk up the pasture if they weren't buried, and the bugs got into them. Frequently he had stood windward of a dead and swollen gopher, watching the body shift and move with the movement of the beetles and crawling things working through it. If such an infested corpse were turned over, the beetles would roar out of it, great orange-colored, hard-shelled, scavenging things that made his blood curdle at the thought of their touching him, and after they were gone and he looked again he would see the little black ones, undisturbed, seething through the rotten flesh. So he always buried his dead, now.

In this one tale a reader gets a far better portrait of budding sadism and psychopathy than you will get in a book full of Bret Easton Ellis. Other tales like Beyond The Glass Mountain and Balance His. Swing Yours do the same for regret and upper class snobbery. Saw Gang portrays a slice of life on a band of loggers. Yet, while slice of life tales exist to acknowledge a particular lifestyle, Stegner's rise a bit beyond that, and there is a sense that you are truly eavesdropping on real conversations, be they whether you are reading of a bunch of loggers or a bunch of tennis playing snobs at a country club or college kids in The View From The Balcony. Goin' To Town is one of Stegner's most famous tales, about a car that won't start and the familial tensions that are underneath. There is a moment of violence that does spring from the real moment described, and the characters involved. Too often the familial violence depicted in fiction is heavyhanded, moralizing and just plain gauche. In this story one is left to ponder which is worse, violence, or boredom. Volcano is an interesting story about a vulcanologist, although it ends weakly.

Perhaps the best story in the whole collection is another of Stegner's most well-known stories, The Sweetness Of The Twisted Apples. The story very simply and delicately limns the life and existence of one of the loneliest characters in American fiction, a young woman who lives at the end of a deserted country road, near an apple tree, whose only neighbor is a former lover who jilted her, after they were 'goin' out.' The character is so beautifully realized that it almost seems that she's not human- but a ghost or angel. The tale ends with one of the most poignant scenes ever penned, as the girl looks off wistfully into the future:

Wiping a brush, Ross turned his easy, warm smile on her. 'How is it in the spring? Pretty?'

It was surprising how responsive her wry little face was, 'Oh, land just like a posy bed! It don't have very big apples any more, but it's a sight in the spring.'

She stood with folded arms, as her mother has stood by the side of the car in the farmyard. Margaret, for all her watching, could find no trace of bitterness or frustration or anger in the girl. Starved as it was, the gnomish face was serene.

'Springtime, we used to come up here most every night, when I was goin' out,' she said.

It is with emotion that Stegner is at his best, which puts him at odds with the other great American writer whose name was Wallace Ste-, the poet Wallace Stevens, who was the epitome of mindly verse. When Stegner goes a bit too cerebral, or relies on plot machinations even his skills with description are not enough to stop the veer of the tale from heading downward. Yet, in character studies, like The Chink or The Volunteer, or some of the aforementioned stories, Stegner has few published peers. And, the tales range across the continent, from Canada (his homeland) to Utah, California to Vermont.

Stegner loses his way in longer pieces, like the book's longest tale, Genesis, which follows the tough lives of Canadian cowboys at the turn of the Twentieth Century, through the eyes of a teenager named Rusty. The ranch they work on is owned by an absentee landlord who leaves the care of things all to hired hands. They herd on a ranch the size of a small nation. The story is about the risks they take to do their jobs in bringing the cattle in off the range for the winter. While this is a good set up, this is really a ten or fifteen page story, at most, not a novella, as the actions and characters' conversations get stale.

At his best, when he is concise, and focuses on characters and emotions, Stegner is one of the best depicters of the human condition you can read. When he's not he's still passable, and it's often when a writer is at his worst that the best assessments can be made of his overall oeuvre. That being the case, Wallace Stegner rides high in the saddle.

Dan Schneider, Reviewer

Debra's Bookshelf

Comes a Horseman
Robert Liparulo
WestBow Press
ISBN: 0785261761, $21.99, 484 pages

The prelude to Robert Liparulo's Comes a Horseman is riveting: an assassin lies silently in the ventilation shaft of an embassy in Tel Aviv, waiting for his mark to enter the room below. An ingeniously choreographed execution and escape follow, but the significance of the murder isn't apparent until much later in the story. By that time the killer, Luco Scaramuzzi, will have become responsible for many more--and more terrible--deaths.

Some five years later FBI agents Brady Moore and Alicia Wagner are called in to investigate a string of murders. The victims have nothing apparent in common other than the manner of their death: each was mauled by wolf-dog hybrids prior to being decapitated with an axe. In one scene that is a powerful argument for women not living alone in remote locations we watch the murderer, a bear of a man decked out in animal skins, slaughter his fifth victim. His brutish lethality becomes even more alarming when this modern-day Norseman begins stalking Brady and his nine-year-old son. When Alicia finds herself almost simultaneously the target of another assassin, the two agents set off on their own--no longer willing to trust the FBI--to find out who is behind the attempts on their lives. Their pursuit plays out on an international stage, from the United States to Rome to Jerusalem.

Liparulo's novel is told from a number of perspectives--Luco Scaramuzzi's, the Norseman's, the victims', etc.--but it is primarily Brady and Alicia's story. He's a father and widower still grieving for his wife; she's unattached and hard-as-nails--married to her job, as we are told in one of the book's two (by my count) hackneyed expressions. (The other involves a rumpled suit jacket.) The book's plot is complex, the story at times keep-the-lights-on-scary. My one substantial complaint is that some two-thirds of the way in, after the reader has been frightened under the blankets more than once, the book's pace slows considerably for a large chunk of text, a roughly 70-page section in which Brady and Alicia absorb information from a wise advisor type they run across at the Vatican. The intel they receive is crucial, but it's unfortunate that its delivery is allowed to bring the story to a halt.

Liparulo's book, however, is well worth the read. Involving as it does the Catholic Church and an ancient religious conspiracy, reviewers will almost certainly liken it to The DaVinci Code. Dan Brown fans take note: you'll like this one.

Talk to the Hand
Lynne Truss
Gotham Books
ISBN: 1592401716, $20.00, 206 pages

Lynne Truss's little book on the decline of civility in the modern age, the follow-up to her very successful little book (Eats, Shoots & Leaves) on modern man's increasing ignorance of proper punctuation, is, like its predecessor, well-written, somewhat curmudgeonly, and eminently readable. Far from a prescriptionist book on etiquette, Talk to the Hand is rather a lament of modern mores. It is intended primarily for readers of a certain age--readers, as Truss puts it, whose elbow skin is inelastic, because the "outrage reflex" tends to "present itself in most people at just about the same time as their elbow skin starts to give out. ...People with young, flexible elbow skin spend less time defining themselves by things they don't like."

Truss divides the subject of incivility into six parts, the "six good reasons to stay home and bolt the door" of her subtitle. These are: (1) the decline in use of courtesy words; (2) the "unacceptable transfer of effort," that is, the growing tendency of businesses in particular to shift labor onto customers (think of automated help systems here or, I'll add, self-service checkouts in grocery stores); (3) the tendency to treat public space as private space; (4) hostile reactions to criticism; (5) disrespect of authority; and finally (6) offenses against society as a whole, such as littering.

As Ms. Truss is English, the book has mostly to do with modern English manners, or the lack thereof. Much of what she has to say will translate reasonably well for Americans, but I was occasionally at a loss to understand her, as for example here: "In a very short time, snobbery based on vocabulary and the milk-first/milk-second issue has virtually disappeared. Honestly, you can say 'serviette' at me all day until you are blue in the face, and I promise I won't even flinch." Milk? Serviettes? Color me mystified.

There are a number of pleasures awaiting readers of Talk to the Hand, among them the perverse joy to be had from getting worked up over one's own manners-related pet peeves. Truss is, besides, a good and often witty writer, and she makes a number of interesting observations in the book. Among these is her point that "our attitude to manners is...self-defined and self-exonerating. Each of us has got it just about right. ...Basically, everyone else has bad manners; we have occasional bad moments. Everyone else is rude; we are sometimes a bit preoccupied." Which brings me to another pleasure to be had from the book, that of disagreeing with Truss when she gets it wrong. She can't stand it when a waiter says "There you go" when putting a dish on the table? How possibly is that a problem?! And she actually told off a grocery store clerk for telling his co-worker a story about a dead woman while ringing people up? ("Stop telling that story, for pity's sake!") Is she nuts?!

By the way, that bit about the definition of good manners being subjective? QED.

The Hungry Years
William Leith
ISBN: 1592401554, $25.00, 294 pages

William Leith's The Hungry Years, written in smooth, stream-of-consciousness prose, is a chronicle of the author's addictions, principally to food but also to alcohol and drugs. Leith writes about bingeing and being fat (a word he injects into the narrative at every opportunity), about feeling fat even during his thin periods, about dieting--losing weight and gaining more back, losing and gaining. His history is punctuated by lapses into unthinking consumption, gluttony on a scale that may surprise his more abstemious readers. During the period covered in the book Leith is attempting to lose weight on yet another diet, this time the low-carbohydrate Atkins plan. While chronicling his progress and backsliding on Atkins Leith gives a fractured account of his life, which in turn illuminates his addictions: unhappy years in boarding school, a series of unhappy relationships. Throughout, Leith is searching for the underlying cause of his addictions: he is smart enough to recognize that whatever his current condition--fat or thin or drunk or not--however successfully he may be treating his symptoms, he is basically unhappy. However much he loses this time on Atkins, in other words, diet alone can't truly help him.

In the course of writing this staggeringly personal, and sometimes amusing, account of himself, Leith wanders also into related topics. He writes about French fry production and celebrity diets (Robbie Coltrane, "Hagrid" in the Harry Potter films, will not appreciate his mentions here), about pain killers and plastic surgery. (Leith's graphic description of the last should dissuade any but the most intractably vain from undergoing elective procedures.) In the end Leith's various ruminations come together into a coherent whole. The book succeeds as a readable exploration of both the West's culture of consumption and its author's demons--wounded by book's end, if not yet slain.

Time Camera
Terence Lee
Trafford Publishing
Suite 6E-2333 Government St., Victor, BC Canada V8t 4P4
ISBN: 1412053900, $23.56, 315 pages

The idea behind Terence Lee's Time Camera is a clever one: the protagonist, 38-year-old Zak Endicott, invents a camera that is somehow able to slice through the fabric of time and film silent movies of past events. Initially the camera's range is limited to minus 300 years, but ultimately Zak can record anything that's happened in the last 2500 years, provided he has access to the location of the event in the present. The appeal of such a device is plain. The great moments and mysteries of the past are laid bare to the camera's operator--the identity of Jack the Ripper, the assassination of JFK, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The problem is that Zak also has the potential to uncover secrets with his camera that living people would prefer to leave buried. He could catch cheating spouses in flagrante, for example, solve innumerable unsolved crimes, uncover governmental conspiracies. All of which means that an awful lot of people would like to see Zak and his ingenious camera disappeared.

The setup of the book, then, is promising, high-tech gadgetry and the hero propelled at once into an inherently dangerous situation. The author throws in a love interest--Zak's agent cum girlfriend Lucy--and a potential rival for Lucy's affection, the military assassin type, Eric, who is assigned to stick with the couple once the U.S. government gets involved. The plot involves historical and modern-day conspiracies, terrorism, the occasional murder; and Zak's use of the camera allows the author to pepper the narrative with potentially interesting historical vignettes.

The problem is that, rife with possibility though the story idea is, the book never becomes more than an interesting intellectual exercise. It fails for two reasons that one is wont to read about in books about writing: (1) The author does not make his characters three-dimensional, and thus does not make us care about them. (2) Despite that the situation described in the book is a dangerous one, the author does not put his characters in peril. Indeed, time and again he passes up the opportunity to heighten the tension in a scene--Lucy's time alone in the apartment of a bad guy, say, or the denouement, in which the heroes are tracking a terrorist in a dark, confined space when a bomb is set to blow within the hour. Added to these major flaws is a substantial problem with credibility. We are to believe that within a few hours of meeting Zak Lucy agrees to give up her successful career as a literary agent, move in with Zak, and travel the world with him filming historical events so as to market them to television. A camera that can film the Spartans at Thermopylae I accept, but no one would agree to upend their life as readily as Lucy does here.

Time Camera has a lot going for it: the idea is good, the writing passes muster, and it is certainly well researched. It just needs to be infused with flesh and blood a healthy dose of suspense.

Tess Gerritsen
Ballantine Books
ISBN: 0345476972, $24.95, 336 pages

Tess Gerritsen's latest medical thriller begins with a nightmare: a handful of Russian girls, flown from Minsk to Mexico City and herded north, find that the jobs they'd been told were waiting for them across the border--as waitresses and dressmakers--were a fiction. Instead, the girls are to be kept as sex slaves, locked away in a remote house in Ashburn, Virginia and forced to service the important, sadistic men who pay for them. The horrible experience of these women, the secret they come to be privy to, lies behind the rest of Gerritsen's story.

Hours north of these unfortunates' hellhole, forensic pathologist Dr. Maura Isles, passing a July evening among the refrigerated dead in the Boston morgue, has her own nightmare to contend with--a corpse stirring in a body bag. The drugged and nearly drowned woman Maura finds grasping at life recovers quickly in the local hospital, so thoroughly, in fact, that she is soon taking hostages at gun point. Among these is another of the book's protagonists, pregnant police detective Jane Rizzoli. Unraveling the desperate hostage taker's story is the work of the rest of the novel.

Vanish is the fifth installment in Gerritsen's Jane Rizzoli/Maura Isles series. Readers like myself who have not read its predecessors need not fear jumping into the series with this book: it was clear that the principal characters--Jane and Maura and Jane's husband, FBI agent Gabriel Dean--shared a history I was not privy to, but this did not detract from my enjoyment of the novel. Vanish is fast-paced and seamlessly written, its characters likeable enough, the suspense sometimes gripping. Gerritsen is clearly a writer who knows what she's doing. Come to think of it, you may want to start with the first book in the series, The Surgeon, and read on from there.

The Penultimate Peril
Lemony Snicket
ISBN: 0064410153, $11.99, 353 pages

The twelfth--and penultimate--book in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events finds the three Baudelaire orphans arrived at the Hotel Denouement, an enormous building whose rooms are organized according to the Dewey Decimal System. (German poets are gathered in room 831 of the hotel, for example, just as German poetry is labeled 831 in a library.) Disguised as concierges at the hotel, the orphans encounter many of the people, both noble and evil, whose paths they have crossed in previous books--Jerome Squalor and Justice Strauss, Kevin the ambidextrous former circus freak, the ineffectual Mr. Poe, and of course the shiny-eyed and tattooed uber-villain Count Olaf.

Not very much happens in this installment of the Baudelaires' unhappy tale. The children try as usual to piece together information about their plight while the allegedly noble people around them prove to be at best unhelpful. Regular readers of the series will not be surprised that hope of a happier future is wrested cruelly from the orphans' grasp in the course of the story, so that the book ends in woe. What is new is that Mr. Snicket has injected moral ambiguity into his text. This time around the children, compelled by circumstances in their capacity as faux concierges to perform wicked deeds, find themselves wondering whether they are indeed any more noble than the evil Olaf and his cronies. Their self-doubt, of course, is foolish, and one hopes they will come to accept as much in the final book of the series.

Snicket's writing in this penultimate book remains charming for its verbal play and for the author's occasional injection of his own persona into the narrative. ("One of the advantages of being taciturn is that it is rare for your words to get you into trouble. A taciturn writer, for instance, might produce only one short poem every ten years, which is unlikely to annoy anyone, whereas someone who writes twelve or thirteen books in a relatively short time is likely to find themselves hiding under the coffee table of a notorious villain, holding his breath, hoping nobody at the cocktail party will notice the trembling backgammon set, and wondering, as the ink-stain spreads across the carpeting, if certain literary exercises have been entirely worthwhile.") In this installment, too, Snicket plays with mirror writing, with a few passages written backwards. The book loses points, however, for being perhaps thirty pages too long. Several passages go on far longer than they should, continuing long after the joke has become tiresome. Thus, for example, items submitted as evidence at a trial by various of the series' bit players are itemized ad nauseam:

"'I submit these newspaper articles!' announced the voice of Geraldine Julienne.

'I submit these employment records!' announced Sir."

And the list of submissions, each similarly phrased, drags on for another three pages. Some pruning of this and similar passages would have greatly improved the book. That said, things liven up in the later chapters when Olaf and the Baudelaires engage in some unexpected dialogue.

I await the final chapter of the Baudelaires' saga with considerable interest--hoping that the elusive Lemony will manage to tie up the story's loose ends in some way that does not disappoint, hoping that VFD--the secret organization of noble volunteers who are the good guys in the story--will turn out to have more going for it than a bunch of foolishly named devices, wondering what ever can be in the sugar bowl for which volunteers and villains alike have been searching now for several books. Mostly I am grateful that the author elected to name the penultimate book in his series The Penultimate Peril, so that English-speaking students the world over, as well as their teachers, may embrace that most handy and underused of words, "penultimate", and eschew the ugly, periphrastic expressions--"second to the last," "next to last"--that are so often, and so regrettably, used in its stead.

Debra Hamel, Reviewer

Emanuel's Bookshelf

You Watch Too Much TV
Ken Kessler
Taylor Trade Publishing
4501 Forbes Blvd, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
ISBN: 1589792459, $12.95, 260 pp.

So you think you know TV huh? Well don't be so sure of yourself until you read the fun new television trivia book "You Watch Too Much TV" by newcomer Ken Kessler. Within the pages you'll find 50 chapters of TV trivia that spans over multiple generations from the early black and white days to the the latest fad-Reality TV. It doesn't matter if you're a fan of American Idol or Love American Style. There's something in this book from everyone.

Sure TV trivia books may come and go but what makes this book unique is the way it is categorized. While lots of TV trivia books focus on certain eras, this book divides each chapter by categories such as TV theme songs, single parent-themed shows, and even cop shows. What character on Gilligan's Island is named in the theme song besides Gilligan? Who played Cagney in the pilot episode of Cagney and Lacey? What was Eddie's father's name on The Courtship of Eddie's Father? Don't know? It doesn't matter. You'll have fun learning.

The only flaw with this book is the fact that it expands across so many generations of television that some people may feel left out. After all, there are people who never even heard of My Favorite Martian, Bonanza, or even Fear Factor. Still with this minor distraction it will still be difficult to put this well researched book down. In fact, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the board game. Pick it up, gather the family around and just have fun with this book. This one is definitely a winner. Highly Recommended

Branding Unbound
Rick Mathieson
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
ISBN: 0814472877, $24.95, 275 pp.

What does the usage of PDAs, cell phones, and the wireless Internet have in common? Not only are the becoming the preferred method of communication among young people but advertisers are desperately trying to find a way to reach them with their products and services without annoying them like spammers. In Rick Mathieson's new book "Branding Unbound," the author explains the technology revolution and what it means to marketers looking to capitalize on reaching this audience.

In "Branding Unbound," the author gives readers a glimpse into the future (and the present) state of wireless technology. The technology ranges from sound waves that will beam down to potential customer's ears, to grocery stores that use electronic shopping carts to enhance the shopping experience, to third-party services that will store your personal information to make your online shopping experience more convenient.

Mathieson explains that the entertainment industry is already taking advantage of the trend. Entertainers like Madonna and Justin Timberlake have already hired advertising agencies that specialize in wireless marketing and taken advantage of its audience. Now the more traditional advertisers like Cadillac and Absolut Vodka are finding ways to make their brands stand out to the young, buying audience.

"Branding Unbound" is a must read for advertisers looking to steal a glimpse into what could be the future of advertising. Though the author admits that m-marketing does have its share of problems like privacy issues, technology glitches, and a relatively small audience thus far, it would still make a lot of sense for marketers to run out, get this book, and get ready for the coming revolution. Rick Mathieson is a gifted and talented writer, and "Branding Unbound" at its outstanding best does for wireless what the Cluetrain Manifesto did for the Internet. Geeks and marketing execs alike will love this book, which is by far one of the best marketing books of the year. Highly Recommended

Emanuel Carpenter, Reviewer

Fortenberry's Bookshelf

The Forty Club
Andrew Salmon
Lulu Books
ISBN: 1411641493, $7.50, 84 pp.

The Forty Club is a very entertaining novella on many levels. It performs well, explores the human, and surprises and prods. To use a nonliterary comparison, this is very much like watching an enjoyable episode of The Twilight Zone. It has the same tweaks, surprises, and yet that quaint, comfortable, old home town nostalgia. That common Americana aspect, of course, serves to heighten the low-level "weirdness" of the tale (using the old Pulp era definition of weird). The contrasts though make it work better, much like how The Green Mile succeeds because it overlays bursts of weird in a concrete, familiar world.

Now that I've mentioned his work, I'll go ahead and state that the author Andrew Salmon has a certain knack as a writer which today would most likely be compared to Stephen King. The Forty Club is not overt horror (I suppose that depends on your outlook, especially when it comes to aging), but it has the same qualities of elevated prose and storytelling that make King's work rise above the usual modern genre drivel. There is real emotion, honest scenes and dialogue, and real expectations and interests are aroused. You begin to understand and truly care about the characters. They inhabit a real world. In this way we can push back beyond King to his own creative roots in Pulp Era fiction, which of course is the offspring of the original master, Edgar Alan Poe. The Forty Club plays much more in the realm of the Victorian Era short story than the modern horror novel, which often ignores the real and fallaciously believes special effects and over-the-top are the hallmarks of fiction. A controlled intelligence and real world sensibility go a very long way in storytelling, and make the moments of the weird explode off the page much more dramatically.

Without giving too much away, the story gravitates around Jack Russo's fortieth birthday and the acknowledged angst and humor that swirls around that mythologized milestone in American consumerism. His workday is afloat in jokes, birthday cards, and wry smiles as the Big 4-0 looms via the ever-popular non-surprise birthday party after work. Of course, before we get too comfortable in Russo's everyday skin, the camera pans over to Rod Serling slightly offset, or, more so in the case, the story is transformed by the knock of Brad Pitt at the door. As in, Meet Joe Black.

That should explain everything you need to know about this novella without totally spoiling it, because the parallels are not at all exact. This is a good solid little tale and a very enjoyable read. You might be able to whip through it in an hour or so, but you will definitely carry it with you for the rest of your life. It haunts in a very subtle way. I guarantee that you'll never have another birthday without remembering this story. Just for a second things stop. This tale flits through your mind like something out of the corner of your eye and you pause, just a little uncertain, having to look around the room at all your smiling friends and family to reassure yourself there really isn't such a club... right?

The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 5,000 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment, & Techniques
David Joachim
Robert Rose, Inc.
Toronto, Canada
ISBN: 0778801195, $19.95, 621 pp.

It is a bible indeed. The Food Substitutions Bible is an absolute, bedrock, must-have reference for any kitchen. This handy book has the cleanest, best organized, easy-to-access design I have ever seen. The layout is perfect. Even at 600 plus pages it is a breeze to read and use. Nothing arcane, difficult, or too complex to comprehend in this book. Just straightforward, perfectly organized and explained facts, lists, and charts. Simple. Concise. Comprehensive. What else could you desire?

If I must have a complaint, it is this: I find he has substitutes for hot sauces, such a Tabasco, and crab boils, which I must applaud as I love the heat; however, he has a substitute for Old Bay Seasoning, but none for Zatarain's seasoning mix. What the heck? Cajun seasonings are the spice of life! Can't beat that jazzy Z. flavor, nor excuse it's exclusion. It's now readily available nationwide. Maybe it'll be added in the next update. (hint, hint) The real joy here is for the cook. Joachim seems to have included just about everything possible. Whether a beginning at-home cook or a professional chef, you'll find exactly what you need in these pages.

Joachim also accomplished something unique. This book levels the playing field and can make everyone feel like an expert. Able to flip quickly to any ingredient, recipe, or device, and substitute a solution, any cook will excel with a world of knowledge right at his fingertips. The Food Substitutions Bible allows us all to become a Fritz for Nero Wolfe. Though I dare say -- anyone who knows how fickle Wolfe's tastes are beware -- we should heed Joachim's warning in the introduction: "Substitutions can solve many problems in the kitchen. But they can't work magic." These substitutions can save the meal, but they can never replace the real deal. However, for the more adventurous who wish to experiment in the kitchen, to fuse and flex flavors and recipes, this book isn't just a guide to problem solving, it's the starting map to a whole new world.

Rethinking Michigan Indian History
Patrick Russell LeBeau
Michigan State University Press
ISBN: 0870137123, $29.95, 215 pp. with CD-Rom

Patrick LeBeau has been rethinking Native American issues for a long time, such as through his poetry or his book on the mascots controversy. Now he has written a brilliant, engaging, and almost revolutionary educational tool: Rethinking Michigan Indian History. The book is a teacher's dream. A high quality production with thorough, bullet-pointed lessons, thoughtful text, sharp graphics, and a wealth of selected readings, excerpts, appendixes, resources, and engaging activities for students. It is well researched and well reasoned.

This textbook of Native American history has been called "ground-breaking," "unique and important." I concur. This is a very important work in several ways. It explores stereotypes and illuminates all sides of the issues. Its lessons investigate all aspects of history, from theories to eyewitness accounts, official records, treaties, maps, and photographs. It is fully modern, with an enclosed CD-Rom. It is an easy-to-access and easy-to-comprehend guide to Michigan's Indian history. It is insightful, investigatory, and resourceful. It explodes with vibrant graphs, visuals, maps, and charts, already set up for copying, projection, or .PDFing. This is the ultimate teacher's guide and student's text.

Best of all, it does the one thing most lacking these days: It teaches critical thinking skills. This reaches far beyond the book. The critical thinking aspect would make Rethinking worthwhile for that reason alone. I have been involved with a program that teaches critical thinking, listening, and viewing skills via media literacy, and it is a vital yet almost totally overlooked area in today's schools. I applaud fully what Mr. LeBeau has accomplished here. As he notes in the introduction, "...the themes and issues raised and investigated in each lesson are applicable and adaptable to other regions of the United States and Canada." This is true, and this book should serve as a model not just for teaching Native American issues, but for teaching in general. This should be the guidebook for teaching guidebooks.

I absolutely love this book. My one wish is that Mr. LeBeau had time to do such a wonderful guide for every state in the nation.

Thomas Fortenberry

Gary's Bookshelf

Waiter & Waitress Training
Lora Arduser
Atlantic Publishing Group Inc
1210 SW 23 Place, Ocala, Fl 34474-7014
ISBN: 0910627207, $19.95, 800-541-1335

Why do many restaurants fail while others prosper? Author Lora Arduser shows many of the reasons in this book that is geared to owners, managers, and servers. She talks about many things including diners who are by themselves, the difference between good service and bad, how managers should deal with complaints from guests, and how to keep a good staff are some to the things she deals with. Though its focus is to industry personnel anyone who wants good service should read this work to know some of the ins and outs of the industry. Every restaurant in the country should purchase copies and give them to the entire staff as training manuals on how a good business should be run. Managers especially should pay attention to the section on compensation to customer's complaints instead of just saying, "I'm sorry; hope you'll give us another try.

The Master of Plans
Carol A. Miller
5220 S.16th ST Suite 200, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN: 0595314740, $20.95, 877-288-4737

I wanted to like this book but found it hard to because of the writing style that is slow and boring, and because the people are one-dimensional. They do not come across as characters but as a retelling of events in someone's life. After reading the author profile I got the feeling that this is a thinly disguised piece of writing of the writer's own life. There's a lesson new writers should learn: Novels should be creative with strong writing and characters than an autobiography.

Black Girl Lost
Donald Goines
Holloway House Publishing Company
8060 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90046
ISBN: 0870679880, $6.99

Once again Goines shows why his books are classics. His characters are believable while the writing is strong andt moves the story along at a brisk pace to its final conclusion. It's hard to believe that in only five years this author wrote over 15 novels.

Never Die Alone
Donald Goines
Holloway House Publishing Company
8060 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90046
ISBN: 087067997X, $6.99

A man named King David is stabbed on the streets of New York. Paul Pawlowski, a writer, finds King David and transports him to the hospital hoping to save his life. Before he dies King David rewards Paul by giving him thousands of dollars for his kind act. Pawlowski has a dilemma of what to do with the money. The writing is gritty with believable characters.

Devil's Playground
A.P Fuchs & Keith Gouveia
Coscom Entertainment .
ISBN: 1897217250, $6.99

The authors have created two short eerie Halloween stories that are intertwined. Keith Gouveia tells the first part in "Forever Halloween" in which several teenagers ring the doorbell of a very strange house owned by a bizarre person who casts a strange spell upon them. "Forever Jack" by A. P. Fuchs, takes place a year later at the same house with the same strange man. The book is fun reading for anyone who likes good chilling tales of horror.

Make Big Profits on Ebay
Jacquelyn Lynn and Charlene Davis
Entrepreneur Press
ISBN: 1932531270, $19.95

Many of my friends have said "do it on ebay; but never explain much of anything. Finally there is a book that tells everything you ever want to know about ebay. The authors tell where to sell your merchandise, how to do it, and what to look out for. This is the first detailed book on the Internet service that is easy to follow and explains how to make lots and lots of money.

Time Camera
Terence Lee
Suite 6E 2333 Government St., Victoria. B.C V8T 4P4 Canada
ISBN: 1412053900, $23.56, 1-888-232-4444

I thought the premise of going through time with a video camera that has no audio was a good idea, but for some reason I just did not get the conflict of this novel. The author deals with time travel well with excellent writing, but there was something that just didn't captivate me.

The Devil's Key
Rolando Basmeson
1663 Liberty Dr., Bloomington In 47404-5161
ISBN: 1420864750, $12.95, 800-839-8640

The author has a message on our foreign policy as it relates to the Panama Canal but it is lost because there is little dialogue and the characters are not very well fleshed out. I wish there was a place new writers could go to learn professional tricks of the trade before they publish with print on demand publishers.

Making a Difference
Dr Rhonda Hackett
Outskirts Press
ISBN: 1598001108, $17.95

With all the disasters we've recently had, people want to help by donating their time and money. It's unfortunate that there are those who would try to profit from others' misfortune but unfortunately they are a part of the picture of these terrible events. Before you get involved, read this book to learn how not to be taken advantage of . The author gives many different things to look for to be sure that the relief agency is legitimate. This is a valuable resource to fight against fraudulent so-called non-profit organizations.

John Coy
Scholastic Inc
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
ISBN: 0439693736, $16.99, 212-343-6100

I liked the way the author built the conflict between coach and player on this high school team. The story unfolds and moves along to their final confrontation. The characters are believable while the writing flows in a very well done YA novel.

There's Something about Christmas
Debbie Macomber
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9
ISBN: 0778322254, $14.95

Macomber has written a delightful story for the holiday season. Emma Collins is pleased that she's been given an assignment other than writing obituaries for the newspaper she works for. But she also dreads the task because it's interviewing the finalists in a fruitcake recipe contest. What happens makes for the fun of this charming novel that is perfect for anyone who has the bah humbug blues.

Gary Roen

Gorden's Bookshelf

The Rule of Four
Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason
Bantam Dell
A division of Random House, Inc.
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
ISBN: 0440241359, $7.99, 446 pages

Caldwell and Thomason have written a sedate suspense thriller. Most of the lengthy character development is done with extensive and frequent flashbacks. The tale has a nice complex historical mystery with good twisted human psychology. But the reader will find the recurring passages into the lead character's past a measured task by the halfway point in the story.

Four Princeton seniors decide to escape from their studies and play laser tag in the steam tunnels under the school. After nearly being caught by the campus authorities, they find their quad has been broken into. Paul's and Tom's bedrooms have been rifled. Paul Harris has been working on his thesis on the 'Hypnerotomachia,' a five-hundred year old book that no one really understands. Tom Sullivan's father was a literary expert on the subject and Tom has been working with Paul on his thesis. The break-in is just the first of a series of mysterious events linked to the 'Hypnerotomachia,' which includes murder. The four roommates, Tom, Paul, Charlie and Gil, struggle with themselves and the mystery as the events escalate over the Good Friday weekend.

'The Rule of Four' is a good complex mystery that the reader will not be disappointed in but it is a paced story that requires a commitment to finish. It is recommended for those readers who need to put down their book from time to time or who like to relax over a weekend with a single story. The historical puzzle in the 'Hypnerotomachia' is fun but there are no real surprises in the mystery.

Cross Bones
Kathy Reichs
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
ISBN: 0743233484, $25.95, 348 pages

'Cross Bones' is a slight departure from the typical Temperance Brennan forensic mystery by Reichs. I am a history/archeology buff so I enjoyed the story more than the other Temperance novels. Kathy Reichs is a forensic anthropologist. Her best storytelling occurs when she is writing deep in her specialty. 'Cross Bones' is a 2,000 year old forensic mystery.

Tempe is asked to help autopsy an Orthodox Jew. Her expertise is required because of the minimal autopsy needed to fulfill orthodox religious law. After leaving the autopsy bay, Tempe is given a photograph of a skeleton by a mysterious man. She is soon embroiled in a 2,000 year old archeological controversy based on Jesus' family and a dig at Masada in the Judean Desert.

'Cross Bones' is a sound forensic mystery with more accurate questions about Christ and his life than 'The Da Vinci Code.' It is a great weekend read for those who love mysteries and like to question accepted history. It is a more realistic story than Brown's and is a smoother story. 'Cross Bones' is a must for those who like to have history in their fiction.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Greenspan's Bookshelf

The Great Mission
Rabbi Eli Friedman, compiler
Rabbi Elchonon Lesches, translator
Merkos Publications
291 Kingston Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11213
0826606814 $20.00

Knowledgeably compiled by Rabbi Eli Friedman and expertly translated by Rabbi Elchonon Lesches, The Great Mission: The Life And Story Of Rabbi Yisrael Baal Shem Tov is the story of the man who first explained a new dimension of Jewish mystical concepts to the Judaic community. A combination of biography, philosophy, and story, The Great Mission is an hagiography which is unique from the many books previously written about Ball Shem Tov who founded the Chasidic movement. All of the stories and teachings that comprise The Great Mission are directly drawn from the talks and written works of the seven Rebbe leaders of Chaad-Lubavitch, which constitute an unbroken pedigree chain from Ball Shem Tov down through the modern era. A seminal contribution to Judaic Studies in general, and Chasidic Studies in particular, The Great Mission is welcome addition to personal and academic library collections, and very strongly recommended reading for both scholars and non-specialist general readers with an interest in Judaic mysticism.

Guide To Naturalization Records Of The United States
Christina K. Schaefer
Genealogical Publishing Company
3600 Clipper Mill Road, Baltimore, MD 21211
0806315326 $30.00 1-800-296-6687

Christina Schaefer's "Guide To Naturalization Records Of The United States" is nicely arranges all repositories of naturalization records by state, county, and city. Systematically organized by type of records held, dates of coverage, locations of original and microfilm records in their holdings, these repositories can be methodically accessed by even the most novice of genealogists. The "Guide To Naturalization Records Of The United States" also pinpoint federal court records in all National Archives facilities and identifies all information that is available on microfilm either through the National Archives or through the Family History Library System. Also included are records available on microfilm through other facilities as well. Enhanced with a history of naturalization and citizenship, an appendix on Native American tribal citizenship records, the records of Japanese and Chinese Americans, and records of internment of American citizens by the federal government, "Guide To Naturalization Records Of The United States" is a core addition to any professional genealogy reference collection and of great assistance to anyone's quest to identify and record their own family history with respect to the American citizenship of their forebears.

Able Greenspan

Harwood's Bookshelf

Reincarnation: A Critical Examination
Paul Edwards
ISBN: 1573929212, $23.00, 315 pp.

No clear-thinking, educated person can believe in reincarnation. While that may sound dogmatic, it is in fact tautological. No clear-thinking person can believe in an imaginative fantasy that contradicts observable reality and is not supported by any evidence whatsoever. And no educated person can be unaware that all evidence supporting the reincarnation hypothesis has been critically examined and definitively refuted.

Paul Edwards has written a book that spells out in unnecessary and mind-deadening detail the evidence falsifying, not only coherent reincarnation claims, but also masturbation fantasies that could have been better refuted by dismissing their proponents as fruitcakes. Despite agreeing with Edwards's conclusions, I cannot recommend this book. It is unbelievably dull, and on the verge of being unreadable. Why Prometheus chose to reprint it in paperback, instead of finding a debunker who could make the same points without putting readers to sleep, I cannot imagine. Persons looking for evidence and arguments against reincarnation would be better served by reading Ian Wilson's 1981 book, Mind Out of Time, out of print but available through Amazon Marketplace. And for a concise summary of the evidence, see the 20-page chapter, "Superconscious Life Regression," in Hypnotism Then and Now, also available from Amazon.

The Psychological Roots of Religious Belief: Searching for Angels and the Parent-God
M. D. Faber
ISBN: 1591022673, $27.00, 245 pp.

The human imagination created the first gods as a pre-scientific, or more precisely proto-scientific, explanation of observable reality. In a world permeated with death, such entities as the sun and moon observably lived forever. Indeed, the moon died in the sun's furnace, only to be reborn as a new moon, on a regular monthly basis. Why? Thirty thousand years ago, the pre-Occam's razor explanation was that they were living beings, possessed of powers far in excess of those of mere mortals.

But belief in gods did not constitute belief in religion. Only when the first sun worshipper asked the god in the sky to ripen his crop, in exchange for a suitable bribe, or a river worshipper asked the water god to drown her rival, also in exchange for a suitable bribe, did belief in gods as an observable reality evolve into religion. But none of that explains the evolution of the almost universal belief, among religion addicts, in a particular god as a proto-parent capable of gratifying the believer's every whim, even at the cost of violating the "laws" (more appropriately forces) of nature. That is the explanation Faber sets out to provide, and he succeeds to a hitherto unprecedented degree.

The best way to summarize Faber's thesis is to repeat his own words: "The child is hungry; the child cries out. Then what happens? The caregiver arrives to reassure and to placate…. Over and over again, dozens of times each day, hundreds of times each week, thousands of times each month, for years, the little one asks and the big one, the care-giving, all-powerful parent, sees to it that the little one receives…. In this way, what happens early on is destined to 'imprint' itself upon the child's developing brain, to forge permanent, specialized, synaptic connections at the root of the child's perceptual existence" (pp. 17-18).

"As we confront ideationally the notion of the Parent-God, or even see Him [Faber's capitalization], we can and do at the same instant implicitly and effectively recall the actual parent from whose neurally engrained internalization the Deity is ultimately fabricated…. Thus religion is a cunning, unconscious method of preserving the tie to the original object, the original 'mother and father'" (pp. 102-103). "The conspicuous presence of hallucination in our potpourri of angelic encounters serves to underscore the thesis of our discussion as a whole; all religious experience is ultimately hallucinatory in nature" (p. 180).

After thus explaining how children are neurologically conditioned to expect childhood solutions to adult problems, in effect retaining a childish dependence on a parental caregiver into adulthood but now calling the caregiver "God," Faber then asks, "Are the many millions of people throughout the world who do not believe in God the products of faulty wiring? Has their elemental, primal nature been somehow distorted or suppressed? I don't think so. At the foundational, genetic level we are wired for the struggle to survive, to continue existing as biological organisms on the planet, to secure nourishment (energy), to excrete waste, to sleep, and to grow…. Yet even here, in the area of something as basic as pleasure and pain, environmental factors intrude upon the scene" (p. 207).

In other words, humans are neurologically wired in infancy to depend on an omnipotent caregiver to solve all of their problems, and the great majority achieve adulthood without ever freeing themselves from that conditioning. But environmental factors, such as observing the incompatibility of such realities as the Asian tsunami, hurricane Katrina, and the Kashmir earthquake with the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent god, or simply learning history, science or logic, can break that conditioning in individuals who don't need to believe they are going to live forever in order to get through the day without having to be institutionalized and diapered. Religion is not a reversion to childhood. It is childhood that has never been outgrown.

Caesar's Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy To Invent Jesus
Joseph Atwill
Ulysses Press
P O Box 3440, Berkeley, CA 94703-3440
ISBN: 1569754578, $14.95, 256 pp.

Since my review of Joseph Atwill's previous book can be found in MBR October 2004, and Caesar's Messiah is nothing more than a reprint, another detailed review would be superfluous - especially since I am granting Atwill undeserved dignity just by acknowledging his existence.

Atwill has clearly learned nothing from the rebuttals of his nonsense by competent biblical scholars in Freethought Perspective. And judging by the favorable reviews of Atwill's incompetent drivel posted to, neither have the unlearned masses. The Piso/Atwell fantasy of Christian origins is best compared to a hypothesis that the fairy tales of Hans Anderson were really written by Walt Disney. The appalling ignorance that would be needed to come up with the latter claim is exactly equal to the ignorance of evidence no further away than the nearest university library needed to come up with the Piso/Atwell fantasy. No competent scholar has ever taken the Piso/Atwell theory seriously, and none ever will.

The Three Faces of Eve
Corbett Thigpen
Popular Library
10 East 40th Street, NY
ISBN: 0445047569, OOP, $40.95 hc, $19.25 ppb on

Only intensive psychotherapy, delving deep into a patient's childhood, can find the reason why, in times of intense stress, the patient becomes invisible. That would be a plausible hypothesis if the patient's claim that he becomes invisible could be taken seriously. Once it is realized that invisibility does not exist, the outline of how to cure it reveals a great deal about any psychiatrist capable of swallowing such a hoax. When a compulsive playactor succeeded in deluding a gullible psychiatrist that three different persons, each unaware of the others' existence, inhabited her body and took control of it at different times, the result was a book called The Three Faces of Eve. The consequence of that book was an epidemic of one-upmanship, with pretentious psychiatrists (tautology) competing to produce the most personalities in a single patient.

Multiple personality disorder does not exist. It did not exist when the virtual creator of the syndrome asserted that her patient had three personalities. It did not exist when a psychiatrist who claimed to have a patient with more than 100 personalities was exposed on Sixty Minutes. It did not exist when a psychiatrist who claimed that his patient had over 500 personalities was exposed in Skeptic magazine. It did not exist when psychiatrists who recognized that it was making them a laughing stock tried to save face by renaming it dissociative identity disorder. And it does not exist today.

This book is sufficiently different in its perspective from the "Eve" playactor's own book to indicate that the author was more interested in pushing a saleable theory than reporting what her patient really told her. It differs from the playactor's actual role-playing. And it differs from anything that exists outside of the fantasy world inhabited by gullible psychiatrists (or is it tealeaf readers? I'm always confusing those two). For the original playactor's version, see I'm Eve, by Chris Sizemore. For the facts, see Hoax & Reality: The Bizarre World of Multiple Personality, by Dr August Piper. The Three Faces of Eve is FICTION, total, absolute, unmitigated FICTION.

The Pontiff in Winter: Triumph and Conflict in the Reign of John Paul II
John Cornwall
1745 Broadway, NY 10019
ISBN: 0385514840, $24.95, 352 pp.

The Pontiff in Winter, by the author of the far-from-sycophantic Hitler's Pope, is eighty percent hagiography. It perpetuates the Big Lies that Karol Wojtyla was possessed of a functioning human brain, that he played a major role in the collapse of European communism, and that he was a nicer man than Robert Heinlein's First Prophet. And it is chronically circumspect on Wojtyla's culpability for sixty million deaths from starvation and AIDS that were the direct and foreseeable consequence of his capricious and antihuman prohibition of sane birth control and sane disease prevention, citing the statistics in one paragraph and Wojtyla's paranoid opposition to condoms elsewhere, but leaving it to the reader to make the connection. He does, however, quote UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, "The current Roman Catholic theology is one that favors death rather than life." And in a similar vein, a member of the Nobel Peace Prize committee made clear why the death-promoting pope had been turned down again in 2001, "I challenge the Vatican to redefine its attitude to condoms." (p. 239)

It is when Cornwall departs from the party line and ventures into Karol Wojtyla's inadequacies that his book becomes worth discussing, or even worth reading. For example, he acknowledges that, "John Paul has actually exploited the AIDS tragedy to promote an intransigent ethic against contraception in any circumstances." (p. 241) He reports that Wojtyla created more third-ranking Christian gods, more commonly called "saints," than all of his predecessors combined. (p. 110) Wojtyla's beatification of the tinpot Hitler nun, Mother Teresa, brought the number of gods and demigods ("blessed") created by him up to 1,321 - and that was more than a year before he died. But Mother Teresa was by no means the most repulsive and antihuman of Wojtyla's immortalized heroes. As Cornwall spells out in great detail, Wojtyla also canonized/deified (same thing) some of the most evil monsters in human history, including popes Pius IX and Pius XII, and Opus Dei founder Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer.

On the issue of Wojtyla's much-touted ventures into ecumenism, Cornwall leaves no doubt that the only ecumenism the pope was willing to consider was the other side's unconditional surrender. (p. 202) To Wojtyla, all non-Catholics were in a "gravely deficient" situation, (p. 201) and Lutherans and other Protestants were "not Churches in the proper sense." (p. 210) Hans Küng described Wojtyla's "we alone are saved" diatribe, Dominus Jesus, as "Vatican megalomania." (p. 202) And when Wojtyla went ahead with a scheduled meeting with an Austrian neo-Nazi xenophobe in the face of objections from Israeli diplomats, "Once again John Paul revealed his talent for making a theatrical gesture of outreach to the Jews while maintaining a determined course in what looked like the opposite direction. And it was to be the same with proclamations of friendship toward all other faiths and non--Catholic Christian communities." (p. 195)

Cornwall cites the fall of several dictators, including Ferdinand Marcos and Wojceich Jaruzelski, shortly after Wojtyla's visit to their countries. But while not warning readers against doing so, he does not appear to have himself fallen into the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. And while declaring that, "John Paul II will go down in history as the pope who helped the Polish people oust Communist rule," (p. 303), he inserts a modicum of reality by pointing out that Wojtyla was merely Ronald Reagan's intermediary. "The American president made a decision to keep John Paul provided with the best U.S. intelligence information; that information might well have been crucial in forewarning Lech Walesa as to just how far he could go without Moscow sending Warsaw Pact tanks across the border." Wojtyla's major contribution was in using Mafia banker Roberto Calvi, later murdered, to divert $50 million of Vatican funds to Walesa's movement. (pp. 102-103) That diversion was not the reason why, "some 80 percent of [American] Catholics were thinking of cutting off charitable contributions to the Church." (p. 226) What triggered that development was the awareness that their contributions were being used to pay off the victims of pedophile priests, a payoff that had reached $700 million by the summer of 2004. (p. 227)

When Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston was being universally denounced and urged to resign, for covering up priestly pedophilia and assigning guilty priests to other parishes with not even a reprimand, Pope Wojtyla ordered him not to do so. (p. 228) When public indignation proved insurmountable and Law was forced out of Boston, Wojtyla appointed him to an influential sinecure in Rome. And when four bishops denounced the sexual abuse perpetrated by Vienna archbishop Hans Gröer, the Neo-Nazi bishop Kurt Krenn, who had previously tried to cover up the discovery of 40,000 pornographic images on his seminary's computers, (p. 238) went on television and declared that the four would "roast in Hell." (p. 229) It is difficult to see that denunciation of persons who think priests should be held as accountable for their crimes as anyone else, as anything but a declaration that right and wrong are whatever the Catholic hierarchy says they are. An archbishop who phux altar boys is merely exercising the perquisites of his office, and whistleblowers who question his right to do so are heretics destined to eternal damnation. While John Paul claimed in his speeches that he considered priestly pedophilia reprehensible, his actions sent a completely different message. He was as convinced as Krenn and Law that priests should be answerable to nobody but their Führer. "How much clearer a signal could the Roman Catholic Church send to the faithful that it administers justice in two tiers, one for the laity and another for its clerics?" (p. 234)

Gary Wills (Papal Sin, pp. 194, 190) reported that, "In a survey of 101 gay priests, those ordained before 1960 remember their seminary as having been 59 percent gay. Those ordained after 1981 say their seminaries were 70 percent gay." He added that, "Many observers suspect that John Paul's real legacy to his church is a gay priesthood." An NBC survey in 2000 reported by Cornwall (p. 231) confirmed that trend, and "put the number of gay priests in America at anywhere between 23 and 58 percent." And in 2002 a book by a former seminary rector declared that, "some seminaries in the United States had gay populations as high as 75 percent." And whereas the Vatican Reich's Minister of Propaganda, Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) arrogantly boasted that the number of priests "targeted" (his euphemism for falsely accused of child molesting) was less than 1 percent, the reality is that "some 4,400 Catholic priests in the United States had been credibly accused of sexually attacking some 11,000 minors." (p. 226) One of the victims, a seminarian in Florida, filed a lawsuit against the entire Catholic Church, under RICO (Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) legislation aimed at the Mafia, declaring that, "the Catholic Church was such a body, and all its bishops part of the conspiracy." (p. 223) A similar action against another pedophile priest initially named Pope John Paul II as a co-defendant. (p. 225) It should surprise no one that neither of those actions was ever mentioned by any major network national news broadcast.

Pope Wojtyla was an active co-conspirator in the cover-up of allegations of sexual abuse, not only by pedophile priests in America, but by nun-tuppers in Africa. A 1994 report by Sister Maura O'Donohue, a physician and AIDS coordinator, "alleged that Catholic clergy in twenty-nine countries were sexually abusing nuns, treating communities as if they were harems for their exclusive use…. Nuns were thus invariably infected by priests in the belief that they would be cured by having sexual relations with [virgins]." (p. 248) Wojtyla's reaction was to sweep the report under the carpet. He did the same with a report that, "some thirty sisters had been impregnated by diocesan priests." (p. 249) Cornwall summarizes the pope's intransigence on disease prevention, "Listening to Catholics discuss the AIDS issue in the first years of the new century has been like listening to the grown children of a dysfunctional and abusing father gingerly assuaging him lest they prompt a tantrum." (p. 244)

During the years that the repeated offences of pedophile priests were being systematically covered up, "That same period saw the defection of some 100,000 priests (20,000 in the United States) and 200,000 nuns." (p. 227) Since Catholic men tend to become priests precisely because it gives them access to lots and lots of little boys, perhaps the Catholic Church should adopt the recruiting technique recommended by satirist Don Havis (American Rationalist, May/June 2005), and double the supply of altar boys? But of course not all priests are pedophiles. It was certainly not on account of their abuse of altar boys that a Kansas City Star survey found that, "the AIDS death rate among Catholic priests was at least four times that of the general population." (p. 227)

Cornwall's detailed discussion of the "third secret" of Fatima goes a long way toward convincing me that it really was written by the surviving hoaxer in 1944. The news media reported an alleged prophecy that a bishop in a white robe would be gunned down at some future date. The Occam's razor explanation of such a prophecy was that a Vatican scriptwriter had composed it for the purpose of authenticating the Fatima hoax and explaining why John XXIII had not published it in 1960. Such publication would have been an open invitation to ten thousand fanatics to make the prophecy self-fulfilling.

But the version promoted by the party-lining news media was far removed from what the Fatima hoaxer actually wrote. Cornwall quotes the entire text, but the essential details were, "a Bishop dressed in white … was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions." (pp. 179-180) If a tabloid psychic had written such a prophecy and then tried to claim the failed attempt on John Paul's life as fulfillment, even National Inquirer would have been reluctant to see such a claim as valid. If Lucia dos Santos Munchausen really did write it, shortly after D Day in 1944, the pope she expected to be gunned down by the invading Allies as a Nazi collaborator would have been Hitler's Holocaust partner, Pius XII.

Gary Wills, author of Papal Sin, wrote in the New York Review of Books, "The Turkish assassin Agca was not a group, not a soldier, not shooting arrows, and he did not kill his man in white…. Either the Virgin's crystal ball was clouded in 1917 or Lucia's imagination was overstimulated in 1944." Cornwell adds his comment, "Oh, Gary Wills. Ye of little faith!" (p. 178) Was Cornwall being ironic? Or was he sending one message to discerning readers and a very different one to Vatican hierarchs whose cooperation he still needed?

As a virtual insider, with almost unrestricted access to the Vatican hierarchy, Cornwall was able to see for himself that, for at least the last five years of his tyrannium, John Paul II was less than compos mentis. "The issue in January 2000, however, was not so much the Pope's imminent death but his ability to think." (p. 163) "There had been no indication by the year 2000 that the Pope was suffering from paranoia [a symptom of his Parkinson's disease] but he had a short fuse." (p. 167) "A Jesuit professor friend at the Gregorian University assured me: 'He is not capable of having the sort of conversations he once had.'" (p. 169) "John Paul was at best only partly in control, either of his own mind or the decisions of his close associates." (p. 201) After Wojtyla met with the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Anglican dignitaries, he asked an aide, "Tell me, who were those people?" And when he had to ask where St John's Basilica was, Cornwall editorialized that such a memory lapse, "was equivalent to the Queen of England asking where Windsor Castle is." (p. 272) And when the ailing pope met America's most prominent talking chimpanzee, "The question arose: Was a debilitated John Paul being manipulated by both right-wing Catholic journalists and George W. Bush's reelection campaign? Was his visit to the Pope no more than a campaign stop?" (p. 283)

A theory that The Pontiff in Winter does not even discuss is that Wojtyla was a forty-seven-chromosomed retard, afflicted with the genetic disorder now called Down syndrome, and that the reason he wore long dresses in even the hottest weather was to hide the triple-strength diaper he was required to wear 24/7 because he had never been potty trained. Perhaps Cornwall sees such a hypothesis as too low-probability to warrant serious consideration. But it explains Wojtyla's erratic behavior throughout his 26-year dictatorship far better than any alternative hypothesis. And Cornwall accepts the pope's affliction with Parkinson's disease as the explanation for his mental deterioration in his later years, when perhaps Alzheimer's would be an equally plausible diagnosis.

Despite Cornwall's attempt to write a charitable and balanced account of Wojtyla's pontificate, praising his alleged achievements while excusing his tyrannical paranoia on the ground that he was in effect not guilty by reason of mental deterioration, his analysis of the Vatican hierarchy's words and deeds presents the strongest case to date that the Vatican Curia and Hitler's Gestapo differ from each other in no significant way whatsoever. The Catholic Church is the most totalitarian tyranny on earth, and as long as all power is concentrated in the hands of a pope and oligarchy that can overrule an overwhelming majority of bishops as easily as Iran's unelected council of theocrats can overrule its elected assembly, it is and will remain the antithesis of democracy, justice, and freedom of conscience. Cornwall refuses to recognize it, but he is defending an entity that is indefensible. It is not individual popes that are the epitome of absolute evil. That title belongs to a papacy that is consciously trying to repeal two thousand years of social evolution.

William Harwood

Henry's Bookshelf

The Billboard Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, with Internet Links to Songs & Artists
General Editor Howard Mandel
Foreword by John Scofield
Billboard Books
Watson-Guptill Publications
770 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
ISBN: 0823082660, $45.00, 352 pp.

The innovative user-friendly touch of the Internet links is integrated into the sections of many of the artists (i. e., not put in an appendix or resources section at the back of the main text) by graphics with a web address. Another reader-friendly touch is a graphic noting the most representative recording by a particular musician. This is especially helpful considering the long careers, many recordings, and evolving styles of many of them. Most of the photographs show the artists in performance. Blues and Jazz are taken decade by decade from the early years through the nineteen twenties down to the eighties and the contemporary era, with a closing section on the instruments and equipment going with the two long-lasting and changeable types of music. Profiles of each artist cover biographical background, music career, and the artist's influences on or contributions to the field. For historical overview, comprehensive treatment of all the leading jazz and blues performers, and primary references cited, the "Illustrated Encyclopedia..." is an ideal introduction to these interrelated fields of music.

100 Years of Purses, 1880s to 1980s - Identification and Value
Ronna Lee Aikins
Collector Press
PO Box 3009, Paducah, KY 42002-3009
ISBN: 1574324535, $24.95, 144 pp.

Photographs of the great variety of purses are shown in bright color photos two or three per page. With each are descriptive notes on size, fabric, clasps, and other features not evident in the photo. Prices range from about twenty dollars to a little over two hundred for alligator purses. A user-friendly guide giving an overview of this perennially popular area of collecting.

Unwelcome Voices - Subversive Fiction in the Antebellum South
Paul Christian Jones
U. of Tennessee Press
Knoxville, TN 37996-4108
ISBN: 1572233278, $35.00, 225 pp.

Jones departs from the "story of southern literature that was constructed by literary critics early in the twentieth century" to identify five authors falling outside of the conventional understanding of antebellum southern literature. In different ways according to their creativities and chosen literary forms, these five authors evidence countervailing views of southern society from the one pictured in the predominating literature heavily influenced by the romantic novels of Sir Walter Scott. Poe with his horror tales vividly disclosing the anxieties embedded in the slave-owning society that was being increasingly challenged and Frederick Douglass with his heroic slave characters giving a different formulation and image of African Americans from the one maintained by the slave-owners put forth clear alternatives to the southern propaganda about a harmonious, peaceful southern society. James Heath, John Pendleton Kennedy, and E.D.E.N. Southworth employed within the familiar form of the novel the relatively subtle, partly ambiguous elements of character, dialogue, description, and narrative to question the prevailing southern values and class structure based on slavery. The five authors Jones studies with considerable originality are "probably only the tip of the iceberg of writers and texts that offer a dissenting voice to the dominant one that has been established in literary histories." Jones is an assistant professor of English at Ohio University whose articles have appeared in Southern Literary Journal and other periodicals. This study of his shifts the perspective on the antebellum southern literature, while at the same time it encourages further study of other aspects of the little-known and under-appreciated alternative literature.

Mapping an Empire - Soldiers-Engineers on the Southwestern Frontier
edited by Dennis Reinhartz and Gerald D. Saxon
U. of Texas Press
PO Box 7819, Austin, TX 78713-7819 800-252-3206
ISBN: 0292706596, $34.95, 204+xx pp.

Spanish, Mexican, and American military engineers played an especially important role in mapping the area of the American Southwest along the U.S.-Mexican border. Not only was this area sparsely populated and rugged, but marking boundaries was a part of the broader contest and eventual war between Mexico and the United States over which territory belonged to which nation. As the government-directed work of the American military engineers is better-known because of the greater resources and procedures in recording the work and preserving the documents, the better--but not overwhelming--part of the seven articles containing copies or parts of maps and some prints of the period cover the work of the early Spanish and later Mexican mapmakers. One of the chapter titles is "Unknown Works and Forgotten Engineers of the Mexican Boundary Commission," a joint U.S.-Mexican Commission after the Mexican War relating the work of the largely forgotten Mexican participants. Inherent in these accounts of the explorations, individuals, purposes, and controversies surrounding the maps by academics from the fields of cartography and the history of the region is considerable material from a new angle on historical Mexican-American relations and the early days of the expansion of the U. S. in the Southwest.

George Washington and the Jews
Fred Hirschfeld
U. of Delaware Press/Associated University Presses
2010 Eastpark Blvd., Cranbury, NJ 08512
ISBN: 0874139279, $34.50, 196 pp.

Small numbers of Jews were among the early settlers in all parts of the American colonies. Some of these were escaping the Spanish Inquisition. Jews mostly came to America to escape religious persecution and be able to practice their religion freely, as the early English settlers did. Although the small minority groups of Jews faced prejudices from some quarters, in the colonies they found defenders. And in some cases they found high-placed individuals who integrated some of them into prominent positions with important public responsibilities. Though he had mixed feelings toward the Jews, the founder and leader of Georgia, General Oglethorpe, gave them land equally with the Presbyterians, Lutherans, Moravians, and other Protestant sects in the colony. In the War of Jenkins Ear against the Spanish in Florida, Oglethorpe appointed the Jew Benjamin Sheftall an officer in the Georgia militia. The varying fortunes of Jews as a group and individual Jews are recounted as a part of the larger story of the example of democratic principles George Washington set. The last chapter ties Washington's wish that his slaves be freed after his death with his vision of religious tolerance for all. Some of his clearest, most-cited statements on religious tolerance, freedom, and equality were made in synagogues or with unmistakable references to Jews in certain locales, in Newport, RI, for example. Down to today, Jews look to Washington as the particular Founding Father making America a place where they could practice their religion freely and be accepted in the society.

2nd Stories - a Hoosier Photographer Explores What's Upstairs, on Top, and Overhead
John Bower
Foreword by Michael Atwood
Studio Indiana
430 N. Sewall Rd., Bloomington, IN 47408
ISBN: 097451862X, $22.00, 144 pp.

Bower's clean, sharply-focused photographs capture architectural features of older Indiana, Midwest buildings. Among these are window frames, stairways and bannisters, stain-glass and decorative windows, floral and animal ornaments, floor boarding, friezes, cupolas, and weathervanes, among other features. There's also a few photos of railroad bridges, cranes, and old, wooden amusement-park rides. The 200 photos with their duotone shading have a nostalgic tone. Most of the buildings are still in use. Some clearly have been long abandoned and are in the last stages of their survival. Though it is time, not the wrecker's ball, that will bring them down. For these and others that will likely be abandoned before too long, Bower's photographs are a record of the styles and details of a late 1800's/early 1900's country and small-town architecture of the American Midwest.

The Self of the City - Macedonio Fernandez, the Argentine Avant-Garde, and Modernity in Buenos Aires
Todd S. Garth
Bucknell U. Press
Associated University Presses
2010 Eastpark Blvd., Cranbury, NJ 08512 press
ISBN: 0838756158, $48.50, 236 pp.

"Macedonio's city is pure affection and sensation." Macedonio Fernandez was an Argentine writer living from 1874 to 1952. He was a friend of the renowned author Borges, though the two had different views on modernism and how their own writing was a reflection of it. A teacher of Spanish at the U.S. Naval Academy, Garth is at work on another book on early 20th-century Argentine writers. In this work, Garth sees Macedonio not only as a modernist writer for his treatment of the dissolution of self, deconstruction of traditional forms, and for his perspective from the margins, his avant-garde disposition, and his bohemian mood and lifestyle. Garth sees Macedonio as going beyond these to search for a new, whole, coherent self in modernism; and to a large measure succeeding in forming this in his writings. This self finds its timely, individualized form by orientation to the city not as a political entity, heterogeneous and bustling population center, or even an ideal form such as Plato's polis, but as an immanent, soul-like presence in which inheres the multiplicities and the sources and future of modernism. Macedonio does not abandon or forsake the self. But in literarily participating in its fragmentation and decentralization, he, unlike other modernist authors, is on the way to forming a new self. This will not be a replacement for the vanished self. For Macedonio's self has no comparison to it. His self arises naturally, purely, sheerly out of the conditions of modernism especially as sustained in the presence that is the city. Garth pores over this Latin American author's writings and life for gleanings and nascent representations of this novel self.

Deep Time and the Texas High Plains - History and Geology
Paul H. Carlson
Texas Tech U. Press
Box 41037, Lubbock, TX 79410 800-832-4042
ISBN: 0896725529, $34.95, 141+xvii pp.
ISBN: 0896725537, $19.95

Texas Tech U. professor of history Carlson writes a short, though comprehensive, overview of the Texas high plains region. This region borders New Mexico in the area of the Texas panhandle. The Rio Bravos is a major geographical feature; and the most important geological and archaeological site is known as the Lubbock Lake Landmark. The overview seamlessly weaves geology, anthropology, and history. Carlson covers human inhabitants from the earliest pre-Columbian Native Americans to the founding of large ranches and growth of cities in the 1800s. Excavations at the Lubbock Lake site "reveal clearly that humans have occupied the place periodically over the last twelve thousand years." Carlson also covers the animal species changing according to the changing natural conditions of the area.

Songs, Dreamings, and Ghosts - The Wangga of North Australia
Allen Marett
Wesleyan U. Press
215 Long Ln., Middletown, CT 06459

ISBN: 0819566179, $75.00, 292+xxiii pp.
ISBN: 0819566187, $34.95

With nearly 20 years of research on aboriginal tribes of northwestern Australia combined with this many years of research, Marett has an exceptional knowledge of their culture. He's also a professor of musicology and director of the Centre for Music Research at the U. of Sydney. Recognizing that the music of the aborigines--known as "wangga"--rests "on cosmologies and ways of being that are radically different from those shared" by the majority of Australians and others from Western, modernized cultures, Marett nevertheless applies academic and critical methodologies, analyses, documentation, and perspectives to understand the music's enduring role in the ancient cultures as much as this is possible for outsiders. Thus one finds aborigine music put into musical scores, words of songs and chants translated into English, rhythms described, and explanations of changes in the music reflecting the tribes' contacts with modern Australian society. Part of Marett's work is recording a good part of the music before it changes completely or is lost from the inroads of modernity into the native societies. In the native ceremonies and rituals, wangga is not optional (as in some Catholic masses, for instance); and needless to say, it is a far cry from entertainment. In the Australian aboriginal cultures of the northwest region, wangga is believed to issue from the ghosts of deceased ancestors in a timeless realm. In the ceremonies and rituals, wangga is the "means whereby human singers and dancers metamorphose into...nonhuman forms" to connect with their ancestors.

King of the Cowboys, Queen of the West: Roy Rogers and Dale Evans
Raymond E. White
Popular Press/U. of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe St. - third floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
ISBN: 0299210006, $65.00, 530+xvii pp.

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans' fans and students of popular culture will appreciate especially the voluminous and what must be virtually definitive references and documentation on the more than sixty-year career of the cowboy couple. Although some of the material goes back to before they met and became married. The eleven appendices begin on page 117 and run through the start of the notes on page 485. In addition to the filmography and discography of each noted in the review's heading, the appendices contain material on each's radio and television appearances, song compositions, appearances in comic books, inspirational books by either one or both (many written with a coauthor), and a "log" of more than 275 "A Date with Dale" radio programs between 1984 and 2000 noting location, topic, song, and guest; these were 30-minute "spiritual talk shows" hosted by Dale Evans. The biography preceding the appendices goes over the success of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans in the different areas of popular entertainment while also devoting chapters on them as symbols of the mythic American West while being at the same time exemplars of the wholesome family life which was a prime social ideal in the post-WWII years from the late 1940s to the early '60s when they were at the height of their popularity.

1001 Nights - Illustrated Fairy Tales from One Thousand and One Nights
edited by Robert Klanten and Hendrik Hellige
Die Gestalten Verlag, Berlin
ISBN: 3899550943, $42.00, 199 pp.

Magical, foreign tales from the Arabian Nights inspire 16 mostly European artists to create fanciful illustrations, many evidencing influences from Persian art and manuscript illumination. The varied styles of the number of artists range from brightly-colored and cartoon-like with their rounded, cherub-like figures to dark, muted tones with clipped figures drawing one into the complexities and ambiguities of the respective tale; from brightly-colored illustrations which seem to dance on the page to ones which seem ominous signs to what lies within. Not only the artistic content makes this a small version of a coffee-table, gift book. So does the color-illustrated cover with the lettering of the title and subtitle embossed with silver. And there's the silk place marker, too.

Henry Berry

Lori's Bookshelf

The Temple at Landfall
Jane Fletcher
Bold Strokes Books
ISBN: 0952362538, $15.75, 296 pages

In the Temple in the city of Fairfield, a young woman named Lynn does the important work of helping women reproduce. She is a sort of psychic DNA-knitting doctor/priest and is called an imprinter. Imprinters are chosen very young for their psychic abilities and are taken from the families to serve Celaeno, the great goddess of the people. Everything about Lynn's world is focused on prayer, imprinting, and the teachings of Celaeno. The imprinting skill she shares brings in a fortune in "offerings" (required by the Church) from eager women desperate for children.. There is no separation of Church and State; they are one and the same.

After a couple of decades of this mind-numbing, psychologically draining work, the book opens with Lynn in a state of depression. Once a month during a religious ritual on the steps of the Temple, she sees the outdoors. Otherwise, she is locked into the tomb-like environment of the Temple, never to have a lover, never to have freedom, never to know anything but a life of service. She is basically held captive, a prisoner of her own abilities - until the day Sister Smith, from the larger Temple in Landfall, appears and wrangles with the authorities to take the talented imprinter far away to a bigger, more powerful Temple. Lynn is excited to make the long journey during which, perhaps for the last time, she can enjoy the forests, the cool air at night, and the freedom to walk on the woodland paths and see the moon.

A squadron of Rangers, including Lt. Kimberly Ramon, is assigned to escort the Sisters and Lynn on the long journey over the mountains and to the south. And this is where the adventure begins. For the first time since childhood, Lynn is among real and interesting women, and she is quite taken with Ramon, who has her own secrets and griefs. "As much as anything, Lynn enjoyed the honest, open banter, although the jokes were frequently bawdy. To Lynn's mind they were fair less offensive than the conversation of the sisters; the intimidation by pious quotes, the political backstabbing disguised in religious platitudes. The soldiers spoke of a world Lynn would never know, but it didn't matter. Their stories were like breathing fresh air after years of choking in incense" (p. 76).

The soldiers are also brave, and when they are attacked on the journey, everything about the trip changes. Lynn's ability to envision herself as a free woman begins to grow. But can she shake free of the grip of the Church? How far will the powers-that-be go in order to keep her to themselves?

This fundamentalist society, operating based upon bits and pieces of lore, abridged history, inaccurate facts, and misguided good intentions, is all the more frightening because it is peopled only by women. In Fletcher's world of Celaeno, it's not men with the compulsion to render matters of life into simplistic and often bone-crushing black and white; women can be and are just as dangerous.

With rich, glorious prose, Jane Fletcher has created a spell-binding world and a variety of fascinating and multi-dimensional characters. The world is so compelling that I couldn't help but wish I could quite literally go there! Lynn's quest, as well as Kim Ramon's quest, make for exciting reading. At its heart, the book is an adventure/quest, but it is also a mystery. Who are these people? Where did they come from? What happened to the men, if, indeed, there ever were any? The back story of the previous 533 years is unraveled slowly, but surely, for the reader so that by the end of the book, all is revealed.

THE TEMPLE AT LANDFALL (which was originally published in England as THE WORLD CELAENO CHOSE) is absorbing and engrossing tale-telling of the highest order, and the really exciting thing is that although this novel is complete and "finished," the door is left open to explore more of this world, which the author has done in subsequent books. I can't wait to read the next Celaeno volumes, and this book is a keeper that I will re-read again and again. I highly recommend it.

The Value of Valor
Lynn Ames
Intaglio Books
ISBN: 1933113464, $16.75, 285 pages

The prologue of this, the third book in the Kate Kyle/Jay Parker series (The Price of Fame, The Cost of Commitment), starts out by introducing us to a Native American healer tending a young woman with a dislocated shoulder, head wounds, and many bruises, cuts, and scrapes. The blond-haired, green-eyed woman awakens once, long enough to communicate that she doesn't know who she is. The healer and her people have sheltered her for two days, and based upon the testimony of some of the tribal youth, they decide that for her own good, they will keep the injured woman hidden.

In the first chapter, we learn that Kate Kyle has lost her lover, Jay Parker, in a fiery accident in Chinle, Arizona. No spoilers here: It doesn't take long into the first chapter of the book before the reader puts two and two together. The woman the tribe is sheltering must be the same person, right? Can there be any suspense if Jay Parker survived? And will it only be a matter of time before Kate and Jay are reunited - or could that all go wrong?

There's more at stake in this complex novel than first meets the eye. Jay wasn't in an accident; it was clearly a hit, but her head injuries prevent her from remembering much of anything. Not knowing who she is may be more dangerous for her - and for the people who are nursing her - than knowing would be.

And Kate is in terrible grief, but she's still the press secretary to the president of the United States and has a job to do, and therein lies the place where this plot cranks up. It's the president - and anyone with power who is allied with the president - who is the ultimate target here. A treasonous organization hinted at in the first two books of the series finally comes to the forefront with plans that have long been in motion.

After the initial set-up, which also establishes the villainous characters desiring unlimited power and global domination, the tension mounts. Kate struggles to deal with the pain of Jay's death, and she cannot let it go. Despite her anguish, she must learn the truth about what really happened to her lover. Soon she discovers that there is more going on behind the scenes on all fronts than she ever imagined, and only through the help of good friends and patriots might she be able to thwart wicked machinations.

With every chapter that passes, the crosses and double-crosses get trickier and more twisted until the exciting denouement. You'll be left surprised and satisfied by the ending.

This novel can stand alone. You don't have to have read the first two in the series, but this third in the trilogy is a fitting completion to the plot threads brought up in the earlier books. Fast-paced, compulsively readable, and full of twists and turns, THE VALUE OF VALOR will keep you up late into the night. Highly recommended.

Lori L. Lake

Margaret's Bookshelf

The Long Game And Other Poems
Bruce Beaver
University of Queensland Press
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR 97213
0702235091 $22.95 1-800-944-6190

Bruce Beaver is quite justifiably considered to be one of Australia's greatest poets. He passed away on February 17, 2004 at the age of seventy-six. The Long Game And Other Poems is a collection of his poetry written in the final years of his remarkable life and serve as appropriate literary memorial to his work. End of Century Poetry: When they started stripping off everything/down to the emotion's nub/while still retaining the G-string of intellect,/I joined in the dance and brought/along my own bongos just to make/separate staccato statements./Earlier I'd been engulfed by all that/understated stuff of old world-/weary music Empson avoided/but his followers didn't. I had a ball/and played it out with the rest of the mild/and almost wild ones. Now I'm feeling the chill of/the Post-Modern malaise. No going/back but I think I'll skip the next/decade's steps and stick to my inner/ear's still different drumming.

Becoming Bone
Annie Boutelle
The University of Arkansas Press
McIlroy House, 201 Ozark Avenue, Fayetteville, AR 72701
155728797X $16.00 1-800-626-0090

Annie Boutelle is a senior lecturer at Smith College and the founder of the Smith College Poetry Center. Becoming Bone: Poems On The Life Of Celia Thaxter (1836-1894) is a biography-in-poetry anthology that probes and reveals the life of one of 19th Century America's most popular poets, but who is now an almost forgotten name in American letters. An accomplished and award-winning poet, Annie Boutelle does her unusual subject full and complete literary justice framed as only a seasoned and gifted wordsmith can. Her verse is as hauntingly memorable as it is deftly structured. Land-Locked (Newtonville, 1861): Turning her back on brawling/boys, unemptied chamber pots,/the bolted bedroom door, she/dips her pen in gullible ink://Have patience; here are flowers and songs of birds,/Beauty and fragrance, wealth of sound and sight,/All summer's glory thine from morn till night,/And life too full of joy for uttered words.//She learns to lie, calls it her "little poem."/They pay ten dollars, and she recalls/how last summer Mrs. Bliven said no one/is paid for making a string of shells.

The Art Of Film Acting
Jeremiah Comey
Focal Press
30 Corporate Drive, Suite 400, Burlington, MA 01803-4252
0240805070 $21.99

In "The Art Of Film Acting: A Guide For Actors And Directors", Jeremiah Comey draws upon his more than 25 years of experience and expertise in teaching film acting (include the several years in Hollywood he spent acting in feature films, television sitcoms, soap operas, industrial films, and commercials, as well as directed several short films) to provide a definitive instructional manual for training performers to act from their core -- whether they are doing a cold read, auditioning, or performing. Aspiring actors will learn how to manifest honest and believable emotions before the camera, relate to other actors and the their circumstances as those cameras roll. Enhanced throughout with exercises and script examples, students of acting are provided with an easily accessible resources designed for practicing the outlined principles as they pursue a mastery of their craft. Practical, "user friendly", informed and informative, "Guide To Naturalization Records Of The United States" is a core addition to any personal, professional, or academic Theatrical Studies resource and reference collection.

Margaret Lane

Mayra's Bookshelf

The Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book, 14th edition
Dan Poynter
Para Publishing
Post Office Box 8206, Santa Barbara, CA 93118-8206
ISBN: 1568600739, $19.95, 430 pages

I had heard rumors over the internet that this book was the "bible" of self-publishing. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that these rumors were, indeed, the truth. Clearly structured and written in simple, reader-friendly language that anybody can understand, this book is not only an amalgam of information, but a pleasure to read as well. Poynter discuses topics such as your publishing options, writing your book, starting your own publishing company, producing your book, announcing your book, promotion, advertisement, fulfilment, etc. In fact, everything you need to know to get your own press rolling. The author moves from subject to subject chronologically, making the process easy as if you had a coach beside you at each step of the way.

Poynter uses tables, sample forms, graphics, drawings and pictures to illustrate his explanations. Since this is a revised edition, the contact information and links are up to date. Most helpful are the appendixes, offering a "book's calendar," as well as many resources and recommended reading. Another thing about this book which make it a pleasure to read is the clever quotations used throughout. Be prepared with pencil and highlighter, as this is a book you'll want to dissect piece by piece.

Practical, straight-forward and insightful, The Self-Publishing Manual should be in the reference shelf of anybody who is thinking about self-publishing a book, start a press, or simply understand how the publishing business works. It is also an invaluable resource for those who want to learn about effective book promotion. This is one of those rare jewels which is worth its every penny. Highly recommended.

The Business of Writing for Children
Aaron Shepard
Shepard Publications
1102 Olympia Avenue NE, #18, Olympia, WA 98506
ISBN: 0938497111, $10.00, 110 pages,

If you're thinking of writing, selling and promoting a children's book, The Business of Writing for Children is a title you'll definitely want to add to your permanent reference shelf. In it you'll find tips, useful information and resources on how to write children's fiction, learning what editors want to see in a manuscript, how to submit your queries and promote your book. The book's short length and concise, right-to-the-point approach make it an ideal first guide for beginners in the field.

Shepard begins by listing some "Dangerous Myths and Terrible Truths" about the business. Then he offers general guidelines on how to write for children, dealing with topics such as Theme, Plot, Story Structure, Characters, Setting, Style and Tone. The different kinds of children's books categories can be confusing and hard to distinguish from one another; Shepard describes each in a clear manner.

Everything from formatting and submitting your manuscript, to negotiating a contract, to understanding the publishing process, to building your career, to scripting your story can be found between these pages, and more. A separate section is given to other topics such as Rhythm and Writing and Researching Folk Tales.

Most helpful are the author's sample flyers and queries, especially his ingenious way for sending one query for multiple titles, saving time and postage fees. Shepard also offers clever alternatives to sending cover letters by using Post-its. At the end of the book there's an Appendix filled with useful resources. Be aware this book will not teach you how to self publish a children's book, but only how to sell your work to traditional publishers. However, this is a reference work valuable for anybody who wishes to understand the business of writing for children. Highly recommended.

Mayra Calvani

Riley's Bookshelf

Ben Jonjak
Lulu Press
3131 RDU Center Drive, Suite 210, Morrisville, NC 27560
1411603869, $12.56, 240 pages

Whenever I get really confused, I just let the voices in my head tell me what to do. I've been called upon to save all of humanity on more than one occasion. I've always triumphed, it's just that there was never anyone there to see. - R.H.P.

Ben Jonjak has balls. The main character of Ben Jonjak's novel Roland also has balls.

Roland H. Pandora is relegated to the bottom rung of the social ladder. He works as a janitor, lives in an abandoned underground bunker, and constantly swallows/snorts/injects a smorgasbord of pills prescribed to combat his alleged mental illnesses. One of Roland's favorite pastimes besides watching cartoon The Defendorbots is "house-surfing." That is, casually breaking into strange houses, using the computer, watching TV, and generally hanging out. Roland also exhibits astute intelligence, genuine compassion, admirable courage, and uncompromised individuality - he disdains the society that disdains him. But like all human beings, he struggles with the occasional episode of self-doubt.

His demeanor routinely fuels debate between the White-Clad Matron of All Things Good and the Leering Skull of All Things Evil. Oversize sentient peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches regularly attack him. Even the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse confront him, but human designs prove to be a more formidable challenge to Roland.

At 28, Roland sometimes questions the quality of his life. He wonders what it might be like to drop his guard and join the rabble. Maybe he'd discover the happiness that he suspects eludes him if he landed a respectable job, got himself all gussied up in fashionable clothes, married a nice girl, raised well-behaved children, and cultivated all-around bland taste. A successful and attractive - but shallow - woman, Karen, works in the building where the often tranced-out Roland scrubs toilets. He fleetingly deludes himself that Karen embodies the things that spawn happiness. Predictably she uses her feminine guiles to rope him into a situation that requires him to act against his better judgment. As soon as he finishes grappling with major demons that Karen has unwittingly summoned, Roland is further engaged in battle, this time with an ultimate long-time enemy.

A lot like real life if you ask me. No, seriously.

Throughout the novel Jonjak deftly blends realistic themes with surreal elements to sculpt Roland's unique world. An author using this technique runs the risk of succumbing to bassackwards capriciousness in which the end justifies a clumsy narrative mess. Such an approach may be part and parcel of comic or absurdist narrative, but mindless use, or worse, overuse of such a style can undermine even the most skilled writing. Thankfully Jonjak knows when to go out on a limb, and when to speak softly without capitulating.

The only time I hit a snag was when the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse challenge Roland. I'm usually a sucker for over-the-top narrative coupled with an arbitrary series of events, but the description of R's encounter with TFH is way too much a departure from the ongoing tone of Roland; a minor flaw that is magnified by the abrupt return to an established tone. The final climactic rendezvous mirrors the outlandish spirit of the Four Horsemen encounter. Since it occurs toward the end of the story, the scene rides a crescendo of the seemingly irrational and works quite well.

The R.H.P. quotes that precede each chapter provide an invaluable insight into Roland's worldview. And the occasional psychiatrist's evaluation clearly demonstrates the garden-variety clueless authoritarian schmuck's warped perception of Roland. At times Jonjak's main character waxes philosophic paragraph after paragraph instead of succinctly stating his case as he does in the pre-chapter commentaries. Roland's psychological long-windedness not only periodically breaks the novel's flow, but also detracts from the immediacy of the author's observations. And Jonjak's observations in Roland are expressly immediate, not to mention consummately thought provoking.

Ben Jonjak graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire with a degree in English literature and a minor in Physics. By some miracle I managed to graduate Summa Cum Laude even though I have never satisfactorily mastered comma rules. After college he moved to Lima, Peru, because I can live here for next to nothing and concentrate on my writing in relative peace.

In this novel Jonjak presents his musings in an entertaining and intelligent manner. Actually, the words "urgent" and "vital" better describe the philosophies and exploits of Roland. Read this book now.

The Dark Carnival
John Dark
Hard Boiled Books
C/O Bob L. Morgan Jr.
31031 21st Place SW, Federal Way WA 98023
No ISBN, $9.78, 212 pp.

John Dark is the pseudonym for an enigmatic guy that only selectively reveals his true identity. Author Chris Fulbright declares Dark's work "some of the darkest noir available." That sums up the hard-hitting short story collection Dark Carnival.

Independent authors can write whatever they want - one of the best things about DIY books. As is often the case with populist forums, amateurish output is considered by many to be an aesthetic unto itself. This may arguably have been the case some years ago, but as they say, you can't shine shit.

John Dark knows his onions. Sure he employs graphic violence as a device but he never hops on the crowded bandwagon of fashionably capricious violence. His use of violence limited to utility is much more effective than the candy-ass arbitrary gore crap that hacks pass off as "reality." The fact that The Dark Carnival's brutality is framed by a solid narrative and vivid character development makes it a legitimate and integral part of Dark's storytelling, and not some tawdry gimmick.

Dark neatly colors realistic characters and scenarios with supernatural elements. These otherworldly flourishes provide not only great entertainment, but also a thematic foible to contrast against the violence - much in the same way that H.G. Lewis figured that largely implausible situations sanctioned his cheesy brand of gore.

But Dark's stories are assuredly not cheesy, nor does the author appear to strive for cheap shocks. The Dark Carnival imparts great fun, but it is also the thought-provoking work of a skilled writer. Dark's characters often reveal a world-weary twisted sense of humor very subtlety tinged with blase pathos. One of my favorite stories portrays an immortal being that murders his close friends and then sucks the life force from their last breath:

I knelt down beside her and the thin golden thread that was Maria floated up in front of me. I opened my mouth and breathed her in. She felt good. She filled every crevice of me. Maria was everything that I always felt she always would be. Yes sir that was one good woman. Thank you darling. I needed that.

I must concede that I had to navigate a few rough patches while reading The Dark Carnival - in writing technique (like I'm an expert) and honest typos/formatting issues. But the collection's quality far, far overshadows any piddly flaws. (And it should be noted that flaws in a book financially backed by a major publishing house are unforgivable. The big kids can play with a budget that enables them to waste fifty-zillion dollars on a copyeditor who most likely knows no more than you or I, but who has won the approval of some clueless academic and has been brainwashed to regurgitate the antiquated notions held by the "legitimate" publishing industry.)

John Dark has written and "starred" in both Blood And Rain and Blood For The Masses. I'm not familiar with either, but I gather that the John Dark persona not only wrote them but also acts as the main character. This strikes me as passionate character development. It's Dark's passion expressed by his competence that makes The Dark Carnival worthy of your time.

Dave Riley, Reviewer

Robyn's Bookshelf

Dora's Big Book of Stories
Simon Spotlight/Nick Jr.
Simon & Schuster
New York
ISBN: 1416907084, $10.95

The well loved television character Dora goes from TV screen to the printed page in this collection of stories. Dora teaches the young about manners, school, fairy-tales, smiles, a big sister, a chilly day, and a pirate adventure. Included in the prose are Spanish words easily grasped by the listener. "Map says that to get to the Chocolate Tree we have to go over the Troll Bridge and through the Nutty Forest. Vamonos! Let's go!" says Dora. Each story is simply told but intriguing for the age level. What kid doesn't love chocolate, fairy tale characters, dragons, cute creatures, and an ocean adventure? The animations are true to the series, with each scene filled with colorful illustrations. The hardback book is easily held by small hands. The back cover holds a "Say it in Spanish" guide, highlighting the words introduced throughout the book. For example hola = hello and is pronounced Oh-lah. 2004, Picture Book, Ages 3 to 7.

The Raft
Jim Lamarche
ISBN: 0688139779, $6.99

When I first read this book, it touched me in a way I never imagined. I mourned for the kids who have spent endless nights in front of the television and have never ventured outdoors. They have never experienced the beauty of nature or become one who really understands life. I was hooked from the very beginning when reading a note from the author. "This story is like the cigar box I kept as a boy - it's full of bits and pieces of my boyhood summers." And indeed it was.

Young Nicky is indignant because he has to spend the summer with his unusual grandmother out in the country. This is a woman who doesn't even own a TV. Things get off to a rocky start when grandmother offers him cornbread, something he doesn't like. And the living room wasn't for sitting; it was a river rat's workroom, full of books, sketches, and a half-finished carving of a bear. But, grandmother proves to be a wise woman and keeps him busy by sending him down to the river to fish for blue gills.

It is there he discovers a raft floating on the river by itself. And drawn on the raft, are a bear, a fox, and a raccoon. Who had drawn them, he wondered, and where had the raft come from? From there, his days are filled with adventures aboard the mysterious raft, as he discovers the river in a brand new way. Through Nicky's eyes we behold how creatures big and small dwell in a river habitat. The author is also the illustrator, showcasing his incredible talent with the wonderful detail he observed while on the journey. Picture Book,Ages 6 and up.

Fancy Nancy
Jane O'Connor
Robin Preiss Glasser, Illustrator
HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 0060542101, $16.89

When my little girl was five, she told me I didn't dress her pretty enough. She was a fancy Nancy. Fancy Nancy is the heart and soul of all the little girls out there who love frills, plumes, color, and loads of style. Everyday things must be fancy.

Nancy explains it this way, "I like to write my name with a pen that has a plume. That's a fancy way of saying feather. And I can't wait to learn French because everything in French sounds fancy." This fascination leaves Nancy a little frustrated because her family just doesn't understand. Lace-trimmed socks really do help her play better. And sandwiches really do taste better with frilly toothpicks. Then she decides it's time to teach her family how to be fancy.

The story is delightful and sure to tickle the fancy bone of all girls, young and old. The artwork is eye candy for the heart. Nancy is an adorable young lady with curly hair, frilly adornments, and a melting smile. She is someone you will fall in love with. Each page contains a simple sentence illustrated by whimsical scenes. 2006, Picture Book, Ages 4 to 8.

Paula's Letter
Christianne C. Jones
Zachary Trover, Illustrator
Picture Window Books
ISBN: 1404811834, $18.60

Young Paula wonders why she doesn't get mail addressed to her too. So, she decides to write a letter to her grandparents. She learns she needs pen, paper, a postage stamp, and a trip to the post office. She anxiously waits for the return mail but nothing comes. When something finally comes, it is a box from her grandparents filled with treats.

As a teacher, if there is something I could change it would be the box filled with treats. It would have been more beneficial for Paula to receive a letter filled with endearing correspondence than toys that have nothing to do with the craft of writing. Impressionable children will relate writing with getting goodies instead of the real relationship of communication.

The book is a red level Early Reader meaning it "presents familiar topics using common words and repeating sentence patterns". The small size is designed with young hands in mind. The illustrations are simple with a disgruntled Paula dominating the pages. Dr. Andria F. Klein, Ph.D. is the Reading Specialist overseeing the appropriate reading techniques. 2006, Early Reader,
Ages 4 to 7.

Tiny Tortilla
Arlene Williams
G. Brian Karas, Illustrator
Dutton Children's Books
ISBN: 0525473823, $15.99

What could be better than a magical tortilla? Little Juan Carlos has been working hard in the desert all day, and doesn't know this. When the market woman gives him all she has, a little bit of tortilla dough, all he sees is not enough food for someone so hungry. She agrees that the piece is muy pequena and then proceeds to tell him it comes with special instructions. ". . . you must work the masa patiently. If you do, you'll see . . . it will be more tortilla than you every imagined."

Low and behold, an adventure begins with the magical tortilla taking Juan on an action packed ride. Patience is something Juan is made to endure, but by the end, the tortilla has shown its true worth. Young children will delight in the whimsical tale and savor the desert scenes drawn in soft colored pencil. The storyline and illustrations work nicely together, creating a book kids will love to read again. Picture Book, Ages 4 to 8.

Robyn Gioia, Reviewer

Roger's Bookshelf

Lost Knowledge
David W. DeLong
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0195170970, $19.95, 258 pages

Protecting the Eroding Treasure of Knowledge

The generation of workers that is moving into retirement now - the Traditionalists, followed by the huge (76.4 million) Baby Boomer cohort - has experienced an unprecedented era of change and growth. Workers in this period have typically stayed with one employer for many years, accumulating experience, continuity, and a wealth of knowledge that is principally captured within the individual. Now, as these workers retire, they're taking that invaluable knowledge with them; it's not being captured effectively to be used by successors. This loss is potentially a tremendous risk and cost for employers and for society.

The book, written by a a research fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Age Lab, is organized into three sections. The opening chapters explain the high cost of losing intellectual capital. The author provides an abundance of delicious examples of how the departure of workers with unique, uncaptured knowledge and experience will wreak havoc in practically every environment. He certainly makes his case, and maybe even overdoes it. I felt, at times, that I was getting bogged down in an almost repetitious litany of exposure to the problem.

Part two takes us into evaluating knowledge retention practices. Readers will gain insights into developing the infrastructure and the process of preserving what people have absorbed, but not recorded or passed along to others. Again, DeLong presents a large volume of information, examples, and case studies - so much material that it seems to get in the way of the message. The small type size and book design make the book even more difficult to read. The content is strong, but the presentation was not holding my attention. I found my eyes glazing over on a number of occasions as I drifted, then pulled myself back to the message.

The final section of the book moves us into implementation, again with example after example of what various companies are doing to protect their intellectual and operational knowledge. There is unquestionably a tremendous amount of value in these pages; it's just a bit difficult to draw it out without some serious concentration. The book concludes with a strong section of notes and a comprehensive index.

A Whole New Mind
Daniel H. Pink
Riverhead Books (Penguin)
ISBN: 1573223085, $24.95, 260 pages

Sea Change. Opening the Door to a New Era

The subtitle of Pink's latest thought-provoking work is "moving from the information age to the conceptual age." This shift, this transformation, will drive the future of work, education and training, employment opportunities and locations, and what we value as a society.

As a futurist, I saw the movement that this book addresses, but I didn't know quite how to describe it. For years, we have emphasized the importance of left-brain activities. Logic and literal path thinking have dominated our lives, while creativity and conceptual thinking - and acting - have been given less importance. American education has shifted to more left-brain training, at the expense of cultivating the artistic, the holistic strengths.

The education in other countries, notably India and China, concentrates on rote, mechanical, and structured learning. Procedure. This is the problem, so this is the answer.

Thousands and thousands of graduates, at various levels of schooling, are very well prepared to perform routine tasks with high proficiency…and at relatively low income. The types of jobs that rely on the strengths associated with the left side of the brain will go to these countries for economic reasons, leaving Americans who lack right-brain skill development in the lurch.

Daniel Pink explains the shift well in the first part of his book. After the instructional first chapter, he explains how abundance, Asia, and automation are driving opportunity in America toward the right brain strengths. This next phase of our lives is well-presented in the chapter on High Concept, High Touch. In Part Two, the reader learns more about what the author believes are the principal aspects of style that will become most prevalent, most influential, in the success of the future.

We learn about six senses: design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning. Pink explains each of these elements, then presents a "portfolio" at the end of each chapter. Here the reader will find a collection of tools, exercises, and additional reading which the author feels will be helpful to the reader's grasp of his concept. Frankly, the six that Pink has selected are nowhere near complete. The list of senses, of lenses through which to view the future and one's integration with the future, will be somewhat different for each of us. As we move further into the conceptual age, we'll identify more and more primary concerns that will join this initial list. The transformation is in process; more will surface over time. This list is a fine place to start.

Notes and an index supplement this book nicely. This volume will stimulate your thinking and send you to the resources to continue your exploration. You'll almost feel motivated by a personal relationship with the author, although he doesn't let you too close. Throughout the book, Pink shares personal stories and perspectives that reveal the inner Man, yet stop just short of vulnerability. An interesting metaphor to opening a topic, opening an action process, and seeking to stimulate minds to take this work and carry forward into the future. Highly recommended.

Leading Leaders
Jeswald W. Salacuse
ISBN: 0814408559, $27.95, 218 pages

Valuable New Perspectives for Today's Leaders

The typical leadership book is filled with the same old techniques that leaders can employ to inspire, direct, persuade, and monitor the activities and results of followers. The premise of this book is different: leading leaders is a special skill, distinct from leading followers. Salacuse, a well-respected law professor and former dean of law schools at Tufts and Southern Methodist Universities, has done a fine job with this volume.

Even without all the great advice about working with the elite, with the experts, with the cream of the crop, the slam-dunk for me was the fascinatingly insightful comparison between the leadership styles of two people who held the same job at different times. Readers will thoroughly enjoy and benefit from Salacuse's side-by-side presentation of George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. What dramatically different styles of leading leaders! The full-blown contrast of the two men was one of the most instructive lessons I've read in any management or leadership book. The theme was carried out through the book, gently reminding the reader that there are different ways of leading leaders…that will produce different results.

Readers accustomed to the ubiquitous List of Seven somethings that crop up in far too many books will not be disappointed. Salacuse gives us Seven Daily Tasks of Leadership. You'll learn how Direction, Integration, Mediation, Education, Motivation, Representation, and Trust Creation enable leaders of leaders to build meaningful one-on-one relationships with respected colleagues to generate success. Plenty of examples from various fields give the reader all sorts of personal connections. You'll gain a lot from this book. Highly recommended.

How to Negotiate Like a Child
Bill Adler, Jr.
ISBN: 081447294X, $17.95, 161 pages

Cute and Useful

When I picked up this book, I wasn't sure just what I had in my hands. The size is smaller than the typical 6X9" business book. At 7.5X6", it's like one of those impulse items at the cash register. The picture of the mean-looking kid on the cover, with a subtitle about unleashing the little monster within you made me wonder if this book would be sarcastic, a parody, or a satire.

What I discovered was a tight little book that, while light-hearted in approach, delivers a pretty good dose of negotiating techniques. When you gain insight into how children negotiate, unwittingly, you can gain some tips and approaches to how to negotiate with adults. The knowledge you gain here will probably not help you negotiate better with kids - that may be fruitless!

As you move through the short chapters, you'll collect all sorts of interesting perspectives on negotiating techniques. The delightful list begins with Throw a Tantrum and continues with tactics like Just Cry, Call in Back-Up, Be Nice, Take Your Ball and Go Home, Play One Side Against the Other, and Change the Subject. There's a good use of adult examples showing how the book's principles have been used by grown-ups who are, after all just kids in bigger bodies. A strong table of contents and index makes it easy for readers to find their favorite nuggets to re-read them.

Cracking the Corporate Code
Price M. Cobbs & Judith L. Turnock
ISBN: 0814407714, $24.95, 285 pages

Insightful Advice for Rising [Black] Executives

Over 250 Black men and women have risen to senior positions in major corporations. Along their climb, these leaders have learned, grown, achieved, and influenced as highly effective executives. They have overcome the challenges of being Black, complicating the normally difficult path of moving up the corporate hierarchy. That's the primary story of this book. At least, that's the premise of a book subtitled "The Revealing Success Stories of 32 African-American Executives."

All that aside, I gained a lot from this book. I'm not Black. I'm not a high level executive of a major corporation. I'm a Certified Management Consultant. I help executives do a better job as leaders. To give developing executives the answers they need to succeed, I'd recommend careful reading of this book. Page after page delivers valuable lessons in a captivating way.

The design of this book is quite effective. Chapters headed Ambiguity, Managing Your Demons, Fitting In, Reading Unwritten Rules, Making Your Mark, Managing Relationships, and several aspects of power weave meaningful lessons together into a amazing package of advice. Cobbs and Turnock teach through their own words, illuminated beautifully by mentoring lessons from the 32 selected executives. The role models are liberally quoted, giving them a powerful platform to share their experiences and advice with readers. Their testimonials give so much to those who follow them.

The primary target of this book might be considered rising executives from diverse backgrounds. The demographic description goes far beyond Black men and women. Everyone can gain from this growth tool. I particularly commend it to young people in college and even in high school. You will learn, be inspired, and be freed to achieve far beyond where you ever thought you might go.

My copy of this book will be donated to the library at Hiram College, the Ohio liberal arts college that gave me the boost to achieve what I have in life. I trust it will inspire others to reach for their highest potential.

Built for Growth
Arthur Rubinfeld and Collins Hemingway
Wharton School Publishing
ISBN: 0131465740, $25.95, 343 pages

The New Bible for Retail Growth

Let's start with the author. Arthur Rubinfeld is understandably highly respected and revered as the man behind the growth of Starbucks from 100 to over 4000 successful stores. You can imagine that there is a genius quality to tap, along with a powerful sense of strategy - of what works and what doesn't work. But can he tell the story in a way that others can learn, benefit, and apply their new knowledge?

This book is a comfortable mixture of wisdom that comes from accomplishment, knowledge and technique that come from years in the trenches, and a sense of outreach that comes from values which include a desire to help others. The writing style is much like a teacher, a mentor, guiding readers along a path of learning. The text contains a noticeable number of references to what is coming and how the presentation in the book is organized to flow for the reader.

Now, content. I'll start by warning you (buy several highlighters) that there is a valuable nugget of information or advice on practically every page of this book. Rubenfeld easily slides from high level strategic into.details about front line customer service. It takes a broad, interconnected perspective to grow a company exponentially. While his focus is on locations and expansion strategy, Rubenfeld doesn't lose track of the critical importance of people and their performance.

The book is well-organized into four sections: Make No Little Plans, Go Long, Main and Main, and Push the Envelope. The table of contents alone bring clarity to the corporate growth process. I read introductions to the books I review. This book has one of the more high content versions. Bottom line: from start to finish, this is unquestionably the most comprehensive book on building a retail organization. Regardless of how grandiose or simple your plans may be, you will gain more from this book than you can imagine.

Making Innovation Work
Tony Davila, Marc Epstein, Robert Shelton
Wharton School Publishing
ISBN: 0131497863, $29.99, 334 pages

Innovation Doesn't Come Naturally

Put together three well-focused consultants and professors and ask them to look deeply at innovation. Invite them to explore what makes innovation really work in organizations, and weave some research around their thinking. You'll get surveys, interviews, case studies, and research sound bites…and some valuable insights into sustainable innovation.

When three writers, obviously well-organized in constructing a useful book, present their material, it might get heavy. That's the first impression I had when I opened the Table of Contents of Making Innovation Work. "Heavy" is not a word I usually use with table of contents, but it fits here. Just ten chapters, but six pages to tell you what's inside. The level of detail just at this opening stage will tell you that the book is highly organized, but that the editors wanted readers to be able to find things quickly. Readers won't get lost here.

The first chapter brings us The Seven Rules of Innovation. Why does everyone promote Seven Rules of something? The rules were explained, but not carried as the core theme of of the balance of the book. The message I did pull from these Rules is that strong leadership is the driving force. Without clear leadership, innovation won't happen…or won't be sustained. Even with some further discussion of various aspects of the rules, the leadership message came through loud and clear.

Instead, succeeding chapters address explore leveraging, designing strategy, organizing, designing the process, measuring, rewarding, learning how to do it better, and cultivating innovation through culture. The final chapter pulls the various aspects together by showing readers how to apply the rules to their organizations.

Will you play to win or play not to lose? Hello? The book offers a number of questions that catch your attention to slow down and pay close attention to what's being presented. Most of the research bites and case studies illuminate the message.

In chapter after chapter, you'll find provocative questions, tips, and even a few drawings that will open your thinking. Consider Making Innovation work as a guidebook to open your mind to possibilities - not in creativity, but in the effective leadership of the process. Go beyond the understandable large company illustrations to explore how the principles presented will work in your organization and you'll discover valuable universal approaches that will produce long-term value - if strong leadership drives the process.

Roger E. Herman, Reviewer

Sharon's Bookshelf

The Ten Brains of Learning
Mary Howard, Ed.D.
Reading Connections
PO Box 52426, Tulsa, OK 74152-0426
0974287741 $19.95

The Ten Brains of Learning: Unlocking the Door to Powerful Literacy Instruction is a CD guide especially for educators interested in learning new tips, tricks, and techniques to maximize literacy and learning. Dr. Mary Howard guides the viewer through the highlights of recent research about literacy development, and ideas for creating a rich learning environment focused on improving reading and writing skills daily. Especially emphasizing practical strategies that can be implemented with relatively little preparation, The Ten Brains of Learning is an excellent wealth of suggestions ideal for both public school teachers and homeschoolers.

Afro-Cuban Myths
Romulo Lachatanere
Markus Wiener Publishing
231 Nassau Street, Princeton, NJ 08542
155876318X $24.95 1-609-921-1141

The late Romula Lachatanere (1909-1952) was the first Afro-Cuban intellectual to write extensively on Afro-Cuban religious practices. Afro-Cuban Myths: Yemaya And Other Orishas is a collection of myths and tales first published in 1938 under the title "Oh, Mio Yemaya!". The first book to collect a sizeable sample of Cuban myths characteristic of the most widespread Afro-Cuban religion, Regla de Ocha, also known as Santeria, Afro-Cuban Myths is both exciting to read and thought-provoking in its responses to fundamental questions of popular theology and philosophy. Most of the myths are quite brief. Although they are no more graphic or gruesome than uncensored Greek and Roman myths, these uncensored Afro-Cuban fables (just like original Greek, Roman, and many other myths) are emphatically for mature readers only. Afro-Cuban myths includes stories of taboo subjects such as a son submitting to the incest of his mother, and tragic tales such as a wife who sacrifices her ears for her husband yet is then rejected for compromising her beauty. The black-and-white illustrations perfectly complement this recommended addition to mythology shelves.

Nonconscious Movements
Herman H. Spitz
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Publishers
10 Industrial Avenue, Mahwah, NJ 07430-2662
0805825649 $24.95 1-800-926-6579

Nonconscious Movements: From Mystical Messages to Facilitated Communication by Herman H. Spitz is a seminal and scholarly work organized into several major chapters: "Facilitated Communications"; "Involuntary Muscle Movements, Clever Hans, and Lady"; "Clever Hans and Facilitated Communication"; "Involuntary Muscle Movements in Other Phenomena"; "Scientific Studies of Involuntary Muscle Movements"; "Additional Psychological Mechanisms Relevant for Understanding Facilitator Behavior"; and "Confirming False Beliefs". Justifiably considered to be the quintessential work on "facilitated behavior" brought about by unconscious muscle movements that gave rise to severe misunderstandings of such commonplace metaphysical phenomena and activities as the Ouija boards, mind-reading, divining rods, and automatic writing, Nonconscious Movements is a welcome contribution to the psychology underlying the processes of all manner of so-called spiritually facilitated or metaphysically enhanced communications.

Sharon Stuart

Silver Fox's Bookshelf

Rehobath Road
Anita Ballard-Jones
Black Deer Books
ISBN: 0972945504, $28.95, 248 pages

When one door closes another is opened.

In this moving testimony about the power of God is a wonderfully told debut novel. From the very beginning, you get to know the characters and whether you want to, or not, it won't take long before you choose sides After the most brutal of attacks an innocent fifteen year old proves to have greater strength and faith , than those the communities around Rohobath Road hold in reverence. I must have thought of a hundred Bible quotes and sayings. :As you sow, so shall you reap" probably is the most fitting. People make choices, in this world, and it often seems that those who do the worst of deeds go unpunished. You will not be able to put the book down until it comes to its explosive conclusion and I strongly recommend Rehobath Road to anyone who likes powerful stories, especially if you feel that life has not been fair to you. I look forward to reading any future books written by Anita Ballard-Jones.

'Pressions: Memoirs Of A Southern Cat
Edith M. Holmes
Llumina Press
ISBN: 1932560513, $18.95, 327 pages

From the depths of the soul, heart and mind are truths.

What astonishes the reader most when reading the debut novel by Edith M Holmes is that it is in fact a debut novel. The words are lyrical and will permanently ingrain themselves into your soul. Regardless of where you feel you are on the topic of reparations for the descendants of the slaves in America, you will at a minimum have a strong desire to do some serious research after you have finished this outstanding novel. Told most predominantly, in the voices and minds of four Southern Cats, The many families this saga focuses on are some of the most believable literary characters I have ever met, in some very everyday,( yet rarely talked about in polite company) circumstances. I laughed out loud, cried and blushed. I got angry and worried for, people that I had to keep reminding myself , exit on paper. The likelihood that at this very moment there are people such as these, made it all the more realistic. "Presions incorporates historical fact, the struggling memory of a comatose patient and the diligent journalizing of a psychiatric patient. It brings to question who is crazy and who simply is gifted beyond the "norm. It evaluates the effectiveness of the Emancipation Proclamation and makes you re-think the causes and effects of federalized systems and states rights that are in existence now. What I had long believed in regards to separate but equal and desegregation were challenged as well. Edith Holmes forced me to investigate topics that are largely kept out of the media and out of common everyday dialogue. Pressions ia mesmerizing, challenging, thought provoking and had me so engrossed that I did little else while reading but take down notes of things I wanted to look further into. It is entertaining and will make a Oscar contender screen play that only the most inept screenwriter can possibly mess up. From the late 1800's to present day it uncovers dirty secrets, treachery , lust and love. It will challenge the boundaries of social mores. I pray that a sequel is forthcoming and patiently await the next masterpiece by author, Edith M Holmes. She is worthy of a Pulitzer and Nobel Laureate. I highly recommend reading this book and plan to give out several copies as gifts. This is truly a mesmerizing and provocative book!!!

Absence of Justice
Millicent Y Hodge
Xlibris Corporation
ISBN: 1401079369, $32.99, 400 pages

A literary masterpiece that will intrigue from the first sentence to the last,

Before you start the first sentence of The Absence of Justice by Millicent Y Hodge, I stronggly suggest yu make sure you will not be interrupted. Why? You may ask. Because from the first sentence to the last you will experience a literary masterpiece that you will cause you to seek out others that read it just so you can discuss it. You will run every range of emotions and (If like me you yell out warnings to movie screens - LOL) you will find yourself wanting to be a character just so you can help out the protagonist. This is a phenomenal book with the kinds of twists and turns one would expect to feels while driving in the Indy 500. Sidney Cox is a corporate attorney with a past.

The concept ( from The Tempest by William Shakespeare - one of my favorites) What is past is prologue is challenged from beginning to end. When the United States Attorney General is killed, Ms. Cox finds herself trapped in the middle of treasonous acts, murders, high speed chases and lechery spun so out of control that one can't figure out Sidney can possibly survive her search for justice. I give Millicent Y Hodge a standing ovation in one of the best written suspense novels to be found in even the most complete collections in any library.

Every character will be suspect and you absolutely will not figure out what is coming next from one page to the next. She includes so many levels of both goodness and evil that I dare you to put this book down before you have reached the end. I will be buying her other three books - Abuse of Power ISBN 1413411576 Art of Retribution ISBN 1413411592 and Act of Vengeance ISBN 1413431720. I pray that by the time I am finished reading Ms. Hodges' other books, she will have released yet another

aka Mocha Sistah, Poet - Author

SF - Why and Why did you start writing / illustration creatively?

PO - I started to write when I was trying to express myself as a young woman who grew up without her father. I had a lot of negative energy in me, that I wanted to use in a positive way. I found words to be healing and a great way to express myself. I started to write about the age of eighteen and took a few classes at Columbia College where I solidified myself as a poet and songwriter. From there I went to Grambling State University where I received my Bachelor of Arts Degree in English.

SF - Where do you get the inspiration for your stories / poems?

PO - My stories and poems normally come from interesting things that have happened to people I know, or inspired by things in life, a show I watched, or a conversation I had with a client. Sometimes I like to write stories to challenge my readers or to start a conversation about a certan thing. Sometimes it's my own thing that has been rolling around in my head and just comes out. Sometimes the poems or stories come to me. It just depends.

SF - Are there parts of you contained in your works?

PO - Of course. Yes, there are parts of me, mostly in my poems because that comes directly from my soul and spirit as a poet. But most of my characters are not close to who I am personally or otherwise.

SF - Do you identify with any one particular character?

PO - Maia from a short love story I wrote that basically she is a independent woman frustrated with the dating scene. We're both head strong women who have values.

SF - What genre(s)are you most comfortable with?

PO - I'm comfortable with poetry, because I not only write free verse, but have been taught to write other forms of poetry, from sonnets to pantoums. I teach poetry to youth in Chicago and I spend a considerable amount of time writing, re-writing, editing, and performing spoken word when I'm not teaching, so that is where my strength as a writer lies. I have been writing poetry since 18, performing spoken word since 28 and teaching poetry for the last 4 years in the schools and communities. I have also performed my poetry on the road in Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Texas, the Bahamas, Indiana, Detroit, and other places. I write poetry almost every day and I host my own spoken word show, Mocha's SupaSoul Radio on Live

SF - Where do you hope to see your creative career go?

PO - I would like to release my two novels, When Rainbows Ain't Enough and Cause I Can! ; two youth based novels in the next 2 years, as well as complete
an urban driven novel. I would like to solidify my book company, Osbey Books, with a youth poetry component. I would also love to build a career as a voice over artist in the media industry.

SF - Have your life experiences influenced your work?
If so , how?

PO - Yes. They made me think outside the box, challenge myself and be open to the universe; allowing the spirit of expression consume me to the
point of me having to recognize the power of words and listen to it's chants.

SF - What, if anything, would you like to share about you, the person?

PO - Pam Osbey, the person, is a complex, driven woman with multi-interests and talents. I continue to grow as an artist, writer, and collaborator because I continue to challenge myself. I never thought I would be able to do half of the things I do, but because I never put limits on what I can do, I think I continue to amaze myself and my fans.

SF - How has your transition to publication gone?

PO - The transition has been a roller coaster of life lessons relating to learning the craft of writing, the business of writing, and the creative part of writing. I think it's been mainly good. Though there are road trips that I don't make a huge amount of money, it's about my expression and being able to connect with other writers and fans. I have seen a lot of cities, countries, and hope to continue to connect with my literary family. I'm glad I was smart enough to listen to my writing mentor, Diane Williams, and my fan base through many literary writing groups online. They have helped me to keep myself glued to the books and the work I produce. Mostly the poets who influenced me in the beginning are the ones I have to thank for me actually producing my first chapbook and subsequent publications.

SF - What would you like to do differently the next time?

PO - Have a real marketing plan and budget, perhaps a real timeline to get things done. Hire a publicist so they can handle my time effectively, a bigger roll out in stores, and a real good author tour scheduled. It's hard when you are doing everything yourself, which is what I am currently doing. Oh, and have a good stock of books, so they wouldn't sell out as quickly. Have a large stock to work with.

SF - To whom do you seek advice and/or support from?

PO - My advice comes from my writing groups, The Prolific Writers, my fans on the Musings Report, poets from Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, New York and New Jersey. I have a good support system of authors I have met at the Harlem Book Fair, Detroit Writers Guild, Book Expo America, Printers Row Book Fair, Los Angeles Black Book Expo, just to name a few.

SF - When can your fans expect to enjoy your work again?

PO - They can pick up Black Orchids: a journey to mocha through Iuniverse. The book is under my pen name of Mocha Sistah. My book Rivers of My Life is available at I am included in three anthologies: I Woke UP and Put My Crown On (edited by Rochelle D. Hart); My Soul To His Spirit (edited by Melda Beaty) and 100 Words For Wisdom (compiled by Hiyaah Power). My debut novel, Cause I Can will debut in early 2005.

SF - How can your fans reach you?

PO - They can join my online writing group: The Musings Report (on yahoo), visit my website at or listen to my online internet show, Mocha's SupaSoul Radio at

SF - Do you have any presently scheduled events for the next few months?

PO - I have an radio interview on Chicago's WKKC, 89.3 FM in Chicago on August 27,2005 at 9 am. I will be performing at the 2005 Chicago Poetry Festival ( on August 27th at 3:30 pm, Giddings Plaza, which is a free event. September 10,2005 I will be performing at Ear Candy Poets Spoken Word Event at the South Side Community Center. September 16,2005 I will be one of three artists leading poetry workshops at Northerly Island for the Chicago Humanities Festival. You can stay current with all my events by logging on to and clicking the "events" page.

SF - What books / poetry / artwork have you read / seen lately that you would like to recommend?

PO - Poetry recommendations, My Soul To His Spirit by Melda Beaty. It's a great book for praising fathers. It's a beautiful book. Also I would love to recommend, "Hands on Stanzas 2004-2005 Anthology" which is available on or The book is a great book for youth poets or their families to read. Another great book is Thoughts by T Boz of TLC. It's a poetry book that is partly about her as a performer, but also contains thought provoking poetry. Spoken word recommendations are Marc Lacy ( and Mr. Talley ( and Tim Dillinger ( Zane's Breaking the Cycle is a great book that explores the different sides of domestic violence and the impact on the black family.

SF - What is your idea of fun?

PO - My idea of fun is to go to the beach, lay on the hot sand, and breath deeply. I love long walks with my writing journal and a pen! There's nothing better than letting your thoughts run rapid on a page while hearing birds chirp. Fun can also be me hanging with my cousin Amensua and his little brother or playing with my mom's cat, Snowball.

SF - What experiences do you hope to one day have?

PO - I want to be able to go to Sri Lanka, London or Jamaica and teach poetry! Or perform there. Or do a booksigning there.

SF - What places do you still wish to travel to?

PO - The islands (Jamaica, Bermuda, Montego Bay, Aruba).

SF - Do you have an agent and if not are you looking for one?

PO - I need an agent and publicist (writing) and manager and producer (for the spoken word).

SF - How many not yet to be released works do you have keeping warm on the back burner?

PO - Too many to count. More than 2 probably.

SF - Who did your cover for you?

PO - Iuniverse has their in-house staff to complete the work for my books. Lulu, has a template, which was okay just because the book was a chapbook and I wanted it to be simple.

SF - Off all of your released works which is your favorite?

PO - I like Black Orchids because it is raw. Musings of a Mocha Sistah was the beginning of my poetry career and it's my favorite because it took so long to complete with all the mishaps.

SF - Which, of your poems, is your favorite and why?

PO - My favorite poem is Love in Transition. I wrote that as a personal comment and it ended up being a poem that many have embraced.

SF - When and where / what type of environment are you most creative in?

PO - I'm most creative at home with my computer on, some candles, and a little jazz. That's it. No other noise.

SF - What other talents should everyone know you have?

PO - I am a vocalist and can sing a little bit or as I say, "Hum"

SF - Where would you like to see your life five years from now?

PO - Married with children in a healthy relationship that balances my love of the craft of writing with performing. I would like to be a force to be reckoned with in the area of youth artistic development.

SF - Anyone out there you like to acknowledge?

PO - Poetry Center of Chicago, Chicago Children's Museum, Youth Service Project, Inc., Chicago Humanities Festival, Felicia Madlock, Diane Williams, Stephanie L. Brown, Renee Daye, Linetia Hudgins, Fo Feet, Mr. Talley, Floyd Boykins, Jr, Dominique Grosevenor, Brown Sugar Lounge, Rock Publications, Chicago Defender,, The Musings Report and Afose Spoken Word Radio. I wish I could acknowledge all...but those who have supported me as a writer, singer, poetess, know I am appreciative so if I didn't list your name or organization this is your thanks!

SF - What was your best literary experience and why?

PO - Being a panelist aside of author Zane in 2004 was the beginning of a great experience for a poetry who wrote a book (me); and then to have to share space again with her at the 2005 Strebor Literary Writers Cruise to the Bahamas where I got a chance to speak with her one-on-one, perform spoken word, sell books with other authors, was an unforgettable experience.

SF - I'd like to thank Pam Osbey for taking the time from her very busy schedule to share a glimpse into the woman behind the creative works found in her books and on stage performances., Musings of a Mocha Sista: A Different Flava of Mocha, her debut published book, Musings of a Mocha Sistah: Volume II, The SoulKiss, her second book of poetry, Love Story and of course her most recent release Black Orchid. have each exposed Pamela as a multi-talented poet, writer and songstress. She is a powerful spoken word artist on a mission to uplift, heal, and inspire women and people of color. Ms. Osbey is a contributing writer for several literary magazines and newspapers.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Pam last year at the 2004 Harlem Book Fair - Authors Brunch. I became a fan of her spoken word and quickly discovered that she is a remarkably non-pretentious individual and has a beautiful spirit. I strongly recommend buying her books and they make gifts that keep giving. I look forward to sharing more musings of a wonderful mocha sistah, Ms. Pamela Osbey.

Silver Fox, Reviewer

Tarbox's Bookshelf

Cool Time Song
Carole Lexa Schaefer
A Division of Penguin Group
345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
ISBN: 0670059285, $15.99, 32 pages

I had never read a book by this author so I picked this book to review. COOL TIME SONG is a very nice story and the words flow well with the illustrations. The ending is very sweet. At first I was not sure what direction this picture book was going in because the story starts in the savannah with animals under a hot sun. Then towards the middle of the book the animals are singing songs together at dusk. However, by the end of the story the reader will understand the message. And it is a good message that adults sharing this book with children may want to discuss further after the story. This is a good read aloud story for children under eight.

The First Dog
Jan Brett
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
ISBN: 078570177X, $14.15, 32 pages

As a dog lover this was a great visual book to share with my children who love dogs too. The story is about a boy who befriends a wolf-looking dog back in cave man times. The illustrations are superb and the story is good too.

Market Day
Lois Ehlert
Harcourt, Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
ISBN: 0152021582, $16.00, 176 pages

MARKET DAY is a fun and unique picture book. The author collects folk art from around the world and folk art objects are what is used to make the book visually interesting. This picture book would be a nice read-a-loud for children under five.

Starry Safari
Linda Ashman
15 East 26th Street, New York, NY 10010
ISBN: 0152047662, $16.00, 32 pages

STARRY SAFARI left me with a smile on my face after I read it. The story is told in rhyme and is a fun read. The illustrations are also fun and go well with the story. I could easily see a three year old sitting for this book and imitating some of the book's animal sounds. This is one of those books where little children will ask to have the story read to them again, and again.

Neil, Buzz, and Mike Go to the Moon
Richard Hilliard
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church Street, Honesdale, Pennsylvania 18431
ISBN: 1590782933, $16.95, 32 pages

NEIL, BUZZ, AND MIKE GO TO THE MOON is written and illustrated by Richard Hilliard. Hilliard does an excellent job in both the writing and the pictures. I chose this book because Neil Armstrong gave a rare public speech in my town of Gettysburg, PA not long ago and I thought my kids would like to know more about him since neither of them were born when he and the other astronauts went to the moon. Hilliard does a nice job of telling the three astronauts' story about the Gemini program and their mission. On the sides of the main illustrations are additional facts that add extra information to the main text. However, the book does not get too bogged down with facts, which is perfect for the age group the book is intended for, children under eight. Kids reading this book will learn a nice overview of an important part of history. I think it would also make a good read-aloud. NEIL, BUZZ, AND MIKE GO TO THE MOON is a very nice non-fiction book, that would be a good addition to any library: school, public, or home.

2006 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market
Alice Pope
Writer's Digest Books
F & W Publications
4700 East Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45236
ISBN: 1582974020, $24.99, 442 pages

2006 CHILDREN'S WRITER'S & ILLUSTRATOR'S MARKET is a must resource for all children's writer's who are seeking traditional publication. It has a list of many publisher addresses, editor names, and what many of these companies are looking for from writers. This is an annual publication because there are changes constantly in this field. A recommended reference book for writers of children's books and libraries.

Creating Characters Kids Will Love
Elaine Marie Alphin
Writer's Digest Books
F & W Publications
1507 Dana Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45207
ISBN: 0898799856, $16.99, 232 pages

CREATING CHARACTERS KIDS WILL LOVE is a wonderful resource for writers of children's books. The book gives a writer a lot to think about. The suggested exercises she gives in the book are numerous but valid in helping a writer zero in on making a character come to life. The recommended readings are also helpful so the writer can see fine examples of what Alphin is trying to get the writer to pay close attention to. I particulary liked her section on point of view. Alphin is an accomplished writer and her books include COUNTERFEIT SON, THE PROVING GROUND and GHOST CADET.

North-South Books
875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 1901, New York, New York 10001 212-706-4545
ISBN: 0735819815, $16.50, 32 pages

WIGGLES is an adorable, nicely illustrated book about a puppy who wakes up early and walks about the farm with his dad. Along the way Wiggles gets into mischief. But it is the kind of mischief that parents and young ones can relate to. Children under eight will enjoy this story and it makes a great read-aloud.

Titanic: The Disaster That Shocked the World
Mark Dubowski
DK Publishing
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
ISBN: 0613121279, $11.80, 48 pages

Kids will be intrigued by the story of the Titanic's voyage and how it sank. The photographs and illustrations do a great job of visually showing the story. This is a great reading book for second and third graders.

Pirate (DK Eyewitness Books)
Richard Platt
DK Publishing
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
ISBN: 0756607132, $15.99, 72 pages

PIRATE is a great resource for kids 9 and older. The photographs and illustrations, combined with the very informative text, make this a great addition to any pirate enthusiasts library. I actually used this book, and many adult books, as part of my pirate research for one of my novels. PIRATE will take the reader from ancient pirates through the golden age of piracy (1700's) until piracy decline in the 19th century. However, as recent news reports will attest, there are still pirates out there sailing our seas.

Ultimate Bread
Eric Treuille
DK Publishing
95 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016
ISBN: 0756603706, $20.00, 176 pages

ULTIMATE BREAD, what a wonderful bread book. The photographs are beautiful, and are guaranteed to make you salivate. As I thumbed through the book trying to decide what to make I was impressed with how organized and detailed, both written and visually, each recipe was. This is an excellent bread book for adults trying to make bread. It will make you look like an expert. I also liked the little histories behind each bread.

Shoe Baby
Joyce Dunbar
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140
ISBN: 0763627798, $15.99, 32 pages

SHOE BABY is a cute read about a baby who hid in a shoe and had many adventures in that shoe. Using repetition and rythmic sounds the author does a good job making this a fun read and the pictures are a good match for the story. This picture book is probably more for children under four as a read-a-loud.

Circles of Hope
Karen Lynn Williams
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
255 Jefferson S. E., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503
ISBN: 0802852769, $16.00, 32 pages

CIRCLES OF HOPE is a delightful read about a little boy who wants to plant a tree for his sister. The story introduces children to Haiti and the colors in the illustrations give off a warmth of their own. This story is for children under eight and it would make a nice read-a-loud.

Daddy Longlegs
Heather L. Miller
Kidhaven Press
27500 Drake Rd., Farmington Hills, MI 48331-3535
ISBN: 0737717696, $24.95, 32 pages

DADDY LONGLEGS is a nice informative, non-fiction book about the arachnid Daddy Longlegs. The up close pictures of this bug, shown on every page of the book, are interesting to look at. Children will learn a lot about Daddy Longlegs by reading this book. I sure did. This book is for children 9-12.

Great White Sharks
Sandra Markle
Carolrhoda Books, Inc.
241 First Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401 1-800-328-4929
ISBN: 157505731X, $25.26, 39 pages

GREAT WHITE SHARKS was a great read. As a scuba diver I love being out in the ocean and I am fascinated by all sea life, especially the ocean's predators. The photographs in this book are wonderful, up close shots of the massive, intimidating animal hunting seals. Kids 6 to 12 will like this book if they like reading about sharks. I think this book is also a good read-a-loud.

Red, White, and Blue Good-bye
Sarah Wones Tomp
Walker and Company
104 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10011
ISBN: 0802789625, $16.95, 32 pages

RED, WHITE, AND BLUE GOOD-BYE is a sweet story about a little girl who does not want her daddy to go away for his military duty. As a child I remember my own father and mother serving in the military and I could sympathize with this character's feelings. This is Ms. Tomp's first picture book and she has told a wonderful story that will help young people cope with a parent's departure for military duty. It will also help children not associated with the military understand more what military family's deal with. This story would be great for children under 8 and as a read-a-loud.

I Wish I Were A Pilot
Stella Blackstone
Barefoot Books
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
ISBN: 1841483419, $15.99, 32 pages

I WISH I WERE A PILOT is a rhyming book that is colorful in text and illustrations. The story takes the young child on a journey using different kinds of transportation. Kids under five will enjoy this book as a read-a-loud.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
J. K. Rowling
Arthur A. Levine Books
Scholastic Press
555 Broadway, New York, New York 10012
ISBN: 0590353403, $17.95, 312 pages

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE is a book that I wish had been around when I was a kid. However, it's still a treat to be able to share it with my own children. Ms. Rowling does a fantastic job of hooking you into the story from the first chapter and there is no sag in the middle. Every chapter is exciting, all the way to the end. The main character, Harry Potter, is a wonderful protagonist and his friends, Hermoine and Ron are interesting too. The bad guys, or antagonists, are plenty in this book. Anywhere from school bullies, mean teachers to the ultimate dark wizard himself, Lord Voldemort, a name that even most wizards are afraid to say out loud. This book is book one of a series. The author, J. K. Rowling's personal story is magical in itself. As a single mother she was living off the dole in Scotland (equivalent to our welfare in the United States) trying to finish this book. She received a financial award from the Scottish Arts Council with her early efforts on the Harry Potter manuscript and after it was finished she sent it to agents. After an agent took her book on there were some early rejections but eventually HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERERS STONE found its home with a good British publisher. Scholastic got the United States rights to the book and the rest, as they say is history. As in, HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE and the rest of the series so far, is the best selling book in children's book history!

135 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10020-1393
ISBN: 0786808284, $15.99, 262 pages

CRISPIN was a great read! Avi does a great job using language through out the book. It is told in the first person and Avi's choice of words and period dialogue makes you really feel you are back in medieval times. Life has always been hard for Crispin but after he has been accused of a crime, which he did not do, life becomes even harder. Children 9 and up will enjoy this book or listening to it on audio tape. This book is also a winner of the prestigous Newberry Medal.

The Da Vinci Code
Dan Brown
A Division of Random House, Inc.
1745 Broadway, New York, New York
ISBN: 0385504209, $24.95, 454 pages

THE DA VINCI CODE is superb! Intrigued and hooked from the beginning chapter, I could not put this book down until its conclusion. Which meant late nights and going without sleep so I could find out what was going to happen. Dan Brown is an excellent storyteller! Mr. Brown's main character in the story is Robert Langdon, a professor who finds himself involved in a strange murder that happened at the Louvre in Paris. He is a suspect and on the run trying to prove his innocence. The clues and subplots of the story will keep a reader turning every page trying to find out more. It may even have you doing research of your own after the story to try and find out what may be true. This book is soon to be made into a movie.

West with the Night
Beryl Markham
North Point Press
A Division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, New York, New York 10003
ISBN: 0865471185, $15.00, 320 pages

WEST WITH THE NIGHT is Beryl Markham's autobiographical story of her years in Africa and flying. As a student pilot myself, I was interested in her story. As a writer, I was impressed with her use of language and her storytelling ability. This book is a nice adult read and gives insight into another era. Ernest Hemingway, a famous author, was also impressed with Ms. Markham's book for on the back cover it shows a letter he wrote to a friend about it. I was also given this book by a friend and what a good friend to give me such a delightful book!

Christopher Paolini
Alfred A. Knopf
Imprint of Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, New York, New York 10019
ISBN: 0375826688, $18.95, 544 pages

ERAGON is a great first book by author Christopher Paolini. Paolini wrote this book when he was seventeen and it is an impressive read. Eragon is the main character of the story and he is soon off on an adventure after finding a mysterious egg in the forest. The conflict begins when the egg hatches into a dragon and the king sends men to find the new dragon and his rider. Using traditional fantasy characters like dwarves and elves, Paolini weaves an intriguing story adding his own touch to their mythology. The story is original despite the familiarity of some of the characters and the fact that Paolini is so young I would expect a long writing career from this talented author. Eragon is the first book in Paolini's Inheritance series.

The Family Butterfly Book
Rick Mikula
Storey Publishing
210 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247
ISBN: 158017292X, $16.95, 166 pages

THE FAMILY BUTTERFLY BOOK is very informative and the illustrations are vivid. Butterfly expert Rick Mikula does a fantastic job of explaining in his book how to attract, identify and raise butterflies. I found his book very helpful when I was raising butterflies for an elementary school project. I even contacted him and he came to my children's school as an author visit. His credentials are amazing. He has been in People magazine, on Animal Planet, designed gardens for Hershey Gardens, Dollywood and he is the author of several other books on butterflies. He owns Hole-in-Hand Butterfly Farm in Pennsylvania and raises butterflies for special events like weddings.

The Christmas Lullaby
Nancy Jewell
Clarion Books
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
ISBN: 0395974615, $5.95, 32 pages

I absolutely love this story. The words are calming and flow so nice. Around the holidays it was a favorite when my children were younger. The illustrations by Stefano Vitale are also wonderful and perfect for the text.

To Fly The Story of the Wright Brothers
Wendie C. Old
Clarion Books
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
ISBN: 061813347X, $16.00, 48 pages

TO FLY THE STORY OF THE WRIGHT BROTHERS is a very nice non-fiction book by author Wendie C. Old. It tells the Wright Brothers story of making the first flying airplane in an easy to understand format for children 12 and under. Parker's illustrations are delightful and really make this book visually interesting. I brought Ms. Old in as an author visit to my child's school around the time the nation was celebrating the hundredth anniversary of flight. Her visit and this book were a wonderful way to learn about why that first airplane was such a big deal.

Go Away, Big Green Monster
Ed Emberley
Little, Brown and Company
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020
ISBN: 0316236535, $12.95, 32 pages

This story is terrific for young children who are sometimes afraid of things in the dark or in their room at night. It is clever how the monster is shown and then how it disappears page by page. I read this story a lot to my children when they were young. It was a fun read!

The Golden Mare, the Firebird, and the Magic Ring
Ruth Sanderson
Little, Brown and Company
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020
ISBN: 0316769061, $15.95, 32 pages

Ruth Sanderson is the author and illustrator of this beautiful book. She is a wonderful painter and her talent really shows in this book. The story Ms. Sanderson has retold is actually taken from a few Russian fairy tales. It is a delightful read and young children will be glued to the pictures and the story. I brought Ms. Sanderson to my children's school for an author visit and she shared with the kids the process of how she illustrates her books. There is so much work behind her books, or any book for that matter, and it gave everyone a greater appreciation of the time and talent involved.

Are You My Mother
P. D. Eastman
Random House for Young Readers
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
ISBN: 0394800184, $8.99, 72 pages

ARE YOU MY MOTHER is a cute story that is great for early readers. It is about a little bird that becomes separated from his mother and he goes around looking for her. Eastman also does adorable illustrations. This was one of my early reading books as well as my children.

The Very Quiet Cricket
Eric Carle
Philomel Books
The Putnam & Grosset Group
200 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016
ISBN: 0399218858, $21.99, 28 pages

My kids loved this book growing up and the surprise sound at the end was delightful! This book takes a young person on a cricket's journey of meeting other bugs. Each time the young cricket tries to answer the other bugs he cannot. But then at the end, well, it is fun to find out what sounds the young cricket finally makes. Eric Carle does very creative and beautiful illustrations.

The Polar Express
Chris Van Allsburg
Houghton Mifflin Company
215 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10003
ISBN: 0395389496, $18.95, 32 pages

A delightful Christmas book that is also beautifully illustrated. The story is told in the first person and the narrator explains what happened to him one Christmas Eve night when he was young. His adventure takes him on a train ride to the North Pole where he meets the jolly man himself (Santa). Santa gives him something special and he tries to take it home with him. The ending of this story is candy cane sweet just like the entire story. I loved sharing this book with my kids when they were young and this picture book was made into a movie. This book is a definite holiday reading treat.

A. D. Tarbox, Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Literary Giants Literary Catholics
Joseph Pearce
Ignatius Press
PO Box 1339, Fort Collins, CO 80522
1586170775 $24.95 1-800-651-1531

British author and literary biographer Joseph Pearce applies his talents in Literary Giants Literary Catholics, an examination of the lives, works, and creativity of numerous authors of Catholic prose and poetry, including G. K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Maisie Ward, John Seymour and many others. Of especial note are the multiple essays concerning J. R. R. Tolkien, one of which seeks to answer the question: would Tolkien have given Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" movie the thumbs-up? A measured and scholarly account that balances critical insight with an understanding of the life and history of each author scrutinized, recommended for college library and literary criticism shelves.

Perspectives on the Rule of Saint Benedict
Sister Aquinata Bockmann, O.S.B., Ph.D.
The Liturgical Press
St. John's Abbey, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321-7500
0814630413 $21.95 1-800-858-5450

Written by Sister Aquinata Bockmann, a member of the Benedictine Missionary Sisters of Tutzing, Germany and experienced professor of spirituality and theology, Perspectives on the Rule of Saint Benedict: Expanding Our Hearts in Christ is a blend of scholarly scrutiny and Benedictine love in examining the Rule of Saint Benedict, specifically vv. 1-4, 45-50 of the prologue and chapters 72, 73, 58, and 53. Line by line, the ancient text is scrutinized from both past and contemporary viewpoints, while never losing sight of the christological nature of the Rule itself. Researched in depth and heavily annotated, Perspectives on the Rule of Saint Benedict is methodical in its dissection of intent word by word as it is passionate about the needs of the spirit. A deeply theological and worshipful treatise.

Esteemed Reproach
Keith Harper & C. Martin Jacumin
Mercer University Press
1400 Coleman Avenue, Macon, GA 31207-0001
0865549141 $25.00 1-800-634-2378

In Virginia, Baptists were persecuted for their beliefs well into the 18th century. Two Baptist preachers have left written records providing first-hand accounts of their sufferings for their faith. In "Esteemed Reproach: The Lives Of Reverend James Ireland And Reverend Joseph Craig", co-authors Keith Harper (Professor of Church History, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina) and Baptist academician C. Martin Jacumin collaborate with impressive scholarship and meticulous attention to bring the stories of these two Baptist leaders together for a new generation of readers. Here recorded are their stories and vivid accounts of religious persecution in colonial Virginia -- and they and some of their fellow Baptists were will to pay for the right to worship as they wished. "Esteemed Reproach" is a welcome and informative contribution to American Baptist historical studies.

The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament
George J. Brooke
Fortress Press
c/o Augsburg Fortress, Publishers
PO Box 1209, Minneapolis, MN 55440-1209
0800637240 $25.00

The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament offers expert analysis in the study of The Dead Sea Scrolls by George J. Brooke, Rylands Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Manchester, England. While most studies draw links between The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Old Testament, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament demonstrates how scholars can use the Scrolls to learn more about the linguistic, historical, religious, and social contexts of first-century Palestine and therefore better understand the New Testament. An extensively researched and scholarly accounting, with a select bibliography, and separate indexes of Bible references and Non-Biblical sources.

What Matthias Found
Madeline Arroyo & S. Dean Vavak
Stairway Publications
PO Box 518, Huntington, NY 11743-0518
0974006114 $16.95

Written to appeal to children ages five through 7, "What Matthias Found" is the joyous story of ten-year-old Matthias who is a potter's apprentice blessed with two encounters with Jesus of Nazareth. Author Madeline Arroyo's story of those encounters is impressively enhanced with the full color illustrations by Dean Vavak and make the earthly ministry of Jesus quite real to young readers and a great way to get across the message to boys and girls about how the limitations of their bodies will not prevent them from living happy and productive Christian lives. Inspired and inspiring, "What Matthais Found" is very highly recommended reading and a welcome addition to the picturebook collections of Christian families regardless of their denominational affiliation.

What Mary & Joseph Knew about Parenting
Rick Osborne
Integrity Publishing
c/o TC Public Relations
333 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1020, Chicago, IL 60601
1591452880 $14.99

Especially recommended reading for new parents in our Christian communities, What Mary & Joseph Knew about Parenting: by Rick Osborne draws upon biblical families to showcase and illustrate what to do (and what not to do) as parents. Enhanced with fifty insightful, inspiring, and encouraging meditations, What Mary & Joseph Knew about Parenting shows how to teach children obedience, get along with others, what to do when parenting gets tough, making parenting the joy and delight God intended, as well as helping children develop a faith of their own. Not to be overlooked is what Rick Osborne and the biblical parentage he draws from have to say about "peer proofing" a child. Informed and informative, inspired and inspiring, What Mary & Joseph Knew about Parenting would prove to be of immense value and aid to parents regardless of their denominational affiliation or background.

Where Jesus Walked
Biblical Archaeology Society Press
4710 - 41st Street, NW, Washington, DC 20016-1700
DVD $24.95 1-800-221-4644

Biblical archaeology is uncovering more data on the Palestinian world of Jesus every year. Hosted and narrated by Hershel Shanks (editor of "Biblical Archaeology Review", "Bible Review", and "Archaeology Odyssey") this 90 minute DVD documentary from the Biblical Archaeology Society offers an archaeological tour of Nazareth, Galilee, Capernaum, Bethsaida, Qumran, Sepphoris, and Jerusalem to view the sites where Jesus was born, walked, taught, preached, and died. Shanks interviews some of the world's most prominent biblical archaeologists and scholars to discuss the discoveries that link these sites to Jesus in Christian tradition and archaeological realities. Their lively, engaging, informative, in-depth conversations present the viewer with clear picture of how current archaeology is illuminating, documenting, confirming, and correction the New Testament stories of Jesus and his followers. The biblical scholars and archaeologists include such illustrious academicians as Richard Freund, Rami Arav, Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, Stephen Pfann, James Strange, Vassilios Tzaferis, James Fleming, Ronny Reich, Hillel Geva, Hanan Eshel, Ya'acov Meshorer, Bargil Pixner, Gideon Avni, Gabriel Barkay, Dan Bahat, Joseph Fitzmyer, and Orna Cohen. Among the fascinating artifacts discussed are a first-century boat like the one the apostles used, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the theater at Sepphoris, the fishing village of Bethsaida, the Capernaum synagogue where Jesus preached, the remains of an individual crucified in the first century, and so much more. "Where Jesus Walked" is enthusiastically and especially recommended for non-specialist general viewers with an interest in Biblical Archaeology Studies in general, and what contemporary biblical archaeology has to offer us with respect to the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth.

Hanged On A Twisted Cross
Vision Video
PO Box 540, Worcester, PA 19490-0540
#4863D $19.99 1-800-523-0226

Biblical Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis just days before the Allies defeated Germany in World War II. "Hanged On A Twisted Cross" is a informative and engaging documentary on the life, times, and thought of this man who was martyred for his beliefs. Drawing upon archival footage, historical documents, and visits to original locations, "Hanged Upon A Twisted Cross" provides an intimate and insightful portrait of a man whose life and writings grew (and continue to grow) in their theological influence within the Christian community, and still powerfully speak to contemporary issues a half century after Bonhoeffer's death. Viewers will benefit from Bonhoeffer's views on how men of peace come to employ violence when combating unrestrained evil. What is to be done when deep-seated patriotism and their religion-based ethics compels Christians to oppose their fatherland and its demonic leader. The DVD format is thoroughly "user friendly". With a total running time of two hours, "Hanged On A Twisted Cross" is strongly recommended viewing and a welcome contribution to personal, seminary, and academic Christian Studies collections.
3561 Clarington Avenue, Suite 107, Los Angeles, CA 90034
1-310-815-0463 has produced three visually outstanding documentaries that are informed and informative, inspired and inspiring, superbly narrated and technically impressive. "The Search For The Real Mt. Sinai" (#6- 78570-030156) is narrated by John Rhys-Davies and is an exploration into the Arabian Desert to find what many scholars consider to be the real Mt. Sinai where Moses received the Ten Commandments. Viewers will see military installations, as the explorers use night vision goggles to avoid being detected by hostile forces as they discover significant artifacts sill remaining at the site of their discovery. The DVD format is perfect for weaving together a real life adventure hallmarked with historical research and never-before-seen documentary footage. "Life's Story: The One That Hasn't Been Told" is narrated by Nick Jackson and was filmed and researched over a five-year period in more than ten different countries. The beautifully photographed DVD explores such questions as the origin of instinct and intelligence, why species depend upon one another, and how much can animals change. With a total running time of 56 minutes, "Life's Story" is a welcome contribution to the discussion over intelligent design and the shortcomings of the theory of Darwinian evolution. Both of these superbly produced DVDs are recommended viewing for families, students, and church study groups.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

With Skilful Hand
David T. Barnard
McGill-Queen's University Press
3430 McTavish Street, Montreal, QC, Canada, H3A 1X9
0773527141 $29.95 1-800-387-0141

The latest addition to the outstanding "McGill-Queen's Studies in the History of Religion" series, With Skilful Hand: The Story Of King David by David T. Barnard (President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Regina) brings to life the ancient scriptural tale of King David. Structured in the format of an imaginary series of letters from Biblical characters, With Skilful Hand adheres firmly to the content and meaning of the scriptures, carefully avoiding the temptation to embellish with unrecorded details, while creating a highly readable and smoothly flowing rendition that lay people can follow and enjoy as much as scholars. King David's own character manifested in such diverse roles as commander, father, murderer, poet, and "a man after God's own heart" in scripture; it is these at times paradoxically conflicting roles that make his story fascinating reading from cover to cover. Appendices allow for quick reference of names of people, names of places, the source passages, and offer a guide to further reading. Highly recommended.

Jesus Goes To Hollywood
William Bramley
Dahlin & Associates, Publisher
PO Box 578688, Modesto, CA 95357-8688
0975563602 $24.95

Jesus Goes To Hollywood: The Alternative Theories About Christ is a compilation of iconoclastic theories about Jesus drawn from scholarly inquiries, metaphysical sources, and the theological clashes between orthodoxy and heresies. This methodical survey about "everything you never wanted to know about Christ, or were afraid to ask" covers such topics as the angels alleged to be in contact with Christ, whether Jesus visited other continents including North America, what unusual religious such as Gnosticism have to say about Jesus Christ and the afterlife, how hallucinogens affect Christianity, and much more. Written in plain terms, with a smattering of Hollywood-style pastiche to jocularly introduce different topics, Jesus Goes To Hollywood is entertaining yet ultimately a serious- minded weighing of ideas, beliefs, and theological arguments. Highly recommended especially for lay readers with a budding interest in alternative theology.

Divine Subjection
Gary Kuchar
Duquesne University Press
600 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15282
0820703702 $58.00 1-800-666-2211

Divine Subjection: The Rhetoric Of Sacramental Devotion In Early Modern England by Gary Kuchar (Assistant Professor of English, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada) is a blend of theoretical analysis and close readings in historical context in order to better understand the connection between devotional literature and early modern English culture. Chapters discuss the "gendering" of god in the poetry of Richard Crashaw, representation and embodiment in John Donne's "Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions", representation of the recusant soul in the works of Robert Southwell, and concepts of body, word, and self as written by Thomas Traherne. A meticulous and scholarly text for intermediate to advanced history, theology, and philosophy students, Divine Subjection treats its subject matter with psychoanalytical expertise and in-depth examination.

Paul T. Vogel

Volk's Bookshelf

Twentieth Century
Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur
LA Theatre Works
681 Venice Boulevard, Venice, CA 90291
1580813305 $25.95

Twentieth Century is a loopy, screwball comedy audiobook on CD. Set in the 1930's aboard a luxury train traveling from Chicago to New York, Twentieth Century follows a self-absorbed Broadway producer as he aids a chorus girl to the heights of stardom, only to be left behind as her sparkling career takes off. Now out of luck and barely a few steps from utter poverty, he gives his all to persuade the moody star sensation to come back for one more show. A delightful audio theatre story, featuring a professional, full cast performance. 2 CDs, 85 min.

Sixteen Wounded
Eliam Kraiem
LA Theatre Works
681 Venice Boulevard, Venice, CA 90291
1580813062 $25.95

Sixteen Wounded is a dramatic audiobook on CD about the fateful meeting of a lonely Jewish baker and a fiery Palestinian, who find themselves brought together by an act of violence, and surprisingly discover the seeds of a deepening friendship. Each must grapple with identity, loyalty, and what their beliefs mean for themselves and with regard to each other. Will another act of violence destroy their bond? Performed by professional theatre actors, Sixteen Wounded is taut, thought-provoking, and highly recommended. 2 CDs, 75 min.

Die A Little
Megan Abbott; Ellen Archer, narrator
Tantor Media, Inc.
114 Mill Rock Road East, Old Saybrook, CT 06475
1400101514, $29.99 1-877-782-6867

Die A Little is Megan Abbott's debut novel and set in 1950s Hollywood. Lora King is a school teacher and her brother Bill is a junior investigator with the district attorney's office. Lora's comfortable suburban life is suddenly disrupted when her brother falls in love with Alice Steele, a mysterious young woman with a murky past who now works as a Hollywood wardrobe assistant. Made sisters by marriage but not by choice, envy and mistrust are the hallmarks of the relationship between Lora and Alice. Lora finds herself walking the alleys and streets of the seamy sections of Los Angles as she uncovers a shadowy world of drugs, prostitution, and murder in her attempt to uncover Alice's sinister past -- and present intentions. With flawless technical production values, "Die A Little" is expertly narrated by Ellen Archer in this complete and unabridged, 6 CD audiobook with a total running time of 7 hours, 30 minutes. Also available in an MP3 CD format (1400151511, 1 CD, $19.99), "Die A Little" is especially recommended for community library audiobook collections in the Library Edition format (1400131510, 6 CDs, $59.99).

Why Are We Created?
Sir John Templeton & Rebeka Alezander Dunlap
Templeton Foundation Press
Five Radnor Corporate Center, Suite 120, 100 Matsonford Road, Radnor, PA 19087-9166
1932031820 $14.95 1-800-621-8476

"Why Are We Created?: Increasing Our Understanding Of Humanity's Purpose On Earth" by Sir John Templeton and Rebeka Alezander Dunlap is a four hour and ten minute audiobook recording on four CDs. Expertly narrated by Brea Brannon and Len Stea, "Why Are We Created?" addresses such issues as whether or not happiness is related to our purpose, or it our purpose is related to our happiness. If a person places a particular virtue such as honesty at the top of his list of personal ethics what benefit does this bring to him and to others around him? Sir John Templeton felt that there is more to life than what we may presently be experiencing and that we might be living successfully in the outer world, but that it was essential for our happiness to also live successfully in our inner world. Indeed, it was through awakening our spiritual faculties that we can begin to move closer to understanding our personal purpose in life -- and the power of that purpose to drive and shape our lives. "Why Are We Created" is thoughtful and thought- provoking listening for anyone trying to understand themselves and their relationship to themselves and to the people who surround them. Also very highly recommended from the Templeton Foundation Press are two other new CD formatted audiobook releases: "Wisdom From World Religions: Pathways Toward Heaven On Earth" (Sir John Templeton, 1932031839, $29.95) and "Possibilities For Over One Hundredfold More Spiritual Information: The Humble Approach In Theology And Science (Sir John Templeton, 1932031847, $14.95).

The Imperial Presidency
Noam Chomsky
AK Press
674-A 23rd Street, Oakland, CA 94612-1163
1904859437 $14.98

"The Imperial Presidency: Sovereignty,Terror, And The Second Superpower" by linguist, academician, and political analyst Noam Chomsky is now available as a 64-minute CD audio recording. Taped on November 2004, just after the reelection of George W. Bush, Chomsky accurately pinpoints the principle commitments of the current Bush administration. Acting in the name of expanding markets and controlling access to key natural resources, the Bush administration's "neo-cons" have blatantly been undermining democratic practices, exhibited contempt for international law, systematically restricted civil liberties, and utilized the state terrorism to further their foreign poicy objectives. "The Imperial Presidency" offers a lively chronicle of the systematic power-plays by Bush and his cronies to effectively wrench power from ordinary people and in doing so, has made the world an increasingly unstable and hostile place to inhabit for Americans and for everyone else in the world. "The Imperial Power" is critically important listening for anyone concerned with the current direction of American federal policy and White House machinations on both the domestic and the international stages.

Carol Volk

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

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