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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 7, Number 12 December 2007 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Afrika's Bookshelf Bethany's Bookshelf
Bob's Bookshelf Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf
Carson's Bookshelf Clay's Bookshelf Debra's Bookshelf
Gary's Bookshelf Gloria's Bookshelf Gorden's Bookshelf
Harwood's Bookshelf Henry's Bookshelf Kaye's Bookshelf
Liana's Bookshelf Lockstein's Bookshelf Lowe's Bookshelf
Margaret's Bookshelf Mark's Bookshelf Molly's Bookshelf
Paul's Bookshelf Richard's Bookshelf Sullivan's Bookshelf
Theodore's Bookshelf Trisha's Bookshelf Victoria's Bookshelf

Reviewer's Choice

Silenced Cry
Marta Stephens
BeWrite Books
32 Bryn Road South,Wigan, Lancaster, WN4 8QR
9781905202720 $15.50

Aaron Paul Lazar

Heads up, mystery lovers. There's a new crime writer in town, and her name is Marta Stephens.

Stephens' debut novel, Silenced Cry, is supremely addictive, propelling readers into the action from page one and corkscrewing through a wild ride of corruption, abuse, and villainy.

When Detective Sam Harper's partner, Frank Gillies, gets a peculiar tip about a drug-related suspect holed up in a local bar, they hurry to apprehend him. The bust goes terribly wrong, and in one heart-pounding moment awash with bizarre twists, the suspect and Gillies end up dead in a rain-soaked alley.

Riddled with guilt and facing an increasing number of unanswered questions about Gillies' past, Sam tries to move forward, but becomes exasperated when he's placed with a new partner who hails from a corrupt precinct. In spite of their rocky start, Harper and Mann learn to tolerate each other. Their first case calls them to a construction site to investigate remains found in a sealed up wall. Horrified, they discover the remains belong to that of a baby girl – killed when she was only days old.

The cold case consumes Harper, who digs into the past with persistence and unparalleled drive. Strange connections with his and Gillies' past pop up. Walt Harper, Sam's father and an ex-cop familiar with the suspects, grows distant and secretive.

What is Walt hiding from his son? And could it possibly relate to Sam's partner's death? The answers lie embedded in a complex maze that will shock and satisfy the most assiduous crime mystery buff.

Stephens writes with a consummate skill. She's serious about her craft, and it shows. Tight suspense, perfectly chosen verbs, natural and innovative beats, and authentic dialog propel this work to a level far beyond those works commonly found on the best sellers list. Stephens' writing soars with focused intensity and her characters are real – they hurt, they fall in love, they suffer angst and explode with anger.

Stephen's second book in the Sam Harper series promises thrills and intrigue matched only by Silenced Cry. This reviewer will be first in line for his much-anticipated copy.

Winds of Fortune
Bold Strokes Books, Inc.
430 Herrington Road, Johnsonville, NY 12094
9781933110936 $15.95

Cheri Rosenberg

If it's more than sizzling sex that you're after; more than getting intimate with three dynamic couples you'll absolutely love and admire; more than pure escapism just for the joy of it; more than character journeys that help make sense of the world; and more than a truly engaging story that makes you feel like you're home; then Winds of Fortune by Radclyffe is the book that will fuel your desire like a bonfire.

Provincetown sheriff Reese Conlon is back from serving as a marine in the War on Terror and is a little more than shell-shocked. Her partner, Dr. Tory King, is grateful to have her back even if they both have to figure out how to cope in the aftermath of Reese's tour of duty. Police Officer Bri Parker and her partner Carolyn are as tight and adorable together as ever. And the new kids on the block, Tory's new associate, Dr. Nita Burgoyne and construction company owner Deo Camara will blow you away.

Deo is a player who can have any woman she wants except Nita. Watching them dance around courtship as each woman discards her baggage one layer at a time before hopefully making the ultimate sacrifice, is truly something to see, and is more than reason enough to read Winds of Fortune. But for me, the real reason to read anything written by Radclyffe is way deeper than girl gets girl. I marvel at how deeply devoted these women are to each other; how much they care; and how truly protective and supportive they are for their chosen family. It would make anyone, gay or straight, long for such profound love and commitment in their life. Radclyffe shows how one's gender has nothing to do with it, and that being human and needing love to survive does.

Winds of Fortune is the fifth novel in the Provincetown series and it's a wonder how Radclyffe can write so many sex scenes, so many novels in each of her series, and still keep it hot, fresh and so alive that the scenes radiate off the page and you can't wait for the next date. Find out how Reese, Tory, Bri, Carolyn, Deo and Nita weather the storm. Do not miss Winds of Fortune to catch up with some of your favorite characters, who feel more like friends than fiction. Experience women who love women in every sense of the word in an affirming and uplifting manor that will warm your heart. Radclyffe delivers this and more. For a fast-paced, erotic romance that will stimulate every nerve in your body, then Winds of Fortune is for you.

Evacuation Plan: A Novel from the Hospice
Joe M. O'Connell
Dalton Publishing
P.O. Box 242, Austin, Texas 78767
9780974070384 $13.95

Dawn M. Papuga

Death isn't usually the focus of contemporary novels. It's dark, it's uncomfortable, and it doesn't typically inspire the warm and fuzzy feeling that mass market readers seem to require for beach reading selections. Death forces readers to confront their own shortcomings, failures, and emotions. But while death may be a topic most authors avoid directly, it plays a major role in most story lines. There are no murder mysteries without death. Some of the most beloved romances include characters forced to endure the world once the love of their life passes on. Epic journeys are often instigated by the death of a revered individual. What, then, frightens authors and audiences so much about dealing with death directly?

Joe M. O'Connell tackles the culture of death in his debut novel Evacuation Plan: A Novel from the Hospice. Matt, a wayward filmmaker determined to find the fodder for his screenplay, spends time with the patients, staff and family members of a local hospice and gets more than he bargained for. Through each character's revelations, Matt inches his way closer to the issue that drove him to write the screenplay in the first place - his unresolved issues with his father's death, and his abandonment by his mother. Ultimately, Matt realizes that the examination of death requires the examination of life as well. With the passing of his favorite patient, Mr. Wright, Matt comes to understand that forgiveness is as life changing as any cure.

O'Connell's approach to story telling is reminiscent of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, or Boccaccio's Decameron. While Matt plays the host, the stories that each individual shares provide snapshots of different cultures and socioeconomic classes, and illustrates how death effects everyone regardless of wealth, gender, education, or age. In an age where voyeuristic appetites are catered to with Reality TV, O'Connell shares a glimpse of how tragedy effects everyone, and how dealing with death is as important for the grieving as it is for the dying.

Each vignette has a unique flavor and is written in that specific character's voice, leaving no question that each story is distinctly one character's experience. Matt's own journey throughout the book, however, creeps through the supporting narrative until the inklings that astute readers develop in chapter one about Matt's true motivations come to fruition. The most impressive accomplishment of Evacuation Plan is that the structure of the novel and O'Connell's vivid imagery encourage readers to visualize the entire narrative as a film even as Matt is scrounging to develop his own screen play.

Land of the High Flags: Afghanistan When the Going Was Good
Rosanne Klass
9789622177864 $19.95

Phyllis Chesler

The history of Afghanistan, once known as the "crossroads of the world," is riven with brutal invasions and world abandonment. Barbarism, slavery, ruthlessness, and disease existed side by side with the country's enormous physical beauty and the elaborate, formalized hospitality of its people. Conquerors razed Afghanistan's extraordinary ancient cities and exquisite court palaces - Herat, Ghazni, and Balkh. Genghis Khan, and later Tamerlane, slaughtered significant portions of the Afghan population and returned to the country to conduct raids on the survivors, leaving precious little in the way of art or architecture. Alexander the Great also conquered Afghanistan on his way to India, though his soldiers tended to leave behind descendants rather than smoldering ruins.

Most Afghan kings were brutal to their own people, who were, after all, a permanently armed male population, always ready to fight for village, tribe, or warlord against central governments, including those of native kings and would-be conquerors. Even the Victorian-era British learned that Afghanistan could not be tamed; so, too, did the Soviet Union. America's intervention in Afghanistan, though based not on colonialism or aggression but rather on justified political goals, has failed in its own ways.

Yet despite the continued dangers of terrorism and political chaos, the land continues to attract Western traders, travelers, teachers, and do-gooders, with its real and imagined nobility, its charming hospitality, and its wondrous geographical beauty. It has also attracted its share of writers. Rudyard Kipling conveys the indigenous nature of Afghan barbarism (along with the indigenous foolishness of Westerners in search of gold and glory) in his story "The Man Who Would Be King." In 2002, an intrepid Scotsman, Rory Stewart, published an account of his extraordinary walking trip through Afghanistan, The Places in Between. The next year saw the appearance of Norwegian author Asne Seierstad's The Bookseller of Kabul, which describes her life with an Afghan family after the fall of the Taliban. And in 2007, Deborah Rodriguez published Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil, her memoir of teaching Afghan women the art of hairdressing.

Now comes a reissued edition of an extraordinary gem of a book: Rosanne Klass's Land of the High Flags: Afghanistan When the Going Was Good. Klass first published the book in 1964, and she has added a new afterword. Hers is a world-class travel memoir that conjures all of the heart-stopping beauty that called out to me when I first traveled to Afghanistan in the early 1960s. Klass went there with her American husband in the 1950s to teach English in a school for men and boys from remote villages. It was the first school of its kind, and Klass was the first woman to teach male students in the country. As an "uncovered" woman - that is, one not wearing a burka - she handled the men's inevitable fear and hostility with patience and grace. Ultimately, she befriended both her students and the recalcitrant mullahs who also taught at the school.

Klass returned to Afghanistan in the 1960s as a journalist. Later, after the Soviet invasion, she founded the Afghanistan Relief Committee, which provided medical and other humanitarian aid to victims inside the war-torn country. Her home in New York City became a first stop for her many Afghan friends and former students who were now ambassadors, cabinet ministers, or in exile. In the 1980s, Klass directed the Afghanistan Information Center at Freedom House, a major source of human-rights information for the American and international media.

The beauty of Klass's writing recreates a shimmering and more hopeful time. Klass preserves for us in words, and with reverence, the Afghan people's history and customs (the arts of long conversations and of reciting poetry by heart, for instance), as well as holidays, palaces, fortresses, precious artifacts, and the non-Muslim religious wonders - like the great Buddhas of Bamyan, destroyed by the Taliban - that have almost all disappeared from this seemingly cursed land. Such epic destruction has happened here before. Through Klass, I can once again see the kuchi nomads "impassively" passing through Kabul, with their long line of "shaggy Bactrian camels . . . the women walked proudly besides them - unveiled, vivid, dressed in black and scarlet, and decked with silver bangles. In the city, where purdah sent local women fluttering shyly from attention, the proud indifference of these handsome Kuchi women seemed imperious."

Klass also renders the country's geography: the towering mountains, the steep, winding roads, the torrential rivers, the Edenic valleys and forests - as well as the incredible flowers and brilliant gardens that were so much a part of the terrain, at least back then. She understands the hold that this landscape can exert upon a human being.

Klass's descriptions also bring back to life the din and smells of the Kabul bazaars, fraught with clutter and exquisite finds. Through her, I can reenter the neighborhoods where I once lived or visited - Jaidi Maiwand, Shari-Nau, Carta Kia - and the nearby winter and summer villas and gardens in Jalalabad, Itstalif, and Paghman. She describes Da Afghanan, a lesser bazaar, as "an old Curiosity Shop of the world" in which "these heaps of battered necessities were crowned with wild, gaudy jewels: a gilded French telephone or a sheaf of lacquered Uzbeck spoons; a volume of Sir Walter Scott, an exquisitely molded Greek coin turned up by some plow. . . . Once I found an old mortarboard cap from Oxford University and could only wonder what disillusion had banished it to lie amid a scattering of old crockery in a dark corner. It seemed as though, from the Universe of Objects, the crippled, the lame, the halt and the blind had all found their way here to await the day when someone might possibly look upon them again and find them good."

The Land of the High Flags is many books: it is a thumbnail history of Afghanistan; a psychological and political analysis of its most powerful kings (Abdur Rahman, Habibullah, Amanullah); a list of its most important native literary sons; a travel guide to its cities, villages, and countryside, replete with personal and professional photos; an almost satirical analysis of the social pecking order; and the story of a country trying to enter the modern era while being brutally beaten down. Above all, it is a story about Klass's relationship with individual Afghans and with the Afghan people as a whole. She renders a particularly touching portrait of Gul Baz Khan, her colonial-era "house-man" - something like a personal concierge or butler. Often inscrutable, comically manipulative, industrious, and proud, he ruled Klass's heart and household with consummate deference and skill.

A few quibbles. Klass cannot tell us very much about Afghan women. Their absence haunts her pages, where they appear only briefly, just turning a corner, heard on the other side of a high wall, shrouded in burkas or chadaris. The portrait she paints of her male Afghan students, therefore, is also incomplete. She portrays them as bashful, innocent, noble, and good-hearted, people who, even when treated sadistically by tyrannical teachers and laid low by poverty, illness, and early death, remain stoic and uncomplaining. Yet many of these seemingly charming, tender boys are likely cruel toward their wives - and they probably have more than one, as revealed in books like Edward Hunter's The Past Present, and confirmed by my own acquaintance, in Kabul, with women living in purdah and in polygamous marriages. However open-minded the boys may be about foreign women, their views about their "own" women are more subject to tradition. Even nearly half a century later, in The Bookseller of Kabul, author Seierstad describes being befriended by and invited to live with a bookseller, a man with a Western intellectual background who nevertheless was a brutal tyrant to the women of his family. Seierstad's depiction of his behavior has led to a lawsuit as well as a published rebuttal.

These gaps notwithstanding, the beauty of Klass's book both uplifts and consoles. I will leave the last word to her, as she describes a long trip outside Kabul: "You must live in a dry land to know what a garden is. The very word paradise comes from the Persian word for 'garden,' and Eden must have been much like the valley of Panjsher: an island of sunlit greenness and coolness and flowing water; that is what Genesis says: that Eden had trees and a river. It is a definition. Those who described this must have known waterless plains . . . where there is no sustenance but what can be wrenched from the earth by endless labor and unrelenting struggle. They knew what . . . I could here begin to comprehend: the terror of Adam and Eve, driven from such a world as this green valley out onto the sun-blanched rocky earth which they had hardly glimpsed, and never heeded, beyond the leafy edges of their paradise; and forbidden to return."

Phyllis Chesler is Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at the City University of New York. She has lived in Kabul, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv, and is the author of 13 books, including Women and Madness, The Death of Feminism, and The New Anti-Semitism: The Current Crisis and What We Must Do About It.

Chanukah Guilt
Rabbi Ilene Schneider
Swimming Kangaroo Books
Arlington, TX
9781934041314 $16.99

Dr. Fred Reiss

What, a rabbi with a family more dysfunctional than her congregation? This is definitely a fiction story.

Meet bird watcher Aviva Cohen. She is a twice divorced, mid-50 year old rabbi who gave up a cushy job as an assistant rabbi in a large suburban Philadelphia synagogue for a pulpit in a small congregation located in the fictional southern New Jersey town of Walford, which is located somewhere near the real upscale communities of Cherry Hill, Moorestown, and Medford.

Rabbi Cohen leads a crazy life. In addition to her rabbinic duties, she must cope with her much older sister's constant complaining about their mother's unwillingness to move from Boston to Florida, and her daughter, Trudy's, lesbian relationship with Sherry. Trudy and Sherry share supervision for Sherry's son, Josh, who suffers from ADHD, Asperger's syndrome, hyperlexia, PDD, "and who knows what else." Her life is further complicated when one of her ex-husbands, lawyer Steve Goldfarb, comes back into her life with his resent appointment to the position of temporary Director of Public Safety of Walford.

Rabbi Cohen's adventure begins the week before Chanukah, which happens to fall early that year (the night of November 29th). The Phillips family asks her to officiate at the funeral of the elderly "self-made millionaire, builder, and land rapist," William Phillips, a man she never met, and whose only possible connection to her is the fact that he donated the land on which her synagogue stands. She discovers that he is despised by everyone she consults, including her rabbinical colleagues, and his ex-wives.

The day following the funeral, Madison Phillips, one of William's daughters, reveals to the rabbi that he did not die of a heart attack, but rather, she is the cause of her father's death. She alludes to her involvement in a robbery at the order of an undisclosed party and a subsequent attempt to extort money from her father. Madison is too scared to reveal more and leaves in a dreadful state. The next day, before the rabbi is able to follow up, Madison is found dead, and the local police rule the death a suicide.

Rabbi Aviva narrates a first person account of how she reinvents herself as a detective (could the reason be the rumored malpractice suit against her by the Phillips family over Madison's death), and how she spends the eight days of Chanukah sleuthing around Madison's college, interviewing her Wiccan friends, and reviewing closed circuit video tapes in order to convince the police that the two deaths are actually murders. In the process she becomes a target herself. Though there is evidence that supports many possible suspects, the true perpetrator is made known in a surprise ending.

In Chanukah Guilt, Schneider succeeds in blending the complex life of a congregational spiritual leader with that of first-rate detective, family member, confidant, friend, human being and even yenta (nosy busybody).

Albert Einstein: The Persistent Illusion of Transience
Edited By Ze'ev Rosenkranz & Barbara Wolff
The Hebrew University Magnes Press
P.O. Box 39099, Jerusalem, 91030, Israel
9789654933254 $61.00 +972-2-658-6660

S.J. Gates, Jr.

Ze'ev Rosenkranz is Editor at The Einstein Papers Project at The California Institute of Technology. Historian and author of numerous scholarly and popular publications on Albert Einstein. Past Curator at the Albert Einstein Archives in Jerusalem.

Since the middle of the 1990's Barbara Wolff has worked for the Albert Einstein Archives.

During the summer of 2005, "Uncle'' Albert Einstein Einstein accompanied me around the world and then some in about thirty-four days.

The year 2005 was declared the Einstein World Year of Physics. Though I had first learned of this the previous year while in South Africa, I had thought it would have little connection to me. I was completely wrong. Shortly after I gave the final plenary address to the 2005 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science I realized this. By the end of the year, I had given thirty-six presentations on "Uncle Albert'' on six continents. To make these, I had acquired and read a dozen books on Albert Einstein.

That summer, I circumnavigated the globe in a single trip for the first time.

By a quirk of fate, I had acquired a draft copy of "Einstein: His Life and Universe'' by Walter Isaacson since I had agreed to review it, looking for issues in science (Walter though not a scientist did an amazing job) and other aspects of the book in preparation. So the manuscript was my constant companion on many long hours of riding in various airplanes and on the ground in several cities (perhaps most memorably Casablanca and Singapore) around the globe. This is how my comment came to be included on the dust cover of Walter's book.

Thus, when I read of "Albert Einstein: The Persistent Illusion of Transience,'' I had a wealth of memories from other works that were in the background.

It is my opinion that "Illusion'' possesses the quality of a far, far more intimate presentation of the remarkable life of one of the most iconic individuals of the twentieth century. Where other books 'feel' like those written by a close and extremely knowledgeable neighbor of Albert Einstein, this book 'feels' as though it could have been written by his life-long butler (had such an individual existed).

The numerous photographs, some familiar to me and others not, add a dimension to making Dr. Einstein almost a corporal presence as I read the book. Though most of the stories were previously known to me, the presence of his image sprinkled throughout the book - showing him as he progressed through his life - lend direct evidence of his having been a living, breathing person and a continuing messenger causing us to reflect on our own aspirations, foibles and humanity. Many of the previous works I have read bring the reader closer to the facts of his life.

However, the more or less constant stream of his images in this book quite heightens one's engagement with him, his life and ideas. Many of the pictures are simply arresting while forcing the reader to stop and look upon Einstein's face or those of the many companions seen around him. For example, I had never before taken notice of the very slight resemblance between Einstein's mother, Pauline, and his first wife, Mileva.

Another feature for which I was unprepared was to feel the impact of seeing letters written by him which bring with them an added level of intimacy not ordinarily encountered in a book. As a theoretical physicist, there was a particular thrill to seeing equations, I know so well, written as he presented them. As I have often commented to the public in many addresses, "mathematics is a sensory organ for the theoretical physicist,'' and the presentation of his particular set of visions as handwritten (not the usual type-set seen in textbooks) brings home powerfully the titanic struggle whose triumph these represent. A complete menu of his scientific life is presented for the reader.

The presence of his handwritten notes, whether in German or English, will, I believe, for many readers add to the enjoyment of this book. Of course, these written elements are not restricted solely to mathematical "scores'' that for physicists are as moving as any to a great musical composer.

There are many letters, notes and documents that describe the arc of his life outside of his scientific pursuits.

One of the most impressive things to me about Albert Einstein was his absolute commitment to use his preternatural fame to do good in the world as he judged himself able to do. This, as many have noted, sharply contrasts with his distant personal relations, though by all accounts he was loving father - but a wayward husband.

For anyone familiar with Albert Einstein, one of the most affecting parts of his life was the evolution of his engagement of his Jewish heritage and identity. This is all on display. The persecution of Jewish citizens by the forces of Nazism is rendered with a stark immediacy when one sees the urgent appeal Einstein makes to save a single life. His emotional and intellectual transformation under the impact of the Holocaust is here for the reader to see. Of course, the familiar story of how he determined not to become the person to lead an infant state of Israel is accompanied by a picture with the leader, David Ben- Gurion. Finally, the special place he held for the Hebrew University can be seen illustrated for any engaged reader.

The section on Einstein in America has all the lights of a Hollywood-produced jazz-accompanied spectacular. We see the world traveller and astute side of him as he becomes if not an ordinary American, certainly an American. We ride along with him as he experiences what would be the first of many an "Einstein Craze." His travels from east to west and back can be found. The famous "sockless picture" contrasts with a copy of his certificate of naturalization to become a U.S. citizen. And of course, we see his initial participation that launches the Manhattan Project and his determined effort to contain the terrible progeny of a new generation of weapons of mass destruction - nuclear bombs - that emerges as the result.

As an African-American I was particularly affected by seeing the section of the book that highlights Albert Einstein's engagement with people of color in his adopted homeland as they strove to fight what he called America's "worst disease'' - racism. This is an aspect of his life that has largely been overlooked, though recently, in "Einstein On Race & Racism'' " by Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor, one can perhaps begin to see the lifting of the veil over this part of Albert Einstein's activities. This book includes a picture of Einstein with Horace Mann Bond (father of civil rights leader Julian Bond) on the occasion of the former's visit to Lincoln University in 1946. This happened during a period Einstein when rarely accepted invitations to speak on college and university campuses.

Einstein's engagement with music, children and indeed life itself is vividly illustrated in words and pictures. It is perhaps most fitting that the penultimate image of Einstein within the pages we see in this book is a very famous one - Einstein with his tongue stuck out and bright eyes sharing with us all the joy of a life well, but not perfectly spent. The final picture shows my "uncle'' with what I believe is a slight smile of satisfaction and daring us all to embrace our common humanity as did he.

I highly recommend this book. It has become an extremely prized part of my personal 'Einstein library.'

Martha Egan
Papalote Press
P.O. Box 32058, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87594
9780975588130 $11.95 888-229-7109

Connie Gotsch

Looking for a thriller to read on a plane, or in a warm room on a winter day? Check out Coyota by Santa Fe, New Mexico author Martha Egan, published by Paplote Press. An importer of goods from South America, Ms. Egan uses her professional experience to populate this piece of crime fiction with hunters and hunted a bit different than the normal hapless women pursued by serial killers and ignored by hard-boiled cops.

Egan offers a cast of well-rounded, policemen, crooks, friends, lovers, and bystanders with believable feelings. Her heroine Nena Hererra-Casey, called Coyota by her family, is smart, quick-witted and able to take care of herself, drawing on support from relatives from Albuquerque to Mexico, and an Apache grandmother who taught her to watch, observe, and react fast, like the coyote.

When Nena overhears a nasty conversation in a U.S. Customs Office, one of her students dies in mysterious plane crash, and slimy characters start harassing her, she pulls together the strength of her roots and branches to cope.

The result is a lively adventure that sends her jogging down country roads, selling imported sweaters in a street market, and driving freeways in Mexico with a terrified Ugly American boyfriend beside her. A horrible dream that almost turns real ends the tale in gunfire.

The author paces Coyota's action with vivid descriptions of Mexican New Year, pretty little resort towns, the landscape around Albuquerque, and Hispanic family traditions.

For comic relief, she lets Nena's boyfriend complain because Mexico doesn't work like the United States. Nena deals with that in a manner sure to set you laughing.

Coyota is definitely a lively and quirky read. Egan's clear, simple style keeps the story moving. The characters and adventures she offers keep the story from becoming just another suspense novel about a woman who knows too much for some crook's taste, so he plans her demise.

Liberty: The Lives and Times of Six Women in Revolutionary France
Lucy Moore
10 E. 53rd St., New York, NY 10022
9780060825263 $27.95 212-207-7000

Rose Rankin

As one of the pivotal events in modern history, the French Revolution has been studied and interpreted in myriad ways. Lucy Moore explores how the revolutionary period affected women - tracing the stories of six women from vastly different backgrounds through their experiences searching for freedom and equality. The result is a vibrant and moving contribution to the fields of French and women's history.

Liberty consists of rotating biographical snapshots from the outbreak of the revolution in 1789 to Napoleon's consolidation of power as emperor in 1804. The protagonists originated in all social classes: Germaine de Stael, Theresia Cabarrus, and Juliette Recamier were born into wealth and nobility; Manon Roland came from a solidly middle-class background; and Pauline Leon and Theroigne de Mericourt were lower-class women from the poor masses of society. Moore follows these women from the heady, excited days of the early revolution, through the fear and horror of the Reign of Terror, to the cynical hedonism of the Directory period, as they struggled to contribute to France's re-creation and enjoy the rights their male counterparts so passionately demanded.

This book captures in exquisite detail the political activities, machinations, and aspirations of the six women and any public reaction to them, which ranged from slander and humiliation, in the case of Theroigne de Mericourt, to adulation and fame, for Theresia Cabarrus. While some of these women crossed paths or were friends, the differences in their experiences showed the range of impacts the revolution had upon women. Germaine de Stael ran a famous salon and was eventually exiled for her influential "meddling;" Pauline Leon rioted in the streets with other Parisian market women until their exclusion from political activity, when she disappeared into the anonymity of housewifery. Manon Roland guided her weak husband through his time as a government minister and eventually lost her life to her political enemies in the Terror, while Theresia Cabarrus used her influence with Jean-Lambert Tallien to save victims from the guillotine and bring Robespierre's murderous purges to an end. Former courtesan Theroigne de Mericourt searched for France's and her own personal rebirth through the revolution, and she was driven to madness when it failed to bring her the rights for which she ardently campaigned. Only Juliette Recamier remained out of the revolutionary limelight until the late Directory period, when she replaced Theresia Cabarrus as the most popular woman in France. Her modesty and virtue represented the qualities France had lost after the ghastly pain and then self-indulgence that characterized the revolutionary period. Her story is an apotheosis of the goodness that an exhausted nation hoped to find, after so much turmoil, as it allowed an emperor to reverse the quest for liberty.

One of the great ironies of the French Revolution was that women were instrumental in its creation, but their removal from the public sphere was one of its central goals. Moore explains, "The revolution became a crusading instead of a destructive force: it would replace the unnatural world of boudoir politics with virtue - a government by men alone, whose intrinsic qualities (so the argument went) made them the natural leaders of society." Eventually this desire to rid the political world of women led to their marginalization, regardless of their class, education, or contributions. The only way in which women were treated equally was in death, as so many women, including Manon Roland, were imprisoned and executed for the same "crimes" as men during the Terror.

Although Moore's conclusion that the revolution did little to bring liberty to women is an unhappy reality, this book is not an invective or shrill condemnation. Rather, it is a vividly detailed account of a tumultuous and often confusing episode in European history, based on solid research and balanced ideas. The social cross-section represented by these six women provides the reader with a deepened understanding of the revolution's effect on women across social and economic boundaries. Too often lower-class women are left out of historical analyses because they left few writings behind. But Moore's exhaustive research of men's accounts of the market women permits a glimpse into the lives of this group that is usually difficult to document. Overall, her explorations of these six women's hopes and aspirations, and the results they found at the end of their revolutionary journeys, lends a touching realism to the French Revolution while thoroughly educating the reader in the motivations, events, and consequences of this epic historical moment for the women who lived through it.

Pariah Tales
Jack Phillips Lowe
Onzo Imprints
Box 39, Addison, IL, 60101
No ISBN $3.00, 76 pp.

Asst. Prof. Mark Spitzer, Reviewer

Jack Phillips Lowe's Pariah Tales is a ten-story collection based on the theme of being a loner and/or being lonely. Whereas some of the characters lean more toward pariahtude than others, though, what interested me the most were the stories that involved threads of the supernatural. For example, "The Buried Moon" is about a not very likeable tomb-raiding professor who busts into the treasure chamber of a pyramid only to get laughed at and called names by a long gone ruler of Egypt . This was an ending I didn't expect, and another thing I didn't expect was a stark-naked Bo Derek perched on the hood of car cruising down the highway in a story called "The Wisher," in which this guy picks up a hitchhiker with the power of making the impossible possible. A strange exchange takes place and the story continues after it quits in a semi-Twilight Zone kind of way.

Lowe is an innovator and he isn't afraid to experiment with new forms of fiction. One story is told totally in an answering machine monologue (complete with dates and times and subliminal info gleaned from extrapolation) and another is a semi-absurd footnoted translation from a time capsule in which people in the future are advised to basically thaw out a guy named Spazz (who used to be "a high school dropout" and "beer sponge"), then

Get together a group of your smartest young people, guys and girls, of all races. Sit Spazz down in front of them, and have them ask him a bunch of questions about our time. The questions should be about stuff like education and morality, gender and race relations, children and family, and war and peace. If he starts to babble on about how great a wide receiver he was in high school or about the time he almost met Seka, smack him. Otherwise, you'll be bored as hell.

Readers are then advised to take careful not of Spazz's responses, then "smash in his head with big rocks," and do the exact opposite of everything he ever said.

Then there's the story of Jim Neuland, who isn't as much of a pariah as he is forsaken by society, or, perhaps, such a loser he can't even find asylum in church. He goes home (when everyone knows you can't go home), gets run off of sacred ground by a crotchety old nun, then gets the door slammed in his face by an oldster he thought would remember him. Because this guy is a nobody! Yep, a suicide waiting to happen.

Somehow, however, we keep reading on, rather than slitting our wrists. And when we do identify with a character, some bitch throws tea in our face. But then we meet a pissy curmudgeon with a stupid wife to whom he admits his infidelity while they are stalled in traffic, and she calls him on his years of bullshit just in time for sabotage to kick in because the geezer shorted two Mexican kids for washing his car. In the end, poetic justice is served. But that doesn't mean that all the stories in this collection end so satisfactorily - which is one of the charming features of this work. Especially in an age when people are tired of the crowd-pleasing coda. Because let's face it, darkness is also in demand.

Anyway, the stories are colorful and imaginative, sometimes realistic but sometimes more along the lines of psilocybin. As a narrator, Lowe still has a lot of energy and he engages his audience, sometimes even slaps us up. And we like it. We want more - from one extreme to the other! Because we all have a bit of pariah in us - a glimmer glizzened by our author, who plays on our weaknesses just as much as our strengths. The weakness, however, are always a lot easier to see, and much more fun to read about. Especially when the subject is us, but reflected in the mirror of somebody else.

To order a copy, send a check for $3 payable to J.P. Lowe at Box 39, Addison, IL, 60101.

Afrika's Bookshelf

Ethnic Scrapbooking
Lisa Sanford
LJS Publishing, LLC
9780978661001 $24.99

ETHNIC SCRAPBOOKING is the first culturally inspired book that offers ways to live a lifestyle of cultural awareness and preservation. This thick and juicy book contains over 100 full color images along with just as many "out of the box" tips, tricks and techniques to help scrapbookers of all skill levels put a new perspective into their layouts. This collection of ideas covers over 40 countries and cultures including the United States.

Each Chapter shows readers how to make cultural connections to their photographs, memories and activities. ETHNIC SCRAPBOOKING describes the process of creating unique layouts and memory albums with cultural flair using all types of scrapbooking supplies and tools. The book features Lisa's guiding philosophies on ETHNIC SCRAPBOOKING and offers a fresh new perspective on cultural nuances and traditions that make it an invaluable addition to any family photo historian's library. ETHNIC SCRAPBOOKING is an innovative approach to preserving memories and is a rich source of ideas.

Ethnic Scrapbooking is an excellent book and model for all scrapbookers. The layout and cover were both outstanding. I was totally impressed with contents within ETHNIC SCRAPBOOKING. I believe that Ms. Sanford has done an outstanding job putting together such a wonderful dedication for her sister, Candace, and I also think that it demonstrates how proud Ms. Sanford is of her ancestry, values and beliefs. All of this is clearly displayed in her book, ETHNIC SCRPABOOKING. This is a book that indeed will inspire and motivate all scrapbookers or aspiring visual artists/fine artists, or even professional artists.

I only wish that there were more contents for her book, ETHNIC SCRAPBOOKING. All in all, Ms. Sanford has compelled a remarkable journey and book!! Congratulations, Ms. Sanford.

Rock & Fire: Love Poetry from the Core
Marc Lacy
AVO Publishing
9780974971285 $14.00

Rock and Fire - Love Poetry from the Core offers mature, realistic, fantasy, blunt, and hard-line scribes dealing with love in all shapes, forms, and fashions. This edgy, comprehensive lyrical package (for grown folks only) covers the spiritual, emotional, romantic, physical, and mental aspects of love. As human beings, during our nonstop effort to evolve toward a higher degree of existing, we all go through several phases where we expose ourselves to different elements. In our valiant attempt to achieve, realize, and deliver this thing called love ; love itself breaks us down and often has us indirectly touching the outer limits of every facet of the subject as they pertain to happiness, anger, arousal, and despair. Love is real. It sometimes prompts us to engage in real things whether good, bad, or ugly. In order to grow, we have to acknowledge each event as it materializes into its fullest effect. Whether we want to attest to it or not, every situation encountered dealing with love gives all the signs and/or symbols we need in order to grow. Love, or what we think is love, can enter us into challenging situations in which we have no business being, but we still have to use the experience as a learning tool in order to advance in life. Some of us confuse love with lust.

Many of us strongly know the difference and still allow the lusting to run its course. After our mind becomes clear again, we tend to ask for forgiveness and assume that our contrition in asking for it will yield coverage until of course the next spell of temptation prompts lusting again. In encountering love issues, it matters not whether we re saved, lost, found, anointed, or long as we live, love will expose itself and expose us at one point in time or another. But, spiritual connectivity is the ultimate factor in coping with love s perils. As love rubs, punches, bites, and stimulates, it has a track record of mastering us as we attempt to master it. Our saving grace is us having faith to hold on as God works, continuously displaying mercy upon us as we progress. Rock and Fire promises to cast the reader deeply into compromising situations, revealing obvious and in some cases cavalier hints and clues as to the true direction of each poem. Nonetheless, pleasure, pain, happiness, and sadness are just a few of the feelings realized when rocked with the fire of the sizzling words contained within this book! Again, grown folks only!

ROCK & FIRE: Love Poetry from the Core Review

ROCK & FIRE: Love Poetry from the Core consists of 223 pages and was written by Marc Lacy. ROCK & FIRE: Love Poetry from the Core, published by AVO Publishing, is designed for grown folks and broken into five chapters which include

Chapter One – The Rock;
Chapter Two – The Aggregate;
Chapter Three – The Concrete;
Chapter Four – The Spark; and
Chapter Five – The Fire

I think both the title and cover are very eye-catching and I was completely impressed with the layout. Furthermore, Marc's writing style and presentation is very unique and I applaud Marc for composing and creating a dynamic book of poetry. The poems touch on various subjects and emotions that grown folks can relate to in dealing with relationships, love or life.

Congratulations on a job well done! Five Stars Rating.

Wisdom for the Soul of Black Folk
Various Artists
Gnosophia Publishers
9780977339150 $19.95

An anthology of quotations by Black authors from Africa and the diaspora, organized in over 200 subject categories and in chronological order from Khemetic times to the present. The selections focus on increasing awareness, empowerment and motivation. Sources include Ptahotep, Tertullian, Ignatius Sancho, Zora Neale Hurston, Wole Soyinka, Herbie Hancock, Iyanla Vanzant, Malcolm Gladwell and reggae philosopher Bob Marley.

Wisdom for the Soul of Black Folk is an anthology that was recently released by Gnosophia Publishers. The anthology provides an excellent collection of quotations from various authors throughout the Diaspora. My personal favorites for the quotations that are within the context of the anthology are listed under the following titles where the quotations are inserted include: Imagination, Humor/Laughter, Identity, Idea/Opinion, Journey/Path, Learning, Legacy, Liberation/Liberty/Freedom, Listening, Meaning, Means, Meditation, Memory, Mind, Oneness/Unity/Wholeness, Opportunity, Partnership/Marriage, Passion, Patience, Perspective, Power, Reality, Relationship, Respect, Skill/Talent/Resource, Spirituality, Strength, Success, Value/Worth, Wealth/Prosperity, and Wisdom.

Based on all of the quotations that are provided with the context of the anthology, Wisdom for the Soul of Black Folk, it clearly shows the readers that there was a lot of research conducted. However there was only slight typo, but other than that the anthology was very well thought out.

Congratulations! Four Stars Rating.

Afrika Midnight Asha Abney

Bethany's Bookshelf

Fighting For Equality
Ray E. Boomhower
Indiana Historical Society
450 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202
9780871952530, $17.95

Strongly recommended for both academic and community library American History and American Biography collections, "Fighting For Equality: A Life Of May Wright Sewall" by author and historian Ray E. Boomhower is the fascinating story of a pioneer advocate for women's rights. May Wright Sewall was an accomplished educator and peace activist who worked tirelessly on behalf of rights for women in the United States and around the world. She advocated national suffrage along with her late 19th and early 20th century contemporaries such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. May Wright Sewall additionally brought national and international attention to the women's rights movement through her involvement with the American national Council of Women and the International Council of Women. She also helped establish the Girls' Classical School in Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Woman's Club, the Contemporary Club, the Art Association of Indianapolis (which was to evolve into the Indianapolis Museum of Art), and the Indianapolis Propylaium. She served as a delegate on automaker Henry Ford's failed Peace Trip in 1915, shocked her friends by releasing "Neither Dead nor Sleeping" in which she revealed her communications with her deceased husband. The book was published a few months before her death in 1920. "Fighting For Equality" is a compelling read, a welcome contribution to the growing library of information on and about the women's suffrage movement, and a fitting memorial to a complex and accomplished woman of her times.

The Great American Afghan
Elaine Rowley & Rick Mondragon
XRX Books
PO Box 1525, Sioux Falls, SD 57101
1933064129, $12.95 1-800-722-2558

Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by needlecraft experts Elaine Rowley and Rick Mondragon, "The Great American Afghan" is an instructional compilation of innovative and 'user friendly' knitting techniques involved in the making of an afghan blanket. Featuring 25 unique squares created by 25 accomplished designers, "The Great American Afghan" covers such techniques as the entrelac, cables, bobbies, applique, lace, and more. Whether a novice afghan knitter or a seasoned, experienced afghan creator, "The Great American Afghan" will prove an inspired and inspiring source of information and example. Also very highly recommended as additions to personal, professional, and community library Needlecraft instructional resource collections are three more titles in the XRX Books 'Great American Afghan Series': Great North American Afghan; Great American ran Afghan; and Great American Kids Afghan.

Ireland's Comfort Food & Touring Attractions
Viki Pidgeon
Pidgeon's Press
8318 Aiken Road, Louisville, KY 40245
9780974717111, $21.95

In "Ireland's Comfort Food & Touring Attractions", author Viki Pidegon has compiled an impressive and very nicely illustrated collection of do-it-yourself recipes for soups, stews, chowders and casseroles that she has collected from Irish chefs from Kylemore Abby, to Beleek Pottery, to the Guinness Storehouse, with informative descriptions of a variety of Ireland's tourist attractions, pubs, hotels, and castles -- each of which has some direct relevance to the culinary theme of this unique compendium of Irish culinary traditions. From Grandma Murphy's Broccoli & Blue Cheese Soup; Spicy Guinness Lamb Stew; and Seafood Chowder - Smugglers Style; to Michael & Mary's Pot Roast Pheasant; Ham & Cheese Bread Pudding; and Connemara Braised Lamb Shanks, "Ireland's Comfort Food & Touring Attractions" is a very highly recommended addition to personal and community library ethnic cookbook collections -- as well as being an inspiring supplemental resource for planning the itinerary of a trip to Ireland!

Unbreak Your Health
Alan E. Smith
Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
9781932690361, $19.95

As the babyboom generation ages (as well as generations X, Y & Z, for that matter), personal health and physical fitness have become more than just fashionable -- they are recognized as fundamental to being able to enjoy life, pursue goals, and live longer. The rise in the popularity of what is described as Alternative Medicine has also taken place because of the shortcomings of traditional medicine to insure continued good health and/or speedy recovery from illness or injury. In "Unbreak Your Health: The Complete Guide To Complementary & Alternative Therapies", Alan E. Smith has compiled more than 300 entries on more than 135 alternative health subjects, providing both students of alternative medicine and non-specialist general readers with an interest in supplements and alternatives to what traditional medicine has to offer them with respect to basic health concepts. Impressively organized and presented with an alphabetized roster of therapies for the body, a section devoted to therapies for the mind; and an entire chapter of therapies applicable to the human 'spirt' or 'energy', "Unbreak Your Health" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' and accessible. Of special note are the chapters on Insurance, Alan Smith's conclusions, his recommendations, the resources list, bibliography for further reading, and a comprehensive index. "Unbreak Your Health" is very strongly recommended and fundamentally useful reading for students of Alternative Medicine, and would proof a popular addition to community library Health & Medicine reference collections.

Susan Bethany

Bob's Bookshelf

The Encyclopedia of Tidepools and Rocky Shores
Edited by Mark Deny and Steven Gaines
University of California Press
2120 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA. 94704-1012
9780520251182 $95.00 (510) 642-4562

"The Encyclopedia of Tidepools and Rocky Shores" is a bit pricey, but you won't find a better or more thorough guide to the Central Coast's shoreline ecosystems and their marine inhabitants.
This comprehensive 735 page volume features 512 color illustrations, 202 line drawings and 22 tables. A one-stop reference for anyone interested in the biology and ecology of the fascinating world of tidepools, there are nearly 200 wide-ranging entries written in clear language by scientists from around the world.

From abalones, barnacles and climate change through seagrasses, tides and wind, the in-depth articles in this book discuss the animals and plants that live in tidepools, the physics and chemistry of the rocky shore environment, the ecological principles of tidepools and many other interdisciplinary topics.

A one-of-a-kind guide for both laymen and professionals, "The Encyclopedia of Tidepools and Rocky Shores" is a book you'll spend hours mulling over. Julie Packard, Executive Director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, calls it, "A wonderful introduction to the hidden and fascinating world of rocky tidepools. Grab a copy and head out with your kids or students for an outdoor experience that's sure to get them hooked. From remarkable adaptations of marine algae to weird animal histories, tidepools hold amazing stories to tell. "

Trees of the California Landscape
Charles R. Hatch
University of California Press
2120 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94704-1012
9780520251243 $60 (510) 642-4562

"Trees of the California Landscape" is a brilliant photographic manual of native and ornamental trees found throughout the state. From the iconic lone cypress in Pebble Beach to the palm trees of the southland and the soaring redwoods of the north coast, trees are a defining element of California's spectacular and exceptionally diverse landscape.

This abundantly illustrated, beautifully produced, easy-to-use volume is a one-stop guide to the Golden State's trees. An essential resource for gardeners, homeowners, landscape design professionals, and anyone interested in the state's abundant flora, it provides a comprehensive photographic compendium of 107 native and 311 ornamental species.

If you need help with picking trees for an outdoor project, your questions about tree selection, planting, and design are addressed here. Pay close attention to the photos provided of each tree's mature shape, foliage and bark. There's also important information on habitat ranges, water requirements, growth rates, mature sizes and suitability for specific landscapes, so you'll wish to consult this book before heading for the tree or plant nursery.

John Muir Trail: An Essential Guide to Hiking America's Most Famous Trail
Elizabeth Wenk with Kathy Morey
Wilderness Press
1200 5th Street, Berkeley, CA 94710-1306
9780899974361 $17.95 (510) 558-1666

"John Muir Trail" is an essential guide to hiking one of America's most famous trails. Stretching 212 miles from Mt. Whitney to Yosemite Valley, the trail passes through some of the most dramatic scenery in the West.

This new 4th edition of the classic trail guide meticulously describes the entire trail from the Whitney Portal to Happy Isles in the Valley. From GPS coordinates for every trail junction, camp site, and mountain pass, to information on what you can expect to see along the trail, Wenk and Morey have covered all the essentials.

Besides maps, elevation charts and detailed trail/camp site information, this update includes side trips you can take to 17 notable peaks along the trail.

If you plan to tackle the John Muir Trail next year, it's not too early to start planning your trip. The first step is to purchase a copy of this book and read it from cover to cover!

Bob Walch

Buhle's Bookshelf

The Africa Books
Lonely Planet Publications
150 Linden Street, Oakland CA 94607
9781741046021, $40.00 1-800-275-8555

Very highly recommended for both school and community library reference collections, "The Africa Book: A Journey Through Every Country In The Continent" is an illustrated compendium of information about all the various countries that comprise the continent of Africa. Beginning with an informative foreword, "The Africa Book" goes on to provide an introduction to Africa, a Timeline, an 'Africa at a Glance' map, and a section on 'Great Journeys' (The Sahara, West Africa, North Africa, East Africa, Plymouth-Dakar Rally, Cape to Cairo). The individual countries are organized and presented by their geographical region: North Africa (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco); West Africa (Mauritania, Senegal, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote D'Ivoire, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon); Central Africa 9Equatorial Guinea, Sao tome & Principe, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, Sudan); East Africa (Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia & Somaliland, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Comoros & Mayotte, Seychelles, Madagascar, Reunion, Mauritius); Southern Africa (Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho). "The Africa Book" concludes with 'Themes of Africa' and an Index. Each individual country's entry includes statistical information on its population and size, identifies the official language, describes the landscape, provides a succinct historical summary, a description of the people, and a section called 'Marketplace'. Also very highly recommended is a similar title from Lonely Planet Publications, "The Asia Book: A Journey Through Every Country In The Continent" (9781741046014, $40.00).

Yellowstone Bears In The Wild
James C. Halfpenny
Riverbend Publishing
PO Box 5833, Helena, MT 59604
9781931832793, $29.95 1-866-787-2363

Enhanced with a profusion of photographs taken by Michael H. Francis, "Yellowstone Bears In The Wild" is a collections of stories and information showcasing the bears whose habitat is the Yellowstone National Park. The life cycle of these fascinating creatures is covered in all aspects including the phenomena of hibernation, to hyperphagia. What these animals eat, how they mate and raise their cubs, their dealings with humans, how they relate to other animals of the Yellowstone country, the latest scientific information about grizzly bears and black bears, all this and so much more make "Yellowstone Bears In The Wild" as entertaining as it is informative -- and a very strongly recommended addition to school and community library Pets & Wildlife reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Mapping In Michigan & The Great Lakes Region
David I. Macleod, editor
Michigan State University Press
Suite 25, Manly Miles Building
1405 South Harrison Road, East Lansing, MI 48823-5202
9780870138072, $69.95

Expertly compiled and deftly edited by David I. Macleod (Professor of History, Central Michigan University), "Mapping In Michigan & The Great Lakes Region" is a compilation of twelve studies that, taken together, illustrated the many different configurations taken by geographical, urban, and property maps of and around the Great Lakes and the state of Michigan, including changes within a single region. The sixteen learned and expert contributors reveal the history of the area's cartography and deal with such specifics as the peninsulas and freshwater seas, the history mapping this region, how the Europeans appropriated and settled these lands, social and political negotiations and conflicts, and more. Profusely illustrated throughout with reproductions of historic maps from the beginnings of regional exploration down to the present day, ""Mapping In Michigan & The Great Lakes Region" is a seminal work of meticulous and articulate scholarship which is very strongly recommended for academic library American History reference collections, as well as a personal library acquisition selection for cartography enthusiasts.

Basic Accounting: Volumes 1 & 2
Gregory R. Mostyn
Worthy & James Publishing
PO Box 362015, Milpitas, CA 95305
Vol. 1: 9780979149481, $31.95; Vol. 2: 9780979149498, $34.95

A two volume set, "Basic Accounting: concepts, Principles, And Procedures" is a two volume set by certified public accountant Gregory R. Mostyn and designed as a complete course of instruction on all aspects and facets of accounting. Taken together, these two volumes comprise a complete academic-quality course in financial accounting. Volume 1 covers building the conceptual foundation for accounting principles and practices. Volume 2 focuses on the proper application of financial accounting principles and procedures. Impressively organized, offering a text that is thoroughly 'reader friendly', "Basic Accounting" is especially recommended as a textbook curriculum for college level Introductory Accounting courses, and would well serve the needs of business and accounting students requiring review and reinforcement of accounting basics. It is also quite appropriate and confidently recommended for non-accounting managers, small business owners, and corporate investors needing a basic familiarity with accounting principles and practices.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

John M. Connaway
McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company
431-B East College Street, Granville, OH 43023
9780938896890, $74.95 1-800-233-8787

"Fishweirs: A World Perspective With Emphasis On The Fishweirs Of Mississippi" by John M. Connaway is a 564-page compendium of descriptive, archeological, and historical information on a form of trap used to catch fish. Called a 'Fishweir', these traps come in many forms and (accordingly to the archaeological record0 have been utilized in steams, rivers, lakes, and oceans for thousands of years. An impressive and seminal work of exhaustive, comprehensive scholarship, "Fishweirs" is organized into two main sections. 'Fishweirs in a Global and Regional Context' describes what fishweirs are, provides a global perspective into their uses and designs, and the development of fishweir law in North American waters. 'Fishweirs in Mississippi' draws a tighter focus into the use and design of fishweirs in the Mississippi from prehistory and in Native American cultures down to the present day. A third section is devoted to four appendices: an 'Annotated Bibliography: Worldwide Archaeological and Historical Source Material on Fishweirs'; 'Fishweirs Listed in or Being Nominated to the National Register of Historic Places'; 'Fishweir Questionnaire'; and 'Glossary of Selected Terms Related to Fishweirs and Mass Fish Procurement'. Enhanced further occasional illustrations and maps, as well as the inclusion of an extensive bibliography and a comprehensive index, "Fishweirs" is a unique and valued contribution that should be a part of professional and academic library reference collections.

Anaxagoras of Clazomenae
Patricia Curd, translator and essayist
University of Toronto Press
10 St. Mary Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4Y 2W8
9780802093257, $65.00 1-800-565-9523

Anaxagoras of Clazomenae: Fragments and Testimonia collects all the surviving fragments of the writings of the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras of Clazomenae (circa 500 B.C. - 428 B.C.), both in their original Greek text and modern English translation, supplemented with extensive annotation as well as five essays that ponder the philosophical and interpretive questions Anaxagoras raised. Anaxagoras himself was a friend of Pericles; his concepts would later be reflected in the works of Sophocles and Aristophanes. Among Anaxagoras' assertions were the concept that the Mind is the ordering principle of the cosmos; that everything is in everything; and that the possibilities of coming to be or passing away should be refuted. He explained solar eclipses and wrote at length about astronomical, meteorological, and biological phenomena. His philosophical doctrines led to his exile from Athens, for the transgression of impiety. A list of sources, bibliography, and general index round out this absolute "must-have" for classic Greek philosophy and college library shelves.

Churchill Goes To War
Brian Lavery
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402
9781591141037, $34.95 1-800-233-8764

British historian Brian Lavery presents Churchill Goes To War: Winston's Wartime Journeys, an in-depth examination of not only Churchill's historic meetings with Roosevelt, Stalin, and other leaders during the course of World War II, but also the harrowing logistics and risks involved in transporting a prime minister through dangerous skies and across hostile oceans during an era of global war. Covering a time before the rise of the civilian airliner, Churchill Goes To War covers the prime minister's travels in a battleship at sea, to flights across enemy-occupied North Africa, to his crucial conferences at Yalta and Potsdam in 1945. A handful of vintage black-and-white photographs illustrate this engaging examination, accessible to lay readers and historians alike.

Reality Millionaire
Mike Peterson
Reality Media Inc.
9780976818519, $14.95 1-866-528-0560

Specifically written for the benefit of the non-specialist general reader who aspires to financial security and independence, "Reality Millionaire: Proven Tips To Retire Rich" is a particularly 'user friendly' guide providing practical strategies for getting out of debt and laying a solid fiscal foundation for retirement. Readers will learn how to stop living from paycheck to paycheck and begin to build in a financial safety net for them selves and their families. They will discover specific tactics for avoiding the financial drain of credit card interest payments. "Reality Millionaire" offers real-world tools for locating 'extra money' within current budgets. Best of all, readers will learn how to develop a wealth-building program that can be accomplished by anyone with an income. Accessible, articulate, informed and informative, "Reality Millionaire" is confidently recommended reading and will prove to be the basis for a solid program toward financial independence and security.

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Ruby Rest
Tyler Oaks
Pemberton Mysteries
c/o SterlingHouse Publisher
7436 Washington Avenue, #200, Pittsburgh, PA 15218-2521
1563154021, $14.95 1-888-542-2665

Tyler Oaks demonstrates a superbly gifted style as a storyteller in her debut novel "Ruby Rest", a mystery that compels the total attention of the reader from first page to last. Edda Taylor lost her lover who drowned under mysterious circumstances. This leads Edda to settle in the California community of Ruby Rest in a rundown cottage she inherited and intends to restore. The she encounters two men who seem interested in her. The first is Tace, hired to design her garden. The second is Shay who is her employer. When Edda turns her attention to exploring the history of Ruby Rest, she finds that there is a history of mysterious drownings -- and both these men had ties to the victims. Edda is confronted with having to decide if these deaths were accidental or homicidal. If the latter, is she to be the next victim! A riveting read, "Ruby Rest" is whole heartedly recommended to mystery buffs for its originality, it flair, and its suspense.

Nature Notes
Seema Chandru Keswani
Courtyard Publishing
1688 Meridan Avenue, 10th floor, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Spotlight Publicity (publicity)
610 East Delano Street, Suite 104 Tucson, AZ 85705
9780879526015, $19.95

A London-based authority on scientific and healing disciplines, Seem Chandru Keswani has written "Nature Notes: Awakening Into Truth", the first volume of a series exploring through life experiences the fundamental laws of nature. Focusing on the human condition and how ordinary people in the course of their daily lives can become more spiritually enlightened as to their own true self, their own self worth, their own personal journey, their own personal truths. Of special note are the concluding chapters on relationships, on the 'Gift of Limitation', and on transcending duality. Articulate, learned, informed and informative, inspired and inspiring, "Nature Notes" is especially recommended and rewarding reading for students of metaphysics, spirituality, life's meaning, and the human condition.

The Cosmic War
Joseph P. Farrell
Adventures Unlimited Press
PO Box 74, Kempton, IL 60946
9781931882750, $18.95 1-815-253-6390

A fascinating and detailed study offering an iconoclastic commentary that rejects traditionally naturalist and materialist assumptions to account for the presence of the asteroid belt in our solar system, Joseph P. Farrell's "The Cosmic War: Interplanetary Warfare, Modern Physics and Ancient Texts" asserts that what is commonly attributed in the scientific community as the result of gravity driven accretions of material, the asteroid belt is in fact the remains of an exploded planet whose catastrophic demise was brought about by a Cosmic War. Drawing upon extraterrestrial artifacts, novel ideas in contemporary physics, and the texts of ancient myths, Farrell intriguingly postulates an ancient interplanetary war fought out within our solar system with weapons of horrific power and sophisticated military technology. "The Philosophy Of Rich" is a fascinating read and especially commended to the attention to alternative archeology students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in ancient legends and cosmology. Also very highly recommended and iconoclastic reading are Joseph Farrell's previous books: "The Giza Death Star"; "The Giza Death Star Deployed"; "The Giza Death Star Destroyed"; "Reich of the Black Sun; and "SS Brotherhood of the Bell".

Disciple's Guide To Ritual Magick
Frater Barrabbas
Megalithica Books Publications
c/o Immanion Press
3020 NE Couch Street, Portland, OR 97232
9781905713080, $22.50

In "Disciple's Guide To Ritual Magick: A Beginner's Introduction To The High Art", Frater Barrabbas draws upon his more than 35 years of experience and expertise in working and teaching new forms of magick to create the rituals compiled in this grimoire for aspiring magicians and students of metaphysics. Barrabbas expounds on the philosophy of Magick as a part of occult practices and rituals, as well as providing seven specific rituals that beginners can use to craft a complete magickal discipline for themselves. Enhanced with the inclusion of illustrations, tables, a bibliography, and end notes, the "Disciple's Guide To Ritual Magick" is informatively practical reading, especially recommended for anyone seeking to understand, master, and utilize the benefits of ritual magick.

Michael J. Carson

Clay's Bookshelf

April In Bloom
Annie Jones
Steeple Hill
225 Duncan Mill Rd Don Mills, Ontario M3B 3K9
9780373873616 $4.99

Sheriff Kurt Muldoon is running from his past, a past that April Shelnutt doesn't know about. A past with a hurt so deep that he keeps running instead of forgiving himself, but April feels he is running from her.

Kurt and April had dated in the recent past but Kurt wanted to hide their relationship from the meddling towns people of Wileyville, Kentucky. Especially the COCW- The Council of Christian Women, who feel it's their Christian duty to do their good deed of matching all the single men and women together. A group that includes Kurt's gossiping mother and April's sister who has taken on the "project" of getting Kurt and April married. Also April's best friend and the town's matriarch feisty Miss Cora Barrett ninety years young sees the young people together as well and tells them every chance she gets telling them they look cute together.

Kurt and April do love each other but both are to stubborn to admit it to anyone instead they continually lash out in anger at each other when they do see each other so it's easier to avoid each other as much as possible.

Kurt's plan is buying Miss Cora's father's compound, Ezra's Holler 15 miles outside of town and quit as sheriff and to just live out his life alone with his dog Miltilda. Who would have thought the first night he had begun to move his things in, April brings Miss Cora back to the house to get a few of her things and Miss Cora ends up injuring her back doing of all things climbing out of a window to trim the dogwood tree! Kurt feels he has no choice but to let them stay the 4 to 6 days needed for Miss Cora to heal per doctor's orders until she can return home, which entangles their lives together from which there is no return. Kurt even acts as though April planned all this just so they could stay at Kurt's.

So it becomes a rough few days that's topsy turvy with Miss Cora going from bad to worse which forces Kurt and April together even more. So the questions remain will Miss Cora make it? What is in Kurt's past that he can't let go of and will he ever let it go so he can love again? Will April still love him if and when he let's go?

You'll be surprised by this novel. You'll go in expecting a romance novel which it is but within its pages is a strong, clear teaching of love and forgiveness that only God, Himself could have placed in the heart of the author Annie Jones. See how the dogwood tree and planting a garden becomes a teaching of new beginnings and blossoming life.

This is actually the 3rd book about the characters of Wileyville, Kentucky. The other 2 books are "Sadie-In-Waiting" and "Mom Over Miami" written about April's sisters Sadie and Hannah. But don't think you have to read the whole series as "April In Bloom" does stand alone as a story unto itself but don't be surprised if after reading "April In Bloom" it will peak your curiosity to want to know more.

Be Still and Know That I Am God: Devotions for Every Day of the Year
Gus Keiser
Augsburg Books
P.O. Box 1209 Minneapolis, MN 55440-1209
9780806652306 $13.99

Come all men, women and teens alike and "Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him" Psalm 37:7 (NRSV)! In everyday trials and tribulations we are all this at some point of our lives. So enter in with the author, Gus Keiser as he takes us on the same spiritual journey that he took for 3 years. The outcome of his alone time being in God's presence is this one year devotional of scripture, reflection and prayer taken from his daily email journal that was shared with family and friends.

But you will find that it is more than just an ordinary devotional as the author takes you on an emotional journey that will have you reaching in and looking at your own life. You'll see by the reading of this book that it was time well spent by the author and it will be for the reader too. Read a page a day in your own alone time and ask the Lord to speak to you. The scriptures are taken from the New Revised Standard, the NIV, or the Message versions of the Bible. And this reviewer personally likes the added bonus of the section in the back of the book covering certain seasonal times such as New Year's, Christmas, Easter, Epiphany, Valentine's Day and even St. Patrick's Day.

The author does an amazing job of capturing the very essence of the scripture verse in applying it to today's life. But it's not preachy as a problem with most daily devotional books, it's the author's own reflections that will teach and inspire. It's more like being allowed to read someone's personal well written journal.

So enter in as I feel the author says it best in his invitation in the preface of the book "And now, I invite you to "be still" and listen for the voice of God. This time apart may just change your life. I expect it will". Or as it states on the back of the book "Life is a journey". So sit back, and "be still" and spend sometime alone with God and this devotional -----you'll be glad you did!

Randy Alcorn
WaterBrook Press
12265 Oracle Blvd. Suite 200 Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781590526163 $19.99

Oliver Justice Chandler, Ollie for short, Portland Oregon detective. A modern day Sherlock Holmes, Mike Hammer, Sam Spade all rolled into one. Even calls his house the old brownstone referring to Sherlock Holmes, wears a trench coat and a fedora hat to match the classics. Someone who goes against the flow rubs people the wrong way but always follows the evidence to solve the crime.

Right now he's against his toughest. Professor William Palatine a philosopher nut, a reputation with his female students has been found murdered. Chandler and his partner Manny is the up team to take the call. His buddy Clarence Abernathy, a reporter from the Oregon Tribune is assigned to follow him and write about him. Everyone assumes he'll screw up and the press will be there. Luckily Clarence is his friend.

Strange thing is the evidence at the crime scene points to the murderer as being a cop. All the detectives in his division are suspect even Chandler himself as he's not sure where he was at the time of the murder the last thing he remembers is being at one of his favorite hangouts the bar. The Chief wants the investigation stopped as it looks bad on the department. But Chandler must find out who did this even if it was himself. He enlists the help of his buddies Jake Woods and Clarence who are always tag teaming to try to get Chandler saved. But Chandler can't believe a good God would allow murders to happen, the death of his wife and two year old son and the torn relationships with his daughters, one of which is missing.

But time is running out someone has been attempting to kill Chandler and even goes so far as to poison his best friend and bulldog Mike Hammer, Mulch for short who loves bacon and beer. Chandler rushing against time to solve the crime before the murderer gets him just as he's reconnected with one of his daughters, Kendra as they attempt to start a new relationship, who also has a connection to Palatine. Will Mulch survive? Will Chandler solve the murder and find God in the process? What if Chandler is the murderer or even one of his friends on the squad? See what happens as this thriller unfolds with all the twists and turns you'll be amazed at the outcome.

This book is absolutely amazing! It's Sam Spade and C.S. Lewis all rolled into one. Forget Christian fiction this book deserves to be on the best sellers list! It's as suspenseful as a John Grisham novel. The author Randy Alcorn who has written twenty five novels does an awesome job with this page turner. You'll laugh, you'll cry even get mad as you read – you won't be able to put this one down! Actually this is the third novel in the line of mysteries Deadline and Dominion being the other two which have also received rave reviews.

This reviewer loved the Sherlock Holmes quotes before each chapter and you'll see heaven come alive as Chandler's friends and family that have passed on discuss Ollie with the Carpenter, Jesus. You'll cry as Carly, Jake's daughter dies and meets Jesus and really see Hell as Palatine finds himself there after his murder. A must read for any Christian but great for the unsaved as the questions unfold from Chandler as he questions God's existence. Even the discussion questions in the back of the book make it great for a book group or reaching the unsaved.

So as the saying goes taped on Ollie's refrigerator "Examine the evidence. Then follow wherever it leads." Don't miss this suspense thriller as it is a must, great read and one of the best of 2007 novels - Christian or not.

Quaker Summer
Lisa Sampson
Thomas Nelson
PO Box 141000 Nashville, TN 37214
9781595542076 $14.99

Heather Curridge is going crazy; at least that is what her husband Jace, son Will and her friends seem to think. And at times Heather thinks so too.

On the outside Heather seems to have it all, a loving doctor husband, a great fifteen year old son, a house by the lake and things, possessions but all of a sudden Heather starts questioning why she puts her husband through all her spending, spending, spending. Up till now she's justified it well saying she likes to help people but really it's just a way to move up to more, more, and more and the big question as to why she needs so much.. Jace tries to work hard to pay for it all but he's wearing down and wants to go back to his life's dream which he feels he can't tell Heather about.

Than one night Heather crashes her big Suburban on the way home from yet another St Matthews' dinner for the private school she insisted Will attend, and makes her way to the home of Annie and Liza ninety some year old sisters. Heather finds being with them having a calming effect upon her as well as questioning her walk with God.

While Jace is out of town and Will stays with his grandparents Heather spends a few weeks with the ladies who are Quakers, and comes in close contact with an inner city nun and the people living there. Heather begins to come to terms with so many things her past, her dad, the possessions and the rat race of life.

Christy award winning author Lisa Samson does an amazing job with Quaker Summer, her first novel with WestBow but her nineteenth overall. A definite 5 plus wow factor as you'll find yourself within the pages of this page turner that you won't be able to put down. The story unwinds and is so real you'll think you are Heather or she's your best friend, an awesome character we all can relate to.

Voted 2007's Women of Faith's Novel of the Year tells you how amazing this book is (Women of Faith is an organization dedicated to encouraging women of all ages to grow in faith and spiritual maturity with Christ). There is even a reading group guide in the back of the book as this book would be perfect for reading groups. You'll love the mixture of everyday life with the Bible and how each section ties in with the Beatles such as "Fool on the Hill" and "the Long and Winding Road", even if you don't know who the Beatles are you'll catch the comparison. Actually the style of writing puts the reader in mind of the writings of Erma Bombeck, an awesome writer of the seventies. A must read for adult women, especially those who question life and God. So come on an amazing journey and give this book a chance, listen to God and your heart it will really set you free!

Cheri Clay

Debra's Bookshelf

Sundays with Vlad
Paul Bibeau
Three Rivers Press
0307352781 $13.95

In Sundays with Vlad, author Paul Bibeau takes a (mostly) light-hearted look at Count Dracula, both the historical figure and the vampire of legend. He is interested particularly in the relationship between the two, how Vlad the Wallachian prince--an ill-starred fellow who worked through his issues "by killing a whole mess of people"--became tied up with the blood-sucking fiend of creature features and cereal boxes. Bibeau explores the topic of vampirism from a number of different angles, some of them rather surprising. He writes, for example, about his trips to Romania, where he visited the remains of the historical Vlad's castle and traced the journey of Bram Stoker's character Jonathan Harker. No surprise there. But there are also chapters on an old attraction on the boardwalk in Wildwood, New Jersey, Castle Dracula, which burned down in 2002. And Bibeau actually interviews the woman who came up with the names for General Mills's pair of monster cereals, Frankenberry and Count Chocula. (This, as it happens, is Laura Levine, the author of the Jaine Austen Mysteries.) Bibeau also explores the world of modern-day "vampires"--from Dungeons and Dragons-type roll players to consenting adults who really do suck one another's blood to people who've crossed the line from bizarre to really dangerous. In the end he ties it all up as a study in globalism: Westerners usurped the historical Vlad and turned him into a fictional character, after which he became an endlessly malleable, international cultural icon.

Sundays with Vlad begins very well, with stories of the genesis of the author's early interest in monsters and his honeymoon in Romania:

"As we moved deeper into eastern Europe, the buildings got flimsier and the toilet paper got harsher. In Prague, the toilet paper seemed like the utility-grade stuff you'd use in your college dorm, and most of the buildings of Prague seemed sturdy and well-kept. Hungary's offices and apartments seemed danker and more prone to collapse, but its TP was hardy and unrelenting as a Magyar horde. And nothing could prepare us for Romania."

Bibeau is frequently very funny, but not all of his humor works, and sometimes the narrative get a bit boring: the author is wont to follow tangents--on Wildwood, New Jersey, on Romanian beer--that don't always merit the telling. But Sundays with Vlad is on the whole an interesting read, and not a little disturbing: there are some very strange people out there doing some very strange things. It's almost enough to give vampires a bad name.

Confessions of a Teen Sleuth
Chelsea Cain
9781582345116 $15.95

Chelsea Cain's Confessions of a Teen Sleuth purports to be the posthumously published memoirs of teen sleuth Nancy Drew. Nancy wrote the book to correct some popular misconceptions about herself: it seems that Carolyn Keene, Nancy's college roommate- turned-unauthorized biographer, played fast and loose with the facts. Nancy records a different adventure from her life in each of the book's ten chapters. We watch her age--while remaining stylish-- against a backdrop of 20th-century history, from internment camps to the Red Scare to hippies and feminists. Along the way we learn some shocking information about Nancy's mother and about the Drew's long- time housekeeper Hannah Gruen, as well as about Nancy herself (hint: the book is dedicated to Frank Hardy, the elder Hardy boy).

Cain writes in the earnest style of the series, with endearingly outdated lingo. And her characters never just say anything: they cry gaily and explain mechanically and muse fretfully. Nancy, meanwhile, though no saint (her early parenting is more reminiscent of Britney Spears than June Cleaver) remains naive enough that her juxtaposition with the real world is amusingly jarring:

"When my plane landed in San Francisco, I collected my old blue suitcase and got in line for a shuttle bus. As you may be aware, at that time San Francisco was a great gathering place for young people from all over the country. These young people grew their hair long and wore untailored, unironed clothing. While I had briefly encountered bohemian types shoplifting at Burk's, I was looking forward to experiencing the counterculture firsthand. I had stood in line only a few minutes when I was approached by one of its representatives."

Nancy still loves a good mystery--maybe a little too much--and she is wont to incorporate a bit of excitement into her otherwise humdrum, post-teen-sleuthing life whenever she can:

"'It seems as if you're avoiding your husband. You don't enjoy cooking. Or cleaning. You barely garden.'"

"'Oh, Hannah,' I smiled. 'That's silly. You're talking about last weekend. I couldn't go to Ned's office party. I had to rescue Ned Junior from the old well in the backyard.'"

"'But how did he get in the well?'"

"'I lowered him. We were playing 'rescue from the old well.''"

Cain plays with the fictional/real-life divide not only by breathing life into Nancy and other literary characters--the Hardy Boys and the Bobbsey Twins and Tom Swift all make appearances, for example. But she also makes Carolyn Keene, the fictional "author" of the Nancy Drew mysteries, a real but untrustworthy reporter. Nancy and Keene cross paths toward the end of the book, and in an interesting scene we see the line between fiction and fact further blurred.

You'd have to be well-steeped in Nancy Drew lore to appreciate all the in-jokes in Chelsea Cain's clever, charming parody. But even if you haven't read a Nancy Drew novel in decades--or at all--you'll enjoy the read.

Dead of the Day
Karen E. Olson
Obsidian (Penguin Group)
9780451222473 $6.99

Dead bodies seem to be popping up everywhere in Dead of the Day, the third installment in Karen Olson's series featuring Annie Seymour, a thirty-something crime reporter with the New Haven Herald. (The Herald is a fictional stand-in for the author's one-time employer, the New Haven Register. See my reviews of the first two books in the series, Sacred Cows and Secondhand Smoke.) This time around Annie needs to unravel a complex of crimes that are all somehow connected to New Haven's illegal immigrant population and to, of all things, bee research: the apparent murder of a Hispanic male whose bee-stung body is fished out of the harbor, a drive-by shooting targeting the city's chief of police, a break-in at Annie's mother's house, and so on. It's a complicated story, and Olson does a great job of tying all the threads together without losing readers in the process.

As in previous outings, Annie tries very often to wrangle information from her old boyfriend, Tom Behr, a police detective. And she is again abetted in her reportorial sleuthing by Sinatra-esque private investigator Vinnie DeLucia, whom she's been dating since she and Tom broke up. Vinnie's younger brother Rocco joins the cast of characters this time. He's a bestselling author interested in finding a new story, which gives him an excuse for tagging along with Annie and his big brother when they're out hunting for clues. The threesome form a sort of Scooby Gang, each of them interested in the case for their own reasons. I like the new dynamic.

Annie seems to be perpetually hungry in Olson's series. Her stomach is forever growling or otherwise demanding restaurant fare, so we're given a tour of New Haven's eating establishments while reading--from Sally's Pizza in Wooster Square to Louis' Lunch (home of the hamburger Nazis) to Clark's Dairy (where I used to work!). Olson doesn't concentrate too much on the food itself. There are no sensual descriptions of, say, mozzarella sliding off an oily slice of thin- crust pizza. But the restaurant mentions are part of what roots Olson's novels so very firmly in the New Haven area. Previous installments brought readers to Sleeping Giant State Park and into parts of the Yale campus, and the novels are centered on Wooster Square, Annie's neighborhood. But this time much of the action takes place in Fair Haven, a part of New Haven that lies between the Mill and Quinnipiac rivers. I mention that because I hadn't known it before Olson described Fair Haven in the book. I grew up and have lived most of my life in the New Haven area, yet reading Olson's novels I feel as if I've been skating thoughtlessly across the landscape on my trips to the grocery store and the local Barnes & Noble: Olson's protagonist is far more attuned to the area than I've ever been, both its businesses and its underlying features. Part of what I enjoy about the books is that they are so steeped in their setting.

In Olson's previous outing, the character of Annie was, I thought, a little too hard-boiled: burned out after years of reporting and intrinsically misanthropic to begin with, Annie was bordering on being unlikable with all her curmudgeonliness. It may be my imagination, but this time she seems to have softened up a bit. She's still not sweetness and light, but I'm not complaining anymore.

Here's hoping Olson has a lot more crime in store for New Haven.

The Unbinding
Walter Kirn
Anchor Books
9780307277411 $13.95

When we meet him, Kent Selkirk seems like a nice guy. He's a formerly lost soul who found himself, or at least a purpose, when he began working for AidSat. AidSat is a kind of über-OnStar system, a company that monitors its subscribers' vital signs constantly via miked tiepins and bracelets, whose employees are always available to offer assistance of any kind--from product reviews to relationship advice to the dispatch of a police cruiser or ambulance. Kent is romantically interested in an AidSat subscriber, a certain Sabrina who happens to live in his complex, and he avails himself of AidSat's database and monitoring tools to gather information about her.

That's part of the story anyway. Or is it? And is Kent even a good guy? Selkirk's novel is told from multiple perspectives, largely through journal entries, email, and inter-agency memos. Kent, for example, offers his version of events in posts to an online journaling site. But it turns out that he is not necessarily a reliable reporter of events. Indeed, as far as I can tell no one in the book can be trusted, or at least, we don't know whom to trust. The various characters are purposely misleading one another--and us-- and one or more of them may be deluded. It's a difficult story, in short, to get one's head around.

The Unbinding was originally written in serial form for publication in real time on (The book retains "hyperlinks" of a sort-- text that appears here in bold was linked when the book was in digital form. One can go to the author's web site to follow the links, but it's not necessary.) It's genesis alone makes Kirn's book interesting. And I find AidSat a very appealing entity as well--an almost omniscient, presumably mostly benevolent near-deity, man-made, made up of innumerable components. Sort of like the internet. Big Brother 2.0. But I'm afraid the book itself, an exploration of the dangers of intrusive technology, was too cryptic for me to fully appreciate.

Mongo: Adventures in Trash
Ted Botha
9781582345673 $14.95

"Mongo" is a slang term--new to me--that refers to an object that has been reclaimed from the trash. According to The Cassell Dictionary of Slang, quoted at the beginning of Ted Botha's book, it's a term specific to New York, which is fitting because Botha's exploration of mongo is likewise based in New York. In each of his ten chapters Botha discusses different types of trash reclamation by profiling some of the "collectors" he's met. He writes about freegans and "canners" and artists who work with found objects, about "black baggers," about people who trade in discarded books. (I had no idea so many people were throwing away books.) He profiles a pair of friends who dig up old privies in search of antiques. He writes about men who sift through old landfill when it's dug up during construction. Unless you've thought about the subject matter before, you'll probably be very surprised by the variety of mongo that exists.

Botha's book is uneven. It includes a few too many passages in which the author rattles off long lists of items reclaimed from the trash. And it ends with an unfortunately dull chapter about a man who collects large chunks of demolished buildings. But the book is also fascinating in parts, particularly when Botha discusses the sociology of trash picking. He writes about the lifestyle of people who specialize in can collection, for example, and about the hierarchy among trash pickers. (Who knew there was a hierarchy? Who knew there was specialization?) But I would have liked more detail, both because the subject is interesting and because I was left with some questions. Botha writes, for example, that "black baggers" are on the lowest rung of the dumpster diving hierarchy. Apparently, opening up a black bag is an act of desperation, presumably because one can't be sure ahead of time what will be in it. But it's not as if most trash bags are transparent. Why are black bags singled out for demonization?

Botha's book isn't perfect, but it's worth the read. He's hit on one of those wonderful topics that's right at your feet but which only the blessedly curious think to explore. Kind of like mongo itself.

Come On Down!
Stan Bilts
Harper Entertainment
9780061350115 $15.95

Stan Bilts has worked on the The Price is Right for 28 years. He's the show's music director as well as a writer and contestant coordinator. The Price is Right, meanwhile, is the longest running network game show in history. It debuted in 1972, on the same day, we're told, that Joker's Wild and Gambit debuted. (Bill Cullen hosted an earlier incarnation of the show that aired from 1956 to 1965.) Bob Barker was the show's only host, from 1972 on, until he handed over the reins in October of this year to Drew Carey. This passing of the microphone makes the release of Bilts's behind-the-scenes look at the program particularly timely.

Bilts's book features a very brief--one paragraph--foreword contributed by Bob Barker, and an introduction in which the author discusses his own role on the show. There follow eighteen chapters that offer readers a look at what goes into getting the program on the air. Bilts discusses, for example, how the week's shows are planned, the nightmarish number of details that have to be seen to when it comes to the display and discussion of prizes, the lighting and sound, models and make-up, the games themselves, and the role of the show's announcer, who is also charged with warming up the audience before the curtain opens. (Legendary announcer Johnny Olson used to "run around, sitting in women's laps, rubbing his butt up against them, and making off-color jokes." Who knew?) The book's final chapter is a sort of challenge, in which the reader is invited to play along in a pretend game of The Price is Right, but it doesn't work very well as a self-scoring quiz.

Come on Down! is glossy and amply illustrated, so it may qualify as a coffee table book--one that's meant to be displayed and skimmed through rather than swallowed whole. There is indeed fluff in the narrative: Bilts is certainly not out to denigrate the show or anyone affiliated with it; all Price employees are hard-working and talented. That said, the book is well written and not entirely vanilla in tone. I laughed, for example, at Bilts's story about the thickly-accented contestant who mispronounced "Tidy Cat" on air (shorten the "i" sound). The most interesting part of the book for me was Bilts's chapter on his pre-show audience interviews. Audience members are all potential contestants, and prior to every show Bilts talks to them all, in groups of about twelve, interviewing 340 people in ninety minutes. The logistics of the process interested me, and some of the stories Bilts tells are gems. Here's a snippet from his conversation with a certain "Joanelle":

"'And what do you do?'

"'I'm involved with a church group that goes around the country promoting abstinence. Our motto is 'Have the romance, but keep your thingy in your pants!'' she says proudly.

"'That's pretty funny, Joanelle. Tell me, are you really concerned with what people are doing with their thingies?' I ask with slight bafflement.

"'You betcha, baby. We think you crazy men ought to control your big bad selves,' she says with hands on hips followed by a deep whooping hyena laugh.

"I look down at my crotch and realize that this woman is actually interested in controlling what's going on down there. And not just mine, but on a global scale. She's trying to reach out and not touch somebody. And there are millions like her."

On another occasion Bilts interviewed a couple moments after the wife found out that her husband had slept with her cousin. "Okay, Sy, why the hell would you be telling your wife on the line at The Price is Right that you slept with her cousin?" To his credit, Bilts considers the possibility that the couple was lying, but their body language when they weren't aware he was watching suggested that they were indeed headed for divorce court. Or perhaps Divorce Court.

If you're a fan of The Price is Right or interested in a light, behind-the-scenes look at a television institution, take a look at Come On Down! You'll leave the book with a greater appreciation of how complicated a business it is to produce a game show.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Jean-Dominique Bauby
9780375701214 $12.95

On December 8th, 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby, the forty-three-year-old editor-in-chief of the French Elle, suffered a massive stroke that damaged his brain stem and left him a quadriplegic. Bauby could no longer speak, but his intellect remained intact, trapped inside the "diving bell" of his body. He could shake his head and blink his left eye, and he was able to spell out complex thoughts by blinking when an interlocutor, running a finger across an alphabet board, pointed to the correct letter. During the summer of 1996 Bauby wrote a memoir of his incapacitation, "dictating" by eye blink, letter by letter, the prose he had composed mentally. Bauby writes about his life as a quadriplegic: the searing moment when he realized what everyone else around him already knew, that he wasn't going to regain his speech or mobility; his stints in physical therapy and speech therapy; the indignations of being helpless. He is not self-pitying, but very much aware of the horror of his situation and of what is going on around him.

"And then one unknown face interposed itself between us. Reflected in the glass I saw the head of a man who seemed to have emerged from a vat of formaldehyde. His mouth was twisted, his nose damaged, his hair tousled, his gaze full of fear. One eye was sewn shut, the other goggled like the doomed eye of Cain. For a moment I stared at that dilated pupil, before I realized it was only mine.

"Whereupon a strange euphoria came over me. Not only was I exiled, paralyzed, mute, half deaf, deprived of all pleasures, and reduced to the existence of a jellyfish, but I was also horrible to behold. There comes a time when the heaping up of calamities brings on uncontrollable nervous laughter--when, after a final blow from fate, we decide to treat it all as a joke."

Bauby juxtaposes reminiscences from his previous life--much of it spent traveling the world--with descriptions of the hospital, Berck- sur-Mer, which has become his universe. And he describes the phone calls he receives from friends and family--his ninety-two year old father, whose voice quivers on the phone, his eight-year-old daughter telling him about her pony. He can't respond. Of course, it's his interactions with his two children that are most heart-breaking:

"As soon as we slow down, Celeste cradles my head in her bare arms, covers my forehead with noisy kisses, and says over and over, 'You're my dad, you're my dad,' as if in incantation."

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a short book which, for all its author's labors in dictating it, won't take you more than a couple hours to read. But it's a remarkable book.

Bauby died on March 8th, 1997, two days after the book's publication in France.

Debra Hamel

Gary's Bookshelf

The Android's Dream
John Scalzi
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765348289 $6.99

An author should grab a reader's interest from the first paragraph and take it all the way to the end. This book didn't do that at all. In fact it was in the first sentence I began to lose attention. As I read a little further I decided to stop after the third page. I found that the description of biological functions was just something I could do without. I have to say that the book piqued my curiosity with its title that I thought was influenced by author Philip K. Dick. I couldn't tell you if there is a connection because I put this authors book down and picked up something else that hooked me from the first page. I will put this author on my list of ones not to read.

The Fearful Fairy
Sheri Hood illustrated by M. Faith Shaheen
Stones Throw Publishing LLC
P. O Box 1898, Mount Dora, Florida 32756
9780979382307 $16.95

Dixie is a fairy with a problem. Her wings do not work properly. She, unlike her brethren fairies, can't gracefully fly through the air. Instead she falls out of the sky. She struggles with the fact that she is unlike other animals as well. She is hurt that they all seem to be perfect while she can't understand why she has such trouble. I like this story that is all about telling children we are all diverse and that we all have merit and worth. This book is for any person who has ever been laughed at or picked on because they are different from others.

Hamster Cheeks
Cathy Delittle, author; Adam Milicevic illustrator
Delittle Storyteller Company
1562 Pinehurst Drive, Casselberry FL 32707
97881892633149 $14.95 407 699-7769

I loved this hamster story where he abused food and found out what happens when you play with your bubble gum instead of chewing it. There are several lessons kids can take away from this story that has some beautiful artwork that enhances the story.

The Ocoosa County Burden
Arthur H. Heath Publishing Inc
P.O. Box 9949, College Station TX 77842
9781602640061 $15.95

This novel that reads a bit like Stuart Woods "Chiefs" is a very well done murder mystery. Loretta Carmichael a pediatric nurse from Atlanta, stumbles upon a set of deaths that date back to the Civil War. She becomes involved in a series of situations that could get her killed. The story is well written spanning so many years, while the characters are very well defined. From its opening murder in 1905 the tale moves along briskly until its surprising ending in which Loretta learns what the truth of the Ocoosa County burden is. The author captures the emotional trauma and feelings women have in the stressful situations they are under. This book also reads like an early Dean Koontz or Stephen King. I look forward to other works by this writer in the future.

Herbert the Tadpole in the Big Change
Michael Bodrogi Illustrated by Brian Laberee
Blue Note Books Florida
187839861X $15.95

The artwork and the writing complement each other to tell the story of a tadpole who turns into a frog. I liked the way the story unfolded and that it has a lot to tell kids about the changes we all go through. This is a very positive book that is a lot of fun.

The Mysterious Creature
Randon T Eddy
Jungle House Publications
Sanibel Island, Florida
9780976933229 $15.95

Through the use of numerous animals like Tiny Mouse who makes up things and pretty panther who spreads what he's been told the author shows kids what happens when untrue statements are spread. How they can snowball into something so much bigger that can do so much damage.

Women and Other Sexes
Graal "Fritz" Braun
Sirena Press
c/o Murmaid Publishing
13799 Park Blvd # 162, Seminole, Fl 33776
No ISBN $6.00

The writer has written a very creative collection of poetry that has a lot to say about men, women, the world we live in and other keen observations. The pieces are witty, satirical, biting commentaries that are insightful, positive, and fun reading. This is a perfect gift for any occasion.

The Adventures of Lady the Big Storm
By Iris Pearson & Mike Merrill
Illustrated by Project Firefly Animation Studios
9780978998400 $15.99

Lady is a squirrel who gets separated from her family after a storm. What happens to her begins a series of events that take her into a new direction. I do not want to give too much of the story away so that's about all I will say about the book. My reason is because the authors are trying to get kids to understand that even though something seems bad, good t can come out of it. There are other lessons that I will leave for readers to uncover for themselves. I hope to see other books about this character and her adventures.

The Adventures of Dino and Spike the Hospital Visit
Anne Sullivan
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive Bloomington, Indiana 47403
9781420839265 $16.49 www.authorhouse.comn

After the two gerbils Dino and Spike visit Grandma in the hospital, I can say is the place will never be the same. They find so many ways to get into trouble while having the adventure of their lives. I loved this charming story that had me laughing out loud at the antics of the two characters. They had fun riding around in a wheelchair, testing the x ray equipment, hanging around a supply closet, and just making a nuisance of themselves.

The Adventures of Dino and Spike Grandpa's Farm
Anne Sullivan
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive Bloomington Indiana47403
9781425938857 $16.49 www.authorhouse.comn

The two gerbils are back and this time the farm is their target. The boys are really good but with no parental supervision they get themselves into a lot of situations that are really fun. I again laughed at the two characters as they played around with the farm animals. The author has an acute eye for showing what happens when kids are left on their own.

Gary Roen

Gloria's Bookshelf

A Perfect Grave
Rick Mofina
Pinnacle Books
c/o Kensington Books, 850 Third Ave., NY, NY 10022
9780786018482 $6.99 212-407-1500

A Perfect Grave is the third in the new series by Rick Mofina, whose previous books have been very well received and reviewed by many, including this reviewer. It brings back Jason Wade, rookie reporter working the night cop desk at The Seattle Mirror, doing the only thing he has ever wanted to do: be a crime reporter at a major metropolitan daily. His career took a major hit when, two months before this book opens, he was, through no fault of his own, involved in a major screw-up at the paper, and his every move is second-guessed and criticized by his editor. Reading this book makes one wonder why Jason, or indeed anyone, would subject himself or hers elf to a deadline-driven job such this, but one would assume the rewards make it worthwhile, and Jason certainly is up to the task.

Other players include Jason's father, a private investigator, ex-Seattle cop, and recovering alcoholic, whose past demons play a large part in the story, and Grace Garner, who thinks of herself as 'a pathetically lonely self-doubting cop,' with whom Jason was previously romantically involved.

This time around Jason is covering the story of a much loved Seattle nun who is brutally murdered. She had worked for years as a counselor in prisons and women's shelters as well as locally with the poor and homeless, and it is unfathomable that someone would have wanted to kill her – she is dubbed after her death as 'an angel of mercy who eased pain,' and as the "Saint of Seattle," but as Jason looks into her life before she became a nun, there is no information to be found, other than suggestions that she had a dark past and was looking for absolution in her present life. There are ominous hints of a malignant presence, and a recurring image of a knife in a man's hand.

Among the nun's last words are "We can never erase the sins of our past," and this theme permeates the book as Jason and the police race against time to prevent another murder. The suspense, as is usual with this author's books, is relentless till the gripping conclusion. This is another strong entry in the series, and is recommended.

One-Way Ticket
William G. Tapply
St. Martin's Minotaur
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010, 646-307-5151
9780312358297 $23.95

Brady Coyne is back in this new entry in the series by the prolific William G. Tapply. It is wonderful to again meet Mr. Coyne, his lady love Evie, and his no less beloved dog, Henry David Thoreau, his friend Gordie Cahill, the P.I. with the wonderfully awful puns, et al. The Boston attorney is called by Robert, son of Brady's old classmate from Yale Law and present-day client, Dalton Lancaster, when Dalt is on the receiving end of a brutal beating in a parking garage. He can think of no reason for the attack, but when Brady realizes that Robert himself was similarly beaten one week earlier, and that the boy had inherited his father's predilection for gambli ng and had gotten badly into debt with the local crime boss, the connection seems obvious. Dalt's mother, Robert's grandmother, is a respected Boston jurist whose wealth and/or position is apparently a target. Things only get uglier, and Brady finds himself squarely in the middle of the ensuing events.

At the same time, Brady is dealing with Evie's preoccupation of late – her father, who is divorced from her mother, living now in California and with whom she has had a guilt-inducing relationship, is ill, the exact nature and severity of which illness is uncertain. Also uncertain is what effect this will have on their own relationship, one which Brady treasures dearly. There's a lot here about sons, and daughters, living up to the expectations of their fathers – or not.

Mr. Tapply is a masterful story-teller, and can wax sentimental one moment while the next it's all gritty realism with intimations of violence. The book is immensely enjoyable, with suspense sustained throughout, the depictions of Boston and environs wonderfully recreated, and is highly recommended.

And now readers can also look forward to reading Third Strike, due out on December 1st and co-authored by Mr. Tapply and Philip R. Craig and bringing back Brady Coyne, who in this instance is teamed up with Mr. Craig's creation, J. W. Jackson – I for one can't wait!

Second Shot
Zoe Sharp
Thomas Dunne Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010, 646-307-5151
9780312358952 $23.95

The Second Shot of the title is the one that has, as this book opens, inflicted a nearly fatal wound to Charlotte ("Charlie") Fox, nee Foxcroft, former SAS Army and present-day bodyguard. Charlie is employed by her lover, Sean Meyer, who runs an exclusive 'close protection agency,' and her present assignment is to guard Simone Kearse, a recent winner of a little over $13,400,000 in lottery prize money, and her four-year-old daughter. The fear is that Simone's ex, the father of the little girl, is stalking her.

A second meaning of the title is about the chance for new beginnings.

We learn the aforementioned background after the first few [rather harrowing] pages, following which is a flashback that lasts for well over half the book [a bit disorienting initially when the flashback ends and we go back to real time]. Back in the present, a fairly low-risk job turns into anything but when, after the recent death of her mother, Simone decides to travel from England to the US to try to find her biological father, who disappeared when she was a young child. The tale then takes us to a New England winter, where a local investigator's search has found evidence that the man they are seeking can now be found. That is, until the investigator's dead body is found after his car apparently ran off the road. Then things start to get more complicated. Especially when after a few days they are approached by a man claiming to be Simone's father. Charlie doesn't know who is lying and who is telling the truth, nor does she know who to trust, and things inevitably lead to the incident described in the opening pages of the book, with Charlie being shot and seriously wounded and Simone dead, shot by the police.

Charlie's own backstory, of which we are given tantalizing bits and pieces, has to do with a scandal that forced her to leave the Army and an incident nearly a year earlier when she had her last assignment in the US, memories of which leave her spooked at the thought of returning there. Another thread has to do with her very cool relationship with her parents, who have thoroughly disapproved of the paths her life has taken, resulting in part in her changing her surname. She feels a need to prove to her father she "wasn't quite the psychopath" he feared she had become. Charlie is a quite fascinating and original protagonist, and has piqued this reader's interest enough that I will seek out First Drop, the first on this exciting new series, and look forward to the next one as well. [I understand that a number of this author's earlier books are available only in/through the UK.]

The Bone Man
Vicki Stiefel
Dorchester Publishing
200 Madison Ave., NY, NY 10016, 800-481-9191
9780843959376 $7.99

Tally Whyte, the protagonist in this series, of which this is the fourth entry, is a psychologist who headed MGAP, the Massachusetts Grief Assistance Program she'd founded. She left the program one year ago, after the death of her adored foster mother, Veda, who had been the Chief Medical Examiner for Massachusetts in Boston. Tally's inheritance has allowed her the luxury of traveling the country and the world and to attempt to recover from her own grief, with the help of her three-legged former Canine Corps dog, Penny, a German shepherd.

As the book opens, Tally is enjoying a late September in her New Hampshire home when her former associates entreat her to return to her former position. When a human skull is found inside an ancient clay pot, Tally is intrigued and anxious to see the facial reconstruction done by her friend, forensic anthropologist "Didi" Cravitz, she cannot believe her eyes: She is absolutely certain that it is the face of a friend, an art dealer. But how could a contemporary skull be inside of an artifact ostensibly nearly a thousand years old? When bodies start to pile up, all of them friends of Tally and all tied to the clay pot and the skull [which are soon stolen from the scene of the first of these murders], Tally determines to find who is responsible.

The trail leads to New Mexico, where Tally takes advantage of an offer by the local medical examiner's office to create a grief assistance program, going for the interview with her own agenda in mind. The tale turns on Native American carvings and lore, and lovingly describes not only the New England setting which is her home but the southwestern desert to which she travels to uncover the reason behind the killings and the identity of the murderer.

Tally places herself in danger, surviving several attempts on her life, while at the same time trying to figure out her relationship with her boyfriend, Sheriff Hank Cunningham, who she discovers has now apparently become a State homicide investigator [something he has failed to mention]. The story is engrossing, particularly after it travels to the New Mexico desert, where the danger and the suspense mount. But this reader found the plotting to be implausible--assassins popping up at every turn with no obvious - or even obscure--way for them to have known where to find Tally, and inflicting horrendous injuries which seem to be almost shrugged off with little effect. But then, maybe it was meant to be satire and my sense of humor was somehow not functioning during my reading of this book.

Not Dead Enough
Peter James
20 New Whart Rd., London N1 9RR,
9780330446129 6.99 BPS

[Note: This book is not yet available in the US, only available at the present time in/through the UK/Canada]

Reading the first few pages of Not Dead Enough, Peter James' terrific new novel, is like seeing again friends one has only met a couple of times before, briefly but memorably: Roy Grace, 39-year-old Detective Superintendent with the Sussex CID, his best mate Glen Branson, still having marital problems; Cleo, with whom a romance had just started to blossom in the last book; and the other inhabitants of Grace's world in and around Brighton and Hove, England.

The first two books in this series, Dead Simple and Looking Good Dead, were among the best this reviewer read in 2006, and this newest offering is a worthy third entry.

Katie Bishop, beautiful young socialite, is found dead in her home, brutally murdered. When the police find her husband, Brian, to notify him of his wife's murder, he is 60 miles away attending a golf tournament. His alibi seems to be valid, and his shock and grief at the news seem genuine. The police are stumped – he could not have been in both places at once, could he? Is he lying? Is he being framed? DS Grace finds that the answers to these questions are elusive, yet all the evidence points to Brian as the murderer. In the midst of this, Grace suddenly finds his world tilted on its axis, as it appears that his beloved wife, Sandy, missing for over nine years with no clue as to how or why she disappeared, may still be alive and well.

The identity of the killer is a true puzzle, for the police and the reader, with tantalizing clues thrown at both. An at-first-improbable-seeming element arises, but the quality of the author's writing makes the willing suspension of disbelief on this point easier. While perhaps not as riveting as the first two books in the series, it is constantly engrossing, and the author soon ramps up the tale and the suspense to a thoroughly satisfying conclusion. [I knew I would love this book as soon as I saw that the author had dedicated it to his three dogs.]

American Gangster
Max Allan Collins
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780765359018 $7.99 212-388-0100,

If the title seems familiar, it is probably because this novel is based on the screenplay for the film currently playing throughout the US, which is a fictionalized take on events in the lives of Richard Roberts and Frank Lucas, respectively a detective with the Prosecutor's Office in New Jersey, and the man he chased and ultimately successfully prosecuted. It is stated that the novel takes further liberties with the fact-based story portrayed in the film. Much of what is depicted here is known to be true: Frank Lucas is a man who in the 70's and years to follow, controlled the heroin traffic on the streets of Harlem, once the exclusive province of the Mafia. As a black man, that was an astonishing enough accomplishment. But the way he did it, importing pure heroin directly from the Golden Triangle of the Far East, was completely innovative. Fact or fiction, this is an engrossing tale.

For his part, Richie Roberts is portrayed as an anomaly in the police force in those years: an honest cop who was held in contempt by most of his fellow officers for his refusal to take money or dope when it came his way.

Frank Lucas is depicted as a man who had his own code of honor: "Within his circle, in his private life and for that matter in his business dealings, Frank Lucas considered himself a moral man. Matters of right and wrong, in any larger sense – social or religious – were defined by the world he'd been born into, a white man's world. Dope being sold to black people was a reality that wasn't going anywhere; better another black man be in charge. Killing people who needed killing was strictly business – those yellow people getting killed in Vietnam by boys both black and white made less sense to Frank than removing a business rival or a personal threat by violence. Frank hadn't invented the world where money ruled, but if he was going to live in it, by God, he was going to have at least his share."

The book is written with alternating p.o.v. of the two men, which was not at all a distraction. The world described was a violent one, and a fascinating one as well. The book is well-written and, though the outcome is a foregone conclusion, manages to be suspenseful nonetheless. A very enjoyable read, and recommended.

Gloria Feit

Gorden's Bookshelf

Break No Bones
Kathy Reichs
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780743233491 $25.95

Break No Bones is possibly the best forensic detective mystery story of the year. Kathy Reichs has gotten comfortable with fictional writing and it shows in how smoothly the book reads. The story doesn't break new ground in the genre but gives the addicted mystery reader a needed fix.

Temperance Brennan has been pushed into teaching an archeology May block field school for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. This year they are excavating a possible Native American burial site. The field school is finishing up the dig when among the Native remains a recent body is found. An old friend and local coroner, Emma Rousseau, asks Tempe to help with the examination of the bones. Soon another body is found hanging from a tree. An unusual mark on a vertebra in the neck links the two bodies. As more bodies and unusual nicks are found on some of the bones, Tempe is pulled deeper and deeper into an investigation she never wanted to start. Her old friend Emma seems to be in trouble. The local sheriff has to be pushed into the investigation. As the suspects and threats multiply, both Tempe's ex-husband and current lover show up.

Break No Bones is a fun summer read that hits all the high points a reader wants in the forensic mystery genre. The only weak part in the story is a slightly messy climax to the who-done-it. Kathy Reichs' Temperance Brennan series of books is a must read for any serious forensic mystery reader.

The Book of the Dead
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Warner Books
Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10169
9780446618502 $7.99

The Book of the Dead is the story of the super evil genius, Moriarty, battling the super detective, Holmes. This is a modern narrative so the expected flow and pacing of the classic pulp mystery is gone and replaced by the more technical and scattered approach of modern storytelling. Diogenes Pendergast, the Moriarty character, is the lead in this story. His evil and his plans make the core of the action. Aloysius Pendergast, Diogenes's brother, is the Holmes of the mystery. Aloysius is playing catch-up throughout the tale.

The New York Museum of Natural History is given a bag of dust. Thinking it might be a poison, the police are called. They find instead that the dust is the crushed remains of the Museum's diamond collection that had been stolen before the beginning of the story. The Museum board decides to re-open an Egyptian display to counter the bad press about the lost diamond collection. But death and insanity follow the decision. The only person who can pull together all of the clues is Aloysius. Aloysius is being held in a maximum security jail awaiting trial for the crimes his brother committed. Can Aloysius get out of jail in time to save the multitude of victims his brother has targeted?

The Book of the Dead is a complex action/mystery. This modern tale loses the nostalgic feel of the Holmes type mystery as it powers though with a complex and layered storyline. Although this story can stand on its own, much of it references previous stories in the series. Today's readers will like the complex action/mystery but those growing up with the classic pulps will be distracted by its mixed storyline. The book is a fine read that is only muddied by the over complexity of its many layers.

S. A. Gorden

Harwood's Bookshelf

The Agnostic Reader
S. T. Joshi, editor
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst NY 14228-2197
9781591025337 $21.00

"Agnosticism holds that reason and the best scientific evidence do not allow one to reach a decisive conclusion regarding the existence of god." That statement is clear proof that agnosticism is indefensible. While Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and others agree that the existence of "gods" cannot be disproven, the same is not true of "God." God is the protagonist of the fantasy novel known as the Bible, and is by definition possessed of the qualities that the novel's authors attribute to him, qualities, such as the ability to create a number that is more than ten but less than nine, that cannot and therefore do not exist. To say that it is not possible to reach a decisive conclusion about God's existence, even though the only testimony that he/she/it does exist is confined to a book that also assures its readers that the earth is flat (among 19,000 other demonstrably false statements), is like saying that it is impossible to reach a decisive conclusion about Lemuel Gulliver's existence after recognizing that Gulliver's Travels is permeated with fantasy concepts incompatible with nonfiction. The probability that gods, or entities we would identify as gods, exist is vanishingly small. The probability that God (or Gulliver) exists is zero.

The Agnostic Reader is a chronologically ordered collection of essays by professed agnostics, starting with Thomas Huxley. How well I can epitomize these essays, ranging from 6 to 28 pages, with brief excerpts, the reader will have to decide. Keep in mind that my reasons for objecting to the continuing use of the word "agnostic" do not apply to a time when religion had not yet been fully falsified.

Thomas Huxley (1889): "It is wrong for a man to say that he is certain of the objective truth of any proposition unless he can produce evidence which logically justifies that certainty" (p. 25). "There are many topics about which I know nothing; and which, so far as I can see, are out of reach of my faculties. But whether these things are knowable by anyone else is exactly one of those matters which is beyond my knowledge, though I may have a tolerably strong opinion as to the probabilities of the case" (p. 26).

Edgar Fawcett (1889): "Rationalism owes a debt of gratitude to him who coined the word 'agnostic.' Previously there had been only 'infidel' and 'atheist,' and one or two other similar terms, all irate bayonets pointed at the very teeth of orthodoxy…. The average type of agnostic has reached his present position through the help of reason, and therefore he cannot be expected to abandon the power which has made him what he is" (pp. 51-52).

Clarence Darrow (1929): "An agnostic is a doubter. The word is generally applied to those who doubt the verity of accepted religious creeds or faiths…. In a popular way, in the Western world, an agnostic is one who doubts or disbelieves the main tenets of the Christian faith" (p. 71).

Bertrand Russell (1953): "An agnostic is a man who thinks that it is impossible to know the truth in the matters such as God and a future life with which the Christian and other religions are concerned. Or, if not for ever impossible, at any rate impossible at present" (p. 80). "I think that if I heard a voice from the sky predicting all that was going to happen to me during the next twenty-four hours, including events that would have seemed highly improbable, and if all these events then proceeded to happen, I might perhaps be convinced at least of the existence of some super-human intelligence. I can imagine other evidence of the same sort which might convince me, but so far as I know no such evidence exists" (p. 91).

Those are all of the essays written to explain and justify the author's agnosticism. Other sections include The Critical Study of Religion (4 essays), Agnosticism and Science (4 essays), The Deficiencies of Religion (3 essays), Christianity in Decline (4 essays), and The Agnostic Way of Life (3 essays). One excerpt from each section, or two for the section that includes Isaac Asimov and Albert Einstein, should be sufficient.

David Friedrich Strauss (1846): "Let us transplant ourselves among other religious communities; the believing Mohammedan is of opinion that truth is contained in the Koran alone, and that the greater portion of our Bible is fabulous; the Jew of the present day, whilst admitting the truth and divine origin of the Old Testament, rejects the New…. But which community is right? Not all, for this is impossible, since the assertion of each excludes the others" (p. 97).

Albert Einstein (1941): "The idea of the existence of an omnipotent, just and omnibenevolent personal God … is accessible to the most undeveloped mind. But … if this being is omnipotent then every occurrence, including every human action, every human thought, and every human feeling and aspiration is also his work…. In giving out punishment and rewards He would to a certain extent be passing judgment on Himself. How can this be combined with the goodness and righteousness ascribed to Him?" (pp. 215-216)

Isaac Asimov (1981): "By ancient tradition, the first five books of the Bible were written by Moses…. Modern scholars are convinced that this theory of authorship is not tenable and that the early books of the Bible are not the single work of any man, and certainly not of Moses" (p. 220). "Since the Bible and science both state that heaven and earth had a beginning, does this represent a point of agreement between them? Yes, of course - but it is a trivial agreement. There is an enormous difference between the Biblical statement of beginning and the scientific statement of beginning" (p. 222).

Arthur Schopenhauer (1889): "In the Christian system the devil is a personage of the greatest importance. God is described as absolutely good, wise and powerful; and unless he were counterbalanced by the devil, it would be impossible to see where the innumerable and measureless evils, which predominate in the world, come from, if there were no devil to account for them. And since the Rationalists have done away with the devil, the damage inflicted on the other side has gone on growing…. The fact is, you cannot take away one pillar from a building without endangering the rest of it" (pp. 237-238).

Walter Lippmann (1929): "The attempts to reconstruct religious creeds are beset by the modern man's inability to convince himself that the constitution of the universe includes facts which in our skeptical jargon we call supernatural" (p. 334). "It is a nice question whether the use of God's name is not misleading when it is applied by modernists to ideas so remote from the God men have worshiped. Plainly the modernist churchman does not believe in the God of Genesis" (p. 336).

H. L. Mencken (1927): "Is the skeptic ever happy, in the sense that a man who believes that God is watching over him is happy? Privately, I often doubt it…. The happiest people in the world, accepting this definition of happiness, are probably Christian Scientists - that is, until they come down with appendicitis or gallstones" (pp. 366-367).

All of the foregoing writers called themselves agnostics, mainly because they lived at a time when "atheism" was considered as dogmatic as fundamentalist theism. The word continues to be viewed pejoratively even by liberal believers. It should be abandoned, for the same reason the word "nigger" was abandoned even though it meant nothing more than "black." As long as calling someone a "nigger" or an "atheist" is seen as a put-down, the word serves no useful function. "Agnostic," although not pejorative, likewise serves no useful function. There are only two positions one can take in connection with religion: one can be a theist, meaning that he has a religious belief, or a nontheist, meaning that he does not have a religious belief. All attempts to add a third category, or subdivide the second, are pointless hairsplitting.

Double Cross: The Code of the Catholic Church
David Ranan
Theo Press Ltd
Suite 229, 19-21 Crawford Street, London W1H 1PJ
9780955413308 15.99 Brit. pounds

The Roman Catholic Church is an organized crime syndicate, willing to do whatever it takes, including mass homicides, to satisfy its oligarchs' lust for absolute power and suppress all dissent. Anyone who does not know that either is brainwashed to the point of being incapable of separating propaganda from reality, or has been living on another planet.

I found Double Cross very frustrating reading, for the logical reason that, while David Ranan is fully competent to analyze and delineate the corruption and crimes of the Catholic Church, from its creation in 384 CE(1) (although he thinks it dates from the first century) to the present day, every time he ventures into my field of expertise, the origin of Christianity and the history behind the composition of the gospels, he is almost 100 percent WRONG. About the only thing he gets right is the gospel authors' inconsistency in showing Jesus sentenced, flogged and crucified by the Romans, while simultaneously doing "their utmost to malign the Jews and to blame them for the death of Jesus" (p. 144).

Ranan states up front (pp. 1-2) that his book deals with the RC Church as a power structure, and he does not undertake to question Catholic theological dogma. He declares (pp. 4-5) that his book "investigates various areas in which the Catholic Church has been, and still is, active and reveals that the Church has used her power sometimes illegally, often immorally, and always undemocratically." He finds a continuing pattern in the misbehaviour and similarity in the cover-ups which have not changed over centuries, and points out that police officers around the world collaborated with the Catholic Church in hushing up sexual assaults by Catholic clergy. He sees that as explaining the refusal of Massachusetts lawmakers to include clergy among the persons required to report suspected child abuse. He points out that, while the Church has remained resolutely opposed to communism (p. 20), it has consistently been willing to do business with Fascist regimes. Its Concordats with Mussolini and Hitler made the RC church an equal partner in the Nazi Holocaust, a reality the Vatican and its apologists continue to deny. And he recognizes that, while publicly endorsing democratic freedom, the Church "denies others the very freedom of speech she demands for herself" (p. 69). He denounces the Church's stand on condoms (p. 74) as, "criminal when the Church disseminates falsehoods which directly bring about the death of those who listen to her."

Ranan draws attention to the hypocrisy of the Vatican's simultaneously labelling condom use a sin, while investing in companies that produce condoms. He sees the Vatican as "devious" in banning condoms for Catholics, while eagerly helping non-Catholics to refrain from multiplying (p. 90). He does not pull any punches in spelling out the Catholic Church's willingness to use force to further the cause of evangelization (p. 130), and leaves no doubt that Vatican approval, as much as Hitler's, enabled the Catholics of Croatia to murder 27,000 Gypsies, 30,000 Jews, and 487,000 Eastern Orthodox Christians, in addition to forcing 240,000 Orthodox Christians to convert to Catholicism by "methods that managed to shock even the Nazis, who considered them too sadistic" (p. 132). But he does not mention that the worldwide news media continue to cover up the religious nature of genocide by calling Catholics "Croats" and Orthodox Christians "Serbs." And he does not stress the danger to the freedom of every American caused by Republicanazi Presidents who have stacked the Supreme Court with a majority of Catholics whose Fuhrer in Rome has threatened them with hellfire if they do not commit treasonous violations of the First Amendment by overturning all laws that contradicts Vatican law. He does report that the future Pope John XXIII tried to warn Pius XII that his deliberately shutting his eyes to Hitler's Final Solution would adversely affect his place in history (p. 217). So one pope was a nice guy. The law of averages says it had to happen sometime.

Ranan reveals his scepticism of such doctrines as resurrection and virgin birth, but sees the question of whether most or any Catholic teachings are literally true as extraneous to his purpose. That is probably a good thing, as any attempt at biblical criticism would only have increased the already annoying number of inaccuracies. For while he recognizes the paranormal assertions of the gospels as fiction, he seems to accept those parts that are not physically impossible as accurate reporting of historical events. For example, he refers (p. 39) to "Jesus and his twelve closest followers, the apostles", unaware that the "twelve apostles" were invented by the first gospel author. Jesus had many students, usually called disciples, but never a "twelve". Even his assertion (ibid) that, "It all started with Jesus", is inaccurate. It all started with Paul, whose choice of Jesus as the posthumous figurehead of his pagan mythology was purely random. Jesus had no more connection with Christianity than John Birch had with the John Birch Society.

While Ranan mentions attempts to rationalize Jesus' miracles as misinterpretations of non-miraculous events, and the Church's response to those rationalizations, he shows no awareness that all of Jesus' miracles were simply plagiarized from miracles previously attributed to Eliyah and Elisha. He parrots the Vatican lie that the pope is the successor of Peter (p. 99), unaware that Peter was never a pope, or a bishop, or head of the ecclesia in Rome, which he never visited in his life, or even a Christian. Nazirites were Jews to whom Jesus was the prophesied Commander in Chief destined to overthrow the Roman occupation and be crowned king of an independent Judea (it never happened). Christians were followers of Paul, not of Jesus. Ranan also buys into the Big Lie that there are one billion Catholics. Newsflash: There are barely one billion Christians, sixty percent of them Catholic, compared to two billion nontheists. He also accepts uncritically Church lies about the Fatima hoax, even declaring that the goddess Mary predicted World War Two. In fact she promised that World War One would end in 1917 - provided enough people prayed to her, of course. (There was always a loophole.) Ranan is not a Catholic, and possibly not even a god-worshipper. But indefensibly credulous he certainly is.

Double Cross goes into great detail on the crimes of popes, including repeated murders, nepotism, and repeated seductions of male and female subordinates; the Vatican's role after World War Two in getting the sentences passed against convicted Nazis annulled or reduced, as well as providing an underground railway for monsters such as Mengele and Eichmann to escape to Argentina; and the centuries-long cover-ups, lasting to the present day, of priestly paedophilia. For all of Ranan's errors in biblical analysis, this book is must-reading for anyone who still thinks that the Catholic Church is basically a force for good.

In an otherwise well constructed narrative, Ranan writes (p. 132) that, "whilst serving a sixteen-year prison term … Pope Pius XII made Stepanic a Cardinal." Pius XII served a sixteen-year prison term? It is called a misplaced modifier, and perhaps should be blamed on an inadequate proof-reader who failed to detect a typo. But his continued references to the RC Church as "she" never failed to make me shudder. Compared to that, his one use of the blatantly Christian dating system, AD (instead of the scientifically neutral CE) was merely irritating.

"Unlike the faithful insiders who promote reform within the Church … I question the ability of the Church to change" (p. 2). And well he might. An organization that justifies its very existence by the pretence of infallibility cannot reverse itself without exposing its raison d'etre as a pack of lies. "Faithful Catholic liberals hope and believe that change can be effected within the Church. They hope for reform. Such reform, however, is unlikely to suffice. The shake-up which is necessary is beyond the scope of a reform" (p. 353). In other words, the Catholic Church can no more be impregnated with any redeeming social value whatsoever than can the Mafia, Scientology, or the Neanderthal Rednecks Association. While it is religion that is the root of all evil, the Catholic Church is the epitome of that evil.

1 See the entries, "Papacy" and "Siricius", in Dictionary of Contemporary Mythology.

William Harwood

Henry's Bookshelf

Art of the Creche - Nativities from Around the World
James L. Govan.
New York/London
9781858944029 $34.95

From Govan's work in international aid and development, he saw creches in all parts of the world. Their styles ranged from folk art, artistic works, a few simple figures, elaborate scenes, colorless pieces of carved wood, multicolored panoramas, to realistic to modernistic. He became interested enough in creches to start a Friends of the Creche Society; and to collect creches for his own enjoyment and for exhibition and media spots.

One hundred and fifty of the varied nativity scenes are pictured in color related to the country they came from with the individuals who made them identified when known. Close-ups of features of many for appreciation of details bring the total number of photographs to more than 200. Pictured against only the white of the pages, the creches with their varied figures in their intended arrangement stand out. Especially, with no background or context, their variety and the uniqueness of each are highlighted.

Govan's short comments for each creche concentrate on how he came to acquire it, the artistic goal of its creator, the figures seen in it (e. g., an African Yao tribal king, a Navajo Indian), and its materials. Some creches Govan commissioned; some were made by artists or art groups; and some were given to him for his collection to represent a particular country or ethnic group.

This large-size, coffee-table art book makes an ideal gift for the holiday season, one which will offer recurring enjoyment.

India Through the Lens, Photograph 1840-1911
Vidya Dehejia with contributions by Charles Allen et al.
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institute
in association with Mapin Publishing Ahmedabad, India, and Mandala Publishing
San Rafael, CA
9781932771916 $40.00

The plain title does not begin to do justice to the richness and diversity of the contents. The numerous lightly sepia-toned photographs, many full-page and one a panoramic fold-out, are especially handsome as well as informative as to Indian buildings, royalty and their traditional wear, ordinary Indians, ruins, and landscapes and nature scenes. But even with these, the book is more than only a distinctive album of vintage photos of India. Essays by art historians and critics go into various aspects of the project engaged in by native Indians and colonial British to record India in all its diversity and foreignness with the new device of the camera, as if to preserve India before it would be touched by the machinery and pace of the modern world.

Different native and colonial photographers were attracted to different aspects of India during the decades covered. Some concentrated on pictures of different ethnic groups; some on portraits of royalty; while others recorded the British administrative and military presence. With essays on several of the leading photographers, the book is also a survey of the field of photographic work done in India in the mid to late 1800s and into the early 1900s. Thus, "India Through the Lens" can be appreciated both for its exceptional, engaging photographs and as a introduction to the subject of photography in India.

Traces of Light - Absence and Presence in the Work of Loie Fuller
Ann Cooper Albright
Wesleyan U. Press
Middletown, CT
9780819568427 $75.00 (hc) $27.95 (pb)

Loie Fuller (born 1862) was a unique figure in early modern dance and in the history of dance. In her teens, she was a member of the Buffalo Bill troupe and worked in vaudeville besides being a temperance speaker. By the 1890s, she had achieved renown dancing in Paris. "I was born in America, but I was made in Paris," Fuller once remarked. As posters, art work by Lautrec, the sculpture Larche, and others, and features in dance and theater periodicals testify, Fuller was a dancer of high interest; and she had an influence not only on dance, but also other fields of art. Fuller's dance had an strong element of exoticism, like the dance of the later more celebrated and better-known Josephine Baker who in the mid twentieth century also found adulation in Paris. But whereas Baker's exoticism was rooted in the primitive and the carnal, Fuller's manifested a visual sensuality and the mysticism of elaborate movement and possibilities.

One sees in Fuller's effects of swirling and weaving hundreds of yards of silk high above her and around her as she danced a relation to the Japonisme art style popular in France at the time and also to Art Nouveau with its blendings of colors and references to forms of nature such as a flowing current or thicket of leaves. The whirlwinds of color created--generated--by Fuller would be accentuated by dramatic lighting. Fuller's influence can be seen in the dance of Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham; and also in costuming, scenery, and choreography of following modern dance. Including biography, social history, art, and aesthetics, Albright presents a full, multidimensional, study of this singular dancer. The author is a professor of dance at Oberlin College.

The French Romantics - Literature and the Visual Arts, 1800-1840
David Wakefield
Chaucer Press
International Publishers Marketing (dist.)
Herndon, VA
9781904449591 $50.00 800-758-1501

Wakefield has not "tried to write a synthesis or general history of Romanticism" nor probe for the origins and definition of the term. Rather, he accepts the common understanding among scholars and lay persons that Romanticism was the dominating art style in France in the first part of the nineteenth century, as it was throughout Europe. From this given, he approaches "the relationship between the two style [of visual art and literature] from a variety of different angles" shedding light on the interplay between them. He does however make references to Rousseau, for example, coming in the mid eighteenth century and the French poet Baudelaire coming in the latter half of the 1800s to help shed light on Romanticism in the central French arts of painting and literature during the decades he focuses on.

French Romanticism of the period was comparatively restrained since writers and painters "rarely went to the extreme of denying their classical birthright altogether." "Considerably bolder in theory than in practice," most leading artists voiced respect and sometimes inspiration or guidance from classical Western art. Delacroix, for example, despite the turmoil in his subjects and florid depictions of them, was not revolutionary or democratic in temperament.

The illustrations of the period art on nearly every page demonstrate the variety of "angles" Wakefield perceives and illuminates in this handsomely-produced work that is part art book and part literary and social history.

Henry Berry

Kaye's Bookshelf

Laura Lee and Other Stories
J.D. Livken
Aventine Press
1023 4th Ave., San Diego, CA
1593304994 $11.50

From the back cover:

"A delightful collection of short stories–from the humorous to the spiritual to the tragic–that will stay with you long after you've read them."

If you enjoy short stories...a bedtime treat, you'll probably enjoy Laura Lee as it is well-written and well-edited. There are seven stories in all: Laura Lee, Devils, Natty Sorrell, The Mutiny of Harby Stone, The Baptism of Billy Ray Sikes, Confessions of a Ridiculous Man, and An August Colloquy. I personally found The Baptism of Billy Ray Sikes, the thoughts of a man on death row as he awakes to his last day of life, to be the most poignant as he recalls how he came to be on death row, his fears of this day, and finally, the peace he had found.

J. D. Livken is an educated, creative freelance writer who received undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Tennessee. He lives with is wife and two children in East Tennessee.

A Rumor of Dragons
Michael A. Heald
Lulu Press, Inc.
9781430325093, $19.95

Quoting from the back cover:

"On Ganus, a world with two unchanging faces, the great dragons disappeared long ago.

"Marc Courtenay swallows his anger when his friends laugh at him behind his back and his father uses him as a pawn in games of political intrigue. After all, what good is a prince born without hands? What can he hope to accomplish? Better to enjoy life's pleasures and let the world take care of itself!

"But when the kingdom falls, Marc is plunged into a world he has never known, where myths come alive, legends kill, and a rumor about the return of the great dragons will decide the fate of all.

"As he flees for his life, Marc is aided by a minor wizard, a disgraced empath, and a dwarf dragon who cannot fly. He discovers that even a handless prince can change the course of history. However, first he must learn to entrust his life to those he comes to love and to discover the courage to act when all hope seems lost before he can confront the growing menace that threatens to rip Ganus apart."

As I have said in past reviews, the fantasy genre is not one of my favorite genres; however, I do review such novels when they are submitted. It is my opinion that A Rumor of Dragons is an exceptional fantasy novel which I found to be most enjoyable. It is quite an inspirational story with a unique hero. Michael Heald is a consummate writer with a creative imagination, and hopefully, one day his name will be included along with Robert Jordan, Jonathan Stroud, and Christopher Paolini as a contemporary fantasy writer.

7 Steps to Your Best Possible Healthcare -The Essential Guide for Crafting Your Personal Healthcare Plan
Ruthann Russo, PhD, JD, MPH, RHIT
DJ Iber Publishing, Inc.
Bethlehem, PA
9780979906107 $26.95

Quoting from the back cover:

"Create a plan for your healthcare that reflects your values

Recruit the top two members of your healthcare team: Your primary care physician and your medical mentor

Pay for your healthcare, when you are insured and when you are not insured

Play an active role in creating and maintaining your healthcare story

Understand your privacy and ownership rights to your health information

Communicate with your physicians to get the best results

Use Internet-based healthcare quality tools to rate the quality of your providers and health plan

Understand the languages used in medicine: Medical terminology and diagnostic coding"

Ruthann Russo has written this wonderful, comprehensive healthcare book to help us better understand our healthcare rights and responsibilities and to answer questions related to our complex healthcare system. The book contains an Introduction, 18 chapters and 2 appendices: Becoming a Visionary Healthcare Consumer; Recruiting Your Top Two Team Members; Paying for Healthcare; Playing an Active Role in Creating Your Healthcare Story; Understanding Who Uses Your Health Information and Why; Knowing Your Rights; Recognizing Healthcare as a Right, a Privilege and a Responsibility; Communication with Your Physician; Getting a Second Opinion; Rating the Quality of Your Healthcare Providers and Health Plan; Impacting Healthcare Quality; The Making of a Doctor; Understanding Medical and Surgical Specialists and Other Providers; Complementary, Alternative and Naturopathic Medicine; Serving as the Common Thread in a Fragmented System of Healthcare; Choosing a Hospital; Learning the Language of Medicine; Coding; How to Review Your Medical Record; Raw Food and Nutrition Resources. 7 Steps to Your Best Possible Healthcare is an excellent reference book.

Ruthann has written five books used by managers in the healthcare industry. Hospitals throughout the country use her training programs to assist their physicians and clinicians in providing quality care to their patients.

Shades of Gold
Charlie Hudson
Outskirts Press, Inc.
Parker, CO
9781432714406 $12.95

Quoting from the back cover:

"The word is out that Hollywood is coming to Verde Key, Florida, to capture local scenery, above and below water. Police Chief Taylor considers it to be an invasion and the mayor is counting the economic boost. Detective Bev Henderson is happy to hear that her friend, Chris Green, has been hired to give scuba lessons to the handsome lead actor and other members of the cast.

"Chris's excitement is tainted when her ex-convict, estranged husband appears in town, a new wedding ring in hand. As tension mounts into a bloody encounter, Bev begins to question what seems to be an open and shut case of tragic obsession turned violent. Are three dead people, who apparently have nothing in common, linked to a secret from the l940s?

"Plunge into an intriguing story filled with memorable characters and twists sprinkled like golden nuggets."

In Shades of Gold Charlie Hudson continues the mystery adventures of Detective Bev Henderson, her serial protagonist. We first met Bev in Shades of Truth. If you enjoy fictional mystery stories with women detectives, I'm certain you will enjoy this series. Charlie Hudson is a consummate writer who shares her knowledge of Florida and scuba diving with her readers. There's always a little romance, some suspense and of course, a murder mystery to solve. The novel is well-written and well-edited. You won't be disappointed.

Kaye Trout

Liana's Bookshelf

Sacred Wisdom
Helga Schroder
Suka Press
LLC, Newport Beach, California,
9780978759308 $24.95

Helga Schroder, born and raised in Germany, is a graduate in Applied Linguistics. She is currently living in California where she is a Fulbright Scholar.

Sacred Wisdom is a story about Lou, the main character, who tries to find inner peace and a purpose in life. His journey into the spiritual world is adventurous and amazing bringing him a slow transformation of his soul as well as the love he is looking for. It is a positive novel that inspires and encourages people to start looking for their own inner peace and purpose in life.

The story is written in the first person and reads as a personal account. It is direct and vivid, truthful and fast- paced. It is a gripping story that inspires and entertains at the same time. It emits positive thinking and urges readers to discover themselves and work towards their ideals.

Helga tries to connect Christian religion to Buddhism by interpreting some Buddhism elements of faith into Christian ones. Thus, this story is a link between different cultures and religious beliefs, though it eventually focuses on Buddhism, which is evident that the author is in favor of.

The part about negative thinking on page 246 is quite interesting, as well as the part of the Lama teaching about death issues. The main concern of the author is the planet and the conservation of the eco system. She believes that each person should do something about our planet as the destruction is imminent. The whole story swirls around this issue and it certainly serves its purpose. The story is enlightening, yet entertaining and interesting. It involves vivid imagery, 'real' characters and some fantasy aspects such as visions of the spiritual world. The main character sees visions that eventually lead him to find the purpose in life: to fight for the planet.

The author uses clear language, at times colloquial-an interesting aspect of the book too. Readers learn about Sao Paolo in Brazil and read a lot of geographical facts and cultural aspects of the place. It is also interesting to read the meditation techniques Lou is practicing in order to get inner peace and relax. Undoubtedly the readers will learn a lot from this novel since it has got a lot of aspects found in non fiction books. Sacred Wisdom caters to all readers who have inquisitive minds and it is worth reading. Get the book from

The Healer's Way: Bringing Hands-On Compassion to a Love-Starved World
Earnie Larsen with Carol Larsen Hegarty
Conari Press
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
9781573243094, $14.95

Very Highly Recommended

Earnie Larsen is a pioneer in the field of recovery from addictive or unwanted behaviors, and the originator of the process known as Stage 2 recovery. He has authored more than 60 books and 40 motivational self-help tapes. Visit him at Carol Larsen Hegarty is Earnie's sister and long-time collaborator.

The Healer's Way is a guide to healing, personal transformation and life changing that is divided into seven chapters. In this innovative book, the author guides the readers through the lives of several people who need spiritual transformation. These are samples from every day life all of us can experience. This guide leads the reader to a mystical journey into the psychology of each person so as to spot the problem underlying each case and heal it. Addictive behavior, physical abuse, punishment, low self-esteem are only some of the issues the readers will encounter in this book. According to the author, there is always a way to heal.

Written in an emotional way, this book can affect the reader who needs to change his/her life. Interesting issues arise on page 134 where the author says: "That's the secret-recognizing what's beneath the surface" and on page 143 "love is by far the most difficult road". The author develops self-care issues in chapter six.

Packed with stories from real people, Earnie manages to introduce readers to the plights of everyday man and then he makes the reader aware of the cause of each personal problem. Then the author finds a solution for each case. According to Earnie, everyone can heal using the seven-step process explained in his book. This is the best counseling I have read in years that is easy to understand and apply to. His story telling skills are superb. Language is simple and clear and the style is simple too, catering to people from all walks of life. A good read for those who seek spiritual transformation as well for those who wish to help others, or just to understand themselves. A great guide for everyone. Get this book from

Liana Metal, Reviewer

Lockstein's Bookshelf

Hollywood Nobody
Lisa Samson
Th1nk Books
P.O. Box 35002, Colorado Springs, CO 80935
1600060919 $12.99

Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson is the first in a new YA series about 15-year-old Scotty Dawn. Scotty's mom Charley is a food designer for small independent films, so they spend their life in a beaten-down RV (that Scotty calls Y) traveling around the country from shoot to shoot. Scotty has freedom most teens would dream of, and she gets to meet assorted Hollywood personalities. But the downside is that her freedom comes at a price: Charley is hiding a secret about their past that is putting Scotty in danger. And meeting the stars isn't so interesting when you end up seeing how unstarlike they are in person. But on a new shoot, Scotty meets her crush, up and coming star Seth Haas, and she starts to rebel against the restrictions her mother puts on her and starts to want answers. I love Lisa's writing; no matter what the book, she always manages to nail the character's voice with accuracy and bring life to the story. This is a great read for teen girls, but also their moms! Scotty is smart (she homeschools herself) and funny with a dry wit and original sense of fashion. She looks at every journey as an opportunity for teaching herself more about the world and her place in it. She's searching for her home, and in that quest for belonging, she starts to investigate Jesus and religion. Her fresh take on Christianity and honest questions are fantastic. Charley and Jeremy are frustrating (as they are meant to be) in their refusal to open up to Scotty, but in the end, as they explain, their reasons become clear. Scotty is a great character and role model for young girls and she gives insight for moms into how their daughters think and look at the world.

Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture
Mary DeMuth
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402
0736918620 $12.99

Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture by Mary DeMuth tackles the tough issue of how to parent in our changing world. How do we teach our children about truth and God in this pluralistic world? DeMuth gives lots of wonderful advice on how to bring our family back home where it belongs and support each other. She discusses different ways to worship and show your children not only to find God on their own but also to encourage others in their path. Postmodernism is such a difficult subject to define, but she handles it with grace and intelligence. She encourages parents to become more active in their children's lives and to bring thought to how we interact with them, God, and the world. DeMuth and her husband moved their three children to France, and she shares their struggles to fit in an atheistic society. She shows their efforts, warts and all, to illustrate how we and our children can thrive in this new world. It's a great, solid parenting resource.

Matt Bronlewee
Thomas Nelson
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
1595542493 $22.99

Illuminated by Matt Bronlewee is a fast paced suspense thriller. August Adams, an archaeobibliologist, is bringing a rare Gutenberg Bible to a client on a plane to New York. The plane ride is turbulent, but no more so than August's encounter with another passenger who triggers danger to his profession, the book, and his family. Rival secret societies, The Order of the Dragon and The Orphans, are in pursuit of the book and are willing to cross any line to get it. As August puts together the puzzle pieces to understand why this book is worth dying for, his ex-wife, another antique book expert is in the fight of her life for another Gutenberg edition, and their son is held captive for their cooperation. Bronlewee mixes suspense with history in an intriguing way making for a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat. While there are a few moments of implausibility, just suspend your disbelief and go along for the ride. August learns to think quickly on his feet, but he also learns that he loves his ex-wife and son enough to sacrifice anything for them. The ending gets a bit choppy and would have been improved by another 50-100 pages. Once I picked this book up, I couldn't put it down, and Bronlewee ups the drama by pointing out that Gutenberg really does have an enormous amount of mystery in his life. Dracula, Jan Huss, the Templars all make appearances in this fantastic first novel.

When Your Teen is Struggling
Mark Gregston
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402
0736918221 $12.99

When Your Teen is Struggling by Mark Gregston is an excellent resource for all parents of teens whether they are struggling or not. As any mother of two teens, I seem to always be struggling with one of them (at least they take turns), but I'm blessed in that neither of them is truly in trouble. We argue about grades, getting up in the morning, text messages, etc. Gregston, who has devoted his life to working with teens, is an expert on dealing with teens and their parents, who can be just as much work. He doesn't pull any punches, but he writes with a simple, clear form that really gets to the heart of the matter. He addresses different crises teens face and how we as parents can help them. The book is full of case studies of teens Mark has worked with (and he includes the outcomes in the back), each one is heartbreaking and gives insight into how to communicate with teens. I didn't realize how much I was robbing my children of the opportunity to be responsible until reading this, and I'm working on changing my habits. He encourages parents to discuss rather than lecture teens for more open communication and trust. His advice is solid; even though neither of my kids is going through the kind of difficulties the book deals with, I enjoyed the read and found lots of advice I can and will incorporate into my parenting.

Knowing and Loving the Bible
Catherine Martin
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402
0736918949 $11.99

Knowing and Loving the Bible by Catherine Martin is a fantastic introduction to Bible study for both beginners and long time readers. I'm currently on my third time through the Bible. Each time I read a different version to gain a little more understanding, but this time through it had become stale and a chore. Instead of looking forward to my two chapters a night, I found myself daydreaming and rushing through them. I felt so badly about it, but I just couldn't seem to make the connection I'd had the first time through. Martin's book opened up the Bible to me again and made it a joy in my day. The book is broken into 30 daily readings with questions at the end of each for digging deeper. On each sixth day, there is a full-blown Bible study with several verses to look up and answer questions about, all of which bring about greater understanding and appreciation for the Bible. Martin explain how to do several different type of studies: word, theme, person, etc. For each she gives detailed, but simple, instructions along with recommendations for other books that can enhance learning. Through it all, there is an underpinning of love for the Book. Martin's love of Scripture and the Lord is unquestioned, and she wants you to find the same kind of comfort and knowledge that she does. In the second to last lesson of the book, she asks you to pray to God for him to reveal your life verse to you. I was pretty sure that I knew mine, but I prayed anyway. The next night when I opened the book to the last chapter, there was my verse; it was an affirmation to me that not only is this my life verse, but that God will use Martin to speak to you about learning to love the Bible if you let her. My verse: Psalm 121 1-2 I lift my eyes up to the hills, from where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the creator of Heaven and earth.

Doesn't She Look Natural
Angela Hunt
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
1414311699 $13.99

Doesn't She Look Natural by Angela Hunt is the first book in the Fairlawn series about recent divorcee Jennifer Graham and her two sons: Clay and Bugs. Jennifer's divorce from her husband Thomas has left her jobless, homeless, and rudderless. She's living with her mother (a Red Hatter who's struggling not to resent her daughter's disruption of her empty nest life) when she receives an inheritance from a long lost great-uncle: a Victorian painted lady that just happens to be a funeral home in rural Florida. Jennifer takes her sons and mother down to Mt. Dora, Florida to see her new home, Fairlawn, and decides quickly to sell the monstrosity, but that proves easier said than done. I love this new series by Hunt, who never fails to satisfy. It's not chick lit, but it's not a mystery. It's a tale filled with conflicts: Jen and her mother clash regularly about parenting, Jen and Clay have normal teenage fueled arguments agitated by a neglectful father and the loss of everything familiar. The dialog zings, and it's obvious that Hunt spends time carefully crafting each sentence for maximum punch. Along the way, Jen learns a little more about God and what truly being his servant means. The end packs a serious unexpected punch. Definitely a noteworthy beginning to a series!

Amy Grant
Waterbrook Press
1745 Broadway, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10019
140007360X $24.95

Mosaic by Amy Grant took me by surprise. The book itself is lovely with color photographs, but it was the text that moved me so many times. Amy takes the lyrics from several of her songs and offers the inspiration behind them as well as other short personal vignettes. The format flows beautifully and gives a deeper view of her life than even a memoir could have. She talks about growing up in her tight-knit family, the love she has for her children, the pain of her divorce, and the miraculous love she shares with husband Vince Gill. She offers herself completely exposed without polish or facade, and it's an amazing sight. Her writing is lyrical and poetic with scenic descriptions and occasionally knock-the-wind-out-of-you emotion. Reading how she struggles to keep her mind on God when praying, a spontaneous dance in the moonlight as prayer to the Lord, her wonder at finding herself in such a lofty place, all of it makes her very real and her faith profound. I found myself putting the book down to reflect on her words or to share sections with my husband. It's just too powerful to take in all in one sitting, and many times it brought me to tears. This would make a great present for a loved one or yourself!

The Lost Sheep
Brandt Dodson
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402
0736921400 $11.99

The Lost Sheep by Brandt Dodson is the fourth in the Colton Parker mystery series. Parker is back and his 15-year old daughter Callie is missing. She called and left him a message on the answering machine asking him to not to try and find her, but as any father can relate, there's no way that he can honor her request. The police are limited in their search, so Parker uses his skills as a former cop, ex-FBI, and current private investigator to trace her path all the way from Indianapolis to Las Vegas and into the clutches of a Satanic cult. In his search, he recruits his friend (almost something more) Mary, an FBI agent, and a former brothel owner named Marty. Dodson's dialog zips across the page with chemistry and bristles with Parker's anger and frustration. I really enjoy this mystery series because while there is a Christian undercurrent, Parker isn't a believer and has a hard time dealing with those who do have faith. He's relaxed his stance slowly over the course of the previous three books, and this entry continues that trend. Parker's struggle to maintain control over an unmanageable situation brings emotion to this taut story, and his actions to rescue Callie bring him to the very edge. He discovers that sometimes the only way to be strong is by being weak. It's a profound discovery for Parker and readers. Dodson's writing reminds me of Chandler and Hammett, and there were moments that made me gasp with shock. Terrific dialog and taut suspense make this a must read.

My Life Unscripted
Tricia Goyer
Thomas Nelson
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
1400310520 $12.99

My Life Unscripted by Tricia Goyer is a fun, powerful devotional for teens. Tricia shares scenes from her life written in movie script format interspersed with movie-making terms, Bible verses, hard questions to make the reader look deeper at their own lives, and other teens' responses to those questions. She faces the mistakes she made as a teen head-on without flinching and offers alternatives and opportunities for discussion. Drinking, sex, cheating, friends, the hard things that teens face: she's got it covered. Without offering trite or pat advice, she encourages teens to find answers for themselves and write their own script for their life rather than follow someone else's (other than God's) or just drift along without thinking decisions through. As the mother of two teens, it opened my eyes to some discussions I need to have with my kids and reminded me how hard it is to survive high school without sacrificing something of yourself. While reading this, I asked my 14-year old daughter to describe herself (as Tricia did online and then published the teens' responses), and I ended up listening for several minutes as Molly defined herself in ways I never would have imagined. She knows herself far better than I did at that age, and listening to her helped me understand her far better. There's room for teens to record their answers to questions, as well as discussion questions at the back for use in groups. This is a great book for teens, their parents, and youth groups.

Before I Die
Jenny Downham
David Fickling Books
Random House Children's Books
61-63 Uxbridge Road, London, W5 5SA
0385751559 $15.99

Before I Die by Jenny Downham was the most difficult book I've ever had to read. Ever harder to review. I finished it a month ago, but it's taken me this much time to allow some of the ache to go away before I could get it down. It's the story of Tessa, who is 17 and dying of cancer. She lives with her father and younger brother and occasionally sees her estranged mother. Tessa has made of a list of the things that she wants to do before she dies. Many of the things on the list are stereotypical of the average teen: have sex, try drugs. Others are deeper: fall in love, not say no to anyone for an entire day. She completes much of her list, but the ramifications of some of them aren't what she hoped for. Sex with someone she doesn't know or love doesn't fulfill her; drugs are strange and take away what little happiness she has in life. Tessa's father struggles with his daughter's impending death. He feeds her organic food and vitamins in the unspoken hope that somehow, something will change. He and Tessa fight each other as she tries to live what little life she has left to the fullest and he tries to protect her. How do you put limits on or ground a teenager who is going to die? How can you keep her from experiences when all she wants is to feel? She swoops in and out of depression, refusing the leave the bed for days, then suddenly wanting adventure. Her best friend gets pregnant, her parents start moving closer to each other, she falls in love with the boy next door; all sorts of exciting experiences show themselves just as she can't be there to see how any of it turns out. I was shocked to find out that the author of this book was a middle-aged woman; she speaks so authentically as a teenage girl. This book is heartbreaking and uplifting all at once. Tessa is so real that I found myself hoping against hope that somehow the ending would change. But her peace and acceptance toward death was moving. As Tessa's soul drifts away on the final page, so do the words. As the mother of teenage children, this was an especially hard read, but I'm glad I did. Tessa discovers that life is worth living the best you can, even if the best you can is only 17 years.

Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened
Jason Rodriguez
1745 Broadway, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10019
034549850X $21.95

Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened edited by Jason Rodriguez is just the graphic novel to make you fall in love with the genre. I know you probably hear graphic novel and think: comic book, superheroes, men in tights, gore, geeks, teenagers. While that may be true of many, this one sets the golden standard to be something better. Rodriguez bought several antique used postcards and became entranced by the short messages on them. A few lines jotted while on vacation or away that spoke volumes to the receiver and whispers at mysteries to us today. 16 short stories by different artists and writers tackle postcards with cryptic, funny, and sentimental verses on them. Each writer imagined the writer and recipient and how the postcard fit into their lives. Sometimes the story answers a question, other times it's the question itself. The simple black and white artwork is evocative in each story. Send Louis His Underwear has short sketchy lines hinting at the darkness within. Homesick's long clean lines somehow manage to convey both the time of the Depression and the feeling of depression. Some stories are stronger than others, but all in all, this is a fantastic collection. It was impossible to put down, and when I did, I was sad it was over. I wanted more: more stories, more answers. From silly to haunting to desperate, these tales run the gamut.

The Trophy Wives Club
Kristin Billerbeck
Avon Inspire
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0061375462 $12.95

The Trophy Wives' Club by Kristin Billerbeck is the story of Haley Cutler's self-discovery. Haley married Jay, a Hollywood producer, when she was only 20 and gave him all that she had for their almost eight years of marriage. Despite troubles between them, she was in it for eternity, just like her marriage vows said. But Jay has other ideas, and just before their eighth anniversary would give her more alimony, he changes the locks, cuts off her credit cards, and kicks her to the curb for a younger actress. Haley flounders trying to figure out what to do next. She gave up all of her dreams for Jay, and due to his constant insults, she questions whether she's capable of accomplishing anything other than being his wife. Jay's lawyer Hamilton introduces her to an ex-wives Bible study group at his church, and soon she starts feeling the Lord moving in her life. Haley makes friends, finds a home, and gets a great job, but most of all she learns to let go of Jay and her anger. I loved this book! Haley's anger toward herself and Jay is so realistic, it's easy to love her, despite her Gwyneth Paltrow looks and size 4 body. Her friends each have their own story of struggle with life after marriage. One of the reasons I loved this book was because of how Billerbeck treated divorce. As a divorcee myself, sometimes the black and white attitude toward divorce and marriage in Christian fiction makes me squirm in my seat. She addresses it as something God doesn't want, but it's not up to anyone else to judge, and sometimes it is the right thing to do. Thank you Kristin for that! Hamilton & Haley's relationship seemed a bit forced and hurried to me. Ideally, this would be a trilogy: part one finds Haley finding herself, part two allows her and Hamilton to fall in love, part three finds them planning the wedding and getting rid of baggage before their new life together. My one true gripe with the book has nothing to do with the writer: it was poorly edited. In one spot, Haley asks a question of Penny which obviously should have been asked of Lily. There are other spots with misspelled words and characters referred to as the wrong name. I do hope that there will be more books featuring these characters; they are too good to let go of.

Interred With Their Bones
Jennifer Carrell
Dutton Adult
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3657
0525949704 $25.95

Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell is the story of the quest for a lost Shakespearean manuscript and the danger that hides around every corner. Kate Stanley is an expert in occult (knowledge hidden within the texts, not supernatural) Shakespeare who is about to direct Hamlet at the newly built Globe Theater in London. But things quickly take a twist for the strange when her mentor, Roz, shows up with a gift and mysterious message for Kate, then turns up dead at the theater, killed in the manner of Hamlet's father. Kate opens the gift to find a brooch and a message alluding to a lost work of Shakespeare. As she traces Roz's steps to find it, she's hunted and betrayed at every turn. I love books like this! Carrell packs in action, suspense, a hint of romance, and a lot of Shakespeare and Elizabethan trivia making the book a joy to read with every turn of the page. Kate can't quite figure out who to trust and neither can the reader as she flies from England to the US to Spain and back. Carrell's love for The Bard shines through on every page while bringing up questions as to the authorship of the works he's been given credit for. She throws in political machinations from Elizabeth's court and a few scandals, and she weaves fact and fiction so cleverly together, it's nearly impossible to sort them out. But God bless her, Carrell also takes the time in length author's notes to separate fact from fiction while still leaving plenty of mystery. The writing and characters are solid. I've read comparisons of this to The DaVinci Code; Dan Brown only wishes his books were this good!

How Strong Women Pray
Bonnie St. John
322 South Enterprise Blvd., Lebanon, IN 46052
0446579262 $16.99

How Strong Women Pray by Bonnie St. John is a powerfully written devotional/memoir. St. John had her foot amputated when she was four, was sexually abused from her preschool years until almost her teens by her stepfather, medaled in the Paralympics in skiing, and worked in the White House. Episodes in her life are bracketed by short essays by famous strong women about how they use prayer in their lives. Each woman uses prayer a little differently: some talk to God all day as a friend, others use more formulaic prayer, some meditate and listen for God there. But every woman listens to God in her own way and feels him moving in her life. Amy Grant, Edie Falco, and Maya Angelou each speak of the power of God. St. John's story is alternately heartbreaking and uplifting, and her search for faith speaks to the heart. The chapters are short and easy to read. While other reviews mention to St. John as a name-dropper, that's an unfair label. Each story tells of how this woman fought to rise above her circumstances and ultimately came to the realization that she couldn't do it alone. While she may have met famous people along the way, none of them filled the God shaped hole in her heart. This book speaks to the power of God and the strength women draw from him.

Christy Lockstein

Lowe's Bookshelf

Date Night Club
Saxon Bennett
Bella Books
P.O. Box 10543, Tallahassee, FL 32302
9781594930942 $13.95 1-800-729-4992

Meet Chris McCoy, a charming, neurotic lesbian mail carrier living in Albuquerque, N.M., and member of a group of middle-aged lesbian friends who find themselves single, AGAIN. They decide to commit themselves to finding not just a lover-for-the-moment but a "perfect mate." Thus they form the "Date Night Club" where "Instead of letting love fall to chance, they would research it, explore all the places where it might lurk or frolic and nail it to the wall of each of their futures" (40).

The club members are an eccentric mix of women who provide a great deal of heart and humor on their "quest" for love. There is Bernadette Chevez Maestas, known as B., a high-energy and highly successful realtor with a physique akin to Dolly Parton's. Sarah K. Roswell is the pastry chef/business woman behind a well known line of creme puffs available in upscale groceries. Sarah calls herself "Midge" because as a Little Person, she feels she might as well control and embrace her identity with disarming, self affirming humor. Luce is the resident bohemian-earth-mother-artist-type who works in large scale stained glass and may still be grieving her late lover. And Amadeus, a tall, blue-eyed, red-haired German Amazon, runs The Zoo, a hip restaurant that's popular with "club members."

The group makes monthly forays dubbed "date night" that include volunteering at the local pride-fest picnic and attending a book group sponsored by the local women's bookstore. In the latter scene, Alex Taylor, the author of the month's selection, is in attendance because she hopes for feedback from readers. (Her book, titled "The Heiress," bears a striking resemblance to the story line of Bennett's book, Talk Back.) Particularly amusing is the hot seat on which the author finds herself when her literary use of pickles is criticized by two very uptight feminist readers. The discussion that results is bizarre and hilarious. While no reader should assume an autobiographical origin to any novel, one can not help but wonder if Bennett is exorcising some particular experience with this wickedly funny scene. Alex Taylor's rather plaintively confused comment, "The pickle heiress was meant to be funny," (75), says it all.

Date Night Club is a very fine example of what Saxon Bennett does best: She creates a funny, charming and very human ensemble cast of lesbians, then carries her readers through an arc of challenge and growth with them. I laughed out loud several times, especially in regard to B.'s type A dominating, if well meaning, approach to orchestrating not only her own life but those of her good friends. The scene with the duct tape still gets me to smile. Dog people will love The Pipster, who makes Lassie look ill-trained, and the flyball games. Date Night Club is one of the funniest books I've read in a very long time, and is in my opinion the best of Bennett's many charming novels, in that her characters are so clearly defined and articulated from the very beginning, making the story a pleasure to follow. Give Date Night Club a try, you might not find your true love, but you're sure to enjoy the evening.

Gift of Time
Robin Alexander
Intaglio Publications
P O Box 794, Walker, LA 70785
9781933113821 $16.95

For practical, grounded, thirty-something CPA Leah Marks, time is about to become far more complicated than she ever imagined possible. A chance stop into a local antique shop introduces her to Reagan Montgomery, a woman that Leah feels very attracted to and results in her acquiring an unusual, lovely, antique snow globe. The globe is one of a pair created by a local craftsman nearly 100 years ago. No ordinary globe, it would seem, as Leah discovers that its image changes while she watches it. A tiny woman who looks very much like Reagan appears from within the elegantly wrought Victorian house in the globe. Investigation of the artifact reveals they once belonged to two women who bear a striking resemblance to Leah and Reagan.

The story takes a remarkable and fanciful turn when Leah is propelled back in time to 1907 via the globe. In 1907 Leah becomes Leanne, a young woman who is in love with Elizabeth, who looks like a younger Reagan. Returning to 2004, Leah finds herself compelled to discover all that she can about the women, who for some magical and unknown reason, appear to be herself and Reagan in another lifetime. Leah decides the only way to understand the full story is to return to 1907. When Reagan joins Leah in the past, the women find they have set in motion a complex set of events. When Elizabeth's mother discovers the young lovers in a compromising position, they both experience the horrifically violent attitude toward lesbianism at the time. The situation looks dire. Still, Leah's humor is engaging, as she recalls, "I had been clawed, dragged, slapped and choked in less than twenty-four hours. This was the most action I'd seen since I tried to put the neighbor's cat in a grocery sack as a child" (110).

Gift of Time evolves from a "simple" time-traveling romance to a complicated, layered tale with several plot twists. The women struggle to minimize the impact of their actions on the future--and still win a life together in the 21st century. As Leah observes of the early timeline, "There was no central heat, the cold chilled me to the bone, no Internet, and heaven help me, no Mountain Dew, the main staple of my diet" (110).

Alexander has given readers a charming romance with some fast-paced action. Leah's internal voice is often funny and self-effacing; the romantic interludes are sweet and sexy. The first portion of the story was not quite as engaging to this reader, however, perhaps because some of the characterization seemed unsettled and forced. Within a few chapters the characterization improves as the action picks up and the surprises unfold. The result was engrossing and enjoyable. Alexander makes observations about racism and human relationships in the South, then and now, which are thoughtful, hopeful, and earnest. The settings of historic and pre-Katrina Gulfport are carefully realized. Give yourself a Gift of Time and enjoy every minute.

Mary Jane Lowe

Margaret's Bookshelf

The Glass Age
Cole Swensen
Alice James Books
238 Main Street, Farmington, ME 04938
9781882295609, $14.95

The Glass Age is a free-verse poetry collection by award-winning poet Cole Swensen. Glass and windows are recurring themes amid the wildly diverse meters and formats of the verses, as are the insights that can be gleaned through glimpses of human behavior. The three fairly lengthy poem-narratives of The Glass Age are "The Open Window", "The Glass Act", and "Glazier, Glazier." "Glass to glass. It makes of the fragile / an eyebone / and why not entire / who could have won wars / could have / stopped on the surface, a series / of mirrors of Marthe sliding into a bath." A poetic reflection brief in the reading yet long in the pondering, highly recommended.

Next Life
Rae Armantrout
Wesleyan University Press
215 Long Lane, Middletown, CT 06459
9780819568212, $13.95 1-800-421-1561

Rae Armantrout (Professor of Poetry and Poetics, University of California, San Diego) presents Next Life, a free-verse poetry collection that critically views the impending threat of dark global realities. In a quest to see the unseen, Armantrout speaks of a "next life" just beyond the flawed current one, searching into the event-horizon of human consciousness and perception. A thoughtful gathering of reflections into the need to seek higher ideals, even by venturing into existential states beyond the limits of comprehension. "Our Daphne": If resemblance / is the passage // down which meaning flees, // branching / now and now, // some guy's / carved a climbing vine // in wood // meaning, / "I'd // follow you / anywhere"

Milwaukee Does Strange Things To People
Susan Firer
The Backwaters Press
3502 North 52nd Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68104-3506
9780979393426, $16.00

Award-winning poet Susan Firer presents Milwaukee Does Strange Things To People: New & Selected Poems 1979-2007, a compilation of brief poems ranging from free-verse to stream-of-consciousness to unusual, artistic-shaped formats. A few allusions to the classic authors Whitman and Neruda pepper these evocative verses, drenched in emotion and vivid in the moment of being alive. "Milwaukee Warehouse Fire": the night was red / with the heat of the fire, / the winter river's ice reflected the same. / the men on either side of the river / fought the fire, their faces / black & wet. // & i dreamed our child / left my body / with such heat & push / the sheets started on fire, / orange as autumn flowers / and as sweet smelling.

Kathleen Willey
World Ahead Publishing
c/o Midpoint Trade Books
27 West 20th Street, Suite 1102, New York, NY 10011
9780974670164, $25.95

Target: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton is the personal testimony political affairs commentator, real estate career woman, and mother of two Kathleen Willey, who once approached Bill Clinton as a White House volunteer seeking a paying position, and had her trust in him shattered when he sexually assaulted her. On the same day, her husband allegedly committed suicide - but under the most suspicious of circumstances. When Willey's name later became known as a potential witness in litigation involving the President, she was targeted by a vicious campaign of harassment, threats, and intimidation. Even her pet cat was murdered. Target: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton reveals the sexual predator-enabler dynamic of the Bill and Hillary marriage, how Hillary was just as ruthless as her husband in smearing women who spoke out against him, and Hillary's role in destroying modern feminism by helping to reduce it from protecting women against violence and sexual misconduct to the single issue of abortion. "The planets are perfectly aligned in Hillary's favor, and many women will likely vote for her just because she is a woman, because it is time for a woman to be our president. But Hillary Clinton is the wrong woman. This is why I need to tell my story... Hillary Clinton cannot claim to be an advocate for women if she victimizes us when no one is looking." An absolute "must-read" for anyone considering casting a vote for Hillary in the upcoming primary or general elections.

Margaret Lane

Mark's Bookshelf

Mortgage Rip-Offs and Money Savers: An Industry Insider Explains How to Save Thousands on Your Mortgage or Refinance
Carolyn Warren
111 River Street, 4-01, Hoboken, NJ 07030
9780470097830 $17.95

Mortgages, their originating brokers, and name-brand banks remain in the headlines, in the post-real estate boom era. Carolyn Warren's new book offers an insider's look of a business that has been veiled much like the great OZ. Ms. Warren pulls back the curtain on an industry ripe for consumer rip-offs, but still laden with professionals willing to do-the-right-thing. Mortgage lending today is evolving from "order-taking", to increased competitive pressures, governmental investigations, and much stricter underwriting guidelines. Mortgage Rip-Offs expertly medicates the sub-prime hangover.

Content includes: Boost Your Credit Rating and Pre-Qualify, Create a Short List of Three Honest Mortgage Lenders, Choose the Right Type of Loan for Your Situation, Request Three Good Faith Estimates and Compare the Costs, Uncover the Best-Kept Secret of the Mortgage Industry, Negotiate Lower Fees and Rates, Decide Whether It Makes Sense to Pay Points, and Lock In Your Rate-Carefully, Avoid the Five Most Common Unpleasant Closing Surprises, What You Must Know before You Refinance, How the Smooth-Talkers Work, Watch Out if You're Rolling Fees into Your Loan!, Great Deals on below Market Rate Loans, First-Time Homebuyer Programs Open to Anyone, Tips for Loans on Condos and Two-to Four Family Homes, What if You Get Turned Down?, What if Your Loan Doesn't Close?, Controversial Lender Laws, and A Peek Inside the Mortgage Industry. Acknowledgements, an introduction, and a conclusion round out the in-depth chapters.

If you wonder how to shop with an eye on the bottom line, for a mortgage, Ms. Warren's book is power-packed with tips on how to efficiently consume mortgages and the red flags for you to run from. A home purchase is chock-full of to-do lists, and often the mortgage process is just another item, but after reading Mortgage Rip-Offs you'll wonder why you ever paid all those puffed and padded fees, which can add up to quite a significant number. One of the most important points the author makes is that often the lowest interest rate is not the best bargain, as it is often back-loaded at closing or escrow with a multitude of fees and additional costs.

Capitalism As If The World Matters
Jonathon Porritt
8-12 Camden High Street, London, NW1 0JH, UK
9781844071937 $24.95

Sustainable development is the cornerstone of the United Kingdom's foremost expert on this forefront topic; Jonathon Porritt. Capitalism As If The World Matters has been revised and now available in a comprehensive paperback edition. Relied on by both the political and monarchial leaders of Great Britain, Mr. Porritt offers up a road map for business persons and politicians alike to move beyond the eco-sound byte and take charge of a planet reeling from years of neglect and reactive management of it's natural systems and balance.

Chapters cover: Conflicting Imperatives, Sustainable Development for Real, Re-engaging with Economic Growth, Unsustainable Capitalism?, Through the Global Looking Glass, The Five Capitals Framework, Natural Capital, Human Capital, Social Capital, Manufactured Capital, Financial Capital, Confronting Denial, Changing the Matrix, Business Excellence, Civil Society, Visions and Values, and Converging Imperatives. Plus a Foreword by Anthony B. Lovins, acknowledgments, an introduction and index.

Mr. Porritt lays out viable solutions for decades of over-consumption of our natural resources. Taming the capitalistic withdrawal from depleting the world to living within our natural limits, is more than lip service, the author has made this his life's work, not an easy task for many corporate and political titans perspective he has changed. His recipe for sustainable capitalism is in itself a must-read for anyone looking to the future of our planet. No matter who you are, pick up this great book, it moves way beyond the hype to the compelling and necessary answers to one of the worlds greatest solvable problems.

Mark Nash

Molly's Bookshelf

The Dogs of Kaloon
Carl L Galey
1663 Liberty Drive STE 200, Bloomington ILL 47403
9781420876024 $16.50

The narrative opens in Kaloon, Illinois located in the former nation of the United States of America on the North American Continent as Tucker Charley rescues a moth snared in the web of a spider. The Shepherd/Boxer mix has a tender heart. It is election day, a victory party is planned and Tucker Charley just may be the next sheriff. Tucker's fiancee Maggie is positive Tucker will be elected, Tucker realizes the incumbent has long had an iron grip on the position and will not go down without a fight.

When Tucker returns to his childhood home from the Great Chicago Cat Wars he discovers an unprincipled sheriff has been profiting from the illegitimate production and sale of the drug catnip. It is then that Tucker knows he has to try to take the office away fro Sergeant Spot and rid the area of his unsavory influence.

It is after winning the position of sheriff that Tucker and his deputy, Bull Turner set in motion the task of ridding the county of the drug ring.

By four o'clock on election day Sergeant Spot found himself in the uncomfortable position of having to ready himself to vacate the office he had held for so long. He had so many loose and illegal ends to tie up that it would be all he could do to cover up the dishonesty of his corrupt stranglehold upon Coles County, Illinois. Spot faces more trouble when his trusted cohort, Frankie Logan turns out to be less than sympathetic to his plight.

Frankie Logan wants a split of the money Spot has been skimming and hiding in his office safe. Thirty two hundred sacks of grade A catnip may be just what Spot needs to turn Tucker's election and Frankie's greed to his favor. Moving the tale along assassins, led by a determined Siamese appear, dogs begin to drop from gun fire, Sheena Farnsworth, one of the town's most revered citizens is shot, Frankie is dead and buried out in the woods and Tucker has a mystery to solve.

Tucker has his work cut out for him in trying to unravel the tangle of deceit, lies and murder. He must do battle with the renegade cat gang hired by Spot to eliminate him along with Sheena Farnsworth. To top off everything else Tucker in the weeks and years to come; after Tucker has done away with what seems to be all of the calamities in his life a staggering new development appears. Tucker's young son Tucker Jr makes a startling discovery while playing in the tree house out behind the home housing Tucker Charley, his wife Maggie and their growing family.

Story teller Carl Galey has crafted an intriguing tale centered on a land in which mankind has finally produced a weapon of astounding magnitude. The weapon wiped out humans but left other creatures alive to change and evolve. In the society which came to be the dominant creatures were upright half-man beings with hands, able to walk and talk as had the humans they were devoted to so long ago. The dogs of Kaloon do not much resemble the dogs we recognize today.

On the pages of 'The Dogs of Kaloon' is presented an absorbing glimpse into what might be one day should humans continue their destructive course. Present in the tale is deceit, treachery and dishonesty…. all some of the baser of the human instincts along with the more admirable attributes of compassion, gentleness and kindness. Writer Galey has captured some of the worst and the finest of human nature, and has settled them in a society made up of creatures who have their own notions of right and wrong, good and evil.

'The Dogs of Kaloon' is a sure to please work for middle grades, high school readers and adults who enjoy Sci/Fi/Fantasy. The tale moves along at a steady pace, is peopled with believable creatures who behave in realistic fashion and is written in easy going readable prose. Dialogue is appealing, fits the situations presented and serves to keep the reader turning the page. Reader attention is caught and held from the opening lines right down to the last paragraphs as we stand with Maggie and scan the horizon.

I received a hard bound copy from the author for review. Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

Barry Boyhound
Andy Spearman
Alfred A. Knopf
New York
9780440420583 $5.50

Child Friendly Read … Recommended … 4 stars

The foreword tells the reader: 'Don't feel like you have to read this whole story all at once.' The list of characters includes: Barry, Fleas One and Two, The Brothers, Exploding Raccoon, Janey, Mrs. Barry's Mom, Worm, I'm With Stupid, Vladimir Guerrero, Squashed Frog, Monica, 19 other Squirrels, Cat, Pierre, Partial Pierre, Driver of Car, Nurse. Most of the characters are mammals, one is an Annelid, one is a former amphibian, two insects, a Marionette and a partial Marionette. The story is more or less chronological, completed with digressions and aside;, strong readers and upper middle grade readers will finish in one sitting. Younger readers will take a little longer to finish perusing the tale.

And the narration begins with the reader being cautioned to keep quiet ... in a moment Barry will awaken. And he will awaken as a dog. Barry has never been a dog before. Up on Barry's head two tiny fleas are deep in conversation. Note: whenever the fleas are chatting the type becomes very tiny. I like the technique, however those of us who wear glasses, including many of my students, may find the tiny print too difficult to pursue, and miss part of the tale. I soldiered on, magnifying glass in hand when necessary, children often do not have the patience.

Barry was only twenty per cent awake when he reached up to scratch an itchy spot behind his left ear - with his toe. He was fifty percent awake when he said Yawn, sortof. By the time he was two thirds awake he noticed he was walking to the bathroom on all fours... like a dog.

Barry Boyhound continues with tidbits of conversation from the fleas, pages of fun facts about fleas or making up poems, a Compleat Pirate rule book explanation, really good pirate maps drawn by The Brothers, the diagram of a typical boy's brain, a print out of flea conversation when fleas are angry with one another, details of a fun game of push the frog, and an exploding raccoon all appear during the narrative.

Barry finally winds up in the hospital, he was hit by a car. And the account ends with a peek into the future. Barry was pretty much okay after they unraveled his bandages. He did not eat another papaya or peanut butter sandwich, The Brothers remained best friends, nothing more is learned about the exploding raccoon, Janey continued to be a normal person, Fleas One and Two joined the flea circus and were very successful, the Cat forgave Barry for chasing her, the Squashed Frog never recovered, the driver of the car stopped speeding and the hospital nurse was fine.

Writer Spearman has produced a colorful tale sure to please the target audience of middle grades readers. It has just enough curious, peculiar and outre to captivate youngsters in the 9 - 13 year range. Spearman's cleverness with words and his expressive narrative pull the reader right into the narrative. Language used is within the vocabulary understanding of most readers in the target group, reader interest is held fast as the story unfolds. The asides in the form of flea conversations and notes about this and that, as well as odd to bizarre happenings are kid friendly elements and add much to the reading of the account.

This is not a work targeted toward the adult population, but then it was not meant to be. Barry Boyhound is presented in a pseudo scientific manner with notes, illustrations and explanations. I like that. This is a book I would use in my 4th grade classroom, however because I have returned to first grade this year I will offer my review copy to the youngsters who were my students last year. I suspect that they will enjoy the book very much. Expectation and projection all play an important part in the reading of the narrative. Author Spearman obviously has great fun with his writing of Barry Boyhound .

I received a library binding copy for review from the publisher. Happy to recommend for the target audience.

Molly Martin

Paul's Bookshelf

The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing Our Culture
Andrew Keen
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780385520805 $22.95

The Internet of the 21st century, also called Web 2.0, has become a participatory marvel, letting anyone post anything, anywhere, without having to go through, or be approved by, anyone. According to this book, that is also its biggest drawback, not just for the Internet, but for all of American culture.

The two biggest culprits in the destruction of American culture are the sites Wikipedia and YouTube. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that anyone can edit at any time. It doesn't matter if the person doesn't know anything about the subject of the entry they are changing. It also doesn't matter if the edited information is totally wrong, or downright malicious. No approval is required. The legitimate encyclopedias are suffering greatly; people would rather use Wikipedia with its potentially wrong information. YouTube is the video equivalent of Wikipedia. Again, anyone can post anything, with no thought given as to whether or not the video is accurate or fair.

The author explores the near-destruction of the music business by file sharing and downloading; the movie business is not far behind in terms of Internet-caused damage. The site Craigslist has done major damage to newspaper ad revenue, a major source of money. Newspaper readership is steadily dropping, as people go to blogs for news, leading to the possibility of journalism becoming totally advertiser-driven, which would mean covering little more than celebrities, diets and self-help. Anything can be cut, pasted and re-mixed, putting great pressure on concepts of copyright and ownership. A major assertion of the author is that there are no "gate-keepers" on the Internet, no one to help the average person discover what information is, or is not, accurate.

There is hope on the horizon. In 2006, one of the creators of Wikipedia started Citizendium, a wiki encyclopedia but with experts who have the authority as the final word in their area of specialty. Legislation has been passed to protect kids from predators on sites like MySpace, but parents have the primary responsibility to know what their kids are doing online.

Lest anyone think otherwise, this is not some back-to-nature, anti-technology rant; the author is a Silicon Valley insider. This book is worth reading and recommended for everyone, from those who live on the Internet, to those who want nothing to do with it.

Welcome to Terrorland: Mohamed Atta and the 9-11 Coverup in Florida
Daniel Hopsicker
Mad Cow Press
P.O. Box 314, Venice, FL 34284
9780970659180 $19.95

This in-depth investigation explores one part of the 9-11 story: the activities of terrorist leader Mohamed Atta in Florida before that fateful day.

A major part of the official story is that Atta and his fellow hijackers slipped into America unnoticed and were able to attend flight school without attracting government attention. A person would think that law enforcement, including the FBI, would be interested in finding out the truth. There are numerous instances throughout this book of witnesses being intimidated into silence by the FBI. Soon after the attacks, the FBI raided the local police department, seized all the files on the "owner" of the flight school where several of the terrorists trained, and put them directly onto a military plane to Washington, accompanied by Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

A person named Mohamed Atta was accused of a bus bombing in Israel in the mid-1980s. Even if they were not the same person, wouldn't that have put the name "Mohamed Atta" on some terrorist watch list? A Mohamed Atta is also listed as a graduate of the US International Officers School at Maxwell AFB. The researchers who worked on this book offered to clear up the question for the Pentagon, free of charge, but they were not interested. Assertions from the Pentagon that they were not the same person were not convincing. As many as 7 of the hijackers received training at secure military installations. To even be considered for such a program would have required Atta to be on very friendly terms with an Arab ally, like Saudi Arabia.

Much of this book looks at Rudi Dekkers, the "owner" of Huffman Aviation. A Dutchman who is a fugitive back home in the Netherlands, he is generously described, by people familiar with aviation in Florida, as a "scumbag." He would fall several months behind on his rent at Venice Airport, then suddenly be flush with cash. He deserved to be arrested, several times over, on various state and federal charges. Each time, "high government officials" would tell his accusers to back off. Dekkers was also the subject of a federal task force accusing him of smuggling high technology out of the USA.

A reasonable question would be: Who cares what Atta and the others were doing in Florida before the attacks? If this one part of the official 9-11 story can be so thoroughly discredited, are there other parts of the official story that are similarly worthless? This book is very highly recommended. It is investigative journalism the way it is supposed to work; put a witness statement next to a seemingly unrelated verified fact, and see where the trail leads. This is very much worth reading.

Who's Watching You?
John Gibb
Collins and Brown
The Chrysalis Building, Bramley Road, London W10 6SP, U.K.
1943402920 8.99 Brit. pounds

America is not the only country where the threat of terrorism, and the subsequent encouraging of that fear by the State, has led to the steady erosion of civil liberties for the average individual. This book explores the situation in Britain, said to be the most watched society on Earth.

No one knows just how many closed circuit TV cameras are working in Britain at any given moment; estimates range from 2 to 3 million. The average person could find themselves on a CCTV screen up to 300 times a day. No longer do bored security guards have to sit in front of rows of TV screens. New software allows the system to distinguish between normal and abnormal behavior. Such abnormal behavior is automatically flagged and displayed on the one TV screen for the guard to analyze.

The retailers of this world are building up a more comprehensive portrait of an individual's purchases and buying habits, with that person's willing consent. It is done through recording credit card transactions and the use of store discount cards (Is a discount of a few percent on your purchase really worth giving all of your personal information to some retailer's database?). What the retailers don't know about a person, the credit reporting agencies do know. Their information comes from a seemingly infinite array of sources, and accuracy of the information is not guaranteed.

Echelon is a global electronic interception system that aims to capture every phone call, email, fax and telex communication between America, Europe and the Middle East. It is run by the National Security Agency, with help from its British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand counterparts. A major listening station is at a place called Menwith Hill in Yorkshire. Without the absolutely highest security clearance, don't even bother trying to get in. Members of the European and British Parliaments do not have such clearance. France is building its own smaller version of Echelon, using current satellite technology.

This is a fascinating, and pretty spooky, book. There is a list of groups in the back of the book working on various aspects of the privacy issue. About all a person can do is to keep any more civil liberties from disappearing in the name of security (those liberties that are gone are not coming back anytime soon). This book is recommended for everyone; those who know their way around this issue, and those who know nothing about this issue.

Paul Lappen

Richard's Bookshelf

The Reluctant Christian
Douglas S. Wright
Creation House
600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746
9781599791609 $14.99

An Amazing Story of Addiction and Deliverance

"The Reluctant Christian" is the amazing story of the spiritual journey of Douglas S. Wright? He has opened his life to the reader to tell of the trials, failures, victories, in a cycle of addiction, sin, repentance and deliverance. Doug testifies of God's mercy, and grace. As a rebellious youth Doug made choices that led to a downward spiral of drug and alcohol dependence. This is a story of a young man plagued with bitterness and anger, working through a tumultuous marriage, trying to be a good father and provider for his two children, and to submit to the purpose and call of God on his life.

Douglas Wright has made himself vulnerable in telling his story. It is good to know that there are those still willing to open their heart in a way that does not gloss over the ugliness of sin. Doug was willing to acknowledge the evil in his life to bring honor to his Lord. He also testified to the miracle of deliverance, the power of God, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the salvation available through Jesus Christ, God's Son.

Doug addresses the important place his extended family played in impacting his life. In his teens Doug made bad choices and soon was experiencing a downward spiral of addiction. Before Doug found himself at rock bottom, he narrowly escaped death on several occasions, was arrested on numerous charges, and experienced a forced separation from his wife and children. He cried to God for mercy and another chance. Wright shares the anguish of his emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual battles throughout his journey to deliverance, recovery, and wholeness.

Wright is an articulate communicator. I found myself engrossed in the story from the first page to the very end. Doug is gifted with spiritual discernment, and anointed by God's Spirit. Doug's writing is strong in Biblical content. He writes clearly of the consequences of sin and evil, demons, divorce, forgiveness, repentance, and restoration. He then helps the reader to recognize the promise of deliverance from the power of sin,

Doug Wright has written "The Reluctant Christian" with the prayer that it will help others avoid the hurt and suffering Doug experienced the hard way. He provides the reader with an invitation to submit their lives to God, to follow His purpose and not their own plans. I am eager to hear more from this promising first time author, Douglas S. Wright.

Rethinking God
Scott Munger
AMG Publisher
6815 Shallowford Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421
9780899570389 $14.99

A Thought Provoking Re-examination of Today's Church

Scott Munger is articulate and direct in his challenge to the church and the individuals within the church to rethink their perception of God. Dr. Munger relates his personal story of the uncertainty of agnosticism and his journey to acceptance of Christianity and the truth of the Gospel message. He uses personal stories and observations from his life and experiences in the rain forest of the Philippines as well as personal experiences and observations while living in the former USSR, in Asia and in Europe.

Munger is well trained in Science, Biochemistry, the humanities, and in linguistics. He has studied and done research in the fields of sociology, and linguistics, as well as studies of the cultures of other peoples. Munger is well known for his position on Evangelicalism in the contemporary church and has been featured on CNN and FOX News.

Scott served twenty years in overseas missionary service. He applies the knowledge and understanding gained in these various cultures, languages, and Biblical studies to challenge the American church to re-examine the veracity and power of their personal and corporate faith.

Dr. Munger asks the reader to consider the ways in which they have permitted the church structure, programs, political action groups, and vague or misinterpreted theology to distort the picture of God we give to the world. He challenges the reader to become involve in politics as citizens, to vote, to speak up for rights, and to pray for governments and their leaders. He warns the reader to be vigilant and to be careful not to "confuse earthbound political positioning with the divine administration of eternity."

Evil is presented from a philosophers viewpoint and then from scriptural teaching. Grief, misery, pain, suffering, and the source of evil are all considered in light of the Christian's response. Dr. Munger stimulates the thinking of the reader in areas of evangelism and missions by using "Stories from the Rain Forest".

The familiar New Testament story of the woman at the well provides lessons in contrasts: Compassion, not condescension, truth not tolerance, relationship, not religion, fulfillment, not fluff, service, not self, and organic, not organized. Munger provide an appendix, notes, and index which make this an excellent resource for classroom study, future reference, and lesson or sermon preparation.

Dr. Scott Munger leaves the reader with provocative questions that are thought provoking and challenging. "Rethinking God" is a wake up call to today's Evangelical Church and contemporary Christians everywhere, but especially in America.

Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War
Jane Hampton Cook
AMG Publishers
6815 Shallowford Rd., Chattanooga, TN 37421
9780899570426 $16.99

Men of Courage, Conviction, and Commitment

"Battlefields & Blessing" is a compilation of unique of writings of inspiration and courage compiled and edited by Jane Hampton Cook. The writings are from the years of the Revolutionary War period. This group of committed men and women joined together in a cause to maintain the freedom to exercise the personal conviction of their faith.

The viewpoints key players of the Revolution are included in this amazing collection of inspirational expression and challenge. George Washington, Samuel Adams, Nathaniel Greene, Henry Knox, Benjamin Franklin, Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, John Adams, and King George III are a few of those included. Their writing brings these real life examples of courage, conviction, and commitment to the pages of this book.

There are excerpts taken from original manuscripts, letters and speeches. These add greatly to the genuineness and authenticity of the personal faith exercised in the decisions made during this period of crisis. These devotions are unique and include anecdotes that demonstrate the uplifting power of faith and reveal the personal battlefield experienced by the leaders of the Revolution. The book is formatted for use in daily devotions. Each week includes stories built around individual faith and courage. These are designed for reflection and inspiration. One day is devoted to: "The Revolution Today" with thoughts directly related to incidents and issues relating to the war. The seventh day is committed to "Sabbath Rest" and features a sermon from a recognized minister of the era

"Battlefield & Blessing" is a book of patriotism and spiritual insight. It is the prayer of the author, Jane Hampton Cook; that these stories of men of courage, conviction, and commitment will be a challenge to the reader to experience a revolution in their own hearts "one devotion at a time."

Principles of Perseverance
Wes Daughenbaugh
Creation House
600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746
978159791654 $11.99

Understanding the Importance of Perseverance

Wes Daughenbaugh's definition of perseverance is "love that keeps on obeying." He illustrates this in the "Cycle of Success" as the step that comes just before victory and great achievement. Continuous obedience builds Christ like character. Perseverance is the key to success, accomplishment, and closeness to God. "Principles of Perseverance" offers guidance in "What to do instead of giving up." Each chapter of the book Daughenbaugh includes a different tactic or technique of perseverance.

As I read through these chapters I began to recognize areas in my life that were robbing me of spiritual strength and achievement. I recognized the importance of setting aside a time in the morning for prayer, and of the rewards that come with praying through.

The many pen and ink illustrations throughout the book bring home truths from each chapter. The illustrations in chapter one depict the power of being motivated by the desire to glorify God to break through Satan's blockade. Others illustrate how our root motivations determine our authenticity.

Daughenbaugh urges the reader to assume the responsibility for their thoughts and the images which become the focus of mediation while seeking strength to overcome, the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Wes uses an illustration to emphasize the principle of receiving spiritual strength after we make a sincere commitment to do God's will. An entire chapter is filled with stories exemplifying the principle of blessing that follows the celebration of trouble. Wes also develops the principle that when choose to rejoice in our weaknesses, hardships, difficulties, persecutions, and insults, and depend on God, we are made strong in Him.

The Illustrations used along with the narrative help the reader prepare themselves for spiritual warfare. An illustration using the lives of Jonathan and David points out the importance of the principle of encouraging others. The final chapters of the book show vision as the first step to making things happen. Wes points out how trials and troubles come with soul winning efforts. His final visual illustration contrasts the peril of boredom and the thrill of rescue.

Wes Daughenbaugh is an anointed. He is a gifted communicator, pastor, teacher, and evangelist. "Principles of Perseverance" is written especially with pastor in mind, offering encouragement to continue steadfast in ministry toward the goal of finishing well. These same principles are readily applicable to every follower of Jesus. Daughenbaugh writes from a Biblical perspective, is evangelical in approach, and charismatic in his zeal. These all describe Wes Daughenbaugh and the thrust of his message. "Principles of Perseverance" is timely, important, and powerful.

Emily's Quest
Cora Alyce Seaman
Infinity Publishing Company
1094 New DeHaven Street, Suite 100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
0741429721 $15.95

A Journey In Search of Self

Cora Alyce Seaman writes with feeling as she takes the reader back in time to the early years of the twentieth century and escorts them through to the mid-century point. "Emily's Quest" is a remarkable story. It is the fictional life of Emily Whitfield Carmichael. During her young childhood Emily's parents are the fatal victims of a flu epidemic.

Shortly after their death Emily is separated from her twin sister Charlotte. Emily is faced with the realization that she has become the victim of her circumstances. Emily's earliest years were spent in a coal mining town in Pennsylvania.

As a new bride, right out of high school, Emily and her husband move to a small mountain community in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. Her young husband, Eustis Carmichael, enlisted in the U. S. Navy and became a career man. He was stationed in the Great Lakes region. After several years of marriage Emily is finally able to join him.

The book is fiction, biographical and historical in approach; however, it could be Cora Seaman's own story. Cora writes with a depth of understanding that project an empathy as she tells of the hardships and struggles Emily faced. She tells of the economic challenges of the era, technical progress, dysfunctional family relationships, friendships, faith, and loneliness with pathos and a poignancy that is both heart wrenching and heartwarming.

In part two of the story Emily is reunited with her twin sister Charlotte. World War II is underway. The United States joined the allied forces and Eustis was sent to the South Pacific. Cora highlights significant events of the wartime era. The years pass quickly for Emily as she is faced with the challenge of dealing with the death of family members, raising her son, and completing the educational qualifications for becoming a teacher. Emily continued to pursue her quest to discover who she really was right up to the surprising dramatic conclusion recounted in the epilogue.

"Emily's Quest" covers the first half of the Twentieth century and gives the reader a nostalgic glimpse at the struggles faced by the Emily's of the time. Seaman offers hope and inspiration for facing whatever hurdles the reader may be facing. She gives hope and inspiration to the reader to rise above their circumstances.

Cora Alyce Seaman has included the story telling elements of information, drama, and motivation in this fictional drama. She has created an amazing story with an uplifting challenge.

Compassionate Caregiving
Lois D. Knutson
Bethany House
P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516
9780764203718 $14.99

Hands-on Guidebook for Caregiving

Lois D. Knutson offers workable solutions, tips, encouragement, and invaluable information important to family caregivers in her book "Compassionate Care giving". Knutson is sensitive to the spiritual nature and call of care giving and includes a scripture passage and prayer within each chapter specifically related to the material covered. The suggested affirmations, one for each day of the month were especially valuable for spiritual encouragement and for keeping a perspective on personal self worth.

Lois includes guidelines for nurture, spiritual and psychological, as well has suggestions for practical issues like equipment needed in the home, celebrating holidays, evaluating nursing homes, assisted-living, and other caregiving facilities.

I found insight into caregiving as a spiritual calling, a ministry. I personally found the chapters on how to deal with the death of a loved one important, comforting, and compassionate.

The book provides a comprehensive appendix which is filled with forms, a spiritual journey exercise, suggested Bible passages for caregivers, and a list of helpful web sites. The end notes listed by chapter give evidence of well documented, thorough, research. Lois Knutson is herself a caregiver. She has served as a hospital chaplain, is trained in geriatric pastoral care, and is a national speaker on older adult ministry.

"Compassionate Care giving" is an significant, valuable, and timely. This is an important resource tool for pastors, lay counselors, hospital chaplains, and seminary students. The book is written specifically for the family caregiver. This is a book to be read, read again, and passed along to other family members. Practical and Helpful.

Dissing God
Wallace Auser
AMG Publishers
6815 Shallowford Rd., Chattanooga, TN 37421
9780899571102 $14.99

Hard Questions for the Thinking Christian

Wallace Auser urges the reader to explore the two prevalent perceptions of reality and how these impact the laws, ethics, justice, and morality of our culture in his new thought provoking book, In "Dissing God: The Myth of Religious Neutrality in a Secular Progressive Culture"

Auser asserts that any system of basic fundamentals and precepts is religion. In his discussion of separation of religion and government Secularism is a non religious religion, and that religion and theism have had a role in law and in government, and in the foundation of our nation.

Auser's has studied philosophy and theology which qualify him to objectively examine a comparison of these two fields of study and the impact each have in determining one's beliefs. Auser concludes from his studies of morality, rights, and duties: "The more freedom societies have, the more they need virtue."

Auser discusses the difficulty faced when ideas of theology and philosophy inter play with civil society. This creates tension and conflicting claims, prevalent at a time when it is an essential truth that for a nation to function the constituents must be on the same basic theoretical wavelength with government leadership.

Auser writes with conviction, clarity, and logic whether dealing with absolutes and relativism or on the essence of being human. He addresses concerns, about abortion, family and marriage, marriage and homosexual relationships, and justice and righteous indignation with passion, calling the reader to higher standards and more responsible citizenship.

"Dissing God" present the question, "Why eliminate God from Society's Everyday Decisions?" Wallace Auser presents a clear case and concludes that: "God has as much right to be heard on public issues as do secularism and other non-theistic ideas." Auser's writing is fervent, persuasive, and expressive. "Dissing God" brings important dialog to the argument on issues of ethics and moral philosophy rampant in today's culture.

P. M. Terrell
Paralee Press
PO Box 979, Clinton, Mississippi 39060.
9780978563202, $16.95

Fast Moving Non Stop Action

While attending the FBI Academy in Quantico, Special Agent Sheila Carpenter, like a projectile out of control, retraces her mother's steps. Determined to solve the mystery of her parent's death after finding clues that cause her to think her parents may have been murdered. Their deaths were attributed to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

Her resolve to follow these clues while tracing the last days of her mother's life bring to light an unlawful immigration ring, a terrorist plot, and a unexpected climactic ending.

Before graduation and being sworn as an FBI agent, Sheila was an eyewitness to a terrorist suicide bombing, in a shopping mall food court. Her best friend was taken to the emergency hospital in a coma fighting for her life as a result of the explosion.

In a Television interview which covered the bombing Sheila made a statement that she would recognize the bomber and will personally track him down. This impulsive statement put Sheila's life in peril. The terrorist soon made several attempts to take her life.

Sheila's expert computer skills and her fluency in the Spanish language became a valuable asset to the FBI and were instrumental in bringing the case to a dramatic closure.

Masterfully written this is a novel of conflict, intrigue, adventure and romance. Terrell does not waste words in this fast paced novel. I found it hard to put down. This is my first introduction to P.M. Terrell novel. I am eager to read her earlier novels, and am looking forward to more of Sheila Carpenter adventures.

Rock Solid Families
Janell Rardon
AMG Publishers
6815 Shallowford Rd., Chattanooga, TN 37421
9780899570365 $12.99

Developing Spiritually Strong Families

Janell Rardon has draws from twenty years of ministry, research, and personal experience in writing "Rock-Solid Families." In her illustrations she has included observation she has made of successful Christian families. The book communicates commonalities found in strong spiritual families.

Rardon has developed twelve foundation stones for building strong families. Each chapter deals with an important foundational principle in producing solid families. In the first chapter Janell emphasizes the need for vision and a written family mission statement. Core values, a clear purpose and a determined discipline all play a part in establishing the focus for this vision.

The chapter endnotes provide important references and suggestions for future reading. The book is well researched. Illustrations, charts, and exercises enhance the value of the book as a user friendly study guide on parenting. Biblically based principles and strong in spiritual applications add to the practical nature providing a no-nonsense approach to parenting. Or, as the subtitle of the book suggests, it is about "Transforming an Ordinary Home into a Fortress of Faith."

Janell recounts illustrations from her life and lessons she has learned through these experiences. Her openness and vulnerability in sharing from her heart add to the genuineness and reality of her writing. The chapters on the devotional life, prayer, spiritual success, and obedience were especially meaningful and challenging to me, personally. Her suggested action steps in these chapters are helpful for planning future devotional times for family worship times or personal quiet times. An important appendix provides additional suggestions for personal worship.

Janell is a gifted communicator, and is articulate in her writing. She creates a pattern of spirituality and a practical application that invites the reader to assimilate the twelve foundations stones for building their own "Rock-Solid Families."

Laura and the Leprechauns
Amber T. Kingston
Chrysalis Press
PO Box 13129, Newport Beach, CA 92658
9780979593307 $19.95

Destined to Become a Classic

In this imaginative story "Laura and the Leprechauns" Amber T. Kingston has captured the magic of the enchanting world of leprechauns. Appropriate for reading during any season, the story will soon be a St. Patrick's Day favorite.

Amber is gifted both in visual and written communication skills. The vibrant colors of her stunning illustrations help bring Laura's story to life. Amber has used a technique of overlaying her beautiful paintings over magnificent photographs that depict the bushes and hedgerows used as hiding places for the leprechauns. Twelve of the pages feature sparkling glitter. This feature will enhance the creative imagination of the young reader and add to the sparkle and magic of the moment.

The story was inspired by the imagination of a seven year. Amber takes the reader on amazing journey to make a Laura's wish come true. The narrative and word choice is age appropriate. The illustrations and accompanying dialog convey the innocence of children, the charm of their facial expressions, and the feeling of emotions. The book is reminder to young and old that anything is possible when you believe hard enough.

"Laura and the Leprechauns" is a timeless story of belief in Leprechauns. I am confident that the book is destined to become a classic in children's literature. It is a book that will endure time, should be added to school libraries, and makes a perfect gift of any occasion.

Dare to Dream
Carl Sommer
Advance Publishing, Inc.
6950 Fulton Street, Houston, TX 77022
9781575370248 $16.95

Building Character to Fulfill Dreams

"Dare to Dream" a story of three boys, Nelson, his brother Alvin, and his friend Jesse. This is a story of courage, responsibility and self discipline. Nelson and Alvin grew up in a single parent home. After being pressured by a young neighborhood gang leader, Nelson asked for advice from his grandfather.

Nelson's grandfather took the three boys fishing. He used the illustration of how an acorn can become a strong oak tree. Later the grandparents took the boys on a tour of an area where drug users and drunks became homeless, living on the streets. They wasted their lives. After returning home grandmother shared stories of four well known early American heroes who dared to follow their dreams.

Benjamin Franklin left school at the age of ten to work with his father. Ben's hunger for knowledge, his persistence in excellence, and making good choices resulted in an important success story. He was a contributor to and signer of the Declaration of Independence.

George Washington Carver overcame difficulties after being denied entrance in college because he was black. Much later he graduated from college as an adult and went to work at, the now well known, Tuskegee College. Carver became famous as a scientist.

Helen Keller, blind, and deaf worked diligently with her tutor, Annie Sullivan. She became well known as an author and for her work encouraging those with physical challenges. Abraham Lincoln overcame poverty to become President of the United States after losing eight elections, and failing twice in business. He dared to dream big.

Alvin chose to follow the gang's way of life. He partied with the crowd, which led to crime and eventually to jail. Jesse and Nelson chose to follow his grandparent's advice. Nelson and Jesse followed their dreams. Nelson became a physician and Jesse became an architectural engineer.

Award winning author, Carol Sommer, is an educator and successful businessman. Sommer has a passion for teaching important, practical learning skills to children. He emphasizes character building values, virtues, and principles for success in his writing.

Jorge Martinez, Greg Budwine, and Kennon James communicate warmth and tenderness, emotions, expressions, and ethnic diversity through their bright colorful illustration which reinforce and enhance the story line.

"Dare to Dream" will soon join the list of Carl Sommer's award winning titles. It is his hope that young readers will accept the challenge courage, responsibility, and self-discipline. He challenges the reader to follow their dreams.

Michael O. Jones
The Light Designs Book Publishers
P. O. Box 505, Ashland, VA 23005
9780979207464 $9.95

The Path to Experiencing Agape Love

"Agape" is written to encourage the Christians of the 21st Century Church to make impact an entire world of peoples and cultures with Agape love, the love of God. The book is designed to be a witnessing tool to better enable believers to share their faith. Jones contends that Agape love offers new life, complete and whole. Agape love will replace emotional wounds, disillusionment, and disappointment.

The book is divided into two parts. In the first section Michael provides scriptural truths making it clear that: Agape love is unconditional, and real. The Bible is the key to understanding Agape love and must be accepted as truth. Creation was motivated by God's desire to express Agape love. Man sinned by disobeying God. Repentance and faith are necessary elements for experiencing Agape love.

Section two presumes that the reader has accepted the facts revealed in the first section, and are ready to move on and become Christ's disciples. The way of following Jesus is presented in the action steps that follow.

An important first step is to fellowship with other believers. This is important to Christian growth and will enable the new believer to share their new faith. God's grace and mercy are extended daily. Each day a renewal of commitment should be made. Daily Bible reading l enables the follower of Christ to understand Agape love. This knowledge will help you to be obedient to God in principle and in specific areas of your life. God's Agape love does not fail. A natural desire of the follower of Christ will be a desire to spread His love to others.

The Six Figure Speaker
Cathleen Fillmore
Robert D. Reed Publishers
PO Box 1992, Bandon, Or 97411
9781931741927 $19.95

A Proven Blueprint for Success as a Speaker

Cathleen Fillmore has an amazing depth and range of expertise in the field of the speaking industry. "The Six Figure Speaker" provides the reader with a formula for success through interviews, advice, coaching, and business models from top-earning speakers. Fillmore shares stories from her own challenging and exciting career. She relates lessons learned from mistakes made and how to turn an occasional disaster into a profitable lesson.

The book offers valuable help and advice on building and maintaining a prospect data base. Cathleen provides comprehensive information on how to develop a fee structure, as well as a providing a wealth of data on writing and negotiating the best contract. She gives insight into how to establish a pricing strategy and arms the reader with inside knowledge of the industry.

Fillmore includes a formula for revamping your marketing strategies, offers tips on public relations, and ideas for creating and selling products. She coaches the reader with practical suggestions for websites, the importance of referrals, and the changing industry of meeting planning and conventions.

The book is an incredible resource for serious minded speakers at any stage of their career, for established professional speakers, and for those just starting out. Fillmore motivates the reader to move to a new level of effectiveness in thought and action. She challenges the reader to change people's lives by inspiring greatness, and sharing their talents with others.

Cathleen Fillmore has published more than 300 articles and four books. "The Six Figure Speaker" is a crash course on how to make big money as a professional speaker.

Ten Commitments to Your Success
Steve Chandler
Robert Reed Publisher
PO Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon 97411
9781931741507 $11.95

The Dynamic of Commitment

Steve Chandler explores and dramatizes how to experience the power of synergy in your life in his new book "Ten Commitments to Your Success." Steve's stories and illustrations guide the reader in applying these strategies to life transforming principles. Steve promises, "The beauty of a life organized around all ten commitments…is that one will experience life to the fullest."

Chandler provides a broad spectrum of creative paths to accessing the priceless gift and power of synergy and draws on his own life experiences to provide personal illustrations. Steve's writing style is warm, friendly, direct and, enjoyable. He writes with common sense clarity and offers the reader action steps and basic the principles for application leading to commitment.

Chapter one introduces steps that will help the reader organize their energy, to enable balance and focus in making things happen.

Buckminster Fuller's story was intriguing to me. Fuller's concept of redesigning self, becoming a newly created personality, is phenomenal. This concept reminded me of the importance of meditation in the commitment to use my mind while allowing the spirit to work through me in my commitment to spirit to bring about the changes necessary to experience a fuller life.

Each of the ten chapters contains a commitment to success. These are arranged in a logical progression: first, committing to your spirit, then to your mind, and finally to action. Among the commitments considered are a commitment to wealth, to friends, partners, and to your career are among the remaining seven.

When these commitments are all in balance, you will find your life is in harmony with your career. You will experience the joy of celebrating and serving those you care for. You will experience financial freedom, and peace of mind. In "Ten Commitments to Your Success" Steve Chandler's goal is to make a difference, one reader at a time.

Apostolic Fathers of the 21st Century
Burnell T. Williams Sr.
BTW Publications
333 Kellam Road, Suite 200
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23462

A Case for the Gift of the Apostle and the Office of the Bishop

In his book "Apostolic Fathers of the 21st Century" Burnell T. Williams Sr. captures the heart of God as it relates to spiritual fathering. He leads the reader into an in depth study of apostleship and bishopric in light of the scriptures. He details the importance of the interaction of the gift and the office. The main thrust of the book is the subject matter of these two, the gift of the apostle and the office of the bishop.

The importance of this study is seen in the reemergence in America today and the frequency we are seeing new church bodies recognize the place of apostolic fathers and the office of bishops. William defines the importance of the apostle to the local church. He then provides scriptural clarification regarding the qualifications of an apostle.

Part One covers a study on the gift of the apostle. This section includes: the, the divine necessity of an apostle, criteria on the thirteenth apostle, mention of other apostles and their qualifications, and closes with today's Gentile apostles. Williams reviews historically how the apostles functioned in the early church, and biblically how they should function today. Part Two deals with the office of the bishop, The Bishopric, the church bishops and the qualifications, and duties of the bishop.

This is a book that should be read by members of the church at large, pastors, elders, deacons, and all church leaders. It will be especially helpful to those who have been troubled by the confusion existing in many church circles, denominations, and seminaries on the interpretation and application of this teaching for the church in today's contemporary setting.

Williams encourages the reader be like the New Testament Bereans, who went on to complete further study in light of the teaching of the scriptures. This is an excellent treatise on the subject is well researched historically and Biblically.

Richard R. Blake

Sullivan's Bookshelf

The Art of Being Kind
Stefan Einhorn, author
Neil Smith, translator
Pegasus Books
9781933648705 $23.95

The author says there's lots of books out there on how to be successful or rich but not on being kind. In fact, he suggests that this is the only one devoted to this subject. This reviewer would have to disagree with that. He's read many volumes on being kind. Yet, having written that, the truth is Einhorn's book may just be the best of the 'being kind' books extant if for no other reason than that he covers a wide range of situations in which being kind is the key to life.

With an introduction and eight short chapters, this volume is a quick and satisfying read. He reviews kindness and ethics, coming down in favor of little 'white' lies when deemed appropriate. Then there's things to look out for and to avoid: fake kindness, when you want something from the one you're falsely flattering or someone is trying to 'toot your horn.'

He also meanders into discussing how important it is to be kind if you want to feel better about yourself. Then there's long-lasting success reasons to be kind, too. Throughout, he addresses cancer victims' stories and people around them, including the author himself. However, this volume is not only for those with cancer. This read is for everyone on the general subject of kindness.

In his 'Concluding Remarks' the author writes, "In the end we have everything to gain by being kind with discernment, and a lot to lose by not being kind. And this is no bad reason for being kind--the fact that we ourselves gain by it. In fact, this is a really GOOD reason."

Stefan Einhorn is a medical doctor and a Ph.D. He holds the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden chair for oncology and pathology. The author lectures widely in his home country and in the U.S. He has also written other books, including A CONCEALED GOD: RELIGION, SCIENCE, AND THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH.


Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar...Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes
Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein
Abrams Image
139780810914933 $18.95

Now here's a unique little book. The authors take the reader through the various schools of philosophy, metaphysics, logic, epistemology ethics, philosophy of religion, existentialism, etc., and their big questions. Then they put in a joke or two to emphasize the particular philosophy or question.

Here's an example in Metaphysics and the question of 'Does the Universe have a purpose?' "Mrs. Goldstein was walking down the street with her two grandchildren. A friend stopped to ask her how old they were. She replied, 'The doctor is five and the lawyer is seven.' "

In the section on Logic, the authors relay this smiler, "Salesman: 'Ma'am, this vacuum cleaner will cut your work in half.' Customer: 'Terrific! Give me two of them'."

In the portion about Relativity of Values, the story goes "Pat: 'Mike, I'm calling you from the freeway on my new cell phone. Mike: 'Be careful, Pat. They just said on the radio that there's a nut driving the wrong way on the freeway.' Pat: 'One nut? Hell, there are hundreds of them!' "

This short, easy, and fun-to-read book makes learning a little philosophy a joy.

Both Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein, the authors, are Harvard philosophy majors. Dan went on to do comedy writing for comedians and worked on TV's CANDID CAMERA. Tom tried divinity school a few times but ended up working with street gangs in the Midwest. They combined their respective talents for this book.


Read for Your Life 11 Ways to Transform Tour Life with Books
Pat Williams with Peggy Matthews Rose
Health Communications, Inc
9780757305450 $14.95

This book is full of seeming contradictions. Pat Williams is a man of sports, of the professional variety, where he is an executive in the NBA. Who thinks that jocks read? No one. Yet this author reads constantly, usually a book a day! And the man delves into a wide array of subjects, too, not just sports. Unsurprisingly, he encourages everyone to read especially sports players. He says to read on a plane, train, boat, at the barbershop, while standing in life for anything, and particularly instead of viewing TV , movies, or spending time on the Internet.

Moms and dads should read extensively in the home. Youngsters are heavily influenced to read by seeing mom and dad doing so and when the kids notice their parents' volumes lying around throughout the house. And parents can really turn their children on to books even more so by reading to them frequently from their earliest years onward. This is a proven way to get kids reading on their own. Williams quotes a poem that sums up children's attitudes, when they become adults, about having been read to: this was written by Strickland Gillilan:

"You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold..
Richer than I you can never be--
I had a mother who read to me."

Another, what appears to be a, contradiction in this book is its publisher. It's obviously in the health book field. So what's it doing pushing a product about reading books? Perhaps reading is good for one's health. To love to read and to be educated in one's interests can be healthful. The author cites some cases where reading is directly a benefit, health and otherwise, to those who were ill or injured or just unwell.

From another perspective, the number of sports figures who are avid readers is astounding: Olympic runner Gail Devers reads a book a day; Lloyd Carr, University of Michign football coach, is, also an avid reader; John McKay, former USC football coach is too; Ohio State's legendary Woody Hayes was a lifelong enthusiastic reader; boxing great Gene Tunney would read before his bouts to calm himself; Magic Johnson of pro basketball reads a lot, too, and he encourages others to do so. There are so many more professional sports figures than anyone can imagine who read ravenously.

With the author's ll sections on how and why to read for life, readers will find: The Startling Truth About Tomorrow, Read to Feed Your Mind, Finding Time, How to Choose Reading When Everything Else is Screaming Louder, Travel the Globe--in the Pages of a Book, Read Books That Illuminate Yesterday (Today, and Tomorrow), Books Help you Be More YOU, Read as if Your Life Depends on It, How to Make Reading a Regular Part of your Life, and much more.

Maybe the most poignant, and proven suggestion made in the book is for older folks who are unmotivated to read. The foremost suggestion for them is to peruse something they're really, passionately, interested in. Don't be intimidated by the so-called experts who push you to read the classics, like Shakespeare, Hemingway, or Dante (unless that's your passion). A desire to read those may or may not come. But read what interests you. That way, you can't go wrong. And you're likely to become a reader.

The author writes, "We live in one of the greatest eras of communication known to man, yet nearly every day, somewhere in America, headlines spell out the news that reading, as a skill, is dying. I don't know about you, but that fact alarms me...and it's the reason I've written this book. As you engage in conversation with me through these pages, please think hard about your own future, your children's future, and our nation's future. I believe that much is at stake."

This reviewer, who's read numerous books about books and about reading, cannot remember one that was as pertinent, up-to-date, fun to read, or more motivating.

Pat Williams, the author, has written other motivational books.

Highly recommended!

The Intellectual Devotional, American History, Revive Your Mind, Complete Your Education, and Converse Confidently about Our Nation's Past
David S. Kidder & Noah D. Oppenheim
Modern Times [an imprint of Rodale Inc.]
139781594867446 $24.00

Here's a book of single-page story entries, beginning with John Smith and ending with Ronald Reagan, for each day of the year. Basically, it's refresher course in American history. And the entries are not exclusively biography but about things: like politics & leadership, war & peace, rights & reform, business, building America, literature, and the arts. Such entries include the book Moby Dick, the religion of Mormonism, and the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Most readers will have their knowledge refreshed of the person, place, thing, or event perused in this volume. That will be enhanced, too, because after each standard description there's a brief section on 'Additional Facts' that is quite interesting and informative. For example, following the entry for John Pershing will be found 1.His military career was aided by family connections, 2. His nickname 'Black Jack' came from his commanding a unit of black soldiers, and 3. He was the first American general to use airplanes in combat.

The authors add in the book this comment: "in this edition we have chosen to focus entirely on the rich history of this great country. The study of American history sheds essential light on our world today, provides useful points of reference for intelligent conversation, and will capture the imagination of anyone who simply enjoys a good story. Perhaps, most important, as we face momentous decisions about our future, never has it been more imperative for every citizen to understand this nation's challenges and triumphs since its founding.'


Jim Sullivan

Theodore's Bookshelf

The Last Nightingale
Anthony Flacco
Ballantine Books/Mortalis
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780812977578 $12.95, 800-726-0600

Just over 100 years ago - 1906 - the Great Earthquake nearly destroyed San Francisco. Amidst the destruction and carnage, the Nightingale family was murdered, although the police observation at the scene attributed the deaths to the earthquake. Hidden in the house undetected was Shane, an adopted son, who heard the perpetrator talking to his victims as he slew them. When the carnage was over, Shane - the last Nightingale of the title--left the house and took refuge at the Mission Dolores, where he was given a job caretaking the cemetery, and a shed in which to live.

A larger-than-life police sergeant, Randall Blackburn, makes Shane's acquaintance when the boy writes him a note suggesting a motive for the murder of a prominent citizen for which Blackburn was assigned the investigation. Impressed with Shane's intuitive abilities, the policeman befriends the boy and tries to get him to assist in capturing a serial killer. Other relationships among the main characters develop, to a rousing conclusion.

The descriptions of the havoc caused by the earthquake are graphic, and the characterizations excellent. Written at a fast pace, the novel grips the reader from cover to cover. The book is among the first issued under the new Mortalis imprint.

Written in Bone
Simon Beckett
Delacorte Press
c/o Bantam Dell, 1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780385340052 $24.00, 800-726-0600

Off the west coast of Scotland there are a number of desolate islands, the Hebrides. On one of them, Runa, a charred body is reported - was it an accident or is it a suspicious death? Forensic anthropologist Dr. David Hunter is asked to go there to determine the circumstances of the death. The body is little more than ashes, with fragments of bone, burned beyond recognition while no damage was done by the fire to the structure enclosing it.

The working theory was a case of spontaneous combustion, until Dr. Hunter finds evidence that it was no accident, leading to a murder inquiry. Obviously in the small self-contained community lurks a murderer. But a raging storm prevents a full-blown police contingent from being sent from the mainland. Power and communications cut are off making matters worse.

This is a fascinating tale with almost a thrill a page. The conclusion is so surprising that the reader has to scratch his or her head in near disbelief. Tautly written, the book is highly recommended.

Midnight Rambler
James Swain
Ballantine Books
c/o Random House, 1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780345475466 $24.95, 800-726-0600

Confronted by the prospect that Simon Skell, a.k.a. the Midnight Rambler, a serial killer he put in prison, might be released with the surfacing of "new" evidence, ex-cop Jack Carpenter embarks on a quest to prove his original apprehension of the man was justified. Now an abduction specialist, with no resources and a broken marriage, he travels all over Florida, from his Ft. Lauderdale home to Tampa and Disneyland, seeking clues to the mysterious disappearance of several women whose suspected deaths he attributes to Skell.

The new evidence is the body of one of the victims that turns up in the back yard of her sister's home, and the forensic evidence suggests the wrong man was jailed. The police arrest and charge someone else for the crime, setting the stage for an appeal to release Skell, who was convicted of the murder on Carpenter's charge and the testimony of a witness who now recants her story.

The next days are one wild ride, as Carpenter relentlessly seeks clues, uncovering the mystery bit by bit, while attempting to put his life back together again. It is a suspenseful tale, adroitly told, keeping the reader on edge all the way.


In the Shadow of the Glacier
Vicki Delany
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590584484 $24.95, 800-421-3976

During the Vietnam War there were men of draft age who fled to Canada to avoid serving in the army. In this novel, Trafalgar, British Columbia, is characterized as a center of such settlement, and apparently will be the site of a new series featuring Constable Moonlight ("Molly") Smith.

One such draft evader who prospered north of the border upon his death bequeathed his land to the town for a garden to be dedicated to honor draft dodgers, thus setting the stage for conflicts between the "peaceniks" and their opposites, especially businesses fearing antagonizing U.S. tourists upon whom they were dependent. One opposed to the garden was the developer of a proposed luxury resort who is found by Molly dead, presumably murdered, in an alley.

Molly is but a lowly beat cop, but she is assigned to assist Detective Sergeant John Winters in his investigation of the death. Further trouble is fomented by a TV personality and outside agitators. Winters and Smith continue seeking clues. While he resents her presence, he teaches and she learns. The DS has his own fears haunting him, which caused him to leave the Vancouver police department for the small town, and these are increased by the frustration of not solving the case quickly.

The author has a way of coming up with unusual themes, and this novel certainly lives up to this ability. In addition, the descriptions of the small town, its citizens and environment are handled exceptionally well. It is a good, solid mystery.

Archer Mayor
Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10169
9780446582582 $24.99, 800-759-0190

Joe Gunther of the Vermont Bureau of Investigation, in the midst of the start of one murder investigation, learns that his brother and mother were seriously injured in an automobile accident and are in the hospital. He rushes there and subsequently learns maybe it was no accident. Then a second similar murder occurs with a similar, but slightly different, MO.

The plot is that simple - but boy, is it complicated. To begin with, In discovering the circumstances of how his brother's car went off the road, Joe theoretically has to remove himself from the investigation, depending on the local sheriff's office and one of his own people to move the inquiry forward. But as it progresses, a lead into the murders opens up. The title, "Chat," refers to the use of a chat room by the murderer to entice the victims to a motel room.

This excellently written novel is up to the series' high standards, and the descriptions of the author's beloved Vermont are penetrating. It is always a joy to read a Joe Gunther mystery, and Chat has been no exception.

The Cloud of Unknowing
Thomas H. Cook
Harvest Paperback/Harcourt
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
9780156032803 $14.00, 212-592-1000

This psychological thriller recounts the hereditary effects of mental illness. A brother and sister grow up in the shadow of their schizophrenic father. The sister, Diana, is blessed with a photographic memory and shines in front of the parent, spewing quotations at the drop of a hat. She was on a full scholarship at Yale when she left in her senior year to take care of the father, who was institutionalized at least twice. She marries shortly after the death of the father and soon gives birth to a son. The brother, David, becomes an attorney, with a fairly commonplace practice, handling "dissolutions": marriages and businesses.

Diana goes shopping one day, only to find on her return that her son, who was at home at the time with her husband, wandered off to a pond and drowned. She becomes obsessed, convinced her husband murdered the boy, who also was mentally disturbed, because he was a "distraction." [None of the foregoing constitutes a spoiler – it all takes place very early in the book and is mentioned on the back cover.]

David and his daughter become entwined in Diana's preoccupation. He doesn't know what to believe. Is she suffering from the family's history of mental aberration - or could there be some truth to what she says?

The novel is constructed in an interesting fashion, with introductory chapters during which the brother is being interrogated by a detective before the story is told. It is an interesting technique, as is the plot itself, and the book is recommended.

Arnaldur Indridason [translated by Bernard Scudder]
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martins, 175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312358716 $23.95, 646-307-5151

A few days before Christmas, a murder takes place in the basement of an upscale hotel in Reykjavik. The body of the doorman, who had just been made redundant after 20 years, is found in the small room he was allowed to occupy, stabbed to death with his pants pulled down around his ankles and wearing a condom. The victim had been a famous boy soprano who had made two records and was about to embark on a tour of Scandinavia at the age of 12 when his voice changed, ending his career. Subsequently, he became estranged from his family.

Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson conducts the investigation. Few clues, if any, are apparent. The inspector, facing a bleak Christmas of his own, decides to take a room at the hotel while continuing the probe. There is no shortage of suspects, only clues. Meanwhile, he battles his own ghosts - his survival at the age of 10 from a fierce snowstorm in which his 8-year-old brother disappeared; his abandonment of his wife and two children 20 years previously; his difficult daughter who has just reunited with him (she is a recovering dope addict whose habit resulted in a stillborn daughter).

This excellent translation of the author's third novel is on a par with his earlier books. The language and plot flow smoothly, moving the reader forward effortlessly. Winner of the Gold Dagger Award, the author's previous books were Silence of the Grave and Jar City. I look forward to the fourth book in the series with great anticipation.

Highly recommended.

American Detective
Loren D. Estleman
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780765312242 $24.95 212-388-0100

This is the 19th Amos Walker but the first in the series this reviewer has read. Walker comes from a long line of hard-boiled wise-cracking PIs. He makes his home in Detroit, whose slippage from the heights of the auto industry heyday provides substantial background and commentary.

Walker is asked by Darius Fuller, who pitched a no-hitter for the Detroit Tigers at a much younger age than his present 60 years, to undertake convincing his daughter's intended, one Hilary Bairn, to "go away." Toward that end, the ex-pitcher gives him $50,000 to bribe the man. However, Walker discovers Hilary is in debt to gambling and gangster elements. Then, the daughter is found dead in the boyfriend's apartment of a head blow. The gentleman in question is nowhere to be found. Who's responsible for the death?

The novel is fast-paced, and Walker, typical of the genre, takes severe punishment along the way. Some of the baseball dialogue is quite amusing, and the author has a way with words. The plot moves to a crescendo, and a completely unexpected finale.

Crawfish Mountain
Ken Wells
Random House
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780375508769 $25.95, 800-726-0600

Too often a novel based on an author's pet peeves falls flat. That is not the case in this novel, which combines environmental issues, corporate greed and political shenanigans, with bribery, love affairs and blackmail thrown in. The story is told with the background of the Louisiana Wetlands and the power of the oil interests in the state in the forefront.

At the heart of the story is the degradation of the bayou ecosystem and the effects on the coastal areas, which led to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Justin Pitre's grandfather bought acres of pristine marshland, built a "shack" there, fished and trapped, living a happy life. He left it to Justin, asking him not to let any changes take place. When a greedy oil executive tries to cut a pipeline through it, all hell breaks loose.

The characters include a charismatic Governor (not quite a Huey Long), and true-to-life, loveable Cajuns, among others. The tale is well-told, although this reviewer found the wrap-up somewhat contrived. Nevertheless, it is a most enjoyable read, and, given the time, it probably would be well worth the effort to go back and read the previous Catahoula Bayou trilogy, which we missed.


City of the Absent
Robert W. Walker
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780060740122 $7.99 800-242-7737

On October 28, 1893, the World's Fair in Chicago came to an end, two days later than its scheduled closing, to allow former President Benjamin Harrison to visit. That Fair was the setting for a prior novel in the series featuring Inspector Alistair Ransom of the Chicago Police Department, Shadows in the White City. Both novels reflect the author's love of the Windy City and its history.

As the Fair was being closed down, the Mayor was assassinated on his front lawn by an office seeker. Never a dull moment in the nation's second city. In addition, there occur a series of "disappearances" of persons who "wouldn't be missed." These didn't ratc much attention until a disguised female Pinkerton agent was found murdered and disemboweled. She was a friend of Ransom's, and he leads the charge to solve the grisly murder.

Ransom is a larger-than-life protagonist, allowing the author to make all kinds of observations about the city, its politics, graft and other characteristics. His methods are unorthodox, and is this episode he finds himself accused of one act of which he is not guilty. The book is written in the same tone as the era it depicts and is a page turner.


City of the Absent
Robert W. Walker
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780060740122 $7.99, 212-207-7000/800-242-7737

On October 28, 1893, the World's Fair in Chicago came to an end, two days later than its scheduled closing, to allow former President Benjamin Harrison to visit. That Fair was the setting for a prior novel in the series featuring Inspector Alistair Ransom of the Chicago Police Department, Shadows in the White City. Both novels reflect the author's love of the Windy City and its history.

As the Fair was being closed down, the Mayor was assassinated on his front lawn by an office seeker. Never a dull moment in the nation's second city. In addition, there occur a series of "disappearances" of persons who "wouldn't be missed." These didn't rate much attention until a disguised female Pinkerton agent was found murdered and disemboweled. She was a friend of Ransom's, and he leads the charge to solve the grisly murder.

Ransom is a larger-than-life protagonist, allowing the author to make all kinds of observations about the city, its politics, graft and other characteristics. His methods are unorthodox, and in this episode he finds himself accused of one act of which he is not guilty. The book is written in the same tone as the era it depicts and is a page turner.


Double Cross
James Patterson
Little, Brown and Company
c/o Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10169
9780316015059 $27.99 800-759-0190

The latest in the Alex Cross series finds the psychologist bored with private practice and itching to get back in the game. What do they say--"Be careful what you wish for?" Alex finagles himself back in the Metropolitan Police Department and teams up with his girlfriend, Detective Brianna ("Bree") Stone, seeking a maniacal murderer known as DCAK (the DC Audience Killer), so named because each killing is a performance before an audience.

To top off the gruesome story, arch enemy Kyle Craig, "the Mastermind," engineers the first ever escape from the maximum facility in which he has been jailed for the four years since Alex caught him. Thus, presumably, the title, referring to two psychopathic killers.

The plot, as in previous novels, is pretty straightforward, with the writing and suspense taut. The thrill-a-minute pace that is inherent in the Alex Cross novels paces the tale from beginning to end. It is exciting and a fast read, and recommended.

The Drop Edge of Yonder
Donis Casey
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590584460 $24.95 800-421-3976

In the year 1914 in a little town in Oklahoma, a group of young people were taking a ride when they spotted a beehive. They stopped in an attempt to gather honey from the hive and a shot rang out, killing one. His fiancee was abducted and later found in a state of hysteria. Young Mary's scalp was creased by a bullet and she was unconscious. Thus, the beginning of a simple tale, recounting an event which led up to the incident.

In this, the author's third novel, set in small farms and towns in Oklahoma, Alafair Tucker, mother to 12 children including Mary, shows true grit in trying to protect her family and seeking answers to the crime. Meanwhile Mary has to emerge from the fog she is in and recount past stories bit by bit to come up with the clues to identify the killer. She writes in her journal, recounting stories told at the Fourth of July celebration. With each entry more disclosures are told in the novel.

Descriptions of the new state of Oklahoma and life at the turn of the 20th century are real, and the language spoken is authentic frontier-speak. Life, as it was lived at the time, is described with all the hardship and primitiveness that existed at the start of World War I out in the West. If this novel is any indication, maybe we should go back and look at the previous two entries, which we missed.


The Ghost
Robert Harris
Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781416551812 $26.00 800-223-2336

Politics make strange bedfellows. But in this novel, a ghostwriter with no background or interest in politics is engaged to "save" the memoirs of a Tony Blair-like ex-Prime Minister (all for a quarter-of-a-million dollars for a month's efforts). The PM, Adam Lang,. left office under a cloud - an unpopular war in Iraq which he supported as an ally of the United States.

The memoir was researched and written by a long-time aid, whose body apparently has fallen off the ferry to Martha's Vineyard, where the PM is holed up, and washed ashore. The ghostwriter travels to the United States to help make the manuscript publishable. What he discovers is the gist of the novel - all is not what it seems, and the facts of Lang's rise to power do not seem to gibe with historical evidence.

Then charges of war crimes are brought against Lang and the ghostwriter betrays the very precepts of the profession by investigating the background to the charges, even endangering his own life. Not only politics but conspiracy theories populate the telling of this thriller. When read against contemporary public opinion, it is formidable and imaginative, if not a little far-fetched. Nevertheless it is an interesting read which I would recommend.

Theodore Feit

Trisha's Bookshelf

True Tales From Here and There
Gabe G. Kubichek
An Author's Dream Publisher, LLC
P.O. Box 8217, Brownsville, TX 78526-8217
9780977109173 $14.95

Over the past sixty some odd years, Gabe Kubichek has done quite a bit of traveling and met untold numbers of people, each with a story to tell. He has kept the best of those stories close to his heart and has now put them down in writing to share with the rest of us.

True Tales from Here and There contains a lot of those precious memories and is more than worth the reading. It's not a spellbinding, can't-put-it-down page turner. It is a trip down memory lane with Mr. Kubichek that you can take your time with. It is a collection of short stories about Mr. Kubichek's family -- his father, grandfather and brother in particular; his friends and even acquaintances met only once; but especially his own experiences growing up in Hungary during the Russian occupation.

Savor these real-life experiences in one sitting, or take your time to enjoy each story a day at a time. The choice is up to the reader.

Choosing and Raising a Puppy…How Hard Could It Be???
Trish Wambat
An Author's Dream Publisher, LLC
P.O. Box 8217, Brownsville, TX 78526-8217
9780977109166 $21.95

Trish Wambat, with the help of her friends and co-workers at Adobe Animal Hospital, has written a "how to" book on choosing and raising (read, "training") a new puppy that is filled with good common sense. I strongly recommend that anyone considering a new puppy first take the time to read Ms. Wambat's book before starting out the door to actually get their new puppy.

This Choice Will Change Your Life
Ernest and Chinwe Nwokolo
An Author's Dream Publisher, LLC
P.O. Box 8217 Brownsville, TX 78526-8217
9780977109159 $12.95

A very informative and common-sense approach to choosing your partner for life. A must read for any couple considering taking the big step into marriage.

Bitter Diamonds
Charles R. Kittle
An Author's Dream Publisher, LLC
P.O. Box 8217, Brownsville, TX 78526-8217
9780977109180 $14.95

Are you ready to go prospecting for diamonds? You can't afford to go to South Africa, you say? Who said anything about South Africa? I'm talking right here in the good old U.S. of A. Charles Kittle has served up a whopping good tale of romance, betrayal, attempted murder and all-around mayhem, all wrapped up in the excitement of a search for diamonds.

A trio of geologists sets out for a summer of camping under the stars with the added perk of researching a few century-old rumors of the discovery of diamonds in the area of the Wisconsin side of the Great Lakes, and some in Nebraska and South Dakota. At every turn they are stymied by angry groups of people, some armed with rifles and shotguns, claiming they are trespassing. It's almost as if the angry mobs knew they were coming; how could that be?

At the same time, another geologist working for DeBeers in South Africa is assigned the task of going to America to check the same area of the United States and make sure all is well. with her company's holdings.

Simultaneously, the work on a dam in South Dakota is suddenly put into overdrive to be finished, at least to the point of filling the reservoir.

Mr. Kittle deftly ties all these strings together for an exciting conclusion that will have you on your feet cheering for the cavalry to come to the rescue, just the way you did at the Saturday morning movies when you were a kid.

Trisha Moore

Victoria's Bookshelf

Listen to the Mockingbird
Penny Rudolph
Poisoned Pen Press,
6962 E. First Ave., Ste. 103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590583487, $14.95, 306 pages

Matilda Summerhayes or Matty has a horse ranch in New Mexico Territory at the start of the American Civil War. Matty buys it from a friend and hopes to sell it someday soon so she can return to her life in the East. Keeping her true identity a secret is essential to her safety, peace of
mind and freedom.

Life begins to change for Matty when she finds a poor Mexican boy shot dead on her property. No one has ever seen the boy before, but he was carrying a map of Matty's property and that has her nervous. She wonders why the boy had the map and who killed him?

Difficulties increase when a troop of cowboys from Texas run the Union Army off and take the territory for the Confederacy. So far the Texans have paid Matty for horses they need, but soon she fears they will return and steal them. There's also a stranger living up in some caves on her
property who's rumored to be an ex-priest with secrets of his own. Who is he and what does he want?

Matty does the best she can with what she has. There will come a time when her past will catch up with her; can she survive when it does?

I'm a native New Mexican and the story made me a little homesick for those wide open spaces. It's an enjoyable and engrossing tale with a strong central character that's believable and real to the reader. Other books by Penny Rudolph include Thicker than Blood and Life Blood.

The Complete Guide to Writing Science Fiction: Volume One
Dave A. Law & Darin Park, editors
Dragon Moon Press
3521 43 A Avenue, Red Deer, Alberta Canada T4N 3E9
9781896944395 $24.95,

This is an incredible reference guide to writing science fiction with articles in it by such well known authors as Orson Scott Card, Piers Anthony and others. My first impression was one of awe, how could one book contain so much information? I've always wanted to write science
fiction, but hadn't a clue where to begin.

There is some confusion about what Science Fiction is and isn't. "Even though no one definition of science fiction apparently exists, it's safe to assume that science fiction has some common elements." The book goes on to explain what those are. Science is essential to the plot; if you take it out of the story and the story still holds together then you don't have
science fiction.

There are many sub-genres in Science fiction; the book goes into each of them, such as: Hard, Soft, Speculative, Space Opera, Military, First Contact, Parallel Universe/Alternate Universe, Time Travel, Steampunk, Dark, Erotic… the list goes on. Each sub-genre has a brief but
satisfactory explanation.

The chapter on Technology tells you to research your ideas, make sure you know what you're writing about or some expert out there reading your book will find your mistake and you'll lose him because of it. The writer's instructed that he or she must be able to explain the technology in the story so everyone can understand it. Not everyone's an expert who reads science fiction. I read it and I'm the classic example of someone who doesn't always understand technology.

Every writer knows or should know the importance of world building and there's a whole chapter devoted to it. The writer needs to start small and work up, always researching and making sure that his world is believable to the reader.

The chapter on Alien Creation details the information you need to know to create aliens in your story. It tells you how to make a living breathing alien that will come alive in your story.

The book covers, cliches, plot, characterization, humor, editing and promotion plus much more. If you're seeking advice from experts who can help you write science fiction I recommend this book as a great place to begin. This book's a keeper.

The Swamps of Bayou Teche: A Tony Boudreaux Mystery
Kent Conwell
Avalon Books
160 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780803498587 $21.95

Tony Boudreaux a PI currently living in Austin, Texas goes back to his home state of Louisiana on mission to find the son of an elderly woman. Tony thinks there's nothing to worry about, he'll find the guy and come home in a few days. Unfortunately, nothing is easy about this case for
not only is his client's son dead, his body or what's left of it is found in the belly of a dead alligator.

It's obvious to Tony and the local cops that Mr. Hardy is a murder victim. The PI sets out to find the killer, but it's no easy task. The deceased banker has a long list of enemies any of which could have done the job. Tony tries to sort out the details of the case, but his life is in danger
as the killer tries to stop him from discovering the truth.

Several of the suspects are women and Tony's attraction to one of them could be his undoing. The tidbits of Creole and Cajun life in the Bayou State add to the story and make it a great read. The Swamps of Bayou Teche is on my list of the most interesting mysteries I've read this year.

Kent Conwell is the author of many books. Other books in this series include: Extracurricular Murder, The Ying on Triad, Death in the Distillery, Skeletons of the Atchafalaya, Galveston and Vicksburg.

Preaching to the Corpse
Roberta Isleib
375 Hudson St., New York, N.Y. 10014
9780425218372, $6.99

Dr. Rebecca Butterman is back. This time she's involved with the murder of a woman at her church. The minister called it in and the police think he's good for the murder, but Rebecca's convinced he's innocent.

Also returning is one Detective Jack Meigs, Rebecca's still attracted to him, but he's off limits because he's married. She's met someone new, but she's a little gun-shy and Meigs is all she can think of.

Her irritation with the detective and a personal problem with her long absent father cause her to put herself in danger. Rebecca's frantic to solve church problems and uncover the identity of the murderer, but her snooping may get her killed.

Preaching to the Corpse is an intriguing tale of murder and obsession with just the right touch of romance and humor. Roberta Isleib's book is well worth reading. This is the second book in her Advice Column Mysteries Series, Deadly Advice is the first.

Victoria Kennedy

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

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