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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 8, Number 12 December 2008 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Andrew's Bookshelf Ann's Bookshelf
Bethany's Bookshelf Bob's Bookshelf Buhle's Bookshelf
Burroughs' Bookshelf Carson's Bookshelf Cheri's Bookshelf
Christy's Bookshelf Clark's Bookshelf Daniel'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 Margaret's Bookshelf
Molly's Bookshelf Paul's Bookshelf Richard's Bookshelf
Stephen's Bookshelf Theodore's Bookshelf Victoria's Bookshelf

Reviewer's Choice

The Moon: Tigress by the Tail
Teresa D'Amario
Tease Publishing
9781934678930 $12.99

Amy J. Ramsey, Reviewer

Born into a family of wizards as the youngest, Lance has always experienced difficulty casting spells, and if by chance they did work, the spells often backfired. He eagerly waited for the time to come so he could follow his family's tradition of becoming a member in a government organization, referred to as the GSA. The GSA is designed to protect the human race from creatures that should not exist. Through the GSA, Lance was under the impression that Shifters did not exist due to lack of proof, but when an absolutely gorgeous young lady with unusual orange and blonde striped hair and golden eyes tumbles into his arms, he finds himself instantly attracted and mysteriously connected to her.

Cassie and Lin have been best friends since childhood. Their human appearance is different as night and day, but both girls are harboring a similar and very dangerous secret. They co-exit among unsuspecting humans as Shifters. Only a few humans speculate the existence of supernatural creatures. For Cassie and Lin, the threat of what these humans might do to them and their species, if discovered, is an unimaginable nightmare. The girls have always found a way to stay out of trouble, until, an innocent celebration at a local bar turned into a night of desperation and terror.

Drugged, kidnapped and locked in a room of a dark and musty basement, the girls woke from their unconsciousness, fearing that the inevitable had occurred. Fortunately, for them their captors were a bunch of amateur Satanist who were intent on sacrificing a virgin to their demon God, Lucifer, and therefore, not aware of Cassie and Lin's secret. Shifters possess supernatural powers and, within minutes, Cassie had effortlessly torn down the door, and both girls were on their way to freedom, until they were seen. While fleeing from their enemy, Cassie crashed into Lance, and pleaded for his help. Cassie was unaware that Lance was on his first solo undercover mission sent by the GSA.

The bizarre connection each other sensed was undeniably intense. Cassie had the strange urge to protect Lance, something she had never experienced toward humans before, until now. Could they be "true mates", even if he is human and they shared the ability to communicate in each others minds? Cassie is left to wonder if her father will let him live, since now he knows her deepest, darkest secret, which is forbidden in her society and punishable by death. If Lance is spared death, will he be able to overcome the promise he made to his dying mother years ago?

In the midst of all the emotional turmoil, Lance is unaware that the Organization he is devoted to, has targeted Cassie. Will he be able to save her before she becomes their next science experiment or will his pride get in the way and make him loose the only "true mate" he was meant to claim?

Tigress by the Tail is an interesting and entertaining tale. Mrs. D'Amario has the ability to propel her readers into a realm of imagination that will captivate and enchant readers of this genre. She portrays realistic characterizations, along with a swiftly flowing plot. I personally enjoyed this tale and read it several times over. I would be highly interested in reading additional stories about Cassie and Lance's endeavors in the future. I recommend this e-book to any reader who appeals to the adult, supernatural, paranormal, and romance genre.

To find out more information about Teresa D'Amario, visit her website at

Journey from the Keep of Bones
Michelle Miller Allen
Amador Publishers
P. O. Box, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87195
9780938513360 $20.00

Connie Gotsch, Reviewer

Michelle Miller Allen's 'Journey from the Keep of Bones,' published by Amador Press, is a tough novel to describe. It blends modern main stream fiction, humor, the ancient Mezzo-American world view, Reincarnation, and New Age philosophy into a unique multilayered and quirky reading experience.

Two Mezzo-American shamans and their mates agree to reunite in the future as members of the opposite sex. They do it in the modern singles world of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In the process of letting them locate each other through a spiritual medium who calls herself Light, Michelle Miller Allen takes a gentle poke at New Age teachings, Yuppies, and the self delusion that can disguise flimsy sex affairs as solid relationships.

But while laughing, the author also examines change, love and peoples' complex reactions to both. In a note at the end of the book she comments, "All we have to live by, to offer and to leave behind, are our complicated responses to each other, what we think it all means, and where it is taking us."

That philosophy makes 'Journey from the Keep of Bones' a read that requires imagination and alertness Ms. Miller Allen alternates chapters between the characters' lives in present day Albuquerque and their lives hundreds of years ago in Mezzo-America. The reader must keep the two straight, or lose the thread of the story. The couples never quite realize who they once were, though they have subconscious inklings. That results in disequilibrium which the reader must accept in order to get through the plot. The author leaves the ending ambiguous, never saying what becomes of the reunited pairs. The reader must add his or her own imagination to the mix to sort that out.

The book has some weaknesses. The author makes a few references that are difficult to understand. Cats of all kinds wander through the book but don't seem to connect to anything. They just hang around watching people. One of the shamans tries to swim a large body of water, which might be an ocean. Later he and his mate try again. It's never clear why, in either case. Some of the dialogue goes on for lines and lines with no tags, making it easy to lose track of who is speaking. Then there's Motorcycle Woman who leads the characters up endless paths more of distraction than importance.

Fortunately Michelle Miller Allen's clear writing style and chapter organization guide the reader around most of these difficulties, leaving edgy questions as to what relationships are all about, instead of confusion at the end of the story. The reader can filter out the stuff that makes no sense and enjoy the parts that resonate. It would be interesting to discuss 'Journey from the Keep of Bones' with other readers, and see if confusion and resonance differ for different people.

Divine Intervention
Cheryl Kaye Tardif
Trafford Publishing
2333 Government Street, Suite 6E, Victoria, BC, Canada, V8T 4P4
9781412035910, $19.12,

Betty Dravis

Divine story! Divine author!

I've been a fan of Canadian author Cheryl Kaye Tardif since I read her third novel "Whale Song," the book that led me to her second novel "The River." Both those books blew me away, so I had to go back to read this debut novel.

I just finished reading "Divine Intervention" and I must say that Tardif had the gift right from the first. The Muses certainly are smiling down on her. She's a natural writer with a gift for words, great imagination, fabulous imagery, dialogue and characterization. But what "makes" a book for me is pacing, and I'm pleased to report that her pacing is impeccable!

This chilling page-turner is a genuine Canadian crime novel set in the not-too-distant future of the year 2012. Since Tardif wrote this book in 2004, she projected eight years into the future to bring us agents with skills that are only just now being recognized in real life. One difference I note from the present time is the unique higher-tech methods of communication and security. Other differences, I think you will enjoy discovering for yourself.

This book starts with the main character, agent Jasmine McLellan, having a recurring dream about a little girl inside her closet, dangling from a pink skipping rope. Jasi has had that dream since childhood and has always tried to discover the source.

As an adult she has a special gift and heads a firefighting team that investigates serial arsonists who leave victims behind, smoldering in the ruins. She works for the Canadian branch of the FBI (a futuristic merger of two powers) and is a pyro- psychic, compelled towards smoldering ashes where her gift is the ability to enter the arsonist's mind, a dangerous gift that puts her at constant risk.

Her team consists of psychometric empath and profiler Ben Roberts and victim empath Natassia Prushenko. In this book the murderer/arsonist has already taken the lives of three people and Jasi's team is led all across British Columbia to try to solve the crimes and capture the killer before he (or she) kills again.

The case is complicated when Brandon Walsh - - Chief of Arson Investigations in the town where the latest arson/murder took place - - insists on joining them, even though Jasi's team takes precedence. Jasi and Brandon are attracted to each other from the start, but she doesn't want any close ties interfering with the investigation or her ability to "read the killer's mind." Due to Walsh's past experience, Roberts talks Jasi into accepting Walsh's help, but she rebuffs him at every turn…both his romantic and professional overtures.

Walsh has never heard of Jasi's or her team's special psychic abilities, so is skeptical of the entire crew. I suspect you readers will also be interested in learning exactly what Ben Roberts does as a "psychometric empath and profiler" and what embodies Natassia Prushenko's job as a "victim empath." So what happens when they make a believer of Walsh? Does Jasi ever welcome his help? And when all the clues finally lead them to someone she knows and likes, why doesn't she agree with the team? Is the killer the one they suspect, or is Jasi onto something?

The search intensifies when they learn the killer is going after someone they know, and as vital as it is for them to stop the killer before it's too late, I was just as enraptured by the romance between Jasi and Walsh. Will they ever solve their differences and get together?

Now that I've given you those "teaser" questions, I hope you will read for yourself to find the answers.

Tardif gives her readers plenty of twists and turns before reaching a satisfying ending. The case is solved in a surprise twist, but Jasi never learns much about the little girl in her recurring dreams. Since I enjoyed "Divine Intervention" so much, I can't wait to read Tardif's next novel. As a natural follow-up I hope it's "Divine Justice." In that book I suspect we'll learn all about the little girl hanging from the pink rope.

Highly recommended.

Five Minutes With VITO
David Mattson and Anthony Parinello
Pegasus Media World
PO Box 7816, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
9780978607838, $14.95,

Emanuel Carpenter, Reviewer

When I first learned there was a new book that combines VITO (Very Important Top Officer) training with Sandler Institute training, I was intrigued. Not only have I reviewed two of Anthony Parinello's books but I have also worked in sales departments that put his practices into motion. To top it off, I also attended a six-week Sandler Institute course on selling. What's interesting is that in the past I found some of the Sandler training conflicted with what I'd learned from the VITO books. Even with the obvious polarities in strategy, "Five Minutes With VITO" by Parinello and Sandler Institute CEO David Mattson comes off as a marriage made in heaven.

What stands out most in the book are Parinello's teachings on taking on a VITO-like attitude, visualizing success, and establishing rapport with the top officer of the company. For instance, he says:



Not only that but it's filled with templates for cold calling, good advice on getting past gatekeepers, and it encourages you take action after every chapter. Sandler's teachings on discovering pain, budget, and decision-making authority fit in nicely. Some of the prior VITO books dealt with how to get in the door. This one deals with what to say when you get in. Though it was my understanding that Sandler Training at one time didn't believe in mailing information prior to a cold call, Parinello does and continues to provide examples on what to mail much like his other books.

The advice in "Five Minutes with VITO" is not without its flaws though. Some of Parinello's pitches sound a little too much like what other salespeople say (something Sandler once discouraged, and this book says to avoid in regards to not doing what the competition is doing). Plus it doesn't take into consideration that many companies have adopted some form of VITO tactics. Therefore, they may send the same type of letters and postcards and make the same type of pitches on the phone and in person and create a saturation of cookie-cutter junk mail and clone-like telephone strategies. (I've seen this happen in my real life consulting experience.)

If you've never read any of Parinello's books or if you haven't read Sandler's classic "You Can't Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar" this book is a nice introduction to both styles of training. But if you've read previous VITO books, you'll find that there isn't much new information here. However, having seen both schools of thought on sales in practices that resulted in new business for companies I've worked with as an employee, a consultant, and a contracted lead generation strategist, how could I not recommend this book? It should be a welcome addition to your sales library.


Lopsided: How Having Breast Cancer Can Be Really Distracting
Meredith Norton
Viking Books
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780670019281, $24.95,

Jessica Taylor

Meredith Norton's memoir, Lopsided: How Having Breast Cancer Can Be Really Distracting, is not about cancer. As she told the Sunday Telegraph (Australia), the book is "about me when I had cancer." The word "cancer" typically conjures up images of bald children with IVs in their arms, nauseated and pale patients, pink ribbons, and a dark force of evil that spreads - much like the scary oil spirit in Ferngully: The Last Rainforest. Norton's book conveys a much different image of a cancer patient. While entertaining the reader with her lively story, Norton's observations are insightful. The memoir reflects her view that, as she told the Sunday Telegraph, "[t]aking yourself too seriously is stressful and taxing."

Although Norton's life is relatively ordinary, her perceptions are not. Her frequent "brain episodes" - which are often random, but always funny - delight the reader with musings on topics such as her former taxidermist neighbor and Lance Armstrong. Incidentally, she wanted to "poke a stick in Lance's spokes."

She avoids sentimental language or trying to sound noble and instead writes with clear, understandable diction that stays completely truthful to the reader. For example, at the beginning of the memoir, Norton, a thirty-four year old girl-woman, admits that she "had no career or plans for a career" and compares herself to "someone who's never taken life by the horns . . . someone like every character ever played by Bill Murray."

Shortly before Norton is diagnosed with breast cancer, she, her husband, and her son relocate to France. Because her son Lucas is under a year old, she is unsure whether her sensitive breast - which is, to her, "like an unpredictable little alien I carried around" - is a side effect of breast-feeding. Four French doctors, one of whom is a breast specialist, misdiagnose her and assure her that there is nothing wrong. Wanting to see a "real doctor" and to "remind [her] child that outside of northern Europe the sun radiates not just light but heat," she flies home to California to visit her family. In California she is diagnosed with breast cancer and informed she has only a 40% chance of survival.

As she discusses her treatment and the challenge of having cancer, she shares funny anecdotes from her past and describes what she was thinking as the events unfolded. While she is undergoing medical procedures and chemotherapy, Norton wonders whether she would survive "if the only food left on Earth was parsley". She similarly relates to the reader her experiences as a teacher, recalling the student to whose home she sent many "military boarding school applications." These anecdotes reveal facts about Norton's life and help the reader to understand her colorful personality.

In The Observer (England), Geraldine Bedell contends that Norton's "writing is determinedly wry and unsentimental, but real feeling seeps through." This is absolutely true of this memoir. Though Norton steers away from victim hood, she does not avoid the realities of cancer. When she first begins losing her hair, she keeps her writing free of self pity and says,

"I spent the rest of the evening trying to look seductive and batting my eyelashes at poor Thibault. I twisted my sixteen little hairs around my finger, winked provocatively and mouthed, 'Licky, licky.'"

After she loses the last of her hair, she acknowledges the gravity of the situation and gives into sadness. She writes,

"It wasn't funny at all. I kept touching my head, still sensitive and stinging from the razor, and wishing I could disappear. Not to be dead, but invisible. I was on the verge of tears for days."

Although the majority of the piece has a lighthearted and humorous tone, darker, heartbreaking subjects that are often the focus of cancer memoirs are present underneath the liveliness. The anecdotes she recounts are not only humorous, but they also reveal universal themes subtly, making this memoir comparable to a novel.

It becomes clear that one of Norton's largest fears is leaving her son motherless. While she considers making videotapes to remind him of her, she says,

". . . I was obsessed with the vision of myself rotting in the cold earth while Lucas watched a tape of me teaching him how to tie his shoes or drive a stick shift. These were things he'd probably never need in the Velcro-and-electric-car future that loomed ahead. I'd be hairless and dressed in the future's equivalent of a leisure suit, giving him advice that had probably long since been proven wrong. It would be like in Sleeper when the future doctor offers Woody Allen a cigarette and he declines, saying he doesn't smoke. The doctor replies, 'But why? It's the best thing for you!' I'd be telling Lucas to wear sunscreen or not eat too much bacon and look like an ignoramus. Instead of his not recollecting me at all, he'd remember me as an unstylish source of misinformation."

Although Norton keeps her writing cheerful, she touches on a very poignant topic. Not everyone may be afraid of death, but no one wants to leave behind their loved ones. The fear of leaving a child and the uncertainty about how to deal with this type of situation is relatable. It is this feature of the memoir that separates it from a purely comical book. This memoir is more than just a comedy and it is more than a hackneyed cancer memoir. It is an honest story from the vantage point of a sarcastic, funny woman.

Lopsided is a witty and candid look at a peculiar black woman who has cancer rather than a sappy story of the cancer victim who could. The piece is fun, feisty, and sure to attract readers. This book is written for a general audience ranging from young adult to mature readers, but may be somewhat offensive to reserved audiences. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good laugh and a book that's hard to put down. Hopefully, Norton will publish many other plucky, clever books in the future.

Works Cited

Lovell, Dale, ed. "Surviving Breast Cancer." Keep the Doctor Away. 2008. UK Association of Online Publishers. 27 Oct. 2008

Norton, Meredith. Lopsided : How Having Breast Cancer Can Be Really Distracting. New York: Viking Adult, 2008.

Walking With Spring
Earl Shaffer
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
P.O. Box 807, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425-0807
9780917953842, $8.95,

Kevin Coolidge

The doughboy, the G.I, the grunt, the modern day land warrior, the men who combat the enemy-You may fly over a land; you may bomb it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life-but if you desire to defend it, protect it and keep it-there's never been anything but boots on the ground.

All wars are different, and all wars are the same. They all have a price. The Army's first study of the mental health of troops who fought in Iraq found that about one in eight reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The survey also showed that less than half of those with problems sought help, mostly out of fear of being stigmatized or hurting their careers.

Once called shell shock or combat fatigue, post-traumatic stress disorder can develop after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, feelings of detachment, irritability, trouble concentrating and sleeplessness. A lot of people, including vets, don't believe that PTSD exists, mostly because guys don't talk about it.

A lot of guys come back from wars really messed up, and it doesn't just go away. They aren't going to talk to you about it. They don't want your pity. They don't pity themselves. You can't see it. It's there...

It was the spring of 1948, and a young man from Pennsylvania had to work out the sights, sounds and violence of World War II, during which he lost his best friend. He took a hike, for four months. Earl Shaffer became the first person known to hike uninterrupted the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, from Springer Mountain in Georgia through 13 other states to Katahdin in the central-Maine wilderness...on more than 2,000 miles of footpath.

Earl Shaffer wrote a book about his experience called Walking With Spring. Originally self-published (300 copies), Walking with Spring was first professionally published in 1983. Written soon after his first of his three thru-hikes, the last undertaken at age 79, and far more difficult than he liked as he neared his eighth decade.

This book only contains hints and clues about this unusual man, the loner, the poet, and the man rooted in nature. Although Earl had suffered psychological trauma during his service in the South Pacific, he hardly mentions it at all. There are no long-winded passages of psychobabble or self-pity in this book. Instead, you get a real feeling of interest and wonder at the natural world Shaffer experienced--concisely, yet accurately conveyed.

This is not a book to prepare you to physically or materially hike the Appalachian Trail. It is instead a memoir of a period in time, the aftermath of war, and the recuperative power of the outdoors on the human psyche. John Muir knew this, as did Emerson, and Thoreau. Perhaps this is the strongest argument in defense of wild places. The wilderness is absolutely necessary for people to be human…

Orange Mint and Honey
Carleen Brice
One World
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345499066, $14.00,

Jessica Merz

Learning to Accept the Bitter and Appreciate the Sweet in Life

Ever feel as though life is playing some cruel joke on you? Like everything is going wrong and you just need to take a time out? Shay Dixon finds herself in this situation after overworking herself in grad school in Carleen Brice's first novel Orange Mint and Honey. After Nina Simone, the famous deceased jazz singer, appears to Shay in a vision and tells her to go home, the one thing Shay swore she would never do, Shay finds herself leaving University of Iowa to return to Denver, Colorado. While home often conjures images of comfort and family, home for Shay means a place filled with memories of being abandoned by her negligent alcoholic mother, Nona, as a child. On her arrival home, after excommunicating Nona for seven years, Shay is shocked to find a completely new person greeting her. Shay had last seen Nona when she was pregnant and abandoned by the boy friend she met in Alcoholics Anonymous but now Nona is strong and sober with an optimistic outlook on life. Along with this new Nona, Shay meets Sunshine, her half sister, and Nona's network of friends from Alcoholics Anonymous. While Shay seems to have hit rock bottom, she must deal with Nona, who has gotten her life together. At first, Shay resists forgiveness with all her strength but as time goes on and Shay spends time with her family, she begins to realize that although past mistakes will never be forgotten, people can still be forgiven.

Shay's conflict with her troubled childhood is not a lighthearted issue by any means; however, Carleen Brice succeeds in combining the somberness of Shay's struggle with a lighthearted attitude that keeps the reader entertained. Shay observes her world through a skeptic's eye that can be both amusing and harsh. When she first comes to Nona's house and is exploring her new surroundings, Shay says, "The house was a living self-help book. Everywhere I turned it seemed to be yelling 'Be happy, damn it!' Like those guys who always insist on telling you to smile…What if I didn't have a good goddamn thing to be happy about?" Nona on the other hand has an optimist's outlook on life which, when contrasted with Shay's opinions, can appear naive. The "self-help book" house that Shay describes is Nona's refuge, where she has painted everything in bright colors and leaves inspirational quotes on post-it notes around the house. The two women often clash but Brice develops their characters in a way that allows the reader to sympathize with each woman's plight.

The main theme of the story is the importance of forgiveness, no matter how hard it may be to forgive someone. Carleen Brice describes her opinions on forgiveness in an interview conducted by Kelli Martin, saying "The person who is wounded must be willing to accept the apology (when it's sincere) and if she won't, then there's nothing the person who caused the harm can do. Nona's efforts are sincere, so I'm glad when Shay finally gives her a chance. To me that's what forgiveness is: just the willingness to loosen one's grip on the grudge and see what happens." The struggle throughout the book is for Shay to release her grip on her grudge and allow herself to open up to the possibility of forgiving Nona. No one would ever be able to forget the harm that Nona caused Shay. Throughout the novel, Shay's inner dialogue often brings up stories of Nona's mistreatment, such as when Nona left Shay alone for an entire week or when Shay got sick in the middle of the night and had no one to care for her because Nona was out drinking. These stories continue even as Shay becomes closer to Nona, showing that forgetting one's past grudges is not easy to do. Also, Shay's habit of pulling out strands of her hair to relieve stress acts as a constant reminder of the mental damage that Nona's neglect caused Shay. However, the novel never suggests forgetfulness as the answer. Instead, it encourages giving the aggressor a second chance in order to move on from the past.

Orange Mint and Honey explores an array of emotions, from anger to joy to sorrow, in a way that allows the reader to experience the emotions with the characters. Carleen Brice connects with woman on many levels throughout this book, exploring the bond between mother and daughter as well as talking about a woman's search for her own identity. This story can really be what the reader makes of it. On one hand, it has all the makings of a good quick read; a lost soul finds her family and a new romance and lives happily ever after. On the other hand, the issues that the novel addresses and the way Brice writes makes it a much more compelling read that will have the reader seeing each conflict through the characters' eyes and experiencing their feelings. Carleen Brice's first novel sets the bar high for her, and hopefully she will produce similar motivational literature in the future.

The Knees of Gullah Island
Dwight Fryer
Kimani Press
233 Broadway, New York, NY 10279
Harlequin Books (distributor)
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373831197, $14.95,

Olivia Alford

Bent knees straighten crooked deeds: a theme, a concept, a way of life Dwight Fryer, after earning himself much deserved national recognition, has once again delivered with The Knees of Gullah Island. This second novel by Fryer is written as the prequel to his first, The Legend of Quito Road, which earned him an NAACP nomination for Outstanding Literary Work from a Debut Author. In The Legend of Quito Road, Son Erby and his assortment of antics take center stage as he battles with the color line and the various hardships that accompany it during the 1930's. The Knees of Gullah Island acts as a precursor, setting the stage of the lowcountry area and introducing the key players alluded to in that first novel. The most notable of these characters is Gillam Hale, who is Son Erby's grandfather. The Knees of Gullah Island tells the story of Gillam Hale, his wife Queen Esther, and their son, Joseph, as they attempt to reconnect their family torn apart by slavery.

On his website,, Fryer calls his second novel a "timeless story of love, loss, hope, and rebirth." These themes lend the reader an astounding amount of material that can be related to life today and is appropriate for any age group. Each idea is presented multiple times throughout the plot and various subplots, and each reference returns to the central theme of "bent knees straighten crooked deeds."

Just like in The Legend of Quito Road, Dwight Fryer writes from a perspective in The Knees of Gullah Island that offers an inside look into the rich culture of the Gullah people from the South Carolina low country. Complete with a Gullah word translation at the beginning of the novel, The Knees of Gullah Island stays completely true to the dialect of the Gullah people. With the "ebil debbles" and the "libin' maumas", Fryer so transforms the setting of the novel that the reader is right in the middle of all the action, turmoil, and hardships of the low country.

The complexity and intertwined natures of the many relationships lend both a help and a hindrance to the overall effect of the story. Although the many characters and their various escapades add a lot of color to an already vibrant background, it tends to get somewhat confusing. Fryer aids this situation by providing a detailed family tree, which is fairly helpful, but trying to keep tabs on the multifaceted family lines as well as everything else that is going on becomes slightly overwhelming. Also, the juggling of complex plot lines as well as complex familial relationships partially takes away from the eloquent writing and intense underlying meanings that the book possesses.

As stated on the cover, the central theme of the book is "bent knees straighten crooked deeds." Gillam Hale and his family are forced to straighten many deeds throughout the novel, whether it be deciding where it is that their true loyalties lie or trying to move on as a family. Through his writing and the delightfully intricate Hale world that he creates, Dwight Fryer does indeed create that timeless story of love, loss, hope, and rebirth.

Paper Towns
John Green
c/o Penguin Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780525478188, $17.99,

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Quentin "Q" Jacobsen and Margo Roth Spiegelman were playmates and next door neighbors until they grew up and grew apart. In high school, Q worships her hotness from afar. Then one night during their senior year, Margo climbs through his bedroom window and back into his life. Dressed like a ninja, she demands he accompany her on a hair-raising escapade. After a night of mischief and mayhem - but no breaking and entering - during which Margo breaks up with her boyfriend, Q actually believes he might have a chance with her. Instead, the next day she disappears.

The mystery of Margo becomes Q's obsession, giving new meaning to the term girl-chasing. Did she join the circus? A-gain? Or get swallowed up in the Big Apple? Or is she just hiding out in a "pseudovision" (abandoned subdivision), watching him? Or was it suicide?

But the biggest question of all is whether the real live Margo can hold a torch to the Margo of Q's imagination. Or does reality bite?

Sprinkled with amazing fun facts and little-known lore, "Paper Towns" is a sometimes hilarious - sometimes poignant road trip through the teenage condition toward self discovery.

Winging It: Dispatches from an (Almost) Empty Nest
Catherine Goldhammer
Hudson Street Press
c/o The Penguin Press
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9781594630484, $21.95,

Reed Stevens

"A Daughter's a Daughter All Her Life"

Laugh out loud! Read it to anyone in the room. "Winging It' hits the painful funny bones of Letting the Daughter Go. This includes an exquisite self-examination of Middle Age heading into Dreaded Old Age: sorrow, loneliness, self-pity and, God forbid, jealousy. Who admits to feeling jealous of her teen-age daughter? Well, here it is. Should she sell her remodeled house in a town where there are "more restraining orders than toilet paper?" Should she hook up with that old boyfriend? Will she find happiness in the end? What is happiness, anyway?

"Winging It" follows "Still Life with Chickens" which introduced us to this warm, self-deprecating and some tough woman. As before, the genius is in the details of baby rabbits, dry Thanksgiving turkey and the dragon-like lonely chicken who does a fair imitation of a rooster's crow.

We need more of this. I was sorry to turn the last page.

The Everything Horse Book
Karen Leigh Davis
Adams Media
c/o F&W Publications, Inc.
700 East State Street, Iola, WI 54990
9781598698596, $15.95,

Annie Slessman

As a horse owner, I automatically picked out THE EVERYTHING HORSE BOOK by Karen Leigh Davis as one of my monthly reads. Any book that touts it covers everything you need to buy, ride and care for an equine companion is going some. However, I was not disappointed at the contents of this book.

For a novice in the horse industry, this work would provide a great base in selecting a horse, seeing to its care and learning the basics of riding and training. For instance, as a horse owner I was unaware of the history of the horse. This work provides that information in a simple, understandable form without boring the heck out of you.

The explanation of the different horse breeds was kept simple. It provides a potential horse owner the tools to determine what breed would fit their needs and riding discipline of their choice. When I owned a riding facility, it amazed me that so many people responded, "I want a black…white…spotted…horse," when asked what breed they wanted. Reading this book would alleviate the myth that a breed of horse is a color.

Housing, daily care, costs involved, veterinary care, what to feed your horse, the amount of water your equine pal will need daily, equine diseases and disorders, horse behavior are just a few of the subjects covered in this book. Buying a horse is just the tip of the iceberg in horse ownership…this book makes that fact abundantly clear to a reader.

Davis has gone to great lengths to cover the many aspects of equine ownership. This horse owner gives her an "A+" in covering the horse, its needs and capabilities. If you are thinking of buying a horse, buy this book first. It will save you a lot of heartache and regret.

Andrew's Bookshelf's: The Sandbox
David Stanford, editor
Andrew McMeel Publishing
4520 Main Street, Kansas City, MO 64111
9780740769450 $16.95

Who are these Marines and Soldiers whose courage and tenacity is so politicized or trivialized by those who never served?

Editor David Stanford brings us the daily stories of those fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in their own blunt and brutally honest words. A Gary Trudeau-inspired addition to his 11-year old website, Trudeau and Stanford invited the warriors overseas to write back so the folks back on the home-front could stay informed about the war. They weren't looking for strategy and tactics but rather the daily routine - ranging from boring to mundane to kinetic - that the troops experienced.

And write they did, as "mil-blogging" increased in popularity, the writing skills of a few of the blogging Marines and Soldiers brought the wars back home in a visceral fashion that often leaves the reader with damp eyes. No slick writing here, but rather just the honest words of your son and daughters and husbands at war.

1st Sgt Troy Steward, New York Guard, writes of his time in Afghanistan as part of an Embedded Training Team (ETT) with an Afghan National Army Unit. Sgt Roy Batty, stationed in Baghdad, writes of the boredom associated with living on a FOB and then later segues into problems with an Iraqi Police unit that shot and killed an old man. "They are our buddies," he writes, "our comrades in arms with whom we are supposed to bring Jeffersonian democracy and security to this wonderful country...". 1st Lt Stefan laments the death of a fellow officer, 2nd Lt Scott Lundell, with whom he attended OCS. "Rest in peace, "Stefan grieves on his keyboard,"...a brother in arms who is loved and missed. The debt will not go unpaid..."

Stanford has sifted through the hundreds of articles posted on the more popular milblogs such as, and, and posted a few of the best. "The Sandbox" has articles from men and women, officers and enlisted men, and warriors, chaplains, and corpsmen. These are unforgiving wars where the combat zones start at the border, and Stanford lets those doing the fighting talk about how it affects them. In an environment where the media is criticized for playing politics by wanting to show photos of coffins being returned to the United States, one can instead read SPC J.R. Salzman's ( blunt description of having his arm blown off "...the taste of blood in my mouth, realizing that the bottom half of my arm was missing with nothing left but a couple of fingers and part of my hand hanging off by some skin and tendons and realizing how much pain I was in."

The value of "The Sandbox" is that it lets the reader forget the petty politics of the last few years and instead get to know something about the Marines and Soldiers who are doing the fighting and dying. Republicans - Democrats are unimportant when one reads 1st Sgt Stewards reports from Afghanistan, or SPC's Salzman writing about how "the last time I saw my wedding ring was when it was being snipped off with a pair of bolt cutters at a hospital in the Green Zone in Baghdad." Thank you, Gentlemen, for what you are doing, and thank you for sharing it with us; "The Sandbox" should be read by every American.

Through the Wheat; The U.S. Marines in W.W. 1
BrigGen Edwin Simmons (USMC, ret) & Col Joseph Alexander (USMC, ret)
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402
9781591147916 $34.95

More than just a recitation of history, "Through the Wheat" is a well-written and interesting book that describes how the Marine Corps burst onto the international scene at Belleau Wood and became known as one of the world's premier fighting forces.

Veteran authors (and veteran Marines) Brig Gen Edwin Simmons and Col Joseph Alexander have combined forces to give us a history of the Marine Corps in World War 1. Prior to the war, the Marines were a tiny expeditionary unit that was used primarily to fight guerillas in Mindanao or Nicaragua; its most public large battle was as active participants in China's Boxer Rebellion of 1900. But as the United States' entry into WW1 transformed the American military into a cohesive instrument of national power, it also changed the Marine Corps from a seaborne expeditionary unit into a major fighting force that was capable of defeating the established army of a western country.

But unlike the Army, the Marine Corps values its small unit leaders, and in telling their stories, authors Simmons and Alexander excel. From young officers and future Marine commandants ) like 2ndLt Clifton Cates and 2nd Lt Lemuel Shephard, to the old breed like (2x Medal of Honor recipient) GySgt Dan Dailey and Col Albertus Catlin, Simmons and Alexander weave a story of how the Marine Corps passed its traditions and small unit expertise from one generation to the next. "Through the Wheat" also presents the stories of a few of those Marines killed while building these traditions; Yale grad and world mile record-holder Lt Johnny Overton never made it home, while LtCol Fritz Wise was never the same mentally after his battalion suffered such horrific casualties. Many old photos, all back & whites, serve to personalize the Marines encompassing this slice of history.

"Through the Wheat" chronicles the Marine fight in Belleau Wood against German poison gas and machine guns where on a single sunny June day, they suffered more dead than in their previous 142 years of existence combined. In the days both preceding and following Belleau Wood, the Marines fought and won at Lucy-de-Bocage, Soissons, Blanc Mont, St Miheil and the Meuse-Argonne.

"Come you sons-of-bitches; do you want to live forever?" bellowed GySgt Dailey when his men were hung up in the wheat at Belleau Wood. While many of them did not, their tradition and quiet heroism did, and "Through the Wheat" is their fine story.

How Free People Move Mountains
Kathy Roth-Douquet and Frank Schaeffer
Harper Collins
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061233524 $24.95

These are ugly times in America. Wall Street has imploded, the out-going Administration insists on fighting the Afghan war (which is studiously ignored by the American public) with too-few troops, the national debt is virtually unserviceable - and the presidential campaign focused instead on lipstick, moose-skinning, and American flag pins. The parents and families of Marines and soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan must be shaking their heads in dismay.

"How Free People move Mountains," is a timely and unusual book for these hard times, and one well worth reading. Co-authors Kathy Roth-Douquet and Frank Schaeffer address the divide that has split the United States, threatens our being as a respected nation - and propose a solution that is elegant in its simplicity.

Frank Schaeffer and Kathy Roth-Douquet are unlikely co-authors, yet perhaps their differences are why their premise is ultimately successful. Schaeffer comes from a deeply evangelical Christian and unforgiving New England background while Roth-Douquet is liberal, Jewish, and a former Clinton aide, yet they successfully collaborated two years ago in "AWOL; The unexcused absence of the upper class from military service", which advanced the thesis that patriotism, national service, and duty to country was not just the province of lower-income Southerners and Midwesterners. It is interesting to note that Schaeffer's son enlisted in the Marine Corps and served in Afghanistan while Roth-Douquet is married to a career Marine officer, so both understand better than most the concept of serving a cause greater than oneself. It is these unique backgrounds that enable the authors to unite in their belief in the intrinsic goodness of the United States - and that this is a crucial time for America to regain it.

"How Free People Move Mountains" is written in an engaging style. Set up as a discussion between 'Liberal Kathy' and 'Conservative Frank', the two authors talk about how Americans today have substituted the pursuit of consumer goods and wealth for religious faith and the laws of God (Frank), or a belief in the natural goodness of man (Kathy). While it is up to the reader to decide which road is correct, Schaeffer and Roth-Douquet's debate finishes in the same place; that of ignoring the politicians and talking heads who push the conservative-liberal, red state-blue state divisions for their own selfish reasons and instead take a direct interest in the future of their country.

Their well-reasoned solution is quite simple, and reflects the thoughts of our Founding Fathers: live a moral life, respect others, and work for the common good. The ideals of "Honor - Courage - Commitment" resound throughout the book, and throughout their ideas for breaking through the morass of mindless consumerism that they see as sapping America's spiritual strength. As 'Liberal Kathy' and 'Conservative Frank' are able to engage in spirited yet, civil debate, "How Free People Move Mountains" shows us the way to re-engage Americans in the future of our country.

Centaurs in Vietnam
Carl William Burns
Trafford Publishing
2333 Government Street, Suite 6E, Victoria, BC, Canada, V8T 4P4
9871425170358 $19.99

While there are an increasing number of Vietnam-related books written by the Marines and soldiers who fought, few are as good as Carl Burn's "Centaurs in Vietnam."

Written in a the simple, yet elegant style of a soldier who has had 40 years to reflect on his service, Burn's book describes the year that his air cavalry troop (D Troop, Air Cavalry, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry, 25th Division) spent in the Cu Chi area back in 1966 - 67. He spent considerable time and effort tracking down his former troopers and used their stories to describe their year in-country.

Burns uses their anecdotes to personalize their year flying and fighting. His Air Cav troop flew Huey helicopters in support of an infantry platoon and a LRRP (long range reconnaissance platoon); flying them into combat, retrieving them from the battle zone, and providing fire support when requested, and he's incorporated stories from the pilots, door gunners, and mechanics into the story.

Those grainy scenes one sees on the History Channel are from units like D Troop, so instead of listening to a narrator talk about the air war in Vietnam, buy a copy of "Centaurs in Vietnam" and learn about the war from those who fought it.

Necessary Extremes
David M. Salkin
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
978042521797 $6.99

"Necessary Extremes" is the follow-up novel to author David Salkin's successful first book "Crescent Fire".

Set in today's turbulent Middle East, Salkin sends CIA-type agents Stills and Mackey to Iran in order to halt both the use of Iran's nuclear weapons and simultaneously start a popular revolution that will change the Iranian government. Hmmm.

A tall order for two Americans in Iran, one might think? Surprisingly, Salkin pulls it off and makes both actions seem believable. Drawing extensively on current events and his knowledge of the Middle East, Salkin's agents Stills and Mackey appear to be normal people as they apply common-sense and realistic solutions to the events they encounter. No James Bond's here, the two heroes share qualities they've developed in training at Quantico rather than with Roger Moore in this unexpectedly good story.

With two good novels to his credit- and the Middle East still in turmoil - one hopes that author David Salkin is working hard on his third installment of the Still & Mackey sagas.

Once a Marine
Nick Popaditch, with Mike Steere
Savas Beatie
c/o Casemate
1016 Warrior Road, Suite C, Drexel Hill, PA 19026
9781932714470 $25.00

Only a few books leap off the shelves and demand to be read - and "Once a Marine" is one of those few. This is the story of Gunnery Sergeant Nick Popaditch, U.S. Marine Corps. It's important to add "USMC" after his name, because in Popaditch's story, being a Marine is integral to his survival following a grievous head wound and the subsequent rehab problems afterwards.

In true "Gunny" fashion, this is an aggressive book. "Gy Pop", as he's known, came into his own as a young Marine, saw combat in Desert Storm, and became a drill instructor afterwards. He's as OOH-RAH and Semper Fi motivated as they come, and his energy and enthusiasm for all things Marine comes through loud and clear in this well-written book.

Gy's life continues on a positive roll when he's photographed in Baghdad in 2003, cigar-in-hand, in front of the statute of Saddam. Now known to the world as the 'cigar Marine', Gy Pop returns home to his loving wife April, and sons. But true to being a Marine, he volunteers for another tour in Iraq, where he's shot in the head with an RPG in Fallujah, loses one eye, much of his sight in the other eye, and is medically retired from his beloved Marine Corps. A typical macho Marine story, one might think, but it's Gy Pop who makes "Once a Marine" such a compelling story in the midst of such frustration of his life's seeming unraveling.

"Once a Marine" is a spellbinding and story. From the stories of his Desert Storm days, to storming Baghdad in 2003, to the horrific story of being shot in the head by an PRG to the personal friction between him and his wife as he contemplates the premature end of his career in his beloved Marine Corps, this is the type of book that the reader will devour in an evening.

What grabs the reader aren't the battle sequences; those who have fought tend to downplay their role in combat, and Gy Pop is no exception. Instead, his focus is on Marine Corps ethos and work ethic, his Marines, and how they all came together to assist him in his time of need. Needing assistance is unusual for Gy Pop, and he writes honestly and movingly of his struggle to accept help from his wife and sons, his Marines, and even the medical team at the "Blind Hospital." For a rough & tough Marine Gunnery Sergeant, Popaditch has written a brutally honest, yet incredibly moving story of his life as a Marine, and how the Marine Corps has prepared him for life afterwards. Recommended? Absolutely!

Andrew Lubin, Reviewer

Ann's Bookshelf

Esther Woolfson
Granta Publication
12 Addison Avenue, London, W11 4QR
9781847080899 A$35.00,

Esther Woolfson shares her home with a rook named Chicken. Madam Chickeboumskaya (to give Chicken her full title) arrived unexpectedly in the family as an unfledged infant bird, beak agape ready for food. Woolfson's first task was to discover what she ate, but the recommended diet of rodents, chicks, grasshoppers, beetles etc. was quickly re-interpreted as minced meat, eggs and chopped nuts. So, Woolfson and Chicken began a sixteen-year relationship which was still continuing when this book was written.

Chicken is not your usual caged, tamed bird. She has the run of most of the Woolfsons' home and she has her own "shanty-house" in Esther Woolfson's study, where she sleeps, bathes, roosts and preens and from which she can come and go as she wishes. Chicken was quick to establish a place for herself in the family hierarchy, acknowledging (sometimes) the "parental authority" of Esther and her husband David and maintaining a sort of sibling rivalry with their two daughters. The learning experiences of bird and humans in this shared life have been mutual and for the humans, says Woolfson, continually fascinating. Bird droppings on carpets and floors, bits of food cached under rugs, inside cushions and "posted" between the laths of a hole in the kitchen wall (a favourite place) are all accepted philosophically by Woolfson. She is clearly besotted with Chicken: and not just with Chicken but has, over the years, also been besotted with a magpie called Spike and with other birds who have shared her life, although none as fully as Chicken.

Corvus, however, is not just a book about living with a rook. Woolfson has read widely and she is a thoughtful and intelligent observer. She records the behaviour of Chicken and other birds, and muses on the lives of birds in general and her birds in particular, their skills, their intelligence, their behaviour and their historical relationship with humankind. Many birds, but especially corvids like rooks, magpies, crows, jays, jackdaws and ravens have, over the centuries, been regarded as vermin, destroyers of food crops, and creatures of the Devil. In 1424, for example, laws were passed in Scotland (where Woolfson and Chicken live) which required people to destroy these birds and their nests. And even today, the Wildlife and Countryside Act in England allows licensed landowners and occupiers to do the same. Superstition, too, has made corvids widely feared, and many myths, poems and stories confirm this. Yet, as Woolfson has discovered through her reading and through her life with Chicken, Spike and, most recently with a crow called Ziki, this evil reputation is largely unwarranted.

Corvus is part memoir, part musings, and part natural history. Woolfson's interests range widely, from specific bird behaviours, like nesting, song, migration and flight, to more wide-ranging topics like Chinese poetry, music, folklore, myth and legend. Corvus is funny, fascinating, informative, loving and, just-occasionally, a lesson in corvid science; and it is beautifully written by a woman whose own curiosity, intelligence and strength of character clearly draws her to birds which share these characteristics. We get to know Chicken quite well and to share some of the fascination she has for Woolfson. We get to know Spike, Ziki, a starling, a cockatiel, some parrots, two canaries and the inhabitants of the dove-house less well, but they have all played their part in genesis of this book. For someone who once had to ask a neighbour to remove a dead pigeon from her lawn, because it scared her, Woolfson has come a long way, and Corvus is a very enjoyable account of some of the birds which have accompanied her on her journey.

The Wisdom of Birds: An Illustrated History of Ornithology
Tim Birkhead
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781596915411, $45.00,

Tim Birkhead's The Wisdom of Birds arrived on my doorstep at the same time as Esther Woolfson's Corvus and I read Woolfson's book first (see my review of Corvus, November 2008). Although the two books are very different, many of the topics they cover, such as flight, instinct, intelligence and bird song, are the same. Clearly, Birkhead and Woolfson share a passion for everything to do with birds.

The Wisdom of Birds is a beautifully and richly illustrated history of ornithology. It is detailed and factual, but it is characteristic of the author's easy, anecdotal style that he begins the book "standing waist-deep in very cold water in the midst of a vast open wetland". He is there, he tells us, as part of a team of ornithologists trying to capture and ring a rare European aquatic warbler. That ornithologists doing serious scientific research should be out in the field (so-to-speak) observing and ringing birds is, as his book makes clear, a relatively new phenomenon. Even in the early twentieth century, such outdoor activities were contemptuously known 'bird-watching', and were regarded as the unscientific occupation of amateurs and dilettantes. Serious ornithologists, it was believed, confined their work to museum study, measurement, taxonomy and classification.

Birkhead begins his ornithological history by describing the work of John Ray who, in 1676, published an encyclopaedia of ornithology based on his collaboration with his friend and patron Francis Willoughby. At that time, there was beginning to be a new emphasis on experiment and close observation as a basis for reliable knowledge. Willoughby and Ray were amongst the first to abandon reliance on historically derived information, much of which was based on speculation and folklore, and to investigate flora and fauna for themselves and systematically record their studies. They travelled widely, collecting and dissecting specimens, read widely and discussed natural history with other naturalists. Willoughby died before any of their work was published, but Ray, financially supported by Willoughby's wife, continued and expanded their work, transcribing Willoughby's incomplete notes and formulating a system for the presentation of their studies. The Ornithologiae was eventually published, in Latin, with the help of the Royal Society, of which Willoughby had been a founding member.

From this beginning of The Wisdom of Birds, Birkhead charts the growth of ornithology as a scientific study. In doing so, he looks closely at the gradual development of knowledge about many aspects of bird life, including such topics as the debate about whether swallows migrate or hibernate in the mud each winter; when and how chickens' eggs obtain their shells; the claims that cockerels sometimes lay eggs; and how scientific knowledge has been influenced by religious beliefs. Birkhead charts the major developments and the most important discoveries, and he looks at the important contributions to ornithology made by many people (scientists and non-scientists) up to the present day.

Birkhead displays an infectious delight in his subject. Everywhere in The Wisdom of Birds facts are presented clearly and in easily digestible fashion, together with history, myth, folklore and anecdote. Just to read the table of Contents is tantalizing: Chapter 2, for example, is entitled 'Seeing and Not Believing: From Egg to Chick'; Chapter 9 - 'Darwin in Denial: Infidelity'; and Chapter 10 - 'A Degenerate Life Corrupts: Reproduction and Longevity'.

Make no mistake, however, this is a serious book and it discusses much serious scientific research. Yet it is a rewarding and enjoyable book for dipping into by anyone who is interested in birds, however serious or not their interest may be. It is written with wit and humour. It is full of curious and intriguing information. The illustrations, mostly taken from old books and manuscripts, are a delight. And above all, for an amateur bird-watcher like me, it is gratifying to note that even the most unacademic bird-watcher can make, and often has made, invaluable contributions to the ever growing knowledge of birds. In fact, whilst discussing the theory of pair-bonding which has been postulated to explain the display behaviour of grebes, Birkhead notes: "Saying that a particular behaviour helps to maintain the pair bond is merely another way of saying we have no real idea what it is for". He adds that "the idea of pair-bonding remains one of the big unexplored ideas in ornithology", and he throws out this challenge to his readers: "Any ideas?".

Tim Birkhead is a Fellow of the Royal Society and he teaches animal behaviour and the history of science at the University of Sheffield.

Some illustrations and sample chapters from The Wisdom of Birds are available at

Ann Skea, Reviewer

Bethany's Bookshelf

The Honeymoon is Over
Myra Montgomery Bell
Pleasant Word
c/o Winepress Publishing Program
1730 Railroad, St. Enumclaw, WA 98022
9781414111346, $11.99,

Dealing with everything that comes with one person for do some people do it? "The Honeymoon is Over: Secrets of A Happy Marriage Even When it Doesn't Feel Like One" is a Christian approach to establishing a long lasting marriage that will stand the tests of time and the turmoil that life throws your way. Dealing with differences, building a sustainable relationship, and more, "The Honeymoon is Over" is a solid read for any Christian couple who fears the rocks ahead.

Afghan Silk
Julia Scott
Tiger of the Stripe
9781904799337, $32.00,

War changes people, for better or worse. "Afghan Silk" tells of Michael, a British Officer around the time of the beginning of World War II, is charged with containing a vicious Afghani tribe. His encounters with them begin to make him rethink life, as he begins to grow sour on the British culture that raised him, and changes his relationship with his beloved Sarah. A novel of the emotional effects of war and cruelty, "Afghan Silk" is well worth reading.

Pure Soapbox
Kimberlie Dykeman
Wiggy Press
c/o Dalton Publishing
PO Box 242, Austin, TX 78767
9780974070339, $14.95,

Inspiration doesn't have to be a long winded speech; small bursts can be just as effective. "Pure Soapbox: ...a cleansing jolt of perspective, motivation, and humor" is a collection of insights and wisdom from Kimberlie Dykeman who seeks to inspire and motivate her readers with her charming wit and banter, as she speaks on motivational quotes throughout history with her own explanation and spin. "Pure Soapbox" is well worth the purchase for its daily pick-me-up.

Dear Sergeant Honey
Hildegarde Molnar, author
Ceil Stetson, editor
c/o Buy Books On The Web
1094 New Dehaven Street, #100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
0741447452, $19.95

Dear Sergeant Honey is a collection of true-life letters and diary entries of WAC Hildegarde Molnar, who served overseas in World War II. Edited by her daughter Ceil Stetson, Dear Sergeant Honey is at once a love story, a historical primary source of World War II, and a window into wartime joys, trials, and tribulations. A handful of black-and-white photographs illustrates this unforgettable testimony of a woman who faithfully served her country.

Music Projects with Propellerhead Reason
Hollin Jones
PC Publishing
1870775147, $19.95,

Today's music programs have become instruments unto themselves. "Music Projects with Propellerhead Reason: Grooves, Beats, and Styles from Trip Hop to Techno" is a guide to masterfully using the Propellerhead Reason program to create, remix, polish, and do much more in the field of music. Everything one needs to fully master Propellerhead Reason, "Music Projects with Propellerhead Reason" is a solid and highly recommended acquisition for aspiring music producers.

Female Ejaculation
Somraj Pokras & Jeffre Talltrees
Ulysses Press
PO Box 3440, Berkeley CA 94703-3440
9781569756799, $13.95,

There is more to human sexuality than is typically covered by the 'birds & bees' approach to the subject. Co-written by Somraj Pokras and Jeffre Talltrees, "Female Ejaculation: Unleash The Ultimate G-Spot Orgasm" is an informed and informative introduction and instructional guide to the biological phenomena of the female orgasm. Readers will learn about the sexual anatomy of the 'G-spot' and how to utilize it to successfully achieve orgasms both singular and multiple. Of special note are the chapters focusing on 'G-spot Massage'; Sexual Healing; Ecstatic States; and Optimal Positions. Enhanced with the inclusion of a glossary of terms, "Female Ejaculation" is a definitive work of impeccable scholarship and accessibility, making it highly recommended for personal and academic library Human Sexuality reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Susan Bethany

Bob's Bookshelf

The Deceived
Brett Battles
1745 Broadway, New York, New York, 10019
9780385341578, $24.00

In the follow-up to "The Cleaner" by Brett Battles, Jonathan Quinn returns in "The Deceived' to again do what he does best - discreetly dispose of a body and erase all traces of the dead person's existence. In this case, though, the deceased ex-CIA agent was one of Quinn's best friends.

Throwing standard "protocol" for his line of work out the window, Quinn decides he's going to find out what happened to the man who once saved his life. The adventure is going to be a harrowing one that takes Quinn from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., and then Singapore. With his apprentice, Nate, and another friend, Orlando, providing cover, Quinn will uncover some unsavory truths that a very powerful group of people don't want exposed. One misstep and someone else will be "cleaning up" after Quinn's demise.

Already compared to Robert Ludlum and Lee Child, Brett Battles' first novel generated a lot of interest. This sequel picks right up where the Los Angeles author left off and, if anything, it's even better than Quinn's first outing.

Say Goodbye
Lisa Gardner
1745 Broadway, New York, New York 10019
9780553804331, $25.00,

"Say Goodbye" by Lisa Gardner has been called the author's most complex and explosive thriller to date. That's saying something for someone who has ten million copies of her previous novel in print.

Outside of Atlanta, prostitutes, runaways and high-risk teens are disappearing at an alarming rate, but no one really seems to care. No one, that is, except FBI Special Agent Kimberly Quincy who is told about the horrendous situation by a young hooker who asks for police protection before she'll share what she knows.

Obviously a serial killer is at work and the "technique" he is using is as fiendishly clever as it is deadly. With little information and few clues, Quincy isn't sure she wants to take on the challenge but she decides she has to. Since both her mother and sister were the victims of a serial killer, the special agent knows she really can't walk away from this case.

Fighting to Leave
Col. Robert E. Stoffey
Zenith Press
c/o Quayside Publishing Group
400 First Ave, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55401
9780760333105, $25.95,

"Fighting to Leave" by Col. Robert Stoffey, USMC (ret.) offers a first hand account of how the Vietnam War finally ended and what it took to get the POWs home. A Marine Corps pilot, Stoffey served three combat tours of duty in Vietnam and flew 440 combat missions between 1965 and 1970. As Marine Air Officer and Assistant Amphibious Warfare Officer on the staff of the Commander, Seventh Fleet, the author spent the last two years of the war on the USS Oklahoma City.

Providing a detailed and thorough overview of the events that unfolded in 1972-73 after U.S. ground troops were pulled out, Colonel Stoffey examines the successes and failures of this period. This was a time when American carrier planes, cruisers and destroyers, and Marine helicopters remained in support of the South Vietnamese.

According to the author, if we are not to make the same mistakes all over again in Iraq, the lessons of the final days in Vietnam must be carefully studied and taken to heart.

Bob Walch

Buhle's Bookshelf

Last Call
JD Seamus
Capital Press
Maryglenn McCombs (publicity)
2817 West End Avenue, Suite 126-274, Nashville, TN 32703
9780980225600, $14.95,

The best one can ask for in life is many friends, or so Jimmie Collins thought. "Last Call" is the story of Nathan and his arrival in Manhattan, and his quick connections that help get him settled into his new life. As Nathan gains a friend in Jimmie and his family, it's found that Jimmie isn't long for the world, and asks for help in recovering his lost funds for health care. Nathan's new family in Jimmie's bar soon grows closer as Jimmie passes on, but there's still the subject of his money. "Last Call" is a story of friendship and how money can strain such things, poignant and recommended.

The Viral Solution
Rino Di Stefano
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781419654800, $14.99,

Evil doesn't play by the rules, sick twisted people will do anything to get what they want to do done. "The Viral Solution" tells the story of several crusaders who dared to stand in the face of a religious powered and zealous corporation. Librarians, professors, their families and others stand up to the vicious business, which has little shame in simply using murder to silence its detractors. "The Viral Solution" is a story of evil, and those willing to resist it, recommended.

The First Taste of Love
Tim Lopez
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533158041, $10.95,

Love is a strange emotion that does countless things to people. "The First Taste of Love: Poetry of Love, Passion, and Heartache" is the follow up to Tim Lopez's debut anthology of poetry in 'Desire for Love'. More of the subject has rushed him and his verse as he lets his writing speak his emotions like nothing else can. "The First Taste of Love" is a must for lovers of Lopez's first. "I Saw Her": Tonight, I saw her, My eyes could not believe./The vision of a goddess, the girl of my dreams.//Now passion awakes,/I know my heart's desire/Experiencing love for the first time, Setting my soul on fire.//She's the one, I have dreamt of./She's the one, I was meant to love./Tonight I saw her,/ New passions came over me./I've seen her before,/ She's the one in my dreams.

The Gospel of John
John N. Ehrman
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533158744, $14.95,

The Gospels all paint many pictures of Jesus, but the one accredited with humanizing him the most is John. "The Gospel of John: A Study Guide for Groups and Teachers" acts as a companion to the book of John within the Bible. Looking at the man who acts as the source and his perceptions of Jesus, the lessons are from the author's own adult Bible study group, vouching from Ehrman's own experience as a Bible teacher. "The Gospel of John" is worth reading for any with interest in the Bible, be it professional or casual.

Breach of Faith
William Overstreet Field
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533158904, $8.95,

The Catholic church isn't perfect, and some can't tolerate some of its imperfections any longer. "Breach of Faith: A Catholic Betrayal" is the religious memoir of William Overstreet Field about his departure from the Catholic church where he once served as a priest and how he soon became an Episcopal priest instead. Telling his views on the church and what prompted his sudden change of heart, "Breach of Faith" is intelligent writing on the divide within the singular religion of Christianity.

Jonathan Chamberlain
Long Island Press
9780954596019, $34.50

With modern medicine, Cancer is no longer a death sentence. "Cancer: The Complete Recovery Guide" is an inspirational guide dedicated to battling cancer and doing everything one can to fight the disease and hopefully overcome it. Doing its best to arm the reader with knowledge from everything about the various tests one must endure when faced with cancer to possible lifestyle alterations to various treatment methods, it lets the reader know that knowledge is power and to never give up. With many heart wrenching and heart warming stories as well, "Cancer: The Complete Recovery Guide" is a must for anyone who fears the dreadful diagnosis.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

One Inch Above the Water
Jim Payne
c/o Vertitas Communications
PO Box 2075, Canon City, CO 81215
9780915728190, $14.95,

Tom Sawyer is a tale of a unique lifestyle of a nineteenth century boy, but one man has taken his life style and chose to live it in the twenty first. "One Inch Above the Water: Running Away on America's Rivers" is the memoir of one Jim Payne, who has chosen to live his life in the spirit of Tom Sawyer, rafting down from the Hudson river down through the great Mississippi. A fascinating story of adventure about a man who ran away for his mid-life crisis, "One Inch Above Water" is surely worth reading.

Silent Cal's Almanack
David Pietrusza, editor
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781438245409, $14.95

Silent Cal's Almanack: The Homespun Wit and Wisdom of Vermont's Calvin Coolidge is an absorbing compendium of eloquent, pithy, insightful, and intelligent quotes from Calvin Coolidge, a.k.a. "Silent Cal", America's 30th President. Cal's thoughtful verbal gems are arranged by topic, and include "There can be no national greatness which does not rest upon the personal integrity of the people," and "Selfishness is only another name for suicide." Also present are some more questionable comments that reveal Cal's personal biases (he was unquestionably a product of his time), such as "Savages have no history," and "Religion has laid the foundation of government." A fifty-page portfolio of black-and-white photographs, editorial cartoons, and campaign memorabilia as well as an original biographical essay of Silent Cal round out this treasury, enthusiastically recommended to anyone seeking to better understand the mind of America's most notoriously nonvocal president.

4004 BC
Jack Cole
Infinity Publishing
1094 New DeHaven Street, Suite 100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
9780741445629, $10.95,

Genesis, the creation story for the Abrahamic religions leaves a lot of questions unanswered. "4004 BC" seeks to retell the story through a long epic poem combining the Biblical language alongside the modern tongue. With creative twists to make it an entertaining way to fill in the blanks, "4004 BC" may be worth a poetry reader's time.

Old-Earth Creationism on Trial
Tim Chaffey & Jason Lisle
Master Books
c/o New Leaf Publishing Group
PO Box 276, Green Forest, AR 72638
9780890515440, $12.99,

Does a Christian have to totally shun science? "Old-Earth Creationism on Trial: The Verdict is In" takes a new approach to the creation of the Earth that looks to appease both science and Christian faith and discusses the topic in great detail, going over the many topics within the issue. Covering both the prosecution and defense, "Old-Earth Creationism on Trial" looks at a different opinion and discusses with spiritual and scholarly intent, recommended.

Economic Parables
David Cowan
1820 Jet Stream Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
B&B Media Group (publicity)
109 South Main Street, Corsicana, TX 75110
9781932805727, $14.99,

No one has ever viewed Jesus Christ as a financial advisor- until now. "Economics Parables: The Monetary Teachings of Jesus Christ" tells of the carpenter's sage and wise advice when it came to the world of economics and how even today his wisdom can help people get their money in order. A new spin on the esteemed prophet and his teachings, "Economic Parables" is a solid read for the money-interested Christian.

Life After College
Chachanna Simpson
PO Box 2399, Bangor, ME 04402-2399
9781601454959, $14.95,

You get a degree, are in serious debt from student loans and you're out in the real world. Now what? "Life After College: What Your Parents and Professors Never Taught You" is a guide to breaking out and getting started and putting one's hard-earned degree to use in establishing oneself as a independent, self-sufficient member of society. A solid financial and personal guide, "Life After College" is a solid gift for anyone who has graduation in their near future.

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

The Little Book Of Secrets
Chris Prentiss
Power Press
6428 Meadows Court, Malibu, CA 90265
Yorwerth Associates (publicity)
410 Fieldstone Drive, Bozeman, MT 59715
9780943015583, $9.95,

We all of us have access to the accumulated wisdom of the ages if we will only take the time to do so. Just such a compilation is "The Little Book Of Secrets: Gentle Wisdom For Joyful Living", compiled with commentary by Chris Prentiss (Co-Director of the passages Addiction Cure Center, Malibu, California) and showcases 81 sayings which have stood the test of time and the practical realities of the world we live in. The citations cover a multitude of issues ranging from the intensely personal to the collegiately social and are elegantly presented principles furnishing a sound foundation for being able to discover, discern, decipher, and develop a life attitude and a life style that will enhance our appreciation for life and what it offers us all regardless of our present circumstances or future challenges. An exceptional portable pocket book that can be readily and easily taken everywhere and anywhere, "The Little Book Of Secrets" is especially recommended for personal and community library Self-Help & Self-Improvement reference collections and reading lists. 'Secret 54: Knowledge is the key to Freedom': Knowing how to earn a living frees you from poverty. Knowing how to keep health frees you from sickness. Knowing how to entertain yourself frees you from boredom. Knowing the path of the knowledgeable, successful person frees you from misfortune, failure, and suffering.

Iraq Through a Bullet Hole
Isaam Jameel
Modern History Press
c/o Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
9781932690705, $19.95,

There have been many different viewpoints on the Iraq War. Isaam Jameel hasn't had the best experience himself. "Iraq Through a Bullet Hole: A Citizen Returns Home" tells his story of how he finally returned to his home country after a twelve year exile from the previous regime of Sadaam Hussein. A tragic tale full of unfortunate events, racism, negligence, and more, Jameel offers a different viewpoint on the Iraqi conflict. "Iraq Through a Bullet Hole" is a must for any studying the Iraq war.

Casting Out Fear
Victor Van Valin
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432709969, $16.95,

People so often model themselves after the desires of those around them, but is that really the best way? "Casting Out Fear: Shedding Your Fictional Self, Awakening Your Authentic Self" is a self-help guide dedicating to making one expose the true self that they too often keep hidden from the world, instead creating a fictional persona they show the world, hoping to pass it off as their true selves. Encouraging readers to be true to themselves and ignoring the judgment of others, Valin brings an enlightening and positive message in "Casting Out Fear".

9/11 and Home
Mark Paulson
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515,. Parker, CO 80134
9781432710774, $13.95,

The tragedy of 9/11 had huge repercussions, but many people forget the stories of the various smaller events that happen as a result of the story. "9/11 and Home" tells the story of a beaten down and exhausted lawyer and his story about trying to return home to Newark New Jersey. But the inconsiderate acts of several terrorists seem to give him a heck of a time getting home. An irreverent and unusual, but uniquely entertaining story that doesn't downplay the tragedy, "9/11 and Home" is a recommended telling of Paulson's tale, highly recommended.

Escape From the Pharma Drug Cartel
Kimberly Cheryl
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515,. Parker, CO 80134
9781432712808, $17.95,

America, despite having the best doctors in the world, is ranked very low in overall health care. "Escape from the Parma Drug Cartel" tells Kimberly Cheryl's story of dealing with the vicious and sadistic American health care system, which virtually tortures people at a time when they need the help the most. Dragged into the poor house after once being the spitting image of the American dream, Cheryl tells a story and offers ideas to help America revise its care for its own people. "Escape from the Pharma Drug Cartel" is saddening, yet thought provoking reading, recommended.

The Last Shall Be First
Charles N. Smith
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432727918, $12.95,

As our new President-elect Barack Obama has become a political icon to millions of men and women both here at home and around the world. In "The Last Shall Be First", Charles N. Smith (Vice President for Student Affairs at Alabama State University) has written an informed and informative book showcasing Obama's political positions as revealed through his activities as an Illinois state senator, as well as through an almost two year (and ultimately successful) candidacy for the American presidency. A superbly researched project and highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Political Science reference collections, "The Last Shall Be First" is especially recommended for the non-specialist general reader wanting to have a contextually accurate understanding of Obama's political positions and intentions with respect to both domestic issues and foreign affairs.

Michael J. Carson

Cheri's Bookshelf

Journaling as a Spiritual Practice: Encountering God through Attentive Writing
Helen Cepero
IVP Books
c/o InterVarsity Press
PO Box 1400 Downers Grove, Illinois 60515
9780830835195 $15.00

Whether you are a long time journal writer or just beginning this book will help make your journaling fresher, bring a closer walk with God and to better know yourself. Author Helen Cepero draws upon her own experiences, poetry, God's Word and illustrations from others to form a unique guideline in the art of journaling. Not only will you learn about the how-tos of journaling but more importantly how to take a deeper and closer walk with God. This is one book you can't merely read but will be compelled to do. You will experience and learn such wisdom as discovering and making journaling a practice, looking closely at our life, listening closely to God, reflecting on our past, looking upon our present, how to dialogue journal, writing through suffering and healing, seeing God in the everyday as well as guidelines for starting a journaling group.

So as you sit with pen and journal be sure to add "Journaling as a Spiritual Practice" to your journaling time. Be sure to practice what you are reading and see how great journaling can become. This is a fantastic gem that you will need and desire to be part of your journaling and library that will never become outdated.

What Blues Music Teaches Us about Suffering and Salvation
Stephen J. Nichols
Brazos Press
c/o Baker Publishing Group
PO Box 6287 Grand Rapids, Michigan 49516
9781587432125 $17.99

What a fantastic little book on the Blues! Not only do you feel the history but the spiritual growth of the Blues. Author Stephen J. Nichols does an amazing job as he takes you on an incredible journey to the beginning of the Mississippi Delta Blues. You'll read about the musicians such as Muddy Waters, Son House, Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Ma Rainey, Blind Willie Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson. You'll read how the Blues transcends the barrier of other styles of
music and musicians such as Johnny Cash, W. C. Handy, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. Not only that you'll see the depth of the Delta Blues into the love and life of Jesus and the Bible and that is the key of this book.

Suffering and Salvation are at the very heart of the Blues and "Getting the Blues" does not miss a beat of that heart. This book is extremely well written and would be perfect for solo learning or group discussion or classroom study. So whether you are a historian, Christian, a lover of the Blues and especially if you are all three this is one book you won't want to miss!

Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You
Sam Gosling P.H. D
Basic Books
c/o Perseus Books Group
Eleven Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142, 1-800-242-7737
9781846680182 $25.00

What does your bathroom, office, bedroom or quirks say about you? How do you rate on the OCEAN scale of openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism? Find out this and so much more in this book called "Snoop". Learn how to be a snooper to snoop out a person you've just met, a first date or even old friend s. See how little clues about yourself or someone else can give away so much. Author Sam Gosling takes you on a remarkable journey in the how-tos of becoming a snooper. This is an easy to read guide into the scientific tests used to understand people on a bigger scale. Amazingly, even though written by a college professor, this book does not read like a text book which is one of the excellent great points about this book. Even though it doesn't read like a textbook this book would still be perfect for a classroom study or individual studies in the world of human behavior.

Gosling is not a novice to this idea but has been researching the human traits for ten years. Using such tests as OCEAN, Test of Familiarity or OCQ Over-Claiming Questionnaire and Self-Deceptive Enhancement as well as working with other professors, scientists and students have proven that even in the secret lives of bedroom closets, under beds, messy or not desks, web pages, or even handshakes just about everything about our everyday lives can tell others who we really are. So bottom line this is an outstanding read whether for research or just plain fun check out "Snoop" and become a super snooper!

An Irishwoman's Tale
Patti Lacy
Kregel Publications
PO Box 2607 Grand Rapids, Michigan 49501
9780825429873 $13.99

Her first memory was not a happy one. Hidden in a corner of the Irish home as adults some she knew - many she did not, decided her fate. She was only five years old and these people where deciding her fate to send her away-away from the Irish cliffs she loved, the people who were family, her loving Mam to someplace in America.

Mary Freeman has struggled all her life to understand herself, her past, her family. Why was she sent away that day, was she loved or wasn't she? The drinking, the voices, the struggles and trying to love the only mother and father in her life has made her life so confusing. She knows she must go back-back to the Irish foothills to find out who she is and to answer all the questions that are taking over her life. She must not only for herself but for her daughters.

What an amazing tale! Based on a true story author Patti Lacy takes readers on an amazing journey of love, forgiveness, strength and fears all in facing the truth through God's grace, God's path, God's time. Lacy has an awesome way of drawing readers in as the story unwinds in America as well as the past of Ireland. Woven within the pages are the grace and mercy of God's teachings. As the author tells us in the Author's Note at the back of the book the scriptural foundation of "An Irishwoman's Tale" is Romans 8:28 and Matthew 6:14 that trust in God will get us all through the struggles of life. Also included are discussion questions perfect for readers groups.

This being Lacy's first novel will leave you anxiously waiting and hoping for more as you can't help but love this outstanding tale of the twists and turns, ups and downs of life's struggles that some may even relate to. So whatever you do don't miss "An Irishwoman's Tale" and don't let your friends either as this is a must read!

Cheri Clay

Christy's Bookshelf

Aging with Gentle Attitude
Evelyn Horan
PO Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705-0151
1606725424 $24.95

Aging with Gentle Attitude by acclaimed author Evelyn Horan is a delightful book filled with essays for seniors regarding the aging process. With a nice touch of humor and wistful reminisces, Horan gracefully leads her readers toward an important message concerning living in today's changing world. Although this may be a book targeting senior citizens, it clearly is a must-have, must-read for any age group. Horan covers many subjects of interest, from coping with loneliness to helping raise grandchildren to facing holidays without a loved one. Fun quizzes are included, along with an abundance of insightful advice on how to deal with growing older. The author's witty prose will thoroughly entertain her readers as they absorb this valuable text.

Camp Follower
Suzanne Adair
Whittler's Bench Press
PO Box 7183, Wilmington, NC 28406
9780978526542 $19.95

Sold at the age of 17 to a colonial merchant, Helen Chiswell soon finds herself widowed after her husband is killed in a duel. Since her husband's death, Helen barely makes a living writing a society column for a Wilmington newspaper. When her publisher offers financial compensation to travel to the British Legion encampment to interview and write about Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, Helen quickly agrees. Although the funds promised are much needed, Helen is excited at the chance to prove her worth as a journalist. Lt. Dunstan Fairfax, aware Helen's lover is David St. James, a renowned rebel, is more than willing for Helen to pose as his sister while she travels with him into the backcountry of North Carolina. Helen embarks on a treacherous journey, unaware that her publisher has devious reasons for sending her into danger and that Fairfax is intent on proving her a spy while capturing St. James.

Adair takes her reader on an exciting adventure, filled with historical fact wrapped around an intriguing plot. Once more, Dunstan Fairfax does not disappoint as the bloodthirsty British officer who delights in torture and murder. Helen Chiswell makes for an interesting character, a woman dealing with demons from her past while trying to make the best of the situation she has been forced into.

Death Will Get You Sober
Elizabeth Zelvin
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312375898, $23.95

Bruce Kohler has been in and out of detox centers most of his adult life. On Christmas day, he isn't too surprised to find himself in another center, this one on the Bowery in New York City. Bruce quickly befriends fellow patient Godfrey Kettleworth, III, a man on the outs with his rich family and not too popular with the staff. While in detox, an alcoholic with terminal cancer is found dead in the laundry room and Godfrey dies right before Bruce's eyes. With the help of his lifetime friend Jimmy and Jimmy's girlfriend Barbara, a counselor who has worked at the Bowery before, Bruce begins his own investigation into these two mysterious deaths, which unravels a murderous pattern among detox centers in New York and places his own life in jeopardy.

Zelvin's debut novel provides the reader with an insightful peek into the mind and life of an alcoholic trying to stay sober, as well as AA's 12-step program. The characters are intriguing and well-developed, especially alcoholic Bruce who faces a continual battle to refrain from drinking, and Barbara, a codependent counselor with a witty sense of humor. The plot moves at a fast pace with plenty of twists and turns and suspicious characters lurking about, all set within the glorious backdrop of New York City. This entertaining mystery is sure to draw fans anxious to read future books by this talented author.

Exploring Beauty: It Isn't Only Skin Deep
Joanne Strobert
Destiny Press
7302 W Angela Dr, Glendale, AZ 85308-8510
9780615225135, $14.95

A plethora of self-help beauty guides are published yearly, and, although this book falls into that category, it is a welcome anomaly among those other cookie-cutter beauty publications. Written in a folksy style, Strobert manages to convey her message in such a way that readers will feel they are personally interacting with the author. Strobert's positive, nonjudgmental prose deals with all aspects involving women and their perceptions of beauty. One of this reviewer's favorite chapters dealt with the author's dogs and what they have taught her about perceiving attractiveness.

Exploring Beauty would be an important addition to any woman's (no matter the age) personal library. In today's body-beautiful-focused world, where women are judged by standards that are almost impossible to achieve, this refreshing book hopefully will reach readers struggling with this issue and help them to understand there's more to beauty than one's body style or face. It is further hoped such a vitally important message can reach prepubescent and teenage girls, who are greatly influenced by a media that focuses excessively on outer beauty and looking forever young.

Christy Tillery French

Clark's Bookshelf

The Lucky One
Nicholas Sparks
Grand Central Publishing
9780446579933 $24.99

Nicholas Sparks has been captivating readers with unforgettable love stories for over a decade. His new release, The Lucky One, comes next after Nights in Rodanthe, an earlier Spark's novel adapted into a screen play that is currently showing and starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane.

The hero of this story is Logan Thibault, a United States Marine, who served three tours of duty in Iraq. On his last tour in Iraq, he finds a photo of a beautiful young lady in the sand. He displays the picture on the base bulletin board, but no one claims it. Since there was no claimant for the picture, he carries it in his pocket.

Victor, his best Marine buddy, insists the photo is Logan's lucky charm that will bring him good luck and he should carry it always. After winning poker games, surviving deadly battles, and then losing his closest friends, he returns home to Colorado with his lucky photo intact. Later, Logan cannot get the photo out of his mind and with his dog Zeus; he embarks on a adventurous cross country trek on foot to discover his destiny.

During his travels he analyzes the photo and notices three extremely large pine trees in the background which lead him to Hampton, North Carolina where he meets Elizabeth Clayton and her son Ben. Elizabeth is the woman in the picture. Logan's secret of the photo stays with him during the beginnings of their relationship.

Logan obtains work as a dog trainer for Elizabeth and her mother. He befriends Ben and replaces the father-son relationship which formerly had been with his real dad. This bond waned because Ben did not live up to the father's expectations of a jock, as he liked to play chess and the violin.

As Thibault' s relationship turns to love, Elizabeth's ex-husband, Keith Clayton, the Sheriff of Hampton, interferes and manipulates their lives to his benefit. Conflict abounds in this love story with an exciting conclusion for these three main characters that invigorate the human heart. The Lucky One is a meaningful novel for the romantic in all of us which would make an inspiring movie.

Scheisshaus Luck: Surviving the Unspeakable in Auschwitz and Dora
Pierre Berg with Brian Brock
American Management Association
9780814412992 $24.95

Pierre Berg of Nice, France while 17, and with aspirations of being a hairdresser and a ladies man would never imagine that the unspeakable could happen to him. While visiting a friend who had a shortwave radio they both were sent to Nazi Concentration camps because the Gestapo banned all shortwave radio broadcasting. Pierre and his friend made broadcasts of Laurel and Hardy only to neighbors, but the Nazi's suspected them of making long range broadcasts. Pierre was sent to Auschwitz and his friend was never heard from again.

Written with the assistance of Brian Brock, the story unfolds with twists and turns, in a style that reads like a novel, yet is really fatal for many of the people portrayed. Berg's life is spared once due to the shaky hand of another prisoner who tattoos required numbers on his arm. One of the numbers is misread by a guard when he reports a serious infraction which Berg commits. This leads to the death by hanging of another prisoner instead of Berg because of the wrong number. After many months have passed, Berg learns of the death of this unfortunate prisoner. He attributes this to his outhouse luck!

He wears his camp stripes with a red triangle which connotes that he is not Jewish! Pierre Berg is a gentile! Interestingly, these events were written 50 years ago and the manuscript was put aside. Until recently, there was little interest in a tale written by a non-Jew. However, Berg in recent times has encountered many statements made by anti-Semitic people who have tried to raise doubts about the reality of the holocaust. Berg personally saw and experienced people who were killed for slight infractions, he witnessed starvation and death, and he also endured a death march. While all of this material was fresh in his mind, he wrote this narrative shortly after he obtained freedom.

What makes this book fascinating is Berg's fluency in several languages, including German. Germans did not know he understood them and he often used this advantage in saving lives of others.

This book is highly recommended.

Beaufort Falls: Nothing is what it seems, in. . . .
Mari Sloan
It's ME! Ink Press
9780979858307 $19.95

Beaufort Falls is the first published novel written by Mari Sloan. The setting is in a small southern town in Alabama during the 1970's.

"This was the country everybody left to go somewhere else, leaving the town with two filling stations, a school and fourteen churches, but few residents."

The author cleverly keeps you reading while she takes you on a fast-paced paranormal ride and exploits family dysfunction at its worst. Written in a very descriptive style, Mari brings passion and intensity to her characters. Then, you empathize with them.

As the forces of good and evil unravel to expose the secret of Beaufort Falls, you will become fascinated and emotionally affected as this town becomes unhinged.

J. D. Parsons, town mechanic, while raising his two young daughters encounters many mysterious happenings. J D is an evil man who abuses his children; physically and mentally while pretending to be religious. His dead wife, Eliza, returns from her grave to protect her girls from evil and to avenge her murder. While on earth as a spirit she also searches for her lost baby.

J D is stalked by a white furry dog with supernatural powers, deadly spider attacks, and venomous snake bites, but these torments have no effect upon him and so he lives through many attempts at his demise! He also reluctantly relinquishes Molly to a social worker who sends her to a local psychiatric hospital. There, she meets wonderful children who will tear at your heart strings. These lonely youngsters band together for salvation and in unity of purpose they protect Molly.

Eliza haunts her maniacal murderer and influences her demented ex-lover Charlie to avenge her own death. Charlie and Eliza previously had an extra marital relationship which resulted in her giving birth to Charlie's child while married to Parsons.

Vividly shown are the effects of cruelty and neglect upon children. However, Sloan has made this story whimsical, entertaining, and funny when you confront death and the spirit world. This book is in the stylistic nature of becoming a Hollywood movie thriller.

A Tale Out Of Luck
Willie Nelson with Mike Blakely
Center Street
a division of Hachette Book Group
9781599957326 $21.99

This is the first novel by music legend Willie Nelson, co-authored with Mike Blakely. Willie built the town of Luck, Texas, which inspired A Tale Out of Luck.

Captain Hank Tomlinson, a well-respected retired Texas Ranger, owner of the Broken Arrow Ranch is the main character. He is also known as a famous Indian fighting lawman.

The epic tale opens with a mysterious drifter, Wes James, a horse rustler, being found bludgeoned to death and scalped. Hank believes this murder resembles a strange string of murders from his past when he investigated them. Hank is concerned there will be Indian uprisings. He and his son Jay Blue, together with his adopted brother Skeeter, who has never known his parents, are enmeshed in many dangerous confrontations, too big for them to handle alone.

Hank's prized Kentucky mare has gone missing and he suspects she jumped the corral fence following El Grullo, aka "The Steel Dust Gray". This stallion is believed to be a ghost and is feared by the Comanche. Trailing the missing horse develops heightened excitement in the desert and in the meantime he tracks James' killer. He believes the Comanche are not involved. Hank's love interest, Flora Barlow, owner of the Luck saloon, eavesdrops on conversations in her establishment and gathers important information for Hank in his quest to find the killer.

Colorful heroes make this story appealing while they face incredible odds. A strange hero emerges, Jubal Hayes, an albino-looking man with an uncanny ability to attract horses to follow him. Others include fierce black troopers who come to the aid of Hank and his crew. Matt Kenyon, new lawman in town, jails Hank and his son. He is instrumental in bringing justice to the new frontier.

Jack Brennan, a deceitful and powerful man incites a deadly battle between soldiers and Indians demonstrating that fighting is definitely unnecessary when wrongfully provoked.

Unusual and fascinating characters abound in this Texas town, making a great old-fashioned western. Just imagine, bullets flying, arrows whizzing, blazing horse barns, and a realistic final bloody battle between Indians, soldiers, outlaws, and lawmen!

Clark Isaacs

Daniel's Bookshelf

The Wheel of Darkness
Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446618687 $7.99 1-800-486-8666

I await all the stories by these two authors in hope of a good adventure novel laced with mystery and suspense. I enjoyed this stand alone novel with its main characters Aloysius Pendergast and Constance Green. The story takes you from the Himalayan Mountains to a Northern Atlantic luxury ocean liner Britannia with a paranormal plot twist that revolves right into the main character's personality and character. The evil villain in the story leads our main characters tracking him down to an ocean liner cruise, and the action adventure continues to unfold. I enjoyed the escapism of the read and as usual thought the story flowed with a few bumps throughout the story-line.

Authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have joined up writing some of my favorite novels from Relic and their solo author books have also entertained me with adventure, mystery, suspense, and interesting and claustrophobic settings within their own worlds. The characters have moved into two story-type groupings. The Pendergast novel and the non-Pendergast novels. Some of the characters appear in both and are introduced and join future novels. Others have appeared solo and unless the authors continue them in a future novel one might not see them again. Nora Kelly was introduced in a non-Pendergast novel Thunderhead and appears in most of the later Pendergast novels. Their new novel will be released in early summer 2009 and its title is Cemetery Dance. I have enjoyed all of their novels, and I find them to be welcomed writings to balance out my usual forensic and procedural detective novels. These occasionally delve into suspense and good who-done-it mystery novels. Their novels are in a special non-typical class leaning towards a thriller with unusual settings and an interesting main hero.The hero comes across as very astute with a personal droll humor and sharp mind with a certain charm. I eagerly await their new tale which will continue after the Wheel of Darkness with special agent Aloysius Pendergast and most likely Constance Green.

Free Fire
C. J. Box
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
370 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425221242, $7.99,

I admit this is my first book reading from this author, and although I have read some novels by Nevada Barr, and I have enjoyed her writings, I found the setting in the outdoor setting did explore different forensic detective work with this book's main character. He is Joe Pickett along with his park escort Judy Demming assigned to shadowing him on an investigation in Yellowstone National Park. They are searching for clues on a multiple murder case, and although fired from his job at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, he is re-instated as a game warden by the governor to get answers. This is based on Joe being respected by the governor having integrity, and ability to getting to the bottom of things. Another compliment by known by the governor, that Joe was able to think on his feet. Joe also knows the territory, and the story is an enjoyable. It could have been a little more suspenseful and closer to a thriller-type novel. His stories do seem to be a lot less fluff than others out there in the market.

C. J. Box is attributed to writing the Joe Pickett Mystery Novels, and his books will interest the reader with an interesting setting with the parks. The outdoor territory gives the reader an adventure draped with beautiful country side and mountainous wilderness also placing the characters in natural dangers. I will continue to explore some of his earlier works, and I look forward for author's escapism with his novels covering the interesting outdoor mystery settings.

Daniel Allen

Debra's Bookshelf

Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief
Bill Mason
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780375760716, $14.95,

Bill Mason had me in his book's prologue, in which he describes at length how he stole a fortune in jewelry from Armand Hammer's Fort Lauderdale apartment. The job entailed a harrowing walk--in the dark, during a storm--along the slippery ledge that skirted Hammer's building, 18 inches wide and 15 stories up. This particular heist is just one of many carefully planned, often extremely dangerous, and highly lucrative robberies that Mason details in his autobiography, Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief, which was first published in 2003 (and was co-written with Lee Gruenfeld). For much of his life Mason was a sort of gentleman thief, who pocketed the jewelry flaunted by the rich and famous--the list of his victims reads like a passenger manifest from the Love Boat--and who never carried a weapon or took part in violent crimes. Mason lays bare his criminal record in Confessions (the statute of limitations has run out on all his crimes), but he also discusses the uglier side of his lifestyle, the effect that his avocation (he never really needed the money) had on his family.

Simply put, this is one of the most interesting books I've ever read. Mason's discussions of his various scores are riveting, inherently dramatic and very well told:

"I'd envisioned the whole trip with my back to the wall, but after about ten feet of futilely wiping rain from my eyes and imagining my feet sliding out from under me in a heel-to-toe direction, I turned around and hugged the wall instead. I wiggled my feet slightly with each step, feeling for any changes in traction, and the way my shoes were sliding on that slick surface started up a sickening feeling in my belly."

The details he provides about the logistics of his criminal undertakings are also fascinating. He writes about picking locks, for example, and "prospecting" for leads and negotiating with fences. And I love the book's prose style, which is straightforward and lucid.

One of course has qualms about what Mason did, not only to his victims but even more so to his family. But the author has qualms too. His book is a thoughtful, very honest consideration of the life he's led, and clearly the product of a great deal of painful introspection. Nor does Mason make any excuses for his actions: he's one of the bad guys, and he says as much. But he could have been worse.

Confessions drags a bit in its final chapters, but that's the only negative in an otherwise extraordinary book. This one reminds me of how rewarding a great piece of nonfiction can be.

Lost Dog
Bill Cameron
Midnight Ink
2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125-2989
9780738709666, $13.95,

Out for his early morning jog, Peter McKrall searches the playground behind his house for his niece's stuffed dog, which she'd left behind there the day before. He doesn't find it, but he does stumble on a corpse, a woman covered in newspapers and hidden inside a concrete tube. A bout of vomiting and a call to 911 later and Peter's telling his story to the police, and beginning to look like a suspect himself. Peter's got a history of small-time crimes and is wont to antagonize the police unnecessarily. Besides, it's not the first corpse he's ever found.

Lost Dog is told from the perspectives of both Peter and the real killer, Jake. The latter is a young guy with a tenuous hold on reality at best who appears, at least at first, to have no rational motive for his crimes. The chapters told from his point of view are expletive-filled rants that do, however, finally cohere to give us some insight into his insane thought processes. Peter and Jake can be seen as reverse images of one another--both have unusual relationships with their dominant sisters; one man flirts with lawlessness but hasn't crossed to the dark side while the other's long gone; one comes from a happy home and the other is the product of dysfunction.

Lost Dog is a decent enough read, but there were a couple things that bothered me about it. In parts the dialogue does not seem realistic--that between Peter and his sister, for example, between some of the policemen. More troublesome, though, is that Peter does a few truly stupid things which either make him look even more guilty to the police or put his life in peril. One stupid thing in particular leads to the book's denouement--so it serves a narrative purpose--but it's very hard to believe that Peter would not have anticipated the potential for danger in what he was doing. Not a bad read, though, and Peter--after a rough start--turns out to be a likable protagonist.

The Blackstone Key
Rose Melikan
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781416560807, $14.00,

Mary Finch's great adventure begins in 1795, when she leaves her teaching position at Mrs. Bunbury's school for young ladies to visit her only relative, a wealthy uncle from whom her father, now dead some three years, had long been estranged. Mary hopes that her uncle's summons implies an interest in reconciliation, and with that in view she travels alone, her determination to do so the first sign of her unusual pluck. But the journey is not without incident, and Mary finds herself swept up in a mystery that starts with the incomprehensible warnings of a dying man and involves Mary in the seedy worlds of smuggling and espionage and, not least, the polite society of Suffolk. Along the way she encounters two eligible bachelors--the eminently practical Captain Holland and Mr. Deprez, late of the West Indies. But which of the two is the more trustworthy is itself a mystery that eludes Mary for the better part of the book.

The Blackstone Key is the first in a proposed trilogy. The second installment is due out in 2009, and that is very good news indeed: Rose Melikan's debut novel is a delightful read. Mary is a likable heroine, a feisty orphan who struggles politely against the mores of her day. The book offers both mystery and romance--both engaging, and both played out against a backdrop of war with France. The book is written as a pseudo-Victorian novel, with its intricate sentences and attention to the manners of the day. It is a slow read, so you should not undertake it if you're in the mood for a plot that will grab you by the throat. This is, rather, a book to relish over tea, with your feet up and an afternoon at your disposal.

i Before e (Except After c)
Judy Parkinson
Readers Digest
9780762109173, $14.95,

Judy Parkinson's I Before E is a collection of hundreds of mnemonic techniques and tips, divided by theme among 16 chapters. The book covers mnemonics related to the English language, for example, and to geography and world history, science, religion, the calendar, and so on. Some of the devices included will be familiar to readers, but not all. Everybody knows that Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge, for example, but we may not all be familiar with the order in which the Smart People of Athens lived, that is, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. The majority of the tricks included in the book are acronyms such as those two examples. But Parkinson also includes poems and other miscellaneous tricks, like using your knuckles to remember how many days are in each month, or memorizing a poem to remember the value of pi to 31 places, or using Fibonacci number to convert (roughly) miles to kilometers. The mnemonic devices that are not based on acronyms seem to me to be the more useful because they are less easy to develop on one's own. The book is short so it's not very hard to find specific tricks, but its helpfulness would be improved by the inclusion of an index.

Would this book be helpful for the student in your life? Maybe. While some of the tricks included will be familiar, most will not, and everyone could benefit from at least a few of them. On the other hand, no one could possibly need or remember them all. And some are surely more ingenious than helpful: it seems easier to simply remember how to spell the word "beautiful," for example, than to remember the technique suggested for remembering it--Big Elephants Are Usually BEAUtiful. The book, particularly as it's an attractive volume, would probably serve well as a gift for a student or teacher.

Shot Girl
Karen E. Olson
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451225498, $6.99,

Crime hits close to home in Shot Girl, the fourth installment in Karen E. Olson's series featuring New Haven Herald crime reporter Annie Seymour. This time the dead guy is Annie's ex, and she looks good for the crime: means, motive, and opportunity land her in an interrogation room downtown and off her usual beat, which she's forced to surrender to her personal nemesis, cub reporter Dick Whitfield, Meanwhile, Annie's become a person of interest to more than the local constabulary: she's attracted the attention of both an enigmatic male stripper ("Jack Hammer") and a too-good-to-be-true community organizer cum preacher. Plus she's got her very own stalker.

As with the previous Annie Seymour novels (Sacred Cows, Secondhand Smoke, and Dead of the Day), Shot Girl is firmly tied to its New Haven setting. This time Annie finds herself visiting her alma mater, Southern Connecticut State University (a couple blocks from my old apartment!), and West Rock Park, including one of its more prominent landmarks, Judges Cave (where the "Regicides" Edward Whalley and William Goffe hid from Charles II's minions in 1661). She also eats her way around the city, frequenting more restaurants in the course of a book than I have in a lifetime of living in the area.

Annie's closeness to the crime and her characteristically aggressive investigation doesn't sit well, as usual, with her old beau, Tom, who's heading up the police response. But her relationship with Vinnie isn't hurt by events. Indeed, though still foul-mouthed and cynical--and perhaps we see the root of that cynicism in this outing--Annie's softening a bit with each book, a welcome development.

Shot Girl is another nicely-plotted, solid installment in the series.

Debra Hamel, Reviewer

Gary's Bookshelf

Code Name Kill Zone
William W. Johnstone
Kensington Publishing Corp
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022
0786016892 $5.99

This is a series of novels about covert operatives who are not affiliated with any government agency. Normally, series like this have characters who seem invincible and the only conflict is between the good guys and the bad ones. This book is very different. The first thing I noticed is that one of the members of the team is killed in the line of duty, while a high profile senator from Washington D.C. is out to get the team anyway he can. I'm amazed that this writer who has authored over 130 novels in many genres has written so many books without losing quality.

Blood of Angels
Robert J. Randisi
c/o Dorchester Publishing Co. Inc
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0843954760 $6.99

Boys in Chicago are being kidnapped and murdered, while in S. Louis someone is taking girls and killing them. Detective Joe Keough whose beat is normally St Louis has been reassigned to a serial killer task force based in Washington D. C. He and his partner Harriet Conners feel there is a connection between the Chicago and St. Louis cases. Randisi again has written a fast paced thriller that is an addition to the series of novels about Joe Keough.

Predators & Prayers
Philip Carlo
c/o Dorchester Publishing Co. Inc
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0843955767 $6.99

Several priests are murdered. It is later learned that for a long time they had molested children. The police on the case follow the killer all the way to Rome where he intends to kill the Pope because he feels the church has not done everything it can to stop the rash of pedophile pastors around the United States. I had conflicting emotions for the man about killing church members in this very well written thriller. I like how the author has interwoven his story with real events of how the church is covering up by sending the offenders to other locations in the country, instead of working with law enforcement agencies to put an end to this kind of activity.

Persuasive Evidence
R. Barri Flowers
c/o Dorchester Publishing Co. Inc
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0843954698 $6.99

Assistant District Attorney Jordan La Fontaine has worked very hard to get the position of Chief of the Homicide Division. For Jordan everything is perfect until her son is charged and tried for murder. She knows he's innocent so she decides to investigate on her own to find the real killer. This is a great legal novel by a new voice in the field.

Justice Served
R. Barri Flowers
c/o Dorchester Publishing Co. Inc
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0843955627 $6.99

There is a murderer loose on the streets of Portland. Each case is different, but there is one common factor; each was on trial for domestic abuse but was released for whatever reason. The police track down every lead and find one suspect in particular is Criminal Court Judge Carole Cranston. This novel has lots of twists and turns and is a very fast read with believable characters and a very tense setting.

Live at 10:00 Dead at 10:15
Elsa Klensch
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10010
076534680X $6.99

I really like this novel that delves into the world of the fashion industry and goes behind the scene of the media and how it covers a story. Klensch's characters are very well defined and she moves her mystery along at a brisk pace. I enjoyed how she showed that many people were possible suspects of her victim, who just about everyone hated, and had some kind of motive. My only complaint is that I don't think we ever know the network her main character Sonya Iverson works for. Hopefully in other books Klensch will let us know which network it is.

Hi Fly Guy
Tedd Arnold
Cartwheel Books
c/o Scholastic Inc
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
0439639034 $5.99 212-343-6100

This is a wonderful kid's book that says a lot about friendship between two unlikely characters. Not only kids can read and enjoy this work, but also adults can add symbolism that can make it more enjoyable.

Green Weenies and Due Diligence
Ron Sturgeon
M. French Pub.
0971703116 $14.95

I learned a lot about business from this book that explains new terms that have come about in the last few years. The artwork of Ghan Wilson adds so much, collectors of Wilson's work will want to add this book to their compilation

Behind the Grand Drape 25 Years of Celebrity Backstage Adventures
Floyd Paulsen
Roadman Tech Services
Post Office Box 451, Frankton IN 46044
0976017504 $14.99

Someone on the back of the book said, "Stagehands always have great stories." I have to ask, Where are they? The author talks about driving a bus for a major rock star and how he cleaned it. On this expose he says he saved the best for last. If that's the best, then I have to say this book is full of it and just doesn't deliver what he implies. He has been around many famous people but rarely talks about them. And what he chooses to deal with are boring tales of his tasks that have little or nothing to do with the celebrities he lists in his contents.

The Devil You Know
Poppy Z. Brite
Gauntlet Press
5307 Arroyo St, Colorado Springs CO 80922
1887368779 $14.95

I've never read this author, but many people at conventions have raved highly about her writing. With this collection I see why she is held in such high esteem. She talks about each story, how long she's lived in New Orleans, the city itself, and other writers from there in her introduction. Brite has collected for the first time many stories with one central theme, highlighting the best elements of the city of New Orleans. The Coroner of New Orleans is a recurring character in many of her pieces. In one there is a spell to bring back to life a chef to keep the flavor of the city alive. In another there is a child's death that is strange. Brite has a way of locking on the reader and keeping the interest unlike many writers of modern horror. What also emerges with this collection is things are different in the Crescent City. Because Hurricane Katrina wiped out so much of this wonderful city, I highly recommend this collection to anyone who thinks that we should not rebuild this municipality. Brite clearly shows why it should rise again.

The Boss of the Swamp
Steven John Albin
1663 Liberty Dr., Bloomington In 47404-5161
1420824279 $14.95 800-839-8640

I'm often asked, "What do you look for in a novel?" A story should have a beginning, middle, and an end. I also like to have characters I have a feeling for. I have to say this book doesn't do either one of those things. In fact, the narrator is boring and the story, if you could call it that, is non-existent. I read with interest this teen novel but found very little to like about it. I have no name for the person telling about the people in the book. I do not know if the person is male or female what their family name is, or a name for the brother. All that is ever stated is "my brother" or "my mother". I tried very hard to find a story here, but have to say I felt like this was a stream of consciousness that isn't going anywhere.

Gary Roen

Gloria's Bookshelf

Lie Down with the Devil
Linda Barnes
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312332891, $24.95,

Carlotta Carlyle returns in the author's eleventh novel. The 6' tall redheaded guitar-playing ex-cop Boston PD cop/part-time cab driver/part-time private detective is now engaged to her mob-connected boyfriend, Sam Gianelli. Her relationship with her ex-boss, Captain Joseph Mooney, head of the Homicide Department, is the one constant in her life. They are close friends, having worked together for six years, both having resisted anything more personal, and it is this that led Mooney to give Gianelli a heads-up when the Feds have him in their sights for the murder of a young woman. Sam left the country and won't risk returning to the country, and Carlotta won't leave the States to join him. The title derives from an expression used by Carlotta's Jewish grandmother [her mother was Jewish, her father Catholic]: "He who lives with a devil becomes a devil," and Carlotta finds herself wondering if that now applies to her.

Carlotta is hired by a pretty young blonde woman to check on her fiance, to see if he is faithful to her. Not long after, that same young woman is found dead, and Carlotta is asked to identify the body since her business card was found on the body. Carlotta does so, but it is soon discovered that the woman is not who she claimed to be, and Carlotta becomes a suspect in her hit-and-run death.

The author has created a complex protagonist in this series, and this entry is no different. Carlotta finds her relationships with both Sam and Moody become strained. With respect to Sam, she wonders "How do you do monstrous things and not become a monster?" The Boston/Cape Cod/Vegas settings are strong and the characters well-drawn. Sam in this book is both pivotal and tangential, making only a few appearances, most telephonic. The reader is left wondering where the author will take them and their relationships from here, and looking forward to their return.

Tiny Little Troubles
Marc Lecard
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10010
9780312360221, $24.95,

The "tiny little troubles" of the title are in fact tiny little robots, more accurately 'nanobots,' microscopic in size, the creation of one Aaron Rogell. Aaron is a brilliant scientist [actually his wife, Amanda, herself an accomplished defense attorney, proclaims him to be "nearly as smart as he thought he was"] living with his wife and young daughter in a mini-mansion looking out over San Francisco Bay. His company, Rogeletec, has produced a 'bot with memory, "like the memory chip in your computer, but much, much smaller . . . . walking memory chips [which] allows them to be programmed for simple functions," able to reproduce virtually anything, including themselves. This in turn would allow a constant supply of new 'bots, a work force having no need for unions.

When Rogeletec becomes the target of mobsters who see its potential value, all hell breaks loose. Aaron's vulnerability lies in the fact that he has an insatiable sexual appetite, which includes activities with goats, strippers and toothless prostitutes. The novel is peopled with characters including a 6' tall prostitute named Aphrodite Anderson; a strip club manager named Pablo Clench, and his boss, Jimmy Cacapoulos; Rogeletec employees Aleister MacBlister, Philip Melaleuca, and Dan Funk; and assorted thugs whose names and/or aliases are George Patton, Arthur Murray, Patrick "Trick" Fitzpatrick, and some scary guys from a country called Kalimaha [who are, of course, referred to as Kalimahanese].

The book is filled with profanity and dark humor and outrageous situations, with assorted acts of violence sprinkled liberally throughout. The premise is a little off the wall but certainly original. There is a hilarious conclusion which reminded this reader of a French farce, assuming French farces include abundant mayhem. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Good People
Marcus Sakey
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780525950844 $24.95 800-847-5515,

Tom and Anna Reed are the "good people" of the title. They are going about their lives, frustratingly trying to start a family by any means possible, but so far unsuccessfully, despite infertility treatments and four failed in vitro procedures, leaving them grimly unhappy and heavily in debt.

Jack Witkowski, his brother Bobby, and their buddies Will and Marshall are the bad guys, petty and not-so-petty criminals who pull off an unexpectedly big score. Their lives intersect with that of the Reeds when the latter accidentally but fatefully stumble upon the nearly $400,000 cache of stolen money. The Reeds think to themselves: "It's not your money. It would be wrong." Then "Whose money is it? Why not mine? Why is it wrong?"

Uncertain what to do, but desperate and out of their depth, they think "If they went to the police, they risked everything. If they didn't, they risked their lives."

The detective who first investigates the crime, Chris Halden, sees solving it as a huge feather in his cap and boost to his career. "And all he had to do to get there was bring in a drug dealer . . . , four hundred grand in stolen cash, and two civilians dumb enough to try to keep it."

My stomach muscles clenched as the run-up proceeds to the inevitable confrontation. The pages are filled with nerve-tingling suspense, as should be expected from the man whose book last year, "The Blade Itself," was equally taut and well-written. It must be something in the waters of Lake Michigan and its environs, but we have read some wonderful novels by Chicago authors of late, e.g., Sean Chercover, Libby Fischer Hellmann, and Michael Harvey, and to that list must be added this extraordinary writer, Marcus Sakey.

I found myself torn between being unable to stop reading, mingled with anxiety at what would happen on the next page. Ultimately, it was no contest: I could not put this book down. Highly recommended.

Clean Cut
Lynda LaPlante
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781416586661, $15.00,

DI Anna Travis and DCI James Langton have worked on two cases together, both of them problematical at their end. Now, they have been living together for eighteen months. Their relationship and indeed their lives are unalterably changed when, as Langton is about to make an arrest, he sustains horrific wounds when attacked by a machete-wielding man. [The title derives from the wounds inflicted by that instrument.] Anna oversees his care while in rehabilitation and takes over that care in her small apartment after his release from the institution.

Theirs has been a symbiotic relationship: Earlier in his career, "Langston was promoted as a result of a report made by Jack Travis [Anna's policeman father]. In part, that was the reason why Langton had brought Anna onto his team for her first murder case. It was also the reason he had saved her career in the Red Dahlia investigation."

Anna joins a new murder team in Brixton investigating the death of a thirty-nine-year-old librarian whose body has been found by her twelve-year-old daughter. It is a difficult adjustment: "She found it all very depressing: so different from working alongside Langton, whose energy and tireless pressure on everyone around him always paid dividends. There had been numerous other cases she had been involved in before and after Langton; none of the SIOs ever matched him, or even came close." At the end of that case and when, against all odds, Langton returns to duty, he asks for her to join his new team.

The new case in puzzling manner seems to be related to the one Langton was working on when he was attacked: the murder of a teenage prostitute. There are several other murders, involving voodoo, pedophilia, and dismemberment including decapitation, and every line of inquiry turns into a dead end. There is also a lot of information about the problem of ever-increasing immigration, legal and otherwise, in England, as well as its troubled justice system, which at times I found to be overdone. Also constantly in the background is the question of how, or even if, the relationship between Travis and Langton will evolve.

I wanted to like this book much more than I did. I've long been a fan of this author's wonderful "Prime Suspect" series with Helen Mirren on PBS. I'd not read the previous Anna Travis mysteries, "Above Suspicion" and "The Red Dahlia," and the ending hints at another to follow. But I found the pace of this book to be much too slow, with the author constantly reviewing the plot to date, perhaps to lessen in the mind of the reader the complexity of the characters and the various unspeakable acts committed by them. Clarity does not always ensue. But, as always, others' mileage may vary.

Easy Meat
John Harvey
Bloody Brits Press
P.O. Box 3671, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-3671
9781932859591, $14.95,

In the eighth Charlie Resnick novel, the DI is facing a troubling case: That of a young boy, Nicky Snapes, who, during a home robbery, beat an elderly woman nearly to death as she was trying to protect her equally elderly husband. Nicky is put into care while charges against him are being weighed, and when things take a decided turn for the worse, the results are more tragic than Charlie or the reader could have imagined.

Snapes is the youngest of three being raised by his single-parent mother, and his choice of friends includes fourteen-year-old Martin, who "didn't seem to know what risk meant," at his tender age having already escaped from the facility where he had been incarcerated and promptly getting sent back there after his next criminal offense. Their squalid lives are realistically and rather depressingly portrayed.

There is a romantic interest introduced for Charlie in the person of Hannah Campbell, Nicky's teacher, who has her pocketbook stolen by Nicky shortly before the robbery of the senior citizens, but who remains sympathetic to the boy despite everything. Returning are the cops with whom Charlie works, including Lynn Kellogg, still recovering from her kidnapping over a year ago. Ill-concealed misogyny, racism and general prejudice are evident in the CID [as in the 'outside world']. And then one of their own is brutally murdered.

Resnick is a wonderful protagonist: a lover of good jazz and cats [both immediately endearing him to this reader], the former evidenced by the names given to the latter, jazz legends all: Dizzy, Miles, Pepper and Bud [who he calls 'eternally young and stupid'], and despite Charlie's statements that "he had no immediate family, unless you included the cats and he did not. Cats were cats and people were people and Resnick knew the difference, he was clear on that . . . Resnick reached out a hand to stroke the animal's glossy fur, but Dizzy turned away from his touch and, tail raised, presented Resnick with a fine view of his backside as he ran along the rail and then sprang down towards the door, anxious to be fed. A neat encapsulation, Resnick thought, of man's relationship with cats." He sits at his desk one morning with "dancing the last of several things occupying his mind. For no clear reason he could discern, unless it were the coffee in the cup that he was holding the words to an old Bessie Smith blues came filtering to the surface, something about waking up cold in hand," this last presaging the author's most recent novel in the series, appropriately enough entitled "Cold in Hand."

Beyond such charming moments, the author evokes visceral scenes of violence, as well as the occasional ones of tenderness. He makes clear why he says, near the last page, that "there's nothing people won't do to one another, if the circumstances are right. No dreadful thing." John Harvey is one of the best British writers on the scene today, and this series as good as any one can find. The book is highly recommended.

Written in Blood
Sheila Lowe
Obsidian Mystery
c/o Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451224873, $6.99,

Claudia Rose, a Southern California graphologist, is hired by Paige Sorensen to authenticate the signature on her late husband's will. He was many years her senior, and had died of a stroke six months ago. Paige is described by Claudia as, variously, a trophy wife, wounded widow, wronged stepmother and lonely woman seeking a confidante. Her stepchildren, all older than Claudia herself, have challenged the signature as a forgery, and his fortune as well as the Sorensen Academy, the private school his family had owned for generations and of which Claudia is the headmistress, are at stake. In the course of the relationship Claudia meets Annabelle Giordano, the sullen 14-year-old daughter of a movie producer with mob associations, still recovering from the tragic loss of her mother, an actress, eight years previously, who is a full-time resident of the school. The Academy is a residential and day school for wealthy young girls with special emotional needs.

With some assistance from her best friends, Kelly, a family law attorney, Zebediah, a forensic psychologist, and Joel Jovanic, an LAPD detective, Claudia tries to figure out how real are the threats made to Paige by the stepchildren whose hatred runs to virulence, and to Annabelle as well, with whom, against all she has been taught, she has forged a bond.

The author enlightens the reader on her somewhat unusual profession, one which she points out is an unlicensed one. At its most basic, she is a handwriting examiner, "always curious about personality and the way it revealed itself in the written word." This novel is the second in the series, and I was disappointed not to like it as much as I had the first, "Poison Pen," finding it weakly plotted and not as well-written and perhaps less engrossing and suspenseful than its predecessor. Nevertheless, it was an interesting read, and the profession shared by Claudia Rose and her creator certainly captures one's attention. I will look forward to seeing what the author has in store for her in her next adventure.

Gloria Feit

Gorden's Bookshelf

Rogue Angel, Gabriel's Horn
Alex Archer
A Gold Eagle Book
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373621316, $6.99,

There is a genre of stories that are pure escapism. You can usually find them in a series and low cost mass market publishing lines. They are not written for any literary reason. They are just fun action time fillers or small guilty pleasures. The Rogue Angel series is just such a series. You might be a little ashamed to admit that you like the story but it fills that sweet tooth need to just read something for fun and no other reason.

Archaeologist Annja Creed has the magical sword that Joan Arch had. Her world is filled with magic that is hidden from everyone else. While advising on a movie shoot in Prague, a group of men attack Annja. She soon finds out they were employed by a powerful man using the name of Saladin. Later she meets a street bum who claims to have known King Arthur who tells her she must find an ancient relic to keep a sleeping king from destroying the world. Another group of assassins, hired by a woman called Salome, tries to kill her and she runs not into hiding but in search of the relic. Using her historical sources, she traces the relic to Istanbul and a murderous climax.

Gabriel's Horn is the book you bring to the doctor's waiting room to keep you from climbing the walls. It is the story you hide with after your boss makes an impossible demand on your time or your co-workers leave you in the lurch. It fills this role to perfection. Its drawback is a very weak ending and the wait to find the next book in the series.

Bones to Ashes
Kathy Reichs
Pocket Star Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781416525653, $7.99,

Kathy Reichs is the reigning queen of the forensic mystery. Every story has enough differences for others in her series to give a freshness to the storytelling. Sure there are weaknesses but the ability to surprise and tell a slightly different story within a series outweighs the weakness.

Temperance Brennan is asked to look at the bones of a young Acadian girl. This brings back memories of summer vacations with an Acadian girl who suddenly disappears from her live without a trace. This is an especially painful memory because it happened shortly after the deaths of her brother and father. The bones haunt her with the possibility that they might be her childhood friend Evangeline. With her typical single minded focus she jumps into an investigation that spans decades and has left a trail of bodies.

If you like the forensic mystery genre, you have to read Reichs' Temperance Brennan stories. Bones to Ashes is a great addition to the series. The biggest weakness in the tale is the impossible coincidences between the past and current forensic investigations. The story could have been told with two investigative threads that only link together with Brennan's memories from her youth. The story is fast enough and detailed enough that this weakness is discovered as an afterthought to the story. Bones to Ashes is the best forensic novel I have read this year and I don't expect it to change unless I get a chance to read Devil Bones, which is Riechs' next story in the series that has yet to be published.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Harwood's Bookshelf

Living Without God
Ronald Aronson
2117 Fourth Street, Suite D, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781593761608 $25.00

I have long been aware that the number of nontheists in America is far higher than the 16 percent that is the highest figure professional pollsters have acknowledged. If 16 percent were willing to risk the social and economic consequences of coming out of the closet in a culture intimidated by religious McCarthyism, then the true figure must be at least twice that. Ronald Aronson's introduction shows that competent analysis of the polls(1) reveal the figure to be even higher than I had estimated, 36 percent (p. 12). But while only 36 percent are nontheists, more than 68 percent are secularists (pp. 12-14), defined as persons who are unwilling to allow other people's religions to be legally imposed on them, and in return are willing to give up their right to impose their own beliefs on dissenters. And even that 68 percent does not include the additional 16 percent who, despite opposing government enforcement of religion, nonetheless believe that creationism should be taught in public schools and/or that first trimester abortion is a moral rather than a medical issue. What that means is that hardcore theofascists who want to turn America into a mirror image of the Taliban's Afghanistan constitute 25 percent of believers but a mere 16 percent of the total population.(2) (And that is the constituency to whom John McCain preached, "I'm one of you"? No wonder he was trounced.)

Aronson devotes four pages to refuting the doublethink of Oxford theologian Alister McGrath, whom I described in a review of two of his books(3) as, "an unteachable as brainwashed as B. F. Skinner's pigeons, as impervious to evidence as a flat earther, as incapable of logical reasoning as a Scientologist, and as useful to students seeking knowledge as an anopheles mosquito." Aronson is more circumspect, and he appears to credit McGrath with having a functioning human brain. But his evaluation of McGrath's desperate projection of theism's inadequacies onto nontheism is essentially the same as mine.

Aronson's book is not devoid of memorable one-liners, such as (p. 93), "As the joke goes about George W. Bush, there are those among us who were born on third base but think we've hit a triple." And he draws attention to such doublethink as (p. 92), "Religious believers often hold individuals … responsible for everything that goes wrong, and credit God for everything that goes right…. A madman kills dozens of students in Virginia, and the president calls upon us to seek comfort in prayer." Are secularists the only persons who see praising an allegedly omnipotent god who chose to allow such atrocities to happen when it could have prevented them, as analogous to survivors of Auschwitz praising Hitler?

But with rare exceptions, mainly his introduction, Aronson has nothing to say that can contribute either to the marginalizing of religion or the legitimizing of nontheism in the minds of brainwashed believers (there's another kind?). He cites the defences of nontheism by Harris, Dennett, Stenger, Hitchens and Dawkins in a manner that, while indicating agreement with them, raises doubts that he really understood what they were talking about. He mentions the role of the media in front-paging football teams praying after a Superbowl victory (p. 3) and censoring all criticism of religion except on designated comedy programs (p. 8). But he ignores the golden opportunity to denounce television in particular for making itself a shill of the god delusion by infesting continuing series with unnecessary references to "God" (e.g., Eli Stone, whose science fiction visions could just as easily have been attributed to, "God, Karma, Mother Goose, whatever"), as if such propaganda were not a calculated insult to the intelligence of the 36 percent of the population who do not have an imaginary playmate in the sky.

"Living Without God: New Directions for Atheists, Agnostics, Secularists, and the Undecided" is best described as a very long undergraduate essay that spells out the author's personal philosophy in truisms, cliches, and platitudes, in an unsuccessful attempt to make it meaningful to anyone but himself. This book is not even a good example of how to preach to the choir.

1 Pew Forum on religion; Newsweek/Beliefnet Survey; Baylor Religion Survey; Financial Times/Harris Interactive Surveys.

2 While competent interpretation of the polls produces the statistics cited in this paragraph, the questions were sufficiently ambiguous and intimidating to enable the pollsters, as card-carrying godworshippers, to cling to the Big Lie that there are far less nontheists than is actually the case. There is only one way to ascertain the true number of nontheists, and that is by formulating a question that does not, intentionally or unintentionally, solicit a predetermined answer. The question should be along the lines of the following:

(A) I believe in an intelligent designer of the universe, for convenience called God, who had laid down laws that humans must obey on pain of being judged disobedient or sinful, that God hears all prayers and responds to those he deems worthy, and after death God judges each person as worthy or unworthy of eternal happiness.

(B) I disbelieve or strongly doubt the existence of such a God, and only a preponderance of the evidence could change my mind.

3 What to Believe: Books For and Against the God Hypothesis Reviewed, World Audience, 2008, pp. 229-233.

Change We Can Believe In
Barack Obama
Three Rivers Press
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019
9780307460455, $13.95,

Barack Obama is a godworshipper, and therefore a scientifically illiterate ignoramus by definition. Even though his mother is a nontheist, and he was not subjected to the parental brainwashing that is the reason Christians tend to beget Christians and Muslims tend to beget Muslims, he at some point seized onto the security belief of pie in the sky when you die at a time when the Western world is moving slowly and steadily toward the recognition that religion is a fairy tale comparable with Mother Goose and the Tooth Fairy.

That does not make him an aberration in a nation in which pushers of the god delusion control the news and entertainment media and have completely Talibanized the party of Abraham Lincoln. There is some evidence that America's most progressive presidents have been closet nontheists (John Kennedy, who pretended to be a practising Catholic for political purposes,1 and Abraham Lincoln, who may have turned to religion in times of crisis2) or liberal deists (Thomas Jefferson, George Washington), and there have been presidents who, despite being godworshippers, made no attempt to overthrow the legally mandated separation of church and state (FDR, Truman, even Republican Nixon).

Anyone who can mistake a book featuring a talking snake and a talking donkey for nonfiction should give serious consideration to enrolling in Logic 101. And a black man who prays to gods created by his ancestors' white conquerors in their own image has a diminished sense of self-worth. Nonetheless, America's 100 million nontheists (one third of the population) owe a vote of thanks to the intelligence of the American majority who voted to make Obama President.

James Dobson, propaganda minister for the Conspiracy to Talibanize America, wrote a twenty page letter-from-the-future bewailing what four years of Obama's presidency had done to the land of the free. But instead of spelling out real horrors comparable with what eight years of George W. ShicklBush had done, he described an America significantly advanced in the direction of individual freedom and human rights. In other words, America's most dangerous theofascist saw Obama as his extremist cult's worst nightmare, but the tolerant majority's most effective champion.

Change We Can Believe In does not credit an editor or speechwriter. The only name on the cover is Barack Obama. But the "foreword by Barack Obama" and the references to Obama in the third person make clear that the book is essentially ghost-written. Only the transcribed speeches in Part Two are Obama's own words. Does that mean that the narrative chapters represent only what the anonymous chronicler thinks Obama hopes to accomplish, rather than the incoming president's actual priorities? We can only wait and see.

Nowhere in this book did I find any commitment to grant nontheists the same rights, privileges and equality as any other minority. But neither did I find any reason to suspect that Obama shares King George I's bigoted view of nontheists as neither citizens nor patriots. There was also no threat to deny Jews, gays, moderate Republicans or any other subculture full and equal citizenship. The logical interpretation of the absence of threats of discrimination against any minority, including nontheists, is that no discrimination is contemplated. The 75 percent of theists who endorse the separation of church and state recognize that, if extremists like Dobson and Robertson were enabled to make their taboos the law of the land, moderate religionists would be in as much danger of being reduced to serfdom or even criminal status as nontheists.

Obama is part of that 75 percent, and the 250 million Americans who fear the jihadists of the Christian Taliban can again breathe freely - for years to come, if a liberal Congress can enable Obama to purge the Supreme Court of its Republicanazi theofascists. (I continue to regard capital punishment as subhuman, but for the five traitors who overthrew the constitution in order to make a talking chimpanzee from their own Party president in 2000, I might be prepared to look the other way.)

Obama writes in his Foreword (p. 2), "I have found that the disillusionment with Washington … is shared by Democrats, independents, and even Republicans from all walks of life who are tired of being disappointed by the partisanship and petty politics that stop us from solving challenges like health care, energy, and education year after year." That of course was a campaign statement written for the purpose of getting himself elected. But since his opponents denounced him for precisely those policies, policies they did not want to see implemented, we can reasonably assume that they are a true reflection of his position and will be carried out if circumstances permit.

After describing everything that is wrong with George Bush's America, the ghost writer states (p. 14-15), "But these challenges were not inevitable. They are the result of flawed policies and failed leadership…. We've seen an open-ended commitment to a war in Iraq that isn't making us safer and is distracting us from the real threats to our security…. And instead of rallying the world to our side as we routed Al Qaeda, we spent hundreds of billions of dollars fighting a war in Iraq that should never have been authorized and never been waged." The aforementioned "real threats" include the Sunni psychopaths attempting to enslave Afghanistan as a prelude to enslaving the world. The one thing King George II got right was his recognition that America must exterminate the threat from al Qaeda and the Taliban before they exterminate America. Obama knows that Iraq must be given a deadline to see to its own security, but recognizes Afghanistan as an ongoing threat from which he is not willing to walk away. Few would disagree.

That was the past. For the future (assuming that his ghost writer was proofread for any unendorsed speculation) Obama will take specific steps of which the one I find most appealing is (p. 19), "help workers share the benefits of economic growth by raising the minimum wage and giving workers a free choice about joining trade unions." Obviously that will not win him any plaudits from the union commissars to whom Jimmy Hoffa's Stalinistic enslavement of the labor force was seen as a perquisite of their absolute power. And his plan to interpret the Second Amendment as its authors intended, taking machine guns out of the hands of gangsters and rednecks and restricting them to military and law enforcement officers, will likewise be denounced by the right-to-kill demagogues of the Neanderthal Rednecks Association to whom the Wild West was the Good Old Days. He will also resume the financing of stem cell research, denounced only by liars who pass off their personal theology as if it were endorsed by a bible written before such a concept could even be imagined.

This whole book is a campaign platform. While the book may have contributed little to getting Obama elected, the platform it elucidates assuredly did. And by putting his platform in a book, Obama has painted an "impeach me" sign on his back if he significantly departs from the policies that got him elected. I am confident that that will not happen. And since I am offended by his repeated requests to his imaginary (white) playmate to "bless" America (whatever that means), I feel entitled to respond in kind: "May the Flying Spaghetti Monster bless Barack Obama."

1 Albert Menendez, John F. Kennedy, Catholic and Humanist, Prometheus Books, 1979.

2 "Abraham Lincoln and Religion," Wikipedia.

William Harwood

Henry's Bookshelf

The Mining Law of 1872: Past, Politics, and Prospects
Gordon Morris Bakken
University of New Mexico Press
MSC04 2820, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
9780826343567, $45.00,

The mining law passed in 1872 during Grant's administration did not keep pace with changes in the scale of mining and mining technology nor address environmental concerns arising long after it came into effect. The Mining Law of 1872 saw the miners of the California Gold Rush in 1849 as representative of what mining was like more or less in the wide open spaces of the Western prairies and mountains. Mindful of the growth of a region following an appreciable discovery of a valuable metal as well as the wealth the metal and related economic activity added to the still-growing U.S., lawmakers and presidents wanted to encourage growth in unpopulated, but potentially thriving areas as quickly as possible. Not discouraging searching for gold or other valuable metals and not placing restrictions on mining of them when they were discovered was a way to do this, as happened in California. Thus the Mining Law of 1872 for the most part encouraged and favored miners and mining rather than placed any precautionary or involved constraints on them.

Later in the following century, this nineteenth-century mining law allowed for the largely unregulated building of hunting shacks and before long the sprouting up of ski resorts and housing projects. These and similar commercial developments having nothing to do with mining were justified by land-use provisions and ideas of the 1872 law. It was environmentalists who first raised concerns about the questionable or harmful effects being done to the land and the local way of life. They were often joined by Native American groups and local residents. Environmental considerations are now routine with large-scale industrialized and property-development projects. But the first generation of activists trying to prevent widespread, lasting environmental damage from little-regulated mining and projects misusing the Mining Law of 1872 met with little sympathy or understanding.

Bakken--a teaching lawyer and Western historian--follows how the Mining Law of 1872 and by implication other old mining laws came to be looked at differently from the activism of environmentalists and their allies and from new social perspectives toward the environment. Relatively academic and legalistic, his book is timely in light of attention being given to environmental damage such as global warming from heedless, large-scale industrial activities. As with global warming, the environmentalists and allied groups have had only limited success in opposing traditional application of the Mining Law of 1872 supported by decades of legal rulings in favor of mining companies and developers. While Bakken cannot claim final success for ones working to change or replace the Mining Law of 1872, he defines the challenges facing them and describes strategies and paths leading to some substantive change.

Data Flow - Visualising Information in Graphic Design
Robert Klanten, editor
Mariannenstr. 9-10, D-10999 Berlin, Germany
9783899552171, $78.00,

Pie charts, line graphs, and diagrams are typical kinds of tools to visualize data to grasp what it is indicating and to utilize it. The exponential increase with computers in collecting, storing, and processing data has resulted in a tremendous volume of data. This data is useless unless it is put into some form such as a chart or graph giving some perspective on it. Information designers--what the individuals whose designs are seen in this book are called--create forms to capture aspects of information for the knowledge, reference, and use of individuals in different fields. These information designers design forms for information somewhat like architects now use computer technology to design a house to its future owner's specifications. Polls in political campaigns of any significant scale such as U.S. presidential campaigns are one type of familiar information gathering and information use. Polls' practical uses are obvious. They can inform candidate's about fundamental matters such as which issues to address, how to spend advertising funds, and where to make appearances.

Pie charts, line graphs, and diagrams are still used by information designers. Though these are oftentimes considerably more complex than the simple, rather skeletal ones of decades past. Today's information designers more often devise complex, multilayered, and multicolored representations which can be almost any shape and often look like a kind of op-art. New words are required for the designers to create and users to grasp the new information designs. The term "mining information" has been around for a while to connote how business and government organizations and the designers deal with masses of information. "Infotecture" is a term used for the new visual shapes for rendering volumes of information literate according to desired criteria. Readers will also learn about the newer terms of datalogy, datablocks, datasphere, datanets, and datascape which are general types of infotectures that have just about replaced the older pie charts, graphs, and such. Datanoid is a new term for designs for information on different physical, biological, medical, etc., aspects of the human body and human life. With each of the general categories of the new information designs is an interview with a leading designer. The captions for each design explain the information it is designed to make intelligible. The index contains contacts for each of the 90 or so designers whose works are featured.

The collection of hundreds of graphic designs for information brings one right up to date in this field. Like computers, globalization, and cell phones, data design--infotecture--is an element of today's complex, technology-based, interconnected world. Manufacturers in China, government agencies in Washington, and growing communities are among the kinds of diverse, widely--scattered organizations making use of it.

A New and Native Beauty - The Art and Craft of Greene and Greene
Edward R. Bosley and Anne E. Mallek
Merrell Publishers Limited
740 Broadway, Suite 1202, New York, NY 10003
9781858944524, $75.00,

Though given an award by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1952, the brothers Charles and Henry Greene were and still are relatively unknown in the related fields of architecture and design. The AIA award was long belated and seemingly perfunctory. In 1952, both brothers were near the end of their lives and no longer active. Henry died two years after the award, and Charles was to frail to attend the award ceremony. And for the most part, the style they worked in had been overtaken by an aggressive, international, largely urbanized modernism. One feels the AIA gave the award more out of a sense that the leading organization of architects would be embarrassed if it didn't. One wonders what the organization missed for not having paid special notice to the Greenes while they were active. As evident from this book, after Frank Lloyd Wright, they were the most conceptually gifted architects and most skilled craftsmen of their era. Though their work is somewhat derivative of and reminiscent of Wright's, nevertheless it is plainly distinguishable from Wright's and distinctive, impressive, and accomplished in its own right.

Wright is known as the founder of the influential Prairie School of architecture and design. It would be surprising if the Greenes were not influenced by Wright. If they weren't, they would probably have been marginalized unknowns. The Greenes' works display the natural-world motifs and sharp lines, most notably horizontal, and rich woods associated with the Prairie School. Like Wright, the Greene brothers were open to a Japanese influence in architecture and design. Working in California, the Greenes were more directly in touch with this Japanese architecture and design than Wright was. With respect to the natural-world motifs, the Greenes would include mountains and the layeredness and lushness of California vegetation; whereas Wright's and the Prairie School's natural references were mostly the wide regional flatlands, grassland, and the understated, spare beauty of wildflowers. "The carefree playful feeling of these [Greene brothers'] windows contrasts with the rigidly rectilinear designs of the Prairie School and the ornate flora of Louis Comfort Tiffany's windows and lampshades...," is how one essayist distinguishes the Green brothers particular style.

The Greenes' individualized style carries through their range of projects from houses and public buildings, chairs and bureaus, stained glass, and metalwork. Gardens and walkways and other landscaping features were also included in some of their projects. Often thick vegetation was placed close to the walls of a house so that it mingled with the architecture. This was another difference between the Greenes and the designers of the Prairie School. Whereas the Prairie School designers sought to make the individual parts of a design stand out while making for a harmonious whole, the Greenes were not so concerned about this. Works of the Greene's could thus often be impressionistic even though they held the same basic design principles as those of the Prairie School.

The different facets of the Greene brothers' work in the early part of the 1900s are covered in 11 illustrated chapters. The variety of illustrated matter of period photographs, relatively recent photographs, design and architectural drawings, and photographs of the brothers succeed in not only recording and critiquing their work, but in bringing the brothers as individuals who were artists, their personal touches, and the context and ambiance of their time to life. The essays too, with their expertise and knowledge on the specific topics, freely bring in the biographical for a supple, multidimensional comprehension of the brothers.

At the Huntington Library in California until January 2009, the exhibition of the Greenes' work and life corresponding with this book travels to the Smithsonian Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., and in July 2009 to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Flowers of Flame - Unheard Voices of Iraq edited
Sadek Mohammed, et al.
Michigan State University Press
Manly Miles Building, Suite 25
1405 South Harrison Road, East Lansing, MI 48823-5245
9780870138423, $14.95,

The 2003 date of the U.S. invasion of Iraq marks the first of the poems. Poems coming after this trace the changing conditions in Iraq on an emotional basis. The American occupation, daily terrorism, fears for personal safety, and emigration are for the most not dealt with explicitly. Surprisingly perhaps, unlike many poems written under such conditions, these poems are not journalistic or political commentary in literary garb. Mostly, they express the Iraqi soul under the conditions of duress.

Aiming for a collection representing the breadth of expression arising from the dislocations and uncertainties brought by the war irrespective of age, circumstances, political position, or place, the editors, Sadek Mohammed, Soheil Najm, Haider Al-Kabi, and Dan Veach, sought poems from all parts of Iraq and anywhere in the world in the case of poets driven or emigrating from Iraq. The difficulties of locating, getting in touch with, and then hearing from many of the 35 poets are noted in an introductory essay by one of the editors. This is not noted simply as a technical or practical matter in reaching the aim of such a volume, but also as a reflection of the breakup of Iraqi society.

All of the poems "use the free verse form of modern Iraqi poetry." The translations from Arab, Kurdish, or Turkoman are fluent. The impulses are to express sentiments, not experiment with form or language. While many of the sentiments--longing, sorrow, sympathy--are universal and expected under the circumstances and the imagery of birds, fragrances, gardens, foods, etc. is simple and common in Middle Eastern poetry, the poems do succeed in conveying the particular experience of the Iraqi people. This experience has generally not received much attention amid endless media coverage and a number of books and movies on the war typically dealing with some American concern or issue. Here's a poetry volume which brings to awareness how the war has affected average Iraqis.

Beneath the Surface - The Making of Pictures
Philippa Abrahams.
Frances Lincoln
4 Torriano Mews, Torriano Avenue, London, NW5 2RZ
9780711227569, $45.00,

One realizes in reading about the materials, techniques, and tools relating to various types of art how knowledge of these can enhance the viewing of art. As with one who knows how an engine is put together or a piece of furniture, knowledge of the processes and materials of art gives much apprehension and in some cases apperception of a work of art beyond its appearance and elementary emotional impression. Recognition of the materials, etc., of a work of art can also figure into judgment of it and appreciation of the artist's skill and in many cases his or her particular creativity.

An artist herself who is also a art conservator and museum consultant, Abrahams starts off with with the most basic art of drawing, followed by the topic of illuminated manuscripts of the medieval centuries; proceeding after this through fresco, egg tempura, miniatures, fresco, and egg tempera. When oil painting became highly developed in the Renaissance by combining pigment with oil, artists were able to "tell a story, make a portrait or a still life that looked so convincing that it could be mistaken for reality." This technical development in paint was interrelated to the humanism and new attention to the natural world leading to the science of the Enlightenment (although Abrahams only occasionally touches on the cultural and historical correspondences of the art subjects she deals with). She does regularly note the possibilities and effects of the materials, etc., of each type of art (which type is often associated with a historical era). Thus, the "aqueous [water-based] media" preceding oil paints could not realize such realism "because the colors dried to quickly to be smoothly blended" to copy the textures and infinite shadings of the colors of the physical world. The still lifes and portraits of the Renaissance especially evidence the realism attained with oil paint.

In the latter part of the 1900s, acrylics, also used for car finishes came into use with modern artists "freed from constraints in terms of what they chose to make their work from or about." "Acrylic resins are synthetic binding materials," the author explains in the relatively simple technical language she uses. In the 1940s and '50s, there were two types on acrylic paint. The one mixed with turpentine or some other solvent was "quite a stiff paint." The other introduced by the manufacturer Leonard Bocour was a more liquid paint suiting artists "who wanted to throw the stuff around a bit and work on a large scale. A painting by David Hockney illustrates use of the first kind of acrylic; a work by Jackson Pollock illustrates the second.

Though dealing with elementary tools and techniques of art, including preparatory techniques before a stroke is made, the work is not a how-to; nor does it have a workbook-like character. Nascent artists could profit from it, though the book is meant primarily and succeeds estimably as a supplement to art appreciation; and to some degree as a comparison to art history.

Wars of Empire in Cartoons
Mark Bryant
Grub Street Publishing
c/o Casemate
1016 Warrior Road, Suite C, Drexel Hill, PA 19026
9781902304403 $34.95

In this latest of Bryant's several works on cartoons and satirical illustrations on British history, Winston Churchill's comment that cartoons are a "good way to learn history" is evidenced. The cartoons are what Americans know as political or editorial cartoons found in most newspapers. In more than 300 cartoons, the racism, imperialism, misogyny, conceits, British political figures, and different perspectives on domestic and international affairs as related to Britain's worldwide Empire are on display usually with biting labels and captions. The British can be wicked with this sort of business; even more so than the French or Americans whose cartoons, though often no holds barred, generally keep a note of humaneness or humor. For example, in American and French cartoons, the individuals are usually caricatured so they look humorous. Whereas, the 19th-century British cartoonists freely make individuals look monstrous or inhumanly ugly. I recall reviewing a book at one time on British satirical illustrations of the 1700s and early 1800s where the author wrote about how a member of British royalty finally had to forbid certain types of cartoons he found them so personally painful and damaging to the image of the monarchy.

Not all of the cartoonist/illustrators are British. There's many cartoons by the leading Victorian illustrators John Leech and John Tenniel (both of whom illustrated books by Dickens) and others found in the newspapers ad periodicals of the era of Britain's Empire. But there are also some cartoons by Daumier, Dore, and other foreigners with views on Britain's colonialism.

Many of the cartoons deal with either economic benefits of the Empire or indifference or cruelty to natives and their culture. Images of Britain as the noble, heroic, or self-sacrificing nation bringing civilization to the pagans alternate with ones of Britain as hypocritical, greedy, or destructive. Some cartoons represent themes, while others represent policies in showing the leading politician or government official most identified with them. Many contain portrayals of British soldiers and natives of the different lands of the Empire. The variety of their topics is engaging as well as, as Churchill commented, educating.

Cartoons fill most of every page of the main text with Bryant's general commentary and references to particular ones in columns in the lesser parts of pages. As with the author's previous similar books, the collected cartoons are "intended primarily as a pictorial history of the period as seen through the eyes of the cartoonists and caricaturists who lived through it and chronicled events as they occurred. In this case the period is the nineteenth century and the wars of the British Empire during the reign of Queen Victoria from the Crimean War to the Boer War."

The Twilight Zone - Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic
Martin Grams, Jr
OTR Publishing
Po Box 189, Delta, PA 17314
9780970331090 $49.95

Twilight Zone's aficionados--the legions of them--will want to go through the content from front to back to run across material they never would have thought about or expected anyone could have ever gotten. One such item is a schedule of Rod Sterling's business trips from 1961 to 1963. Grams introduces this with, "As an indication of how busy Rod Sterling's schedule was,...." The TV show's dedicated viewers will thank the author for this and numerous other bits of fetching trivia in the text and frequent insets. Such material is found mostly in the first section "History of 'The Twilight Zone'."

The kinds of specifics one expects and would typically be looking for in a work on a staple of popular culture can be found handily enough with the reference book-like organization and tools such as chronological chapters and two indexes. Each of the show's 156 episodes beginning in 1953 on CBS are treated individually in the following section "The Episode Guide" with a chapter for each of the five seasons. The format for each show is roughly the same. Each show is identified by production number and title followed by date of initial telecast, copyright holder, dates of filming, and date of shooting script. Then comes the cast, stock music cues with title, performer, and length in seconds. After this is producer, director, and stage crew; then plot and finally trivia. Before and after the plot are the introductory and closing quotes for each show which were one of the show's most popular and memorable features. "In the parlance of the twentieth century, this is an oddball. His name is James B. W. Bevins and his tastes lean toward stuffed animals, zither music...," goes one; with the reader hearing it in the slightly incredulous, essentially matter-of-fact tone of the narrator of the voiceover.

Grams, steeped in television history and lore and author of over 12 other books, has included in the book everything which would inform and entertain Twilight Zone and TV buffs. This is a definitive guide to the series and welcome companion to reruns of it or of single shows.

The Golden Years of Egyptian Film - Cinema Cairo 1936-1967
Serif Boraie, editor
The American University in Cairo Press
c/o International Publishers Marketing
22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, VA 20166
9789774161735, $45.00,

The work introduces one to the range and vitality of Egyptian films in their early decades. Many do not realize how active the country's film industry was. Many of the films are not exotic as Muslim, Middle Eastern culture is looked at as exotic or foreign. Many of the themes deal with universal, sometimes risque sentiments or situations in an Egyptian setting. If there was no text or other clues, you could take most of the black-and-white stills from the Egyptian movies as being from French movies of the period.

The editor writes, "In this beginning, the film industry was bred on cosmopolitan talent, the cultural fusion that is Cairo, Nile, Arab, and the Mediterranean blowing from the North." And, "Love is the obsession - love won, lost lost." Two short essays that follow relate the beginnings of the Egyptian film industry, similarities to Hollywood, and types of Egyptian films, which include musicals and social commentary. Another short essay is on Studio Bakr. The studio is named after the photographer Hussein Bakr; who took the more than 100 stills of the movies and thus is almost singlehandedly responsible for this aspect of the record of Egyptian film. Bakr was in partnership with Studio Misr, Egypt's "first fully-equipped cinema studio," to do stills of all its films.

Bakr's stills of scenes with leading characters taking up the full page are on right-hand pages. To the left besides film title and name of the one or more characters in the scene are the director, screenwriter, and others in the making of the film. Also is a note on the characters; e. g., "Youssel Wahbi...lives a decent life with his loving, aristocratic wife...until he falls in love with a prostitute"; "Mahmoud el-Miligi in his most evil role, a psychiatrist who uses hypnosis to make his friend commit a murder." You see the characters and the stories are modern.

The notes stop short of going more into the plot line of the respective film. With the generalities of the short introductory essays, this is not film studies or film history. The book is mainly a visual record of Egyptian films and a portrait gallery of leading actors and actresses of the decades covered. Despite its limitations regarding foreign and ethnic film studies, the work is of interest as an introduction to the sprawling study of first-generation Egyptian film and starting point for further study.

The Reality Overload - The Modern World's Assault on the Imaginal Realm
Annie Le Brun, translated by Jon E. Graham
Inner Traditions
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781594772443 $16.95

Le Brun puts forth an elaborate and elucidating perspective of what literary critics, social commentators, cultural historians, and such commonly call postmodernism without ostensibly dealing with this condition directly. Many students of postmodernism use the writings of Jean Baudrillard and Paul Virilio as references for a pertinent, insightful understanding of postmodernism, i. e., contemporary society. But Le Brun makes reference to these two writers credited with original, ingenious, and revealing analyses and conceptions of postmodernism just once, both on one page barely more than incidentally. And in the index, there is only one page reference for "postmodernism."

Yet despite using different terminology and moving out of center stage writers and thinkers looked to for essentials of contemporary culture and putting forth a seemingly independent perspective, Le Brun is essentially seeing the same phenomena and making a similar reading of it. The rationality of inconsistency (having something to do with the knotty presence of the irrational), corporeal illiteracy (having something to do with a blocking out of the natural world), concrete dematerialization, reciprocal neutralization, and lateral critique (having something to do with deferment of the subject) are terms/concepts Le Brun uses for phenomena noted and critiqued by others.

Le Brun's work is not an alternate, but a supplement to the postmodern literature. Where she is different from the run of it is calling for a revived connection to the natural and to some extent marking the way back to this. She goes beyond a brilliant, masterful critique and the sense of stasis from being overwhelmed--overloaded--found with so many writers who take up postmodernism. A French Surrealist and author of a biography of de Sade, Le Brun has ideas about ridding oneself of the cognitive dissonance resulting from information overload and desiccating the imagination. A central means for this is reclaiming one's body, including genuine eroticism, as opposed, say, to infatuation with celebrity. Le Brun goes into this and more in this challenging, yet resonant and rewarding work for ones familiar with the prevailing understandings of postmodernism.

Nature's Beloved Son: Rediscovering John Muir's Botanical Legacy
Bonnie J. Gisel with images by Stephan J. Joseph
Heyday Books
PO Box 9145, Berkeley, CA 94709
9781597141062 $45.00

John Muir, like John Burroughs, is identified with California. This identification along with Muir's Thoreau-like attachment to nature and his enthusiasm for it make Muir's involvement with nature seem like a celebration of the promise of openness and renewal in American life even as America has reached the continental Western border.

Muir--surprisingly to many--was born in Scotland. He journey to California was a roundabout one. Muir's family emigrated to America in 1849 to join the Disciples of Christ sect in Wisconsin. His father worked a farm. Drawn to the study of nature and with the famous explorer/naturalist Alexander von Humboldt as his inspiration, Muir went to state agricultural fairs, took a science course at the University of Wisconsin, read as many science books as he could, and bought his first scientific instruments. It was during this period of young manhood when Muir first became interested in botany. He always wished to be recognized first as a botanist; but from his own family religious yearnings, Humboldt's naturalism colored by spirituality, and the influence of his science teacher at Wisconsin, Muir had a somewhat deistic rather than strictly scientific or specialized outlook on the natural world.

The world of nature was opened through botany. "Anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe." After finishing his course and gaining a basis for study of the natural world, Muir journeyed north to Canada, to Kentucky and the shores of the Gulf of Mexico before being drawn to the Sierra Mountains and Yosemite Valley in California. Muir's travels are recounted focusing on his botanical studies. The most notable feature of this work are the many enhanced photographs of plants Muir encountered in each region and took notes on. Many of these photographs are full-page; and there are sections of page after page of the photos with no text. In the appendix titled "Plant Gallery Citations," the pictures of all the plants are repeated in miniature with the date Muir took notes on each as recorded in his notes and a quote by Muir relating to the plant. Text with frequent passages from Muir's writings recount his biography and the range of his interests and work in the natural world.

The book is an exemplar of exceptional editing, design, formatting, and production down to the extensive bibliography and detailed index. It's as visually attractive as it is substantive regarding Muir's all-important interest in botany.

Henry Berry

Kaye's Bookshelf

A Bomb Shelter Romance
Patrick M. Garry
Inkwater Press
Portland, Oregon
1592993451 $16.95

Quoting from the back cover:

"For 18-year old Ben O'Neill, being cool is hard to do. Especially during the summer of 1970.

"His mother has volunteered the family to help build, as a reporter has dubbed it, 'the last bomb shelter of the cold war.' Gripped with a prepare-for-the-worst mentality, Joan O'Neill is a natural for this project. And during the summer of 1970, her internal alarms of impending danger are ringing. Her oldest son is fighting in Vietnam, her oldest daughter is off waging the sexual revolution, and a third is living with her communist boyfriend. Feeling helpless toward the three oldest, Joan O'Neill undertakes the bomb shelter project, hoping that involving her remaining children in a project of protection will somehow shield them from all the dangers that seem so imminent.

"But in a small town far away from any militarily strategic target, the bomb shelter becomes an object of derision, and Ben's hopes for a summer of romance quickly fade. This is, until Brad Richardson, the blind owner of the local movie theater, joins the bomb shelter crew. It is through Brad that Ben meets Suzanne - a girl whose beauty is matched only by her refusal to be embarrassed about working on the bomb shelter. The romance between Ben and Suzanne progresses amidst the increasingly stormy events of a town suddenly caught up in a cascade of unintended consequences.

"When their bus breaks down, a group of college students on their way to a political demonstration decide to stay and protest the bomb shelter. This siege of outside agitators turns the town into a cultural and political battleground, with the bomb shelter at ground zero. And despite all Joan O'Neill's good intentions, disaster ensues."

Patrick Garry's novel has captured a bit of time, the 1970s - the cold war, Vietnam, protests, sexual revolution, small town mores, young innocence, and adult promiscuity. A Bomb Shelter Romance is a simple, delightful story about a family and the unique characters who come together to finish this controversial project. It is well written, well edited, and Garry is an educated, consummate writer.

Delightful...truly delightful!!...and highly recommended

The Adventures of Fluff the Bunny
Bernadine Motto
Outskirts Press
Parker, CO
1598009087 $11.95

Quoting from the back cover:

"Fluff the Bunny goes on an adventure in search of chocolate chip cookies and milk for a snack. He asks various animals such as Millie the Mouse and Otis the Owl to help him in his pursuit of chocolate chip cookies and milk. He meets a little boy named Christopher during his adventure who becomes his good friend, and who also helps him in his search of chocolate chip cookies and milk."

The Adventures of Fluff the Bunny is a very simple and easy story. The colorful illustrations and fun names will appeal to first-time readers. The water color illustrations and bright colors certainly make this book special, and as no other illustrator was given credit, I assume Bernadine Motto is the artist. Nice job!

It may be a little pricey for its size...but then again, what isn't pricey these days?

$1.1 Million in 10 Years: The Military Road to Wealth and Retirement
Erik Bernard
9781419656712, $13.99

Quoting from the back cover:

"The men and women of the U.S. military are positioned to meet a variety of challenges in the world. Oftentimes the soldier serves without much thought to the long-term possibilities. The grass always seems greener when trucking through 100-plus degree weather or subfreezing cold. This book is written for those who question the sacrifices we make and come to the conclusion that the military is not a road to wealth and relaxation when looking to plan for retirement. You could not be more wrong.

"There is an ever-increasing awareness of the struggles service members face in these challenging times, and many benefit packages offered to soldiers are being enhanced. The opportunity for growth in the military is greater than ever, offering motivated individuals the potential to achieve that comfortable retirement that eludes so many at the end of their career.

"$1.1 Million in 10 Years provides that insight and illuminates the path for growth, reassuring service members that their sacrifices are already being rewarded - and proving that $1.1 million in 10 years is an attainable goal for their military career."

This is not your typical 'how-to-make-a-million' self-help book. It has a particular focus and was written while the global economy began to spin out of control. Hopefully, when the dust settles, the strategies propounded herein will still have value. Some issues addressed will never lose their value: budgets, self-discipline, and personal responsibility for your finances.

It is clearly evident that Erik Bernard is a disciplined, educated writer, and this book is well written and well edited. Author Bernard has walked the walk and wants to share his experience and encouragement with other families in the military. Good luck!

Kaye Trout

Liana's Bookshelf

Who Lied and Said We Left The Garden of Eden? Memoirs of a Homeless Man
Daniel Ray Martin
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432729394, 12.95,

Highly Recommended

Daniel Ray Martin, a previously homeless man, he is now a dedicated father and husband and successful businessman. Learn more about him at

Who Lied and Said We Left The Garden of Eden? is an account of the author's life as a homeless person in the streets of Texas and California. The author has had a hard family life as a kid and a teenager, and became a drug addict from early age. Finding no love in his family but only fear from his strict Christian upbringing, he ends up homeless in the streets.

It is an interesting story to read and it is also thought provoking. Martin's story has not got only a bad side. He talks about the persons who helped him and the bright side of his life. He never lost courage and he eventually regained his life by creating a loving family. His story can inspire other homeless people fight back the odds and reclaim their life. It shows how a lost man can have a second chance in life regardless social taboos, culture and religion.

His views on religion are significant; he mentions that all human beings come from the same intelligent source and religions are only linked to political issues. Martin is a wide minded person and his book is simple to read and entertaining as well. This inspirational story caters to those who are curious to learn about life in the streets and how can a person undergo a big change. It is certainly interesting to read from a social point of view as it transmits a positive message: people can change their life if they persist. Get it from

Very Highly Recommended

The Last Days of Krypton
Kevin J. Anderson
c/o Harper Collins
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022, ISBN:
9780061340758, $7.99,

Kevin J. Anderson, the author of the award winning Dune prequels and numerous Star Wars novels, writes comic books as well. Kevin lives in Colorado. Visit him at

We have always known that Superman's home planet, Krypton, was destroyed in the past, but how did that happen? All Superman's fans have kept wondering all these years what had happened before Superman arrived on planet Earth. The author describes diligently Krypton, its culture, heroes and villains. They were all preoccupied with their own lives thus disregarding the imminent disaster: the planet destruction.

This novel is certainly a classic, just as Superman himself, and the story involves a lot of adventure, romance and mystery. Vivid pictures pop out in every description and add more excitement to the readers who have already loved their super hero.

This book caters to all ages, to comic book lovers and adventure fans. It is the perfect gift for Sci- Fi lovers worldwide. Get it from Visit the site of DC comics at

Courage of Fear
Barbara Boyer
Ocean Moon Publishing
PO Box 733, Solana Beach, CA 92075
9780615203638 $16.95

Very Highly Recommended

Barbara Boyer presents her debut novel. She lives in San Diego. Visit her at

The story is about Angela, a well-off wife who suddenly finds herself in a hazardous situation, due to her husband. Angela, a real down-to-earth heroine, retrieves to her home island where she learns to live again.

This is a wonderful story full of suspense and emotional ups and downs, strong characters, vivid dialogue, romance and an exciting plot that motivates readers to turn the pages to the very end. There is also tight plot and an unexpected ending; all the qualities a successful story should have.

It caters to romance and adventure lovers and to women all over the world. Readers can get inspired by Angelas story and reclaim their life. It is an entertaining read to the very end! Get this book from

Lighter Than Air
Henry Melton
Wire Rim Books
9780980225310 $14.95

Henry Melton is certainly a prolific writer. Once more, with his latest novel, he managed to make a difference. Henry resides in Texas and you can visit him online at or at his blog at

The story starts with an exciting first chapter that sparks the interest of the reader to go on. The hero, Jon Kish, is a brilliant teenager who gets involved in a scientific experiment and then tries to use the lighter- than- air foam he has produced to construct a flying saucer. But there are many barriers to overcome, such as his sister, Cherry, and his mum who is ill. What is going to happen to his family?

Lighter Than Air is a good read for the whole family that teenagers will love from start to finish! Ample scientific facts are scattered throughout the story, thus enriching the plot and feeding the mind. It is entertaining and exciting to read, one of Henry's best science fiction stories. There is adventure, mystery and fast pace as in all Henry's novels. I am looking forward to his new novel to read. Get this book from all major bookstores and

Liana Metal, Reviewer

Margaret's Bookshelf

A Case of Wild Justice
Yvonne Jerrold
9781906510718, $16.95,

It takes a whole family to be united, but it only takes one person to destroy a family. "A Case of Wild Justice" tells of Hannah Meadows, a grandmother who only wants the best for her family. Her grandson, however, is proving to be quite the problem. Billy is a problem child who has continued being a problem child into adulthood, and is now roaming with gangs. It seems violence is the only thing that may be able to stop Billy, but Hannah detests violence. What is she to do? "A Case of Wild Justice" is a unique and fresh story, sure to please fiction readers.

Where Roots Echo
Mary Caskey
Wind Publications
600 Overbrook Drive, Nicholasville, KY 40356
9781893239623, $15.00

Prolifically published poet, grandmother, ex-teacher, and award-nominated poet Mary Caskey makes her poetry anthology debut in "Where Roots Echo". Her work is light hearted and reflects on her many roles in life and many experiences from those roles. "Where Roots Echo" is a treasure for poetry readers, highly recommended. "On Losing An Oak": There are buds/on the fallen tree,/an inch of new life,/though the trunk/that bore that life/has been decapitated/by a guillotine/wind.//It's taking/seven men/to bring that tree/to rest: "That old girl is/heavy now"/seven men, a crane,/claws, rope, saws/seven men who don't/see the buds.

Eat Your Way to Natural Good Health
Kathleen Beisel
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432724979, $12.95,

What one eats means more than anything when facing health concerns. "Eat Your Way to Natural Good Health: How to Achieve and Maintain Your Ideal Weight and Health Without Drugs and Pain" is a guide to improving one's health through a more excellent diet. Prescribing certain diets for different types of ailments that people face, and how to boost one's current health even if it's otherwise described as healthy, it's a solid nutrition manual. "Eat Your Way to Natural Good Health" is worth considering to anyone who wants to eat their way to better health.

Our Paths Crossed
Gail Gunter
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432727772, $16.95,

With the election of America's first biracial president, it's obvious that race is less of an issue than ever in America. "Our Paths Crossed" is a different sort of romance. Three friends who have always been color blind to each other's skin soon find that there may be more than just friendship between two of them. Shelley and Robert look to cross pass the lines of race and friendship as love begins to take over. "Our Paths Crossed" is a recommended romance novel for fans of the genre.

My Reading Corner
Gail Gunter
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432723002, $11.95,

Who knew the mind of a loving wife and mother could hold such treasures? "My Reading Corner" is a collection of short stories from Gail Gunter. Her stories touch on many elements; right and wrong, home schooling children, deception, hope for the future, and facing new challenges in life. Each story carries a positive message, allowing "My Reading Corner" to brighten the day of people of any age.

The Other Side of the Horizon
K. Lynch
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432728083, $12.95,

Being responsible for the death of another does horrible thing to one's psyche. "The Other Side of the Horizon" is the story of Jack Eisner. Unable to cope with losing a patient after a great chain of success, he seeks refuge in an old ship sailing into the horizon. However, he finds that his one mistake may not be his fault... unfortunately, there are those who don't like that knowledge becoming public. A novel of suspense and uncovering the truth, "The Other Side of the Horizon" is riveting and worth many a suspense reader's time.

Margaret Lane

Molly's Bookshelf

Chasing Diana
Jack Firestone & Robin Firestone
Firestone Media Ent. Inc.
12 Vanderbilt Way, Valley Stream, NY 11581
9781419696572 $19.95

Chasing Diana is written as a screen play based on the events that took place during the author's stay in Paris from August 30, 1997 through September 2, that same year. As the narrative opens Rhonda and son, 13 year old Ben Goodrich, approach a French Policeman. The pair had witnessed Diana's accident the previous night and wanted to relate to the police what they had seen. They were met with no reaction from the officer.

As Rhonda continued talking she was taken aback when told that the police had enough witnesses and did not need more.

From that opening the reader is carried along with Rhonda, son Ben and husband James as they attempt to get what they know regarding the crash to the authorities. Along the way the trio will cross paths with a diversity of paparazzi, police officers, reporters, taxi drivers, and rogues.

The author and his wife, Jack and Robin Firestone, Americans from South Carolina happened to be in the Paris tunnel when the car ferrying Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed crashed killing the pair. The Firestones did give testimony at the official inquest regarding the deaths and have set down a might have happened tale about fictional figures, and events.

The tale of the Firestone's is focused first on the failing marriage of James and Rhonda and later on the results of photographs they have taken of the limousine moments before it crashed. It is those photos which take on importance not because they show the crash results, but because they show figures who may or may not have had a hand in the crash.

It is an interesting premise, presented in an interesting manner via the screen play format. Presented as an Original Screenplay Novel, having at its core the actual death of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed the work is a fictionalized account of fictional characters whose vacation becomes a nightmare of paparazzi and French authorities who begin to persistently shadow the Firestones in an attempt to get the photos James inadvertently took of the crash.

The Prologue is centered in August 1998 first in New York and then Paris as James and Rhonda Goodrich set out for a return to Paris. Arrival in Paris brings disquieting news that James and Rhonda are to be arrested for fraud.

Act I, and the beginning of the narrative takes place in August 1997, New York, London & Paris sets the scene for the relationship between James and Rhonda, James' younger brother David and his talent agency, the declining career of James, and his alcoholism and the beginning of their amazing circumstance following the death of Princess Diana.

Written in three acts with both Prologue and Epilogue Chasing Diana is a fast paced thrilled sure to grab reader interest from the outset and hold it fast during attempts by assassins to get to the photos and the Goodrich family. Characters are colorful, varied and nicely detailed. Settings are fully developed, dialogue is gritty and hard hitting, the storyline is compelling. Danger, intrigue and deceit abound on the pages of this spell binding work sure to interest those who like historical settings, known characters and a well woven tale whose inception has roots in actual happening.

Writers Firestone have a unique writing style, their command of flare is evident, Chasing Diana is filled with excitement, wit and gripping situations. Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

Abramo's Gift
Donald Greco
Books PO Box 80107 Austin, TX 78758
9781934454299 $13.95

Abramo's Gift by Don Greco is a spellbinding chronicle: The sequence of events is set in motion with Abramo Cardone staring into the waves, wiping tears from his eyes and wondering if fellow passengers might have noticed as the ship approaches the New York Harbor. No one noticed. All eyes were fixed on the Statue of Liberty and the hope she fostered. Abramo's thoughts were filled with Angelina. That she and the baby daughter had been left behind laying in a grave an ocean from where his own would finally be filled him with more than a little melancholy.

Ellis Island, Battery Park, Abramo's uncle Michele brother of his deceased Mother, and a trolley, crowded streets and at last a hotel where he would spend his first night in America. It was all a little overwhelming for a young man who spoke no English.

Youngstown, Ohio, 1918 is a location filled with KKK pressure, Irish and Italian immigrants and more than a little social turbulence.

It has been five years since Angelina's passing away; Abramo arrives from Italy prepared to lay to rest his mourning and his old life in one of the low paying jobs found in the steel mills.

Before long Abramo gains favor from one of the three superintendents at Reid-Carnegie. Hugh Connolly has only admiration for the quiet, dedicated Abramo and his work habits, ability and ethic. Joe Hannon, on the other hand, was a co-worker who bore only abhorrence for Abramo.

The dark alley assault of Irish girl, Molly Harry, and Abramo's endeavors to give support to her are not unnoticed. Nor are they welcomed. Molly's brothers soon have her to hospital, it is left to a street child to aid the unconscious Abramo.

Writer Greco mesmerizes his readers with a cast of characters filled with verve and exuberance and angst. Greco exposes the inflexibility and exertions of the Irish and Italians who came to this country overflowing with expectation, as well as the enormous effort they undertook to carve a life for themselves in a land that was not always kind to them.

Scoundrels are often blatantly coarse; activists are frequently gallant, or, at times simply propelled into the role the fill by events. Dialog is gritty, persuasive and holds reader concentration from opening lines right on through the last paragraph.

A comprehensive and tight storyline, focused upon an extraordinary saga of everyday people orphans, immigrants, children of women who cannot care for them, social clubs and bars formed on ethnic or racial lines and suspicious of anyone who is not of their own ilk, and the church, politicians and police easily bribed, and jobs. It was vital in that time and place to have a job, no job meant no money, no hope and no way to live. Starvation was real. At last for the nearly hopeless came some hope in the shape of a home for street children named for an Irish Saint, and the beginning of Irish - Italian relationships not founded solely in the racial and ethnic tension which abounds on the pages of this well written, page turner of a novel.

Abramo's Gift is a forceful read filled with torment, rages bordering on murder and bad-tempered action, odium as well as kindness found in out of the ordinary and unanticipated corners. Abramo at last finds joyfulness and acceptance and begins a new life that is filled with the optimism and tranquility and affection and family and a home of his own that he had craved when he boarded the vessel intended to carry him to America. Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

The Jewish Lady, The Black Man and the Road Trip
Carol Sue Gershman
Self Published
9780615242880 $14.95

The Black Man The Jewish Lady and the Road Trip opens with the declaration that the writer has chosen adventure over commitment for most of her life. As such she has traveled a good bit of the world, met a good many men, engaged in a series of romantic encounters, and notes that that she has as a rule preferred an Anglo Saxon man, usually one that is quite handsome and seasoned who really enjoys women. She notes that she has live the single life for almost thirty, uncommitted years and mentions with regret that prejudice in 1979 may have kept her from a rousing relationship. A chance meeting with another black man, Xavier Jackson, set the stage for the present work; The Black Man The Jewish Lady and the Road Trip

The memoir begins with the meeting between Xavier, 67, greying, dredlocks, psychiatric nurse and Carol Gershman an attractive, late sixties, property manager who comes across as a somewhat self absorbed woman who admits that in her family beauty was the most important attribute by which they were judged, family members and friends were taught to always look beautiful and was the attribute by which all evaluations were made.

Grand Central Station, property management, the author's daughter Leslie who designed and imported children's clothing, photography, art, cats Nikita and Tolstoy, marriage to Norman Gershman and their life together first with Carol living first in Texas as an Air Force wife in 1955, and later in Florida where Carol got a civilian job at the Air Force base where their first child, daughter Leslie was born. Later the family moved to New Jersey where Norman worked as a stockbroker, and began more involved in his work. Carol recounts loneliness despite the arrival of two sons Eric and Roger and finally the break up of her marriage after twenty one years.

Carol sold the family home, moved to New York City and set out to remake herself as an entrepreneur who turned a chance sublet into a lucrative business buying, subletting and acquiring business acumen along with apartments along the way.

The story of Xavier and Carol begins in earnest with New Year's Eve 2004 opening Chapter 4, followed quickly by Saturday night dates and courtship, and finally the road trip.

Carol Sue Gershman has written an intense, interesting and seductive work filled with reference to explicit sex, exciting adventure and out of the ordinary people. Relationships, ongoing, past and future are explored on the pages of The Black Man The Jewish Lady and the Road Trip. Racial diversity, self awareness, humor, and pathos are all intertwined in this tale of a spirited woman who has thrown convention to the wind and moved into a nexus of pleasing self and not allowing the thoughts of others shape her thinking. Gershman puts to rest the notion that anyone over 40 is a wrinkled prune, out of shape, out of touch and out of sex.

Gershman's introspective memoir is at once witty, touching, fast paced and will no doubt to be a work to interest those who may themselves be attracted to relationships once thought by some to be taboo not so many years ago.

While I did find the writer to be a bit overpowering in her self absorption I agree entirely with her thought that dressing according to spirit rather than age is not a bad thing. Detailed description of the characters coupled with the smooth flow of sequence of events result in a fast paced, and an enjoyable read. Happy to recommend. Not for everyone, reference to explicit sex will put off some readers.

Creating the Intrapreneur: The Search for Leadership Excellence
Victoria C. DePaul
Synergy Books
9781934454183 $15.95

NOTE Intrapreneur IS A TERM COINED IN THE 1970s, it describes employees in a corporate environment who operate with an entrepreneurial mind set.

Creating the Intrapreneur: The Search for Leadership Excellence offers the reader information regarding Human Quantum Energy, Polarity, Polarity and Negative Energy, Happiness, The Nuclear Energy of Life, The New Human Operating System; The Causal Sequence in Depth, Being your Identities at Work, Cause and Effect, The Fatal Identity and Its Paradigm, Space, Negative Nuclear Identity Behaviors, The Law of Attraction…revisited, Response-Ability, and Where Do You Go From Here.

Written in fifteen chapters, Creating the Intrapreneur: The Search for Leadership Excellence provides a model for ground-breaking corporate supervision techniques that promote the notion that workers within a business can be the ones to generate innovative product ideas. In addition to the chapter work Creating the Intrapreneur also includes acknowledgments, an Introduction in which the writer points out In this age of road rage, and now desk rage, if you are employed, your safety is at risk. As stress levels escalate, employees are increasingly fueled by anger, resentment, pessimism, frustration, anxiety, distrust, and other negative emotions. That is a sobering thought at best.

A glossary of terms, and explanation of The Universal Laws of the Quantum Universe precede an Index to round out the work.

Creating The Intrapreneur makes available to the reader a framework for building spot on accomplishment in business endeavors as well as life itself.

The leadership models introduced by author Victoria C. DePaul are founded on personal experience gained during attendance at various seminars coupled with years spent in the business community. Victoria C. DePaul has a quarter century experience working in the corporate world where her background includes positions corporate trainer, as well as human resource management, including supervisory, and leadership positions.

On the pages of Creating the Intrapreneur, the reader will discover secrets for:

-constructing the life the reader wishes for by motivating the understanding that each of us is in charge of the various episode and happenings of our lives.

- liberating the intrapreneurial spirit within both self and the business.

-amplifying individual control allowing each person to benefit from a life filled with accomplishment, contentment, and tranquility

-Raising the energy climate of the business by making lasting modifications in the way people suppose, be aware of, and respond to one another.

I found Creating the Intrapreneur to be a highly readable work presented by a writer whose credentials clearly indicate she does know 'her stuff'. I like the notion that we each are pretty well in charge of our own destiny and should act and react with that mind set.

Beginning with the introduction writer DePaul has packed the pages of Creating the Intrapreneur with reflections of workplace violence she has experienced or read about as that violence has escalated over the past decades. Telephoned threats of violence toward - the boss-, bomb threats, employee breakdowns, out of control absenteeism, extensive turnover rates, and an overall climate of chaos all are becoming all too commonplace. Writer DePaul says if new and different results are desired then new and different methods for working within the business world.

DePaul is convinced that -To be profitable, and therefore competitive, the business of the future must adopt a strategy based on corporate entrepreneurship -- intrapreneurship. The successful Organization of the third millennium will embrace and encourage intrapreneurship."- Reading DePaul's book I am encouraged that the future can be improved if her ideas are put into action.

Happy to recommend.

Inventing Ott: The Legacy of Arthur C. Guyton.
Jerusha Bosarge
Young Adult
Quail Ridge Press
9781893062788 $10.95

Arthur C Guyton, Ott, the main character found on the pages of Inventing Ott: The Legacy of Arthur C. Guyton was an intriguing man who thought himself rather ordinary. Born in 1919 in Mississippi the child who would be come a noted physician, inventor and advocate for the handicapped was reared in a typical Southern home. The house was built in 1852 and had a summer kitchen behind the house to keep down heat and danger from fire so prevalent in those days.

As one of the four children of a busy ophthalmologist Ott lived a life filled with laughter and happiness and servants, and mostly good times. When he was four Ott experienced a decidedly NOT good time, he lost a race with an oncoming car, suffered a broken leg and experienced awful pain before the leg healed.

Always competitive; Ott grew up questioning, challenging and exploring. He joined Boy Scouts, learned to ride a bicycle and alternately teased and adored his little sister Ruth and went to school in Oxford. He grew into a tall, lithe young man who loved sports, people and projects of increasing complexity, including conducting repairs and renovations to the family home as well as building his own sailing boat, and, he enjoyed friendship with another Oxford resident; William Faulkner.

As a young adult he graduated from high school in 1936, attended Ole Miss and was well on his way to becoming a physician when he made the move to Harvard where he met Ruth Weigle. He did not know it at the time, but their lives would soon be intertwined in unexpected fashion. The pair married in 1943 and enjoyed a long and happy marriage until their deaths in 2003 as the result of an auto crash.

Ott's love for biochemistry and building led to his developing ideas or devices themselves which would revolutionize the field of medicine: his electronic pressure measuring apparatus became a device which is used to today to measure arterial pressure, an instrument providing intermittent suction during surgery attracted attention and altered Ott's future military career.

April 1944 brought the birth of the first of the ten children Ott and Ruth would produce, and soon after Ruth and the baby arrived in Maryland; Ott was assigned to the Bacterial Warfare Department in Camp Detrick, Maryland. The end of the war in 1946 brought more changes to the young family.

Tragedy struck late in 1946 when Ott who was working interminably long hours suddenly spiked a high fever. Before long; he self diagnosed his condition as polio. He lost feeling and use of his left upper arm, both shoulders and his lower right leg.

By 1947 Ott was demonstrating the first electric wheelchair, received a Presidential citation for its invention and went on to create/invent/and devise many of the devices we take for granted today. "If you need it, and it doesn't exist, invent it" became the Guyton motto.

Inventing Ott: The Legacy of Arthur C. Guyton is an inspirational tale in the vein of those that draw attention to the role difficulty plays in the achievement of many people, and because "Ott" accomplished most of his work from a wheelchair I was especially

drawn to the tale. My oldest son does not use a chair today, he did for a time as a child, however, he does have cerebral palsy and walks with a pronounced limp.

Author Bosarge is a skilled writer who writes from a first hand perspective: her husband was one of Doctor Guyton's last students. Guyton is a forceful figure, his life presents a gripping tale and Bosarge has deftly managed to bring a compelling read. Happy to recommend.

Vogue Knitting Accessorize: Scarves, Hats, Ponchos, Socks & Mittens
Trisha Malcolm editor
Sixth & Spring Books
9781931543576 $24.95

Trisha Malcolm's anthology entitled Accessorize: Scarves-Hats-Ponchos-Socks & Mittens is a hard back collected works of past patterns from Vogue.

I like the instructions which are set down in basic understandable verbiage. Directions are trouble-free to track causing the resulting pieces to be very nice finished pieces.

It was that beautiful cream and pinks lace stitch shawl on the cover that instantly caught my eye as I was walking by the rack where the book was on display. A quick check of pages led to purchase. Directions are offered on the left of a two page spread with a large full color photo of the finished piece on the right. It was a spiral lace capelet in delicate white, fringed geometric wrap for using up all those odd bits of yarn every needleworker has on hand, and gorgeous summer lace shawl edged in wide scallops that influenced me; this book provides patterns I will make and wear.

Yarns listed for pieces are the high-priced ones, however, I learned long ago to replace with lesser dear yarns and adjust needle size and gauge accordingly with little effect upon finished pieces. I was right and I do like the capelet very much, it knitted up quickly, as I followed those easy to read instructions. I now look forward to making the lacey summer scarf during these long winter evenings.

I find very handy that the patterns offered in the book are grouped according to function. The Table of Contents lists a variety of Wraps including stoles, shawls, shrugs and scarves. The eight patterns for ponchos and capelets are listed together as Perfect Ponchos. Included in the division is a one size fits all turtleneck poncho that is designed in uncomplicated stitches and can be made oversized for winter draping comfort. Ponchos with cowl necklines, made of rectangles, three with turtlenecks and a gorgeous chunky thread Aran knit that I know I will make as soon as I finish a fair isle piece, are all included in the poncho/capelet section.

I especially like the threaded sherpa scarf and matching head hugging hat shown together as a matching set in the scarf section. The directions appear simple, and I'm anxious to get started on them.

Offered for cold weather wear is an assortment of narrow draping scarves; some are plain knit, others feature cables, geometric designs, lace patterns or crocheted accents.

A ribbed hooded cowl is a piece I will be making, my head gets cold when standing yard duty during the cold winter lunch hour. Hats are offered in simple seed stitch, ribbed, fair isle patterns, or even four having ear flaps.

I enjoy knitting fair isle patterns and am happy to find a number of items offered in fair isle.

The section titled His and Hers provides more fair isle work as well as more hats, scarves, geometrics, cables and knitting possibilities.

Trisha Malcolm's well designed assemblage - Accessorize: Scarves-Hats-Ponchos-Socks & Mittens is packed with a satisfactorily rounded multiplicity of knit wear to stimulate the fancy of the most inveterate knitter.

From a diagonal stitch handbag, to mittens and gloves, scarves, ponchos, hats, warm cable graced winter socks and even covers for golf clubs it will darn near impossible for knitters to NOT find something to tickle their fancy or get those knitting needles going. Happy to recommend.

Help!: Debunking the Outrageous Claims of Self-help Gurus
Paul Damien
Synergy Books
9781934454145 $12.95

Writer Paul Damien says in the preface of his Help!: Debunking the Outrageous Claims of Self-help Gurus that the aim of Help! His intention is to assess critically what he calls a ominous class of trendy books that tends to rear its unsightly head from time to time.

Having read the preface; I set out to examine the book itself.

Chapter 0 is The Pustulates; in which the writer sets down what he views as the theories upon which Deepak Chopra bases his manuscript Ageless Body, Timeless Mind in addition to being the focus for many of his later works.

Chapter - 1 titled: The Negation in which writer Damien is persuaded that statistics used aimed at mass consumers in the US are an endeavor to deride us. In addition, Chapter 1 brings the reader information for Writing (Dirty) Secrets.

I found the chapter to be filled with a touch of the whimsical as the writer offered a series of words to learn by heart but not to necessarily comprehend in order to generate what he calls - guru type sentences - to 'grab the reader's attention by sounding as though a great, mystical concept is being put forth that could change the reader's life'. Damien says to become a guru; writers will need to develop a compilation of words to use. Whether the writer understands them is not important however. Writer Damien even offers some suggestions for writing self help books including a note that qualifications for doing so are actually none.

Reading through Help, it became evident that Author Damien has found a recent tome offered by author Rhonda Byrne to be particularly troubling. Damien states unabashedly that Byrne and Chopra are his main targets, Chopra because in the notion of Damien he is an amalgamation of Dr Fritjof Capra and Dr Scott Peck. Damien says where fitting, connections to Byrne's resent book are posited.

Other chapter titles include 2 Insect Nation, 3 Damien's Laws to combat the Seven Choprasin Laws and 4 The Three Tenors. Chapter 5 entitled The Guru talks of the Placebo Effect, and Originality, while Chapter 6 touches on Deadened Buyers. Chapter 7 wraps up the work with Final Thoughts before listing appendices, 4, and listing a group of notes prior to the bibliography.

I'm not sure how much sincerity Writer Damien intended readers would share while reading his book Help!: Debunking the Outrageous Claims of Self-help Gurus. His writing is proficient, sharp and laced with humor. Damien points out that Self Help gurus make lots of money by purportedly enlightening the public on the subject of the great secrets of the world. Gurus according to Damien tell the rest of us how to live and what to believe on the pages of their books.

Writer Paul Damien uses a blend of stinging wittiness and mordant satire to take on Deepak Chopra as well as others of the various gurus. Damien feels that the secrets they develop will aid us all toward becoming little more than intolerable people. He says that to be a guru, it is fundamental to generate an aura of writing with passion. To do so, according to Damien, the flourishing guru jazzes up inconsequential sentences with Eastern twaddle.

At time Paul Damien uses an almost overpowering blend of wittiness, lampooning, and common sense, to divulge the haziness, characterless, and entire ludicrousness that he feels encompasses the so called work of a good many well-known self-help authors. Interesting read, interesting premise, happy to recommend for those who are not at all sure they agree with gurus.

The Luminous Heartbeat
Wendy Victor
Ovation Books
PO Box 80107 Austin TX
9780979027574 $24.95

The Luminous Heartbeat is a stimulating work set down in three separate partitions: Five Thousand Years of Silence in which Victor investigates why women stepped out of the midpoint of influence and the repercussions held for our particular time. Next Victor scrutinizes The Genesis Garden where what she terms as the fable of Creation is recreated through art and poetry, and as a final point she makes available a straightforward tale of female action in the world in the section titled Wings of the Cherubim.

On the pages of The Luminous Heartbeat, Wendy Victor offers women a general idea of why the helpful female influences upon lives have been for the most part ignored, downplayed or hidden from view. She offers insight into the spiritual world and why it appears to be so patriarchal in scope.

Exquisite photographs and magnificent prose are found on the pages of Division 1; five thousand years ago sexuality, and authority of women were viewed in a very different way than is found today. Those were the days of the formal procedure of Sacred Marriage, in which a male was united sexually with a goddess or her priestess, before he was sacrificed. Seven chapters, an epilogue and bibliography are found on the seventy four pages comprising Five Thousand Years of Silence.

Part 2, The Genesis Garden continues the theme that through the ages women have made many contributions to society and the furthering of humanity despite the reality that those contributions have largely gone unsung. The Genesis Garden beginning on page 75, offers illustrations from Dora Frost, begins with a Prologue, continues through Five Chapters, Acknowledgments and an extensive Bibliography.

Victor wraps up her work with Part 3, titled The Wings of the Cherubim. Illustrated with a grouping of photographs, taken by the author who is a proficient photographer and showing the people and villages throughout Africa; the reader is brought to a perceptive of a vibrant location filled with vibrant women. This is a place where women worship, live, raise their children and restore their lives and their hope.

Victor has crafted a justifiably provocative book in which she investigates how we, as an advanced nation, can gain knowledge from cultures and communities and people who are not nearly so advanced as we.

Victor discovered much of history has been recorded by men and she has come to the conclusion that because men are the recorders of history; they tend to down play the contributions of women. Gilded pages coupled with a medieval type design for the frontispiece provides a lovely design for this work provided by gifted writer, story teller Victor. She has intertwined events of history, her own life and that of the women she continues to meet into a single compelling strand.

The Luminous Heartbeat is a good-looking, robust volume completed with heavy, satiny paper, gilded edges, a ribbon marker, and copious illustrations. Writer Victor is a woman interested in comparative religion, is a skilled photographer, and lives with her husband in Florida. Her book is a cache of material to be read and reread. Happy to recommend.

Molly Martin

Paul's Bookshelf

The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy
John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
18 W. 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
9780374531508, $15.00,

This book takes a much-needed look at the "special relationship" that exists between America and Israel.

First of all, the authors do not question that Israel has the right to exist within secure borders, or its right to lobby Washington for its interests, or that America should aid Israel if it is attacked. But, the current unconditional level of US support for Israel ($154 billion since 1948) cannot be justified on moral or strategic grounds.

Perhaps Israel was a strategic ally during the Cold War, but now it has become a growing liability. America's one-sided support for Israel has helped fuel America's terrorism problem, it has reinforced anti-Americanism around the world, and relations with key allies have suffered. The moral case for unconditional US support also is not compelling. Israel is a democracy, but no other democracy gets the same level of US support. Israel's policies toward the Palestinians and its Arab neighbors have helped to destroy the myth of Israel as victim and the Arabs as aggressors.

Why does Israel keep receiving such one-sided support from America, even when its actions directly contradict US interests? Why is the discussion of Israeli actions more wide-ranging in Israel than in America? The "Israel Lobby" is a loose confederation of groups like AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League and Christian Zionists, with Israel at the center. They don't just lobby Washington and write newspaper op-eds, they also publicly smear anyone who says something of which they don't approve.

An actual discussion of Israel's influence in America, free of charges of anti-Semitism, is long overdue here in America. This book does a fine, and non-partisan, job of starting that discussion. It is very much recommended.

Operation Save the Innocent
Tony Ruggiero
Dragon Moon Press
3521 43 A Avenue, Red Deer, AB, T4N 3E9 Canada
1896944604, $16.95,

Part two of a series, this book is about the use of vampires as present-day US Government assassins.

In part one, John Reese ran a very high-level military program called Team of Darkness, a team of three vampires ordered to kill selected targets. Led by a vampire called Dmitri, they had little choice in the matter. Around each of their necks was a permanent metal collar filled with a serum, that, at the touch of a button, would be injected into them, and kill them slowly and painfully. At the end of the book, Reese freed the three, telling his superiors that he killed them.

In this story, a megalomaniac officer named General Stone secretly obstructed Reese's efforts to abolish the program. He has also secretly secured two young girls, a 13-year-old and her 8-year-old sister, to be his own personal assassins, with similar collars. They were turned into vampires through a Balkan (southeast Europe) equivalent of the Hatfield's and McCoy's feud. General Stone is found dead, murdered by Christina, another vampire, who could be said to have started all of this. She was found in a cave in the Balkans near the end of World War II, and was convinced to come to America.

Dmitri and his two colleagues find out about the two sisters, and break them out of a very secure military prison, the same one in which they were held. Reese, supposedly retired from the military, is forcibly recalled to active duty (by an ultra-secret agency called The Agency) with the task of finding them. The alternative is to spend the rest of his life in military prison. He also starts a "relationship" with Christina, and is unaware of her story.

This novel does a fine job of combining a vampire story with a political thriller. I am not much of a vampire novel lover, but I am very interested in reading future novels in this series.

The Nexus Colony
G.F. Schreader
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
143270088X, $20.95,

This story is set in present-day Antarctica, where The Ice is almost a living thing that pervades all aspects of daily life. On a scientific mission, unknown items are found embedded in the ice. They are brought back to McMurdo base as scientific oddities, then quickly snatched up by the US Government when they are found to be not of human origin. Immediately, the bureaucratic nonsense begins. Should the high-level expedition to see what else can be found be military-run or government-run? Should the scientists who found the artifacts be included? The problem with trying to run a top-secret anything in Antarctica is that, in a small world like that, nothing stays secret for very long.

The expedition is led by Colonel Abbott, someone with considerable experience concerning retrieved spaceships. While checking a nearby crevasse for stability, Mike Ruger, mountaineer and the group's Antarctic survival expert, finds a very large something buried many feet under the ice. After much diligent digging and ice-chopping, an entrance is found into a large alien spaceship. In one of the ship's inner rooms, Abbott and Ruger finally meet the aliens. They are suddenly consumed by a feeling of absolute, primal terror. It's the alien's way of saying that the sooner the humans leave (not just the ship, but the whole area), the better. On the military transport plane taking the members of the group back to McMurdo, the aliens are, shall we say, not yet done with them.

The author has a background in military intelligence, and is a lifelong UFO enthusiast. He must have done a lot of research on living in Antarctica, because this scores very high in the Plausible and Feels Real department. It's a thrilling story, too. Not all aliens have any desire to talk to humans.

A People's History of American Empire
Howard Zinn, Mike Konopacki and Paul Buhle
Metropolitan Books
c/o Henry Holt and Company
175 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10010
0805087443, $17.00,

This is a graphic novel adaptation of Zinn's famous history book, "A People's History of the United States."

It doesn't cover everything in "A People's History...", but starts with the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890, when American soldiers killed or wounded 300 Native Americans in about an hour. In the 1890's, America was going through a depression, so a foreign enemy was needed against which to rally the public (along with finding new markets to exploit). The Cuban Revolution was attempting to throw off four centuries of Spanish rule. The sister of a Cuban rebel leader told the story of being searched for secret documents by a Spanish matron while on a US steamer. The American press turned it into an accusation by Spain that America was too weak to defend the honor of its women, and that women on American steamers were being strip searched. Calls were made to annex Cuba. The spark needed to start the Spanish-American War was the destruction of an American battleship in Havana harbor ("Remember the Maine"). Spain was blamed, but the US government was

During World War I, the Espionage Act was passed to criminalize any antiwar talk that could be interpreted as discouraging enlistment. The law also secretly empowered private associations to spy on "disloyal" Americans. After World War II was won, but not officially over, the new American empire decided to start testing its new weapons on defenseless people. Zinn was involved in a bombing raid on a French town where several thousand German soldiers waited for the end of the war. On that day, over 1200 planes dropped nearly 400,000 gallons of napalm on the town of Royan.

Did you know that during the war, the wearing of zoot suits was considered dangerous, and was a kind of draft resistance? This book also looks at Vietnam, the Civil Rights era, the Pentagon Papers, the Contra War in Nicaragua, and the Iranian Revolution. It has a bibliography for those who want to read further.

For those who have never read "A People's History of the United States," perhaps intimidated by its several hundred page length, this is a wonderful alternative. For those who have read Zinn's book, this helps to put a face to the names, and is still very highly recommended.

Who Hates Whom?
Bob Harris
Three Rivers Press
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
0307394360, $16.95,

Subtitled "Well-Armed Fanatics, Intractable Conflicts, and Various Things Blowing Up: A Woefully Incomplete Guide," this book gives short essays on the various "little wars" going on around the world.

Where is the world's deadliest conflict since World War II? Try the Democratic Republic of the Congo, right in the middle of Africa, where nearly 4 million people have been killed in the last six years. Huge deposits of gold, diamonds and copper, all over the country, have not helped the situation. The term "blood diamonds" came from the simultaneous civil wars in the west African countries of Cote D'Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone (also paid for with diamond mining).

Burma is full of various ethnic groups who have had a hard time getting along with each other. Currently, it is like a Third World Soviet Union, a group of diverse lands controlled by police state tactics. Did you know that the official calendar in North Korea says that time began with the birth of Kim Il-Sung? While it's 2008 in the rest of the world, in North Korea, it's the year 97.

In a way, America is financing both sides in the civil war in Colombia. On one side, the US Government sends millions of dollars in aid, usually military, to the right-wing government. On the other side, Colombia produces 80% of the world's cocaine, of which America consumes more than half, so American drug users are financing the rebels.

The national motto of Scotland, translated into English, is "Nobody provokes me with impunity." Seriously. The nationalist symbol of Wales is the leek, a type of large green onion. Nobody knows why.

Who Hates Whom? may be intended as a humor book, but it does a really good job at explaining the various wars and insurrections that sometimes reach the evening news.

Mass Control: Engineering Human Consciousness
Jim Keith
Adventures Unlimited Press
One Adventure Place, Kempton, IL 60946-0074
1931882215, $16.95, 1-815-253-6390

For ages, the world's elite have been engaged in a war against the people of Earth. Driven by extreme greed, one aspect of this war was the transformation of psychology. In Germany of the late 19th century, it was changed from a humanistic to a scientific field of study used as a method of total control.

Most of today's news media is controlled by half a dozen companies, so the American people are only being told what they want us to know. The penetration of the TV networks by the intelligence agencies has been going on since the early 1900s. Of course, a well known technique for manipulating mankind is through eugenics, "perfecting" humanity through genetics (along with sterilization and murder for the "unfit"). Another technique of control is to destroy traditional morality, and to normalize deviancy. Enter Alfred Kinsey of the "Kinsey Report."

Experiments began during World War I to create mind-controlled intelligence agents and assassins through hypnosis. If it can be used to cure a person of multiple personalities, then hypnosis can be used to create multiple personalities (like "The Manchurian Candidate"). Much research under the CIA's program MKULTRA took place in Canada. It was conducted by a psychologist who wanted to see if, through drugs and electroshock, a person's behavior patterns can be totally erased, then replaced with new behavior patterns.

Another famous MKULTRA figure injected an elephant with a huge dose of LSD supposedly to provide insight into animal behavior. The elephant collapsed in a stupor, and while trying to revive it with other drugs, Dr. Louis "Jolly" West killed the animal. This book explores the role of the occult and religion in world control, electronic brain implants, mind-controlled sex slaves, electronic mind control and psi war.

This is a really interesting book, though it may also seem more than a little bit spooky. It will give the reader plenty to think about.

Strange Liberators: Militarism, Mayhem and the Pursuit of Profit
Gregory Elich
Llumina Press
P.O. Box 772246, Coral Springs, FL 33077-2246
1595265708, $25.95,

American foreign policy, especially during the Bush Administration, has been characterized as "incompetent" or "misguided," along with other such words. On the contrary, American foreign policy is actually very competent and works quite well, when its real purpose is to make the world safe for wealthy Western investors. Any country, no matter its size, that refuses to go along with America's demands is to be strangled into submission, by any means available.

Americans remember the Korean War as a limited "police action." North Koreans remember it as a time of total annihilation, when everything and anything was bombed. The seemingly irrational North Korean fear of an American invasion becomes much more rational considering that, in 1994, the Clinton Administration was very close to declaring war on North Korea, because of its nuclear program. The use of nuclear weapons to destroy North Korea's nuclear facilities would have spread radioactivity over most of the Korean peninsula, and killed hundreds of thousands of people, a fact which really didn't bother the Clinton Administration.

North Korea, in the midst of a huge energy crisis, has been willing to scrap its uranium reprocessing capabilities, in exchange for a couple of light water reactors (which are not good for reprocessing), and shipments of heavy oil until the reactors are finished. America and North Korea signed an agreement in 1994, which America promptly ignored. The American bargaining postition, from then until now, is full of bullying, and threats, and demanding that North Korea totally scrap its nuclear program, before America will agree to any kind of talks (with no guarantee that America will agree to do anything for North Korea).

The justification for the bombing and invasion of Yugoslavia was that hundreds of thousands of Albanians were being thrown out of Yugoslavia. The problem is that there was no evidence of thousands of people in mass graves, and the exodus of refugees started after the bombing. The 77 days of NATO bombing was supposed to target military facilities; nearly anything was considered a military target. Industrial plants were targeted, to cause maximum economic hardship, and all sorts of toxic materials were released into the atmosphere. In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe's "crime" was to put the interests of his people ahead of those of Western investors.

I thought that I knew my way around present-day international relations, but this book was a huge eye-opener. Using local media sources (Korean, Yugoslav and Zimbabwean), Elich has written an amazing book. See for yourself what "democracy" from America means to the rest of the world.

Paul Lappen, Reviewer

Richard's Bookshelf

The Media Savvy Leader
David Henderson
Robert D. Reed Publishers
P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon 97411
9781934759202, $19.95,

Media Communications that Enhance Competitive Positioning and Brand Awareness

David Henderson, veteran communications strategist, provides "a candid look at why some leaders are high-profile media stars who generate outstanding results while other are relegated to stand in the shadows." The Media Savvy Leader" is the result of interviewing dozens of businesses, associations, non-profit leaders and over 150 journalists.

Henderson begins the book with an insider's perspective on up-to-the-minute ways leaders are made and become recognized in today's competitive media world. He stresses the importance of strategic positioning, reputation, and image management which create clear messages that produces influence. He offers the reader insight into the distinctive techniques which make news. He discusses the dynamics of technology, audience shifts, changing revenue streams, and news cycles. He shows how traditional tools of media are fast becoming obsolete.

Part One shows the reader how to gain influence in the midst of noise, hype and power. Part Two deals with achieving clarity in a cluttered world. Part three covers how to develop a distinctive voice of leadership.

"The Media Savvy Leader" is highly endorsed by well known entrepreneurs, in Television, the printed media, and internet communications. Packed with powerful content and strategies this is a book for executives of companies, associations, and organizations who recognize the benefits of favorable media coverage.

The Ancient Portals of Heaven
David Herzog
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768426656, $15.99,

Find Supernatural Power Through Ancient Pathways to God's Glory

"The Ancient Portals of Heaven." guides the reader into supernatural resurrection power by helping them enter into spiritual gateways called the portals of heaven.

Herzog has done thorough and extensive research on interesting obscured historical information, archaeological discoveries, and scientific facts of the advanced wisdom in Israel, especially during the days of King Solomon's reign. Herzog uses personal stories of "exercising kingdom authority" as well as stories from many others who tell of direct encounters with Jesus.

Ancient geographical portals are described as locations today where a portal to Heaven was opened in ancient times. Many of these portals still exist today to those who have the right of entry. The cities of Jerusalem, Bethel, Galilee, and Eden are examples of these portals. Each of these cities has a unique supernatural identity as a portal of healing, miraculous phenomena, signs, covenants, restoration, or salvation.

There are seasonal portals as well as the geogrphapical which include the feasts of God, or the Jewish feasts. These are available to anyone all believers. Celebrating the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of the Tabernacles, Passover, or the Lord's Day can result in Great glory.

"The Ishmael-Muslim" connection is both interesting and helpful in light of world events today. It is significant that the eyes of the world are being focused on the Middle East today. It was refreshing to read of Herzog's involvement in Worldwide Harvest in Israel, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

"The Ancient Portals of Heaven" is well documented, skillfully written, and persuasively expressed. The reader is lifted into heavenly places of glory, favor, and blessing. This is an important addition to Herzog's other writings on the mystery of glory unveiled.

Prayer Storm
James W. Goll
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768427165, $15.99,

A Worldwide Community of An Internet-based Intercessors

The book "Prayer Storm" takes the reader to a new level of prayer. James Goll introduces an extraordinary high point in experiencing intercessory prayer. This is prayer that wins battles, a world changing kind of prayer. Goll invites the reader to join with others in an international Internet virtual house of prayer.

Goll sets the pace for the book in Part I by sharing his Vision for "Prayer Storm" and goes on to describe the concept. He helps the reader understand intercessory prayer and its importance by using Greek and Hebrew word studies. I appreciated the fact that these word studies were at a layman's level of understanding.

Part II develops the concept of spirit empowered "prayer storm praying." Goll discusses how fasting and crisis praying lead into tapping the power of high praise. Part III is filled with models and patterns for prayer storm intercession. Samples of some deeply moving and powerful prayers are included. These are prayers that can be used in praise, intercession, and worship. They are prayers designed to help the reader respond to God's call as a storm praying intercessor and participant.

Goll's writes with a balance of practical teaching and a impassioned zeal. His message is important, necessary and timely in light of the spiritual battle and the onslaught of satan that the Christian faces in today's world.

The reader is invited to join the Prayer Storm team who are praying for revival in the church and for Israel and the descendents of Abraham. They are also praying for the greatest youth awakening the church has ever seen.

Goll's message in "Prayer Storm" is compelling, persuasive, and well-timed. This is book for anyone desirous of becoming involved globally in an intercessory prayer outreach.

It Was You, All Along
Gary Spinell
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432720025 $16.95,

Steps to Self Realization

Gary Spinell writes openly of his journey from low self esteem and self confidence in his book "It Was You, All Along." Gary tells how he created change and the life he desired by acquiring new beliefs and traits by learning to release positive energy.

The book demonstrates that individually we have the power to make our life become whatever we want it to be and that our world is comprised, created and built by the energy of our thoughts, words and actions.

Part I summarizes how American society and culture over the last 50 years have impacted our belief systems. The depression of the 1930s, the generation of baby boomers, women coming into the work force, and the new age of technology are all examples of this impact. Spinell discusses how impatience, discrimination, the quick fix, the concept of suing, and the lack of assuming individual responsibility are all a result of society's influence.

Part II introduces five universal laws and ten key steps that will help you discover how to create the world of your desire and your own reality. I enjoyed the format of the book which highlights significant points and tips. These short synopsis statements and a natural lead paragraph into the next chapter are helpful as they enable the reader to quickly assimilate and retain key points. Spinell challenges the reader to approach their journey with a feeling of curiosity and anticipation.

Gary uses personal examples of applying the universal laws and the dynamic forces at work in the world to create his desired reality. The eight action steps to becoming a person of high esteem were especially helpful. Gary relates his experiences in a candid yet positive approach which allows the reader to identify, empathize, and emulate Gary's success principles.

Spinell's own example demonstrates the success of his formula for inner strength and personal growth. "It Was You, All Along" is a powerful illustration of the importance of resolve, determination, and conviction. It is a practical straightforward guide for attaining success, inner peace and happiness.

The Holy Spirit and the End Times
James A. Wilson
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768426953, $16.99,

A Season of Real Life Miracles in the Last Days

James A. Wilson establishes that reconciliation must be the prime component of a ministry in "The Holy Spirit and the End Times."

The book is filled with awe inspiring stories, exciting experiences, and miraculous events that are happening in every day circumstances to ordinary people.

These stories illustrate prophetic acts: "The prophetic act and its impact are demonstrable and documentable - and so clearly identifiable as a miraculous intervention of God that there are simply no circumstantial ways to explain it away."

Wilson uses Shasta County in Northern California and the center of his intercultural ministry to further illustrate how the prophetic community and prophetic intercession can impact events within a region.

James shares a testimony of his early ministry, and of the ways in which the Lord directed his path from Danville, Virginia, to Redding, California and of the important lessons learned in pastorates in San Francisco and Gilroy, also in California in preparation for his ministry today.

I was captivated by the thought of depending on God "… to conceive, conceptualize, and create what is on His mind and place it on ours." Wilson draws lessons from familiar Biblical passages as well as current incidents to illustrate and reinforce the powerful message of the Holy Spirit working today in these end times.

A chapter titled "A Season of Unusual Miracles" is filled with stories of God's working in surprising and extraordinary ways. I also enjoyed the practical pointers which lead to "practicing the presence."

"The Holy Spirit and the End Times" is heartily endorsed by well known Christian leaders from around the world. Wilson's writing is visibly anointed, fluent, and timely. This is a book for a new generation of believers. Firmly established Christians will also be empowered to live and minister with new power in the work of propagating Gospel message and the message of the Kingdom.

The Last Cowboy
Daniel Uebbing
Robert D. Reed Publishers
P O Box 1992, Bandon, OR 97411
99781934759134, $14.95,

A Western Drama in a Modern Setting

"The Last Cowboy" is a fictional story of Henry Dunn. Henry swaggered into a bar in Strickland, Oregon. His insolence offended the drunken sheriff who challenged Henry to a duel. Henry wins the duel but is forced to leave Oregon after killing the sheriff.

Daniel Uebbing has written a spoof on the West depicted by the genre of writing found in pulp Western novels and in Western movie and TV scripts. He has overlaid the Old West to a contemporary setting, with neon lights, movie stars, modern day malls and conveniences.

Uebbing follows Henry's hardships as he travels from Oregon to Las Vegas, keeping one step ahead of the law in this tongue in cheek parody. While in Las Vegas Henry spent or lost his money by gambling, on drugs, and on prostitutes.

When Henry hit bottom, he thought of Angie, his high school sweetheart in Kansas. He decided to change his life once and for all. Henry heads east to return to Angie. In his mock epic Uebbing puts Henry in a bizarre experience with a group of drop out Bohemians. Graphic descriptions portray exaggerated sex and violence intended to satirize a seamy side of life.

Henry's travels take him through the desert, the Grand Canyon, Nebraska, Tennessee, and the Badlands of South Dakota. His companion for much of his journey was the young son of a dead prostitute. The "Kid" was in search of the American dream, a home, a mother, and taste of idealism. He died in an accident in South Dakota and never got to meet Angie in "Mid America."

Daniel Uebbing has captured the discrepancies between what we read in our Western novels and the actual history of the West in his book "The Last Cowboy" He uses a surrealistic satiric mock epic style to prove that we still have real cowboys today. Debauchery, drunkenness and alcohol are the evil pitted against a heroic renegade or a powerful sheriff. Add an underlying message of the American ideal and the result is a parody on the American way of life.

Billy and the Birdfrogs
B. B. Wurge
Leapfrog Press LLC
PO Box 2110, Teaticket, MA 02536
9780981514826, $9.95,

A Highly Creative Imagination - A Wacky Adventure

"Billy and the Birdfrogs" is a zany story of adventure beneath the streets of New York City. Billy's mother was a paleontologist. Billy's father worked as her head assistant on her archaeological projects. While still a young child Billy's mother mysteriously disappeared. As a result of her disappearance his father deserted Billy. As the story begins Billy is living with his unconventional grandmother.

The Manhattan townhouse where Billy lives with his grandmother contained and underground passage. Threatened by strange birdfrogs, coming up from the tunnel, Billy's grandmother boarded up the basement door. To ward off further attacks by the birdfrogs she boarded up all the doors of the house They became virtual prisoners within their own home. Trap doors, wooly mammoth fossils, and underground caverns all became a part of Billy's intriguing exploration.

Wurge creative imagination triggers a chain reaction as the plot develops. The reader is confronted with brain exploding wild images, visualizations, and ideas of their own. Wurge uses mystery, suspense, conflict, to build a plot of non stop adventure. His character development is superb. I found I empathized with Billy and his grandmother. I felt a distain for the villains

Mr. Earpicker, Miss Pointy, and Mr. Jubber.

The book is filled with clever illustrations, delightful humor, and a marvelous story. The book is line designed to be enjoyed by children ages 9 - 12, but with an appeal for all ages. An ideal book for reading aloud to young children. "Billy and the Birdfrogs" is entertaining, downright funny, and highly imaginative. A great read.

Muslims, Christians, and Jesus
Carol Medearis
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue So., Bloomington, MN 55438
9780764205675, $13.99,

The Challenge of Introducing Jesus to the Peoples of Muslim Countries

In his book "Muslims, Christians, and Jesus" Carl Medearis is hoping to help the reader see Jesus more clearly, know Him more tangibly, and find Him more accessible, less theoretical, less mystical, and more real.

It is his prayer that the book will help the reader increase in insight, experience greater compassion, and mature in their faith. He gives examples of ways to communicate as a follower of Christ, while seeing Muslims as Jesus saw people, interacting at their level of need.

Medearis frequently refers to "A Christ-like Perspective." These perspectives were often new to me and I examined my own motives in light of the life and example of Jesus. I enjoyed Carl's stories of faith. These stories are drawn from his own experiences. He shares how by showing friendship to a Muslim often resulted in other fruitful events that extended far beyond the incident itself.

The chapter titles clearly state the material to be covered. The subject matter is presented in a logical and orderly manner. Medearis covers the basic foundation tenents of Islam, their articles of faith, angels, the Holy Books of Muslims, the prophets, judgment day, and predestination.

Carl talked about the five pillar of Islam. These include: The testimony, the fast, giving, prayer, and pilgrimage. Another chapter gives a comparison of passages from the Qur'an and the New Testament.

The main focus of Carl's message is to challenge the Western Christian to befriend Muslims, overcoming fear through a genuine love. Carl provides a Christ-like perspective on reaching out to our Muslim neighbors.

Medearis' has spent twenty-five years in working with Muslims. This first hand experiences has compelled him to proclaim the message of "Muslims, Christians, and Jesus." Carl's message is simple, yet profound. His writing is credible, persuasive, and clear. This book is informative, inspirational, and timely.

No Child Left Behind
Elizabeth Blake
Hudson House
675 Dutchess Turnpike, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
9781587768798, $15.95,

The Trials and Tests of Teaching at Risk Students

The first five pages of Elizabeth Blake's (by the way no relation) story found me helplessly engrossed. I was hooked and had to read "No Child Left Behind: The True Story of a Teacher's Quest."

After 20 years as a Medical Technologist in chemistry and hematology Elizabeth Blake was looking for a change, for a new career. She felt a deep-seated sense of calling to pursue the required education courses of the State Department of Education for a provisional license for teaching.

The call of teaching and helping teen age at-risk kids pulled her like a magnet. She received a contract as a Science teacher at a small alternative school for at-risk and homeless kids. These students couldn't make it in regular high school classes.

A romantic and a bit naive Elizabeth was not ready for what transpired on her first day of classroom experience. Carefully laid plans exploded. Chaos ruled. Beth quickly discovered that many of her students were juvenile offenders and had probation officers. Many attended school by a court order. Some wore electronic tracking bracelets on their ankles. Others had to drop out of regular school where they didn't fit in and needed alternative options.

Elizabeth introduces special students like Conejo, Javier, Bobby, Nakisha, and Erica, who were filled with promise and showed signs of maturity and real evidence of learning in their classes with Mrs. Blake. This motivation inspired her to renew her contract each year, even though she sometimes was given assignments in three different schools.

Administrators and district office personnel made a Elizabeth's teaching experience an even more difficult challenge in a school district where poverty, shooting, and gang influence were an accepted way of life. The administration and school board gave lip service to their district's ministry: "Our teachers deal with problem students. Every child deserves and education."

I identified with Beth's dilemma. As a Christian Educator myself, I have worked with a Faith Based Ministry serving the needs of incarcerated juveniles. The undermining of the administration with the trauma, riots, and chaos became a burden hard to face. Beth was heartbroken each time another of her students was injured, hospitalized or killed. In desperation she cried out to God for direction and inner strength. She compassion and a loving concern for her students.

I found Blake's writing style gripping, often heartrending, yet her attitude and approach are always positive. I was encouraged by her references to students who have chosen to enroll in a variety of college programs or to train for more specialized professional careers.

"No Child Left Behind? The True Story of a Teacher's Quest" is a book that will challenge school administrators, teachers and educators. It should be required reading specifically for educators and administrators within any inner city school district.

Finding Divine Inspiration
J. Scott McElroy
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768427028, $15.99,

Collaboration With the Holy Spirit in the Creative Arts

"Finding Divine Inspiration" is written with the intent of helping creative artists develop a foundation that will allow them to incorporate "listening ears, an obedient heart, a pure mind, and an expectant desire to work in partnership with the Creator of the universe."

J. Scott McElroy relates his journey that led to a natural and consistent experience of creative collaboration. Scott challenges Christian artists to pursue ways that the Holy Spirit can use their creative arts which are infused with an inspired prophetic message.

Scotts writing reflects his own solid grasp on truth. He has a compelling way of communicating art as a conduit of life. His message resonates with a love for the works of classical artists, musicians and writers. He has a passion as well for contemporary artists and authors who have been involved with the Holy Spirit in their creative process.

I valued the look behind the scenes in Scott's writer's journal, in which he shared affirmations, prophetic words, frustrations, and his own experiences in the process of writing in collaboration with the Holy Spirit.

The book is filled food with profound thoughts for meditation and reflection. Scott¢s writing is inspirational and motivational and clearly evidences that Scott himself has collaborated with the Holy Spirit of God.

"Finding Divine Inspiration" addresses those directly involved in the creative arts; however, the book will be equally appreciated by any innovative person looking for encouragement and inspiration, while longing to fully engage with God in an act of committing their will to His.

Designer Genes
Ken Harrington
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768427004, $16.99,

Building Character that Creates Destiny

"Designer Genes" is written to help the reader enter into the full potential of all that God has planned and designed specifically for you. Ken Harrington provides keys to opening the doors to your destiny, and introduces principles for building faith in this book. He shows concrete ways for an individual to walk in spiritual authority and to help them see the magnitude the words of God are in Holy Spirit empowerment.

Harrington points out the relationship of faith and righteousness. He gives valuable insights into submission as the prerequisite to humility. I personally learned that patiently persisting in prayer accompanies the refreshing rest that occurs when we demonstrate our trust in His power to provide.

Ken uses Biblical examples and contemporary stories to illustrate how when we entrust our lives to God for His power to work in us He entrusts us with His ministry. The chapter on joy as the key to spiritual strength is especially helpful.

I appreciated the format of the book using bold highlighting for basic statements of truth. This was done throughout the text and found myself frequently going back to review and re-read the important keys to character building and creating destiny. I learned that we can be working at a level of faith that may not be at the same level as our character. When this happens we are limited in fulfilling God's purpose for our lives.

"Designer Genes" is Biblically based, relevance, easily understood, yet profound in its message. I hope to read more of Ken Harrington in the near future. This is a book for those who have a strong desire to be conformed to the image Jesus.

Two Guys Read Jane Austen
Steve Chandler and Terrence N. Hill
Robert D. Reed Publishers
P.O. Box 1992, Bandon, OR 97411
9781934759172, $11.95,

See Jane Austen's Books from a Man's Viewpoint

Steve Chandler and Terrence N. Hill have collaborated in writing a "two guys read" series, "Two Guys Read Jane Austen" is the third in this series.

I have read and enjoyed books by Steve Chandler in the past. He is on my list of favorite authors. I am adding Terry Hill and will be watching for more of his writing.

An active member of the Jane Austen Society is in a writers group I attend. Our members all hold her in high esteem. She is articulate, brilliant, and reserved and displays some of Jane Austen in her spirit. I couldn't wait to tell her I was reading a book about Jane's writing written by two guys.

I though maybe Steve and Terry would poke fun at men who read Jane Austen and was pleasantly surprised to find Terry's respect for her brilliance and excellence as a writer.

The "Two Guys" book follows a unique format which I assume was true of the earlier books as well. The approach is quite unique and makes perfect sense in a day of blogs, e-mail, and the numberless means of modern communication techniques. Using e-mails Steve and Terry reviewed "Pride and Prejudice" and "Mansfield Park" for this book. Steve and Terry kept mails going as they carried out schedules that took one or the other from New York to Mexico as well as Phoenix, Santa Monica, Vancouver, and other cities throughout the project. These e-mails make up the core of this amazing book.

Throughout the e-mail correspondence Steve and Terry shared memories, bantered about personal philosophy, with references to people watching in hotel lobbies, and restaurants. These observations always led into a discussion of the book, Jane's skill as a writer or comments regarding one of Jane's characters.

Terry summed up the essence of Jane's writing: "Jane Austen allows the male reader a secret look into the minds of brilliant, creative, virtuous women...Austen's heroines are each true to themselves and win in the end. Classy women who combine high intelligence with inner strength and virtue."

"Two Guys Read Jane Austen" is entertaining, funny, conversational, and a great tribute to the genius of Jane Austen as a writer.

Prayer Storm Study Guide
James W. Goll
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768427172, $24.99,

How to Create Your Own Prayer Storm

The "Prayer Storm Study Guide" is a valuable instruction manual and resource tool to accompany the book by the same title. Together this material will help the reader catch the vision of Prayer Storm. This is a call to become engaged in a consistent, persistent, prayer life.

Each chapter of the study guide includes an expansion of the material provided in the earlier book which includes a treasure trove of helpful material leading into four expressions of prayer. At the end of each chapter there is a brief summary statement, thought provoking questions for contemplation, and stimulating personal application questions. These questions encourage openness and total honesty on the part of the reader as they consider family, local, and global prayer needs.

"Prayer Storm Study Guide" provides practical guidance which will help the reader ready themselves for spiritual battle and will give them the necessary boldness to join other worshippers and intercessors to impact change in the world today.

The "Prayer Storm Study Guide" is formatted to coordinate with the book by the same title. The study guide includes an index which supplies resource materials for intercessors, websites, e-mail addresses, and endnotes with references for additional reading and further study.

James W. Goll writes with compassion as he delivers a message and vision for and unbroken prayer chain for: revival in the church, the greatest youth awakening ever, for Israel, and for all the descendants of Abraham, and for God's intervention in times of major crisis.

For the Love of St. Nick
Garasamo Maccagnone
Booksurge LLC
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439210123, $8.99,

Tiger's Christmas Miracle

Life changed dramatically for Tiger when Johnny, his younger brother, Johnny, was born. Tiger's mother died while giving birth to Johnny. Oxygen deprivation at his birth left Johnny listless and with a weakened immune system. Johnny was susceptible to every virus that came along.

During Johnny's third year the family moved to the state of Michigan where, the Commander, the boys' father, was transferred to serve as a Navy officer on loan to the U. S. Air Force on special assignment.

Maccagnone colorfully describes northern Michigan winters near Lake Huron, the weather, children's games, ice fishing, skating, and the uniqueness of small town living in a wilderness cabin steeped in snow.

The characters are so genuine and real I felt that the book was biographical.

Mrs. Pennington, a local farmer's wife, took care of the boys during the day. She also took on the role of tutor as she home schooled the boys. She was a dedicated Catholic and passed along her sense of appreciation for the saints, including St. Nick.

Tiger often spoke of memories he had of his mother with Johnny. He spoke in such loving and beautiful ways that sometimes during his Johnny's illnesses he told Tiger the he wanted to leave his suffering to be with their mother in heaven.

At thanksgiving time, when Tiger was nine, the Commander's team was activated to participate in a dangerous secret mission. They hoped to return by Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Mrs. Pennington went with her son to buy supplies, in preparation for a storm. While alone with Tiger, Johnny suddenly became critically ill.

Garasamo Maccagnone is a man with a creative imagination. The final scenes are heart wrenching and dramatic, beautifully written, filled with trepidation and moving. The story is delightfully told by Tiger in a child's voice. He relates the reason for his childhood love of St. Nick. This is good "read aloud" family time reading. The depiction of a child's faith makes this a story that crosses denominational, ethnic, and cultural differences. This is must family reading for the Christmas season. Destined to become a Christmas Classic.

Understanding Provision, Communication and Death
Greg Rice
Destiny Image Publications, Inc.
P.O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257 0310
9780768427233, $15.99,

How To Open Your God Given Gifts, Talents, and Skills

"Understanding Provision, Communication, and Death" the second book in the series "The Gifts of Freedom, conveys profound insight into the significance of the gifts of gold, frankincense, and Myrrh. Each gift provides a key to knowing and understanding related spiritual principles.

Greg Rice develops the belief that gold represents God's promise to provide our physical needs, to give us joy and hope in adversity, and to uphold and protect us. He compares the sweet smelling aroma of incense with the pleasure God receives from our praise, worship, and prayer as we communicate with Him. He discusses how myrrh is a symbol of death. He shows how this implies death to self. He then shows how reflect on how the death of Christ and His resurrection with the promise of rebirth brings meaning and purpose to life.

The unique "action and visualization" feature was mentally stimulating and spiritually enriching for me personally. This feature encouraged me to reflect on the preceding key principle, thought, or related scripture. The exercise enhanced my understanding as well as the assimilation and application processes.

The comprehensive study guide is another important feature of the book. The study guide provides thought provoking questions and give the reader the opportunity to honestly respond to questions which personally stir the heart to life changing action. Another feature includes illustrated meditation points which bring home practical summary statements of the each chapter's highlights.

Greg's writing is fervent, pertinent, and convicting. "Understanding Provision, Communication, and Death" draws on selected scripture passages that under gird a strong message of God's provision; for answers to today's stress filled world, financial concerns, and fear of death.

The Ark, the Reed, & the Fire Cloud
Jenny L. Cote
Living Ink Books
c/o AMG Publishers
6815 Shallowford Road, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37421
9780899571980, $14.99,

An Incredible Fantasy Based on Biblical Concepts

"The Ark, the Reed, & the Fire Cloud" is a fantasy story and allegorical. The story is reminiscent of C. S. Lewis and his Chronicles of Narnia series. Jenny L. Cote captures the imagination of the juvenile reader to help them understand God's provision and preservation. Cote has created a fresh interpretation of the Biblical story of Noah's Ark.

Max a young Scott Terrier and Liz a petite black cat from France are the central characters. Together they follow the call of the Maker to "Come to Me." Setting out on their journey across Europe to the Middle East they attract a menagerie of worldwide animals. They arrive at their destination as they meet Noah who was instructed of God to build a huge ark to shelter his family and animals before heavy rains came. Noah invited them to board his Ark, two by two, to be saved from the in dangerous flood waters.

After the landing of the ark the story takes an unexpected twist. Max and Liz learn of an menacing plot to kill Noah. A stowaway was discovered on the ark. Our heroes were soon in a spiritual battle with a Charlatan, the Evil One.

Cotes has created a magical escapade in "The Ark, the Reed, & the Fire Cloud." Entertaining, informational, and inspirational the story offers hope in place of despair. I am anticipating more of these thrilling adventure tales of Max and Liz in the days ahead.

Gift of the Yucatan: A Different Mexican Cuisine
Trudy Sauri
Your Culture Gifts
P. O. Box 1245, Ellicott City, MD 21041
9780979763748, $18.00,

Authentic Yucatecan Meals

"A Different Mexican Cuisine" created by Trudy Sauri introduces children, ages nine through twelve, to a people and culture of the Yucatan peninsula of southern Mexico. This is the fifth in the Gift of the Yucatan series.

Colorful pictures and illustrations used throughout the book are mouth watering and enticing. The book provides twelve menus, for twelve individual meals with complete recipes with short cut ideas. These short cuts are especially helpful for younger chefs.

Although I am not a gourmet expert myself, I have come to appreciate the uniqueness of authentic food native to a country or culture. I have learned to enjoy together with them the experience of sharing a meal prepared from their recipes with their flavor preferences.

Trudy Sauri models this opportunity as she gives the details of a different Mexican Cuisine, an authentic Yucatecan Meal. She talks about a holiday menu including stuffed cheese ball (Bola de Queso Relleno). This is followed by a hearty stew menu of chickpea stew (Sopa de Garbanzo). She adds a Sunday dinner of rice with chicken (Arroz con Pollo). There are eight additional menus which conclude with a party treats menu of meat turnovers and crisp Tortillas (Empanadas y Panuchos). The barbeque menu of beef steak Yucatan style sounded mouth-watering.

Sauri includes a quick reference guide, a listing of exotic flavors, and three tasting tips to help the reader get the most from their experience in the cuisine of Yucatan, Mexico.

God Has a Purpose for Me
LaRonda Koffi
Children's Books LLC
P O Box 3237, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
9780981715001, $15.95,

Aya Responds to God's Purpose for Her Life

"God Has a Purpose for Me" is a uplifting story with a captivating message for children ages four through seven. LaRonda Koffi's creative narrative and Victor Guiza's beautiful colorful illustrations draw the young reader to respond to this enchanting story.

Victor's pictures reflect joy and excitement that endear the Aya and her friends to the reader. While attending the worship service in her church Aya became enthralled with the thought of fulfilling God's purpose for her life.

As she considers what it might mean she tries to put into action her understanding of fulfilling God's purpose, by making Him happy. She puts on her Mom's Sunday worship clothes thinking this might make God happy. Later she discovered a drum and some bells. As she marched with the drum and belles she sang and danced to make a joyful noise in an attempt to make God happy. She soon became tired from her efforts. Later in the evening she found the best way to make God happy as she listened to her father. She began to understand the secret of God's purpose for her life.

She learned how to please God in school, at home, with friends and in church in youth choir and in everything she did to glorify Him.

This is an excellent read aloud story book for younger children and a challenging and exciting primer for the early reader. "God Has a Purpose for Me" is a delightful book which encourages family relationships and spiritual development in the young child.

Richard R. Blake

Stephen's Bookshelf

The Post American World
Fareed Zakaria
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393062359, $25.95,

In this book Fareed Zakaria paints crystalline images that reveal not only how the world is changing but also why.

For decades, after World War II, the United States enjoyed political, economic, ideological and social hegemony on a global scale. And, for the most part, even though a hegemon, it was viewed as benevolent.

Today, there is much talk and hand wringing about declining American prestige and power in most if not all of the areas mentioned above. Viewed through that particular lens, the situation is dire and spiraling quickly downward. Fareed Zakaria sees the situation differently. What he sees happening is "The Rise of the Rest." He makes his point by asking to consider this:

"Look around. The tallest building in the world is now in Taipei, and it will soon be overtaken by one being built in Dubai. The world's richest man is Mexican, and its largest publicly traded corporation is Chinese. The world's biggest plane is built in Russia and Ukraine, its leading refinery is under construction in India, and its largest factories are all in China. By many measures, London is becoming the leading financial center and the United Arab Emirates is home to the most richly endowed investment fund. Once quintessentially American icons have been appropriated by foreigners."

All this is from pages 2 and 3 of chapter 1. And while, in isolation, the quote appears blatantly alarmist rest assured that is not Zakaria's objective. He writes instead about American power and purpose by highlighting America's path, during the rise of the Western World, from the fifteenth century through the beginning of the twenty first; and he does this from the perspective of someone who emigrated here from India and became an American.

Zakaria's signal strength is his ability to write in a manner that mirrors what he sounds like when he speaks. Since I watch him regularly on his television series Fareed Zakaria GPS (Global Public Square), on CNN, as I read the book I constantly heard his voice in my mind. It was a pleasant experience. His formidable brilliance shines bright on every page and his thesis, instead of being alarmist is uplifting and inspirational. It's an easy read that deals with large and important issues.

This book is a MUST READ for anyone interested in what's happening in the world and in, not only how America fits but what it must do and why, as history proceeds apace.

Paul of Dune
Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765312945, $27.95,

I read Frank Herbert's original Dune trilogy in the early 70's and became imprinted like a baby duck. To this day, I can tell you what a seitch looks and smells like, what it's like to roam the sands of Arrakis wearing a stillsuit, how majestic and frightening it is to encounter shai hulud (a sandworm) and what it feels like to experience the spice agony.

Herbert was a true genius and his magnificent story lives on. The Dune trilogy is still in print and still insanely popular. Fortunately for me and other Duneaholics Frank Herbert's son, along with Kevin J. Anderson has succeeded in continuing the Dune saga.

The historical sweep of the original series was breathtakingly enormous with a story arc almost too big to comprehend.

This book chronicles the life of Paul Atriedes, the central character of the original trilogy, after becoming Paul Muad Dib galactic emperor and focuses on what happened between Dune and Dune Messiah. It explains how he became the prophet he was in Dune Messiah.

It draws heavily on the historical path laid out by Frank Herbert in the original series and revisits characters well known to anyone familiar with the story like the Harkonens the Bene Geserit CHOAM, and the hated Tlielaxu.

If you haven't experienced Dune, this book might be a good starting point. If you read it, chances are, like me, you'll become hopelessly hooked and, if that happens, I promise you won't be sorry.

For bonafide Dunaholics, I know, I'm preaching to the choir. No one should deprive themselves of the joy of Dune.

The New Paradigm For Financial Markets
George Soros
Public Affairs
250 West 57th Street, #1321, New York, NY 10107
9781586486839, $22.95,

Books about economics and finance, for most people, are as appealing as having a root canal done without anesthesia. This is not one of those books. The subtitle: The Credit Crisis of 2008 And What it Means succinctly explains what the book is about. And, surprisingly, it's in small format and has only 162 pages including acknowledgements.

It's impossible today to turn on the news without hearing something about the credit crisis and there's no shortage of individuals willing to tell anyone who'll listen what caused it and who's responsible. The problem is, there are lots of conflicting opinions and it's, at best, difficult to determine who actually knows.

To be sure, almost everyone has been touched in some way by the credit crisis and its impact will ripple through the global economy for years. In attempting to understand it, I believe it's important to choose carefully among those willing to offer an explanation.

I chose George Soros because: The Quantum Fund he co founded with Jim Rogers in 1970 returned 42.6% per year for 10 years and, in 2007 returned almost 32% netting Soros $2.9 billion.

Soros is a spectacularly successful hedge fund manager with an estimated current net worth of around $9 billion and ranked by Forbes as the 99th richest person in the world. Additionally he's an economist and philosopher. Nothing succeeds like success. Yowza!

There's nothing dry or tweedy about what he has to say. Soros disagrees with economists who believe economics is or ever can be a scientific pursuit like physics, chemistry or mathematics. And even though there are courses in mathematical economics and entire industries devoted to it Soros believes the "Quants" are wrong. The central theme of his conceptual framework is, economics is a social science. If you really want to understand it, you must focus on what people do and why.

The prime driver of economic dynamics is not money, or mathematics, or science, or technology it is rather what he calls Reflexivity which, more than anything else, is driven by human nature.

Current economic theory holds that markets naturally tend toward equilibrium. Soros believes that conviction is not only wrong but one of the central reasons we find ourselves in such dire economic straits. On the housing bubble he offers this:

"Taken on its own the United States housing bubble faithfully followed the course prescribed for it by my boom-bust model. There was a prevailing trend-ever more aggressive relaxation of lending standards and expansion of loan-to-value ratios-and it was supported by a prevailing misconception that the value of the collateral was not affected by the willingness to lend. That is the most common misconception that has fueled bubbles in the past, particularly in the real estate area. What is amazing is that the lesson has still not been learned." (Italics mine)

Soros credits Karl Popper with the underpinnings of his economic philosophy and his argument is clean and satisfying from a philosophical perspective.

I am not an economist but I'm certainly interested in gaining some understanding of what happened to our economy, how we got to where we are, and what we ought to do about it.

Lots of people think they know. Unfortunately many of those same people are the ones who brought us to where we are.

When it comes to gaining deep understanding of what our economy does, how it does it and why, I'm inclined to pay attention to someone who, by manipulating it to his advantage, is the 99th richest person in the world. I think anyone else interested in the economy should have the same inclination. YOWZA!

I strongly recommend you read this book.

Stephen J. Hage

Theodore's Bookshelf

Black and White and Dead All Over
John Darnton
Alfred A. Knopf
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780307267528, $24.95,

As if the newspaper industry doesn't have enough problems - precipitously falling circulation, fading advertising, among other ills - this novel throws in serial killings. The setting is a thinly disguised New York Times, which is no surprise since the author spent four decades with the "Old Grey Lady."

Written with a reverence from a reporter's point of view, the book provides some amusing insights into the minds and culture of those who toil daily to feed the presses. While the anecdotes are sometimes droll, the plot is anything but comical. Someone known as The Avenger keeps murdering editors of the newspaper.

The story progresses with a star investigative reporter working parallel with the lead detective, one chasing the story, the other the murderer. Somehow, each bumbles along until the tale ends in a rather contrived manner. For print junkies, the novel is a worthwhile read and for them it is recommended.

The Fifth Floor
Michael Harvey
Alfred A. Knopf
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780307266873, $23.95,

Chicago, Chicago. It's Michael Harvey's kind of town. The Windy City played a prominent role in his well-received debut novel, "The Chicago Way," and it does no less in the well-done follow-up. In each case, an event in the city's history is a key element in the plot: In the initial effort, it was the Chicago World's Fair and Exposition; in the current book, it is the Great Fire of 1871 which burned down the city.

The protagonist, Michael Kelly, is an ex-cop now PI who is retained by a former girlfriend currently married to one of the Mayor's aides. She is a battered wife and "hopes" Kelly can somehow get the husband to stop the beatings. In tailing the husband, Michael observes him entering an historic home then running out quickly. The owner is found inside, murdered in an unusual manner. What's it all about? There is a rumor that the Mayor's family set off the historical fire rather than the accepted tale of Mrs. O'Leary's cow. Does this tale tie in with the murder?

The title refers to the site of the Mayor's office in City Hall, and, of course, Chicago being Chicago, politics and a loose portrayal of the original Mayor Daly gives the author free reign to write about the power politics which have so often provided scandal but is a norm there, and to do so with panache.


Envy the Night
Michael Koryta
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312361587, $24.95,

This is the author's first standalone novel, and it is a fine example of craftsmanship. It introduces the reader to Frank Temple III, whose history includes two previous Franks, both war heroes (Silver Stars, Purple Hearts and the like). His father, Frank II, was a respected U.S. Marshall, before he became a paid hit man who ate his gun rather than be apprehended when the lad was 17.

Frank III was trained by his father to shoot and aggressively defend himself and could react faster than the eye could see. Misinformation from an FBI agent allowed Frank III to labor under the impression that an army buddy of his father, now a Miami gangster who lured him into his evil ways, ratted him out in a deal to save himself. The two friends, along with a third army buddy, built cabins along a Wisconsin lake, and Frank III vowed to kill the Miami gangster if he ever returned to the scene.

From these beginnings comes a well-plotted thriller with dire consequences for all. Frank III, who has stayed away from the Wisconsin lake for seven years, is informed that the Miami gangster is coming to his cabin. Naturally, the youth goes there intent on murder. A chain of killings results and Frank III has to face up to his own sense of morality and justice. The conclusion is as startling as it is unanticipated.


Lisa Black
William Morrow
c/o Harper Collins
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061544453, $24.95,

A combination of procedural and psychological suspense moves this exciting new novel. At the outset, Theresa MacClean, a forensic scientist with the Cleveland medical examiner's office, is called to the scene of a murder, together with two detectives, one of them Paul, her fiance. Shortly thereafter she learns that Paul is being held hostage, along with others, by two robbers at the Federal Reserve Bank, where he had gone to gather clues with regard to the murder.

From this point the story progresses from the viewpoint of the negotiations between the police and the robbers, the interaction between the robbers and the hostages, and Theresa's reactions to her fiance's situation. When Paul eventually draws his weapon he is shot and bleeding heavily. Theresa trades his release by putting herself in his place. This gives her a unique opportunity to view the robbers and analyze just what has transpired and what motivates them.

The author is a forensic scientist herself, and uses her knowledge to provide details which move the plot forward. It is a thrilling tale leading the reader to an astounding closing. Tautly written with a keen eye for detail, the characters are well-drawn and believable.


Buried Lies
Peter Rennebohm
North Star Press
P. O. Box 451, St. Cloud, MN 56302
9780878392919, $24.95,

Gus Ivy is an interesting character: College dropout who quotes various literature classics, Vietnam veteran who gets a job first as a carpenter's apprentice then graduates in the construction industry, dog lover with a guilty conscience, collector of books. One day he's taking a haircut and finds out that his barber is about to cast off a carton of books, so he buys them, including one by an author he collects. He had never heard of this particular book and there is no trace of its publication.

When the barber is found murdered, the book becomes suspect. Apparently it is the key to unlocking a puzzle, but along the way other persons are kidnapped or murdered. The novel is written with a high degree of tension, as the quest for the solution to the puzzle intensifies. Gus not only has to face a competing group of thugs and murderers, but his own past.

The book is a highly rewarding read and is recommended.

Last Call
James Grippando
c/o Harper Collins
10 E. 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022
9780060831172, $7.99,

After a one-book hiatus, Jack Swyteck and his long-time friend (and client) Theo return in this gripping story relating to Theo's boyhood. It is the seventh in the series, with a backdrop of Miami's roughest neighborhoods and past glory in the jazz world. As a youth, Theo ran with a gang. Jack and Theo met while Theo was on Death Row, and the former governor's son, now a defense attorney, got him an acquittal based on DNA evidence.

Early one morning, Theo gets a phone call from an escaped convict (who was the gang leader of his youth), seeking help. He offers to tell Theo the name of his mother's murderer in exchange for assistance. Thus, the beginning of the tale which involves Theo's sax-playing uncle Cy, Jack, and FBI agent Andie Henning. Throughout the novel, Jack has ups and downs with regard to his love life, wondering about Andie who he dated a few times previously but had broken off the relationship when he thought she "dissed" his friend Theo.

Grippando slowly builds the tension toward a gripping finale. His descriptions of Miami's Little Harlem and jazz clubs are detailed and authentic. The characters are well drawn and interesting. A very good read.

The Pyramid
Henning Mankell
The New Press
38 Greene Street, NY, NY 10013
9781565849945, $26.95,

Kurt Wallander, the intuitive inspector, first came upon the scene as a 42-year-old detective with many years of experience in the first novel in the series. After four more novels, Henning Mankell realized that what was missing was Wallander's background. So he started to write several short stories to fill in the blanks. Three more novels in the series appeared before the five short stories in this volume were completed.

In the first short story, we find Wallander in Malmo as a uniformed patrolman who bumbles his way into the investigation into the murder of his next door neighbor, the beginning of his career as a homicide detective. It is during this period that he meets and weds Mona. The next story takes the couple to Ystad and the birth of Linda, their daughter. It is, of course, where he spends the rest of his career. The stories trace the development of Wallander's instincts as well as his divorce, relationship with his father and growing daughter.

All the characteristics of the novels in the series are present in these short stories. It is essential history and embellishes Wallander's personality. Also, the common thread in all the novels, the deterioration of society, runs through the stories. This book is Mankell in top form. For Mankell/Wallander fans, a must read, and highly recommended.

The Catch
Archer Mayor
c/o St. Martins Press
175 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10010
9780312381912, $24.95,

The 13th novel in the Joe Gunther series begins with a bang. A sheriff's deputy stops a speeding car along a Vermont highway. The car is coming from Canada, presumably transporting illegal drugs. The routine stop turns into a major investigation when the cop is later found with a bullet hole in his head.

While looking for the cop killer, Joe and his team travel through three other states, and become involved in a joint Federal-local task force looking into the drug scene in Maine, where a kingpin and his bodyguard have been murdered. Changes are afoot and it is up to Joe and the Vermonters to tie it all together.

Written with the usual economy of words (in fact one of the Maine cops hardly mutters a word), the multi-state venue gives the author the opportunity to describe with affection his beloved New England landscape. Recommended.

The Given Day
Dennis Lehane
William Morrow
c/o Harper Collins
10 E. 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022
9780688163181, $27.95,

Until this, his eighth novel, Dennis Lehane was regarded as 'merely' a top mystery writer. This evaluation has to be reconsidered with the appearance of this historical novel set in Boston just before the United States entered World War I, and the years following. It is a family saga reflecting the various undertones of immigrant society, discrimination against blacks and other aspects of a stratified society.

Essentially, the novel traces the lives of two families, one black and the other a privileged Irish family headed by a police captain. Reflected along the way are events of such epic proportions as the influenza epidemic of 1918, the Boston police strike and the resulting riots, the nation's Red scare, and terrorist bombings, among other issues. Playing cameo roles are such luminaries as Babe Ruth, Jack Reed, Calvin Coolidge, Eugene O'Neill, W.E.B. DuBois and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Sweeping as to the characters and times, the novel shows a depth of monumental proportions. Whether intended or not, the parallels to the present day are vivid. It is a tale of both tragedy and hope, reflecting the conflicts of human nature.

Different Paths
Judy Clemens
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 East 1st Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85254
9781590583005, $24.95,

Stella Crown manages to get in more trouble in this series (this is the fifth entry) than anyone could expect from a Pennsylvania dairy farmer who gets up in the wee hours to milk her herd and has plenty to do all day around the farm. In this installment, her friend and vet, Carla, is almost killed when her truck is hijacked while she is hanging on to the door after her coat is caught. Then her female doctor is killed. Victims of other incidents include a business manager and the manager of a local gym, both women. Who's the perpetrator and why?

The possible danger to Stella and her farmhand, Lucy, brings boyfriend Nick up from Virginia to keep watch and provide protection. Meanwhile Stella seeks a common thread to the events. There are plenty of suspicions to provide red herrings throughout, keeping the reader jumping.

Written smoothly, Stella is an interesting and engaging character. Thus far in the series, she has carried it with ease and interest, each entry presenting a different subject. In the present case, it seems as if women's rights are the key. Also in question is Stella's personality and femininity. But the reader continues to be kept off balance. Recommended.

Once Were Cops
Ken Bruen
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312384401, $22.95,

Michael O'Shea is a calculating sociopathic Irishman, member of The Guards. He blackmails a powerful politician to be one of a group headed to the United States in exchange of American policemen in a trade agreement. He joins the NYPD and is paired with another sociopath, known as "K," and together they embark on a mad tear against all sorts of crime.

However, the partner has become a dirty cop to get enough cash to keep his incapacitated sister in an upscale facility. When his sister is found severely beaten, raped and comatose, K goes berserk. Meanwhile, Shea has been pursuing his own dark needs, while becoming a golden boy in the department. The combination is full of mayhem.

Written in a spare style, this noir tale is a must read not only for Bruen fans but all those who love a mystery. Recommended.

The Draining Lake
Arnaldur Indridason
Translated from the Icelandic by Bernard Scudder
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10010
9780312358730, $24.95,

Once again, the obsessed and dour Icelandic detective, Inspector Erlendur, succeeds in solving a mystery by dogged determination. It begins with the discovery of a skeleton with a Soviet listening device attached at the bottom of a draining lake. Looking back on unsolved missing persons cases from many years before, they attempt to identify the victim.

The investigation provides traces of spying, the Cold War, the repressive nature of the East German regime and human sorrow and disillusionment. It harks back to a group of Icelandic students attending University in Leipzig, all socialists until confronted with the realities of the nature of Stalin-type Communism.

Meanwhile Erlendur has to face up to his own life: his lonely existence, his addict daughter, estranged son. Written in the stark style which characterized the previous novels in the series (two of them award winners), "Lake" is excellently translated by Bernard Scudder. Not only is this entry in the series recommended, but if you haven't read the predecessors, do so. By then, the next novel should be forthcoming and almost certainly well worth waiting for.

A must read.

Blood Memory
Margaret Coel
Berkley Prime Crime
75 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10014
9780425223451, $24.95,

The Wind River Series featuring Father John O'Malley and Vicky Holden, set on the Arapaho Reservation, established the author as a writer of sensitivity and compassion for the Indian culture. Now she has written a standalone, with a past tragedy which took place during the mid-19th century known as the Sand Creek Massacre playing a key role in present-day Native American affairs.

Catherine McLeod, an investigative reporter for a Denver newspaper, becomes the target of an assassin after she writes a story about the massacre. Two Indian tribes have proposed to trade with the Federal government their claims to ancestral lands amounting to about one-third of Colorado, including Denver, for merely 500 acres adjacent to the airport on which a Casino/hotel and museum would be built, on the theory that the project would create jobs and income for the tribes. Is there a connection to the Massacre? Or is there some other reason Catherine has become a target? She barely escapes an initial attack, but a good friend is murdered during the attempt. Further attacks confirm that the assassin is after Catherine, and she is the only one who can put the pieces together.

Written with the author's accustomed feeling and fluidity, the novel takes Catherine on a whirlwind experience of terror until the end. The combination of history and contemporary Native American affairs involving how badly they were treated in the past and today's gaming business is an intriguing concept. Massacred in the beginning and taken advantage of today. Well worth reading, the novel is recommended.

Theodore Feit

Victoria's Bookshelf

Paul of Dune
Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765312945, $27.95, 512 pages,

Paul of Dune covers the time period between the first two books in the Dune saga. It answers questions about what happened right after Paul became emperor. It also gives us glimpses into Paul's childhood that we've not had before. Paul must struggle with what has to be done to save
humanity and live with the horrible slaughter his jihad inflicts.

I read Dune years ago and loved it! There seems to be a lot of grumbling among some fans about the current authors' ability to continue Frank Herbert's legacy. Since I haven't read any of their other books, I can only comment on this one and Frank Herbert's books in the series. I found Paul of Dune to be well written and engrossing. I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it to any fan of the series. For someone who hasn't read Dune itself, I think it would be best to start there. Not doing so will leave the average reader perplexed as to what's going on and why.

The Lord-Protector's Daughter
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765321633, $22.95, 288 pages,

This book is a spinoff of one of Modesitt's earlier series, The Corean Chronicles. It revolves around Mykella, the daughter of the ruler of Lanachrona. Mykella and her sisters are to be given away in prearranged marriages to men of power. Mykella is intelligent and wants more for herself.

She involves herself with financial matters and discovers inconsistencies in the tariff accounts. She continues her investigations and must struggle with her own powerlessness and the evil plots of members of her own family. Her own father won't believe her warnings. It soon falls to Mykella to take care of matters herself.

Modesitt's books are always entertaining reads and I found The Lord-Protector's Daughter to be no exception. I recommend all his books.

Victoria Kennedy

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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