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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 10, Number 2 February 2010 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Amy's Bookshelf Bethany's Bookshelf
Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf Carson's Bookshelf
Christy's Bookshelf Clark's Bookshelf Daniel's Bookshelf
Debra's Bookshelf Erica's Bookshelf Gary's Bookshelf
Georganna's Bookshelf Gloria's Bookshelf Gorden's Bookshelf
Harwood's Bookshelf Hassler's Bookshelf Jessica's Bookshelf
Karyn's Bookshelf Liana's Bookshelf Logan's Bookshelf
Margaret's Bookshelf Nicole's Bookshelf Paul's Bookshelf
Regis' Bookshelf Sandra's Bookshelf Suzie's Bookshelf
Theodore's Bookshelf Victoria's Bookshelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Korean Standard Dictionary: Korean-English / English-Korean
Jeyseon Lee and Kangjin Lee
Hippocrene Books
171 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780781812344 $21.95

D. Bannon

Jeyseon Lee and Kangjin Lee's Korean Standard Dictionary is another example of Hippocrene Book's commitment to no-nonsense guides for beginning and intermediate users. The authors have chosen some 20,000 common entries that do not require exhaustive definitions. Their usage examples are practical without being cumbersome. At just under 400 pages this dictionary is ideal for English-speaking travelers wandering the streets of South Korea or Korean speakers on a trip to America. The Korean-English half of the dictionary prints Korean in the original hangeul alphabet and Romanized; the English-Korean section follows suit. A pronunciation and writing guide is also provided. Any dictionary for beginners must be useful. Hippocrene's Korean Standard Dictionary is an example of how to get that right.

A God Who Hates: the Courageous Woman Who Inflamed the Muslim World Speaks out Against the Evils of Islam
Wafa Sultan
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312538354 $TBA

Fern Sidman, Reviewer

In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the United States, it became abundantly clear to the Western world that there was a new and pernicious nemesis in town. Radical Islamic suicide bombers had jolted us out of our torpor as we confronted the stark and frightening realization that our cherished democratic values, principles, code of ethics and very lifestyle were in existential danger. In order to eradicate the visceral feelings of resentment of Muslims that were ruminating in the psyches of Americans and other westerners; the media, along with those in academic and "politically correct" circles initiated a campaign of "re-education". Extolling the virtues of the religion called Islam, they put forth the notion that Islam is a genuine religion of peace; a religion that places a sacred value on the sanctity of life. We were told that only a few extreme "radical Jihadists" belonging to an obscure organization called Al Qeada were responsible for tainting and maligning the purity of Islam.

Wafa Sultan, an ex-Muslim dissident from Syria, offers a wholly different take on this sophistical premise in her shocking new book, "A God Who Hates" (St. Martin's Press - 2009) as she presents a searing portrait of Muslim culture. The subtitle of the book describes Sultan as "the courageous woman who inflamed the Muslim world" as she "speaks out against the evils of Islam." The reader is left with no doubt that Sultan is way more than a doughty and intrepid advocate of the truth, but a woman who is willing to place her life in mortal danger in order to preserve, protect and defend Western civilization as we know it. She raises the narrative to a highly profound level as she essentially reveals that, contrary to popular opinion, it is not a few "radical Jihadists" who are guilty of distorting otherwise warm and fuzzy Islamic precepts, but rather the culprit in engendering this kind of vitriolic hatred and bloodlust is none other than the Koran itself, along with the paradigm of the prophet Muhammad and the "god" known as Allah. She refers to Islam, as "the ogre" as she explores the psychological roots of a nomadic people who invented this religion in order to assuage their own paralyzing fears and overwhelming feelings of desperation and helplessness.

Wafa Sultan knows from whence she speaks. Having grown up in a devoutly Muslim home in Syria, she recalls her very personal stories of the barbarism of Islam and how it impacted on her and her family. Being born female in a Muslim culture that enforces a male hegemony, Sultan recalls the humiliating degradation imposed on her grandmother, mother and sisters who were virtual slaves to their husbands and their fathers. Contempt and loathing for women as inherently inferior beings permeates the Muslim world as is evidenced in today's alarming escalation of "honor murders" in which Muslim men brazenly murder their womenfolk for alleged transgressions of Sharia law.

Women's inhumanity to other women is also discussed here as Sultan tells us of the abusive treatment of daughter-in-laws by their own mother-in-laws who punish them in the same way that they themselves were tormented as young brides. Education for girls and women in Islamic society was sorely lacking and discouraged in order to keep them locked in a permanent state of servility. Their treatment of children is also spotlighted as abusive as the Koran mandates that they mete out corporal punishment to their children who do not pray or adhere to the tenets of Islam.

Sultan herself was fortunate in a sense. She was educated as a physician in Syria and her headstrong, independent nature compelled her to extricate herself from the draconian dictates of an oppressive religion. Moreover, as a physician in Syria she takes note of the glaring inequities of medical care as it pertains to gender. Dr. Sultan viewed Muslim men as anathema but as luck would have it, she met an educated man who respected her. After their marriage they made their way to the United States where she now raises her children and practices medicine in the Los Angeles area.

Citing a gamut of Koranic verses and providing concrete historical evidence dating back to the 7th century, Sultan proves that the predicate for Islam is unadulterated fear, violence, hatred of the other, theft and murder. From the genesis of the Islamic movement, the author informs us of Arab nomadic tribes raiding one another in bloodthirsty rampages that left sheer devastation in their wake. Describing the terror and desolation that the Arab peoples felt so acutely during centuries of desert dwelling, Sultan tells us that the fear of dying in the arid and harsh desert from hunger, thirst, illness and the always imminent attack by another tribe created an anxious and violent nation whose sole objective was daily survival at all costs. Says the author, "Arabs who lived in the environment that gave birth to Islam were powerless in the face of the challenges presented by this environment, which threatened their lives and their welfare. Because they felt so helpless they felt a need for forcefulness and created a god who would fulfill this need. When the Arab male lost his power he felt the need for a forceful god. And so he created a forceful god in the image of his need - but this god was not powerful."

Thus, the religion of Islam instills a hatred of the infidel, "the other" and anyone who does not subscribe to the tenets of their bellicose belief system. History has recorded that scores of heinous murders of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and others were perpetrated by the hands of Allah's followers. Because their god is described in the Koran as "The Harmer:, "The Avenger", "The Compeller" and "The Imperious", it is Sultan's view that the Islamic people have internalized such labels and have sought to emulate the rudimentary character of their deity. Brutal savagery towards anyone they perceive to be a threat and even against one another is one of the modalities through which Muslims actualized these "godly" traits. She describes the prophet Muhammad as a man bereft of moral authority; a pedophile and a purveyor or violence and falsehood. He gives his tacit approval to his followers to continue on the trajectory of "holiness" by engaging in hostile acts of religious zealotry, without regard for human life.

Offering eclectic insights into Muslim culture, Sultan tells us that because Islam is so riddled with strife, negativism and banal hatred it's language readily reflects this all encompassing disposition. As such, Muslims do not speak in a calm and reasoned manner but rather are vocally strident; resorting to constant shrieking, yelling, bellowing and shouting while engaging in acrimonious, ad hominem attacks against those who they are purportedly conversing with.

And that, of course, segues into a chapter called, "Who is that woman on Al Jazeera?". As a world renowned essayist, Dr. Sultan's opinions were well known through the Arab and Muslim countries. For that reason, the Al Jazeera television network invited her to debate a domineering Islamic cleric on the topic of "the connection between Islamic teachings and terrorism." It was in this venue that Dr. Sultan, having been denied the right to express herself or given enough time to state her case by the male moderator, did so anyway in an erudite and eloquent fashion without raising the volume of her voice; in contrast to her adversary who engaged in ear popping dialogue.

Given the last few seconds of the show to conclude her thoughts, Dr. Sultan was once again interrupted by the clergyman but this time told him in no uncertain terms to "Be quiet! It's my turn!". This kind of rejoinder is considered common parlance to us Westerners who enjoy watching television debates but these few words sent shock waves throughout the Muslim world. "I uttered this sentence without realizing it would open a new chapter in Arab and Muslim history. Never in the history of Islam has a woman clearly and forcefully asked a Muslim man to be quiet because it was her turn to speak", says Dr. Sultan.

Throughout this engrossing and compelling book, Sultan generously heaps praise on her adopted country. She acknowledges her appreciation for the plethora of rights, individual freedoms and liberties that she has enjoyed in the United States for the last 21 years. She urges America to stand strong in the face of the proliferation of global radical Islam and suggests that it confront the burgeoning threat to our civilization that "the ogre" represents in a pro-active fashion. "I love America as few people do" says Sultan, and "my love for it makes me feel concern for it. I do not want any danger to threaten the safety or beauty of this country that rescued me from my fears and fed me when I was hungry. America, to put it very briefly indeed, is my freedom."

God, Jesus, and the Bible: The Origin and Evolution of Religion
William Harwood
World Audience Publishers
303 Park Avenue South, #1440, New York, NY 10010
9781935444888 $28.00 pb
9781935444282 $40.00 hc

Leland W. Ruble

Many individuals, unless totally lost in the belief that a god is more than a figment of the imagination, and not the deceptive manipulation of the clergy to maintain their status, have enough curiosity to find out whether or not the basis of their god beliefs are based on realistic, not imaginary fiction and myths. In this book the author William Harwood, presents for the reader a full and complete historical and religious record of how, over the ages, God as currently practiced by a variety of religions, has evolved from its primitive roots and expanded into what is recognized in the nontheist community as nothing more than an unrealistic symbol void of all substance.

The author has expanded his observations, historical date, and study into chapters, at the end of which there are numerous notes explaining in further detail the source and substance of an issue. There is also a complete index included to aid the reader in easily locating the page where a certain issue, person, or subject is discussed.

In the first chapter, "And Woman Created Goddess: The Origin of Religion," there is this comment: "There is no way of gauging the elapsed time from the creation of the first god to the creation of the first religion; for mere belief in gods did not constitute a religion. (Even Inuit tribes that have never had a religion have included gods among the phenomena of the external world whose existence they have casually noted.) Not until the first true sun worshiper turned his face toward the god in the sky and asked it to ripen his crop in exchange for a gift, or until the first ambitious junior executive asked a river god to drown her rival, also in exchange for a designated gift, did nature deification evolve into religion" (p.25).

This is followed by a comprehensive explanation for how and in what way primitive societies replaced Goddess the Mother with God the Father sometime during the years 3000 to 2000 BCE. Early mythology and astrology according to the author played a significant role in how early civilizations associated certain gods with specific tendencies. For instance, the author writes, "The first gods in the modern sense, capricious beings that needed to be constantly appeased lest they unleash the malevolence that was their most universal feature, were not the sky gods but the more accessible earth gods. The earth herself was generally hailed and adored as the Mother of all things. Her elder children, the birds that are not bound to the surface; the horse that can outrun any man; the sow that suckles a dozen infants to woman's one; the cow and goat without whose milk human was unlikely to survive; the fig tree, or tree of life, whose ripened fruit so resembled the vulva that was the source of all life; and a host of other plants, animals, rivers and like immortals, human recognized to possess capacities that were lacking in himself" (p.29).

What god worshipers do not, and many may never realize, is that their worship of a god is a wildly delusive effort, a futile attempt to seriously imagine that the distorted image in their minds is truly based on something far more realistic than astrological mumbo-jumbo, theological elitism, mystical quackery, and imaginary myths that inhabit the various religious denominations. Even when presented with the truth, an observant religious fundamentalist will find countless ways to avoid facing the truth concerning their beliefs. All one has to do is observe how frequently anti-evolutionists, presented with the facts, still insist on maintaining the Genesis fairy tale as the actual source of creation. Likewise for Flat Earthers, UFO conspirators, and those who imagine and sincerely believe that the remains of Noah's Ark exist on Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey.

A reading of this book will go a long way in educating the religious community to question the basis of their beliefs as the author explains in this paragraph: "Nonetheless, a slave mentality once acquired is not easily repudiated. Modern believers in such contrary-to-fact nonsense as astrology, spiritualism, Scientology, Bermuda Triangles, magical burial shrouds, past-life fantasies, near-death dreams, water witching, psychics, prophecy, palmistry, and ancient astronauts, differ very little from god addicts in their need to subjugate themselves to some "higher power" to which their own intellectual impotence can be attributed. Typical of the new sense is the religion-without-gods of UFOlogy" (p.49).

In chapter Two, "Creation and Sin: The God Who Invented Death," the author explores in depth, the Old Testament God, and how it was created in the Jewish Marduk tradition in the fifth century BCE, and became the basis for the book of Genesis. The author writes, "The Priestly author who wrote the Genesis creation myth, more than a thousand years after the Babylonian version, was a Jewish priest of the educated Levite caste who was thoroughly familiar with the myths of his tribe's neighbors. That he consciously adapted Babylonian tales for his own purpose is not in doubt, since his six-day creation paralleled the six-stage creation invented by Zarathustra, while the order of his creation was basically the same order in which Marduk created everything in the author's Babylonian source" (p.58).

The author has listed the perceived sins (there are many) that were recognized as criminal, and some that were not considered sins until later Christian times, such as birth control, homosexuality for women, premarital sex etc. It's clear from this that it is religions based on a god, which have determined to a great extent what is perceived as moral or immoral in society. This is even more pronounced in societies where religious belief is dominant. For instance, the Islamic faith in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., and in Christian dominated societies, such as the Holy See, Poland, Hungary, the Philippines, and South America, where religion plays a significant role in how laws function or how legislation contributes to its version of morality.

In this book there is such a vast amount of historical data, facts, etc., that it would be impossible to choose one particular part or chapter and use it as an example of the author's expertise in this most complicated, thoroughly examined, and easily readable expose of the gradual evolution of god in society. Here, however, is an example of the author writing about the myth of Solomon's temple: "The Jewish oral propaganda over the 48 years from 586 to 538 BCE converted a temple smaller than Bozo's Big Top into something rivaling the Parthenon. The real Davidic "empire" was about the size of Pooh Bear's Hundred Acre Wood. Solomon's temple was about the size of an average McDonald's and not necessarily on the same site as the temple began under Darius l and refurbished by Herod. While the archaeologists are right in concluding that Jerusalem was not a bustling community during the Davidic dynasty's heyday, they are simply not allowing for the possibility that there was at least a kernel of truth behind the imaginative propaganda" (p.113).

In chapter Seven, "The Yahwist's Tales," the author demonstrates the close similarity between the Epic of Gilgamesh with the Old Testament version in Genesis. Here is one of many examples that clearly show that Genesis was composed using nearly the same plot and language as Gilgamesh in the writing of the creation story. Gilgamesh: Enlil said to the god in council, "The uproar of mankind is intolerable, and sleep is no longer possible on account of the babble." So the gods in their hearts were moved to release the deluge. In the Yahwist version it reads, "We're going to destroy this place because a great outcry against them has come to Yahweh's attention, and Yahweh has sent us to destroy it" Gen. 19:13, (p.140). There are numerous other examples to prove beyond a doubt that the book of Genesis was crafted using the Epic of Gilgamesh as the source for this chapter in the Old Testament.

In chapter Nine, "The Deuteronomist," the author writes writes: "The Deuteronomist added a new dimension to literary deception. Whereas the Yahwist and the Elohist had not put any signature to their works, the Deuteronomist pretended that his scroll emanated from the quill of a man who had been dead for six hundred years. He supported that contention by writing his collection of taboos, ritual and propaganda in the first person. Among the later writers who followed D's precedent were the authors of Enoch and Daniel; Joseph Smith; and the two-fourth century CE Greeks, 'Dares' and 'Dictys,' who claimed to be survivors of the Trojan War. The Deuteronomist claimed to be Moses" (p. 159).

Chapter Thirteen, "From David to Jesus: The Age of the Messiah," explores in depth how Jesus supposedly descended from David, and is described in the New Testament as the imagined Messiah. Here is a brief explanation: "The earliest claimant to messiahship seems to have been the founder of the Essene sect, the Righteous Rabbi. While he first materialized around 140 BCE, it may be that he counted 483 years from 586 BCE and had himself proclaimed King of the Jews in 103 BCE. Such an action would explain why the Hasmonean King Alexander Yannai hanged him in that year. According to the Talmud, the hanging occurred on the eve of the Passover (Sanh. 43a), but as there is little doubt that the Talmud authors confused the execution of Jesus the Nazirite 133 years later, that detail may have belonged only to a later event" (p. 228).

Another paragraph that explains the deluded, futile pursuit of god worship is this: "On the other hand, the teaching of the Essenes derived from Siddhartha Gautama ("Buddha"), whose disciples had penetrated as far as Egypt, were masochistic and antihuman, and equated sexual recreation with the promulgation's of the goddess-turned-devil. The Essenes rejected Zarathustra's classification of celibacy as a cardinal vice, and accepted Gautama's delusion that self-inflicted joy-deprivation was a virtue" (p. 243).

And (p. 245), "Gautama's teachings were accepted in toto by the Essenes, who remained celibate communists for the whole of their two-century existence."

In chapter Fourteen, "Requiem For a Dead Jew," there is this poignant paragraph explaining the true nature and not supernatural existence of Jesus: "There is no doubt that Jesus was Joseph's natural son. Accusations that he was illegitimate were first made seventy years after Jesus' death, when his equation in Greek eyes with the resurrected savior Dionysus led an an interpolator to insert a virgin-birth myth into the gospel now known as Matthew. Since a Christian gospel was thus made to concede, in effect, that Jesus had not been sired by his mother's husband, a Jewish writer accepted that (false) concession at face value and explained it by the most logical means. In fact Jesus died believing that Joseph was his father; Joseph died believing that he was Jesus' father; and Mary died believing that Joseph was Jesus' father. The pretence that such was not the case was first made in the reign of Trajan, when all the principals were safely dead and unable to sue for libel" (p. 290).

There is much more concerning Jesus' actual birth, including the false, theofascist misrepresentation of the gospel writer Paul who used his deceptions to make the case for a severe, delusive Christianity that survives to this day in the fundamentalist hierarchies of the Protestant and Catholic religions. For instance, the religious opposition to women's equal rights and other unjustifiable doctrines within the Christian faith are the result of Paul's tyrannical preaching and theology.

In the Appendix, "Reviews of William Harwood's Books," there are numerous reviews of books published by this prolific author. These are further examples of the author's comprehensive expose of the Bible, God, and Jesus. The reader, upon reading this book, will not be left wondering whether the Bible is or is not a truthful depiction of a supernatural god. It is not! It is as the author explains in page after page of conclusions, a book that was composed to satisfy the deluded yearnings and ambitions of a priestly class, and its theofascist anxiety to impose on society a frivolous, incoherent dogma of beliefs that have no foundation in relation to the actual existence that we as humans, are born, live, and die.

I can assure the reader---if not already convinced---that this exceptional, scholarly book will open one's mind to the wasted theological folly of religions based on the absurdity of beliefs formulated on the nonsense of a non-existing tyrannical bogeyman in the sky.

Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder
Jo Nesbo, Illustrated by Mike Lowery
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781416979722 $14.99

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

The word fart in the title and a Norwegian author - what's not to love? And there is so much to love about this book.

When tiny, 10-year old Nilly moves into the neighborhood wild antics erupt. He meets up with the crazy professor Doctor Proctor and together they invent fart powder. But other than good old noisy fun, they can't think of another good use for it. Until by accident they invent something a lot more explosive, which is how they wind up with Totally Normal Fart Powder and the super-duper Fartonaut Powder.

Nilly and his new friend Lisa decide to sell the Totally Normal Fart Powder to the kids at school while Doctor Proctor tries to sell the super stuff to NASA. But bullies Truls and Trym and their father Mr. Trane hatch their own evil plan. From then on the story blows up into a carnival ride of hilarious twists and turns that include the Dungeon of the Dead, slimy sewers, and animals you wish didn't exist.

Jo Nesbo has created a spectacular farce that is laugh-out-loud funny. Mike Lowery's drawings sprinkled throughout add just the right amount of absurdity to what is destined to be a comedy classic. Readers of all ages will find themselves giggling over "Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder".

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World
Eric Weiner
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446698894 $13.99

Raja N. Krishnan

What is the meaning of happiness? Does it differ from country to country? These are some interesting questions that are answered by Mr. Eric Weiner with some subtle, light humor. He takes the reader across several continents and looks at the meaning of happiness in different countries. Surprisingly there is also a Journal of Happiness, and countries are also rated on their happiness. Mr. Weiner also shares his experiences as an NPR reporter who has been posted around the world on different assignments. The author also passes on interesting tidbits of trivia knowledge. For example when returning to their home country of Iceland on an airplane, the Icelandic people clap their hands after the airplane has landed. I found this fascinating. There are many more fascinating facts to be learned, so I will let you read the book and find out for yourselves.

This is a book that can be read more than once. Overall it was a wonderful read, and it makes a nice book to have at your bedside. It makes the reader think about what happiness means, while also having a fun journey with our guide, Mr. Weiner.

The Murderer's Daughters
Randy Susan Meyers
St. Martin's Press
9780312576981 $24.99

Annie Slessman

Young children when their father murdered their mother, Lulu and Merry Zachariah, main characters of Randy Susan Meyers debut novel, THE MURDERER'S DAUGHTERS, the girls survive only because they take care of one another.

The oldest, Lulu is not as pretty as Merry, but certainly makes up for it with her intelligence. She manages to get them into a decent home with the Cohen's after enduring their aunt's rejection and being sent to a girl's home. At the girl's home, both girls are tagged as the daughters of a murderer and the other girls at the home make their lives miserable. The only family member who seems to care anything about the girls is their father's mother. She is old and cannot take on the care of the girls but stays in touch with the girls and tries her best to provide some guidance for them.

Merry and her grandmother regularly Merry's father in prison but Lulu is determined never to see him again. Lulu witnessed the murder of her mother and the attempted murder of Merry, who was stabbed by her father in the chest. Forgiveness is not something she intends to waste on her father.

When the Cohen's provide a foster home for the girls it is due to Mrs. Cohen's need to mother the girls. However, she is never able to treat them like her own children and the girls are constantly forced to be "good little girls" for fear they will be rejected by the Cohen's as well.

As they grow up, it is Lulu who provides Merry with the stability in her life. When Lulu becomes a doctor, marries the "man of her dreams", they provide an apartment in their home for Merry. She lives there even after Lulu gives birth to two girls. Fiercely loyal to one another, the girls stick together through the good and the bad in each others lives.

This book is a study of child abuse, the intricacies of family relationships, tragedy and a study of the inner strength each and everyone has within themselves. It is good reading and will appeal to people of all walks of life. It will be especially interesting to people who have experienced tragedy in their lives and have managed to come out on the other side a stronger and more stable individual.

The HP Phenomenon
Charles H. House and Raymond L. Price
Stanford University Press
1450 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto, CA 94304-1124
9780804752862, $35.00,

Zvonko Fazarinc

I was employed by the Hewlett-Packard Company for 32 years as R&D engineer at first and as R&D Laboratory manager subsequently. I retired from HP as senior science adviser to VP of R&D. In these capacities I have acquired a fair understanding of the operations of HP and feel qualified to review the book HP Phenomenon. Seldom do we encounter a book written by a former employee of a company that is based on so much additional research and so much value placed on insights and opinions of countless other employees and managers of that company. The authors have then woven the wealth of all gathered as well as richly experienced information into a systematic revelation of six successful paradigm shifts that have kept this company young and afloat. The book is alive with countless intimate details of internal conflicts and their resolutions, which lead to important direction shifts. It also provides an insight into the management style that assured the cooperation of all employees of the company during the transition phases. One can sense, from reading this book, how the family spirit, that was the trade mark of this company, overcame the inertia normally associated with enterprises of this size. In this sense the book is highly educational to entrepreneurs in all stages of existence and growth. But while it is not known if the authors intended to influence the future of the Hewlett-Packard Company, "The HP Phenomenon: Innovative and Business Transformation" will very likely raise the pride in the minds of a large percentage of current HP employees and induce them to live up to the credit given to them.

Amy's Bookshelf

Tiger Juice
Melisse Aires
Aspen Mountain Press
9781601682086 $3.00 ebook

Rating: 4 Stars

Letha is from a small town Covenant Farm with strict beliefs, sheltered and secluded from the Outside world where non-humans were believed to exist. She has a unique gift called "The Sight", but referred to as "The Demon Sight" by her Covenant members. After her dear husband, Ben, passed away, Letha's Uncle and Pastor, the Head of the Covenant, insisted she marry another widower, a man she didn't know or love. Rebelling against their demands and being shunned by the Covenant, Letha decided to leave town to seek a new life elsewhere.

Traveling far from home, Letha came upon the Del Fantasma Restaurant. Needing more money, she obtained a job as a waitress, but as soon as she entered into Cody's office, Letha was aware Del Fantasma harbored many different paranormal beings. What she didn't expect to find was Jagger, a gorgeous hunk of a man, who also happens to be a white tiger shape shifter. Letha and Jagger both shared a sense of intense attraction towards each other. When Cody offers her his special "Matchmaking" drink, she would never have guessed it would lead to discovering what her true nature was. But will she be able to accept her mysterious heritage? Or will she submissively run back to the Covenant?

Melisse Aires has created a diverse and entertaining story that will capture the readers attention the further they become involved in the tale. The story line starts out slow, but gains in momentum and will surprise the reader with an unexpected twist. I am intrigued with the world Melisse Aires has invented and would love to see more character development of Letha's and Jagger's relationship in a future series. I believe "Tiger Juice" would be a great starter story to build on. This is a wonderful short story and I look forward to reading more of Melisse Aires works. I recommend "Tiger Juice" to any reader who wants to curl up by the fire for a quick sensual read.

Creighton Manor
Karen Michelle Nutt
Tease Publishing LLC
9781607670698 $4.99 ebook

Gillian Metcalf has been troubled for years by the same reoccurring dream which has grown more persistent as her wedding day approaches. These passionate visions are insistent that her true soul mate exists, whether in the here and now or in a past life, and he is out there, waiting for her. What's frustrating her most, Gillian doesn't know who her soul mate is, his features are always hazy, his touch is familiarly tender, but the words he expresses are foreign to her. As soon as she hears this endearment, "Gra Mo Chroi", Gillian will know for certain she has found her true mate, unfortunately it's not the man she is soon to marry.

Gillian could no longer deny the sense of importance emanating from these dreams and decided to cancel her marriage to Jerry, an all around perfect guy. Wanting time to reflect on what she had done, Gillian kept her honeymoon reservations aboard the Queen Mary, a ship renowned for its ethereal phenomenon and invited her best friend, Samantha to join her. In route to the pier, where the Queen Mary is permanently docked, Gillian nearly ran over a dog, darting out in front of her SUV. She noticed it's the same dog, Molly, which has appeared to her several times before and always seems to want her to follow. But why or was she truly going crazy?

The events that follow mystify and astonish Gillian, but it's not the misunderstanding with her reservations or the fact that she was offered a haunted room and compensated with a ghostly tour package that caught her attention. It was what she discovered in her room among the artifacts of the Ida Belle, a picture of a familiar dog, taken in the 1800's. She had no time to ponder, at that moment she came face to face with the mysterious dog in question and before she knew it she passed out. When she woke, Gillian was no longer aboard the Queen Mary, but afloat onboard the Ida Belle and in an unfamiliar room with a strange, but gorgeous man asleep in the bed.

Years after his father lost the family estate in a gambling event, Zachary Creighton has become obsessed with winning Creighton Manor back from the man who now owns it, Cyrus Locke. But fate will soon turn his life's strategy upside down when a beautiful and practically naked woman appears in his room. After being forced to marry each other, their lives have forever changed. Will Gillian come to terms with her true emotions, even if it means not finding her true soul mate? Or will time reclaim Gillian before she realizes what she truly wants? Will Zachary be able to put aside his obsession and accept what he feels deep within his heart? And is the mysterious dog somehow connected to them?

Creighton Manor is an incredibly heartwarming and fantastic love story that has been magically brought to life by the rich and vibrant words of Karen Michelle Nutt. Yet again, Karen Michelle Nutt has envisioned a spectacular tale that will charm any reader, captivating them with the multiple twists and turns within the story line. The unspoken passion between Gillian and Zachary will leave the reader breathlessly anticipating the end, devouring each and every page. I most definitely will recommend Creighton Manor to anyone who has a love for reading.

Amy J Ramsey, Reviewer

Bethany's Bookshelf

Growing Up Filipino II
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, editor
PO Box 5099, S.M., CA 90409
9780971945838, $21.95,

Everyone faces different challenges. "Growing Up Filipino II" is a collection of short stories from the pens of many different authors. These authors, all Filipino, offer a taste of Americana of their own as they reflect on their lives and the kinship they share with other people of their own race. These stories will give advice for young Filipinos, and give anyone insight into a different perspective of life. "Growing Up Filipino II" is a treasury of memoirs, recommended.

Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round
Alberta H. Sequeira
Infinity Publishing
1094 New DeHaven St., Suite 100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428
0741454157, $18.95,

Alcoholism is not only destructive for the alcoholic, but his family as well. "Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round" tells the story of Alberta H. Sequeira and how she slowly lost her husband to alcohol. Reflecting on her own views, what happens to her family, and how one man's self-destruction proved to be more than only self, Sequeira has a life that many will sadly relate to, and will find comfort in. For those looking for strength from their own alcohol-driven problems, "Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round" is a top pick.

Boys with Cars
Pamela Swyers
Privately Published
9780984311309, $10.99

With no strong female role models in life, they turn to each other. "Boys with Cars" tells the story of Veronica and Adison, as through their absent mothers, form a strong bond. Their friendship is the only thing that carries them through elementary school, high school, and beyond, as Pamela Swyers gives readers a touching story of friendship and its power. "Boys with Cars" is a solid and very highly recommended read.

May There Be No Sadness of Farewell
Agnes Grant
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY10016
9780533161461, $26.95,

Strong will is a trait that has no race, class, or gender. "May There Be No Sadness of Farewell" is a novel spanning a hundred years as the nineteenth century gives way to the twentieth. The story of a Cree girl, a Ukrainian immigrant, and a Mennonite are the stories used by Agnes Grant to weave a tale of women swamped in unconquerable situations rising up and standing their ground. Uplifting if depressing at times, "May There Be No Sadness of Farewell" is a moving read, highly recommended.

The H Word
Nora W. Coffey
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439220658, $19.95,

It's a major change in a woman's life to lose the ability to give birth. "The H Word" discusses the hysterectomy and the details surrounding it. Nora W. Coffey & Rich Schweikert seek to arm women with knowledge about the procedure and encourage them to understand when it is truly necessary by discussing symptoms, viable alternatives to the procedure, and giving solid advice in understanding the after-effects. "The H Word" is strongly recommended reading for the woman who wants to know all she can before making a decision.

My Heart And Soul
Marilyn Randall
Privately Published
9780557087570, $21.96,

Creative people branch out from their usual medium often. "My Heart and Soul" is a collection of poetry from Marilyn Randall as spins her life as a graphic designer into life as a poet, reflecting on the many elements of her life, both tragic and uplifting. "My Heart and Soul" is a great anthology of work, recommended. "My First Love": Shining sunbeams warm the surface and settle colored glows/On mountain meadows filled with fern and dancing flowers./Blessed they be for blooming now beneath the winter's white caps/And over Spring's dampened furrows/and Hidden stones.

Torn Dreams
Ivory Rose
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781449045524, $14.95,

When faced with torture in your home life, a life on the streets sounds enticing. "Torn Dreams" is a mix of memoir and fiction as author Ivory Rose tells the tale of Ayla, a young girl abused emotionally and sexually by her parents, and as soon as she can, she flees them to look for a new life. But a young girl out in the world does not have an easy lot, "Torn Dreams" is told in a reflective style that makes it quite the unique and poignant read.

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

The Untold Religion of Ancient Egypt
Jeffrey Lewis
Privately Published
9780615318820, $21.95

Freemasonry has been the topic of much wonder in history. "The Untold Religion of Ancient Egypt: The Lost Symbols of Freemasonry" discusses Freemasonry and its claims to trace its roots back to Ancient Egypt. Saying that the symbols of Egypt linking it to modern Freemasonry are found in ancient religions, plain sight in ancient lands, and why a predominantly Christian organization only requires belief in a supreme being to join. "The Untold Religion of Ancient Egypt" is a fascinating read for those who want a deeper look into secret societies.

Revenge Fires Back!
JR Thompson
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9780557187805, $11.99,

The simplest lie can spiral out of control. "Revenge Fires Back!" tells the story of Brady and Derrick Clark, two brothers who, angry at their parents, tell lies and soon find that life under their parents wasn't as bad as they thought. Under the cruel eye of many foster homes, the boys try to tell the truth about their parents but the truth may come too late. "Revenge Fires Back!" is a choice pick for those looking for young adult fiction.

I Know Why the Dogwoods Blush
Bill Cain
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd -515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432745363, $19.95,

The world has to end sometime; it's just a matter of how long we can put it off. "I Know Why the Dogwoods Blush" tells the tale of Father Spindola and Sheriff Spear as they face the results of mysterious deaths in their hometowns. With fears of the dead rising again, the clues seem to lead to the death of a beloved hometown hero over a decade ago. Could it be the end of days, or something much simpler? "I Know Why the Dogwoods Blush" is a fine blend of thriller and mystery, highly recommended.

Paris Insights
Tom Reeves
Discover Paris
9780981529240, $16.95,

Paris has its reputation as a beautiful, romantic city for a reason. "Paris Insights: An Anthology" is a guide to the sights and culture of Paris, as Tom Reeves gives readers a full text tour of the city, offering cultural insight onto the sights and important cultural landmarks of the city. Accompanied by black and white photography of said landmarks, Reeves presents a grand array of knowledge of Paris, and gives readers quite a lot to relish. For the armchair traveler, "Paris Insights" is an excellent read, not to be missed.

Homeland Insecurity
Stephen Fox
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440155550, $19.95,

When you look and talk like the enemy, few embrace you as countrymen. "Homeland Insecurity: Aliens, Citizens, and the Challenge to American Civil Liberties in World War II" looks at the racism that was abound during World War II, focusing on the challenges German and Italian Americans faced during this time. This racism was not only at the social level, and in many cases it was government mandated in fear of spies, stretching the constitution to its limit and in many cases, breaking it. "Homeland Insecurity" is a fascinating read of the darker side of America at war.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Designs for Remodeling Your Home
Jerold Axelrod
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781441549310, $23.99,

A few tweaks to one's home can make it seem brand new again. "Designs for Remodeling Your Home: Bumps, Bays, Additions, & More" is a guide to the world of remodeling, where Jerold Axelrod hopes to inspire homeowners to make their home better by adding more to it, detailing the process step by step. Anyone thinking of adding something to their home needs to consider "Designs for Remodeling Your Home".

Five Magic Words
Valentine Dmitriev
Publish America
P.O. Box 151 Frederick, MD 21705
Sabrina Sumsion Publicity (publicity)
PO Box 101, Dwight, NE 68635
9781615820351, $19.95,

Failure leads to frustration and the unwillingness to try again. "Five Magic Words" is the story of two spurned adults, dragged through the worst of the world and seemingly unwilling to rise up and make the most of it. Agatha has had a gauntlet of failed relationships, and Silas has loved and lost. Initially hating each other, they find that love can shine through the murkiest waters. "Five Magic Words" is a fascinating and very highly recommended read that should not be missed.

Utopia and Survival
Gustavo Lo Presti
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
0533151457, $15.00,

Tomorrow can bring new solutions, but tomorrow can also bring new problems. "Utopia and Survival: Wake Up, America" is Gustavo Lo Presti's cautionary tale of America warning against the problems America has been ignoring all this time. He offers his own ideas and thoughts on many modern problems and presents his new solutions, which he calls new humanism, and states a utopia is possible. "Utopia and Survival" is an intriguing and entertaining read, worth considering.

The Victim Donor
Ken Corre
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781935278085, $14.95,

The kidney black market is a strange one. "The Victim Donor" tells the story of John Harris, a man who had an idealistic life until he finds himself waking from a coma, missing a kidney. Along with his family, he finds himself driven to find answers and see who was responsible, and why exactly he was targeted. "The Victim Donor" is a fascinating piece of suspense, recommended.

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

The Khan Dilemma
Ron Goodreau
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440151231, $18.95,

Some cases are big breaks, others will break the lawyer. "The Khan Dilemma" is a novel telling of Max Siegel, as he faces the corruption of Las Cruces and a double homicide. It'd be like any other murder case to Max if it wasn't for the fact that the FBI and other people from Washington weren't showing up and paying way too much attention to what seems to be nothing more than your standard murder. Siegel soon finds that the rabbit hole goes deeper than what his eye sees, and he'll either gain much respect as a man of law, or find himself dead at the bottom of said hole. "The Khan Dilemma" is riveting reading that won't easy be put down.

Swimmers in the Sea
John Kemuel Cravens
9781449563417, $15.00

The horribleness of war can be balanced with the serenity of the ocean "Swimmers in the Sea" tells the tale of Thomas Dawes, on leave to the Hawaiian islands during the Vietnam War. During his travels around the island, he looks for solace from the horrors he has seen, and with some hope, begins to find it. A story of redeeming the world after the miserable world, "Swimmers in the Sea" is an inspiring and uplifting read.

Lives of Miraculous Coincidences
Harry A. Johnson
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161676, $26.96,

Some people just get lucky in getting the world as their oyster. "Lives of Miraculous Coincidences" is a memoir from Harry A. Johnson telling his tale of his spectacular life and what he has learned over the years through his travels. From the Marine Core to fighting in World War II to being a Church leader and traveling the world, Johnson has packed many lifetimes into one and gives readers a treat with "Lives of Miraculous Coincidences", a fascinating and very highly recommended read.

God's Game
Barry Reiter
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, 18th floor, New York, NY 10016
9780533162147, $8.95,

We are all more God-like than we know. "God's Game" is a philosophical and spiritual approach to life as Barry Reiter presents many thoughts and ideas about the game of life and the power one has over the playing field of life, the role God has in the greater picture of it all. With plenty of intriguing ideas and inspiration, "God's Game" is well worth considering.

We Are All In A Pickle Now
Howard P. Starr II
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, 18th floor, New York, NY 10016
9780533162093, $8.95,

And endless march of problems. "We Are All In A Pickle Now: Social and Economic Heresy...The Truth" is the musings of Howard P. Starr about some of the world's most troublesome issues. From how the world is running out of water, to how we're running out of space and the opinions of middle America, "We Are All In A Pickle Now" asks a good deal of questions and provides a good array of thoughtful answers.

With Hearts Courageous
Jon Steven Nappa
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9780615323954, $16.95,

Lost at sea, there is only the slightest spark of potential salvation. "With Hearts Courageous" is the second novel in Jon Steven Nappa's series focused on rescue at sea, drawing inspiration from the founding days of the Royal National Lifeboat Association and its founder Sir William Hillary. One man with not much to his name rises to the challenge to do what few others would, as Nappa presents a fun novel of adventure at sea. "With Hearts Courageous" is worth considering, highly recommended.

Michael J. Carson

Christy's Bookshelf

Faces of Fear
John Saul
Ballantine Books/Random House
New York, NY
9780345487056 $26.00

15-year-old Alison Shaw enjoys her middle-class life with her parents, a real estate agent and a TV production manager. However, her world is turned upside down when her parents' marriage dissolves after her father reveals he is gay. Alison's mother marries acclaimed plastic surgeon Conrad Dunn, whose wife committed suicide after a boating accident left her perfect (albeit surgery-enhanced) face permanently scarred. Alison moves with her mother to Dunn's mansion and has trouble adjusting to an affluent lifestyle with friends who think nothing of paying thousands of dollars for clothes and indulging in plastic surgery to fix perceived flaws. Meanwhile, a demented murderer named the Frankenstein Killer is harvesting parts of women's faces, as well as their adrenal and thymus glands, leaving behind mutilated corpses. As the killer picks up the pace, Alison and her mother are peripherally aware of the frantic search by the police, although unaware that Alison may be the motive behind the killings.

Faces of Fear, Saul's 35th novel, has mystery, suspense, characters wholesome and likable and those adroitly portrayed as evil and maniacal. Although slow to start, the book does pick up speed, yet savvy readers will figure out the mystery well before it is revealed.

Finger Lickin' Fifteen
Janet Evanovich
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312383282 $27.95

Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum's back for another wacky adventure in this 15th outing of the Plum series. Former hooker, now file clerk, bounty hunter wannabe Lula witnesses the decapitation of celebrity chef Stanley Chipotle and insists the only cop she'll talk to is Joe Morelli, Stephanie's on-again, off-again boyfriend. (At this point, they're off-again.) Stephanie's working part-time for the mysterious Ranger, trying to figure out how someone is accessing his clients' alarm systems long enough to disarm them and burglarize. She's also tracking felons for her cousin Vinnie but proves as inept as usual in this regard. Morelli figures the murder was a professional hit, but the killers have now targeted Lula, who manages to evade them, leaving blown up cars and buildings behind. When a million dollar reward is offered for the killers, Lula persuades Stephanie and her Grandma Mazur to help find them and split the reward.

With each book, Evanovich delivers humor, a zany plot, and outside-the-box characters. The teasing, triangular relationship between Stephanie, Morelli and Ranger continues with no end in sight. Characters are familiar and entrenched in personas and situations that do not change, although remain fun to read.

Dean Koontz
Bantam Dell/Random House
New York, NY
9780553807141 $27.00

Bestselling author Cullen "Cubby" Greenwich, having survived a traumatic experience as a child, considers himself a lucky man. He's married to the love of his life, has a six-year-old son who's a genius, and a dog named Lassie Cubby suspects may have supernatural abilities. When Cubby's latest novel is given a scorching review by acclaimed reviewer Shearman Waxx, everyone advises Cubby to let it go. But Cubby's curious about the man whose review is filled with misstated facts about his book. Cubby manages to lunch where the reviewer has a reservation, and from that point on, finds himself and his family targeted by Waxx, inexplicably intent on ending their lives. After researching Waxx and learning other authors and their families have met torturous demise at the hands of Waxx and his minions, Cubby and his family flee from a demented sociopath who is relentless in his efforts to find them.

Koontz excels at providing exciting thrillers involving wholesome, very likeable characters pursued by evil. This book is reminiscent of Koontz's earlier works, filled with breath-taking suspense and gripping scenes. Characterization is in-depth and revealing, and the plot fast-paced and intriguing.

Patricia Cornwell
375 Hudson Street, New York New York 10014
9780425230169 $27.95

This 16th installment of Cornwell's series featuring forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta finds Scarpetta living in Massachusetts with an apartment in New York, both shared with her husband, former FBI forensic profiler Benton Wesley. Scarpetta's called to Bellevue, where Oscar Bane, a man suspected of killing his girlfriend, is being held. Bane insists he will talk to no one but Scarpetta and is adamant that he did not murder his girlfriend, although all evidence points to him. Bane also claims he is being stalked by the actual killer. As Scarpetta collects DNA from Bane and listens to his declarations, she suspects he is infatuated with her. But Scarpetta is limited by doctor-patient confidentiality and cannot relay to Benton or the police her conversation with or suspicions about Bane. Pete Marino, once Scarpetta's right-hand investigator, now employed by the NYPD, is pulled into the investigation by the prosecutor, as is Scarpetta's niece, Lucy, due to her computer expertise. Someone claiming to be Scarpetta had been corresponding with the deceased via email and Scarpetta is being attacked by an online gossip column, all of which tie into the murder, linked to others of a similar nature.

This series started strong, seemed to lag, and is, with this installment, on its way back. The reason: Scarpetta, Wesley, Marino and Lucy are together again, using their unique talents and collective intelligence in investigating cases that are twisting and complex. Although the revelation of the killer is unexpected, there are loose ends left dangling as to his ability to move around so easily without being detected and his motivation as to Scarpetta. However, this is a very good read, and this reviewer is happy to see the old crowd back together.

Christy Tillery French

Clark's Bookshelf

The Chester Chronicles
Kermit Moyer
The Permanent Press
9781579621940 $26.00

Writing about your life, which you know best, can be in many forms. Autobiographies are done without embellishment, but when you fictionalize your life you get the opportunity for a 'do-over' to correct your mistakes. Kermit Moyer, in "The Chester Chronicles", has created Chester Patterson, a mirror image or doppelganger, of his own life.

An Army brat tells the stories of how he traveled through life until the ripe old age of 21. Chet describes many places where he had lived and was schooled on the facts of life. His relationships with young girls and young women during his growing-up escapades in various cultures around the world, makes this a more mature read, while still in good taste, and with very little vulgarity.

Each episode is complete and could stand alone, but when read with an eye towards what is coming next, the reader soon realizes that all is connected in a clean cut manner. Chet grows in stature throughout the book and becomes a person who would make his worldly military father proud by being conscious of social issues. Discussed are the improprieties of the riots in Los Angeles, attitudes of people he meets in college, and a bartender in Winter Park, Florida who expresses negativity toward blacks. At all times, Chet defends people of color and demonstrates his distaste for prejudice.

An incident regarding his early experience with alcohol while in high school was very moving and funny. Chester Patterson discovers that his father is now treating him as an adult, even though he is only 16. Underage drinking is not condoned, but when Chet gets into a problem of locking his keys in his dad's trunk after having a beer, the first person he calls for help is his dad. His friends are surprised that he is not grounded for his actions like they were. A strong bond with his father eventually develops and is sustained throughout the rest of the stories.

Kermit Moyer has an advanced educational background running through a PhD in English, very similar to the educational track which his character was currently pursuing. "The Chester Chronicles" is Moyer's second book. "Tumbling" was his first book and was a collection of short stories receiving wide acclaim.

Well-written in a first-person personae, Chester brings to life the trials and tribulations occurring in the 50's and 60's. This book is not just for younger people, but is geared towards those who lived through that era.

This book is highly recommended as a good work of literature and entertainment.

From the Four Winds
Haim Sabato
Translated by Yaacob Dweck
The Toby Press
9781592642403 $22.95

Where does fiction stop and reality start? "From the Four Winds" by Haim Sabato is one of those unusual books which captivates the reader and enmeshes thought with action. A young boy moves to Israel from Egypt and this is his story.

Haim Sabato is a well recognized author in Israel and has written several other books which have been widely received as excellent works of literature. All of his books were written in Hebrew. Yaacob Dweck translated Haim's novel from Hebrew to English and the words flow effortlessly page after page.

Be prepared to learn about the different prayers which are described as a part of the daily life of the characters, as with any other orthodox Jew, prayers are the foundation of their life. This is not meant to say that you would be overburdened with religious fervor, no; Sabato cleverly makes reference to the type of prayer being said at different times of the day or at special holidays.

One of the main characters, Farkash, a mysterious, unforgettable immigrant from Hungary, befriends young Haim who has recently arrived with his family from Egypt. His interaction with the youngster and watchful eye as he progresses in his studies is the main focus of "From the Four Winds". What he teaches him is that life is about giving guidance to others in the pursuit of their lives. Gifts of learning and recognition when accomplishments are achieved seem to be the main strength of this book. Sabato's studies as a youngster are encouraged by his mother's desire for him to succeed. Very interesting is the fact that the author is a rabbi and main character Haim becomes one as well. What a great setting for the events of this story to take place in Israel in the 1950s.

During the telling of this story there is never a word of regret, remorse, or feeling that things could have been better. Farkash tells of his life as a baker's apprentice and even when his life is at an end, he forgives those who had caused him to suffer. This is one of several lessons to be gained from reading this book. Farkash guided Haim in his early years in his studies and charged him to do the same for his children.

This book is heartwarming and entertaining as the characters interact. Highly recommended.

Clark Isaacs

Daniel's Bookshelf

Killer Weekend
Ridley Pearson
Penguin Group USA Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399154072 $TBA 1-800-845-5515

I had to get more of this patrolman based in the Pioneer Mountains, in Idaho by one of my favorite consistent authors Ridley Pearson. Walt Fleming is an interesting main character in a fascinating setting In Sun Valley Idaho. The author uses this outdoor setting to his plot advantage adding new thrills to a thriller. It adds beautifully to that type of story that holds the reader besides the people match-ups.

Walt Fleming, the local patrolman of Sun Valley had protected a New York State attorney general eight years ago from a knife-carrying killer . The attorney, Liz Shaler returns to Sun Valley as a professional celebrity and keynote speaker for a billionaire's media and communications conference. Liz using the conference to generate her own personal agenda for candidacy for president creates a media brilliant move for billionaire Patrick Cutter, but a security nightmare for Walt Fleming now running for county sheriff. The conference gets going and it becomes learned about a threat against Shaler's life All types of agencies jockey for jurisdiction. The Secret Service, the FBI, and Cutter's own security force. On top of the logistics nightmare that the conference rich excessive wastefulness portrays for Sheriff Fleming, he has the distractions with a skew of local concerns. He has a troubled nephew under arrest. His own wife's infidelities, and the death of a socialite under suspicious circumstances. In the wild there is a series apparent maulings by an aggressive cougar. The timing of these incidents are added by Shaler's assaying puts his own chilling plan into action. Fleming has to act quickly to protect a controversial politician before it becomes too late.

Ridley Pearson is the author twenty-four novels along with the Lou Bolt crime series. He also has written an anthology named the Bolt Thriller short stories. His books also books for young readers co-authoring with Dave Barry which names the bestselling children's novels, Peter and the Starcatchers and Peter and the Shadow Thieves. Pearson has received the Raymond Chandler Fulbright Fellowship to Oxford University. I eagerly await his next novel with Walt Fleming in the Killer series, Killer Summer.

Frankenstein Dead and Alive: Book Three
Dean Koontz
Bantam Books
A Division of Random House Inc.
1745 Broadway 3rd Floor, New York NY, 10019
9780553587906 $9.99 1-212-782-9000

I have read the first two books in the Frankenstein series by this author, and I recently picked up the third one. I enjoyed the imagination of Dean Koontz in a powerful reworking of one of the classic stories of all time. Koontz has discovered a new way to telling this story in a fresh and creative style within this old story. Koontz captured me with a a horror story being a fine compelling read. I have read Koontz through many of neo-gothic horror and thrillers laced with unusual characters blended into good storytelling.

Victor Helios who is Frankenstein, the creator of a new race sees an unraveling of his creations as a devastating hurricane approaches. New Orleans falls into confusion and chaos while the future of humanity lies in the balance. The first creation is Decualion whom Helios created in his first attempt to build the perfect human. Decualion who has lived a century is involved in the ultimate battle between the creator and himself as the damned creation. The unexpected problem is that of an unknown monstrosity, that not even Frankenstein could predict happening. The nightmare pops out into a destructive entity with powers. The purpose unfolds which is way beyond the collective humankind's mind.

Dean Koontz is the author of 57 books including the Frankenstein series and one of the bestselling authors of the suspense and thriller genre. His latest book is Breathless now in hard book. I keep slipping back to the author where my first book I read was Watchers, and I have not failed to go back and check on his latest offering. He has not disappointed me where he seems to have found the right pacing, and he has developed the storytelling to become one of the Dean of Suspense writers of our time.

Daniel Allen

Debra's Bookshelf

Stone Rain
Linwood Barclay
9780553804560 $7.99 480 pages

In Linwood Barclay's fourth novel featuring trepid newspaper writer Zack Walker, Zack falls into two dangerous situations. His friend Trixie Snelling, accountant turned dominatrix, calls asking for help with a reporter who's been buzzing around her for a story. For reasons that later become clear, she's terrified of having her picture printed in the paper. And Zack's son Paul takes a job as a fry cook, only to discover that the trio of muscular Slavic women running the burger joint are serving up E. coli with their fries. The two threads of the story eventually combine, with both sets of bad guys intent on killing or maiming Zack, albeit with very different weapons. As usual, Zack's tendency to fall into trouble and not come clean about it soon enough also gets him in hot water at home. But what's unusual about this book is that the main story is punctuated by chapters detailing Trixie's colorful back story. This is necessary for our understanding, but for me these were the low points of the book. Frankly, I don't find Trixie a very interesting or sympathetic character. She's made a number of mistakes in her life that have put her friends and family in danger. And while one can try to exonerate her by saying that she was forced into them by her situation, well, she really wasn't. Given at various times in life a choice of two directions to take, she has invariably made the worse choice. So, I don't really care what happens to her. Barclay, however, tells a great story, and he ties up the various strands of the plot very neatly at the end. Still, if there's to be another Zack Walker novel, I'd prefer that the troubles Zack faces be closer to home. And, generally speaking, the more we see of Zack's friend, the enigmatic private eye Lawrence Jones, the better (provided that he, unlike Trixie in this outing, remains enigmatic).

Mr. Monk is Miserable
Lee Goldberg
9780451227331 $7.99

Mr. Monk is Miserable, the seventh book in Lee Goldberg's series of TV tie-ins, picks up immediately where book six, Mr. Monk Goes to Germany, left off. After solving a number of homicides in Germany's Lohr Valley, Monk and his assistant Natalie head to Paris for a vacation--a word which has vastly different connotations for Monk than for Natalie and the rest of humanity. Fortunately for Monk, Paris--despite its disconcerting otherness--has a few things to recommend it: a restaurant that serves Sierra Springs bottled water and perfectly square croque monsieurs, an underground museum that showcases the history of the groundbreaking Parisian sewer system, and an army of mini sanitation vehicles that sweep, vacuum, and wash the city's sidewalks. Paris also has its share of murders, one of which would have gone undetected indefinitely were it not for Monk's preternaturally acute attention to detail. Happily, Monk is able to break up the monotony of sight-seeing by assisting the local police in their investigations, and since one of the crimes has a San Francisco connection, Monk and Natalie are eventually joined in Paris by Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher. As usual with this series, Mr. Monk is Miserable offers readers a winning combination, a good mystery wrapped in humorous dialogue and occasional bits of pathos. I am impressed by how consistently enjoyable the Monk books are and lament only that I'm catching up to the author: as of January 2010, there are only two more books remaining in the series that I have yet to read, Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop and Mr. Monk in Trouble, both published in 2009. I'll have to pace myself unless Mr. Goldberg and his publisher agree to ramp up production.

That Old Cape Magic
Richard Russo
9780375414961 $25.95

Richard Russo's latest novel is organized loosely around two weddings, but its focus is on two marriages of longer duration--those of the parents and grandparents of bride number two. The first wedding takes place on Cape Cod, where Jack Griffin, Hollywood scriptwriter turned English professor, once honeymooned and where he had always summered with his parents as a boy. Jack's parents, one of them dead already at the book's outset, were an odious pair of unhappily married narcissists for whom nothing--whether academic position or rental property or neighbor--was ever good enough. They both haunt him now, particularly his mother, spouting elitist commentary over the phone or in his imagination. Troubled by signs that his own marriage is failing ("What did you expect?" his mother might interject." She never did graduate work."), Jack finds himself coming to terms with his unwelcome inheritance of some of his parents' personality traits. His marital crisis, meanwhile, and time spent again in Cape Cod leave him reexamining his childhood, but there are hints that his memory may be imperfect, or that his childhood self may not have been privy to the whole story of, for example, his parents' marriage.

Russo's title refers to the song "That Old Black Magic," which his parents regularly sang on the way to the Cape, with some of the words changed. But the magic here likes in Russo's writing. It's a mystery to me how the author, using the same set of words that is available to the rest of us, can craft from them such a thought-provoking story and a cast of complex, flesh-and-blood characters. Russo is surely one of our finest writers.

Dead Air
Deborah Shlian, Linda Reid
Oceanview Publishing
9781933515502 $25.95

Dead Air, the first book in what will apparently be a new series, features Sammy Greene as a junior communications major at Ellsford University in Vermont. Sammy hosts a call-in show on the campus radio station, and in that capacity she finds herself digging up various skeletons and generally making herself unpopular with the school's administration and with the campus police. In this outing she's looking into a rash of suicides on campus. The tragedies, once she starts digging, appear suspicious to Sammy, and she winds up uncovering some unpleasant goings-on at the University's state-of-the-art science building.

Sammy is a tenacious journalist who's given to peppering her conversation with Yiddishisms. Both of these facets of her character annoy me, in both cases because they just don't ring true. Sammy was raised by her grandmother in New York City after the deaths of her parents, which is supposed to explain why she sometimes sounds like somebody's grandmother herself, but the expressions she uses just don't sound right coming from the mouth of a tough-talking twenty-ish coed. As for her tenacity and commitment to journalism, I simply can't believe that a college junior would be as devoted to her journalism "career" as Sammy is. Even if a college student wanted to commit themselves so thoroughly to their avocation, they wouldn't be able to. Students tend to have other obligations and interests. But while courses and exams are sometimes alluded to in Dead Air, there's virtually no indication that Sammy ever does any school work: she devotes herself completely to her work for the radio station and her amateur sleuthing. Nor does Sammy act her age. How many 19- or 20-year old college students would travel out of state to interview the president of an international corporation, or impersonate someone to break into a highly-secure building and look for clues? This series would work better for me if Sammy Greene weren't a student herself. Make her a former student who's stayed in town to work at the radio station and I'd find her a much more believable character.

David Malouf
9780307378774 $24.00

David Malouf's Ransom is a re-imagining of the events narrated in book 24 of Homer's Iliad. Achilles, mad with grief over the death of his friend Patroclus at Hector's hands, has slain Hector in turn. But contrary to convention, still savage in his unquenchable grief, Achilles daily abuses Hector's body, dragging it behind his chariot around the Greeks' camp, the insult further sorrow to Hector's parents and to the rest of the Trojans. Hector's father, Priam, the King of Troy, is visited by the goddess Iris, who bids him travel to the Greek camp and ransom his son's body. Priam does this, Achilles relents, and Priam returns home with the corpse, which the gods have preserved from decay and Achilles' degradations. Book 24 ends with Hector's funeral. In Malouf's version the gods are not so clear in their intent. A divine vision gives Priam the glimmer of an idea, that, just perhaps, there is room for man to change his destiny through action, that the gods do not necessarily determine everything. From this spark is borne the idea of the ransom and Priam's journey to the Greek camp. The act is unprecedented. It is not done for a king to step outside his role as figurehead and act as mere man, a mortal father. Priam--apart from a day when he was six years old and seemed destined to a future as a slave--has lived his life in a royal bubble. In the real world he is an innocent, unused to the most mundane of experiences.

The most interesting thing that Malouf does with his story is to introduce a new character. In the Iliad Priam is accompanied on his trip to the Greek camp by his herald Idaeus. In Ransom Priam's companion is a simple carter, Somax, the owner of a pair of black mules and a wagon. For the purpose of the journey, because he is accustomed to being escorted by an Idaeus--though the man behind the name may change--Somax is given the herald's identity. It is Priam's experience passing time with this normal man, who, though respectful, has not been drenched in the royal conventions, that wakes Priam up to the realities of life lived outside the bubble.

Ransom is a short book, but it deserves a slow read. Malouf's syntax sometimes requires concentration; his language is very often beautiful:

"Achilles grunted, gave the sword another push. The whole weight of his body hung on the thrust. Weightless himself. All the force of his brute presence gone now into the blade as he urged it in. There was a still, extended moment when they were joined, he and Hector, by three hand-spans of tempered bronze."

It deserves mention too that the book itself, as physical object, is a beautiful thing, a small hardcover with Somax's black mule in shadows on the cover, and the texture of the dust jacket, somehow, like velvet. Much as I love reading on my Kindle, it can't match the experience of holding a book in this particular case.

Debra Hamel, Reviewer

Erica's Bookshelf

The American Home Front 1941-1942
Alistair Cooke
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
841 Broadway, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10003
9780802143327 $15.00

Written just after World War II, this narrative of the war at home was not published because of the general public's assumed lack of interest. Cooke stored it away and forgot about it. More than half a century later, it was rediscovered and recognized as a unique piece of history worth publishing.

In flawless prose, Cooke (a native of England but also an American citizen) recounts his experiences while driving across the United States. Not just a casual observer, he went as a journalist intending to document how individuals responded to the war. He talks to soldiers, business owners, and the myriad others he encounters at hotels, restaurants, and gas stations along the way. The result is a picture of a country mobilizing for war. Every industry is affected in some way as the demands for a wholly new set of products causes a shift in priorities and production.

Cooke also notes the effects, positive and negative, on the people living in the United States. From wide-spread unemployment, the country moved into a time of full employment as the government drafted thousands of men into the armed forces and businesses increased personnel to meet production demands. But simultaneously, Japanese immigrants were collected and placed under guard in isolated camps to prevent them from gathering any information and relaying it to their native country. Inside these camps, miniature communities (many with their own newspapers) developed for the duration of the war. Throughout his expedition, Cooke remains focused on telling the story of America preparing for war as seen by an on-the-spot journalist.

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History
Robert Edsel
Hachette Book Group/Center Street
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9781599951492 $26.99

The confiscation by Nazis of Jewish-owned art and other valuables is common knowledge, but Hitler's desire to turn Germany into a center for great art is less familiar. As the Nazis spread through Europe they systematically collected any paintings or sculptures deemed worthy of the "master race" and either transported them to Germany or stockpiled them in convenient buildings. The senior Nazi officials also took their share of art for personal collections.

As the tide turned and the Allies began invading Europe through France and Italy, a new problem revealed itself. Scattered throughout the war zone were centuries-old buildings and artwork that needed to be preserved if possible. Enter the Monuments Men. Officially known as members of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA) section of the army, this handful of men were tasked with finding and identifying anything with special cultural and historical value in hopes of preventing permanent damage. Later, as the Allies neared Germany, the Monuments Men also sought to discover the whereabouts of art taken to Germany before it was destroyed, purposefully or accidentally.

Despite the numerous volumes already written about World War II, Edsel chooses a fresh and mostly forgotten portion of the war as the topic of his book. By drawing on personal letters and diaries, Edsel paints personal portraits of his key characters. Occasionally his speculations about their thoughts or feelings at a given moment become a bit dull, but he generally provides insights into the uncertainties and frustrations of their difficult job.

Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy, 3rd. ed.
Thomas Sowell
Basic Books
387 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016
9780465002603 $39.95

The subtitle to earlier editions says it well: "A Citizen's Guide to the Economy." Renowned economist and author Thomas Sowell devotes this book to shattering many of the economic myths that still manage to thrive in the current information age. Covering topics like rent-control, rationing, regulation, minimum wage laws, and subsidies, Sowell seeks to inform the general public about how the market really functions so that they are not fooled by the rhetoric employed by politicians running for office.

A firm believer in free market capitalism, Sowell does not expect anyone to accept his opinions on faith. Numerous examples from both national and international history abound to illustrate the tendency of individuals to act out of their own self-interest whether in a free or highly-regulated economy. The difference is in the results. In a free market, profits and losses automatically reward those who produce what the public wants and discourage the efforts of those who do not. Conversely, government-controlled economies are by definition regulated by a few individuals trying to manually operate all the minute details of the economy that, in a market economy, would take care of themselves. Under such a system, individuals still operate based on their own interests but those are no longer aligned to the demands of society but to the government.

Sowell imparts both facts and a way of thinking about them that, though possibly new to the reader, are common among economists. He has mastered the art of explaining economic realities to the average reader through the writing of many books. This work should interest anyone desiring to become better informed regarding the causes and consequences of government or private sector activities in the economy.

A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World
William J. Bernstein
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
841 Broadway, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10003
9780871139795 $30.00

Bernstein tells the story of civilization by describing the development of world trade. He begins with the ancient cities of Mesopotamia and quickly moves on to Egypt and Greece. From there he continues in a mainly chronological fashion through the rest of world history (including many fantastic bits of historical trivia along the way). The book is more a history of commodities than countries. A certain metropolis or nation may come to the fore along the way, but that is only because of its key role in producing, conveying, or consuming a particularly sought-after product of its age. Bernstein shows the truth of Adam Smith's oft quoted phrase about man's "propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another." He also highlights the instances when the urge to trade has most influenced world history and how changing economic theories drove national policies. Never boring, this book is a very readable history of world trade and the nations most responsible for its evolution into the vast network it is today.

Erica Dorsey

Gary's Bookshelf

The Principal's Office
Josette Dixon-Hall
Legacy Publishing Services Inc
1883 Lee Road, Winter Park, Florida 32789
9781934449653 $13.99

It used to be for students if you were called to the principal's office it meant you were in trouble. For a teacher it was possibly a conference with a parent. The author has an entirely different take on when a teacher is called into the office of the headmaster. Now it is for the purpose of sexual gratification of the male administrator. The author shows that sexual harassment in the school environment is way too common and that we must begin to address the problem.

Stuart Woods
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399156113 $25.95

Stone Barrington is back in action in the 17th novel of the series. This time Stone has three situations going on at the same time. Here are two of them: a woman who has left Atlanta to escape her ex husband. Unfortunately he has followed her to New York for the purpose of killing her. Stone is asked to help protect her. The police are after an artist who is selling drugs. Stone is recruited to assist law enforcement. I had to laugh though when Stone is talking to Dino at dinner complaining that he is sexually overworked by three women. The novels have always had lots of steamy sex and that was just too funny to hear Stone complain about it. The story moves along with plenty of snappy dialogue interesting plots, and characters you really like that make it another great Stuart Woods tale.

Lucifer Rising
Barbara Fifield
Outskirts Press Inc
Denver, Colorado
9781432749675 $10.95

The author shows the power a religious cult can have over an individual's life. Elsa Eldridge works for the local paper in Daytona, Beach Florida. Her assignment by her editor is to profile the head of a local faction of a holy group. She begins to find that she is mesmerized by this man and that she will do anything for him. The novel shows the frightening hold groups like this have on people, no matter what their level of education is. The novel is a warning that should be heeded.

Worst Case
James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
Little Brown and Company
Hachette Book Group USA
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780316036221 $27.95

I did not like the first novel "Step on a Crack" because the author' spent too much time on Michael Bennett's ten children. I am happy to say this one concentrates on the case of detective Michael Bennett and it's a terrific nail biter suspense tale Someone is snatching children of wealthy families and giving them a test. If they pass they live; if not then he kills them. Patterson and Ledwidge have written a fast paced thriller that races along with many twists that make it the best of the series.

The Secret Between Us
Barbara Delinsky
Anchor Books
9780307388476 $7.99

Before this novel I had never read anything by this author.

I am delighted to say she is one great writer. The story begins with a mother and daughter driving in a heavy rain storm who hit a runner. Unexpectedly he dies. As the tale unfolds many of the characters are carrying secrets that eventually are exposed. The beauty of this author's story is that the dialog and characters are realistic. Delinsky is one I have added to my list of favorite authors

The Sculptor
Gregory Funaro
Kensington Publishing Co
119 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
9780786022120 $6.99

Wow, this one is very weird. A killer leaves parts of bodies in an artistic form in the mode of different Michelangelo works. The F.B.I. has few clues until they ask for the assistance of art historian Cathy Hildebrant. She is able to help them to better understand what they are up against. The author has written a suspenseful tale that has many bizarre twists and turns. The killer and the way he leaves his victims is memorable and the story is an out of the ordinary suspense story.

Nomad's Land, Point of Reference Series, Book One
J. Allen Adams
Helm Publishing
P.O. Box 9691, Treasure Island, Fl 33706
9780984139743 $14.95

This is the first of a series of science fiction novels. I did not understand some of the scientific concepts the author deals with but you really don't need to, because the story takes the reader along as the humans meet so many interesting alien characters. There are also several conflicts that are resolved by the end. This is an enjoyable first novel.

Plain Written Poems
Anthony Antin
Outskirts Press Inc
Denver, Colorado
9781432738174 $12.95

Antin tackles many subjects in poetic form. Some are free verse while others rhyme. All are very interesting perspectives on many things we all take for granted. The nice thing about this book is that all of the works are easy to read and will give many readers have a better appreciation of poetry.

The Hive
Chris Berman
Xpress Yourself Publishing LLC
P.O. Box 1615
Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20773
9780979975738 $15.95

Humanity is in trouble because an alien race is on a collision course while destroying everything in its path. The novel reminded me of the "Borg" from "Star Trek." Berman has characters that are well fleshed out and a writing style that takes the reader on a whirlwind ride to the final confrontation between the two races of beings. The author also intersperses humor, and the novel is the first of many by this talented writer.

Kill Dress
John Young
Outskirts Press Inc
Denver, Colorado
9781432749675 $11.95

The author had a good idea with the dress made by a little old lady, but he uses too many of the same words too many times on a page that slowed the progression of the story, while the characters were not believable. There are only two positive things I can say: it has an end and it is a short read. Don't bother wasting any time with this one. It's just not worth it unless you want to endure terrible writing, plotting and ridiculous characters.

Gary Roen

Georganna's Bookshelf

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Business Books: Get Your Business Wisdom into Print
Bert Holtje
Alpha Books
800 East 96th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46240
9781592578795 $18.95

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Business Books: Get your business wisdom into print by veteran ghostwriter and agent Bert Holtje is a fascinating insider's guide for traditional and self-publishers, chock full of tips that are close to being termed "secrets" about publishing. It has application to writing any nonfiction book. It begins with testing your idea and ends with publicizing the finished product. In-between, the book covers all phases of the publishing process.

Watching Gideon: A Novel
Stephen H. Foreman
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781439135747 (Trade Paperback Original) $14

This debut novel features western adventure, romance, rich descriptions of the setting and quirky characters of the 1950s. Jubal Pickett takes his mute son, Gideon, on a trip from their farm in Mississippi through Texas to Utah, where he hopes to mine uranium. Along the way they pick up Abilene, a footloose femme-fatale. Unfortunately, she falls into the arms of an unscrupulous restaurant owner who tries to keep Jubal and Gideon from ever returning from the distant mining camp where he sent them.

Invisible: A Memoir
Hugues de Montalembert
Simon & Schuster (Atria Books)
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781416593669, Paperback, $21.99

For a small volume, Montalembert's story packs a large punch. Imagine if you were a successful painter, filmmaker and photographer, and suddenly found yourself irretrievably blind. He rallied and, with the help of the Lighthouse rehabilitation center, spent two years learning to live alone and to "behave naturally and not blindly." His extraordinary successes will motivate readers to see the world in a new manner.

The Lost Quilter: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel
Jennifer Chiaverini
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781416533177 $14.00

The author of this popular series also designs related quilt fabrics and projects. This story of slavery and a quest for freedom pulls together the art of quilting with social commentary. A hidden collection of old letters leads Sylvia on an adventure to knit up the threads of a family dispersed by Civil War drama and post-emancipation events. Quilting plays a major role, of course, as does a mother's enduring love for her child.

Decoding The Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Expert Guide to the Facts Behind the Fiction
Simon Cox
Simon & Schuster (Touchstone)
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780743287274 $14.99

Cox delights in not debunking but furthering the mystery and magic of Dan Brown's legacy. This third purportedly nonfiction compilation of information about the symbols that appeared in Brown's recent book serves also to aggrandize Cox. It's an easy read, as it must have been an easy write to have been printed two weeks after manuscript submission. Or at least, it was a no-edit venture for Touchstone. The A to Z compendium does contain a good reference list for those interested in the occult, mystery cults, and symbology as used in Brown's books.

Mentors, Muses & Monsters: 30 Writers on the People Who Changed Their Lives
Elizabeth Benedict
Simon & Schuster (Free Press)
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781439108611 $24.99

These rich and varied offerings from top authors, including Benedict who edited the book, reveal the anxieties and needs of writers for guidance into and on their respective writing paths. Few monsters show up, for which readers can be happy. The insights gained from authorial stars like Jane Smiley, Alexander Chee, Edmund White, and Carolyn See may leave you laughing, breathless, and a bit tearful as they reveal their roots in very personal essays.

Pull: The Power of the Semantic Web to Transform Your Business
David Siegel
The Penguin Group (Portfolio imprint)
9781591842774 $27.95

Imagine yourself the center of your device mesh (every electronic gizmo you own from your cell phone and digital camera to a media room with touch display walls), master of your own fate, yet connected to everybody else. This is the sort of life that is predicted in "Pull." Find a futurist's vision of the Internet and our lives in 10, 20, 30 years. Dare to peek inside the plain white cover. Can you tell: is it heaven or is it hell? Siegel's predictions are both elevating and troubling, and you can see some of them in formation right now if you spend much time online. In the pull economy, goods and services will present themselves to you as the web learns about your preferences and needs, resulting in more customer-centric businesses.

Through It All: Reflections on My Life, My Family and My Faith
Christine King Farris
Simon & Schuster (Atria Books)
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781416548815, $15.00

The author is the oldest and only remaining sibling of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She's now 81 years old, but her memory of the times and tribulations with the famous civil rights leader are sharp as pins. She writes of further King family tragedies and the triumphs like the King Center, which she helped envision and bring into being. She also reveals previously unpublished letters by Dr. King, and the book features personal family photos that the world has not seen until now.

Georganna Hancock

Gloria's Bookshelf

Dead Tomorrow
Peter James
Pan Macmillan
20 New Wharf Rd., London N1 9RR
9780230706866 16.99 BPS

This book is not yet available in the US; it is available only in/through the UK and Canada at this time; it has been released in Canada in pb on 9/1/09 [ISBN 9780230710849, 19.95 CA$], and in the UK in pb on 12/4/09 [ISBN 9780330456777, 6.99 BPS].

The sixth book in the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series finds him, several months after the events which took place in the prior novel, "Dead Man's Footsteps," promoted to head up the Major Crime squad. His nemesis, Assistant Chief Constable Alison Vosper, has been promoted and moved to another part of the country, making his job a bit easier and less stressful. He is presently trying to impress her successor, but finds that effort quite difficult by virtue of the new case he and his squad are working on: Three dead bodies have been found in the English Channel, all their major internal organs quite expertly excised. The ensuing investigation, run along various lines, brings into play a timely issue: the international trafficking of not only humans, but human organs. The author puts a very human face on the tale, introducing Caitlin Beckett, a teenager living for the past six years with serious liver disease, becoming more serious by the day, with her mother desperately willing to do anything necessary to save her life.

On a more personal note, Grace, approaching forty years of age, is finally able to move on, romantically, after his wife's complete and utter disappearance nearly ten years prior, and is hoping to make his relationship with Cleo, the area's chief mortician, more permanent. The cops in this novel, as usual with this author, are truly dedicated, altruistic men and women. Still present, among other cops we have grown to know and love, is Glenn Branson, whose unhappy marital situation has him still in residence in Grace's living quarters.

Parenthetically, I greatly enjoyed seeing Jeffery Deaver make a brief appearance as a drug dealer, albeit a dead one, as well as an homage to Val McDermid as the author of a novel [one which I myself had greatly enjoyed] being read by one of the book's characters. Among my other favorite things about the book was the author invoking two oracles I have loved in detective fiction for years, to wit: one Mr. Conan Doyle, who famously said, "when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth," and the other Occam's Razor, of the true origins of which I was previously unaware - leave it to Mr. James to enlighten me about this as in so many other things! As Mr. James tells it: "Occam was a fourteenth-century philosopher monk who used the analogy of taking a razor-sharp knife and to cut away everything but the most obvious explanation. That, Brother Occam believed, was where the truth usually lay." Both are used to great effect in this case.

The tale is a rather grim one, dealing with a macabre subject, obviously well researched by the author. A hefty book, my one criticism is that it might have benefited from some judicious editing. That said, the novel is recommended.

Gallows Lane
Brian McGilloway
Minotaur Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312384326 $24.95 646-307-5151

This novel is the second in a new series featuring Benedict ["Ben"] Devlin, an Inspector in the Guards, or An Garda, in Lifford, Donegal, Ireland. [The title derives from the name of the street along which, centuries ago, the condemned were led en route to their death.] As the book opens, Devlin meets with a man from the North country, James Kerr, just released after 8 years of incarceration, his mandate being to make sure Kerr crosses back over the border to his home territory, thereby ensuring no further criminal activity by him on Devlin's patch. But Kerr, it seems, has lately found God, and first needs to complete a 'mission' in keeping with that spiritual awakening.

A more challenging job soon awaits Devlin, as the body of a young girl is discovered, savagely beaten to death. When that murder is followed by the severe beating of another girl, this one only sixteen years old, the investigation intensifies. The only problem is that no one can come up with anything more than a vague description of the man responsible.

Complicating things somewhat is the fact that Devlin's boss, Supt. Olly ["Elvis"] Costello, is about to retire, and there is an impending promotion within the ranks. Devlin is urged to put his name up as an applicant, causing some political infighting among his colleagues.

Devlin is a man of principle, something that creates problems for him, as he soon has reason to question whether that same standard, and his "need to prove himself right, regardless of the cost," will bring lethal harm to him or his loved ones. He is a happily married man [when his devotion to his job and those aforementioned principles are not causing marital strife] with an infant son, a seven-year-old daughter, and a one-eared basset hound named Frank.

The novel is intricately plotted, with the last and crucial piece of the puzzle not falling into place until the last pages. It is wonderfully well-written, putting this writer among others such as Ken Bruen, Declan Hughes and Stuart Neville in evoking the Ireland of today where, as the author notes, "the only person less trusted than an Englishman who opposes the Irish is an Englishman who supports them."

Highly recommended.

Dave Zeltserman
Serpent's Tail
c/o Profile Books Ltd.
3A Exmouth House, Pine St., London EC1R OJH
c/o Meryl Zegarek Public Relations
9781846686436 $14.95 917-493-3601

In his fourth novel, Dave Zeltserman has managed to outdo himself and created even more worthless characters than those who peopled his last book, "Small Crimes, perhaps best exemplified by its protagonist, Kyle Nevin. To say that Kyle is unsympathetic is to greatly understate the matter. The right-hand man of "the" mob boss in his South Boston neighborhood, he had done whatever was asked of him, e.g., killing people, breaking legs, picking up protection money, and robbing banks, the last of which put him in prison for eight years for armed robbery. Kyle served the whole length of the 5-8 year sentence imposed, so as not to be troubled by any potential parole conditions or plea agreements.

As the book opens Kyle, now 42 years old, has just been released from prison, fueled in equal parts by plans of revenge against the man who had set him up - none other than his former boss/mentor/protector [for whom he had worked since he was 11 years old], as well as straightening things out - one way or the other - with the woman he had loved, who had broken off all contact with him the day after his sentencing. Self-described as being "like a pit-bull, all he needed was the smell of blood to bring out his true nature," seemingly comprised in equal parts of rage and sang froid. And just when you think things can't get any worse - well, you know how that tune goes.

One of the things that sets this book apart, in addition to the fast-moving plot, is that its narrative form is apparently a proposed manuscript being written by the now celebrity-gangster-turned-author for whom the public has apparently developed a voracious appetite. The satire invited by this is done to a turn. But the book is unquestionably very dark, and its protagonist utterly despicable. Although very well-written, it is so difficult to find any redeeming quality in any of the characters that I am ambivalent about recommending it, but nevertheless find that I am doing just that.

Racing the Devil
E. Michael Terrell
Night Shadows Press
8987 E. Tanque Verde #309-135, Tucson, AZ 85749-9399
9780979916779 $14.95

Jared McKean is a man with a problem - several of them, as a matter of fact.

Divorced from his wife of over 13 years [who he still loves, of course], devoted father of a boy with Down Syndrome, he has now been framed for the murder of a woman who he'd never met, much less killed. A very tight frame it is, too, with an enormous amount of very damning evidence against him, forensic and otherwise. And that's only in the first three chapters.

Now a private detective, after seven years in the Nashville Metro Police Department, which he left in disgrace, he has his work cut out for him: First find out who might have wanted the victim dead, and then find out who hated him enough to target him as the fall guy. The detective assigned to the case is none other than Jared's ex-partner on the Police Force [not to mention his mentor and friend], which is either the good news or the bad, depending on how convinced he is of Jared's guilt. Jared says "I'd read somewhere that people were murdered because they got too close to evil. But evil doesn't always have horns and a tail. It's not always easy to recognize . . . If I was racing the devil, it looked like the devil was winning."

The people on whom Jared can count on to help him out are well-drawn supporting characters: Jay, his friend from pre-school days, a gay man now afflicted with AIDS, with whom he shares a house and his adored horses; his brother Randall; and his buddy Billy Mean, ex-Special Forces and ex-con now running a shelter for homeless men, mostly for other ex-vets and ex-cons.

This is a debut novel from this author, and all the more impressive for that fact. It is suspenseful and well-plotted. My only problem came with what I found to be repetitive descriptions of some characters, e.g., more than one woman described as having "sloe-shaped eyes" and hair that "tumbled over her shoulders like a waterfall." But this a minor criticism, and the author's theme of the bond between members of one's family, as Jared says, both "the family I had been given and the one I had chosen," is an important one. Recommended.

[The book has also been issued in hardcover, ISBN 978-0-9799167-6-2]

Dark Tiger
William G. Tapply
St. Martin's Minotaur
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312379780 $24.99 646-307-5560

Stonewall Jackson ("Stoney") Calhoun here makes his third and, sadly, last fictional appearance. Mr. Tapply, his creator, died in the summer of 2009, after having written [or co-authored, in three instances] well over three dozen books, including the Brady Coyne series, as well as twelve non-fiction books, primarily on the subject of fishing, of which he was an enthusiast and an expert. [The title of the present book refers to a fishing fly.]

Stoney and Kate Balaban, "business partners, best friends, and off-and-on lovers," run Kate's Bait, Tackle, and Woolly Buggers shop near Portland, Maine. Stoney was hit by lightning seven years ago, which had left him deaf in one ear, intolerant of alcohol and, more seriously, with his memory completely obliterated. He has been living in Maine for the past seven years, in a cabin in the wilderness, with his dog, a Brittany named Ralph [after Ralph Waldo Emerson, of course], who is well-trained as a bird dog, among other things

One drizzly May afternoon, Stoney receives a return visit from the Man in the Suit, a man from an unknown government agency, so named because that's the way he has always been dressed when calling upon Stoney and has never been otherwise identified. Stoney has just found out that he is about to lose his lease on the bait shop, and that Kate's terminally ill husband is about to be kicked out of his rehab facility, and his visitor makes clear that these problems will "go away" if Stoney accepts a "request" for his help, a job for which he is uniquely suited, he is told, having "the combination of skills and knowledge and personality required," to wit: finding out why and by whom a government operative, staying at a high-end fishing lodge in a remote corner of Maine near the Canadian border, was murdered.

The writing is wonderful. We are treated to little gems of description: "it was a pretty late afternoon in the middle of May. Through the open window, the wet earth smelled fresh and fertile, and in the slanting sunlight, the young leaves on the maples and poplars and birches washed the hillsides in muted pastel shares of mint and blush and lemon," and "watching the sun descend behind the treeline across the lake, waiting for darkness to fill up the forest." A man who others would describe as pear-shaped in Mr. Tapply's hands becomes "narrow in the chest and wide in the hips. Shaped like a lightbulb." Mr. Tapply was a masterful storyteller. Reading his books has always been an immense pleasure, and he will be greatly missed. This book, as all his others, is highly recommended.

Libby Fischer Hellmann
Bleak House Books
923 Williamson St., Madison, WI 53703
9781606480526 $24.95 800-258-5830

Ellie Foreman, single mother of 18-year-old Rachel and an independent commercial video producer and the protagonist in one of the fine mysteries series by Libby Fischer Hellmann, returns in this novel in which she is reunited with another series protag of this author, Georgia Davis, Chicago P.I. When eight-year-old Molly Messenger is kidnapped, her mother seeks help from her neighbor, who in turn turns to her friend Ellie, who has some experience in these matters, and then to Georgia, an ex-cop. Almost incredibly, the child is released three days later, unharmed [other than being wholly traumatized].

The bizarre set of circumstances raises many questions in the minds of Ellie and Georgia, among them the position of the police department, which has marked the case closed, "no statements, no photos, no comment." The child's mother, Chris Messenger, is the recently promoted director of a local bank. There is friction between her and her ex-husband, each of whom is now involved in new romantic attachments. And when Chris' boss dies days later, in an apparent car accident, things get even murkier.

There are several threads to the plot, all of which are tied up adroitly before the end of the book, and include ethanol production, government contractors, and smuggling [both drugs and humans], and the investigative trail stretches from northern Wisconsin to an Arizona border town, holding the reader's attention all the way. Another enjoyable entry in the dual series.

[It should perhaps be noted that the book has been simultaneously released in trade paperback, ISBN #13-978-1-60648-053-3, $14.95]

Urgent Care
CJ Lyons
c/o Penguin
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780515147056 $7.99 800-847-5515

C. J. Lyons, in her third book in the series, brings back her four female protagonists: Amanda Mason, 25, doing her last year as a medical student in the pediatric ICU at Angels of Mercy Medical Center in Pittsburgh; Gina Freeman, her housemate and an emergency medicine resident at the hospital; Lydia, an ER attending; Nora Halloran, charge nurse and sexual assault examiner, all very competent, sympathetic and strong women but each with her own vulnerabilities.

When the body of Karen Chisholm, a nurse anesthetist, is discovered just outside of the hospital building, beaten, raped, and savagely knifed to death, it awakens horrific memories in Nora, who was herself a victim of apparently the same man. The memories of her attack still provoke night terrors, panic attacks and shame. She had been held by her tormentor for two days before being left for dead, and still bears the awful emotional scars, not the least of which is that she now holds herself responsible for Karen's death, thinking that somehow if she had reported her assault two years prior, the man would be off the streets. Given the fact that she had never seen his face, nor heard his unaltered voice, that is unlikely, but her sense of guilt is no less strong for that.

The women face challenges in their professional and personal lives. The writing tends occasionally to lean toward cliches, especially in the earlier portions of the book, but the author's storytelling abilities swiftly overcame that aspect. The situations and scenarios described are sufficiently dramatic, if not inherently melodramatic, and the author's CV certainly gives her the background to know whereof she writes. [Among other things, she is trained in pediatric emergency medicine and has worked as a crisis counselor and a victim advocate, as do characters in the book.] The various story lines converge as the book nears its conclusion, with several lives in jeopardy amid nail-biting suspense. The protagonists are each sympathetic, professional and capable women, and when I started this book I felt that I already knew and admired them, and will look forward to the next book in this enjoyable series.

Gloria Feit

Gorden's Bookshelf

Storm Front, Book One of the Dresden Files
Jim Butcher
c/o New American Library a division of Penguin Putman Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451457813 $7.99

Storm Front is a very good first novel in a series. It has enough backstory to build a believable fantasy world but it still leaves open questions to entice the reader to look for the next book in the series. Storm Front is one of the modern blends of a magic world coexisting with the real one. Harry Dresden is a wisecracking detective hero who suffers though the mystery. The balance between humor, terror, action and mystery is handled well. There is enough humanity in Dresden to identify with and enough magic to make him a hero.

The sign on Harry Dresden's door is the real introduction to the story.


Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations.

Consulting, Advice. Reasonable Rates.

No Love Potions, Endless Purses, Parties, or Other Entertainment

Dresden is broke and behind on his rent when he gets a phone call. A woman needs her husband found. A moment later, Detective Lieutenant Karrin Murphy calls with a request for help. A double murder so unusual she suspects it to be magic has occurred and she wants his input. Before the hour is out, Dresden finds himself nauseated by two bodies with their hearts torn out in the middle of their lovemaking, threatened by an all powerful crime boss and meeting a timid housewife trying to locate and errant husband. Before the weekend is over, Harry will be running for his life, beat up, escaping magical demons trying to tear him into pieces -- all while trying to have his first date in years, with a beautiful tabloid reporter looking for a story.

Storm Front is escapist fun done by a good writer. It doesn't pretend to be anything else but that is more than enough to warrant you looking for it. It is highly recommended fun and just plain and simply good writing.

Complexity A Guided Tour
Melanie Mitchell
Oxford University Press
198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780195124415 $29.95

Complexity is an emerging science. As an emerging science, there are multiple ideas and approaches, some contradictory and some complementary, each vying for a place. Trying to find a single book that covers the basics can be daunting. Mitchell has made a good attempt at this introduction.

She starts with some history and background. Unfortunately this is possibly the weakest part of the text. The real history is deeper, broader and richer than her summary. Her shortening the history so it complements her choices for later in the text places an unfair slant on the rich history of the topic. For example -- the history of the computer starts decades earlier than her mid 20th Century date and the mathematics blends back with multiple detailed threads to the earliest records of the Greeks. Her focus works well for the rest of the book but the missing parts might annoy.

The next three sections of the text cover major approaches to looking at Complex systems. The first is primarily focused on computers and programming. The next is on cellular automata and information processing. The last is on networking.

One thing you will find immediately is how much influx Complexity is at this time. To many this might seem strange but it takes decades for a real scientific consensus to emerge. Complexity is a very young science. The question that keeps coming up is how do you define different aspects of the science and the lack of a precise agreed upon answers. A step back to Max Black might help here. Max, with many other mathematicians before and after, showed that information within a mathematical statement varied directly with how precise the variables and operations are. So a multivalent, or multiple definitions, would make logical sense when considering problems that require a lot of information. It could be time to consider that a multivalence approach to definitions might be appropriate with Complex systems.

Complexity A Guided Tour is a must read for anyone interested in the field and is highly recommended for any student of the sciences and mathematics. It really is a guided tour through much of the cutting edge thoughts on scientific issues today.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Harwood's Bookshelf

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)
Robert Spencer
Regnery Publishing
One Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC 20001
0895260131 $19.95

"Guess what? Muhammad did not teach 'peace and tolerance.' Muhammad led armies and ordered assassinations of his enemies. Islamic tradition allows for negotiated settlements only in service of the ultimate goal of Islamic conquest."

After reading those words on Robert Spencer's opening page, I looked forward to a balanced treatise that showed Muhammad to have been as violent, self-serving, hate-ridden, vindictive and evil as the religious maniacs who preceded him. Sadly, that is not the way it turned out. While Spencer leaves little doubt that Muhammad was not a nicer man than Adolf Hitler, and Islam from its inception has been a proto-Nazi crusade to overthrow the civilized world, he gullibly contrasts that reality with a perception of Jesus and the Christian bible that raises serious doubts about the reliability of anything he says.

For example, he quotes the Koranic passage (8:60) that commands Muslims to "make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into the hearts of your enemies." He compares that to the passage in Matthew (5:44) that attributes to Jesus the words, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," blissfully ignorant of the finding of the Jesus Seminar that eighty percent of the statements the gospel authors put into Jesus' mouth were never spoken by him. Jesus was a typical xenophobic Jew who regarded as infallible scripture the admonition in Deuteronomy chapter 7, "When Yahweh your gods has settled you in the land you're about to occupy, and driven out many infidels before you … you're to cut them down and exterminate them. You're to make no compromises with them or show them any mercy.… Yahweh your gods is going to hand them over to you, and you're going to exterminate them in a massive genocide until they're eliminated."

So how did Spencer harmonize that exhortation to violence with his declaration (p. 19) that, "There is nothing in the Bible that rivals the Qur'an's exhortations to violence"? He did it by arguing (p. 29) that, "Unless you happen to be a Hittite, Girgashite, Amorite, Perizzite, Hivite, or Jebusite, these biblical passages simply do not apply to you." Now that is doublethink.

Spencer contrasts the Koranic passage (9:13), "Will ye not fight a folk who broke their solemn pledges, and purposed to drive out the messenger and did attack you first?" with the gospel masochism (Mat. 5:39), "if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." Anyone who believes that Jesus the psychopath ever said that is, to put it as politely as possible, not a scholar. Far more consistent with the Jesus authenticated by historians is the sermon (Mat. 10:34-36), "Don't imagine that I've come to bring the land peace. I've come to bring, not peace, but rather a sword…. Members of a man's own family are going to become his enemies." Spencer actually quotes those words of King Jesus (p. 28), and brainwashes himself that, "given the completely peaceful message of Jesus, it is clear that he meant 'a sword' in an allegorical and metaphorical way. To interpret this text literally is to misunderstand Jesus." And if Spencer believes that, he should run, not walk, back to the Cuckoo's Nest before Nurse Ratched gives his bed away.

Trying to show that Adolf Hitler was a nasty man by comparing him with that nice Mr Stalin, and doublethinking that Stalin was being metaphorical when he ordered the purging of millions of his enemies, is not the way to be taken seriously. And neither is comparing an evil Muhammad with a virtuous Jesus. Instead of adding to the evidence of Muhammad's reprehensible status compiled by Ibn Warraq, Spencer has undercut his credibility by demonstrating that political correctness has distorted his own perception as much as that of the apologists for an allegedly tolerant Islam whom he refutes.

Spencer claims (p. 4) that he "placed a 'Muhammad vs. Jesus' sidebar in every chapter to emphasize the fallacy of those who claim that Islam and Christianity - and all other religious traditions, for that matter - are basically equal in their ability to inspire good or evil." Yet a few pages later he inserts an unaccompanied sidebar stating (p. 15) that, "Islamic teachers attributed the [2004 Indian Ocean] tsunami to the sins committed by infidels and Muslims in heavily Islamic Indonesia. As one Saudi cleric said, 'It happened at Christmas when fornicators and corrupt people from all over the world come to commit fornication and sexual perversion." Is Spencer unaware that homophobic Christian terrorists, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, attributed Hurricane Katrina to the Baptist god's retaliation against a country that tolerates homosexuality, and against the city that gave birth to lesbian actor Ellen DeGeneres? Or is he so Manchurian Candidate-ized that he actually believes his own lies?

Consider Spencer's allegation (p. 4) that, "Most people know, for example, that Moses received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, that Jesus died on a cross at Calvary and was raised from the dead, and maybe even that Buddha sat under a tree and received enlightenment. But less is known about Muhammad."

Most people "know" those things? Really? Is Spencer trying to buy credibility by pandering to believers in the Moses, Jesus, and Gautama mythologies? Or does he really believe that Moses authored the lawcode retroactively called a Decalogue (a description the author of Exodus 34 specifically attributed to a completely different lawcode), that a dead man came back to life, and that Siddhartha Gautama, who elevated professional parasitism to a virtue, was really a Buddha, "Enlightened One"? Either way, does he not grasp that, by peddling transparent falsehoods about other religions, he makes it very difficult for any of his observations about Muhammad to be taken seriously.

And that is a pity, because statements on his covers are more than adequately justified: "The Qur'an commands Muslims to make war on Jews and Christians." "Islam teaches that Muslims must wage war to impose Islamic law on non-Muslim states." "Ex-Muslims must live in fear even in the United States." "The Crusades were not acts of unprovoked aggression by Europe against the Islamic world, but a delayed response to centuries of Muslim aggression." "Today's jihad terrorists have the same motives and goals as the Muslims who fought the Crusaders."

Tertullian once attributed the similarity of the Jesus myth to myths involving fifty other virgin-born resurrected savior gods to, "the zeal of the devil rivaling the things of god," - even though the other resurrected saviors had preceded Jesus by as much as three thousand years. Islamic apologetics works the same way: "Muslims would see any aggression as a pretext for revenge, regardless of whether they provoked it. With a canny understanding of how to sway public opinion, jihadists and their PC allies on the American Left today use current events as pretexts to justify what they are doing…. But the jihadists were fighting long before Abu Ghraib … ever since the seventh century, casting their actions as responses to the enormities of their enemies." In other words, "The reason I punched you is that you hit me back."

I was taught in elementary school in Australia that the Crusades were a noble defence of truth, justice, and the founding principles of the British Empire, against the expansionism of heathen savages who weren't even white. Since coming to North America I bought into the politically correct alternative, that the Crusaders were the real bad guys and the poor Muslims innocent victims. Now I find that my third and fourth grade teachers were, if less than reliable sources, much closer to truth-tellers than apologists for Muslim terrorism who pretend that jihad is a response to something the West started first. Blaming the Crusades for present-day Muslim atrocities is like blaming World War Two Allies for Nazi atrocities.

Despite Spencer's shooting himself in the foot with his mindless argument that six is good but half a dozen is bad, his Politically Incorrect Guide found its way onto the New York Times bestseller chart. Amazon lists it at # 7597 on its bestseller list, and Spencer's 2009 update from the same publisher, The Complete Infidel's Guide to the Koran, has risen further, to # 1194. Did the title, Politically Incorrect, actually hurt sales? It did not hurt Bill Maher. But Regnery's Politically Incorrect Guide series includes scientifically illiterate paeans to superstition that label as politically correct fiction global warming and Darwinism. If Spencer demanded that his 2009 book not be associated with a series that lauds pseudoscience, that seems to have been a profitable move.

Since addicts of all god cults are aware that every mythology other than their own is superstitious nonsense, Spencer's telling Jews and Christians (one of his books, Inside Islam, is subtitled A Guide for Catholics) that their beliefs are defensible, made it easier for them to accept that Islam is indefensible. While such a tactic is best described as prostitution, it is hard to dispute that it worked. If the Western World can be made to realize that Osama bin Laden, far from violating the teachings of Muhammad, personifies them, the war of extermination that Islam is planning to wage against the civilized world may be triggered before the jihadists have the nuclear weapons they intend to unleash. The Nazis had to be stopped, and so do their Muslim mirror images.

An allahphuqt Muslim (tautology) on wrote of Robert Spencer, "May Allah rip out his spine and split his brains in two, and then put them back, and do it over and over again. Amen." Anyone the rugbutters hate that much must be doing something right. In fact Spencer demonstrates convincingly that Islam is a vile, antihuman religion. What he fails to grasp is that the reason it is vile and antihuman is that IT IS A RELIGION. Persons who claim that there is no place for Islam in a sane world are wrong. There is a place in New York City so suitable that it could have been designed for it. It is called Bellevue.

UFOs, Ghosts, and a Rising God
Chris Hallquist
Reasonable Press
2335 Buttermilk Crossing, Suite 128, Crescent Springs, KY 41017
9780981631318 $17.95

Before showing the parallel between Christian claims of miracles, particularly a dead man coming back to life, and the explosion of pseudo-scientific claims in the last half century, Chris Hallquist devotes four chapters to describing how modern claims have been debunked by the same methodology he applies to the Jesus myths. He asks, (p. 27) "What are we to make of this apparent explosion?" and answers, "Part of it probably has to do with the rise of the mass media - newspapers, magazines, popular books, and most recently television." In pointing out that some hoaxes have been exposed by persons who have a vested interest in believing in their authenticity, he draws a parallel between the debunking of the Shroud of Turin by a Catholic bishop in 1389, and the debunking of the Amityville Horror hoax by Fate magazine in 1978.

Unfortunately, he ignores an opportunity to demonstrate the role of the media in promoting such pseudoscience. After reporting that, following Fate's exposure of the Amityville hoax, the perpetrators confessed the following year that they had made it up, he pays little attention to the five movies made after 1978 that treated the scam as nonfiction. Nor does he report that Roger Ebert reviewed the first Amityville movie in 1979 and wrote, "Is the story based on fact? I have no way of knowing." And the movie has been remade - again pretending to be nonfiction - in 2005, and is scheduled for a further remake in 2010. Ebert wrote his review before the hoaxers made their confession, but after Fate's expose. Since Ebert's readership was far higher than that of Fate, his contribution to the promotion of ignorance was surely worth mentioning.

Hallquist notes (p. 84) that, "when the movie version was remade in 2005, more than one person involved in making the film went on the record as saying they were attracted to the story because it was true." Even so, he does not play down the role of the media in promoting any lie that will produce ratings. But he writes (p. 86), that, "even if it doesn't happen as often as they would like, the skeptics' views still do get a fair amount of circulation through TV and the printing press." Clearly his definition of what constitutes "a fair amount" differs from mine.

In citing the lengths to which Christian apologists go to prop up their claims of biblical inerrancy, Hallquist focuses on Greg Boyd, William Lane Craig, Norman Geisler, Gary Habermas, Josh McDowell, and Lee Strobel. He cites an example (p. 173) of "Lee Strobel spouting an extraordinary outright falsehood." He describes Craig and Habermas (p. 175) as, "some of the grossest hypocrites I know of," and Craig (p. 176) as a "run of the mill raving lunatic fundie." Those individuals must be relieved that it was a skeptic who investigated their delusions, and not a court-appointed psychiatrist charged with determining whether they should be committed to the nearest asylum for the dangerously irrational. If it had been, they would no longer be walking the streets. Hallquist concludes (p. 38), "As bad as much evangelical scholarship is, this arguably gives even the most dogmatic conservatives reason to be embarrassed to have had anything to do with Strobel's book." So I am not the only one who recognizes that incurable believers are not sparking on all neurons. I once described a Strobel book as, "a catalogue of circular doublethink … either the book was designed for five-year-olds, or it is a reprint of papers Strobel authored in kindergarten"1

Hallquist is not a biblical scholar. While there is no lack of competent paranormal investigators in his bibliography, the only prominent biblical historians listed are Bart Ehrman and Robert Price. That is far from good news for the apologists. When an amateur with neither a graduate degree nor any properly supervised experience in documentary analysis can blow their flimsy arguments out of the water, they are indeed up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

Nonetheless, there are areas where Hallquist rushes in where Ehrman and Price would never tread. Perhaps his reference (p. 21) to "priests who gathered to perform their rights" was the kind of typo that a spell-check could not catch. Clearly his statement about faithhealers' escape clause (p. 96), "If someone fails to improve, they must not have been lacking in faith," is a typo. But his use of the offensively Christian dating system, AD, which even liberal believers have stopped using in recognition that it is a "my god can lick your god" insult to the 5.5 billion humans on this planet who do not believe they are living in the Year of the Master, instead of the scientifically neutral CE, is a clear indication of his limited knowledge. And in at least two places (pp. 106, 150), he capitalizes the word "He" when it refers to the chief Christian god, even though liberal believers have stopped doing that as well, in recognition of its implied insult to 2.2 billion nontheists. Is he hedging his bets, trying to discourage that nice Mr God from zapping him with a thunderbolt if it turns out that "He" does exist?

Despite his recognition (p. 23) that, "Mesmerism was a matter of suggestion, not magnetism," Hallquist later (p. 100) refers to "placebos or hypnotherapy," showing no awareness that, since hypnotism is an eye-of-the-beholder delusion, hypnotherapy IS a placebo. And his description of Herod's son Archelaus as "Herod's brother" (p. 39), is a mistake that would embarrass an undergraduate. It is no coincidence that all of the laudatory blurbs included on an introductory page are from persons who are likewise not biblical scholars.

Hallquist offers some totally unnecessary explanations of gospel miracles as distorted eyewitness interpretations of real events, even though all of Jesus' miracles were retellings of miracles previously attributed to Eliyah and Elisha and therefore need no other explanation. He states of Paul's report that Jesus was seen alive after his execution (p. 107), "There are basically three options: the disciples lied, Jesus survived the crucifixion ('swoon theory'), and hallucinations." My interpretation of the tale in Luke (24:13-31) of Jesus' posthumous appearance to Klofas and Shimeown is that the two named individuals indeed talked to a stranger about Jesus shortly after his death, but only later, perhaps decades later, formulated the belief that the stranger had been Jesus.2

Hallquist is not naive. He recognizes George Adamski and Travis Walton as unmitigated liars. But he places his inexpertise front and center when he argues that Jesus' post-resurrection appearances are analogous to what he interprets as honestly-reported hallucinations described in Whitley Strieber's Communion. Is he unaware that Strieber, like L. Ron Hubbard, utilized his talent as a science fiction writer to concoct a space-aliens fantasy and pass it off as nonfiction?3 The only similarity between Jesus' posthumous appearances and Whitley Strieber's account of his alleged experiences is that both are a pack of lies from start to finish.

Hallquist's lack of professional expertise does not, however, make the logic of his arguments any less impeccable. For example, in discussing (p. 55) Irenaeus's "philosophical arguments to prove that there must be exactly four gospels," he responds, "If a modern historian argued that way, nobody would consider him a credible source." And in defending the examination of biblical miracles by the same standards used to investigate the paranormal, he points out (p. 43) that, "What invites skepticism about miracles is not that a particular man should rise from the dead or levitate, but that anyone, in any period of history, should do so."

A few years ago, when the Maharishi Party ran a slate of candidates for the Canadian Parliament (none was elected), I wrote in a letter to the editor, "Anyone who believes that the law of gravity can be repealed by merely willing oneself to levitate is an embarrassment to the kindergarten that graduated him." Hallquist presents a solid case that the same is true of anyone who believes, not merely that a man rose from the dead, but that an examination of the evidence supports the contention that a man rose from the dead. Admittedly, just because some persons who believe that a dead man came back to life are insane (defined as unwilling, not unable, to engage in rational thinking), that does not prove that it did not happen. Charles Manson and Osama bin Laden believe that World War Two really happened. But when all of the widely-read apologists for the reality of a dead man's resurrection are shown to be insane, that is surely more significant. Hallquist's shortcomings do not extend to his ability to recognize and demolish doublethink and circular reasoning. While UFOs, Ghosts and a Rising God has nothing to say to scholars, it is a book that can be recommended for anyone else.

1 William Harwood, The God Psychosis, World Audience, 2009, p. 307.

2 William Harwood, God, Jesus and the Bible: The Origin and Evolution of Religion, World Audience, 2009, p. 339.

3 William Harwood, The Disinformation Cycle, Booksurge, 2006, pp. 69-70. In commenting on Communion, I theorized that Strieber wrote it for the purpose of demonstrating the crass gullibility of persons capable of taking such nonsense seriously, and when the joke had run its course he intended to acknowledge that it was pure fiction. What he did not anticipate was that his book would become a bestseller, and acknowledging that it was a hoax would have meant refunding millions of dollars to disgruntled purchasers. He was therefore obliged to maintain the pretence that his science fiction novel was a true story.

Decoding the Language of God: Can a Scientist Really Be a Believer?
George C. Cunningham, MD, MPH
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst NY 14228-2119
9781591027669 $18

Whenever I see a book by a competent scientist that takes more than a single page to rebut a work of pseudoscience, the analogy that springs to mind is using a sledgehammer to swat a fly, and George Cunningham's Decoding the Language of God is no exception. NIH director Francis Collins wrote a book that tried to harmonize the findings of scientific research with the beliefs of the Christian religion, a task as definitively impossible as harmonizing the findings of geography, astronomy, and astronauts with the beliefs of the Flat Earth Society. The publisher declares that Dr Cunningham's "respectful, well-reasoned discussion will appeal to open-minded people across the whole spectrum of belief and unbelief." If that is a prediction that persons so brainwashed that they are able to believe that "A" and "not-A" can both be true can be reached by reason, I can only suggest: Don't hold your breath. Can politeness make the willfully purblind see that (p. 193), "Science does not accept the supernatural, and religion depends on it. If one is true, the other is not." In plain language (p. 239),"God is not dead but is slowly dying."

Decoding is a personal response to the claims of Francis Collins and Collins's most-cited precursor, C. S. Lewis. That makes it understandable that the author does not include a bibliography, since even Richard Dawkins did not rebut Collins's specific arguments. It is nonetheless unfortunate that Ronald Aronson's Living Without God was not consulted, since it would have disabused Cunningham of the blatantly falsified statistics that he quotes as accurate, that the number of nontheists (a term that includes all who do not believe in the god of religion that intervenes in human affairs) is as low as 14.2 percent of the American population.

As Aronson made clear, when the manipulated polls are interpreted correctly, they reveal that nontheists constitute 36 percent. But Cunningham's figures are accurate when he shows that 93 percent of members of the National Academy of Science are nontheists. True, that leaves 7 percent who are able to rationalize that a spherical earth and a bible endorsing a flat earth can be reconciled. In contrast, an overwhelming majority of high school dropouts are able to do so. There is a message there, if "those who will not see" were willing to look at it.

"I do not think most believers have evil intentions. For the most part they are unaware of just how their belief in the primary importance of a possible supernatural world contributes to the harm done to real people in this real material world" (p. 23). I could have made that same statement myself - and so could Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. My objection is that Cunningham included it in the same paragraph in which he denigrates Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens as "militant atheists" who (he implies) do not share his view. At least he has the integrity to put "militant atheists" in quotation marks.

Cunningham expresses the belief (p. 23) that, "God goes back a long way in human history. Anthropological evidence suggests that before the arrival of Homo sapiens, the genus Homo felt the presence of spirits, unseen forces that inhabited animals and inanimate objects." That is inaccurate. The earliest archaeological evidence for any belief in metaphysical lifeforms was c 30,000 BCE, Cro-Magnon (early Homo sapiens) times. Belief in any kind of male god dates no further back than 3500 BCE. But when Dr Cunningham asks (p. 230), "Does God Have Multiple Personality Disorder?" the cited evidence for such a hypothesis strongly supports the diagnosis, even though humans so diagnosed are nothing more than pathological playactors.

He states (p. 37) that, "All quotations from the Bible are from the authorized King James Version." Yet a few pages later (p. 48) he puts quotation marks around, "Our Father, who art in heaven." But the King James translation of both Matthew 6:9 and Luke 11:2 reads, "Our Father which art in heaven." This is nitpicking of the first order. But if my evaluation of Decoding the Language is to have any credibility, I need to establish that I hold Cunningham to the same standard of precision and accuracy that I demand from his opponent. For the same reason, this might be a good place to draw attention to a host of other imperfections that detract from his credibility.

For example, he describes a religion with three paramount gods (Big Daddy, Junior, and the Spook) and thousands of subsidiary gods (angels, devils, and saints), as monotheistic (p. 230). He uses the word incest as if it were a synonym for inbreeding, with no recognition that "unchastity" is a purely religious concept with no more counterpart in the real world than "blasphemy," "heresy," "sacrilege," "state of grace," "saved," "born again," "mesith," "infidel," "heathen," "sin" (since "sin" means disobedience to a capricious lawgiver, it is clearly not a synonym for unrighteousness), or the oxymoronic, "unborn babies."

He writes (p. 88) that, "Evolutionary psychologists have collected evidence to show that prohibition of incest has a biological basis." Clearly he regards "evolutionary psychologists" as a more reliable source than astrologers or tealeaf readers. They assuredly are not. He writes (p. 86) that, "There are a large number of scientists, perhaps the majority, who believe that the field of sociobiology has been generally successful in demonstrating the genetic basis of human nature." And the source of that fatuous claim? A book by a sociobiologist! H. L. Mencken's description of a theologian is equally applicable to sociobiologists: a blind man in a dark room searching for a black cat that is not there - and finding it."

Despite acknowledging Christopher Hitchens' evidence that Mother Teresa was a lying, swindling, self-serving, fatuous humbug, he nonetheless declares (p. 82) that she (and the more deserving Oskar Schindler), "deserve high praise for their actions." If Mother Teresa deserves high praise, then so does Bernie Madoff. He praises the NT's perversion of the previously-valid "Golden Rule" (p. 231), which in its Christian form tells me that, if I want a supermodel to rip my clothes off and have her way with me in depraved indifference to my own desires or consent, I should do the same to her. He repeatedly uses the term, Jesus Christ, as if it were a proper name, thereby implying that Jesus was the prophesied fairy tale character he believed himself to be. And he uses the words, "atheist," "agnostic, "humanist," and "naturalist," as if they were not the same thing, rather than the more useful, all-embracing term, "nontheist."

Chapter six, "The Bible," can be described as trivial. Ninety percent of it is accurate and comprehensible, but it adds nothing to the findings of Michael Arnheim, Bart Ehrman, Richard Friedman, William Harwood, Randall Helms, Joseph Hoffmann, Martin Larson, Gerald Larue, Robert Price, and others. Of course those are all biblical historians who would be equally out of their depth if they ventured into the field of medicine or public health. The chapter is more noteworthy for the items it gets wrong.

For example, Dr Cunningham refers to "the Ten Commandments" (p. 125), apparently unaware that the only lawcode so identified by a biblical author (Exodus 34) is not the one (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5) to which the designation has been capriciously switched. He dates the Septuagint to "the second century CE" (p. 126) instead of the third century BCE. He dates Mark as early as 60 CE, as if the detailed prophecy that the author put into Jesus' mouth concerning the destruction of the Jerusalem temple could have been composed before the event it described, which happened in 70 CE. He dates John to 100 to 120 CE, instead of 130 to 138 CE. He casually mentions "the Twelve Apostles," as if Jesus really did have such a council of twelve. He calls Jesus a Jewish rabbi, but neglects to mention that Jesus assumed such a status despite being no more learned in Jewish folklore than any other illiterate carpenter.

He states of the virgin birth myth (p. 143), "There is no doubt that such events were reported to have occurred by the authors of the New Testament." That is technically true, but only if, by "authors of the New Testament," he is including the interpolators who inserted the myth into Matthew and Luke some time after their composition. He cites Rome as the place "where Mark was thought to have written the first gospel" (p. 144). Thought by whom? Certainly not by biblical scholars (a term that does not include credulous believers). He dates Jesus' crucifixion to 33 CE, in violation of Martin Larson's convincing argument that the crucifixion must have occurred in 30 CE, since a rabble-rouser who started preaching an anti-Roman rebellion in 29 CE could not have survived for more than a few weeks.

He refers (p. 149) to "Two authors who used the names of the apostles Matthew and Luke." No list of apostles mentions any Luke, a character who appears only in Acts. He refers (p. 158) to "ten plagues." That is the number described in the finished Torah. But the individual authors - J, P and E - each reported a different number of plagues, and only when J/E was interwoven with P in 434 BCE did the total number climb to ten. He cites the opinion of C. S. Lewis that a Jesus who claimed to be God or a god must be a "liar, lunatic, or Lord." That would be a valid delineation of the possibilities if Jesus had ever made such a fatuous claim. But while Cunningham concludes that Jesus was merely "a human legend," he buys into the delusion that Jesus imagined himself to be a divinity, as the fourth gospel and no other NT book alleged that he had done.

Cunningham aroused my curiosity with his subheading, "Are atheists the real biblical literalists?" only to dash it by writing nothing remotely related to that bait-and-switch teaser. Instead, he asserts (p. 162) that Christianity "was a generally positive move toward a more humane world," and describes it (p. 163) as, "a religion of love and compassion," raising the question, "What color is the sky in your world?"

To repeat, ninety percent of the "Bible" chapter is logical and well argued. The cited imperfections should not deter anyone from reading it. And despite the shortcomings elsewhere, Cunningham's rebuttals of Collins's doublethink are logically self-contained, and do not stand or fall on the authority of the messenger.

Cunningham reports (p. 228) that, according to Collins, the "launching pad" for his transition from nontheism to theism was C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity. That confession alone raises doubts about Collins's capacity for rational human thought even before Cunningham examines it in detail. I wrote of Lewis's masturbation fantasy, "None of the god delusion's debunkers proves the insanity of religion and the brain atrophy of its apologists as effectively as the apologists themselves, most notably the poster boy for fairy-tale-think, C. S. Lewis. Lewis's mindless, childish defence of Christianity as something other than fantasy raises the possibility, even suspicion, that he thought his Chronicles off Narnia was a documentary…. I searched from cover to cover for a single logical argument, or even an illogical rationalization, for why he believed what he believed that differed from a three-year-old's reason for believing in Santa Claus. He offered none, and did not even try to delude himself that he was doing so. He expressed opinions, and made no attempt to support them with evidence." Cunningham's evaluation of Lewis (p. 229) is not different from mine, merely politer.

It should surprise no one that, with C. S. Lewis as a role model, Francis Collins likewise expressed indefensible opinions that led Cunningham to report (p. 230) that, "Collins has cited no scientific evidence that would support the concept of God as a person." Collins did, however, believe he was offering supporting evidence. Cunningham's demolition of Collins's arguments was greatly simplified by the circumstance that Collins's whole case was a "god of the gaps" rationalization - if science cannot fully explain something down to the minutest detail, then, "God did it."

Cunningham is less than consistent in his attitude toward incurables. He recognizes (p. 243) that, "For science, the ultimate value is truth; for religion, the ultimate value is unquestioning faith." He states (p. 14), "No one can simultaneously accept the belief in a personal God and still claim to be a logical and rational scientist without engaging in magical thinking." And he reiterates (p. 40), "If we both possess the same strong, sufficient evidence in support of a belief and we [i.e., one of us] still fail to accept the belief as true knowledge, then one of us can be properly described as irrational."

Yet he argues (p. 242) that, "Scientists who defend their nonreligious worldview need to avoid elitist tactics such as denigrating the intelligence of their religious opponents." Pardon me if I disagree. A person who disputes my contention that Brooke Shields is prettier than Rosanne Barr is not necessarily a self-inflicted brain amputee. A person who disputes my contention that a bible that states in fourteen places that the earth is flat is fiction is exactly that. And I do not see him pulling his punches when he says of his opponent (p. 65), "Collins finally gives up any claim of being a reasonable scientist when he says, 'we may never fully understand the reasons' for suffering as part of God's plan. What kind of God expects us to live according to a plan that makes no sense to us and is beyond our comprehension? What kind of God would give us a brain that can reason and follow logic then expect us to believe in and worship an irrational, unintelligible, or evil God?"

In spelling out the oxymoronic quality of the belief of some Christian sects (p. 186) that, "It is only because of God's love and mercy that a few are spared from the torments of hell," Cunningham comments, "I cannot reconcile this view with the concept of a loving God," and adds (p. 62), "It is impossible to conceive of or imagine any remotely plausible reason for any all-powerful, all-loving, all-good God to be compelled to cause suffering." He asks (p. 184), "If humans can do good without evil, cannot God do likewise? If God's Moral Law prohibits humans from using evil means to accomplish good ends, why does God have to violate the prohibition?"

To the self-evident delusion of Collins, Lewis, and their fellow fantasizers that morality needs a metaphysical author, Cunningham responds (p. 54) by citing "books by Hitchens, Dawkins, and Harris, among others. The fact that these authors express such moral outrage at religion's harmful effects does establish that atheists have a set of moral values based on humanistic reason, and they refute the charge that there can be no basis for morality without God." As for the biggest of religion's Big Lies, that its opponents are unworthily motivated, he answers (p. 238), "I do not hate God or love the devil any more than I hate or love the tooth fairy or leprechauns or gremlins. They are simply irrelevant." He asks (p. 92), "Do you really know how good or evil a person is if I tell you he is a minister or an atheistic astrophysicist?"

Collins postulated that a god of the gaps who hardwired a Moral Law into the human mind could only have been the god Jesus. Cunningham's rebuttal is many-pronged, starting (p. 48) with, "Collins assumes facts not in evidence, namely, the truth and accuracy of the Bible." He then proceeds to show that (a) there is no such innate instinct, or there would be no psychopaths; (b) such moral imperatives as do exist can be explained by cultural evolution; and (c) failure to prove an evolutionary basis for altruistic behavior does not prove that "God did it."

Cunningham asks (78), "If moral standards are such an essential part of human nature, wouldn't these standards be self-evident and universally accepted?" He continues (p. 79), "Collins's response is that Moral Law, instilled in us all by God, requires that we kill witches if we really believe they do horrible things and are servants of the devil. I'm sure this argument would be accepted by the perpetrators of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, who sincerely believed we Westerners are servants of the devil and should be killed for the horrible things we do."

He asks (p. 89), "Why would we propose that the ability to form moral rules, the Law of Good and Evil, cannot be scientifically explained by natural processes, while the ability to speak, the Law of Language, can?" Also (p. 91), The Moral Law is violated constantly, so much so that the violations could also be described as intrinsic to human nature…. In fact, Collins prejudices his argument when he names the phenomena the 'Moral Law' because he assumes, without independent evidence, that there is a lawmaker, which is the very claim that he is trying to establish." In other words, an apologist for religion is using the circular reasoning without which religion would have long since ceased to exist. In summary (p. 93), "If instead of God, Collins proposed that the Moral Law was due to an undetectable altruistic virus implanted in human brains by extraterrestrials, would we, by rejecting the natural explanation proposed, have to accept this explanation as valid? This is why I find Collins's proposition that the Moral Law is a signpost pointing to divine intervention irrational and not intellectually satisfying."

Commenting on the claim that the Bible's myriad of OT death penalties was composed to conform to a divinely-mandated Moral Law, Cunningham asks (p. 147), "Are these parts of the Bible just wrong? Were they right before Jesus was born and wrong now?" And on page 235, "The overwhelming scientific evidence that material things have direct influence in creating the Moral Law makes it clear that there is nothing supernatural about it."

Cunningham responds to Collins's citing of other scientists who agree with him (p. 19), "The respect for the power of scientific knowledge explains why people who wish to defend their belief in God always cite the very small number of scientists who are believers…. The believers reason that if scientists can share their beliefs, then those beliefs must be rational and scientifically sound." As for the silent majority (p. 190), "The fact that most scientists avoid any involvement with religion is because it is in their self-interest to do so. Too many scientists are quiet atheists because they feel they would risk loss of public support and private funding." That reason why the educated are unwilling to come out of the closet also explains why pollsters, by the implied threat of social and economic harm that a truthful answer would trigger, are able to solicit answers that support the pretence that the number of nontheists in the general population is less than half of the true figure of 36 percent.

In direct response to Collins's claim to speak for a large number of scientists, Cunningham states that (p. 233-234, 236), "Contrary to Collins's claim that many scientists share his view, such scientists are rarities…. His arguments are more reflective of the needs of Collins's unique human personality than his scientific intelligence…. In fact, he arrives at his conclusion that the Moral Law is the instillation of a glimpse of divinity only by denying the evidence for the causal role of genes and custom. This leaves the unproved, default explanation that 'Jesus did it.' You don't prove your explanation by proving that some other explanation is false or incomplete."

Collins rejected Richard Dawkins' definition of religious faith as, "blind trust in the absence of evidence even in the teeth of evidence." As Cunningham points out (p. 173), "This is an apt description of Collins's faith despite his claims of rationality."

Cunningham also challenges Collins's claims that religion is basically a force for good; that "Aha!" insights are messages from a source outside of the human brain; that "God", unlike all other emotionally-satisfying dreams, is not simply a wish fulfillment; and that the existence of miracles proves the existence of God.

Cunningham agrees with Collins's contention (p. 48) that, "Wishing for something has no bearing on whether or not that something exists." But he clarifies (p. 49) that, "wish fulfillment partially explains the persistence of theism in the scientific age. Wish fulfillment as a mental exercise does not prove or disprove the existence of God but establishes a common emotional bias when examining the evidence." He calls the argument that, "all human desires can ultimately be fulfilled, and therefore God must exist to satisfy them" (p. 51), "flawed logic." He asserts (pp. 53-54) that, "No scientist or rational person would deny that while god or God might exist elsewhere, god or God also has to exist as a mental state in the brain. But this is where unicorns, fairies, and dragons also reside, and we find no evidence of their existence elsewhere…. While this is only a partial explanation for the persistence of religion, the desire for a loving father and for immortality is based on wish fulfillment."

"Collins recounts various incidents during which he felt a 'special kind of joy associated with flashes of insight.' … This is not, as Collins claims, 'an experience that defies a completely naturalistic explanation.' Collins denies scientific fact when he claims it cannot be explained in term of 'some combination of neurotransmitters landing on precisely the right receptors'" (p. 50). I wonder how Collins would explain the special kind of joy I experienced when, on the way to mass on a Sunday morning in Cambridge, England, I was hit with the sudden flash of insight, "If I participate in this five-thousand-year-old Egyptian god-eating ritual even once more, I will throw up."

On miracles (p. 72), "The Jews and Romans of [Jesus'] times witnessed his miracles and still treated him as a troublesome man, or a blasphemer, or a false prophet. They were people with limited scientific knowledge who readily accepted the supernatural. If all the supposed eyewitnesses … were not convinced … why should anyone … accept miracles on the basis of thirdhand biblical stories today?" Furthermore (p. 202), "If Collins and other Christian believers accept biblical reports of miracles and are convinced that miraculous cures at Christian sites are true, don't they also have to accept the possibility that the miracles of Islam and Hindu gurus are also genuine miracles unexplainable by natural means?"

Collins invoked the last resort of many apologists for their god's inconsistency, that what seems evil to us is really the deity's incomprehensible ways. Cunningham probably makes him wish he had left that issue alone. He cites Lewis's contention that God's love does not include kindness, and responds (p. 172), "God could be kind to someone God did not love, but God could not be unkind to someone God loved perfectly. Lewis's attempt to redefine the nature of love as it might apply to God is an unintelligible distortion and describes a God undeserving of worship."

"Does any religion provide satisfying answers to all the interesting questions about the origin of the universe? The recurring answer that an incomprehensible God did it is an answer that explains nothing. It is like saying, 'It's magic'" (p. 117). "To say a rainbow is a divine sign by God to confirm that God will never again annihilate humans by flooding the entire world is not an explanation but a way to avoid an explanation" (p. 95). "My question is, if this perfect being exists, how could he have created in such a slow, wasteful manner such an imperfect universe? … The existence of an imperfect universe is incompatible with the claim that a perfect creator God exists."

Collins is far from a biblical literalist, and rejects Intelligent Design as "a 'God of the gaps' theory, inserting a supposition of the need for supernatural intervention in places that its proponents claim science cannot explain." Shrewd. By attacking "God of the gaps" theorizing, Collins hoped to divert attention from his own reliance on the same tactic. As Cunningham points out (p. 170), "This is exactly what Collins does to explain the big bang, the anthropic coincidences, and the Moral Law."

As for religion doing more good than harm, Cunningham writes (p. 174) that, "Collins cites examples of the 'wonderful things done in the name of religion: Moses freeing the Jews from Egyptian-imposed slavery (for which there is no historical evidence);' ... If the Bible is historically accurate, Moses and the Jews used their freedom to commit genocide against the inhabitants of Palestine and established their own slaves." He makes no mention of the Inquisition, the Thirty Years War, the murder of gynecologists, or the suppression of stem cell research, presumably in recognition that most Christians already regard those events as an embarrassment.

It always saddens me when a notable advocate of reality compromises his credibility by endorsing a superstition every bit as absurd as the one he accurately rebuts. For example, Thomas Szasz allied himself with Scientology simply because he agrees with the one dogma Ron Hubbard ever got right. Stephen Jay Gould destroyed the reputation he had taken a lifetime to build, by concocting the doublethink that science and religion are "non-overlapping magisteria." Richard Dawkins continues to parrot the delusion that the nonexistence of "God" is as impossible to prove as the nonexistence of "gods." Sam Harris revealed a belief in parapsychology. Isaac Asimov regarded psychology as an existing scientific discipline rather than a field of research that may or may not some day differ qualitatively from tealeaf reading. And George Cunningham sees Sigmund Freud as something other than an imaginative fantasizer, and sociobiology / evolutionary psychology as something other than a pseudoscientific masturbation fantasy. But tolerance demands that, if we can recognize that a stopped clock is right twice a day, we also recognize that an individual must be judged by a preponderance of the evidence rather than by the inevitable imperfections that are an intrinsic part of human nature.

Cunningham got a few things wrong. He got far more right. And if his pretence that religion is not a contagious form of insanity leads to his book being read by curable believers who would not expose themselves to the findings of the authors he denigrates as "militant atheists," that makes it as useful a contribution to the promotion of reality as theirs.

Christian No More: a personal journey of Leaving Christianity - and how you can leave too, Jeffrey Mark
Reasonable Press
2335 Buttermilk Crossing, Suite 128, Crescent Springs, KY 41017
9780981631301 $13.95

On his acknowledgments page, Jeffrey Mark (pseudonym, based on a legitimate fear of religious McCarthyists to whom vandalizing nontheists is only the beginning of their hatred of the sane, intelligent and educated) justifies his use of the offensively Christian dating system, BC/AD, that tells this planet's 5.5 billion non-Christians that they are living in the "Year of the Master," instead of the scientifically neutral BCE/CE. His rationale is that, "BC and AD are far more common and understood." By that logic, he must also prefer "nigger," since it is far more common and understood than "African American." Or does he simply not grasp that he is contributing to Christian bigotry by validating its vocabulary?

Since Mark is cataloguing his transition from theism to nontheism, he starts with the observation that first triggered his doubts (pp. 23-24): "Another thing I was keenly aware of was that the only reason I was a Christian was because my parents raised me as one…. There are so many variations of Christianity, and people by-and-large believe that the one they happened to be born into is the absolutely correct one. This should say something to people…. And interestingly, my feeling that Jesus was real was just as strong as when I was younger and felt that Santa Claus was real."

My first suspicion that religion might present unanswerable questions was not the gospel myth of a virgin-born savior god rising from the dead on the third day. It was the discovery that fifty other virgin-born savior gods had risen from the dead on the third day as much as three thousand years before Jesus. The point of no return was the discovery that the Christian bible contains fourteen stories that could be true if and only if the earth is flat. The "aha" insight that cured my then-employer's adolescent son of the god delusion was his encounter with the fable in Numbers 22:23-30 in which the god Yahweh talked to Balaam through his ass. (Mark uses the same pun on page 185.) The point of no return for Jeffrey Mark (p. 188) was his realization that the Tower of Babylon fable was incompatible with what he knew about the evolution of languages.

There are at least dozens, perhaps thousands of books by former godworshippers that explain how and why they came to be cured. Virtually all of them try to make points by citing biblical passages that as often as not meant something very different to their authors from what the persons quoting them think they meant. Mark is no exception. He recognizes that the "virgin birth" fable was invented some time after the composition of Mark, decades after Jesus' death, and was added to Jesus' biography to cash in on the Greek belief that all heroes had to be the virgin-born offspring of a god. But he imagines (p. 149) that it was an original part of Matthew and Luke. In fact it was interpolated into both, so clumsily that it was placed alongside genealogies with which it is incompatible. For all their gullibility, the anonymous authors of Matthew and Luke were not that stupid.

"Is there a God? Short answer: I don't know, and I dare so neither do you…. I tend to doubt it, but we can't know for sure" (p. 253-254). That would be a position I could endorse if Mark had written "a god" instead of "God." The probability that a god (or a fairy) exists is vanishingly small. The probability that "God" (or Pinocchio's blue fairy) exists is zero to a million decimal places - and Mark knows that. He makes clear that, "The angry, jealous, God of the Old Testament is myth that evolved from earlier myths that we know aren't real." So why did he capitalize a word that he did not intend to mean the "God" of religion. Best answer: carelessness.

Mark writes (p. 30), "The book of Revelation in chapter 7 states that 144,000 people are going to Heaven. That's a tiny percentage of all Christians who have lived." What makes that citation so ill-advised is that neither of the authors of Revelation was a Christian. The author of the "144,000" propaganda was a celibate male Essene Jew who believed that the afterlife was restricted to 144,000 celibate male Essene Jews. And while the Nazirite redactor (Rev. 7:9) who expanded that number to "a huge crowd which no one was able to number," included married Nazirites among the Heaven-destined, he likewise rejected the idea that it would include any of "those who call themselves Ioudaians and are not, but are a synagogue of the Enemy" (Rev. 2:9) - in other words, the Christians. Mark thinks that a book in the Christian bible restricts Heaven to 144,000 male Christians. It restricts Heaven to zero Christians.

Despite correctly identifying Revelation's "666" as "the Roman Emperor at the time of writing" (p. 192), Mark then misidentifies him as Nero, even though the Essene author clearly identified Nero as (from the Jewish perspective) 666's immediate predecessor. As Martin Larson (The Essene-Christian Faith) made clear, 666 was Vespasian. This is a trivial error. But it demonstrates the danger of a commentator, no matter how intellectually competent, venturing into a field in which he lacks expertise. And he makes himself religious propagandists' unwitting coconspirator when he gullibly parrots the Big Lie (p. 218) that, "Christians make up nearly 90% of the US population." He should read Ronald Aronson's Living Without God, which shows that nontheists comprise 36 percent, and all believers, including Christians, 64 percent.

He steps further into quicksand when he describes a theologian lecturing that the crime of the Sodomites was not homosexuality but blatant violation of the universally practised hospitality code, and then declares that the theologian was wrong. Since the Yahwist wrote his Sodom and Gomorrah myth c 920 BCE, and Judaism's first homosexuality taboo was not inserted into the Torah by the Priestly author until 621-612 BCE, self-evidently the Sodomites' crime could not have been a violation of a taboo that did not yet exist. The theologian was indeed wrong in saying that his bible does not condemn homosexuality. As Mark verifies (pp. 209-210), Leviticus does exactly that. But other books of the Tanakh, written before 621 BCE, treat sexual preference as analogous to preferring tennis to golf. The gay spokesman Jeremyah (Deuteronomy 13:6) referred favorably to "the male lover who means as much to you as your own breath." And in the original language, suppressed in religion-authorized translations, biblical heroes shown as having same-sex lovers include Saul and his son, David and Solomon, Samson, and several supporting players, including Judith. (Check The Fully Translated Bible, Booksurge, 2006, 2007.)

The Tanakh's many references to biblical heroes having gay lovers have been purged from English translations, by changing a Hebrew word that meant a male lover into the innocuous "friend." And Mark's guess that the reason anti-gay verses were aimed only at men was because (p. 209), "women were considered hardly more than property at the time," misses the reality that homophobia was invented in an unsuccessful attempt to force gay men to start breeding tithe-paying believers. Since lesbianism did not diminish a woman's ability to turn out as many babies as her legal owner wanted, neither Zoroaster who invented the homosexual taboo, nor the Priestly author who borrowed it, had any reason to ban behavior that he saw as a sinless alternative to adultery for unsatisfied women.

Mark justifies his use of the King James Version for biblical quotations on the ground that (p. 9), "In tackling the arguments of fundamentalists, I felt it made the most sense to use the version that the fundamentalists prefer." The problem with that reasoning is that Mark is presumably writing for curable believers, and persons who regard the KJV as the (only) divinely inspired, inerrant translation are clearly not curable. And when he concocts a spurious argument based on a mistranslation, he compromises his credibility. The problem could have been avoided by using The Fully Translated Bible.

For example, he bases his criticism of an alleged "commandment" on the misleading translation in the KJV. He quotes Exodus 20:7 (p. 228) as, "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain," and imagines that it is a prohibition of using a god-name as an expletive. The Fully Translated Bible renders the same verse as, "You're not to swear in Yahweh your gods' name anything that is false." To a writer who cannot read Hebrew, such a mistake is defensible. But there is no excuse for a mistake based on an incompetent reading of an English translation of a parable. Mark quotes Luke 19:27, "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me," and then states (p. 228) that, "Jesus said it himself. He's telling his followers to slay nonbelievers!" Mark acknowledges that the speech is put into the mouth of "a certain nobleman" as the KJV describes him, but nonetheless insists that the sentiment represents the thinking of Jesus. In a sense that might be true, since Jesus was a hate-ridden autocrat. But the passage is Luke's addition to a fable he found in the Q gospel (the rest of the fable was also picked up by Matthew), and the "certain nobleman" was Luke's fictionalization of Archelaus, who indeed executed 3,000 people who had opposed his appointment as Ethnarch by Augustus Caesar. Since Luke was using his elaboration of the fable to validate his hatred of Archelaus, the suggestion that it represented the thinking of Luke's ultimate hero, Jesus, is indefensible. There are plenty of legitimate grounds for concluding that Jesus was less than admirable, including a sermon (Luke 16:1-9) whose moral can be summarized, "Cheat those who are no longer useful to you, and use the stolen money to bribe those who are in a position to do you good." It is not necessary to resort to unlearned speculation.

Another of Mark's eye-of-the-beholder interpretations of a biblical myth that I find strange is that, in comparing Jesus to the superheroes of movies and comic books, he cites (p. 247), "probably the single biggest superhero feat: He walked on water." But the gospel author who concocted the myth never intended walking on water to be the ultimate miracle. Every miracle previously attributed to Elijah or Elisha was conscripted and reassigned to Jesus - except one, the parting of the Jordan River by Elijah (2 Kings 2:8). Writing at a time when people who had heard Jesus preach could still be alive, the anonymous author of Mark dared not credit him with a feat of that magnitude, in case disputants came forward to assert that, if such an event had ever happened, they would have been aware of it. So he substituted an equivalent feat that could not be falsified (since the alleged eyewitnesses were dead). He showed Jesus crossing Lake Galilee dry-shod by walking on the water.

By far the most indefensible, fatuous, arrogant and unlearned statement in Mark's book is (p. 256), "By definition, if one believes in Jesus, he or she is a Christian." If he had been referring to belief in the god-man Jesus of the gospels whose impossibilities included rising from the dead, that would be true. But he is denigrating the two-thirds of competent biblical scholars, including the 200 members of the Jesus seminar, who are satisfied that there was a historical Jesus onto whose biography the Christian myths were posthumously grafted, a wannabe preacher who did nothing that any contemporary historian considered worth mentioning.

Does Mark believe that Mohammad was a person from history? If so, does that make him a Muslim? Does he think that six centuries of Christian apologists, starting with Origen, would have accepted the accuracy of Josephus's description of Jesus as a bald, hunchbacked dwarf, if they were not stuck with the reality that Josephus (Halosis) was right? Mark alleges that historians who recognize Jesus as a historical nobody whom Paul of Tarsus turned into a somebody, the way Malcolm Muggeridge turned a nobody nun from Albania into a "saint of the gutter," are (p. 256), "deluding themselves, unable to let go of that last little tidbit of their religion." Reality: Historians such as Robert Price and G. A. Wells, whose earlier books argued that there was never a historical Jesus, concluded in their later books that a preponderance of the evidence (although not beyond a reasonable doubt) supports the conclusion that there was a historical person behind the myths.

Mark includes an appendix that rebuts people who, like the departed Ronald Reagan, believe that the earth is fixed in place never to be moved, as their bible says (Psalm 93:1, 96:10; 1 Chr. 16:30), and that the universe revolves around the earth. He offers no rebuttal to persons who believe that the earth is as flat as a dinner plate, as the same bible states unambiguously in fourteen places. Apparently there are more geocentrists than flat-earthers. To repeat an earlier comment, since anyone who believes such nonsense is incurable, why bother?

As a biblical historian reviewing an amateur's incursion into my field, I have probably overemphasized Mark's blunders at the expense of the majority of his conclusions that he got right. I certainly do not wish to discourage persons who cured themselves of religion by non-academic means from sharing their experiences and motivations with the world. They are after all writing for a non-scholarly market. My severest gripe with Christian No More is its appallingly inadequate index. Neither Balaam nor Nero is indexed at all. Of several mentions of homosexuality, only two are indexed, and only one for Catholics. This may not bother the casual reader to whom Mark's information is new. But to anyone trying to check what Mark has to say on a particular subject, "frustrating" is too mild a description. Nonetheless, while Mark's apologia cannot be compared with Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian, it ranks up there with similar "how I was cured" books by Dan Barker, John Loftus, and several others.

Prince of War: Billy Graham's Crusade for a Wholly Christian Empire
Cecil Bothwell
Brave Ulysses Books
POB 1877, Asheville, NC 28802
9780970012579 $16.00

When Senator Joseph McCarthy launched his "communist under every bed" paranoia, he initially won at least a measure of support from such morally evolved liberals (tautology) as John and Robert Kennedy. At the point where McCarthy could no longer conceal his true status as a conscienceless, self-serving liar of questionable sanity, ninety-nine percent of his sometime supporters eventually repudiated him. Three who never did so, and remain(ed) rabid McCarthyists to this day (or until death) are Ann Coulter, Ronald Reagan, and the man who denounced the Senate's 1954 censure of McCarthy by 67 votes to 22 as (p. 53) a "disgrace to the dignity of American statesmanship." And just who was that incurable, unrepentant McCarthyist? It was a North Carolina hillbilly with ties to the KKK and the John Birch Society (pp. 20-21), a preacher named Billy Graham. As Cecil Bothwell reports (p. 24), "Graham would become one of [McCarthy's] most loyal and enduring allies."

"Graham heartily endorsed McCarthy's proposal that Fifth Amendment protection be stripped from those he accused of communist sympathies" (p. 53). In other words, the Bill of Rights should not be applicable to persons who disagreed with him. Bothwell's comment concerning Graham's urging Gerald Ford to pardon Richard Nixon (p. 148) is equally applicable here: "At the same time, the pardon may have emboldened others to regard the presidency as above the law - an attitude that would come back to bite the country when Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld returned to power at the turn of the century." Was Graham the real author of the Republican credo that, "When the President does it, it's not illegal"? That is a question Bothwell does not ask.

Graham from the beginning of his public life has been as self-serving and publicity-seeking as McCarthy. He persistently sought photo opportunities with whoever happened to be in the White House, persistently peddled the big lie that he spoke to presidents only about spiritual issues, and persistently did everything in his power to twist their arms into supporting bigger and better wars. And a comparison of presidential papers with Graham's own published statements shows that Graham's interpretation of his meetings with presidents was very different from theirs. The only presidents who really took Graham seriously, rather than as a useful political tool, were Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, almost certainly the two least intelligent presidents America will ever have.

Among the presidents who unequivocally repudiated Graham was Harry Truman, who declared (p. 37) that, "Graham has gone off the beam. He's … well, I hadn't ought to say this, but he's one of those counterfeits I was telling you about. He claims he's a friend of all the presidents, but he was never a friend of mine when I was president. I just don't go for people like that. All he's interested in is getting his name in the paper."

Jimmy Carter was likewise no admirer of Graham. According to a Carter biographer, the 39th president made the statement (p. 152) that, "I think what people should look out for is people like Billy Graham, who go around telling people how to live their lives."

Graham is as fanatically anti-Catholic as he is anti-communist. As Bothwell puts it (p. 65), "In the months preceding the 1960 presidential election Graham played a significant role in fomenting anti-Catholicism in order to boost Nixon's chances against Kennedy - at least until it became clear that the anti-Catholic bigotry was working in Kennedy's favor. At that juncture, Graham quickly altered his rhetoric." Graham clearly shared the view of his father-in-law (p. 66) that, "The antagonism of the Roman Church to Communism is in part because of similar methods." So Graham got something right. A stopped clock is right twice a day.

He was also openly hostile to Jews in a long conversation with an equally anti-Semitic president. He warned Nixon (p. 126) that Jews controlled the news media of the United States, and that, "This stranglehold has got to be broken or this country's going down the drain." When Nixon agreed, and declared that, "I can't ever say that, but I believe it," Graham assured him that, "if you get elected a second time, then we might be able to do something."

Thirty years later when the Nixon White House tapes were released to the public, Graham declared, "Although I have no memory of the occasion, I deeply regret comments I apparently made in an Oval Office conversation with President Nixon…. They do not reflect my views, and I sincerely apologize for any offense caused by the remarks." So Graham is an opportunistic, lying hypocrite, taking a pro-Jewish position in public and the opposite view when it was politically expedient, just as he had done regarding Catholicism. So what else is new?

Despite being anti-practically everything else, Graham has always been decidedly pro-war. In 1949 he sent a telegram to Harry Truman urging him to invade Korea (p. 173). And in 1969 he sent a thirteen page letter to Richard Nixon that included (p. 109) "a recommendation to bomb North Vietnamese dikes…. Especially let them bomb the dikes which could overnight` destroy the economy of North Viet Nam." By Nixon's own estimate (p. 110), "such a bombing would kill a million people and wipe out an already poor nation's agricultural system." The German High Commissioner in occupied Holland "was sentenced to death at Nuremburg for breaching dikes in Holland in World War II." To Graham, like Dick Cheney, nothing is a war crime when "we" do it. Even Nixon was not as totally depraved as the North Carolina hillbilly.

Graham consistently denounced Martin Luther King for resorting to civil disobedience, declaring King's behavior "unscriptural" (p. 75), and was the only notable religious spokesman who failed to attend King's funeral. Nonetheless (p. 85), "After King's death, Graham frequently described a much closer friendship with the assassinated leader than is apparent from the historical record or biographical material concerning King and those near to him."

Like other fanatic anti-abortionists (p. 147), "Graham's concern for life extended to the unborn but not the born." He is also a supporter of the cruel and unusual punishment abolished by every civilized nation on this planet: state-sanctioned ritualistic revenge murder - although he defends his moral bankruptcy with the totally falsified Big Lie (p. 144) that, "when capital punishment is administered equally, it's proven to be a deterrent." And Graham would not restrict the death penalty to the crime of murder. He is on record as supporting the execution of persons who commit what he calls "adultery" - not the fraudulent impregnation of a married woman, as the word meant to the author of the "Commandments" of Exodus 20, but as all or any extramarital coupling even when accompanied by effective birth control, or when only the man is married and the woman has no legal owner to saddle with a cuckoo's chick.

The most surprising omission from Bothwell's book is any mention of Graham's status as a barely-literate hillbilly. When I lived in Australia, I encountered much media propaganda on Graham's "hot gospel" preaching, so that when he took his "crusade" to that country I listened to a sermon he preached from the Melbourne Cricket Ground. I found myself stunned that Americans could take such a backwoods hillbilly seriously - and this was at a time when I was still infected with the god virus (I am now fully recovered). Admittedly Graham had the good fortune to reside in the state that five times elected Senator Jesse Helms, a man described by Barry Goldwater as "off his rocker" and by a Murphy Brown character as "an embarrassment to primates." For persons capable of mistaking Helms for a fully-evolved human being, making the same mistake about Hillbilly Graham was no giant leap. If I am reading Bothwell correctly, he rates Graham somewhere on the evolutionary scale between Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. I rate him somewhere between Jed Clampett and Gomer Pyle. I suggest that we are both right.

William Harwood

Hassler's Bookshelf

The Whitest wall
Jodee Kulp
Better Endings New Beginnings
6289 Brunswick Avenue North, Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
9780963707260 $14.95

International and national speaker, Author, Jodee Kulp, shares her finely tuned writing skills in her new novel, The Whitest Wall, Book One of a new series - Bootleg Brothers Trilogy. Jodee Kulp is the author/co-author of eight other books that help to educate the public about horrifying effects of individuals that live with FASDs, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. In her novel, The Whitest Wall, Kulp reaches out artistically to her audience and mixes fiction with reality that will engage her readers and leave them wanting more.

Speaker and Author, Jodee Kulp is the adoptive mother of a child that lives with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Through their incredible journey, the Kulp family is proud to have overcome their life hurdles and is committed to educating others. A reported 78% of children in U.S. foster care suffer from prenatal alcohol exposure and an estimated 40,000 babies in the U.S. will be born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder. The costs to the USA are up to 6 billion to treat these affected children and their families.

Many families that adopt children later learn that their young innocent child has a learning or behavioral disability. The trauma for the family begins when they learn that the neuropathways of the brain were interrupted in the womb. The shock is learning that the child was born with the disability due to the mother drinking alcohol while pregnant. With heavy hearts, these families, like the Kulp Family, need to learn to live with their disability. The challenges that FASD's children or adults face can include, mental retardation, learning disabilities and behavioral problems. Some children are diagnosed early, others later in their adult life.

Author Jodee Kulps new novel, The Whitest Wall, is meant to inspire conversation about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. It is a novel that uses fiction as a vehicle for public education. Kulp interweaves her characters, she builds upon truth, sprinkles on fright and reality for flavor and delivers a fascinating story that will touch the hearts of everyone that reads The Whitest Wall.

In a fast paced world, where young and mature readers have a vast amount of material to filter through, and where educators struggle to find the right platform to teach from - The Whitest Wall offers something for everyone. Learning how to deal with brain injuries, neurodevelopmental therapies and living with a neurologic brain condition, is life threatening for many. Without the proper support, understanding or human connection, these injured beings fall from everyday life. Sometimes these injuries are not always heard or seen and people live in a silent world of pain. Kulp's novel, The Whitest Wall, opens the door to the silence and screams to promote insight. The Whitest Wall has the ability to change the perception of how we view others, treat others and understand others.

Kulp writes her novel with a sensitivity that speaks to her personal experiences with FASDs. She moves her characters freely and easily through her story giving them color and value so that readers are able to connect with them. This connection is what she uses as her learning tool. Her boomerang effect is that she teaches others about the nature of living with FASDs - she educates her readers on living with a neurological brain disorder. Author, Jodee Kulp, has used her time wisely in starting the Bootleg Brothers Trilogy. The first of a series, The Whitest Wall is a book that reading groups will gobble up. Educators can count on The Whitest Wall to keep the attention of their students while they learn about one of the fastest, most misdiagnosed and easily avoidable disabilities of our time. Librarians will be excited to offer this book to their patrons and Booksellers can feel confident about putting The Whitest Wall on their A list!

Speaking for Spot
Dr. Nancy Kay
Trafalgar Square Books
PO Box 257
Howe Hill Road, North Pomfret, VT 05053
9781570764059 $19.95

Great Pet Health Care Guide! Dr. Nancy Kay, Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, offers a comprehensive guide on optimal pet health in her new book Speaking for Spot. Packed with information, Speaking for Spot dives into detail about how to learn to be a partner in your pet's healthcare, and most importantly how to be your pet's health advocate. Speaking for Spot will be the go to guide for all pet owners. Author, Dr. Nancy Kay, assumes the role of Pet Mentor for her readers as she pulls them through the maze of veterinary science and animal healthcare.

Dr. Kay outlines how to understand medical science and what traditional medicine has to offer all pets. As a pet's health guardian, owners are often faced with difficult decisions that can be confusing and emotionally challenging. As a medical specialist, now author, Dr. Kay uncovers the mystery and helps pet owners make responsible choices and decisions.

Speaking for Spot is a book that should be classified as a wealthy guide where the pages read like a favorite short story. The chapters are easy to comprehend and are split into short areas of interest for quick reference. Need to know how to find a vet or what to ask your vet? Want to learn when it's time to find another vet that's better suited for your pets health needs? Interested in learning how to deal with Cancer? Afraid of the final day when you might be faced with making the choice on euthanasia? Want to look up symptoms and questions to ask your vet? Dr. Nancy Kay walks readers through everything that they will face in and out of the doctor's office.

In a world where being a responsible pet owner means giving lifelong care to our animal companions, Speaking for Spot will improve the quality of life for many pets and their owners. Learning about how to care for our pets reinforces the important role that our pets play in our lives. Speaking for Spot shows novice and experienced pet owners how to deal with their pets health, be their health advocate and lead happy and healthy lives! Libraries will want this book on their shelves as a reference guide. Educators will find this to be full of medical and scientific information for further learning. Veterinarians will adore the humor, natural wit and sensibility that Dr. Kay shares. This is a great book that will benefit all breeds of pet owners. Speaking for Spot is a must read, must have reference guide that pet owners will find valuable, indispensable and a joy to read!

All You Want and Then Some
Carolyn McWilliams Brown
Deb Hoeffner, Illustrator
WinePress Publishing
PO Box 428, Enumclaw, WA 98022
9781579219086 $18.99,

Inspirational and heartwarming! All You Want and Then Some is a sweet, thought provoking story of a young girl and her special friend. Author Carolyn McWilliams Brown has put her own icing on her cake in her new title where she outlines how special people can be when they reach out and give of themselves. Exquisite illustrations by illustrator, Deb Hoeffner, make this book touching, endearing and a true classic and her artistic compositions are a perfect match for the soft spoken text. Author, Carolyn McWilliams Brown relates encouragement, patience and thoughtfulness to feeling God's presence. Illustrator, Deb Hoeffner solidifies Brown's message with her unique "soft realism". The illustrations and characters are true works of art. The storyline is easily shared with children and families of all faiths. All You Want and Then Some is a gentle story that weaves needing, wanting and how to give others into beautiful little how-to lessons. This is a lovely book with a warm and sensitive message that children will carry with them as they grow up. Faith based schools will find this a must have. Librarians will enjoy sharing the gentle and kind message of serving others, and living with God's presence and Jesus. All You Want and Then Some makes a wonderful book to give when a gift of the heart is desired.

The Whitest wall
Jodee Kulp
Better Endings New Beginnings
6289 Brunswick Avenue North, Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
9780963707260 $14.95

International and national speaker, Author, Jodee Kulp, shares her finely tuned writing skills in her new novel, The Whitest Wall, Book One of a new series - Bootleg Brothers Trilogy. Jodee Kulp is the author/co-author of eight other books that help to educate the public about horrifying effects of individuals that live with FASDs, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. In her novel, The Whitest Wall, Kulp reaches out artistically to her audience and mixes fiction with reality that will engage her readers and leave them wanting more.

Speaker and Author, Jodee Kulp is the adoptive mother of a child that lives with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Through their incredible journey, the Kulp family is proud to have overcome their life hurdles and is committed to educating others. A reported 78% of children in U.S. foster care suffer from prenatal alcohol exposure and an estimated 40,000 babies in the U.S. will be born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder. The costs to the USA are up to 6 billion to treat these affected children and their families.

Many families that adopt children later learn that their young innocent child has a learning or behavioral disability. The trauma for the family begins when they learn that the neuropathways of the brain were interrupted in the womb. The shock is learning that the child was born with the disability due to the mother drinking alcohol while pregnant. With heavy hearts, these families, like the Kulp Family, need to learn to live with their disability. The challenges that FASD's children or adults face can include, mental retardation, learning disabilities and behavioral problems. Some children are diagnosed early, others later in their adult life.

Author Jodee Kulps new novel, The Whitest Wall, is meant to inspire conversation about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. It is a novel that uses fiction as a vehicle for public education. Kulp interweaves her characters, she builds upon truth, sprinkles on fright and reality for flavor and delivers a fascinating story that will touch the hearts of everyone that reads The Whitest Wall.

In a fast paced world, where young and mature readers have a vast amount of material to filter through, and where educators struggle to find the right platform to teach from - The Whitest Wall offers something for everyone. Learning how to deal with brain injuries, neurodevelopmental therapies and living with a neurologic brain condition, is life threatening for many. Without the proper support, understanding or human connection, these injured beings fall from everyday life. Sometimes these injuries are not always heard or seen and people live in a silent world of pain. Kulp's novel, The Whitest Wall, opens the door to the silence and screams to promote insight. The Whitest Wall has the ability to change the perception of how we view others, treat others and understand others.

Kulp writes her novel with a sensitivity that speaks to her personal experiences with FASDs. She moves her characters freely and easily through her story giving them color and value so that readers are able to connect with them. This connection is what she uses as her learning tool. Her boomerang effect is that she teaches others about the nature of living with FASDs - she educates her readers on living with a neurological brain disorder. Author, Jodee Kulp, has used her time wisely in starting the Bootleg Brothers Trilogy. The first of a series, The Whitest Wall is a book that reading groups will gobble up. Educators can count on The Whitest Wall to keep the attention of their students while they learn about one of the fastest, most misdiagnosed and easily avoidable disabilities of our time. Librarians will be excited to offer this book to their patrons and Booksellers can feel confident about putting The Whitest Wall on their A list!

Speaking for Spot
Dr. Nancy Kay, Author
Trafalgar Square Books
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Road, North Pomfret, VT 05053
9781570764059 $19.95

Great Pet Health Care Guide! Dr. Nancy Kay, Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, offers a comprehensive guide on optimal pet health in her new book Speaking for Spot. Packed with information, Speaking for Spot dives into detail about how to learn to be a partner in your pet's healthcare, and most importantly how to be your pet's health advocate. Speaking for Spot will be the go to guide for all pet owners. Author, Dr. Nancy Kay, assumes the role of Pet Mentor for her readers as she pulls them through the maze of veterinary science and animal healthcare.

Dr. Kay outlines how to understand medical science and what traditional medicine has to offer all pets. As a pet's health guardian, owners are often faced with difficult decisions that can be confusing and emotionally challenging. As a medical specialist, now author, Dr. Kay uncovers the mystery and helps pet owners make responsible choices and decisions.

Speaking for Spot is a book that should be classified as a wealthy guide where the pages read like a favorite short story. The chapters are easy to comprehend and are split into short areas of interest for quick reference. Need to know how to find a vet or what to ask your vet? Want to learn when it's time to find another vet that's better suited for your pets health needs? Interested in learning how to deal with Cancer? Afraid of the final day when you might be faced with making the choice on euthanasia? Want to look up symptoms and questions to ask your vet? Dr. Nancy Kay walks readers through everything that they will face in and out of the doctor's office.

In a world where being a responsible pet owner means giving lifelong care to our animal companions, Speaking for Spot will improve the quality of life for many pets and their owners. Learning about how to care for our pets reinforces the important role that our pets play in our lives. Speaking for Spot shows novice and experienced pet owners how to deal with their pets health, be their health advocate and lead happy and healthy lives! Libraries will want this book on their shelves as a reference guide. Educators will find this to be full of medical and scientific information for further learning. Veterinarians will adore the humor, natural wit and sensibility that Dr. Kay shares. This is a great book that will benefit all breeds of pet owners. Speaking for Spot is a must read, must have reference guide that pet owners will find valuable, indispensible and a joy to read!

All You Want and Then Some
Carolyn McWilliams Brown, Author
Deb Hoeffner, Illustrator
WinePress Publishing
PO Box 428, Enumclaw, WA 98022
9781579219086 $18.99

Inspirational and heartwarming! All You Want and Then Some is a sweet, thought provoking story of a young girl and her special friend. Author Carolyn McWilliams Brown has put her own icing on her cake in her new title where she outlines how special people can be when they reach out and give of themselves. Exquisite illustrations by illustrator, Deb Hoeffner, make this book touching, endearing and a true classic and her artistic compositions are a perfect match for the soft spoken text. Author, Carolyn McWilliams Brown relates encouragement, patience and thoughtfulness to feeling God's presence. Illustrator, Deb Hoeffner solidifies Brown's message with her unique "soft realism". The illustrations and characters are true works of art. The storyline is easily shared with children and families of all faiths. All You Want and Then Some is a gentle story that weaves needing, wanting and how to give others into beautiful little how-to lessons. This is a lovely book with a warm and sensitive message that children will carry with them as they grow up. Faith based schools will find this a must have. Librarians will enjoy sharing the gentle and kind message of serving others, and living with God's presence and Jesus. All You Want and Then Some makes a wonderful book to give when a gift of the heart is desired.

Sara Hassler

Jessica's Bookshelf

Kitty's House of Horrors
Carrie Vaughn
Grand Central Publishing (Hachette Book Group)
237 Park Avenue, New York NY 100 17
9780446199551 $7.99

Kitty is a talk radio host/werewolf and has agreed to appear on TV's first-ever supernatural reality show. Kitty suspects it will feature the usual gimmicks and cheesy competitions. However her first impressions are proved wrong and what could have been fun turns into a matter of life or death.

Kitty's husband Ben, who too happens to be a werewolf, was not keen on letting Kitty go on the reality show but when her mind is made up there is no stopping her.

When Kitty settles into the new house with her housemates, she realises all may not be as it seems. Housemate and vampire Anastasia unnerves Kitty. Something is going on but she has no idea what.

When house members start dying off Kitty is to understand what the real "game" of the show is all about.

This novel by New York times best-selling author ticks all the boxes true sci-fi lovers want - excitement, a beautiful and strong heroine, a world enriched with characters we either love or hate and of course drop dead gorgeous hunks.

On a personal level however I just feel there are better sci-fi writers out there and unfortunately Vaughn's latest offering disappointed and failed to hold my attention. However readers of Vaughn will probably think differently and will enjoy Kitty's House of Horrors.

Pete Dexter
Grand Central Publishing (Hachette Book Group)
237 Park Avenue, New York NY 100 17
9780446540728 $26.99

This novel by award-winning author Pete Dexter tells the story of a lifelong tie between two men.

Spooner moved in to live with his grandmother after his father died of a stroke. Life was manageable but living conditions could have been better. The house only had six rooms - including the bathroom. Spooner made it his job, even as a very young boy, to correct his mother when she said the house only had five rooms. She said that the bathroom didn't count but Spooner was headstrong and refused to let her believe this.

Spooner's mother hated living there in "five tiny rooms" and once screamed obscenities into a dish cloth when Spooner tried to correct her.

Spooner was also witness to his mother crying into her pillow while he just sat across on a tree branch to watch.

When he wasn't busy watching his mother or telling her about how many rooms the house had, Spooner would play with his friend Kenny Durkin.

Kenny's life seemed similar to Spooner's except for punishment Kenny was not sent to sit on the porch steps but beaten with a board. This usually happened on a Friday and Kenny did not suffer in silence "you could hear the screaming and crying all over the neighbourhood."

Kenny was a soft kid who cried a lot and was terrified of boys his own age. He cried that day when Spooner told him everybody dies and when he had been messing about with his father's pistol and couldn't reload the bullets.

In the fall Spooner was shipped off to kindergarten while his sister, Margaret, started second grade.

Spooner found the whole thing horrible and too soon for his liking especially just after that awful trip to the dentist.

He was also getting used to having a new father figure in his life, Calmer Ottosson. Their bond is clear to see as you read on and very touching at times.

Eventually throughout the hardships of childhood Spooner emerged an adult and all in one piece. Though that would mean no promise of a good life to come - events and more trouble were soon to follow.

The bond between Spooner and Calmer continues to grow throughout and remains the backbone to this remarkable story of a dysfunctional family.

Dexter has managed to create two unforgettable characters in this quirky but addictive novel. He laces it with humour and reminds readers of what really constitutes a good book.

I simply lost count of the number of times I laughed, especially reading the episode when four-year-old Spooner discovered how to break into the neighbour's homes and peed in their shoes. I was just a little disappointed Dexter didn't give us more funny tales of Spooner when he was a little boy. Still it is a remarkable book and one which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Close Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind
Phillip Done
Center Street (Hachette Book Group)
Grand Central Publishng
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York NY 100 17
9781599951485 $22.99

Do you remember being a third grader? If so this book is a perfect opportunity to revisit those times. If you really can't remember you're still in for a treat anyway.

Phillip Done knows children so well he decided to write a book all about his experiences as a third-grade teacher.

He knows for instance that to a child there are only two types of teachers: the nice type and the nasty. He also knows that if you light a candle in science class, the students will ask if they can blow it out.

Even though teaching can be tiring Mr Done wouldn't trade it for a million years. It has many perks and its one of those professions that remind you to smile every day.

Teachers are magicians to little kids. They're the ones who produce numbers and words from nowhere and then show you how it's done. In the case of Mr Done himself he is a genius who can spell nearly every word kids ask… except on certain occasions!

This book offers readers an intimate look at teaching which I found sweet and reassuring. Mr Done is the kind of teacher we'd all have wanted at third-grade age.

They are in eleven sections, categorized into the months of the year, each as brilliant as the next. We explore Christmas, Easter and all those occasions in between. The tooth fairy is discussed and through these discussions we see just how warm and thoughtful Mr Done is. He reminds us time and time again that good teachers really do exist, you just have to know where to look to find them.

Many times throughout this book I laughed and many times I felt moved by Mr Done and his teacher tales. He highlights just how great children can be.

He also made special bonds with his students and in particularly Michael. Michael loved to sing, so we read, and if there ever was an angel Mr Done strongly feels Michael would be it. However this little angel was to be told some sad news. Mr Done recalls how sad he felt that night when he and Michael sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow together. This is definitely a chapter everyone must read to remind ourselves of life's little angels and those kind-hearted teachers who are always there for kids, even outside of the classroom.

This is a lovely book, well written (of course) and captivating from the first page till the last. If you are interested in the workings of the classroom, teaching or just want to remind yourself there are wonderful teachers out there then this is a perfect read for you.

Jessica Roberts

Karyn's Bookshelf

Courting Kathleen Hannigan
Mary Hutchings Reed, author
Ampersand, Inc.
1050 North State St., Chicago, IL 60610
9780976123569, $19.95

Women who got their start in the corporate world in the 1970s will read "Courting Kathleen Hannigan" with an insider's eye. But the fictional -- yet not -- tale of ladder climbing a generation ago might in fact garner the most rapt attention from female professionals who were too young to help break certain glass ceilings but who benefit today from their smashing. The story follows Yale Law graduate Kathleen Hannigan who, in 1976, is hired as one of the first female associates at a prominent Chicago firm. Denied entrance to a male-only restaurant in her office building and continually hit with other fraternal roadblocks and insults, Kathleen nevertheless works her way to partner. Along the way she becomes enmeshed in a 7-dayer life that finds her in the office at night and on weekends, figuratively married to her work. Soul searching ensues as she approaches mid-life and watches a friend leave the firm, marry and give birth. A sexual discrimination suit brought by a female colleague then leaves her pondering her allegiance to the male-dominated atmosphere that she's devoted two decades to. Despite Kathleen's concluding turn that feels a bit too soft for the character -- would the woman who poured so much into her career in the first 200 pages realistically have made such professional and personal choices? -- she is otherwise wholly believable. A well-written reminder of how far we've come, with the forever relevant theme of defining our lives by our personal choices.

Dying to Meet You: 43 Old Cemetery Road Book One
Kate Klise, author M. Sarah Klise, illustrator
Harcourt Children's Books
c/o Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, FL 32887-6777
9780152057275 $15.00

Sisters Kate and M. Sarah Klise hit all the right funny bones in the first of a new series meant for kids that also offers great insider chuckles for adults in the publishing industry. In "Dying to Meet You," the Klises target the same tween audience as their award-winning "Regarding the…." series, and take a similar approach to the writing, eschewing traditional prose for a collection of letters, newspaper clippings and other print communication and correspondence. The story follows a curmudgeonly children's book author who rents a summer home hoping to resurrect his ailing career, only to find the crumbling Victorian mansion is already occupied by a young boy named Seymour, his cat and the ghost of Olive C. Spence, the woman who built the house and who aspired to be but never succeeded as an author. The boy's parents are professors of the paranormal who have decided that ghosts don't exist. They've left him behind as they head out on a lecture tour, because his insistence that ghosts are real clashes too much with their thesis. The character names are a hilarious play on words -- including author Ignatius B. Grumply, real estate agent Anita Sale and publisher Paige Turner. And the writing only improves on that, with lots of silliness as Ignatius, Seymour and Olive initially clash and ultimately bond. Mixed in is a gently poignant message about what makes a family. Can't wait for the next installment.

Karyn Saemann

Liana's Bookshelf

My Father's Dream Wasn't My Own
Jeanette Hewitt-Bailey
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432723972 $21.95

Jeanette Hewitt-Bailey lives in Lakeland Florida.

This story is about the life of a girl, George-Ann, who was controlled by her father, Sam. She had to grow up in her father's shadow, and was denied a personal life though she craved for freedom and the chance to develop her own character.

The novel is exceptionally gripping and the readers will be amazed at the turn of events as they unfold. Filled with all kinds of emotion, the author manages to capture the inner feelings of the characters very skillfully thus creating real to life situations throughout the plot. It caters to all romance lovers and is available at and other online stores.

Golden Girl
Henry Melton
Wire Rim Books
Hutto, Texas
9780980225358 $14.95

Henry Melton has released his latest novel, Golden Girl, to amaze readers once more. His work can be found at

Golden Girl is about a girl, Debra, who was thrust into the past and then into the future thus experiencing time travel in order to save the planet. Divided into three parts, this novel is nevertheless as amazing as all the previous works of the author. Filled with scientific facts and interesting details, Golden Girl is another science fiction story that will grip the interest of the reader and carry it through to the very last page. Written in a simple and clear style it caters to all young adults and adults who love science fiction. It is an exciting read for the whole family. Get this book from

Liana Metal, Reviewer

Logan's Bookshelf

The First Christmas
Er Nuylan
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432742119, $19.95,

The idea of a virgin birth was hard to swallow, even in religious times. "The First Christmas" is a novel dramatizing the period around the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. In a time where pre-marital sex was grounds for death by stoning, the tale of Mary's virgin birth seems as if it one made as an excuse to avoid punishment. The relationship between Mary, Jospeh, Mary's father, and more, "The First Christmas" is an entertaining and intriguing read which should not be missed.

Lori's Song
Lori Foroozandeh
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432738297, $17.95,

There are some horrors that no one should have to experience. "Lori's Song: The True Story of an American Woman Held Captive in Iran" is the reflective memoir of Lori Foroozandeh, a woman who through her tumultuous life ended up married to an Iranian man, who took her back to Iran. Despite the horrible marriage, they tried to leave when the September 11th attacks occurred, Lori found herself under the captivity of Iran for six horrible weeks that will scar her for life. "Lori's Song" is a tragic memoir of enduring the worst a woman can endure, highly recommended.

The Only Way Is Up
Folake Taylor
9781448618019, $14.99,

From around the world, people come to America to embrace its treasures. "The Only Way Is Up" is a memoir of Folake Taylor as she reflects on her status as an American woman coming to the country from the United Kingdom, born to Nigerian immigrants. A moving tale that shows pride in one's new favored country, "The Only Way Is Up" is a fine read of keeping one's chin up, answering life's questions.

On the Right Side of the Market
Mark Christopher Scheffler
Appleton Group Wealth Management, LLC
100 W. Lawrence St., Third Floor, Appleton, WI 54911
9781448610204, $24.99,

When the market is in turmoil, it takes wisdom to stay afloat and in the game. "On the Right Side of the Market: Using ETFs and Trend-Following Strategies to Save Your Investment Portfolio, Your Sanity, and Society Itself" is a guide to investing in today's chaotic market to boom when everyone else is busting. With a new philosophy to apply to one's personal finance and portfolio, for a less stressful trading career, "On the Right Side of the Market" is a worthwhile read for any investor who wants to stay on top of things in life.

The Power of Influence
Fisher DeBerry
Fisher DeBerry Foundation
8235 Loganwood Court, Colorado Springs, CO 80919
Campbell Public Relations, LLC (publicity)
1255 Lake Plaza Dr., Suite 244, Colorado Springs, CO 80906
9780692004494, $20.00

A good leader is invaluable. "The Power of Influence: Life-Changing Lessons from the Coach" is a collection of memoirs from Fisher DeBerry, as he reflects on being coach to the Air Force football league and what he learned and taught helping America's finest men play a game of football when they aren't defending the country. His former players look back and reflect on their time with Coach DeBerry, making "The Power of Influence" an intriguing and fascinating read that should not be ignored for sports and military readers.

Houses of the Horoscope
Alan Oken
Ibis Press
PO Box 540206, Lake Worth, FL 33454-0206
9780892541560, $15.95,

Astrology can be a difficult thing to understand. "Houses of the Horoscope: An Introduction" delves into the finer points of astrology, the house system, and how this applies to astrological practice. These houses apply to many aspects of the human experience, and Alan Oken does well in giving readers a comprehensive overview on the finer points of the art. "Houses of the Horoscope" is solidly recommended for any seeking a deeper understanding of astrology.

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

What's On My Mind and In My Heart
Donna R. Bannister
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449022716, $16.99,

A life is a life and all they have to show for it is the memories. "What's On My Mind and In My Heart" is a memoir from Donna R. Bannister reflecting on her life growing up in the baby boomer generation, a generation unique in history for having some of the most rapid social changes in history. Born to impoverished farmers, she tells her life story and provides many insights with many charming photos of her life and times. "What's On My Mind and In My Heart" is a choice pick for personal memoir collections.

My Heritage, My Destiny
Baiba Kreger
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595465088, $15.95,

The search for freedom is rarely done in one swift motion. "My Heritage, My Destiny" is the memoir of Baiba Kreger as she flees the struggles of Latvia only to end up in Germany, devastated by the Allies campaign towards Berlin. Living under the threat of bombs, she slowly escapes Germany for America, where she finally makes her mark and lives her life. She also discusses returning to her homeland later in life. "My Heritage, My Destiny" is inspiring and very highly recommended reading for those seeking memoirs of immigrant success stories.

Wisdom Born of Pain
Thelma Smith-Mack
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161935, $8.95,

Being the first of many is no easy task. "Wisdom Born of Pain" reflects on Thelma Smith-Mack's high school life, as she attended most of it in the years before desegregation and was the only African American graduate in her class in her all-white high school. A unique story of the shattering racial barrier, "Wisdom Born of Pain" is worth considering for those looking for tales of civil rights.

Fabulous Fanny Defeats the South
Aileen Boules Zollweg
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432743710, $19.95,

A pen is more powerful than any lethal weapon. "Fabulous Fanny Defeats the South" is a novel following historic figure Fanny Kemble and her life as a British woman living in the Confederacy, married to a slave owner. Her book is blamed by southerners as one of the reasons for its loss, and Aileen Boules Zollweg creates quite the dramatization of her life. "Fabulous Fanny Defeats the South" is a choice and very highly recommended pick that should not be missed by historical fiction readers.

Our Chemical Lives
Catherine J. Frompovich
Privately Published
9781439255360, $20.99,

Chemicals are in everything, and could that be the problem? "Our Chemical Lives and the Hijacking of Our DNA: A Probe Into What's Probably Making Us Sick" is one woman's personal investigation into the modern American diet and medicine, as Catherine J. Frompovich does her own research and offers many opinions on the infusion of chemicals and toxins to many levels of life. "Our Chemical Lives and the Hijacking of Our DNA" is an intriguing read, and a top pick.

The Channel
Susan Alcott Jardine
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
Green Door Editions (publicity)
PO Box 56839, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413
9781432737573, $18.95,

In the span of decades, Los Angeles proves to be a backdrop for life to be lived. "The Channel: Stories from L. A." is a collection of short stories from Susan Alcott Jardine as she provides the stories of ten individuals who try to keep a hold of their lives when the world around them tries to wrestle the control away. Fine tales that will resonate with readers, "The Channel" is a worthy read, highly recommended.

God Is Not Like That
Diana Spencer
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781426911200, $29.97,

Christianity is an endless series of questions for many people of faith. "God is Not Like That: Making Sense of Christianity, A New look at an Old Faith" is a spiritual guide from Diana Spencer as she discusses the many denominations of Christianity, stating that the Protestant reformation never truly finished as people invent new ways to honor God almost every day. From the rise of doubt of the Christian doctrine to facing a skeptical world, "God is Not Like That" is an intriguing and entertaining read that should not be ignored.

Waters Of The Dancing Sky
Janet Kay
Llumina Press
7915 W. McNab Road, Tamarac, FL 33321
9781605942780, $16.95,

Time to think is an invaluable resource. "Waters of the Dancing Sky" tells the story of Beth Calhoun, a woman bombarded by inner conflict. In a lake between Michigan and Ontario, she goes over her mother's diaries and finds a lot to think about in the past, including of the father who was never there for her. After being wronged so many times in her life, she struggles to put things together in the world. "Waters of the Dancing Sky" is an enticing story of learning how to trust again, very highly recommended reading.

Margaret Lane

Nicole's Bookshelf

The Public Domain Publishing Bible: How to Create "Royalty" Income for Life
Andras M. Nagy
Ancient Wisdom Publications
9780982499412 $14.95

Andras M. Nagy is a self-proclaimed gambler. The enterprise described in his book The Public Domain Publishing Bible is not to be undertaken by the faint at heart.

Public domain titles contain initial publication dates before 1923. According to U.S. copyright law, anyone can republish these titles for profit. Nagy stresses that it is imperative to add original content to these works in terms of illustrations, footnotes, introductory material, covers, etc. Otherwise, you will be competing with numerous versions of these titles republished without modification. He states that sometimes will not even pick up your version if you merely republish the text as is.

The field is also littered with what Nagy calls "copyright bullies." These individuals claim that they own the copyright to a public domain title. Their claim is invalid, but they will attempt to intimidate you by suggesting legal action. In the very least, their aim is to get you to cease publishing the work. Nagy urges you to stand your ground and demand proof of ownership. Personally, I don't know if I would want to run into potential legal problems. Nagy recommends hiring the U.S. Copyright Office to investigate the copyright status of a title before publishing it. It is a financial drawback at $150 an hour.

To make money Nagy uses print-on-demand (POD). If he has the only in-print version of a public domain title, he uses Ingram's Lightning Source to take advantage of the wholesaler's extensive distribution network. If he's competing against other republished versions, Amazon's CreateSpace has lower set-up fees. He recommends using free software applications such as Scribus, Open Office and Gimp to cut start-up costs. Nagy also discusses book scanning for those not interested in typesetting. Optical character recognition (OPR) scans the entire physical book allowing text to be directly inputted into a word processing program. You can hire a book scanning service or invest in the equipment to create your own scans.

Nagy goes on to explain publicity tactics for promoting your public domain catalog. His main focus is on creating a web site that is search engine optimized (SEO). He explains off-the-page SEO techniques such as blogger reviews, directory submissions and article & press release distribution. On-the-page efforts entail an ALT tag for every image, keywords in page titles and anchor tags for inbound links.

At times, Nagy drifts away from his subject when he writes about creating a screenplay or the IndieBound movement. These sections would have been better off as appendices instead of breaking up the narrative.

Nagy's 10 basic rules for public domain publishing are:

1. Be selective in what you publish
2. Add creative modifications
3. Sell wholesale
4. Republishing titles as is use CreateSpace
5. Do your own set-up & design
6. Use reasonable freelancers for what you can't do
7. Take a long term view
8. Learn to work with Amazon & Lightning Source
9. Work with independent bookstores
10. Write what you know. Stick to fields you like.

Overall, this is a comprehensive guide on how to republish public domain titles with a realm of useful resources and pertinent web sites.

The Sound Snatcher
Linda Bryan Sabin
Peeking Kitty Books
9780984163304 $14.95

Do you know a young child who freaks out when you turn on the vacuum? Does the noise make them run from the room in terror? Linda Bryan Sabin has the answer. In her children's book The Sound Snatcher (illustrated by Valerie Bouthyette), Sabin writes for "the sensitive child who may become unsettled and anxious when confronted with noisy distractions."

Her writing style is rooted in sound techniques such as rhythm, alliteration and multi-syllable words. A vocabulary section in the back of the book defines words that might be unfamiliar to a young child like reverberation, truffle and shroud. Sabin also creates her own words via onomatopia such as fluffle, squwurgles and swirgles.

Readers are encouraged to look for clues in the illustrations in the "Let's Talk About the Book" question and answer section. What is the boy's name? Look at the back of his shirt. What supporting character appears on every page? The name of Sabin's publisher - Peeking Kitty Books - offers a clue. Sabin encourages "curiosity, excitement of exploration and a desire to see what comes next."

The book's library reinforced binding is a plus for any children's book subjected to the wear and tear of little hands. The overall theme of overpowering, overwhelming noise is synonymous with modern family life. Details are drowned out and important moments are missed. The word "quiet" fills the last page and illustrates its inherent value.

The little Sound Snatcher is precious with his big round eyes and stick-out tongue. His endearing appearance makes him approachable combating a child's fear. He is so industrious, vacuuming up everything in sight, that his belly bag nearly explodes. By completing his chore, he is unplugged and falls fast asleep.

U.N.I.Q.U.E. Kids: Growing My Leadership Garden
Debra J. Slover
Leader Garden Press
P.O. Box 841, Albany, OR 97321
9780978679859 $18.95

Debra J. Slover is well aware that books read in childhood leave a lasting impression. She defines a young mind's potential as a leadership garden. With the right cultivation, Slover believes every child can find the leader within. Her book sheds light on the seeds that form the foundation of a deeply-rooted character.

Slover's goal is "to seed and nurture 11 million leadership gardens by 11-11-2011." Her mission is to provide children with tools to better themselves. "Imagine the future of our planet if we nurture each leader to sprout greatness," she states. She focuses on awakening the child's inherent abilities. It is not an adherence to a strict dogma or a step-by-step formula to mold a child to some preexisting ideal. Instead, a child's uniqueness is what is cherished. Leaders are not defined by the power to control, but by how they empower others through love. For Slover, leaders connect well with others because they combine their thoughts, feelings and behaviors into good choices.

The fable of the lost sheep Hugh is reiterated in the children's edition. The illustrations by Darlene Warner are more numerous and in color. Chapters conclude with a "Hugh Wants to Know" questionnaire reinforcing the moral lessons taught by each farm animal. The leadership concepts are explained with a vocabulary appropriate for ages 8 to 12. As Slover states, "It is an ideal book to be read aloud and discussed over eight sessions at home, in school or in youth groups."

Children will undoubtedly respond to the imagery of spring's arrival on the farm. The details of nature are meant to stir the physical senses while the accompanying leadership lessons awaken a child's curiosity and problem-solving skills. It is a winning combination to engage the mind, body and spirit in character-developing activities.

Slover's approach is realistic. Things happen in the outside world that cannot be controlled. Hugh's mother is attacked by coyotes. Howard the Horse is left to starve by his previous owner. Hugh is bullied by the farmer's son. Just by reading this book, bad things will not go away. Change depends on how children respond. A child's purpose and aim must play to his or her strengths. By tapping into their innate abilities, children are then able to face life's challenges. When one child demonstrates this inner strength, it empowers others to hone their leadership potential. One by one, new gardens are grown.

How to Master Your Muck
Kathi Burns
Lemongrass Publishing
PO Box 232066, Leucadia, CA 92023
9780981955407 $17.95

How to Master Your Muck by Kathi Burns hits everything on the checklist for a well-designed book. A "how to" title? Check. A celebrity endorsement (in this case, What Not to Wear's Clinton Kelly)? Check. Interior text in an easy-to-read font with major points highlighted in wide margins? Check. The form equals the function. The book is so well organized that just flipping through its pages motivates you to want to get your life in order.

Burns' philosophy centers around the belief that change is unavoidable. You have the decision to either man up and face it or get stuck in the muck. Burns is a firm believer that small changes lead to larger lifestyle transitions. All that is needed is space. Physical space free of clutter. Personal space free of guilt. Working space free of interruption. Once things are simplified and broken down into their component parts, contentmentis is found knowing where things are, who you are as a person and where you'd like to go in your career.

The book covers a range of topics from managing your email inbox to finding the perfect wardrobe. It caters to those with an entrepreneurial spirit who operate a home-based business. However, it can apply to anyone looking to regain control. Muck is defined as anything that stands in the way of realizing your full potential. An overbooked schedule. A disorganized desk. Ill-fitting clothes. Muck is everywhere.

Regaining control of your life doesn't have to be hard. Burns provides the road map. Want to simplify an untidy desk? Get a vertical file folder to organize your to-do list. Want your home office to run like a well-oiled machine? Purchase supplies before you need them. Feeling pulled in all different directions? Create a schedule that allows one day a week for outside appointments. Constantly interrupted by email? Check it only 2-3 times a day.

Burns admits creating new routines is not easy and will take at least four weeks to become indoctrinated into your life. It's not about being getting caught up in frantic activity and collecting possessions. It's about clearly stating your goals and going after them. You need to eliminate what you don't need, salvage what can be saved and pursue what you're missing.

Burns states, "Muck is much bigger than the stuff attached to it. There is a domino effect, and eventually you will arrive at the core area where you are really stifled, be it creativity, lack of productivity, depression or boredom. You will inevitably feel lighter and more creative and energized."

This is a handbook you'll refer to again and again. Whenever you feel frustrated and inadequate, it's just the muck talking. The key is not to give it a voice.

Tommie Lyn
9781442146310 $14.99

Scribbles is an interesting mixture. There are elements of The Da Vinci Code. Illuminati, anyone? A child with psychic abilities used for experimentation relates to aspects in Dark Visions by L.J. Smith, author of The Vampire Diaries.

The main character, Meg MacAllister is also many things. She is the daughter of two convicted murderers. She is a cop. She is a psychic. These disparate qualities elicit different responses from those around her. Devotion from her father. Disdain from her mother. Understanding from her grandmother. Frustration from her fellow cops.

Johnny Peyton is Meg's partner on the police force. His relationship with the newly divorced Amanda Adcock is already on shaky ground when Johnny and Meg are dispatched to a domestic disturbance involving Amanda and her ex-husband. The ensuing violence lands Meg in the hospital.

Johnny's guilt forces him to admit that he has feelings for Meg. His adolescent infatuation with Amanda was based on superficial attributes. He realizes that he has unwittingly fallen in love with Meg.

However, Johnny learns that a relationship with Meg will not be easy. Since childhood, she has been tormented by a recurring nightmare. It starts in a white room. Black scribbles fill the space. A face emerges from the black lines. Upon awakening, Meg learns that the person featured in her dream has met with violence.

Her parents, Jim Ed and Natalie, may be imprisoned for murder, but Meg believes she is the one responsible for their crime. Natalie had created a laboratory in their basement in order to forge a deeper connection with her lover, Professor Worthen. She dupes Jim Ed into fashioning a device to aid their psychological research. During an experiment, a juvenile delinquent used as a test subject dies at the same time Meg experiences her dream.

Johnny has a hard time making sense of Meg's psychic ability. When she opens up to him about her situation, he feels like he's been dropped into an episode of The Twilight Zone. Complications arise when Amanda decides she wants Johnny back, and will stop at nothing to separate him from Meg.

When Natalie obtains parole, she returns to her lab of horrors and Professor Worthen is determined to pick up where they left off. However a larger force is at work, and Meg's psychic ability is the only thing that can stop it.

Scribbles is a bit disjointed and leads the reader to believe it might be one of Tommie Lyn's earlier efforts. With a thriller, a reader needs to suspend disbelief. However, some points just don't ring true. Would the local police force really hire Meg after they arrested her parents for murder? Can Johnny fall in love with Meg so soon after ending things with Amanda? Why does the conspiracy theory involving the Illuminati read like a cliche? Lyn leaves the door open for a sequel, and one wonders what new face will appear in Meg's dream.

Overall, Scribbles is a bit all over the page. Supporting details and character motivations need to be more in line with the plot in order to create a more cohesive narrative.

A Brief History of Scranton, Pennsylvania
Cheryl A. Kashuba
The History Press
18 Percy Street, Charleston, SC 29403
9781596298101 $19.99

Time travel is possible. Cheryl Kashuba's book offers a gateway. See the Masonic Temple rise from its limestone foundation. Walk down a bustling, but unpaved, Lackawanna Avenue. Watch workers atop scaffolding bring the Scranton Times building into existence.

Kashuba's work is filled with meticulously researched facts and figures, but it doesn't stop there. She transports the reader to an earlier time by writing history in a narrative style. You can feel the excitement of those waiting on Wyoming Avenue to take the first electric trolley run. The car's incandescent lamps lightning the way to Green Ridge on a cold November evening in 1886.

Fans of Kashuba's weekly local history column in The Scranton Times-Tribune are in for a treat. Learn how members of the family connected with the historic Tripp House were kidnapped and murdered by Native Americans. Discover how a journey from Clarks Summit to Scranton was made perilous by the screech of the panther and the cry of the wolf. Uncover how the Scranton family came to settle in the area only after a previous investor died after falling off his horse. Read how the burning of anthracite coal came about only after a Wilkes-Barre blacksmith fell asleep leaving his furnace burning throughout the night.

Why did the Scranton area remain a wilderness during the American Revolution and beyond (with Pennsylvania being the second state in the Union)? Kashuba explains this anomaly as resulting from a disagreement between Pennsylvania and Connecticut settlers over faulty land agreements made by King Charles II of England. No one definitively owned the land. It was fought over rather than built upon.

Modern achievements are skillfully intermingled with earlier noteworthy events. Civil War prisoner of war and former mayor, Ezra Ripple is remembered along with World War II Medal of Honor winners Gino Merli and Joseph Sarnoski. The success of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees is recorded with that of the Scranton Red Sox. The refreshment provided by Lake Lincoln parallels the water slides of today's Nay Aug Park.

An introduction by Mary Ann Moran Savakinus, the director of the Lackawanna Historical Society, provides a thorough outline of the key points Kashuba illustrates in greater detail throughout the book.

If you are looking for a concise, easy-to-read history - look no further. For all those who hold Scranton in their hearts - welcome home.

Silent Girl
Tricia Dower
Inanna Publications & Education, Inc.
210 Founders College, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3J 1P3
9780980882209 $22.95

Hamlet's Gertrude. The Taming of the Shrew's Katherina. Othello's Desdemona. The trials and tribulations of Shakespeare's immortal muses provide the narrative thread that weaves together a collection of eight short stories by Tricia Dower. The timeless nature of the Bard's female protagonists blends seamlessly into the contemporary feel of Silent Girl.

It is a modern masterpiece. Inanna Publications and Education, Inc. is to be commended for promoting the work of such a gifted writer. The publisher receives support from the Canada Council for the Arts and The Calgary Foundation for recognizing emerging talent. Dower's work is certainly deserving of the spotlight.

Each story has the power to stand alone, yet together their cohesiveness makes an all-encompassing statement on what it's like to be a woman regardless of age, location or race. Dower's fluid imagination is masterfully captured in the flawless technique of her prose. The substance of her ideas is expressed in a style that is both page-turning and thought-provoking.

I have done nothing but in the care of the / Of thee, my dear one, my daughter.
- Prospero to Miranda in The Tempest

Not Meant to Know depicts Linda, an 11-year-old girl in 1950s New Jersey who inadvertently learns about the facts of life from the troubling actions of those around her. The promiscuous defiance of her best friend. The unexpected death of a neighborhood recluse. The secret in her father's coat pocket. The innocence of her childhood is lost over the course of a summer.

This world to me is like a lasting storm.
- Marina in Pericles

Silent Girl is the headliner of the collection. The chaos of the 2004 Asian tsunami upends the life of Matsi, the title character. She is a Canadian citizen of Asian heritage vacationing in Thailand when the giant wave carries her mother away. The Wong family promises to bring Matsi home with them to Canada while her father remains to continue the search. However, the Wongs sell Matsi into the illegal sex trade. Her captors believe she is a native Thai citizen, and by remaining silent she withholds her true identity. As she clings to survival in a child prostitution ring in New Orleans, she finds herself in the midst of Hurricane Katrina.

I see a woman may be made a fool / If she had not the spirit to resist.
- Katherina in The Taming of the Shrew

Kesh Kumay means "chasing the kiss." Dower was inspired to write this story by the documentary The Kidnapped Brides based on the rural tradition in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan. The main character Kyal is a university student who returns to her family's primitive existence. A man is chosen for her to marry, but unwittingly she finds he is of an open-minded nature. Beneath the surface of the male dominated environment, women like her grandmother hold more power than Kyal's modern sensibilities take into account.

I, that please some, try all.
- Time as Chorus in The Winter's Tale

Deep Dark Waves turns gender stereotypes about violence on their head. Sona's husband disappears with the couple's newborn daughter. As details of their married life emerge, it is revealed that she wanted her husband to physically assault her. Utterly desperate to break out of her emotional numbness, she cares little for the guilt she inflicted on her husband.

Emilia: O, who hath done this deed?
Desdemona: Nobody; I myself.
- Othello

Nobody; I Myself delves into the topic of interracial marriage. An African-American husband returns home broken from a tour of duty in Vietnam. His Caucasian wife sacrifices everything to help him emerge from the abyss of his post-traumatic stress.

All that lives must die / Passing through nature to eternity.
- Gertrude in Hamlet

Passing Through relates how a son feels betrayed when his mother takes up with his uncle after his father's death. The conflict upends the fate of the family farm. The anguish of the son is told through the eyes of the mother.

Love sought is good, but given unsought is better.
- Olivia to Viola in Twelfth Night

Cocktails with Charles depicts the relationship of Mira and Angel, two single women who are trying to make ends meet. As a mother of two young boys, Angel is contemplating marrying a man she doesn't love in order to provide her children with financial stability. Mira implores her friend not to give into such a marriage and tries to convince her that the two of them are better off shifting for themselves.

I sprang not / more in joy at first hearing he was a man-child / than in first seeing he had proved himself a man
- Volumnia in Coriolanus

The Snow People: 30-46 AGM is a futuristic tale of a community of albinos, The Snows, oppressed by a more technologically savvy society, The Rainbows. With man's destruction of the environment, coastal flooding leaves a sparse amount of land for the remaining population. Hope seems lost until the teenage boy, Akin, receives a prophetic dream that might lead to the salvation of The Snows.

Overall, this collection is a tour de force from an author employing Shakespearean characters as a springboard for illustrating the condition of modern women.

Nicole Langan, Reviewer

Paul's Bookshelf

Who Really Won the Space Race?
Thom Burnett
Collins and Brown
The Chrysalis Building, Bramley Road, London W1D 6SP, UNITED KINGDOM
1843402904 8.99 pounds

This book looks at the history of the "Space Race" between America and the Soviet Union, and asserts that America could have put a satellite into orbit a year before the Russians.

At the end of World War II, America and the Soviets were racing around Germany, gathering up as many German V-2 rocket parts, engineering drawings and scientists as they could find. This was to be done before the zones of control in Germany, agreed at Yalta, came into effect. The German scientists were more interested in rockets and space flight than in rockets and war. Most of the Germans surrendered to the Americans, while some surrendered to the Russians.

After much interrogation and debriefing in Europe, the "American Germans" were quietly brought to America, and ended up at Fort Bliss, near El Paso, Texas. They were intentionally kept away from any classified information, for obvious reasons, and there was little or nothing for them to do. The "Russian Germans" were not faring much better. They, and their families, were forcibly deported to Russia, and ended up on a desolate island over 100 miles from Moscow. They had to be segregated from the local population; as in America, memories fade slowly. For the next 5 years, they did their best, under terrible working conditions, until being deported to the West. There is little indication that the Russians ever used German expertise on their rockets.

Back in America, the Germans were eventually moved to Huntsville, Alabama. It was much more hospitable than Texas, both technically and for their families. They were made American citizens in 1955, so they could access Top Secret information. Throughout the 1950s, there were a number of government commissions tasked with deciding what to do about rockets, specifically the ex-Nazis in their employ. The Stewart Committee had to decide what booster system would be used to get a satellite into orbit, the proven German system, or an American system that needed more work. When Wernher von Braun, the leader of the Germans, learned that the American system was chosen, he went ballistic. Among the official reasons for the decision was to keep the military program (on which the Germans were working) and the civilian programs separate. Among the actual reasons was plain old racism. It would not be good for America's rocket to be called the "Nazi Rocket."

This book does a wonderful job as a history of the Space Race from the end of World War II to the first American satellite. I am not so sure of this as a conspiracy book (the "conspiracy" part is only in the last chapter), but it is still well worth reading.

Southcrop Forest
Lorne Rothman
iUniverse, Inc
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595495887, $13.95

This novel is about the trees of Southcrop Forest, a forest in crisis. Reduced to little more than a forest fragment, they are hemmed in on all sides by human sprawl. There is a great feeling of despair, for the trees know that the end is inevitable.

Auja, a young oak tree, finds a unique being within its branches. Fur is not your average caterpillar. It is a kind of group-mind being consisting of over 240 separate entities, not seen in Southcrop Forest for the past thousand years. Auja persuades a reluctant Fur to undertake a harrowing journey.

The trees of Southcrop Forest have made an earth-shattering discovery for their kind. Fur is to carry that treasure to a mysterious place called Riverside Farm. It involves crossing the Oak River to the Deep Sky forests. The trees talk to Fur through a form of telepathy, and help Fur as much as possible.

At one point, Fur is attacked by birds and bugs who use caterpillars as hosts for their eggs. Fur survives, but loses a number of its members. Trying to cross a human road, more members of Fur are flattened by car tires. Fur also encounters patches of crawler plague, a disease that is absolutely fatal to caterpillars. Fur is under a huge time constraint of its own. Being a caterpillar, the compulsion is growing to find an appropriate spot, spin a cocoon, turn into a moth and fly to the sun.

Almost at its goal, the few members of Fur who have survived the journey are caught by a human child, and left in an airtight jar in the hot sun. Fur is eventually released, and has lost even more of itself. Along the way, Fur learns about ecology, the threat from mankind and about its own existence.

Perhaps it is time to consider starting a new genre of fiction, "stories written from a non-human perspective." This is a first-rate story that will get the reader looking at their local forest or stand of trees in a whole new way.

The Octopus Conspiracy and Other Vignettes of the Counterculture
Stephen Hager
P.O. Box 577, Walterville, OR 97489
0975290614 $19.95

This book, based on articles published in High Times magazine, covers many different aspects of what is known as "the counterculture."

There is a piece about the assassination of John F. Kennedy which does a good job of destroying the Warren Commission findings (as if more destruction is needed). There is a chapter on secret societies and their huge influence in America, including Skull and Bones and the Freemasons.

For anyone who wants to know What Really Happened at Waco in 1993 and just who David Koresh really was, there is a piece in this book that does an excellent job at it.

Being High Times magazine, there is a visit to a young man in the Netherlands who has become something of a marijuana entrepreneur, shipping high quality pot seeds all over the world. There is also a visit to the annual Cannabis Cup competition, held in Amsterdam. Think of it as the Marijuana World Championship.

The most interesting parts of this book look at the history of graffiti in 1970s and 1980s New York City. It started with young people writing their name or "tag" nearly anywhere, then evolved into an art form that attracted big attention from the mainstream art world. The reader will also read about the birth of rap music, when the DJ was king, spinning records in tiny clubs and basements. Later, the MCs, who were to keep the crowd moving, started rhyming, and eventually took over the show. The book also looks at the birth of CBGB's, the iconic rock club in the East Village. Punk rock of the 1970s gave birth to glitter rock, new wave and all sorts of offshoots. All the important people in 1970s and 1980s New York City are here, including Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Africa Bambaataa, Talking Heads, the Sugarhill Gang and the B-52s. The stories are told mostly from the point of view of the everyday New Yorkers who were part of these "scenes."

No matter what your counterculture interest is, music, art or drugs, it is in this excellent group of articles. I learned a lot from this book, and even "veterans" will, too.

The Skinny on Willpower: How to Develop Self-Discipline
Jim Randel
RAND Publishing
265 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06880
9780981893532 $12.95

This is part of a new series that attempts to provide a plain-English explanation of some of today's most important topics. A team of researchers and readers read everything they can get their hands on about a certain topic, like willpower, and distills it into a book intended for busy people.

The book follows Billy, who needs to lose some weight, and his wife, Beth, who wants to start her own business, but they are having problems in the willpower department. The author takes them through the entire process of committing to something, sticking with it and dealing with negative thoughts.

Instead of saying something vague, like "I need to get healthy" on January 1, like most people, then give up after a few weeks, make it more definite and achievable. For instance, try "I will go for an after-dinner walk three times a week" or "I will cut out soda and potato chips." Break a large task into smaller mini-tasks. If you would like to start your own business, then start with "I will write out a business plan." After that, "I will submit my business plan to my local bank for a loan."

When it comes to willpower in general, first and foremost, you must be totally committed to "it," whatever it is. If it doesn't produce a fire in your belly, then why bother? Get ready for a difficult journey. Be as specific and concrete as you can about your goal, and how you plan to get there. Learn to deal with the self-doubt and negative thoughts that will inevitably occur. Willpower is like a muscle; the more you use it, the stronger it will be for next time.

Don't let the stick figure illustrations get in the way of enjoying an excellent book. It is very easy to read, and is full of information on how to clean out mental clutter and get anyone moving toward their personal and business goals. This one is very highly recommended.

The New Arthritis Cure: Eliminate Arthritis and Fibromyalgia Pain Permanently
Dr. Bruce Fife
Piccadilly Books Ltd.
P.O. Box 25203, Colorado Springs, CO 80936
9780941599825 $15.95

This book asserts that there is such a thing as a drug-free cure for arthritis and fibromyalgia. This is not just pain reduction, but elimination.

According to the author (and new medical research), the cause of arthritis is due to infection, either viral or bacterial. The first place to look for a cause is your mouth, especially if you have had a root canal. It is very hard to clean all of the bacteria out of a diseased tooth, so if the root canal was done improperly, it is very possible that some of that bad bacteria will enter your bloodstream through a cut or scrape in your mouth. The bacteria will travel to someplace "safe," where there is little blood nearby, like a bone joint. That is why the usual drugs have little, or no, effect, as the bacteria eats away at your cartilage.

So what is the answer? Coconut oil. Teeth are very porous, full of tiny tubules, where the bacteria can hide. Brushing and flossing won't clean out those tubules, but coconut oil will. The book goes into detail about why coconut oil is so healthy. Take a teaspoon or two, and swish it around your mouth for several minutes. Don't gargle, and don't swallow (spit it out when you are done). You don't want to draw all those toxins out of your mouth, and deposit them in your stomach. Coconut oil can be also used in cooking, and taken internally as a dietary supplement. Do it everyday, and, after a couple of weeks, even the most extreme cases will show improvement.

Is that the whole story? No. After cleaning out your system, change your diet by a lot. Everybody says that, but consider this: After going to all that trouble, and eating all that coconut oil, to clean the arthritis infection out of your body, do you really want to let it back in with an unhealthy diet? Think about taking a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin to rebuild those damaged joints. Exercise will help limber up your joints, so get moving. If the pain has limited your mobility, start with something you can do (even simply standing and bouncing on one of those mini-trampolines). If you are overweight, lose some of it. Every pound lost decreases the stress on your joints.

You're thinking: Not Another Miracle Cure, right? If the best the medical profession can do is to hand you a bottle of painkillers and tell you to live with the pain, or schedule you for a joint replacement operation, what have you got to lose? This method is easy and drug-free. This book is full of success stories, and is extremely highly recommended.

Paul Lappen, Reviewer

Regis' Bookshelf

Retribution: The Battle for Japan
Max Hastings
Random House
1745 Broadway, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10019
0307275361 $17.95 (reprint edition)

While men were dying or struggling on battlefields or on the seas for sheer survival, the inflated ego's of some top brass American generals became even more bloated in the Pacific war against Japan. Retribution reveals that it became General Douglass MacArthur's overwhelming intent to free the Philippines rather than wage war against mainland Japan.

This latter route was suggested by other Pacific generals who believed that once the lifeline to the outlying Japanese troops was destroyed, there would be no need to island hop - a costly move in both materials and human lives. MacArthur had been chased out of the Philippines. His "I will return" statement became his obsession; indeed, he must return to liberate the Philippine Islands in order to maintain his ego as the Great General.

It appeared that even President Roosevelt was overwhelmed by the mystique of General MacArthur. According to Retribution, when Roosevelt, and Nimitz, met in Hawaii with MacArthur, the crux of their dialogue was between Roosevelt and MacArthur who returned to his command triumphant he had sold his idea of launching war into the Philippines.

According to Retribution, the Japanese began to realize the futility of extending their line of conquest any farther. Where the United States had an overwhelming advantage in raw materials to produce weapons of war, the Japanese had a shrinking disadvantage due to the effective blockade of her ports. Evidence shows that supplying their established line of offense/defense, so distant from the mainland, had become a realized impossibility by the Japanese. Yet, any talk of compromise or retreat was impossible for the Yamaha warrior. He either wins in battle or dies.

Japanese fighters were terrifying and savage in their hurried conquests. From early childhood, Japanese youth were brainwashed to believe they were the greatest race, a nation so superior that all bushido fighters would wantonly give their lives for the fatherland. They would endure hardship, sickness, starvation - any pain or agony to achieve the status of a warrior who had fought the enemy - any non-Japanese people. They would follow orders in mokusatsu - silence.

In a very real sense, a single life, or thousands for that matter, was only worthwhile as long as a warrior could be the aggressor in battle on land or at sea; any position less than that was shameful. Surrender was never an option; death - whether imposed by the enemy or by a warrior's own hand - was the honorable way to die. "See you at the Yasukuni Shrine," was oft heralded among warriors as they embarked in battle. Yasukuni was a shrine for fallen Japanese heroes.

As a result, throughout the war, the Japanese combatant appeared eager to die, "the most formidable fighting insect in history." This was the praiseworthy end to life. Allied soldiers, on the other hand, believed life was so precious that the life of a single man should never be wasted. So on all Eastern battlefronts there were literally two opposing philosophical forces - preservation of life at all costs versus a desire to die to reach Yasukuni. It is no wonder that early in the war Japanese warriors quickly overran peoples trying to escape the savagery of kamikaze warrior zeal.

How could the Japanese treatment of prisoners of war be in any way humane? Prisoners were treated as a subhuman species who had surrendered to survive without honor. With barely enough to live, prisoners were forced into slave labor wherever possible. The countless railroad ties of the Burma Railroad were a grim reminder of the number of lives lost by prisoners struggling to build it.

No real match for the industrialized Allied nations, the Japanese had counted on two winning strategies to take place.
1) Allied forces would become so involved battling Hitler's Nazi forces in the West that they could not engage a second war to stop Japan's Eastern conquests.
2) Once a second war commenced, the Japanese would make it so viciously costly in lives lost or mutilated, and supplies destroyed, that the American public would have no stomach for it. In both instances, the Japanese were catastrophically wrong.

Retribution ends with author Max Hastings' claim that modern Japan is "guilty of a collective rejection of historical fact." Although the ideology existed that the Japanese people were superior to any other humans on the planet, it is unacceptable today to continue to believe such attractive superiority with ceremonial remembrances that ennoble and glorify the notorious killers of that savage wartime generation.

Like the Nazis, Hastings claims the Japanese will remain outcasts in the eyes of countless people worldwide until, as a nation, it openly admits to new generations of children it deserved the Retribution inflicted by the Allies because of an abhorrent inhuman past war philosophy.

WWII will forever fascinate me because I was too young to fight for my country. I often wonder if I would have had the courage to perform my duty as an Allied Warrior. As a result, Retribution fascinated me more than just a small amount. Since it is written so descriptively well from factual data collected by Max Hastings, finishing the book was an emotional experience for me. When I think of all the men and women who gave their lives, and their bodies - and in many cases, body parts - to stop the heinous crimes committed by the Japanese in Orient, I can only bow to them and say "Thank You!"

This book receives my highest recommendation to readers of any age who dare to see first-hand what a twisted ideology can do to dehumanize people. Looking back at my own youth during those years and my nightly fear that although Japan was thousands of miles away I might still be bombed, probably seems like a fairytale. Retribution will show today's youth how dangerous and realistic that fairytale was.

Skating Forward
Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz
Comfort Publishing, LLC
9450 Moss Plantation Avenue N.W., Concord, NC 28027
1935361538 $13.99

Skating Forward is an uplifting and inspirational read. Author Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz has collected tales from sixteen amazing young women who used their electrifying feats on ice to overcome great physical and psychological setbacks. Their courage to persevere through personal tragedies will inspire readers to do likewise.

There is sixteen-year-old Molly who knows her father has Muscular Dystrophy. Molly has a 50/50 chance of developing this disorder in late adolescence and adulthood. MD results in a degeneration of the muscles in the lower arms and legs, and the muscles of the neck and diaphragm.

After visits to orthopedists and podiatrists resulting in months of frustration, Amanda White finally receives a diagnosis for the crippling pains in her wrists, knees, and feet. She must battle rheumatoid arthritis.

Shae Andrews is a teen in love with skating. She would like to be in the Olympics before going on to study mechanical engineering. But Shae is deaf. Choreographed movements on ice to music looms as a mountainous obstacle facing her.

Twenty-year-old Heather Johnson is a true advocate for people with disabilities. Heather has had unpredictable epileptic seizures ever since the sixth grade. Her doctor tells her she must not skate without a helmet. How can she enter competition?

Because her brother Alex has autism, fifteen-year-old Belle Junge puts on her first pair of ice skates so she can interact with him. Belle feels that because her brother is unusual she must do her best to help him advocate for himself.

Devastated by the death of a beloved social studies teacher, Teri Harte wants to use her dexterity on ice to help memorialize her former teacher friend. Both had shared a love for teddy bears.

Carolyn Bongirno skates at a local Florida rink. Carolyn and her husband want to use fertility drugs to help her become pregnant. A complete physical shows a tumor in her breast. In addition, cancer has spread to Carolyn's lymphatic system.

After losing fifteen pounds in one week while drinking volumes of water and trying to eat, skater Courtney Ann Caldwell is on a collision course with death. After several misdiagnoses, eventually, doctors uncover her problem. Courtney has Type-1 Diabetes.

Although Laura Whitney never remembered a tick bite, nevertheless her eventual diagnosis shows dreaded Lyme disease. In addition to severe headaches, this bacterial infection affects her cognitive ability.

Eighteen-year-old Kara Mietlicki is diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma - a pernicious form of cancer. Faced with surgery and ongoing chemotherapy, Kara wants to keep skating like Scott Hamilton, while undergoing cancer treatment.

At a skating rink on Coney Island, Tatyana first puts on ice skates purchased by her father. She was five-years-old then. Now, years later, her loving father is in the final stages of kidney failure. "He can no longer hear me talking to him." Tatyana is overcome with deep sorrow.

Allegedly suffering from asthma, Victoria Hecht's coach recommends a physical to determine if she has the stamina for figure skating. A thorough physical work-up shows Victoria has two congenital heart defects, not asthma.

Erica Archambault overcomes many physical problems and illnesses including meningitis but continues to skate. None of these hardships are as devastating to Erica as when her father leaves their Colorado home and refuses to return.

Skater Kylie Gleason visits an orphanage while in Romania. There, a profoundly saddened young child deeply affects her. Now she wonders whether skating should always be the main part of her life.

Because ice dancer Emily Samuelson falls during a dance routine, in order to avoid slashing her head, her partner must land heavily on Emily's hand. The accident requires surgery to repair a severed tendon in Emily's middle finger.

Fourteen-year-old Eliana Roth suffers from Tourette Syndrome except when ice skating. Tourette's causes embarrassing involuntary body movements, throat sounds, and even the unintentional use of obscene words or gestures.

All of these courageous young women you will meet in Skating Forward. There are many books on the market about persons who must deal with staggering life problems. But this book is unique because ALL of the women described are skating heroines who face situations which could easily crush most of us.

For sure, this is not a woman's book; nor is it just a series of memoirs about ice skating. Skating Forward will leave all readers - female and male - in awe because it is one single tale of the stubbornness and flexibility of the human spirit. It will help people who are seeking a beam of light at the end of what could be a darkened tunnel of deep despair.

Author Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz's book would be a fascinating read for high school and college students to study and discuss - particularly youth who feel life has treated them unjustly. The women in Skating Forward amend their lives and their spirits against all odds. You will not forget them.

Regis Schilken, Reviewer

Sandra's Bookshelf

Clara Meets Mr. Twiddles
Lynnette A. Murray Gibsom
Five Star Publishing
P.O. Box 6698, Chandler, AZ 85246
978158985123 $15.95

Mr. Twiddles was an ornery, and sometimes grumpy cat. He enjoyed sitting in his favorite chair, a dark blue overstuffed rocking chair. He would jump up and could watch everything going on outside. He especially liked the feel of the sun coming through the windows as he took his naps.

His world was perfect until he met Clara the cleaning woman. What happens when he meets Clara will turn his world upside down.

This book is really cute and the illustrations and storyline will hold the attention of a younger children. I would recommend this book for kids from three to seven years old.

Shoah Journey From The Ashes.
Cantor Leo Fettman
Five Star Publications, Inc.
P.O. Box 6698 Chandler, AZ 85246
096792108 $14.95

This book should be read by all. The events of the Holocaust must never be forgotten. The words in this book will pierce your heart and soul. It is the true story of Cantor Leo Fettman.

The first half of this book the author shares with us about his family and their devotion to the Jewish faith. How tradition was taught to not only Leo but his brothers and sister. They led a happy life in Nyiradony, Hungary, until the invasions of the Nazis in 1944. Jewish people were rounded up and taken away to be placed in death camps. Both his family and all the Jewish people in his community of Nyiradony, Hungary.

He had no way of knowing what they would have to endure during the Holocaust. The atrocities that thousands of Jews faced at the death camps. People walking around but no life in their eyes. The attempted genocide of the Jewish race. With each word my heart was crying out why did this happen? I don't understand why the world was not up in arms and helping the Jewish people. I don't think I will ever fine a clear and concise answer.

The second, and last part of this book, the author shares with us his journey to Canada and then America. Cantor Fettman taught at Jewish schools trying to rekindle the laws and original teachings of the Jewish faith. Cantor Fettman also talks about how some claim the Holocaust never happened. His main mission is to never let the world forget what happened during the Holocaust. I finish this review with tears running down my face. No matter what your religion or race, we must keep the memories of the Holocaust alive; so that it does not happen again. This book is both heart wrenching and an excellent read.

Manning Up in Alaska, an Astounding Tale of Overcoming Cancer, Sailing 2600 Miles to Alaska and Finding New Direction
Dick Drechsler
Little Harbor Publishing
9780980151213 $16.95

On February 18, 2005, Dick Drechsler went to the doctor as he was not feeling well and thought he had a sinus infection. He was not prepared for what the doctor had to say. He was told he had stage three neck and throat cancer. That he had four to six months left to live. His cancer appeared to be advanced and there was no hope.

Little did the doctors know of the tenacity of Mr.Drechsler. He went through extensive surgery that lasted nine hours. When he awoke he was given a glimmer of good news. Yes, the cancer was massive, it had involved forty of forty-eight lymph nodes in his neck, his left tonsil, and much of his neck and throat tissue, but the surgeon thought he'd gotten it all. He was told the cancer probably started in his left tonsil.

I am not going to dwell on all of the medical issues he faced, because the author does not want that. So you will just have to read it yourself in his book. All that I can say is he has "True Grit."

He calls himself just an average guy, yet nothing could be further from the truth. Average is not a word that comes to mind in his story. While this is an inspirational book to people who had or have cancer, it is so much more. It is a book of hope and one man who refused to let the fears of cancer coming back stop him from doing what he had always dreamed of.

I could not help but laugh out loud in parts. Dick decided he wanted to try and catch crab on his way to Alaska. So they stopped and bought a crab pot for $200, and a shrimp pot for $120, and then another $200 for other stuff that was need. He kept trying and trying and then one day it finally happened. He caught his first crab and the joy in finally catching one was priceless to him. His wife Sharon took a picture of Dick holding up his catch. And to think it only cost him $520. I laugh when ever I think of it.

Once when they were off their sailboat and walking around they forgot to bring their bear repellent with them. While they were enjoying the outdoors they happened upon a bear and it is something you cannot miss in this story. Nor the joke about the Irishman. Honest you have to buy this book to read about the poop juice, he was told to use when he was trying to catch a fish. Yes it literally was poop juice. I have to stop and add a warning about something to women who have had children and are over 55. At times I laughed so hard it was a race for the bathroom. Luckily for me I kept my dignity.

This book grabs your attention and while I have mentioned some of the funny things in this book, I know that cancer is not a funny thing. Dick is setting up a charitable foundation helping other cancer suffers. Both Dick and his wife Sharon now live on their boat full time.

As I read about all the places they have sailed too, this reviewer was caught up and was sailing with them. Excellent read for anyone. You can read about Dick's foundation at

Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War
Gayle Martin
Five Star Publishing
P.O. Box 6698, Chandler, AZ 85246
9781589851191 $15.95

This is the second installment of Gayle Martin's "Luke and Jenny Adventure." I was surprised that this book was just as good as the first book, "Gunfight at the OK Corral."

Once again Luke and Jenny are transported back to the Wild West by a ghost named Paul. Paul said "every story has a beginning, and the Lincoln County story begins here. This is Fort Stanton. It is where the army sent me. I'm a Buffalo Soldier and part of the 9th Cavalry."

The story is about Billy the Kid and his impact on our history. Little was known about him until he was fourteen when his mom died. He was born Henry Antrim but changed his first name to his step fathers name of William. No one knows why he changed his last name to Bonney. Billy's wish was to perform on the stage. But as history teaches us, that did not come to be.

Once again Ms. Martin teaches us all a lot of life lessons. Some that I am sorry to say are fading away. Loyalty and people thinking about others before they think about themselves is one example.

I really hope that Ms. Martin continues on with the Luke and Jenny series. They are entertaining and full of little known facts about the Wild West and its colorful characters. I honestly can't say this book is good for any certain age as I found this book to be a good read for all.

Sandra Heptinstall

Suzie's Bookshelf

Best iPhone Apps: The Guide for Discriminating Downloaders
Josh Clark
O'Reilly Media Inc.
Sebastopol (Corporate Headquarters)
1005 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol, CA 95472
9780596804275 $19.99 (800) 998-9938

With the invention of the iPhone a new era in the technology world emerged. An iPhone is not a simple device that allows a person to make a call. Instead, this invention enables a user to discover new and exciting applications that can help simplify their life.

With over a thousand applications to choose from, a new user can quickly become overwhelmed at what to select to download for their phone. With Josh Clark's Best iPhone Apps: The Guide for Discriminating Downloaders he has conducted in-depth research that was needed to reveal the best applications that Apple has to offer.

The book is broken down into seven different categories that include:

-At Work

-On the Town

-At Leisure

-At Play

-At Home

-On the Road

-For Your Health

Each section highlights the best iPhone applications that relate to the topic. What I found impressive was each application listed the price and a short summary of its strengths. This book explored both free and paid applications. It allowed the reader to compare what they would receive from a paid to a free application.

Being a new owner of an iPhone, I was so impressed with this book. It offered me the knowledge I needed to get the most out of my phone. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is new to the iPhone or iPod Touch. The wealth of information contained in this one book is invaluable.

The Pleasure Club - The Intruder
Anna Leigh Keaton
Cobblestone Press, LLC
9781600884399 $2.99

Two years ago Enola Yeager found herself a victim when her home was broken into while she slept. The intruder tied her up and threatened her life, luckily he left her unharmed. The experience changed her life; she is now unable to sleep at night in the dark.

The night of the attack refuses to leave her mind. Enola is terrified of the dark and works at night to help keep her fears controlled. Nothing she has tried seems to release her of the past nightmare.

Enola is desperate to put the incident behind her and enlists the help of The Pleasure Club. She is convinced that if she is able to enact that terrifying night and defeat her attacker it will help put her fears to rest.

The night comes when Enola is to meet her Pleasure Master. She provided specific details on her application of what she wanted; she wished to recreate the night as close to possible. As she lies in her bed waiting on the intruder to arrive her fears of the darkness threaten to consume her. She is determined that this is her last hope to put the event behind her.

The Intruder lives up to her expectations. He is dressed the same way in which her former attacker was, but there is something different from this intruder. As she tries to defend him her fears get the better of her. The Intruder uses the safe word to stop the game.

Enola is puzzled to find that the intruder has a heart of gold. He explains that he accepted the unusual assignment because he didn't want to see her hurt. Enola is touched by his concern and his offer of comfort. Will his kindness be enough to help her once and for all put the past behind her?

The Pleasure Club - The Intruder takes an unusual twist to other titles in The Pleasure Club series. Instead of acting out a fantasy, Enola wants to reenact a night of terror to cure herself of her fears. The way in which Enola's attacker is portrayed is very heart warming. Anna Leigh Keaton talent as a writer goes unmatched. No matter what the scenario, she provides an award winning reading experience.

The Pleasure Club - The Cop
Anna Leigh Keaton
Cobblestone Press, LLC
9781600882791 $2.99

Let your innermost fantasy be turned into a reality through the services of The Pleasure Club. Your most wicked desires will be answered as you embark on a journey to find the most ultimate form of sensual pleasure.

Since she had been a teenager, Victoria Casey fantasized about being with a cop. Through The Pleasure Club she will be able to live out her dream. She wants to experience the ultimate no holds barred dream date. When it is over, it is something she always wants to remember.

She receives her letter with instructions to meet her Pleasure Master at a local club. She arrives early and her thoughts begin to spin out of control at what she is about to experience.

Detective James Drake turns out to be Victoria's Pleasure Master. He never is one to lose a criminal, and he doesn't intend to start with Victoria. He handcuffs and reads her rights to her, but he doesn't want her to remain silent; instead, it is his goal to ensure she screams out his name in ecstasy.

The Pleasure Club - The Cop is one sizzling romance! It allows you to see how far one woman's fantasy can be taken. It will have you reaching for ice cubes as it sets your soul on fire. The book is assured to satisfy your most wicked erotic craving.

A Cousin's Promise - Indiana Cousins Book 1
Wanda E. Brunstetter
Barbour Publishing
P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
9781602600607 $10.97 1-800-852-8010

A group of young Amish couples decided to make the journey to Hershey, Pennsylvania to spend a fun filled Labor Day weekend at Hershey Park. What should have been a memorable holiday turned into a day of tragedy in the blink of an eye.

When the driver's attention was diverted, the groups van collided with a tractor trailer. Three of the occupants were killed and two were seriously injured. Everyone who was involved in the accident on that horrific day knew their lives would be forever changed.

Loraine Miller and Wayne Lambright were happily engaged. They were two of the passengers that were riding in the van that crashed. Loraine escaped the wreckage with minor cuts and bruises. Wayne was not as lucky; his injuries required one of his legs to be amputated.

When Wayne wakes up and learns the extent of his injury, he pushes Loraine away. He refuses to have her tied to "half" of a man who cannot support her. He makes the decision to end their engagement and encourages her to find someone else.

Loraine is heartbroken and refuses to believe Wayne is ending their relationship. She is determined to stand by his side and show him that she will accept him unconditionally. Wayne constantly rejects Loraine, every time she tries to get close to him, he pushes her further away.

Two years ago, Jack Beechy moved to Montana to make a new way of life for himself by exploring the English world. He left behind his Amish family and the girl he was dating, Loraine Miller. When he learns that Loraine and her friends were involved in an accident he is compelled to learn of their welfare, he makes the decision to return to his homeland.

Jake immediately seeks out Lorraine and is relieved to learn that she escaped with minor injuries. His heart goes out to the other occupants who were not so lucky. When he learns that Wayne broke off his engagement with Lorraine he sees it as an opportunity to reclaim her heart.

Will Lorraine remain too loyal to Wayne despite his constant rejection? Or will the feelings she once felt for Jake be rekindled?

Hallmark Movie Channel take note Wanda E. Brunstetter's Indiana Cousins series would make an excellent choice for your next prime time movie. This book was magnificent! The characters touched my heart and by being so lifelike I felt their pain as they experienced it. I predict this series will be one that will receive high awards.

The Bowdancer
Janie Franz
Breathless Press
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
9781926771205 $3.95

At an early age, Jan-nell was selected to be the future bowdancer. It was an honor among her people to be selected, for she would be the bow that sings the song of the One. As she grew up, she learned the chants, dances, and healing arts needed to fulfill the position.

As a bowdancer, Jan-nell was always looking to find her replacement among the children. It was important to begin training at an early age in order to be able to learn all that was needed to be a proper bowdancer. When Jan-nell found a man to love and the next bowdancer was properly trained, she would then step down and pass her bow to the next worthy bowdancer.

Jan-nell had yet to find her replacement, nor the love of her life. She feared that she would die as the bowdancer. She had come to accept her future and was determined to be the best bowdancer possible.

At a wedding, her life is disrupted by a group of outlaws who come to her village. One of them had been seriously injured by a mountain cat and needs to be treated for his injuries. Being the village healer, Jan-nell takes the group in and begins to practice her healing art.

Bastin is the leader of the group. He is intrigued by Jan-nell for her beauty takes his breath away. He sees her as someone who he could want to spend his life with.

Fate has a way of bringing two people together. Could an incident of tragedy be a means to bring two lost souls together?

Janie Franz's debut book The Bowdancer is magnificent! Her smooth writing brings the reader into the story. You can feel the love radiate from her characters. I predict this author's name will become a legend in the romance world.

The DIY Bride Crafty Countdown: 40 Fabulous Projects to Make in the Months, Weeks & Hours Before Your Special Day
Khris Cochran
The Taunton Press
P.O. Box 5506, Newtown, CT 06470-5506
9781600851193 $13.57 203) 304-3893

I dreamed of a wedding of elaborate elegance,
A church filled with family and friends.
I asked him what kind of a wedding he wished for,
He said one that would make me his wife.
-- Author Unknown

Are you planning your special wedding day? If so, how would you like to make your wedding look like it cost thousands of dollars, when it actually only cost a fraction of that amount?

Planning a wedding may seem like a fairytale occasion but in reality it takes a lot of work, advance preparation, and high organization skills to turn your special day into a memorable event.

Khris Cochran's offer a stress free solution in her book The DIY Bride Crafty Countdown: 40 Fabulous Projects to Make in the Months, Weeks & Hours before Your Special Day. In it you will find unique wedding craft ideas that can easily be made with your own hands. The bright vivid pictures will have you wanting to make each and every one of the 40 craft projects in this one book.

I am a huge fan of DIY; I could spend hours watching all the wonderful shows it offers. I was so impressed with Khris Cochran's knowledge and guidance. The high quality wedding ideas she presents is ingenious. These ideas can reduce your wedding costs from the moment you open the book.

Of the forty projects in this book, my all time favorite were the hand-colored wedding invitation. Normally, the price for 100 invitations would cost approximately $300.00 with this book you are able to make your own at the same high quality of only $60.00. These invitations are to be my future wedding invitations when I find that special someone.

Another helpful feature this book offers is the project timeline. This gives the bride a timeline to see how far in advance she needs to start her projects. The project time line goes from twelve months in advance and then takes the bride all the way up to the day of her wedding.

The DIY Bride Crafty Countdown: 40 Fabulous Projects to Make in the Months, Weeks & Hours before Your Special Day is a wonderful addition to any engaged bride. It will help lower the stress that often goes along with planning a wedding. With all the money that you will save, you will be able to take that honeymoon you have always dreamed about. In today's economy, where every cent counts, this book is an essential wedding planner in itself. It is definitely a book that I plan to store in my hope chest and use the day I become engaged.

Demonfire: The Demonslayers
Kate Douglas
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, New York, New York 10018
9781420109993 $6.99 1-800-221-2647

Earth is serving as a balance between two planets; each is as different as night and day. One is where darkness and evil reside, it is known as Abyss. The other is called Eden; it radiates all which is good and pure.

In Evergreen, California Eddy Marks works as a newspaper reporter for the local paper, The Record. In her town there is talk of unusual paranormal activity taking place all across the land. She refuses to believe such farfetched rumors, she figures it is just a way for the townsfolk to keep gossip flowing.

Eddy's viewpoint is changed when she arrives home and discovers an unexpected naked man in her garden shed. Even stranger is the fact that her stone garden gnome has come to life, and is standing over him with shovel; in its eyes she sees a murder intent. Eddy acts fast and saves him from being hit by her stone garden gnome by destroying it in the process.

Eddy's intruder introduces himself as Dax; he explains that he is a demon from the plant Abyss. Dax is on a mission to save the earth from a destructive force. If he succeeds he will be able to escape Abyss and live out his days in paradise on Eden.

Dax did not anticipate meeting such a beautiful and intriguing woman as Eddy. Together they agree to work together to save Earth from the evil forces. If they are successful, Dax will earn the honor to live at Eden. If they fail Earth could be lost for all of eternity. Either way, Eddy is afraid she will be forced to give Dax up before their relationship gets to be explored further.

Kate Douglas has written an explosive introduction to what is to be one sizzling series! Demonfire is a book that will keep you guessing and holding your breath. For the best in paranormal excellence, be sure to add the name Kate Douglas to your must buy list.

The Singing Stones - Volume 1
Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki
Twin Eagles Publishing
Box 2031 Sechelt, BC. V0N 3A0
9781896238081 $19.99

Be careful what you wish for, you may just get it . . .

~ Lawrence C. Trostle

Thomas Greystone and his family dreamed of the day when his Dad's writing would provide the money they would need to live the life of luxury. When that day finally arrived, it wasn't what they had been anticipating.

Thomas's Dads book not became an overnight bestseller; it was then turned into a movie. To help promote his book, both his parent had to go to the United States for an extended period of time.

Because of school, Thomas was unable to go with his family. He missed them dearly, to keep himself occupied he explored historic monuments in Derbyshine Dale. Through a stranger he meets, he learns the necklace his grandmother gave to him is the lost Mage Sphere; it holds the key to the power of the stones.

With this revelation, Thomas goes in search of the Singing Stones. What he does not know is that on his fourteenth birthday, his world will change. Will he live up to the legend of his existence and be able to carry forward the prophecy for his future?

Whether non-fiction or fiction, Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki is a master storyteller! The Singing Stones is her first debut into the world of fiction. In this book you will find an impressive action adventure that will impressive no matter what your age. I highly recommend this author to anyone who enjoys a book that offers one unforgettable tale.

To Warm The Winter's Night
Aine Minogue
Evergreen Music Recordings
Little Miller Music
97 Bow Street, Arlington, MA 02474
B000008RNT $TBA

Let the festive tunes radiate through your ears. As holiday celebrations play out in your head, these musical melodies will be the perfect introduction to jumpstart anyone's festival holiday mood.

To Warm the Winter's Night would be the ideal selection to make any Christmas a memorable occasion. Each one of the sixteen tracks offers a unique blend of Celtic cheer.

Áine Minogue is world famous for bringing together the best form of musical entertainment. Through her hands music takes on a magical melody. Each one of her CD's will earn a place in your permanent audio collection.

I highly recommend To Warm the Winter's Night to listeners who crave the best in music and wish to explore the world through the songs they are hearing. Áine Minogue is an artist who guarantees to offer the best of her ability to her audience.

The Complete Walt Disney World 2010
Julie and Mike Neal
Coconut Press
920 Palm Street, Sanibel, Florida 33957
9780970959676 $24.95 239-472-3985

The magic of Disney radiates from the colorful pages of Julie and Mike Neal's The Complete Walt Disney World 2010. In this one book you will find all the information needed to ensure your Disney vacation is the experience of a lifetime.

The Complete Walt Disney World 2010 overflows with all the information that you would ever need on all of Disney's theme parks. This book is separated by the following sections:

-Magic Kingdom


-Disney Hollywood Studio

-Disney Animal Kingdom

-Water Parks

-Downtown Disney

-Sports and Rec


-Special Events

Each one of the sections, provide in-depth insider knowledge that can help save money, know the best time to stand in line for a ride, and learn what tickets you need to get the most out of your visit.

For anyone who is planning a trip to Disney, this is definitely the book you need to purchase to help plan out your trip. The pre-knowledge contained throughout the pages will guarantee a magical fun filled vacation.

Magic When You Need It: 150 Spells You Can't Live Without
Judika Illes
Weiser Books
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
9781578634194 $15.95 978-465-0504

When life presents you with a challenge and you need a quick solution, then reach for a copy of Judika Illes's Magic When You Need It: 150 Spells You Can't Live Without.

This one book provides 150 spells that are easy to understand and use with effective results. All of the ingredients needed to cast each spell can be found in your local health food store or supermarket.

Some of my favorite spells I found included:

-Up the Ladder: Get a Raise or Promotion

-Heal Your Broken Heart

-Fit into your Wedding Dress

What I found this spell book offered that it completion lacked was that it provided spells that the common individual could use. With its convenient size you can keep it close at hand and use whenever the needed.

Judika Illes has proven that she is a master in the occult. Magic When You Need It: 150 Spells You Can't Live Without is geared towards the novice and the experienced. I would highly recommend her work to anyone who is looking to incorporate magic into their world.

Twilight Realm
Áine Minogue
Little Miller
97 Bow Street, Arlington, MA 02474
B0001XAL64 $15.99 781-641-0903

Enter into a world where day and night collide. Where the woods tend to come alive; as the mysteries of the underworld unfold, shadows of the dark will be no more.

The Twilight Realm radiates its own special blend of mystical magic. Through Áine Minogue's skill as a harpist and beautiful lyrical voice this collection of twelve audio traces is a spiritual oasis of peace and tranquility.

Each one of these songs captures the beauty of the Celtic Lore. It will project you to a world where stress and pain does not exist. Instead you will find a place where calmness is readily available.

Áine Minogue is an artist who knows how to draw her listener into her music. Every one of her songs tells a story by itself. Anyone who listens to The Twilight Realm will fall in love with her musical talent.

Energy Clearing
Cyndi Dale
Sounds True, Inc.
413 S. Arthur Avenue, Louisville, CO 80027
9781591796978 $19.95 1-800-333-9185

With the start of a new year, it signals a time when an individual should set goals towards self help and fulfillment. A remarkable new healing theory can be found in Cyndi Dale's Energy Clearing. In this audio, you will discover the way to clear your body of negative energies.

Approximately 80% of all individual problems can be traced back to negative thoughts they encounter each day. It is essential individuals learn how to develop energy boundaries to help combat these life threatening forces.

Energy Clearing is one of the most fascinating audios I have yet to discover. I learned so much in time I took to listen to its wealth of knowledge. One of the things Cyndi explains in the beginning is defining an energy boundary which is an invisible boundary where and individual has control over what enters into their body.

Often many health problems can be traced back to being exposed to a person with negative energy. Their body acts as a magnet and picks up the unhealthy energy from a negative person.

The healing exercises in Energy Clearing allow your body to release all the negativity it has been keeping bottled up. This audio is the perfect way to jump starts any new year. It will allow you a means to release the negativity that is blocking your path to well being.

I highly recommend this audio and any of Cyndi Dale's work to anyone who wishes to change their life for the better. With each offering I discover of this talented artist I become more impressed with her skill as a healer and a writer.

Suzie Housley, Reviewer

Theodore's Bookshelf

Counsel of the Wicked
Roberto Kusminsky
Krill Press
P.O. Box 396, Rogue River, OR 97537
9780982144343 $18.95

This debut novel exhibits all the characteristics of a well-seasoned author. It is well-written, tightly plotted and full of suspense. Who could ask for anything more? It is a story replete with history and peril, set in Argentina. It begins when Dr. Gerson Asher, a top surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, witnesses the murder of his grandfather at JFK upon the latter's arrival from Argentina carrying a briefcase which is stolen by two thugs.

In his dying breath, the grandfather tells Gerson to remove a piece of paper from his pocket. It is the first of many clues the Argentine leaves in various locations to lead Gerson to a discovery on his property in the South American nation. The discovery was apparently a hoard of gold, diamonds and artworks stolen by the Nazis during World War II and secretly shipped across the Atlantic to be hidden in a bunker in northern Argentina during the Peron era. However, it was snatched away and lost for decades until the grandfather accidentally found the loot.

The clues cleverly guide the doctor step by step until he too finds the secret stash, but not until he and his companions, including a Mossad agent and two women, are subjected to all kinds of peril and even torture by neo-Nazi pursuers.

The author, of Argentine descent, is a prominent surgeon and uses this background to enhance various aspects of the novel. It is an exciting read and well worth the effort to devour it. Recommended.

Jonathan Kellerman
Ballantine Books
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780345495150 $28.00 800-726-0600

Although it is tagged An Alex Delaware Novel, "Evidence" really should be identified as a Milo Sturgis book. The popular psychologist seems to be only along for the ride and an occasional dining companion. Nevertheless, the plot follows the customary process of solving a murder mystery, with an occasional insight or observation by Dr. Delaware.

A pair of lovers is found murdered in flagrante in a post-mortem embrace in a garish partly-built mansion in a fashionable part of LA and the investigation leads the duo on a merry chase involving not only international aspects, but long-forgotten acts of eco-terrorism.

The story moves forward with a measured pace, keeping the reader off-balance most of the way. The author, of course, is a skilled storyteller, and if this novel doesn't quite live up to past performances, it is still more than adequate to the task and is recommended for an interesting read.

Trick or Treat
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590585320 $24.95 800-421-3976

If it isn't one thing, it's another. No matter where Corinna Chapman, the affable Melbourne accountant-turned-baker looks, she faces problems. Looking down the street, she sees competition in the form of another bakery, a franchise store that can undercut her prices and put her out of business. Then, her love life suffers when an "old friend" comes to town and bunks with her Israeli lover - more unneeded competition.

But the real mystery is the source of contamination which is making people go mad and resulting in at least one death. Meanwhile, there is a sort of witch's ritual conclave going on in town, and items looted by the Nazis during World War II in Greece are making appearances. Quite enough to keep Corinna and her lover, David, occupied. In fact, more than occupied.

Kerry Greenwood is always good for an entertaining read, and this novel is a treat. Recommended.

True Blue
David Baldacci
Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10017
9780446195515 $27.99 800-759-0190,

Two rather far-fetched but believable conspiracies form the basis of this first in a new series introducing Beth Perry, Chief of Police of Washington, D.C., and her younger sister, Mace (changed from Mason). The latter is a disgraced former police sergeant just released upon having served two years in prison, having been convicted of armed robbery after presumably being set up in a Patty Hearst-type abduction during which she was doped up and forced to perform illegal acts.

Mace wants nothing more than to be a cop again, but of course being a con, such an event is highly unlikely. Unless, of course, a miracle happens and she clears herself or solves a big case overcoming all obstacles. Both sisters are somewhat beyond credibility in either mental or physical acumen, but, after all, that is the nature of much fiction and many protagonists.

The women's paths cross with that of an attorney who discovers the body of a female partner, raped and murdered, falling out of his law firm's refrigerator early one Monday morning. The body of a U.S. Attorney is discovered a couple of days later, shot in the head. Are these killings related? Are there national security implications? Some of the antics are unbelievable; on the other hand, who would believe the planting of explosives in someone's underwear?

Written with the author's usual smoothness and deft plotting, there are some frightening scenarios about intelligence operations. And the question of the ends justifying the means raises serious consideration with respect to government operations. On the whole, does good always outweigh evil?


The Ghosts of Belfast
Stuart Neville
Soho Press
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781569476000 $24.00 212-260-1900

The "Troubles" in Northern Ireland have spawned many novels, but none as intense and different as Ghosts. Based on the past efforts of Republicans to force unification with Eire and the conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in the North, the novel focuses on the torment of Gerry Fegan who has, as an assassin on orders from above, killed a dozen victims, some of whom were innocent, two of whom he liquidated while on a furlough from prison to attend his mother's funeral.

After serving his prison sentence, Fegan returns to Belfast and is given a sinecure by the Party to support him. But he is haunted by the "ghosts" of his victims who demand he avenge them by slaying those responsible for ordering their deaths. The novel is divided into 12 sections, one for each of the avenging ghosts. As Fegan accomplishes each step in the series, complications in the political situation arise as he upsets the delicate balance achieved in the peace process.

The story is told basically through the eyes of Fegan and Campbell, an undercover British intelligence operative. Both are viewed sympathetically, although Fegan more so. Each, however, is considered redundant in the present-day province. Meanwhile, British, IRA and other northern Irish personages are treated as hypocritical opportunists.

The history of both parts of the Irish isle is gruesome, and the events and characters in the novel emphasize the cost. As one of the "ghosts" states: "Everybody pays." Tightly written and graphically presented, the debut novel is the first in a series, giving the reader something to look forward to. Highly recommended.

The Price of Love
Peter Robinson
William Morrow
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061809484 $24.99 800-242-7737

Two novellas (one newly published) featuring DCI Alan Banks and 10 short stories comprise this admirable volume. The short stories are sandwiched in between the two novellas and a couple of them feature the author's trademark protagonist.

The opening novella, "Going Back," finds Banks visiting Peterborough, England, where he spent his teenage years, to celebrate his parent's 50th wedding anniversary. Even on such an occasion, Banks can't escape from crime-solving. The closing novella, "Like a Virgin," recalls an earlier case and the beginnings of the end of his marriage, his burnout, and his move to Yorkshire.

The short stories encompass a wide variety of subjects, and all, of course, reflect various human frailties and emotions, ranging from greed to lust, all very much worth reading not only for the author's style and observations, but his ability to provide surprising endings. It is, of course [as to this author, that is], highly recommended.

13 1/2
Nevada Barr
Vanguard Press
387 Park Ave. So., 12th fl., NY, NY 10016,
9781593155537 $25.95 800-343-4499

In this psychological thriller, the reader is treated to a twisted tale involving two brothers, one of whom killed his parents and two-year-old sister with an axe. One brother, Marshall (nee Dylan), who becomes known as "Butcher Boy," is convicted and sentenced to serve a long term in juvenile detention and then adult prison. His brother, Danny (nee Richard) suffers a serious wound on his leg and survives a hospital stay and is rewarded with sizable donations from a sympathetic populace.

Marsh is awarded parole after many years and becomes a successful architect, after Danny takes charge of him and moves the two to New Orleans where he becomes the successful owner of a boutique drug store chain. He continues to remain in charge of Marsh, drugging him in the process. Marsh has never remembered the killings, despite many attempts by prison psychiatrists to resurrect the murders in his mind.

Meanwhile, we are introduced to Polly, a young girl who grows up as trailer trash in Mississippi, but runs away to New Orleans, becomes a successful professor of English literature, marries for a short time and bears two daughters. The paths of these three meet shortly after Hurricane Katrina, resulting in a macabre conclusion.

Nevada Barr has written a gripping tale, although on a grisly subject which recalls many famous similar crimes. As part of Marsh's psychiatric treatment he is forced to write his reactions to many of these crimes. The author provides an interesting view of the violence and hatred apparently inherent in some people.


Death Message
Mark Billingham
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061432750 $25.99 800-242-7737

It's not often that a homicide detective receives a picture of a victim prior to the murder, but that's exactly what happens to Tom Thorne in this latest volume in the series, when his cell phone rings and he opens it to see a photo. And it happens more than once. A connection occurs after the second victim is identified and Thorne discovers that the murderer is a recently released man named Marcus Brooks, who had learned that his girlfriend and his son were killed deliberately in a hit-and-run accident two weeks before he was to be released from prison after serving seven years for the killing of a bike gang leader.

Thorne has to balance the capture of Brooks with several other pressures, including his relationship with his own girlfriend, the death of his father, possible connections between bike gangs and the Turkish mafia, drug and other illicit activities, and an investigation by Internal Affairs.

It is a long story, but an absorbing one, with the plot(s) moving forward at a steady pace. Thorne is depicted on a basic human level, with all the doubts and wonders inherent in a person. As police procedurals go, "Death Message" is not so much a step-by-step investigation as it is an insight into the detective's mind and ability to weigh alternatives, especially in his own ethos and life.


Phillip Margolin
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061236242 $9.99 800-242-7737

Amanda Jaffe and her father are leading criminal defense attorneys in Oregon, having won high profiles cases outlined in previous novels in the series. Each is separately presented with another challenging defendant in the current novel.

The wife of a U.S. Congressman is charged with conspiring to have her husband murdered, but Frank Jaffe obtains evidence to convince the DA to drop the charges "with prejudice." Meanwhile, her co-defendant, accused of committing the murder, flees the country to an African nation ruled by a sadistic dictator whose idol is Idi Amin. After 12 years, he returns to face the charges (and to escape the wrath of his erstwhile benefactor. Amanda's challenge is not only to exonerate her client, but to protect him from being killed by two separate, but equally dangerous, persons who wish him dead.

The combination of the author's intimate legal knowledge and his ability to maintain a suspenseful pace in a firmly written story keeps the reader intrigued from start to finish. Recommended.

Midnight Fugue
Reginald Hill
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061451966 $25.99 800-242-7737

Andy Dalziel (the "Fat Man") is still recovering from the after-effects of injuries (and a coma) resulting from an explosion two novels ago. But he ignores medical advice and returns to his duties as Detective Superintendent, albeit a little shakily. Is it time to turn over the reins to his protege, Pascoe? Or does he still have that flair and intuition?

This novel takes place in a 24-hour period in which, at the beginning. Dalziel is contacted by a woman, Gina Wolfe, whose London policeman husband disappeared seven years ago. About to be remarried after he has been declared legally dead, she receives a newspaper clipping with a picture in which her husband appears. She wants proof one way or another that he is dead and seeks Andy's help.

The plot broadens from this point in several ways, introducing all manner of characters from a couple of thugs to a possible future Prime Minister. The interaction between Andy and his colleagues (not to mention the rest of the world) remains humorous and still tickles the reader's funny bone. Tight plotting, with twists and turns, keeps one turning pages to see what comes next. Fugue is on the high plane of this series, and is highly recommended.

Necessary as Blood
Deborah Crombie
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061287534 $24.99 212-207-7000/800-242-7737

Continuing the Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid Series, Deborah Crombie focuses on two themes. First is the relationship between various characters, delving deeply into their psyches; second, the racial and ethnic changes in London's East End over the years. Both are keenly sensitive and perceptive.

At the same time, the novel remains true to the series' crime motif: a disappearance, a murder. and other crimes give the two Scotland Yard detectives and their staffs plenty to chew on. Artist Sandra Gilles disappears one afternoon, leaving her three-year-old daughter with a friend, saying she would only be a few minutes running an errand. A short time later, her husband is missing and later found murdered, leaving the child at the mercy of the system and causing Gemma to worry excessively about the girl's welfare.

These themes are intricately woven in a fluid tale with vivid descriptions of people, places and other elements to enhance the story. Another excellent chapter in the James-Kincaid series, and recommended.

Theodore Feit

Victoria's Bookshelf

The Last Surgeon
Michael Palmer
St. Martins Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010
9780312587499 $26.99

Dr. Nick Garrity has had to deal with posttraumatic stress disorder every day since he lost his fiance. Both were serving at a field hospital in Afghanistan when a suicide bomber struck. Nick survived because of some fast thinking by his best friend, Marine Staff Sergeant Umberto Vasquez.

Afterwards the two returned to civilian life in the states where Vasquez hit the bottle, and Garrity fought to stay sane every day, while working in Baltimore, giving aid to the homeless and other vets. Then, four years ago, Umberto disappeared.

Enter the villain, one cold blooded psychotic killer named Franz Koller, a hit man who enjoys his job. Koller's specialty is the non-kill-murder. He's crafty and twisted, leaving behind a trail of dead bodies belonging to nurses and doctors.

A sister of one of the victims, one Jillian Coates, a Psych nurse, doesn't buy her sister's overdose. She's convinced her sister wasn't in the frame of mind to commit suicide. She uncovers some strange clues in her sister's closet. The clues soon lead her to Nick.

Meanwhile, Nick's heard some news and there's a possibility that Umberto might still be alive. What Nick finds horrifies him and endangers more lives than his own.

The Last Surgeon gives a good look into the mind of someone suffering from PTSD, that horrible mind malady suffered by so many men and women in our armed services. This is Palmer's fifteenth thriller. Having never read any of his other work before, I can't make a comparison to any of his previous works, but this one makes me wonder what I've been missing. It's well written, entertaining and easy to read. For more info on this book and his others go to:

Knockout: Interviews with Doctors Who Are Curing Cancer
Suzanne Somers
Crown Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780307587466 $32.99

I'm always reading books on alternative medicine and saw this.

The interviews in this book are interesting and thought provoking. The doctors Suzanne interviews have good credentials and claim they're curing people of cancer. Some people may laugh at that statement, but I say why not? Is mainstream medicine curing it?

Suzanne asks the doctors some tough questions and they respond well. The doctors discuss certain treatments with Suzanne, as well as possible causes of cancer and what one can do to help prevent it.

I think when one is up against something as scary as cancer, you read all the information you can find on it. It makes more sense to me to help the body in healing itself rather than bombarding it with toxic chemicals and radiation.

I won't say that I believed everything I read in the book, but I tried to keep an open mind. I think anyone who has cancer, knows someone who's dealing with it, or wants to try to prevent it in themselves might benefit from reading the book. It's packed with great information and gives
other sources to check out. For more information go to:

Victoria Kennedy

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

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