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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 5, Number 1 January 2005 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewers Recommend Alyice's Bookshelf Arlene's Bookshelf
Bethany's Bookshelf Betsy's Bookshelf Betty's Bookshelf
Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf Carroll's Bookshelf
Carson's Bookshelf Christina's Bookshelf Christy's Bookshelf
Debra's Bookshelf Fortenberry's Bookshelf Gary's Bookshelf
Goldman's Bookshelf Gorden's Bookshelf Greenspan's Bookshelf
Gypsi's Bookshelf Harwood's Bookshelf Henry's Bookshelf
Hodgins' Bookshelf Judine's Bookshelf Kimberly's Bookshelf
Magdalena's Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf Mayra's Bookshelf
Nancy's Bookshelf Paul's Bookshelf Pisano's Bookshelf
Pogo's Bookshelf Roger's Bookshelf Sharon's Bookshelf
Sherry's Bookshelf Sullivan's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf
Vogel's Bookshelf Volk's Bookshelf  

Reviewers Recommend

The Silver Spoon
Stacey Klemstein
Runestone Publishing, LLC.
P.O. Box 946, Dover, NH 03820
ISBN: 1596480009 $16.50 281 pp.

Alisa McCune

No one knows when the Observers originally arrived on Earth, but their unveiling was an event not to be forgotten. Somewhere in the world, nuclear warheads where launched escalating into war. Everyone was glued to the television with TV announcers giving us 20 minutes until the end of the world. Then they appeared on TV with an offer no one would refuse - We will save Earth from destruction if you allow us to study man-kind. The Observers got what they requested with no resistance.

Zara Mitchell is just a small town owner of a dinner trying to make ends meet. After her parents died, she was forced to support her younger brother. When the Observers first appeared on TV that fateful day, Zara's life became a nightmare. She began sleepwalking with horrid nightmares. Zara is convinced the Observers have nefarious designs on humanity, but no proof. Everyone in the small town Zara lives is convinced she is crazy.

Life is just beginning to get easier. Zara is finally able to move on - an application to the local community college awaits her at home, the diner has enough staff to allow her free-time, and her brother is currently in college. Then in walks an Observer, a silvery eyed alien. Everything in Zara's life changes once again.

The Observer, Caelan is convinced Zara is the fulfillment of a prophecy and he will do anything to gain her compliance. Zara is very confused. She doesn't know if she can trust Caelan. Everything in her life has been destroyed in some way by the Observers. How can she trust a being whose existence caused her so much pain? Why is another Observer trying to kill her?

Thus begins The Silver Spoon by local Chicago author Stacey Klemstein. The storyline slowly evolves with a mystery woven into the story that has some unanticipated twists and turns. Klemstein sets a pace that allows the reader to become involved in the storyline. Caelan and Zara are very likable characters who have many layers to their personalities. Zara has a wonderful sense of humor that comes out in her dialogue.

While it would be easy to classify The Silver Spoon as a romance, which would vastly underrate the book. The book has a romance element, but it is more of an entertaining science fiction adventure.

European Confession
Timothy Edward Jones
Publish America
P.O. Box 151, Frederick, MD
ISBN: 1413728677 $17.95 124 pp.

Steve Bond

Once in a blue moon there is a book of contemporary poetry that is released that simply takes a reader's breath away. European Confession is that book. Author Timothy Edward Jones reveals a fresh new twist in poetry by experimenting with Gonzo journalism, Outlaw prose and mixing hints of Classic Country music.

This is Jones's first full length book but he is no stranger to the literary community. As traditional Country music began to flounder in Nashville, Jones found his calling in writing hard-hitting articles for various music publications in Music City. His Hunter S. Thompson-esque style found a stable of fans on the famed Music Row. Now he is back with a collection of Gonzo poetry that is gaining an underground following unlike any in the past 20 years.

European Confession is somewhat of a roadtrip that takes the reader halfway around the world from rural Alabama to a brothel in Heidelberg, Germany. Somehow Jones is inventive enough to tie in Jim Morrison and the high lonesome harmonies of the Louvin Brothers as the seedy scenes of life's highway unfolds.

In the poem "Ambition", Jones opens with the best line I've ever read: 'Let's hurt each other/On the Merry-Go-Round love/Painted with kisses and lies.'
This no-holds-barred selection from the book details life's hypocrises in small town America. With a John Mellencamp overtone, Jones rounds out the poem with another great line:
'Let's open a drug store/And hang a sign/In the window that says:/"Just Say No."

Jones paints the perfect picture of a down and out southerner stranded along Route 66 in his brilliant "A Barstool In Barstow." He describes being holed-up in a dive of a bar in Barstow, California and ties it to being in search of something or someone that he will not find until 2 years later...And from where he started. In the second to last verse of "A Barstool In Barstow", Jones captures some of his best descriptive poetry: 'The high lonesome harmonies from the jukebox fits./The beer tastes better./The cigarettes smoke faster./The few girls that are here look a little better/As Charlie and Ira blend voices/As smooth as old scotch./Mandolin sounds cut deep tonight./It is a message from home.'

From riding the Santa Anna winds through the joshua trees with the ghost of Gram Parsons to waiting for the subway in a Paris metro station with Jerry Jeff Walker, European Confession is a story told in free-verse poetry. It is a story of the fall from grace to redemption through the most powerful thing in the world...Love.

Fans of Hunter Thompson and Jack Keroac should enthusiastically embrace this debut work by Timothy Edward Jones. It is a new breed of poetry that I like to call 'Acid Prose with a Country Twang.'

European Confession is readily available through and Barnes & As for the author, as the book jacket implies: "Jones is currently M.I.A. ..... 'Missin' In Alabama.'"

Spin Sisters
Myrna Blyth
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York, 10010
ISBN 0312312873 $24.95 342 pages

S. Daniel Smith

For years I had heard about the evils of the "liberal media" and thought little of it. After all, the same people making this claim are media too! The profession is filled with so many people that it's hard to put a name or face with the title. Finally, however, Myrna Blyth has done so. In her hard-hitting book, Spin Sisters, she places a much-needed list of names to the "liberal media" label. From the moment she begins the book until the end, Diane Sawyers, Barbara Walters, and others bear the brunt of her frustration. The fact that she too, was once a sort of "spin sister" as the Editor-In-Chief of Ladies Home Journal makes this frustration real.

Spin Sisters examines how women in the liberal media attempt to victimize women of America by creating the feeling of, and then preying on, hectic schedules, stress levels, and health issues. In a country with the most privileged women in generations, Blyth believes that today's liberal media is leading women astray for its collective political agenda. The only thing that Blyth seems to leave out is the fact that, while women in liberal media may pick the issues and victimize women in America, women in America continue to purchase these magazines, listen to the radio broadcasts, and watch the television shows.

Conservative women who don't necessarily do the above, but want to know what really happens in the minds of the liberal media gurus, need to read this book. While the historical lesson of the chapter called "How We Got From There to Here" mentions people not readily recognized by younger women, it is still extremely noteworthy in its detail. Women who share the same season of life as Blyth will receive a great deal of insight into the women's movement of the 60's and 70's as well as how liberal media affects them today.

Blyth ends the book with "6 Secrets the Spin Sisters Won't Tell You," a fascinating summary of her hardback. I personally recommend that readers indulge in this short section first and then go through Spin Sisters as a whole to gain a deeper understanding. It's a great book about how the liberal women's media spins political agendas.

Brandywine's War: Back in Country
Robert Vaughan
Skyward Publishing
813 Michael Street, Kennett, MO 63857
ISBN# 1881554414 $24.95 300 pages

Les Williams

Robert Vaughan has written over 250 books, I including THE VALKYRIE MANDATE, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and ANDERSON VILLE. Among his other books is a WW2 inspirational trilogy: TOUCH THE FACE OF GOD, WHOSE VOICE THE WATERS HEARD and HIS TRUTH IS MARCHING ON. BRANDYWINE'S WAR: BACK IN COUNTRY is the sequel to his 1971 book BRANDYINE'S WAR.

Chief Warrant Officer Three W.W. Brandywine is a free spirit who flies helicopters in Vietnam. In order to make his tour of duty less stressful, Brandywine finds ways to get around the system. In BRANDYWINE'S WAR: BACK IN COUNTRY, you will meet some of Brandywine's eccentric comrades.

There's Unsoldier, a civilian who while protesting was knocked out by a soldier, stuffed in an Army duffle bag and shipped to Vietnam. First lieutenant Jefferson Freemont Kirby is awarded his first Purple Heart from a simple thorn prick. Brandywine's best friend B. Dowling Mudd was recommended the Medal Of Honor, but instead was charged with the murder of enemy soldiers by a general who wanted to be known as a "Peace General". As a result of some behind-the scenes- maneuvering, Brandywine was able to get the medal presented to the general and the court-martial of B. Dowling Mudd dropped. Lieutenant Jane gray is a nurse who comes into Brandywine's life at a time when he thinks he will never love again.

While in Vietnam, Brandywine writes and sells his first book, BRANDYWINE'S WAR. The deal hinges on going to New York to sign the contract, which gets tied up in an agreement with his CO Colonel Cleaver that Brandywine extends his tour of duty for another six months. W.W. reluctantly agrees and is off to New York. In New York, Brandywine not only signs his book contract but is surprised when his wife asks him for a divorce.

Back in Vietnam, Cleaver has Brandywine assigned to his unit. Using the Colonel's own orders to his advantage, Brandywine manages to avoid reporting directly to Cleaver. W.W's CO finally catches up with him and charges Brandywine with being AWOL. Once again Brandywine is one step ahead of Cleaver and proves he has not been AWOL.

All is not fun and games for W.W. Brandywine. Men are getting killed in this war. Even some of those close to Brandywine will not be going back home. BRANDYWINE'S WAR: BACK IN COUNTRY is a light-hearted yet serious look at the Vietnam war as Robert Vaughan brings his characters to life. Characters you soon won't forget.

My Favorite Mistake
Beth Kendrick
Downtown Press
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020 1-800-456-6798
ISBN: 0743470346 $13.00

Melissa Brown Levine

My Favorite Mistake is a contemporary romance novel that displays the resilience of true love even when the love struck run away from each other. Author Beth Kendrick has created characters with complexity and sarcasm who trudge through the heaviness of loving in spite of themselves.

Faith Geary is pulled out of her life as a food writer who travels all over the globe when her baby sister, Skye becomes in need of rescuing after her husband leaves her for another woman and she must take control of the bar of which Faith is co-owner. Skye's is also pregnant and traditionally the frail sister who has to be picked up and pulled back together whenever things go wrong. After some extensive begging from Skye and a tense call from Flynn, her high school sweet heart, Faith makes the trip back home to Minnesota against her better judgment.

Faith and Flynn loved each other for years before he proposed to her at the end of their senior year in high school and she responded by leaving town with another guy. After ten years, Flynn has not let go of the pain of betrayal. Although it takes time for Faith to admit it, she has not released the love she felt for Flynn. Their encounters are tumultuous and passionate. Faith must accept undesirable aspects of her character before she can admit the severity of her love for Flynn.

Ms. Kendrick's work is fluid, the action moves at a steady tempo, holding the reader's interest. The characters with their quick tongues and chaotic lives encourage involvement and concern. My Favorite Mistake is fun, genuine, and fulfilling.

Going Deeper
Jean Claude Koven
Prism House Press
ISBN: 0972395458 $24.95 434 pp.

Shirley Roe, Reviewer

A bright, new and truly inspirational look at the spiritual quest.

Entertaining, engaging and subtle this book carries a serious underlying message. Author Jean-Claude Koven has chosen a humorous fictional character named Larry to make his point. Larry and his wise-cracking dog Zeus make their way to Joshua Tree National Park for, what Larry thinks will be, a relaxing holiday. Zeus however has other ideas. Yes the dog talks however before you scoff and disregard this book, you should know that Zeus speaks with the wisdom of the ages. Larry begins a journey of spiritual awakening and true enlightenment with the help of Zeus and his unusual friends. Larry learns that the Earth and all of her inhabitants are depending on him to move them smoothly into the next dimension.

Author Jean-Claude Koven has studied with the Masters and lectured on six continents. He stimulates the hidden memories deep within and seeks to help realign this planet's inhabitants with their souls.

With bookshelves bulging at the seams with technical often boring information on enlightenment, spiritual awakening, finding the Self, etc. this book is a refreshing change that not only covers most topic for the spiritual voyager, but does it in a most enjoyable format. The cover photograph is representative of the book's contents and most pleasing to the eye. Well written, informative and nicely presented-- this book is highly recommended.

Dangerous Comrades: A Misadventure In Gang Affiliation
Julie Bonn Heath
Publish America
ISBN: 1413708447 $14.95 86 Pages

Shannon Louise Nelson

"'What in the world is the matter with you?' her mom asked. 'You look like you've seen a ghost.'

Dani was speechless. 'I ' she faltered."

-From the book, Dangerous Comrades.

Dangerous Comrades is a compellingly honest story about the struggles of Dani Winters, a young twelve year old girl. After her move from Oregon to Washington state, she finds herself awkwardly shy and without friends. When she meets Pepper, Shy and Loco, members of the Fifty-Fourth Street Pirates, they take her under their wing; calling her after school, dropping by her window for a visit and even giving her fifty bucks for a new game she wanted! She finally feels accepted and loved. Yet, almost before she realizes it, she begins lying, sneaking out of her bedroom and eventually becomes a member of the gang as she tries to repay them for their friendship. Dani finds herself caught between doing what's right and pleasing her friends, including the good looking M-Dog. Will she realize she doesn't owe them her life before it is too late?

In her first novel for youth, Mrs. Heath does a beautiful job of truthfully painting as one would see them, the struggles, pain, peer pressure, indecision and isolation of a young girl. Dani's desperate need to find acceptance from others, to the rude awakening that they betrayed her will strike a familiar chord in the heart of all who read her story. It is as much a book on real friendships as it is on gang affiliation! Unlike the all too common practice of leaving the reader hanging after the climax, Mrs. Heath brings her readers through with Dani till the end, creating an artful picture of the aftermath and emotional feelings that come with gang affiliation. More importantly, she shows practical ways on how to get out and stay out, leaving her reader with a sure feeling of contentment. Dangerous Comrades opens the doors of hope for trapped gang members as well as, in the same word, brings understanding and relevance for young people who don't even realize the danger of becoming involved in a gang.

Dangerous Comrades is a great tool and enjoyable treasure for youth leaders to share with their group, parents to read with their preteen/teen and of course, the teen themselves! It brings understanding on a subject so vitally important yet so often forgotten. Dangerous Comrades is a must read for youth of all ages and - for those who love them.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
Eric Larson
ISBN: 0375725601 $14.95 464 pages

Terry Mathews

Recommendation: ******

Author Eric Larson has managed to weave two very diverse subject matters -- the creation of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and the inner workings of a madman -- into a very cohesive, well-told tale that holds the reader's interest from the Author's Note at the beginning until the book's last page.

It was a finalist for the 2003 National Book Award. As well it should have been.

There might be errors in this book . . .I'm not a World's Fair historian . . . but they didn't have anything to do with the author's ability to pull you in and keep you turning the pages long after the lights should have been out. I'm not a fan of non-fiction, but this story is the exception to the rule.

The parallel stories of the struggles to realize the dreams of a fabulous world's fair and the diabolical deeds going on near the fair sight at the same time were compelling enough to hold my interest . . .even though I know little about engineering, construction or physics.

I'm surprised the book hasn't been optioned for a feature film. Who would play brilliant architect . . . Brunham? Who is evil enough to play the devil incarnate . . . Holmes?


A Posturing of Fools
Brewster Milton Robertson
River City Publishing
1719 Mulberry Street, Montgomery, AL 36106
ISBN 1579660517 $27.95 463 pages

Tracey Broussard

The promise of a wild ride is implied in the opening stroke of Brewster Milton Robertson's third novel, A Posturing of Fools (River City Press, 2004). From the moment we meet our dubious hero, Logan Baird, being "launched skyward, tumbling ass over HUMVEE," on a "bomb-pitted Bosnian back road," the reader is hooked.

From here we move to Logan leaving his henpecking, harridan of a wife to attend a medical symposium at West Virginia's venerated Greenbrier resort. Robertson sustains his promise as our ride continues on a manicured minefield laced with scruffy CEO's who drive dented cars, and sommeliers who double as successful authors, at a place where most of us would have to spend a fortnight's wages to properly enjoy.

A salesman for a pharmaceutical company, Logan is duly grateful for the opportunity to enjoy the opulence of the Greenbrier in the name of work. Through his unjaded eyes (and Robertson's loving details), the reader is treated to a vicarious visit to paradise. As with any paradise, however, there must be a snake. In this case he makes his appearance in the guise of Rush Donald, Logan's haughty, buffoon of a boss. An excellent foil for the not-so innocent Logan, Rush has a gift for grandiose pronouncements that reminded me a bit of George Bernard Shaw, and had me laughing out loud.

Were it not for Rush's obnoxiousness, we might find ourselves having a hard time liking bad boy Logan Baird. Between his inability to keep his pecker in his pants, and his cavalier reaction to his best friend's death, we're not sure whether we want to sit him down for a lecture or bop him upside the head. Logan's character, as well as the novel, is elevated by the masterful exploration of class and values deftly woven by Robertson.

Logan's all too obvious weaknesses along with his frequent bouts of questioning and self-loathing serve to both humanize him and create likeability. Robertson manages to address pretentiousness along with our dollar driven, label obsessed society without being heavy handed. When Rush whines about not having a fancier golf bag, Logan muses, "Growing up I had learned that charisma transcended the trappings of things like clothes and automobiles." Later Logan wraps up the novel's message, "In the end our personal value systems determine how we feel about ourselves. That's the true essence of class. Self-esteem is the most important thing there is."

By the book's end, Logan isn't much less of a cad than he was at the beginning. But we like him anyway. In the span of four days he has managed to re-examine his life, addressing the questions we are all too often afraid to ask ourselves. Reading A Posturing of Fools is akin to enjoying a grand fairy-tale. The story is fun, the ending happy, the message lingering somewhere in our subconscious.

The Crow on The Golden Arches
Leo Dangel
Spoon River Poetry Press / Cross+Roads Press
Post Office Box 6, Granite Falls, MN 56241
ISBN# 094402453X $10.00 51 pages

Barbara Fitz Vroman

Cover art "McCrow: Homage to Tisnikar #2" by Norbert Blei

New writers are often told "show don't tell." The best writers know how to show intangibles like love, heartbreak, triumph, and lust. In this collection of poems titled The Crow on the Golden Arches, Leo Dangel is a master at doing that.

He has particularly aced the love between fathers and sons without ever using the word. His spare, evocative accounts never use the word, never mention a caress or stoop to sentimentality. But in poems like What Comes with Late Fall Watermelons, the depth of closeness is revealed as clearly as ten foot letters paiinted on a barn.

Father and son sit on the porch and eat watermelon...I am tasting all at once the blended flavors of melons, bike, and his clean overalls/ we both are speechless/but the tiny seeds/are like words as we spit them into the grass/ with extra emphasis, trying for distance.

In Men and Boys, the poet records that moment when farm boys are teetering on the edge of manhood by making little pulls on the tractor throttles and roaring the engines while their fathers visit. My neighbor takes a sideways look/at what the boys are doing,/but we keep talking about hay/pretending not to notice/ so we don't have to tell them/to knock it off

Dangel was born and raised on a South Dakota farm near Turkey Ridge,

and his poetry is so permeated with the images and emotions of farm life that it comes as a shock to learn in the back of the book that he is an Emeritus Professor of English at Southwest Minnesota State University. He writes about rural electricity, deserted barns, farms sales, with a grace and understanding that is beyond nostalgia.

Occasionally he will move a few feet from the farm to tell us about being wrapped in Darleen's silky arms, or to confess that in a test with ink blots he saw a naked Blessed Mother, which he tactfully reported as "It looks like the Virgin Mary."

That's another delight of Dangel. He can be taking you down a somber road, then suddenly make a sharp curve, and have you laughing. Like in the poem, What He Saved. The narrator is getting ready for a farm sale with all the poignancy that carries, then the poem surprises us with an unusual celebration.

This poet takes one far into the country of the heart. It would be a hard heart indeed that would not embrace such poems as A Memory of Bears, or God is an Owl.

Alyice's Bookshelf

Peterman Rides Again
John Peterman
Prentice Hall Press
240 Frisch Court, Paramus, NJ 07652
ISBN: 0735201994 $25.00

Ever wonder what it was like for a multi-million dollar company to be build from the ground floor? Ever wish you could've been a fly on the wall or afforded the luxury of requesting mentorship from the founder?

In Peterman Rides Again, you'll not only get an inside look into a multi-million dollar company that got it's start on a mere $500, but in Peterman's own words, you'll get a first-hand glimpse at what it was like to build that million dollar company from scratch.

But what I found most inspiring about Peterman Rides Again was the openness and honesty of Peterman as he shares his mistakes, comments on how things could've been done better, and takes you on the ride of a lifetime.

While Peterman may have had regrets as his company was put on the auction block, it's his attitude towards life that is inspiring. Peterman reminds us that it is never wrong to follow our dreams, to dare to be different, to keep honesty at the forefront of any business, to build relationships within a business, and that it's never too late. In the words of Peterman's Uncle Joe, "Once you realize that most people are keeping up appearances and putting on a show, their approval becomes much less important." What a profound statement to ponder as we strive to reach our dreams and "never give up."

Update: In 2001 Peterman regained ownership of his name and company. Check it out at:

Down the Cereal Aisle: A Basket of Recipes and Remembrances
Alice J. Wisler
Daniel's House Publications
5008 Rolling Meadows Drive, Durham, NC 27703
ISBN: 0967674034 $12.95

In Down the Cereal Aisle, Wisler says many parents believe "the cereal aisle is a tough one to walk after the death of a child." For me, it was the baby aisle, full of newborn scents: baby wipes, baby food, diapers, talcum powder, baby lotion, and baby shampoo. As soon as I got the slightest hint of that special smell the tears would well up, my heart would skip a beat, and then it would race uncontrollably as it urged me to run as fast as I could away from that aisle. That smell was bittersweet, indeed. I avoided the baby aisle for years, so when I heard about Wisler's book I know it was going to be a tough one to read.

Emotional? Yes. But, oh-h what a beautiful tribute. Each story was filled with emotion some stories brought me to tears, but all the stories screamed my child lived! And in some mysterious way, these stories brought comfort as it reminded me to cherish the little moments as they sneak their way back into my mind and my memories to cherish the little bursts of joy as I recall a time with my little one. While our children may have found a home in heaven, and feel so very far away, they are as close as our memories and there, they'll remain alive forevermore.

Child Out Of Place: A Story For New England
Patricia Q. Wall
Fall Rose Books
P.O. Box 39, Kittery Pointe, ME 03905
ISBN: 0974218502 $12.00 207-439-2878

Set in historic Portsmouth, New England, Child Out Of Place allows children to experience life as a young slave girl named Matty. It's through Matty's eyes that children can begin to understand a deeper, more emotional aspect of slavery and what it means to enjoy personal freedom, endure hardships, and find self-respect.

Matty's family was taken from Africa and forced into slavery, but when they're finally free to live as they choose, the family is torn apart. Matty's father leaves to find a better life, leaving Matty behind to be cared for by her grandmother and great Uncle: two people who fear change and stay on, as servants, in their former master's home.

Child Out Of Place reaches back through time to share a heartwarming story of triumph over adversity of duty, honor, courage, faith, hope, and most of all, family. It's a story of a family who struggles to keep safe while longing for something more freedom. And when they finally get that freedom, it becomes a struggle to step beyond fear and accept the new life that awaits them.

Alyice Edrich, Reviewer

Arlene's Bookshelf

An Intimate Ghost
Ellen Hart
St. Martin's Minotaur
175 5th Avenue, NY, NY 10010
ISBN: 0312317476, $24.95, 307 pages

This latest installment of Ellen Hart's Jane Lawless series is entitled An Intimate Ghost, and it is, perhaps, her most intricately plotted piece to date. Our heroine Jane, restaurateur/sleuth, is confronted with her worst nightmare: people are sick and near death after having eaten her catered wedding meal. Somehow, hallucinogenic mushrooms have "spiced up" the menu, causing the guests to experience a new kind of revelry not usually associated with post-nuptial bliss. Add to this a back-story of murder and kidnapping spanning several decades, and indeed, Jane has a full plate.

The novel opens on Halloween night in Cottonwood, Kansas in 1972, when sixteen year-old Jimmy Shore is reluctantly escorting his trick-or-treating eight year-old sister Patsy. Although a hero in his sister's eyes, Jimmy is involved in some unsavory drug dealings, and one of his associates has come to collect on a debt. Unable to fulfill this obligation only serves to anger Frank. While holding a gun to Jimmy's head, the intimidating Frank orders his henchman to grab Patsy and throw her into the back of their van. As the van moves off into the night, all Jimmy can hear is Frank's menacing threat, "If I can't get my money one way, I'll get it another." [page 7]

Chapter One transports the reader to Minnesota, and it is thirty-one years later, 2003. Alden Clifford is standing face to face in his high school classroom with a suicidal student, Cullen Hegg. Unable to dissuade the boy from his intended plan, Alden can only manage to lunge halfway toward the boy when Cullen pulls the fatal trigger. Six months later, Alden has hired his friend, Jane Lawless, to cater his son Nick's wedding, and as they say, the plot thickens.

This novel is richly developed with strong characterizations, multi-faceted characters that are not quite what they seem, or are they? Hart has created an intricate series of sub-plots, all of which totally engage the reader. There are several mysteries to be solved here, enigmatic clues abound, and it remains a conundrum throughout most of the story as to who is the true antagonist. And, amidst all this, Jane may have an opportunity to pursue a new love interest. Only time will tell.

Jane's sidekick and comedic foil, Cordelia, has a delicious storyline here. Imagine! Cordelia as a mother figure! Her sister Octavia has virtually "dumped" her twenty-month old daughter on the doorstep to go pursue other matters. After having given the child a slice of Brie, Cordelia wails, "Perfectly good Brie, and she treats it like Play Doo Doo." [page 83] It is now her mission in life to ensure that her niece be exposed to all the necessities of the cultured life, such as the merits of film noir and the "thea-tahh."

Hart is a master of dialogue, no words wasted, the ideal adjectives, and the appropriate amount of wit, whimsy, and gravity. Her characters speak as real people, fully reflecting the nuances of their personalities. These speeches are crafted and honed to a fine degree as only an experienced and an adept author can achieve.

Many themes are touched upon here: drug abuse, teen suicide, child molestation, infidelity, parenting, and murder to name just a few. Certainly, these have been written about before, but Hart approaches them from a fresh point of view and imbues them with a timeliness that is both refreshing and rewarding. There is more food for thought here than merely solving a whodunit.

In some ways this novel is a departure from the sometimes formulaic books the author has penned in the past. It is certainly one of, if not, the best in this series thus far. The length of the novel is a definite plus as it affords Hart the opportunity to full explore all the dynamics of plot, conflict, and characterization. I particularly enjoyed the Jimmy Shore storyline because not only does Hart set up an intriguing premise for her novel but also she has an uncanny ability to capture the essence of the teenage characters, from the swaggering bravado to the lost innocence of some young adults who seemingly have no choices in the paths they choose to follow. I enthusiastically recommend An Intimate Ghost not only to her legions of fans but to all discerning readers who want to experience an all too rare quintessential and well-crafted mystery novel by a master storyteller.

A Moment's Indiscretion [A Classic Reprint-2004]
Peggy J. Herring
Bella Books
ISBN: 1931513597 $12.95 150 pp.

Jackie Knovac, an attractive late-thirties advertising executive, has finally decided that she has endured the last of the unfaithful and irrational lovers who have populated her love life of late. She has assiduously erected the necessary emotional barriers with the hope that all interested women will look elsewhere. All proceeds as planned until the beautiful twenty-four year-old Valerie Dennison strides into her office. The electricity between them is undeniable, yet Jackie is hesitant to succumb to the charms of her new assistant. Meanwhile, Jackie's best friend, Carla, is also involved in an older-younger woman affair, but she is thoroughly enjoying herself, and try as she may, she cannot convince Jackie to just let things happen naturally. Jackie's life is further complicated by the re-appearance of an unstable and violent ex-lover who simply refuses to let go. Add to this a completely different and mysterious side of Valerie Dennison, a side which is known only to her closest friends, and you have a love story which will test the foundations of true love, convention, and commitment.

Peggy J. Herring is a seasoned author, having begun her writing with the now-defunct Naiad Press. This is a reprint of her 1998 romance classic. It bears the trademarks of a Herring novel: likable characters, witty dialogue, unusual situations, and

a surprise twist or two. As the title states, A Moment's Indiscretion, can affect changes in one's life over which one has little or no control and whose consequences can bring to bear events that can appear both threatening and beneficial. The fine line between love and lust is explored as a result of this lapse in Jackie Knovac's otherwise cool and dispassionate judgment. Decisions will be made that will alter Jackie's belief in both herself and her carefully planned future. -

The plot development is two-fold. Part One, entitled Jackie, tells the story in the first person narrative and would seem to establish the plotline that will carry the reader throughout the novel. However, Part Two, entitled Valerie, appears at an unexpected moment, and thus the plot veers off in another direction which is certain to both please and amaze the reader. It too is told in the first person; thus, the reader is given the opportunity to more fully understand these two main characters, their motivation for their actions, and their complex and evolving personalities.

Pacing and continuity carry the story along at a rapid pace. It is truly a book one can read in ninety minutes. This has a drawback as well, though. As with many Bella Books, the novel seems too brief at a mere 150 pages. One wishes the author had expanded the second half to more credibly conclude the narrative. The concluding two or three chapters seemed somewhat rushed and not as fully developed as the rest of the story deserved them to be. A heretofore excellent story idea was diminished by an unfortunately hasty finale. A sequel may not have been indicated or even desired, but the reader does come away with the feeling that certain key elements of the plot received short shrift. To be as believable as Part One, more concrete and specific detail should have been given to this second set of new characters and storyline.

Overall, A Moment's Indiscretion is an enjoyable romantic read. However, if one were to compare Ms. Herring's latest books, White Lace and Promises [July 2004} and Once More with Feeling [August 2004], one can see that at 226 and 212 pages respectively, there is more significant attention to detail and development. These better represent the author's ability to spin a thoroughly memorable story. Consequently, do yourself a favor and read all three!

Arlene Germain

Bethany's Bookshelf

A Mind Patient and Untamed
Ben C. Ollenburger and Gale Gerber Koontz, editors
Cascadia Publishing House
126 Klingerman Road, Telford, PA 18969
1931038201 $24.95

A Mind Patient and Untamed: Assessing John Howard Yoder's Contributions to Theology, Ethics, and Peacemaking is an anthology of essays by a variety of learned authors, each dissecting of the works of John Howard Yoder, known for "The Politics of Jesus" and other writings in which he scrutinized the Bible and his own Anabaptist tradition. Yoder's astutely reasoned theological discourse, his opposition to allowing Christian doctrine to be easily reshaped by contemporary dogmas, and more are analyzed in depth; while A Mind Patient and Untamed offers some controversial interpretations, this collection is akin to Yoder himself in its emphasis on keeping one's mind open and the importance of understanding what individual authors truly have to say rather than what one's own preconditions impress upon others' words. Highly recommended for academic and church libraries, as well as anyone interested in further examination and reflection upon Yoder's works.

Growing People Through Small Groups
David Stark and Betty Veldman Wieland
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55438
0764229125 $12.99 1-800-328-6109

Co-written by the director of Changing Church through Prince of Peace Lutheran Church and a leader of Christian Reformed Home Missions, Growing People Through Small Groups is a practical guide for leading a small Group ministry that focuses upon what the people need rather than rigid programs. Delineating ideas that have been successfully put into practice for years, Growing People Through Small Groups discusses the importance of staying in touch with God's will, stages and principles that people follow for individual development, knowing when a study group is ready to be transplanted and learn on their own, the role of the leader as gardener and shepherd, and much more. Combining deep personal faith with time-tested experience and practical wisdom, Growing People Through Small Groups is a superb resource highly recommended for ministers and spiritual leaders.

Iraq: A Journey of Hope and Peace
Peggy Faw Gish
Herald Press
616 Walnut Avenue, Scottdale, PA 15683-1999
0836192877 $17.99 1-800-759-4447

Iraq: A Journey of Hope and Peace is a memorial of one woman's experience among the Christian Peacemaker Teams' work in Iraq before, during, and after the 2003 war. A deadly serious assessment of struggling to help those who have suffered in the aftermath of war, and also a sharply critical account of American disregard for human rights in its use of military force, indiscriminate detainment, and even horrific abuse such as that publicized about the Abu Ghraib prison. Iraq: A Journey of Hope and Peace warns how America is alienating even those Iraqis who supported the invasion, and characterizes the ongoing occupation as one that is not striving to rebuild, turn over power, and get out but attempting to stay long-term in order to reap financial benefits. Above all, Iraq: A Journey of Hope and Peace strives to present the viewpoint of those who are directly affected by the American war with Iraq and its aftermath, unshielded by propaganda or political agendas beyond the desire to promote healing. Highly recommended.

Why Not Take A Chance
Mary Wiles
Bluetail Records & Publishing
1101 Boren Ave, #107, Seattle WA 98104
MW1004 $15.95 1-877-323-4550

A superlative and highly recommended example of a modern Christian CD music album, Why Not Take A Chance by adult contemporary music artist Mary Wiles mixes heartland rock and country blues with reflective and beautifully performed ballads that will encourage Christians to a closer walk with Christ and invites non-Christians and lapsed Christians to take up the opportunity Christ offers for a wonderful new life within the Christian communion and community. With a thirty-eight minute running time, the ten performance pieces comprising this flawlessly recorded album include Little Bit Closer (2:51); Worship Avenue (2:52); Thanks for the Times (3:55); Ticket to Enter In (3:29); Trainliner (3:36); Ancient Roads (5:09); It Takes a Long Time to Learn (4:11); Moonlight in Her Eyes (3:40); Waymaker (4:20); and the title piece, Why Not Take A Chance (3:40).

Choose a Better Road: Tips for Life's Traffic Jams
Michael J. Mayer
Tomahawk Publishing
PO Box 3463, Springfield, MO 65808-3463
0975252607 $14.95

Choose a Better Road: Tips for Life's Traffic Jams is a Christian self-help guide by licensed psychologist and consultant Michael J. Mayer. Opening with the importance of making room in one's heart for God, Choose a Better Road is divided into one and two-page long sections dedicated to improving oneself, from learning how to evaluate all options before making a negative decision to becoming more accomplished at setting limits and consequences for young children, to learning how to move on from past rejections and more. A simple and direct self-improvement manual that emphases the power of choice and free will that lies within the reader.

We Won the Battle... Are We Losing the War?
Beverly Gutierrez
Leathers Publishing
c/o Squire Publishers
4500 College Blvd., Leawood, KS 66211
1585972320 $10.95 1-888-888-7696

We Won the Battle... Are We Losing the War? is a serious look at social problems plaguing America from a Christian perspective. Grounded in ethical interpretations of The Ten Commandments (for example, the first commandment is "I am the God that made you, you shall worship no other gods" and a summary of the author's ethical interpretation is "You shall not put yourself above society in order for personal gain or power), We Won the Battle... Are We Losing the War? warns against the devastating toll of excessive sexual freedom which can bring the consequences of abortion, which the author stringently condemns, or children whose parents are unwilling or unable to properly care for them. Other social ills that the author announces included the tendency to devalue hard work, self-destructive female attitudes that make one cling to a harmful relationship, self-destructive male attitudes promoted by the media and peer pressure that encourage one to risk one's life or health, or even harm women, and much worse. An outspoken invective against systemic human problems that turns toward the importance of moral rules and guidelines to help people help one another.

The Mysterious Golden Seed
L. E. Lane
Christian Visionary Communications
PO Box 63, Sharon Center, OH 44274-0063
0974686700 $6.95

Book 1 of The Christian Visionaries series, The Mysterious Golden Seed is a fantasy novel written especially for young Christians ages 9 to 13. A sharp young girl thinks she has life all figured out until her six-year-old brother talks her into planting a "magic" acorn. She soon finds herself lost in a fairy-tale like world, ignorant of who to trust and desperate to sort the mixed-up reality and find her way home. An enchanting adventure, tempered with an underlying message of faith, devotion, and the importance of searching one's own heart.

The Children of God "The Family"
J. Gordon Melton
Signature Books
564 West 400 North, Salt Lake City, UT 84116-3411
1560851805 $13.95 1-800-356-5687

The Children of God "The Family" is the true story of the most successful communal movement of the hippie era. Founded in the 1960s, The Children of God came to blend Christian belief with sexual freedom and a rejection of materialism. Modern era brought changes, including alterations in their practice in response to child sexual abuse charges (all dismissed) and efforts to conform more accurately to cultural expectations. Yet to this day they live communally, proselytize full-time (none hold traditional jobs), engage in sexual "sharing", and a number of talented musicians have sprung from their ranks. The Children of God "The Family" is an objective assessment of the history, and direction of the movement, as well as the laws that guide them and the principles that drive their cohesion. Evaluations and interpretations of "The Family" are left up to this reader in this excellent fact-filled resource.

The Perfect Prayer
Philip Mathias
Augsburg Publishers
100 Fifth Street, Suite 700, Minneapolis, MN 55402-1210
0806651563 $17.99 1-800-328-4648

In The Perfect Prayer: Search For The Kingdom Through The Lord's Prayer by Philip Mathias (a now retired journalist whose 45 year career had him writing on faith, politics and religion) approaches the search for the Kingdom of God examines the six specific petitions in the "Lord's Prayer as recorded in the Gospel of Luke (11:2-4) wherein Jesus provided his followers a template for their daily communications with God. These six notated request statements are: Father; Hallowed by the name; Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation. Additionally, Mathias examines in detail the role each of these six petitions plays in achieving the ultimate goal of the Lord's Prayer -- the coming of the kingdom of God. Examined as a whole, The Perfect Prayer reveals that this cornerstone prayer of Christianity is so much greater than the mere sum of its individual parts. Very highly recommended reading for all Christians regardless of their denominational affiliation.

Susan Bethany

Betsy's Bookshelf

Master Your Panic And Take Back Your Life
Denise F. Beckfield, Ph.D.
Impact Publishers
PO Box 6016, Atascadero, CA 93423-6016
1886230471 $16.95

Now in an updated and expanded third edition that takes the latest techniques into account, Master Your Panic And Take Back Your Life: Twelve Treatment Sessions To Conquer Panic, Anxiety And Agoraphobia by clinical psychologist Denise F. Beckfield is a straightforward self-help guide to taking one's life back from panic attacks. Chapters explore step-by-step how to discover one's personal triggers for panic, including thoughts, physical habits, and emotional traps, and deconstruct them. Extensive discussion and instruction concerning the nature of panic attacks, their causes, diagnostic criteria, types of exposure therapy to combat them, and useful, reproducible record-keeping forms round out this excellent supplement to professional help for anxiety disorders.

Disaster Psychiatry
Anand Pandya and Craig Katz, editors
The Analytic Press
101 West Street, Hillsdale, NJ 07642
0881634182 $29.95

Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Anand Pandya and Craig Katz, Disaster Psychiatry: Intervening When Nightmares Come True is a selection of essays by experienced professionals concerning the difficulty of providing psychiatric help in dramatic and radically difficult settings - amid the Gaza strip, in the wake of disaster in Australia, El Salvador, India, and Turkey, or following the September 11th attacks. Firsthand accounts of pursuing the psychiatric calling in the wake of extreme trauma provide a useful model in this highly recommended anthology for students and practitioners of psychiatry. Case studies, invaluable observations, and highly accessible narrative styles make Disaster Psychiatry indispensible to academic libraries and personal psychiatric reference shelves.

The Pilates Prescription For Back Pain
Lynne Robinson, Helge Fisher, and Paul Massey
Ulysses Press
PO Box 3440, Berkeley CA 94703-3440
1569753946 $14.95 1-800-377-2542

Three Pilates experts and teachers combine their knowledge in The Pilates Prescription For Back Pain: A Comprehensive Program For Developing And Maintaining A Healthy Back, a no-nonsense health guide featuring Pilates exercises and routines chosen especially to help prevent back problems. Black-and-white photographs and diagrams as well as simple instructions offer the reader a crystal clear, easy-to-follow regimen. The exercises presented are not unduly advanced or difficult; any able-bodied individual can perform them at safely at home. Sample workouts comprised of various exercises for different days offers a starting point for planning one's own routines, and additional sections offer advice for avoiding undue stress on one's back and body while sitting at work, gardening, sleeping, or engaging in sexual activity. Highly recommended.

Flashback Through The Heart
Angela M. Salas
Susquehanna University Press
c/o Associated University Presses
2010 Eastpark Blvd., Cranbury, NJ 08512
1575910829 $41.50

Flashback Through The Heart: The Poetry Of Yusef Komunyakaa by Angela M. Salas (Associate Professor of English, Clarke College, Dubuque, Iowa) is a literary study of African-American poet Yusef Komunyakaa's works and of interpretations and reactions to it. In particular, author Angela M. Salas stresses the importance of a balanced perspective when taking Komunyakaa's race and the race-related themes within his poetry into account. Reading Komunyakaa solely for his views upon race diminishes the full impact of his work as surely as neglecting the role race plays in his work. A literate, knowledgeable dissection, meticulously reasoned extensively documented in its conclusions and subjective judgements.

Blue Venus
Lisa Russ Spaar
Persea Books
853 Broadway, Suite 604, New York, NY 10003
0892553065 $14.95 1-212-260-9256

Blue Venus is the newest poetry collection by Lisa Russ Spaar (winner of the Rona Jaffe Award for Emerging Women writers and Director of the MFA program in Creative Writing, University of Virginia) and one that continues the theme of insomnia by exploring the sleeplessness of such fascinating personalities as Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Wordsworth, Thomas Merton, the great hypnotist Mesmer, and others. An impressive anthology of original work, Spaar's poetry also reveals the intimate relationship between the sensual and the sacred, as well as other seemingly opposing or juxtaposing elements of the human experience. The Insomnia of Mesmer: In our afternoon sessions, lockets of magnetic light blur/the spines of firs in the private holiday of her induced sleep,//childish, her eyes widen, devoted to a glair/of inward, fabled knowledge I choreograph and keep//secret. At night, in the desolate hair shirt/of her absence, I own the lodestone of her weeping://it bespeaks the silence of her cloistered tongue--/a zone I cannot enter but whose passion I reap,//lured like geese honing off over the Danube, restlessly/obedient to laws chauvinistic and infidel--and deepening.

Katrina Vandenberg
Milkweed Editions
1011 Washington Avenue South, #300, Minneapolis, MN 55415-1246
1571314199 $14.95 1-800-520-6455

The debut poetry collection of Katrina Vandenberg employs a language and flair for expression that transcends time while drawing upon personal family artifacts, memories, ideas, and friends. Marrying Late: When I think of what it means not to marry/the high school sweetheart, but to find each other/as we did at ages thirty and forty, I think/of John and I singing along to an old cassette/of Jackson Browne on car trips, and how, as we sing,/a part of me is hearing the song for the first time/in Detroit, on WRIF with my first boyfriend/in his truck as he took curves, shifting hard and fast./And probably John is making love with a black-haired girl/in the carpeted back of his van in 1979, out west,/the cassette new and popular, draining the battery./How unlikely that we ended up traveling together/singing a song we each learned with someone else./Neither of us minds that, the way we might have then.

Signed With Their Honor
Lester LaFreniere
American Literary Press
8019 Belair Road, Suite 10, Baltimore, MD 21236
1561678589 $7.95 1-800-873-2003

Signed With Their Honor is an impressive introduction to the contemporary poetry of Lester LaFreniere who draws upon poetic history, literary commentary, and even music appreciation, and whose verse is laced with pop-culture icons and easily recognizable familial bonds. Coffee Pearl: Thin brown fingers wrote these letters./time will wash their ink away./Bonecold hollows deep within me/will return, perhaps to stay.//Firefly eyes invite the memory./Duskwine lips and thin brown ears,/a neck with the grace of an ancient queen/take their toll in unseen tears.//Still the clock remains unmoving/and the gay and open charm/I remember in her young blood/drives my madness wild and warm.//If some claustrophobe-Caucasian/couldn't nest a nut-brown girl,/he never knew my long-limbed angel,/willow-waisted coffee pearl.

Farming In San Francisco
Daniel Richman
Fithian Press
c/o Daniel & Daniel, Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
156474440X $12.00 1-800-662-8351

Farming In San Francisco is a compendium of original, lyrical poetry by Daniel Richman in celebration of the city in which he has lived, loved, worked, and played in for thirty years. These are poems that focus upon the people of this famed American city set on the seashore of the great Pacific. Loaves and Fishes: It rained all day/upsetting the crows/on the cross/atop Saint Phillip's Church,/who leaned east/and leaned west/in search of a dry inch.//The peak grew sharper/by the hour/and darker/the choked gutters dropping cold sheets/And when the ladies left/they stepped in lakes.//But remember,/lovers of the sun,/each drop becomes a crumb.

The Hope Of The Air
Barry Spacks
Michigan State University Press
Suite 25, Manly Miles Building, 1405 South Harrison Road, East Lansing, MI 48823-5202
0870137328 $14.95

The Hope of the Air is a collection of poems by songwriter, actor, literature teacher and award-winning poet Barry Spacks. Each poem is no longer than a page or two, but all have an indefinable lighter-than-air quality that lends a whispered, lingering impression upon one's consciousness. An absorbing treasury of simple reflections, sometimes witty, sometimes wistful, upon the simple challenges and celebrations of daily life. "Message to the Widower": In an envelope in a favorite book / she left him her final message: a lock // of her hair... and with it the thought that she knew / surely one day he would find it there // and how he would feel, / finding it there.

Madam Pele
Rick Carroll
The Bess Press
3565 Harding Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816
157306145X $11.95 1-800-910-2377

Madam Pele: True Encounters with Hawaii's Fire Goddess is an anthology of personal testimonies from twenty-three authors concerning Hawaii's legendary fire goddess. Pele's form changes in response to the perspectives of those who claim to have seen her, and it is left to the reader to sort through myth, exaggeration, legend, and reality in this marvellous and exciting anthology. Truly fun to read for the thrill of recounting modern-day testimony of meeting a goddess, Madam Pele is an excellent addition to folklore and fable shelves.

Betsy L. Hogan

Betty's Bookshelf

O Worship the King.
John MacArthur, Joni Eareckson Tada, and Robert and Bobbie Wolgemuth.
1300 Crescent Street,Wheaton, IL 60187.
1581342152 $19.99, 126 p. + CD-ROM.

In O Worship the King, John MacArthur, Joni Eareckson Tada, and husband/wife team Robert and Bobbie Wolgemuth have come up with a book that lives up to its subtitle, Hymns of Praise and Assurance to Encourage the Heart. The book covers twelve of the most loved hymns of the Christian church (among them A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, It Is Well With My Soul, and Be Thou My Vision) and it includes a fully orchestrated CD of the book's hymns.

The chapter for each hymn begins with that hymn's words and is followed by stories about it from three different angles. At the Heart of the Hymn is personal testimony by one of the authors about that hymn's effect on his or her life. In the Light of the Word covers the theological viewpoint and scriptural references contained in the hymn, while From Out of the Past briefly tells the life story of the man or woman who wrote the hymn.

Songs in the Night, another book about the inspiring stories behind famous church hymns, was written by Salvation Army Colonel Henry Gariepy and covers many more hymns than this one does. However, with the inclusion of the words, music, and CD, O Worship the King allows readers and listeners who were unfamiliar with the chosen hymns to come away with a new appreciation for the music and the message.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting Your Own Business.
Edward Paulson.
Alpha Books
375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.
1592571387 $24.95 409 p.

Although The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting Your Own Business is written in the the short-attention-span, Sesame Street generation style for which the "Complete Idiot" guidebooks are famous (chock full of sidebars, icons, and bulleted lists), the value of the contents of this one outweighed my usual annoyance with this particular writing style. If you're interested in starting your own business or already have a business that you want to take to the next stage of growth, this book is where you'll want to start.

Edward Paulson, who has been starting and running small and medium-sized businesses (as well as writing about it) for about twenty-five years, has covered just about everything you will need to know about how to start your own business or ramp up the one you own to the next level. Some of the topics covered in the book include how and why to write a business plan, various methods of funding (several of which were new to me), picking a business type, whether to work at home or away, how to set up credit card sales (and when not to encourage them), marketing and sales, dealing with employees, tax realities, collecting customer debts, and making use of the Internet - and there's more, too much to mention here.

He even includes a business plan he himself wrote years ago, to show you how it's done, a resource list, a Business Buzzwords Glossary, and a comprehensive index. Then, he throws in a CD-ROM which contains dozens of forms, agreements, and documents that will help you keep from reinventing the wheel, as well as loads of extra information not covered in the book, such as doing business internationally and additional ideas on using the Internet effectively.

There are other books in this series that may be more useful to freelance writers, such as The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Magazine Articles and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Published, but if you want to expand into other areas (consulting, publishing, or web design, for example), the information you'll need is probably in here. My 19 year old son fell on this book with cries of delight. He's been wanting to start his own web design business since he left high school and wasn't sure where to start. This book has everything he's going to need to help him decide how to go about making it happen.

Betty Winslow

Buhle's Bookshelf

Fort Worth
Richard F. Selcer
Center for Studies in Texas History
c/o The Texas State Historical Association
1 University Station D0901, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712
0876111975 $9.95

Illustrated with occasional historic photographs ranging from the Tarrant County Courthouse under construction in 1895, to the Fort Worth Medical College opening in 1893, to Meacham Field in 1937, and the Light Crust Doughboys Western swing band in the 1940s, Fort Worth is a descriptive history of an amazing Texas community and its people from it's days as a military outpost on the banks of the Trinity, to it evolution into the Dallas/Forth Worth Metroplex. Ably researched and written by Fort Worth native son Richard Selcer, this historical survey of Fort Worth's history is one of leadership with men and women of vision building a flourishing community at a river crossing on the north Texas plains through the troubled times of the 1850s, the years of the Civil War, the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the economic difficulties of the 1970s. Fort Worth is a unique and very welcome addition to American History reference collections.

They All Sang My Songs
Jack Lawrence
Barricade Books
185 Bridge Plaza North, Suite 308-A, Fort Lee, NJ 07024
1569802793 $27.95

Jack Lawrence was a successful song writer whose melodies and lyrics helped to launch more than a dozen top show business stars including Frank Sinatra ("All or Nothing at All"), Bobby Darin ("Beyond the Sea"), Rosemary Clooney ("Tenderly"), Dinah Shore ("Yes, My Darling Daughter"), and The Ink Spots ("If I Didn't Care"). In his autobiography, Lawrence describes his Jewish upbringing in Brooklyn, his difficult and distressing realization that he was gay, and his show business career ups and downs. Readers will also have an insider's view of the music industry's Big Band era, as well as Lawrence's personal and professional relationships with the top performers of his day. They All Sang My Songs: The Times Of My Life is a memoir laced with humor, candor, and a wealth of anecdotal stories drawn from an unusual life. Highly recommended reading, They Sang All My Songs is enhanced with many of Lawrence's lyrics and the stories behind their creation as well as the inclusion of two 16-page photo inserts.

Meeting The Professor
Alexander Blackburn
John F. Blair, Publisher
1406 Plaza Drive, Winston-Salem, NC 27103
0895872943 $18.95

Meeting The Professor: Growing Up In The William Blackburn Family is the autobiography of novelist, essayist, editor, and academician Alexander Blackburn (Professor Emeritus of English, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs). Meeting The Professor provides a kind of dual portrait of Alexander and his father William Blackburn (a legendary crative-writing professor at Duke University and mentor to such authors as Reynolds Price, William Styron, Anne Tyler, and Fred Chappell). Born in Iran to mission parents, William Blackburn became a Rhodes scholar at xford and earned a Ph.D. from Yale. He was a brooding, taciturn and ultimately unknowable man who died blind and speecless at age 73, with one of his most beloved students, Reynolds Price, staying at the bedside night after night playing Mozart for him. Alexader Blackburn would follow the literary life, becoming a teacher of writing like his illustrtous father, as well as maturing into a novelist. Meeting The Professor is enhanced with 40 black/white photographs and is a compellingly written and inherently fascinating memoir.

A Tenderfoot In Montana
Francis M. Thompson
Montana Historical Society Press
PO Box 201201, Helena, MT 59620-1201
0972152229 $14.95 1-800-243-9900

Aptly edited and with an informative introduction for contemporary readers by Kenneth N. Owens, A Tenderfoot In Montana: Reminiscences Of The God Rush, The Vigilantes, And The Birth Of Montana Territory is Frank Thompson's autobiography detailing his experiences in the upper Missouri country at the beginning of the Montana gold rush. Avoiding the Civil War, Thompson had headed west aboard a steamboat from St. Louis in 1862, arriving at Fort Benton (in what would eventually become the Montana Territory) and lived their for two and a half years searching for gold, running a Bannack mercantile business, traveling to the Pacific Coast, serving in Montana's first territorial legislature, and speculating in mining properties. Having a relationship with sheriff Henry Plummer, Thompson draws upon his intimate personal knowledge of one of the deadliest incidents of vigilante justice in American frontier history. A Tenderfoot In Montana is a welcome and informative contribution to 19th Century American Western History Studies collections and highly recommended reading for anyone with an interest in how the Montana Territory developed during the mid-1860s.

How Cartels Endure And How They Fail
Peter Z. Grossman
Edward Elgar Publishing
136 West Street, Suite 202, Northampton, MA 01060-3711
1858988306 $115.00 1-800-390-3149

Expertly compiled and deftly edited by Peter Z. Grossman (Clarence Efroymson Chair inEconomics, Butler University), How Cartels Endure And How They Fail: Studies Of Industrial Collusion is an anthology of graduate studies level essays by leading researchers of industrial organization study, examining real-world cases of industrial collusion across the world. Striving to answer why some cartels fail and others succeed, and examining examples that do not always follow textbook models, How Cartels Endure and How They Fail applies extensive scholarship and research to illustrate its advanced theories and insights, from the role of governmental policy in cartel survival in Japan to the stability of ocean shipping cartels to international commodity agreements as internationally sanctioned cartels, and much more. A superb resource especially for policymakers, lawyers and economists involved in matters of industrial organization and competition.

Binge Drinking & Youth Culture
Malcolm Maclachlan and Caroline Smyth, editors
The Liffey Press
c/o Dufour Editions, Inc.
PO Box 7, Chester Springs, PA 19425-0007
1904148425 $23.95 1-800-869-5677

Collaboratively compiled and deftly co-edited by Malcom Maclachlan and Caroline Smythe, Binge Drinking & Youth Culture: Alternative Perspectives is a scholarly discussion of binge drinking and its connection to serious social problems such as suicide, especially with regard to the youth culture in Ireland and the UK. Multiple perspectives draw heavily upon statistical research, painting a clear portrait of social ills and the individual, social, and cultural attitudes that contribute to them - in one writer's term, the old adage that there is little to do in Ireland except go to the pub is all too close to the truth. Binge Drinking & Youth Culture acknowledges that there are no easy answers but strives to present as many facts and as much sociological insight as possible to aid in addressing the problems to public health. A superb reference text for college-level students of addictive drugs and behavior.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Stones And Marks
Peter Elliston
Lodima Press
PO Box 367, Revere, PA 18953
1888899107 $85.00 1-888-421-0388

Stones And Marks is a impressively splendid, superbly presented, black-and-white photographic showcase of inscripted stones and stone monuments left behind by humanity's ancestors worldwide since prehistory. With images ranging from megalithic structures to block reliefs, crumbled city walls, petroglyphs and so much more, each two-page spread features a revealing photograph on the right, accompanied by a brief text description of the stone's origin on the left. A captivating legacy of immortal messages and landmarks, and the next best thing to personally traveling to view enduring ancient wonders, Stones And Marks would make an especially appropriate Memorial Fund acquisition for academic and public library systems.

The Lo-Tech Navigator
Tony Crowley
Seafarer Books
c/o Sheridan House Inc.
145 Palisade Street, Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
1574091913 $17.95 1-888-743-7425

The Lo-Tech Navigator is a straightforward and practical guide to navigating at sea without the use of modern computers and advanced navigational devices. Such devices are useful, but sometimes they fail; and sometimes sailors can't afford such tools to begin with. The Lo-Tech Navigator discusses how to build and use simple compasses, sextants, and other simple tools that can cultivate navigational skills while saving hundreds of dollars. The basic mathematical formulas for calculating such things as longitude are described with examples. Color photographs and poetry releated to seafaring sprinkle amid this superb resource, recommended for all sea voyagers - it's always good to back up one's aids and gadgets with good old-fashioned knowledge.

Uncharted Journey
Harold G. Ross
Sunflower University Press
c/o KS Publishing, Inc.
1814 Claflin Road, Manhattan, KS 66502
0897452771 $14.95 1-785-776-3771

Set in America in the 1860s, Uncharted Journey is an exciting adventure of a young man orphaned and driven from home by greed-consumed relatives determined to see him dead. His step-aunt Lucia, a voodoo priestess, plots against his life while he treks through the wide spaces of the American West, through gun-toting frontier towns, and earns wealth of his own in the vast Utah territory before returning to engage in a deadly showdown with his parents' killers. A fast-paced, riviting struggle of good, evil, and rough justice in the days of yore.

Deaf Hearing Boy
R. H. Miller
Gallaudet University Press
800 Florida Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002-3695
1563683059 $21.95 1-800-621-2736

The second volume of the Deaf Lives series, Deaf Hearing Boy: A Memoir is the true story the author, born in 1938 as the oldest of four hearing boys to deaf parents. Deaf Hearing Boy chronicles growing up in changing times, and the author's own experience as the sometimes unwilling liaison between his deaf parents and hearing grandparents. The end of World War II brought poverty to the family, as returning soldiers displaced his parents' jobs and they had to resort to scraping by on the family farm. Deaf Hearing Boy chronicles an era when small farms gradually faded from the landscape, and cultural connectivity began to erode the isolation of deaf people. It tells of prejudice against the deaf, from fathers who would not let the author date their daughters for fear that the author carried a gene for deafness that would be passed on, to misunderstandings within the family and more. And it tells of a young man's abiding respect for his parents, despite the problems unique to a deaf couple striving to raise hearing children. A compelling testimony drawn directly from heart and memory.

All American: The Rise And Fall Of Jim Thorpe
Bill Crawford
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5773
0471557323 $24.95 1-800-225-5945

All American: The Rise And Fall Of Jim Thorpe is the biography of one of the greatest athletes of the twentieth century - who was also at the center of one of the greatest scandals. Jim Thorpe was a grand football running back, a proud Native American, a college player who led his Carlisle Indian Industrial School team to victory, and the winner of gold medals for the decathlon and the pentathlon at the 1912 Olympic Games. Yet a scandal ensued over whether he was truly worthy of "amateur" sports status, whether playing in certain professional ball games required that he be stripped of his titles. The scandal dragged his reputation through the mud and left a black mark on his life, even though he would go on to play professional baseball and become president of what would one day be the National Football League. All American is the candid portrayal of a courageous and dedicated athlete, and one who was essentially used as a guinea pig to determine the rules - who is an amateur, and who is a pro, and what amateurs and pros are allowed to do or not do. Enjoyable in its own right, All American is a welcome addition to prominent Native American biography collections, and highly recommended for American sports history shelves.

America's First Frogman
Elizabeth Kauffman Bush
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402
1591140986 $28.95 1-800-233-8764

Written by Draper Kauffman's sister Elizabeth Kauffman Bush, and featuring a foreword by President George H. W. Bush, America's First Frogman: The Draper Kauffman Story is the biography of the father of the American Navy SEALs. From surviving his time as a prisoner of the Germans, to his acclaimed wartime service disarming enemy bombs and establishing bomb disposal schools, to the underwater demolition teams he led at Saipan, Tinian, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, America's First Frogman is an amazing true story of skill, courage, dedication, high standards, and excellence under extreme pressure. A handful of black-and-white photographs illustrate this fascinating story of a great man's life and resolute determination.

Team of the Century
Al Pickett
State House Press
McMurray Station, Box 637, Abilene, TX 79697-0637
1880510871 $16.95 1-800-421-3378

Veteran sports writer Al Pickett presents Team of the Century: The Greatest High School Football Team in Texas is the true story of the Abilene High School Eagles, who won an incredible seventy-eight games and lost only seven from 1954 to 1957, earning three consecutive state championships. Led by a coach who knew how to garner support from the whole community for his program that transformed ordinary high schoolers into virtual legends, the team earned its place in Texas history when they were designated the "Team of the Century" by the Dallas Morning News in 1999. A well-researched history of a truly phenomenal high school team's hard-earned success.

Visual Effects for Film & Television
Mitch Mitchell
Focal Press
200 Wheeler Road, 6th floor, Burlington, MA 01803
0240516753 $TBA

Professional digital effects pioneer Mitch Mitchell presents Visual Effects for Film & Television, a thorough guide to visual effect processes used in television complete with step-by-step guides, integrative approaches to film, video and digital techniques, chronologies of development from the oldest to the newest processes, and much more. Mitchell has worked in visual effects since the early days of color television at BBC, and his list of achievements ranges from effects for "Doctor Who" to the recent smash hit movies "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban", "Troy", and "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Chapters cover photography for effects, composite photography, combining action with pre-shot backgrounds, computer-based technqiues and much more. Organized for quick and easy reference or on-the-job use, Visual Effects for Film & Television is a "must-have" tips, tricks, and techniques manual especially for professionals, yet also invaluable for students and amateurs seeking to push their talents a step beyond simple home movies.

John Burroughs

Carroll's Bookshelf

Blessed Child
Bill Bright and Ted Dekker
Word Publishing, A Thomas Nelson Co.
0849943124 $14.99

Jason Marker of the Peace Corps, instead of fleeing Ethiopia when the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front attacks, makes his way to an Ethiopian Orthodox monastery. His mission, to save one young orphan and get the child to the United States.

Arriving only minutes before the monastery is destroyed and all in it are killed, Jason rescues the young boy, Caleb, and a Red Cross nurse who also had just arrived. They speed away followed by a truckload of EPLF soldiers firing machine guns at them.

Although a strange incident occurs allowing them to escape, the three are chased again, far past where EPLF soldiers should be. Why is the EPLF so intent on capturing or killing Jason, Leiah and the boy?

If the opening of this novel is intriguing, the intrigue only grows as the boy is taken to the U.S.

Caleb, raised in the monetary and never seeing the outside world, is in shock. He begs to be taken to a church. When it appears that Caleb has performed a miracle in the Greek Orthodox church they happen to choose, Jason and Leiah must surrender Caleb. The priest, Nikolous, gains custody of him.

Miracles abound as Nikolous greedily capitalizes on Caleb's innocence and his abilities to heal.

Danger lurks in several areas around Caleb. The bad guys Martha, who looks after Caleb; Crandal, the man running for president of the U. S; Roberts, Crandal's cohort; and Nikolous are all depicted as so evil that it is hard to see them as real people and not one dimensional characters in the book, especially Martha, who has little to gain..

However, the story centers on whether Caleb's power is a gift of God or some psychic phenomena. Scientists, theologians and religious leaders of all faiths debate the question, people believe or disbelieve, and arguments for and against the possibility that Caleb's power is God given or not are expounded upon.

The story also centers on Jason and his struggle to believe. The attraction between Jason and Leiah grows as they continue half-heartedly, it seems to get Caleb back.

An engaging story that is bound to linger in the mind.

Jean Carroll

Carson's Bookshelf

A Silver Camp Called Creede
Richard C. Huston
Western Reflections Publishing Company
219 Main Street, Montrose, CO 81401
193273810X $32.95

A Silver Camp Called Creede: A Century Of Mining is an in-depth historical account of Creede Camp, one of the last of the Colorado boom towns from the days of the wild west. Black-and-white photographs pepper this accounting of Creede Camp's ups and downs from the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. Extensive excerpts from primary sources and documents flesh out this captivating portrait of a hardy mining town. An enjoyable case study to read, giving a picturesque portrait of life in Creede throughout a century, and an especially welcome contribution to Colorado state history and reference shelves.

Crisis Management In Japan & the United States
James L. Schoff, editor
Brassey's, Inc.
22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, VA 20166-2019
1574888943 $25.00 1-800-775-2518

Compiled and edited by James L. Schoof, Crisis Management in Japan & the United States: Creating Opportunities For Cooperation Amid Dramatic Change (a joint American/Japanese project conducted by The Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis and The Osaka School for International Public Policy, Osaka University) is a close examination of how the United States and Japan have each overhauled their crisis and consequence management structures in order to prevent and respond to disasters. Studying four recent crises in particular - including the Kobe earthquake, the Tokaimura nuclear accident, and the September 11th terrorist attacks - Crisis Management in Japan & the United States offers logical suggestions for further improvements in policy that can not only improve national responses but also promote cooperation and take maximum advantage of the U.S.-Japan alliance. A professional, no-nonsense compilation of finely distilled expertise.

Secrets Of Connecting Leadership & Learning with Humor
Peter M. Jonas
Scarecrow Education
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4720 Boston Way, Lanham, MD 20706
1578861519 $27.95 1-800-462-6420

Secrets of Connecting Leadership & Learning with Humor by academician, research consultant, and technology expert Peter M. Jonas is an engaging guide to how the power of humor and laughter can revitalize daily leadership activities and lesson plans in the business world. Jokes, stories, puns, exercises, activities and expressions all can be integrated as needed in order to better captivate one's pupils and grease the wheels of human interaction. A chuckle-inducing read even for the layperson, and a very handy supplementary resource for anyone in the business world charged with education, instruction, and leadership tasks.

Office Superman
Alan Axelrod
Running Press
125 South Twenty-Second Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-4399
0762419717 $24.95 1-800-345-5359

Office Superman: Make Yourself Indispensable In The Workplace is a no-nonsense guide to making oneself an invaluable asset to one's workplace, using the classic DC comic book character Superman as a metaphor. A scattering of black-and-white artwork from the Superman comics illustrate down-to-earth office techniques such as practical business etiquette, learning how to quickly understand people and situations, recovering quickly or even profiting from mistakes, and much more. The Superman theme allows for a strong context with which to deliver winning business and career survival strategies, and the numerous references to the comic stories both clarify the points raised and reveal the author to be a true Superman fan - so much so that Office Superman is as recommended to fellow fans looking to explore deeper themes and ideas presented in the vintage comics as it is to business workers looking to forge a career path worthy of legend.

Perl Core Language Little Black Book
Steven Holzner
Paraglyph Press
4015 North 78th Street, Suite 115, Scottsdale AZ 85251
1932111921 $29.99

Now in its second edition, Perl Core Language Little Black Book is a practical guide especially for Perl programmers of beginning to advanced skill, which focuses on presenting useful solutions to common problems. From an overview of basic Perl syntax, to built-in resources and functions, data structures, CGI programming, how to write a cookie, and much more, Perl Core Language Little Black Book lends itself to quick use and ease of reference with problem-by-problem arrangement, sample code, and thumb-sized chapter reference marks. An indispensible resource for Perl programmers unparalleled for its ease of use.

Psychiatric Movements
Leston Havens and S. Nassir Ghaemi
Transaction Publishers
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
35 Berrue Circle, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8042
0765808404 $34.95 1-888-999-6778

Featuring a new introduction by the authors, Psychiatric Movements: From Sects to Science examines how, in the 1970s, four divisive schools - existentialism, psychoanalysis, interpersonalism, and behaviorism - each arose, yet rather than engaging in a cooperative dialogue each sect battled the others for the title of "true" psychiatry. Psychiatry Movements reveals just how destructive this competition was, and stresses that if for no other reason than ethics and the Hippocratic Oath, patents in need of psychiatric treatment should receive the type of treatment they need most - not the one variety a given doctor dispenses. Psychiatric Movements: From Sects to Science calls for the importance of recognizing contributions of all the sects in the attempt to forge a more productive future for psychiatric treatment, and is an enthusiastically welcome contribution to academic and psychiatric reference and history shelves.

Pulpit and Politics
Corwin E. Smidt
Baylor University Press
One Bear Place, #97363, Waco, TX 76798-7363
1932792139 $34.95 1-800-710-3217

Based on data accumulated during the 2000 presidential election, Pulpit and Politics: Clergy in American Politics at the Advent of the Millennium is a selection of essays by learned authors concerning the interconnection of theology, politics, and social activism among clergy from a wide variety of religious groups, including Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Baptist, and more. From distinctions in politics between mainline and evangelical clergy, to patterns that can be seen to surface at the intersection of faith and electoral convictions, Pulpit and Politics is a seminal contribution to political science shelves. Especially recommended for academic libraries, Pulpit and Politics is also highly accessible and immersive for lay readers.

Michael J. Carson

Christina's Bookshelf

Luna Yoga
Adelheid Ohlig
Ash Tree Publishing
P.O. Box 64, Woodstock, NY 12498 USA
ISBN# 096146206X $11.95 192 pp.

Women are women, not men, and deserve to follow their natural femininity. That's what Luna Yoga is about. The book isn't just about exercises; it's about attitude, an embracing empowering one.

This type of yoga isn't new. It's an old philosophy and healing art. Indications show the origins of yoga to be feminine, but today yoga is thought to be a man's expertise. In a man's world women learn to look, think, act, and walk like a man. Adelheid teaches that there is nothing wrong with being a woman with natural body movements, with our moody moods and freely moving hips.

Adelheid uses evidence with care and discrimination, but not everyone will be open to her theories. Some will call her a feminist and a New Ager, as if those are bad things to be. Some will refuse to hear her out. Luna Yoga is directed towards women seeking natural ways in healing and/or maintaining health, especially in the fertile and sexual areas.

Luna Yoga Contains (in this order):

Publisher's Preface
Editor's Preface
Why Luna Yoga?
Author's Foreword
Part One - The Roots of Luna Yoga
Part Two - Using Luna Yoga
Part Three - Luna Yoga Exercises
Part Four - Luna Yoga Healing Sequences
Part Five - Sensuous and Sensible Additions
Part Six - The End, and the Beginning
Resources and Further Reading - Adelheid presents the reader with well-constructed work that covers theories from research along with experiences that instruct, inform, and empower. She discuses technical and factual information gathered about her experience. Adelheid brings classic yoga together with Aviva Steiner's menstrual calisthenics and provides detailed instructions for breathing exercises, sketched illustrations, tribal fertility dances, and recipes. Her content is original, her style of presenting and authenticity of facts, excellent. She wrote Luna Yoga in second person making her encouraging words come alive.

It began for Adelheid when a diagnosis confirmed cervical cancer and her search led to an alternative besides surgery. She studied her life style, lack of satisfaction with inner longings, and wondered if they had anything to do with the cancer growing inside her. "Cancer is a very strong signal. It shows you are bored with life." Therefore, Adelheid decided to quit her job, discover alternative medicine, and take time for herself. After she studied with Aviva Steiner, another test later revealed a class 1 PAP; healthy cells.

Excerpt From the Book:

"Luna Yoga works by stimulating and tonifying the endocrine system. With great probability, due to the intense concentration on our sexual organs, a feedback cycle is formed with the pituitary gland which directs our entire endocrine system. The gentle sensing exercises, the focusing of our breath on the sexual organs, and the dances all help to regulate our hormones."

Publisher Susun Weed says this about the book:"I went to Adelheid's class expecting the usual breathing, stretching, and meditating. What a delightful surprise to find myself in the midst of a quiet revolution in the way yoga is offered to women."

Editor Amy Sophia Maroshinsky says this:
"Adelheid writes of the importance of menstruation and the need for women to heal and empower themselves."

I'd never tried yoga before, but Adelheid's book inspired me to place my body into unusual positions. At first, I felt apprehensive, but later found the exercises liberating. I suspect further examination into this style of yoga is in my future.

As a woman who believes women are as good as men, only different, I agree with her philosophies and exercises. A book worth looking into. Recommended.

New Menopausal Years (The Wise Woman Way)
Susun S. Weed
Ash Tree Publishing
P.O. Box 64, Woodstock, NY 12498 USA
ISBN# 1888123036 $12.95 280 pp.

Susun Weed has done it again. Is there no limit to her knowledge of aiding the body naturally? In this new revised and expanded edition readers will find an abundance of information to guide them through the second major change in their life. The first being when they went from a girl to a fertile woman and the second from a fertile woman to a wise crone. Weed's book is not only memorable; it will change the way women think every day about aging. 'New Menopausal Years' is written in third person, but offers first person questions a woman might ask and answers from 'Grandmother Growths' point of view. This creates a personable read.

One of many positive traits about Weed is how she looks at life. Her attitude is upbeat, optimistic, inspiring, and "A-La-Natural." She helps women feel good about themselves, gain insight, to accentuate this second step in their life as one to look forward to and as a position of respect and wisdom. Weed tells women their body will change and this doesn't have to anger or frighten them. It's their body's way of preparing to care for itself and store proper nutrients for seasoned years. As if this isn't enough, Weed also provides recipes, first-aide, herbs to use, places to order herbs, vitamins and minerals, tips, things to avoid, resources, and much more - all this in an effort to aid readers before, during, and after menopause.

Weed's guide book provides information and remedies for the pre-menopausal years such as sore breasts, hot flashes, emotional uproar (depression), sleep disturbances, migraines, flooding and fibroids and later in the book post-menopausal anxiety over a healthy heart, memory loss, osteoporosis, broken bones, aching joints, and more.

Table of Contents

At the end of each abundant and thorough chapter Weed provides References & Resources, Herbal Allies for Women Beginning Menopause, and Ritual Interlude.

What are The Menopausal Years?
Using This Book
Using Herbs Safely
Author's Preface
Chapter One - Is This Menopause? Preparing for the Journey
Chapter Two - Post Menopause: She-Who-Holds-the-Wise-Blood-Inside
Appendix 1 - Herbal Sources of Vitamins and Minerals for the Menopausal Years
Appendix 2 - Recipes and Pharmacy for the Menopausal Years
Appendix 3 - Minerals in Selected Herbs
Glossary (love books with these)
Index (love books with these)What are others saying?

- "It is further flattery, but true! Susun Weed is a gifted writer. Her Crone passages, in which the old woman is giving advice and encouragement often possesses poetical beauty."

---Juliette de Bairacli Levy

- "Such an important book. Women come into our library seeking this material all the time."

---Maggy Brown

Center for Medical Consumers

Quotes From The Book:

- "The frequency, intensity, and duration of hot flashes is unique to each woman, but in general, healthier women have more hot


- "Great Granddaughter, it is time to prepare for your journey. I am Grandmother Growth. I, my plant friends, and my stories have come to guide you on your menopausal journey, your metamorphosis to Crone, woman of wholeness."

Susun Weed began studying herbal medicine in 1965 and wrote her first book, 'Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year' (1985). Her other books include: 'Healing Wise' (1989), 'Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way' (1996) and she stars in a video called 'Menopause Metamorphosis." Weed appears on many television and radio shows, and in herbal magazines such as 'The Herb Quarterly.' She teaches workshops at her Woman Center in Woodstock, New York too.

This book exceeds because of Susun's relaxed approach, gentle teaching, and offer to hold your hand through the second biggest body change in a woman's life.

As a woman in her early forties, Weed's book soothed my apprehensions and demons. Her words enlightened, empowered, and calmed. It was like having a conversation with a wise, loving, old friend. I know what to expect when my menopausal years start now and there is comfort in that. She reminded me to embrace and accept them as a natural part of life.

I recommend any woman looking for enlightenment empowerment, and peace about their menopausal years to read this book. Every woman in the world would benefit.

Christina Francine Whitcher

Christy's Bookshelf

Saratogan Trees
Kenneth Hutcheson
P.O. Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705-0151 1-301-695-1707
ISBN 1413728308 $19.95, 200 pages

In the early 1940's, Ark Griffith lives with his mother and brother, Crackers, in a small cotton mill community in Alabama. Ark's father died when Ark was small, and his Uncle Boyd has stepped into his father's shoes, making himself available to the family and acting as surrogate father to Ark and Crackers. Next door lives their cousin, Nell, who is mentally slow and shunned by some of the villagers. When a young child is found drowned, the townspeople at first assume the wild Buckalew boys are guilty, which leads to a tragic showdown. Suspicion begins to mount against Nell, who is taken away from her family to await trial.

In a style reminiscent of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Kenneth Hutcheson depicts a close-knit, loving family and their efforts to face, with dignity and understanding, troubling pre-war times, threatening characters, violent deeds, prejudice, and loss. With genteel Southern overtones, Hutcheson's narrative grabs the reader's attention and holds tight until the story ends. This is one book the reader will not want to leave and one that won't be forgotten once the read is finished. Excellent work.

What Matters Blood
Tom Wallace
Behler Publications
22365 El Toro Road #135, Lake Forest, CA 92630 800-830-2913
ISBN 1933016086 $16.95 337 pages

Homicide Detective Jack Dantzler is legendary among the cops of Lexington, Kentucky. Dantzler has a 100% solve rate for the 33 homicides he has investigated. But when three college women are brutally murdered by a serial killer whose signature consists of leaving Catholic artifacts on the bodies of his victims, Dantzler's reputation falters. Associating the killings with the murder of his own mother when he was 14 years old, Dantzler becomes distracted and begins to deteriorate. When the killer singles Dantzler out via letters, insinuating he knows who killed his mother, the detective begins a desperate search to find the murderer while trying to solve his own mother's death.

Tom Wallace delivers a wallop of a thrill with What Matters Blood. With masterful characterization, his portrayal of the serial killer is chilling, as well as authentic, enough to elicit goose bumps. The arrogant, aloof Dantzler may take awhile to warm up to, but to counteract that is his developing relationship with Sergeant Laurie Dunn, an intelligent, skilled investigator. The story is fast-paced, the dialogue realistic, and the search for the killer intriguing. One galvanizing read that will hold the reader's interest throughout.

Christy Tillery French

Debra's Bookshelf

Corpse de Ballet
Ellen Pall
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312980108 $6.99 293 pages

In Corpse de Ballet, the first installment in the Nine Muses Mystery series by Ellen Pall, historical romance novelist Juliet Bodine is called on to act as muse herself. When an old college friend, choreographer Ruth Renswick, asks for Juliet's advice on the staging of a ballet of Great Expectations, the former professor of English literature finds herself a regular observer of the Jansch Repertory Ballet Troupe's rehearsals--and an observer as well of the rivalries and romances that animate the dancers. But an accident involving the hyper-sexual dancer playing Pip leads Juliet to suspect that someone is out to sabotage her friend's production by injuring, or worse, its male lead.

While lovers of dance will enjoy amateur sleuth Juliet Bodine's immersion in the world of professional dance, others may find the lengthy descriptions of the choreography of Great Expectations slow going. The book's plot is likewise on the slow side (as if often true of cozies), its character and culture intended to carry the book forward rather than any thrills. By the end of the book Juliet has become likeable enough, a character whom some readers may want to revisit in further episodes, but I was not immediately drawn to her. (I would have been happier, too, without as intimate a knowledge of her pudendal maladies: "On the minus side, however, she was--was she?--a bit raw about the netherbones. On Monday morning, she was definitely itchy. Yeast infection, she diagnosed. She ate a container of yogurt for breakfast and another for lunch, then crossed her fingers. And her legs.") My chief problem, however, was with the character of Ruth Renswick. I found it difficult to believe that this successful, driven choreographer would require Juliet's hand-holding so pathetically and for so long a period, especially considering that the help Juliet provided over the course of weeks of attendance at the rehearsals was minimal.

The second book in Pall's series, Slightly Abridged, is available now in hardcover.

Dreamer of Dune
Brian Herbert
ISBN: 0765306476 $16.95 576 pages

The author Frank Herbert (1920-1985) is best known for his wildly popular novel Dune, winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards in 1965 and arguably the best science fiction novel ever written. In his biography Dreamer of Dune, Frank Herbert's son Brian tells us the story behind the desert planet of his father's imagination, breathing life into the brilliant but imperfect character of the bearish man who so dominated his own life. In straightforward, no-frills prose, Brian Herbert tells the story of his father's life chronologically and in great detail, from Frank's dangerously independent childhood in the Pacific northwest--at the age of nine he sailed on his own in a row boat from his home town of Burley, Washington to the San Juan islands and back, a distance of more than two hundred miles--to his sudden death at the age of 65 from a pulmonary embolism. Along the way Herbert's life was dominated by two focuses, his writing--he was a prolific author who wrote with a feverish intensity and demanded that his time at the typewriter remain inviolate--and his wife: Beverly Herbert, Brian's mother, was Frank's partner in life and in the business of writing for nearly forty years, theirs the sort of marriage that grew in intensity over time and which seems to have been a stronger bond than either shared with their children. Beverly predeceased her husband by slightly more than two years. (Frank's devotion to Beverly is perhaps called into question by the fact that he was married again so soon after her death, to a woman thirty-six years his junior. He pronounced himself "in love" with this young woman less than three months after his wife's death.)

The picture Brian paints of his father is not wholly flattering. Frank Herbert was a larger-than-life personality, the benevolent and booming host of dinner parties, a witty raconteur. He was a doting husband and a loyal friend. A man filled with curiosity and energy, Herbert was always planning new projects--literary, ecological, architectural. Prior to his death he was planning on becoming the oldest man to climb Mt. Everest. But his personality had a less attractive side, the ego and arrogance that came with his genius. Brian Herbert writes of his father: "He dominated every conversation, even when a room was full of people, and sometimes I found his ego hard to bear. But that was his way, and he was, after all, the most interesting person any of us knew." Herbert demanded that others bend to his writing schedule to an unreasonable degree; he required a surprising degree of assistance, of gophering, from Brian in his adulthood, and he became wroth when his directions were not followed to the letter. Most importantly, although he made up for it to an extent in later years, Frank was a lousy father, impatient with his children (and, years hence, with his grandchildren), whose noise threatened to interrupt his work. He was a strict disciplinarian who hooked his sons up to a lie detector he'd procured and sweated the truth of their peccadilloes out of them. Brian and his brother Bruce--we hear very little about the latter in the book--were both estranged from their father at various points in their lives, though Brian became very close to Frank in his adulthood.

Weighing in at more than 500 pages, Dreamer of Dune is a long slog of a book which would have benefited from energetic editing. Part of the problem is that material is sometimes repeated. We are told three times, for example, that the Herberts may be descended from Henry VIII. The worse problem is that the book is overflowing with insignificant details, as if the author were attempting to include in the biography the text of every journal entry he ever made and every last bit of family lore he could lay his hands on. These tidbits are strewn about the book in passages that could readily have been cut from their surroundings. Thus, for example, we are told early in the book about Frank Herbert's dental hygiene:

"From an early age Frank Herbert was fastidious about his teeth, spending as much as fifteen minutes at a time brushing them. In his entire lifetime he never had one cavity, and his teeth were so perfect that dentists marveled upon seeing them."

And later on we hear about the character of a yawn Frank Herbert yawned at about ten o'clock on a Saturday in July of 1980:

"Just before ten o'clock Dad bid us good night at his usual time, so that he could rise early the next morning and write. He kissed Mom and whispered something in her ear, which caused her to smile. As he shuffled off to bed he yawned, simultaneously making a drawn-out, mid-range tone that was punctuated with a high pitched 'yow' at the end. He entered the master bedroom and closed the door behind him."

It is remarkable that that "yow" business made it into Brian Herbert's journal, let alone into his published biography of his father.

On a second discussion of the Herbert teeth, we hear also of Frank's difficulty sleeping one night in August of 1981:

"I recall seeing him in our bathroom in boxer shorts one morning, flossing his teeth. He had always taken care of his teeth. They were perfect, without a cavity. He said he didn't sleep well the night before, and that when he drifted off he snored more than usual, and it kept waking him up. His back was bothering him a little, too, though he propped a big pillow under the head of the mattress as he normally did. We offered him some aspirin for the pain, but he said he was all right."

Banal as these details are, they do serve to paint for persevering readers a very intimate and surprisingly moving picture of a life lived in Frank Herbert's circle. After this 500-odd-page entree into his father's family life, one cannot be left unmoved by Brian Herbert's loving account of his parents' relationship, of the tragedy of his mother's lingering illness and death, of Frank Herbert's singular devotion to his wife. Readers interested in getting to know the man behind the masterpiece, boxer shorts, floss, and all, will enjoy Brian Herbert's biography.

Debra Hamel, Reviewer

Fortenberry's Bookshelf

Sex, Lies, & Politics: The Naked Truth
Larry Flynt
Kensington Books
New York
ISBN: 0758204833 $24.00 263 pp.

Larry Flynt has always been a lightning rod of controversy, but oddly, Sex, Lies, & Politics is his least controversial work ever. Here we have a blended memoir and critique of modern politics that, though perhaps shocking to some in the details of its revelations, is nothing more than a recounting of the truth. This is a very level-headed listing of facts about recent and current politicians, their crimes and hypocrisies, with an overlay of Flynt's sarcasm as narrative. Benign and easily accessible to all, despite the source. I believe the stigma associated with Flynt is far beyond the reality. The man is absolutely normal, and stands out solely because he is an outspoken defender of the First Amendment who has actually had assassination attempts made on him because of his frontline defense of the law. Some would call that downright heroic.

But if you just give it a chance and read it, the facts alone will simply infuriate you. Flynt's humor and comments actually help, because they take some of the sting off the corruption and immorality of the self-appointed guardians of American culture. The fact that these politicians have absolutely no scruples (like Bob Barr defending marriage after repeatedly leaving his numerous wives by committing adultery, and perjuring himself under oath about it while trying to impeach the President for it, and attacking abortion as murder while paying for at least one wife to have an abortion, or crusading for morality while being caught licking whipped cream off a stripper's nipples) and yet declaim themselves our moral police is simply mind-boggling. As page after page in this history of hypocrisy in the rise of the police state unfolds, you could become despondent and lose faith in truth and justice in America, but then you realize people like Flynt are (metaphorically) standing up and pointing it out, so all hope is not lost. Furthermore, Flynt still, despite being attacked for years and even shot and crippled by these same moralists for daring stand up, has a wonderful sense of humor and his quips throughout the book lighten the mood enough that you can start laughing at these morons in power instead of just crying. Every page of his book has a little boxed quote that invigorates the text like a breath of fresh air. Such as this soft poke in the (Adam's?) rib of conservatives, "If the human body is obscene, complain to the manufacturer!" These barbs keep the text moving and the mood hopeful and upbeat despite the subject matter. This is a living breathing story of our culture told at the fireside by the town clown -- and like all stories, it is ultimately one of hope and potential.

True patriots stand up, tell the truth, and fight for what they believe it. Larry Flynt has done so throughout his life and does it here again. He's not afraid to expose the truth and demand answers for hard questions. It is whatevery American should do. Whether or not you agree with his other job -- that of pornographer -- you have to honor his convictions and his voice. Because America is exactly about upholding diversity and letting all voices be heard as equal. Flynt has more than paid his dues. And unlike a lot of the pompous asses he kicks in this book, I admire his tenacity.

The Church That Forgot Christ
Jimmy Breslin
Free Press
New York
ISBN: 0743266471 $26.00; 239 pp.

The Church That Forgot Christ is a healthy dose of righteous anger. Breslin has always had a wry sense of humor, a street-smart way of putting every one and every thing in its place, but that is almost totally lacking here. He's not laughing in this book; he's crying. This is a scream from the street into a sealed cathedral. This is a lone, sobbing man rattling the chained and barred doors protecting the golden calf inside from the poor rabble outside, asking simply, "What have you done? Have you no shame? Have you forgotten God?"

The evidence abounds in the news and reverberates in every page of this book. The stories of survivors are gut-wrenching and Breslin makes no attempt to sugarcoat what has happened. These are nightmares brought into the full light of day. As you read of these still-suffering victims, you can feel your soul slowly, word by word, tearing apart in abject disgust. You can't decide whether to cry or punch some one. How has this ever been allowed to happen, not just once, but decade after decade with full knowledge and active official cover-up? It is particularly horrific when Breslin juxtaposes the crimes with the official responses, or non-responses as is the case all too often. Once, after a priest named Porter is jailed for molesting over a hundred known children in the Boston area and we hear tales of him holding down children and humping them like dogs, we see Cardinal Law denouncing the press for being "anti-Catholic" and blowing it up into a front-page story. This insane official of the church then attacks us all with his holiest of holies solution to the problem: Law, "By all means we call down God's power on the media, particularly The Boston Globe."

The Church That Forgot Christ is a shocking read in many ways: shocking to hear the sordid details of behind-the-scenes abuse, scandal, and cover-up; shocking to read of such a devout man's heart torn asunder; shocking to read the outrage and damning language of a true believer; shocking to read of the official wall of silence and denial; and of course, as always, it is shocking to hear the very simple, yet so strongly condemned (by some) and ignored (by most) message, "Could we simply have some Christianity put back in Christianity?" But I think that endless battle for common human decency, honesty, and humility is what Christ's message and death was all about. It is certainly what Breslin's moral outrage of a book states clearly. He should be praised for his courage and truly undying faith in the face of this on-going nightmarish church crisis. Because his faith is real and he turns his anger into action by calling for a renewal of the church. Instead of just giving up on God, he turns to God and calls on the church to do the same. This is one case where the best solution just might be to turn out the fossilized hierarchy of theologians in their ivory and gold towers, and listen instead to the lowly heart of the street, return to the common sense of the common man. Hell, it certainly couldn't be any worse, and, just like the passionate example that started the church, some times a common man has the real answers. We can build on that.

The New York Times Book of Fossils and Evolution
edited by Nicholas Wade
Lyons Press
New York
ISBN: 1585742643 $16.95; 258 pp.

The first dinosaurs with wings. The first dinosaur eggs and nests. Amber treasure troves of ancient DNA. Legged snakes and land-walking whales losing their legs at sea. Cometary birth. Asteroid extinction. The co-existence of ancient species of mankind. To paraphrase the opening line of this book: Nothing is as dead as a fossil yet nothing is livelier than this study of fossils. The New York Times Book of Fossils and Evolution is a treasure trove of articles on some of the most amazing scientific discoveries of our times. Culled from the Science Times section of the famed paper just as its fossilized subjects are from the ground, these articles chronicle our growing knowledge, the endless scientific debates about our evolving understanding of the past, and the most startling discoveries made so far. For instance, far beneath the glaciers of Antarctica (over two miles) there lies a massive pristine ancient lake sealed like a prehistoric vault. Is it teeming with the still-living remnants of or the long lost evidence of ancient life? There is a debate underway currently among the superpowers over whether or not we should drill into it and study (or unleash or contaminate) its contents. Sounds like the start of a good thriller.

This is a brief, informative read which highlights some of the great discoveries and deepest arguments in evolution. The articles are short and loosely grouped by subjects. You can skip around or read it straight through, but never cease to be amazed. Beyond gaining details about stories you may have heard in the news (is Lucy our earliest ancestor? Can we clone dinosaur DNA?), you also begin to have a feel of personalities and some of the behind the scenes maneuvering by the scientists involved. The debates and outright catfights flow and ebb throughout. There is also the sad revelation of fossil hunting and theft by unscrupulous individuals and groups whose profit motives end up destroying invaluable scientific knowledge. On the other end of the spectrum you get entrenched scientists unwilling to touch or share finds with the world at large. It is all part of a fantastic detective tale of revelations on the origin of life.

This informative book is good for most ages, due to the brevity of the entries, illustrations, and the common man language or lack of overwhelming scientific jargon. Straight forward and accessible, Nicholas Wade has compiled a great collection for all to enjoy. The good news is, of course, that as long as there is a rock left on earth or a spade full of dirt somewhere to turn over, we'll still be discovering new things about our past. So perhaps in a decade or so we can look forward to a newly updated collection of fossilized discoveries from Mr. Wade. Thus the obligatory pun: I'll certainly be waiting to dig write in.

The Essential Shakespeare Handbook
Leslie Dunton-Downer and Alan Riding
New York
ISBN: 0789493330 $25.00; 480 pp.

In the past decade or so DK has produced some of the most gorgeous and useful guidebooks ever printed. They basically reinvented the educational picture book on a whole new level of graphics, photography, and bold layouts. Dinosaurs to space to dictionaries, learning has never been so breathtaking to behold. They've done it again producing an absolutely beautiful Essential Shakespeare Handbook. The design is stunning and each selection has an explosion of photography, film, charts, artwork, etc., that perfectly illuminate the subject at hand. It is a busy, crammed full of life work, but what better way to celebrate Shakespeare? This book is dense yet accessible (plus easy to use with a color code system for forms -- tragedies, comedies, histories, romances, poetry), well-informed and complete, covering every aspect of Shakespeare's life and works.

One thing that is nice about this volume is the combined review of all Shakespeare's works and their numerous adaptations. Most guides concentrate only upon the man, the texts, the plays, the times, or some such narrow niche of research. This book does study the man, his life, times, works, theaters, languages, and the canon in detail. However, it moves far beyond that. It is hard to ever find a compiled listing, say, of Richard the Third in its written and all its performed versions. This book does exactly that. For instance, the Romeo and Juliet screen adaptations mentioned here include not only the famed Olivia Hussey Juliet or worshipped West Side Story forms, but a 1920 silent film, some soft-porn, Mexican (Romeo y Julieta), and Arabic (Shuhaddaa el-gharam) versions, all the way up to the popular 1996 Di Caprio-Danes in gangland California film.

Like I said, this is a very thorough book. It has extensive referencing, which includes bar graph comparisons of such things as prose to verse percentages per play, sizes of the acts, dates and lengths of plays, etc. Beyond the usual listing of dramatis personae and summaries of each act, these listings give behind the scenes stories of how and why the play was developed and performed. It fully explores all aspects of the plays, from the writing, to the production, casting, performing, seeing, and study of said plays. Its "Beyond the Play" sections feature extra information, anecdotes, and little known stories, triumphs, or troubles about varied productions, actors, directors, etc., on each play. To quote All's Well That End's Well, "...great floods have flown / From simple sources." This is an absolutely amazing guide to Shakespeare. I have yet to find a more compact yet complete study of this global literary master. Nevermind the fact that it is a joyous riot to behold. The Essential Shakespeare Handbook should become a mandatory reference text in every classroom.

The Ancient American Civilizations
Friedrich Katz
Castle Books
Edison, NJ
Originally pub. in Germany, Kinder Verlag 1969, as Vorkolumbische Kulturen
ISBN: 0785818340 $9.99 386 pp.

Castle Books has reprinted The Ancient American Civilizations in a handsome, sturdy volume complete with extensive notes, bibliography, glossary, and maps. Professor Katz's work, though dated, is still a fantastic read and a detailed study of the ancient indigenous civilizations of North and South America. Though he concentrates most heavily on the Aztec (his long standing expertise in Aztec affairs shines here) and Inca, he also covers the entire histories of these regions, from earliest times until their widespread cultural decimation under Spanish occupation.

The only real failure in the book is not the author's fault. Katz presents every conceivable argument and source for information and theories (available at the time of writing) and then argues them all through on their own merits. He has great intellectual curiosity plus the laudable quality of always asking questions out loud and providing all possible variations of answers and research on given topics. Furthermore, as was the case with his Tiahaunaco-Hauri-Inca debate on p. 244, he will readily admit when there is no good answer to a question based on the current level of evidence or knowledge. Which brings us to the only area lacking: the Mayans. Originally a book at the forefront of Amerindian studies, this work is now somewhat dated, especially when it comes to the Mayans. The Mayan studies revolution in the last ten to twenty years has changed the entire nature of both Mayan and Amerindian studies. Before, little was known of this people, their hieroglyphic language was not deciphered, most of their cities and lands were unexplored or unexcavated, and hence they were labeled mysterious and strange. This opened them to every form of speculation from theocratic scholars to Atlantean survivors to extraterrestrial super-scientists. Katz already was ahead of the times in contemplating real broadened theoretical horizons, such as a Chinese or wider Asiatic origin for these American civilizations, so his work is still surprisingly up-to-date and fresh, even given the recent advances such as the breaking of the Mayan language code. But the Mayan studies revolution, one of the great successes of modern archaeology, has left all scholars in the dust.

That said, The Ancient American Civilizations is one of the best historical overviews of this subject available. Easily readable, yet deep, thorough, and expansive, it provides one of the best single-volume sources around. I'm glad this book has been reissued for the general public's consumption (even if the striking cover photograph of a turquoise face mask scared my youngest son a bit with its skeletal intensity). With growing unification of the Americas (economically, culturally, and politically) it is now more important than ever to have a common understanding of our shared past and for Americans to have a deeper comprehension of the history of our continents.

Thomas Fortenberry

Gary's Bookshelf

Tans the Tans Collection Volume I
Edited by John Klawitter
Writers Showcase
5220 S.16th ST Suite 200, Lincoln, NE 68512 877-288-4737
ISBN 059521729X $14.95

Most of the writings are about the war in Vietnam but some are about WWII. The common thread is that all are personal memoirs and recollections by intelligence personnel of their tours of duty. "This isn't a fictional, made-up world, but rather the true tales of young Americans, often fresh out of high school and college, sent around the world on interesting, difficult and sometimes dangerous assignments vital to the National Security."

The pieces are straightforward, and revealing, while some are not for the faint of heart. In one of the stories the writer tells how a judge gave him a choice "go to prison or enlist in the military". Another tale is about a young soldier's first encounter with a Vietnamese prostitute. This piece, like many others, shows how different the Vietnam War was, because the enemy was among us. For instance, the young boy who shined many soldiers' boots by day was the same person who thought nothing of slitting a soldier's throat when he was in his bunk, or the prostitute, purchased for sexual pleasure, who thought up new ways to harm the soldier. He had no idea if he would be a victim or not.

The name TANS stands for as the author says, "some say TANS may stand for the 1st four letters of Tan Son Nhut, the airbase in South Vietnam where many members of the Old Spooks & Spies were stationed in the 1960's and early 1970's. Others will insist TANS stands for the words, That ain't no s****, an enthusiastic reminder that truth can, indeed, be interesting as fiction.

This first installment of TANS is a first rate collection by many unknown writers.

Monkey Pudding
Jerold B. Pozner
1st Books Library
1663 Liberty Dr., Bloomington In 47404-5161 888-280-7715
ISBN 1591460077 $16.95

Pozner shows what happens when Steve Simmons, a highly decorated soldier, returns home to find his wife in bed with someone else. Simmons is so enraged that he pushes his wife down the stairs of their home. It is later revealed that she suffered from a brain tumor that is believed was the cause of her fall. Simmons knows the truth and has to live with it the rest of his life. He moves away and begins a new life in Florida where he finds a woman who is an exact double for his dead wife. Pozner fills the novel with rich characters and great writing that moves the story along to its final smashing end. Look for more good things from this very fine author.

Face of the Enemy
William Russell
1st Books Library
1663 Liberty Dr., Bloomington In 47404-5161 888-280-7715
ISBN 1403338035 $13.95

An American army combat reporter and a Red Chinese line officer meet each other in the Korean War. The author shows, with the American journalist Purvis that Korea was very different from World War II "Purvis always thought that sniping was a dirty way of fighting a war, dirty in the respect that it didn't seem ethical or morally right to him. But Purvis knew there were no rules in war and killing, no matter how it was accomplished, was a way of life and death on the frontline. Acts of horror were committed by belligerents in all wars and Purvis recalled what the North Koreans did to American prisoners in the early part of the war. When rescuers reached them their hands were bound behind them and they had been shot in the back of the head, execution style. And more recently he had heard about "staking" committed by the North Korean and probably the Chinese on the eastern front "

Once upon an Evil Time
Dieter Steiner and Diane Marcou
Quixote Publications
490 Merrimak Drive, Beraea, OH 44017
0967758327 $14.95

Dieter Steiner and Diane Marcou have written a very revealing expose of Nazi Germany in their book ONCE UPON AN EVIL TIME (Quixote Publications 14.95 372 pages). Dieter wonders at the beginning of the book, "I have tried to understand how millions of people, like me, could have allowed themselves to be led down a path of total physical, moral, and spiritual destruction in such a short time."

Based on Dieter's own life as a child in Nazi Germany the authors answer the question of how the citizens of Germany could have been so brainwashed. "In school, members of the Hitler Youth enjoyed privileges that were the envy of the rest of us. Some of them wore their uniforms to school and walked the halls with military precision, intimidating the rest of us, who were, unfortunately, too young or handicapped to be members .I coveted their black uniforms and their power. When they saluted, the rest of us were required to return the salute, step aside, and allow them to pass."

Dieter talks about how the Hitler Youth made children feel important. "In the beginning the meetings were much like school, except that I wore a uniform and learned to drill. I learned military history and the superiority of the Aryan race. Later I advanced to military exercises where I learned survival techniques. I was introduced to small-caliber handguns and learned to handle them, disassemble, clean, and put them back together. I learned how to position myself when firing a weapon and to judge the effective distances of bullets. After that came the war games. We eagerly awaited these, for then we were like real soldiers .I loved marching and meetings. I liked the respect some people showed me, particularly teachers at school, I liked feeling I belonged."

But not everything was so wonderful for Dieter, even though he was a member of the Hitler Youth and supported it like any other child his age. He was attacked by members of his youth group because they said he was Jewish. Numerous times before the attack his stepfather who did not support the Reich tried to get Dieter to understand that not everyone was as the Reich depicted them. He had a bit of understanding but still supported the Nazi cause, even when his stepfather tried to make him see it with this question. "If you were a Jew, would it have been okay to be beaten?"

"Well, if I was one, I guess . But I didn't do anything. It wasn't fair."
"This is my point, Dieter. You didn't do anything. What if you were a Jew and didn't do anything. Would it have been all right to beat you? Just because you were a Jew?"

Dieter's attitude is simply amazing because he was made to feel the torment Jews were enduring at this time in Germany and still he babbled the statements of the Reich that Jews were cheaters and stole everyone's money. It was only later as things got worse that Dieter began to question what Hitler was doing to Germany.

ONCE UPON AN EVIL TIME is interesting, easy to read, and should be required reading in schools and colleges across the nation for studies on the Holocaust or on Nazi Germany, and how it came to power.

Capital Crimes
Lawrence Sanders
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN 0399150900 $7.50

The reason I have chosen this older title, is because we as a nation are going through a time when religious leaders are dictating policy to the President. Sanders brilliantly shows what can happen when these type of leaders control the Presidency. The president's son has Hemophilia. The doctors say there is not much they can do for the boy. A press secretary contacts Brother Kristos. Surrounded in mystery of his origin he is now perceived to be a true faith healer. And he is the last hope for the dying child. After several meetings between Kristos and the boy, the child makes a miraculous recovery. Brother Kristos is hired to monitor the boy, while still maintaining his church. But there is much more to this faith healer than meets the eye. Kristos begins to tell the president things he can use to set policy. And gradually he becomes more important to the president. The situation is comparable to Rasputin and the Tzarina of Russia. Sanders tells a very interesting story of this mystery man who comes into the president's life, and the effects he has on the country.

Target Grant, 1862
Charles L. Fontenay
Silk Label Books
Royal Fireworks Press
First Avenue, PO Box 399, Unionville, NY 10988, USA 845 726-4444
ISBN 192876701X $9.99 Fax: 845 726-3824

I love interesting sf and this one is a fast paced time travel thriller. Harry Vick, a present day Southerner believes the South should have won the Civil War. He assumes that had General Grant of the North been killed, the course of this country's history would have been changed so that the South had won. Vick finds a way to go back in time with an M1 rifle to assassinate Grant. This is the novel form of a short story Fontenay wrote that ran in Analog a few years ago. Fontenay has expanded the premise and given the ending a twist that adds to the work. TARGET: GRANT, 1862 is a great "what if" novel.

Gary Roen

Goldman's Bookshelf

The Cinquefoil Connection
Recy Dunn
1661 Liberty Drive, suite 200, Bloomington, IN, 47403
ISBN: 1414074808 $16.95 291 pages

Recy Dunn's debut novel, The Cinquefoil Connection's, principal protagonist, Jonathan McClendon, is caught in a deep web of deception and manipulation, when he sells his soul to the devil in exchange for his eventual rise to the Presidency of the United States.

The Cinquefoil Connection is an exciting tangled tale that is supported by ruthless five secondary characters that will not stop at anything-even murder in order to have their own hand picked candidate occupy the highest office in the land.

These characters make up a secret organization, whose name-"cinquefoil" is derived from the old French term that signifies a flower structure comprising five (cinq) leaves (foil).

The opening chapters of the narrative brim with intrigue as we find our principal protagonist running for city councilman in a small Texas town, Clemens. His chances of initially winning the election seem very slim, until he is approached and eventually seduced into swallowing campaign aid from Samuel Lewis, a member of the Cinquefoil group. Something akin to a small fish grabbing hold of huge bait, which ultimately proves to be the lesson of our novel.

Firing his campaign manager Christopher Alvin and replacing him with Lewis is the first of McLendon's betrayals, as his political fortunes rise with the help and tutelage of these five remorseless individuals. Along the way there is a series of murders, adultery on the part of McLendon's wife, election fraud and a series of other irregular treacheries, most of which are unbeknown to a naive McLendon.

After fifteen years of learning his skills as a political animal, our principal protagonist runs for the presidency of the United States. He succeeds in becoming the second youngest President of the United States, however, he is obliged to nominate as members of his cabinet all of the cinqefoil's choices, with the exception of the Vice President.

The Cinquefoil Connection is not without flaws, particularly in the editing and proofreading, where I picked up several errors. There was also, from time to time, a lack of effective dynamism that keeps the episodes moving forward, holding us captivated in the suspense of the scene. Furthermore, if the character of the principal protagonist had been pushed further, the dramatic structure of the book would have been more effective.

All in all and despite these flaws, this book has a great deal of potential and definitely is an impressive beginning for a debut novelist, who has demonstrated a zealous imagination and narrative acumen.

Our Oldest Enemy: A History Of America's Disastrous Relationship With France
John J. Miller and Mark Molesky
Doubleday: A Division of Random House
1745 Broadway, 3rd Floor, NY, NY 10019
ISBN: 0385512198 $24.95 US: $37.95 Can

At first peek the title of this book may seem to be somewhat vicious. Nevertheless, once you have read the book from cover to cover, you probably would concur with authors John J. Miller and Mark Molesky that France is in fact the oldest enemy of the United States, looking at the hundreds of years of France's belligerent animosity.

As the authors assert at the very onset of Our Oldest Enemy: A History Of America's Disastrous Relationship With France, French politicians, intellectuals and a large segment of their population really have a profound distaste for Americans bordering on hatred. No doubt, a good part of these feelings are a result of the belief that the USA being a political, cultural and economic giant threatens France's delusion of grandeur.

It is pointed out that the true story of Franco-American relations began during the French and Indian Wars, many years prior to the American Revolution. Tracing the beginning of this bad blood as far back as 1704 with the massacre at Deerfield Massachusetts, the authors succinctly present readers with enlightening history lessons that will aid in interpreting present day realities between these two countries.

We are informed that France's influence in North America and its claim of being a first rate power came crashing down in 1763 with the Treaty of Paris, when it was forced to sign away territory in Europe, as well as most of its overseas empire in India and the Caribbean. Moreover, Canada became part of the British Empire, and Louisiana was taken over by the Spanish. All that remained were two islands off the coast of Newfoundland, St. Pierre and Miquelon that two centuries later would prove to be another bone of contention during the Second World War between the French and the Americans.

Notwithstanding their loss of influence, the French still were a thorn on the side of the Americans during the American Revolution and immediately thereafter. In fact, at times it may have appeared that the French were helping the colonists, however, their intervention had been guided exclusively by the principles of national and narrowly guided self- interest. The same kind of behavioural patterns that has continued into the twenty first century.

America's neutrality during the early years of its existence was one of the pivotal foundations of its foreign policy, as evidenced by the Neutrality Proclamation issued by George Washington in 1793. The primary objective was to keep out of the French-English conflicts and to protect the young nation from the wars of Europe. France, however, was not too keen on respecting the sovereignty of the United States and in the late 1700s the French had captured a British vessel, the Grange, in the territorial waters of the US. England insisted that the ship be immediately returned. The French, true to their character as trouble- makers, used every means at their disposal to undermine American neutrality. The chief instigator was France's representative, Edmond-Charles Genet, who eventually turned out to be the first foreign subversive in the USA.

Other examples of hapless and sabotaging relations between these two countries are delved into such as the Treaty of Versailles and the disagreements Woodrow Wilson had with his French counterpart, Vichy France, France's incursions into Vietnam, abominable relations with de Gaulle, France's flirtation with communism and with the Soviet Union, its cozying up to Saddam Hussein and other dictators made from the same cloth, and finally the present day state of affairs.
There is a tremendous amount of data packed into this 294- page book, and definitely anyone who wants to know more about France's relationship with the United States would do well to read this book.

Ultimately, readers will have to judge for themselves if in fact France is a friend of the United States, its enemy or just a "pain in the butt."

Norman Goldman

Gorden's Bookshelf

Sense of Evil
Kay Hooper
Bantam Books, A division of Random House, Inc.
1540 Broadway, New York, NY
ISBN: 0553583476 $7.50 357 pages

Hooper writes paranormal detective mysteries. She has a good handle on bringing truly evil events to the reader. With 'Sense of Evil,' Hooper has only one problem with the narration. She spends too much time explaining the paranormal aspects of the story and not letting the story tell itself. FBI profiler Isabel Adams is sent to Hastings, South Carolina to help Sheriff Rafe Sullivan find a serial killer targeting successful blond women. There is a literal spark of attraction between Isabel and Rafe. Since Isabel is a successful blond woman, she is also a potential target for the elusive and smart killer.

All towns have secrets best kept in closets. With a serial killer stalking the town, all secrets have to be brought out. Finding which secrets will expose the killer before both the killer and secrets claim more victims is the difficult task Isabel and Rafe must accomplish.

'Sense of Evil' is a good mystery and a great paranormal tale. The story is not as smooth as it could be in blending the two genres. 'Sense of Evil' is well worth reading for the detective mystery and/or paranormal aficionado. It is also a good story for those readers interested in exploring the genres.

Blow Fly
Patricia Cornwell
The Berkley Publishing Group, A division of Penguin Putman Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 0425198731 $7.99 467 pages

Cornwell's Scarpetta novels solidified the female forensic mystery thriller. The genre has improved with the explosion of other authors. Cornwell has not changed with the genre. 'Blow Fly 'has all the elements you would like -- complex story, vicious killers, and forensic clues. But the storytelling is ponderous when compared to either the original Scarpetta novels or the current best in genre.

Forensic consultant Kay Scarpetta is asked to look into a cold case in Louisiana. It is the first step in a complex web of intrigue from the serial killer Wolfman, Jean-Baptiste Chandonne. Killings from the bayous of Louisiana to Eastern Europe are linked into a complex game between murderers and those hunting them.

If you are a Cornwell/Scarpetta fan, you will enjoy this novel. It is an interesting creepy thriller. However, for most readers, there are other authors better able to bring you into the realm of death and forensic investigation.

S. A. Gorden

Greenspan's Bookshelf

DNA & Tradition
Rabbi Yaakov Kleiman
Devora Publishing
c/o Pitspopany Press
40 East 78th Street, Suite 16D, New York, NY 10021
1932687130 $14.95 1-800-232-2931

DNA & Tradition: The Genetic Link To The Ancient Hebrews by Rabbi Yaakov Kleiman is an amazing discussion of what modern genetic science has to say about the origins and lineage of Jewish people, from ancient Hebrews to Modern Jews. Topics covered include the DNA confirmation of the middle east origin of world Jewry, tracing Biblical matriarchs, what genetics has to say about the lost tribes of Israel, the connections between science and the Torah tradition, a summary of Kohanim and the Tribe of Levi, and much more. DNA & Tradition of course emphasizes that being Jewish is not defined genetically, as Torah law specifically sanctions a conversion process by which people of any background can choose to join the Jewish people; but the discoveries of modern genetics open the way to a closer understanding of 100 generations of history. A truly captivating account and a very welcome contribution to Judaic studies as well as genetic and geneaology reference shelves.

Able Greenspan

Gypsi's Bookshelf

Standing Alone in Mecca
Asra Q. Nomani
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
ISBN 0060571446, 320 pages, $24.95

"I returned to my home in Morgantown with a dream to fulfill the highest ideals of Islam for both women and men and for the community. The hajj gave me the courage to act on the ultimate conviction that women can be fully engaged members of the Muslim community."

from the preface of Standing Alone in Mecca by Asra Nomani

Journalist Asra Nomani is a woman of much complexity she is a single mom, a career woman and an American Muslim. The birth of her son Shibli, and her desertion by Shibli's father, marks a turning point in her life and leads her to give more serious thought to her spiritual life, the result of which is her desire to participate in the hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

Standing Alone in Mecca is the very personal memoir of Nomani's experiences during the hajj, of her struggles as a woman in what has become a male dominant religion, of her search for a God of love among all the dogma, and finally of how the journey helped her redefine her spiritual life. She examines her life prior to the hajj, tries to work out the knotty problems of issues like pre-marital sex and divine forgiveness and the horror that some have done in the name of her faith. Nomani bares her heart and her soul to the reader as she seeks her truth.

This books is more than just a spiritual journal, though. It also gives outsiders a closer, clearer few of Islam, it's practices and it's history. I found it to be not only enlightening, but very timely for our age.

Ms. Nomani has opened a new world for me by helping me be rid of many stereotypes and prejudices that I had unwittingly harbored. I hope that others will read it and find the same release from ignorance and a renewal of love and respect for others.

The Woad to Wuin (Sir Apropos of Nothing, Book Two)
Peter David
Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1320 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
ISBN 0743448308, 451 pages, $24.00 (hardcover)
ISBN 0743448324, 512 pages, $7.99 (softcover)

I had won a small battle. I then prayed to the gods that it would not be as shortlived a victory as my others had been.

The gods answer all prayers.

In my case, the answer is invariably mocking laughter.

The Woad to Wuin by Peter David

The harrowing adventures of my favorite anti-hero, Sir Apropos of Nothing, continue! The Woad to Wuin starts shortly after the first novel leaves off, with Apropos hiding in the forest (if you don't know why, read the first one!) scavenging for food. He traps a dwarf, accidentally, and picks up a very special ring. Several pages of Lord of the Rings spoofy-goofiness follows. And that's just the beginning.

Let's see. . . he becomes an inn keeper, gets lost in some dark tunnels, becomes the powerful Peacelord, ruler of Wuin and conqueror of countries, has an amazingly beautiful wife What? Peacelord? Conqueror? Wife? Is this the same Apropos? Our cowardly safety-conscious non-warrior has become blood thirsty, battle mad, conquering terror? Yep.

Problem is, he's not sure how it happened. He wakes up on the battlefield and well, apparently he's sleep-walked through a year or so and keeping up the appearance is NOT going to be easy. One misstep away from being headless, Apropos tries to continue his heroics at least until he can slip away but he keeps having troubles, what with enemies and odd pets and loyal but bloodthirsty armies and marital duties and old flames and rebellious peoples and . . . Being a Peacelord is no easy chore! Especially for a cynic who knows that life is just out to get him.

If you liked the first Apropos, and delight in puns and spoofs and general hilarity, you'll enjoy the Woad to Wuin. I can't say that it was as good as the first, but it still deserves a hearty four stars and I'm anxiously looking forward to the next one.

The Quick
Dan Vining
The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN 0515137197, 312 pages, $7.99

Then she kissed him on the cheek.

She pulled back, spooked. She stepped away from the car. She touched her lips.

Jimmy drove away, up Sunset.

When he looked in the mirror, she still stood on the side of the street where he left her, watching him go, holding herself as if from a sudden chill.

The Quick by Dan Vining

Jimmy Miles, a private investigator in L.A., is asked by a lovely client, Jean, to discover the truth about her parents. Many years before, Jean's father was executed for the murder of her mother. Jean just wants to know the truth. As Jimmy sets out to find the answers for Jean, he stirs up unexpected trouble from L. A.'s other-wordly side, the Sailors.

As the novel progresses, the truth about Jimmy and the Sailors is gradually revealed and the reader discovers an un-dead underworld living in the shadows of L.A. Jimmy's investigation causes him to step on the toes of some of the more powerful Sailors.

The premise was exciting, but The Quick doesn't deliver. The cloud of secrecy and intrigue that surrounds the Sailors builds and builds. . . but the apex is a disappointing and somewhat silly ritual.

The actual mystery Jimmy is out to solve, never comes to a satisfying conclusion. It just fizzles away in the aftermath of the Sailors.

On the whole, I was quite disappointed with The Quick. The idea, so fresh and exciting, never came to fruition and I was left frustrated and unsatisfied.

Gypsi Phillips Bates

Harwood's Bookshelf

George Orwell
ISBN 0451524934 $7.95

A man living under theocratic Anglican Christianity rebels against its masochism, its sky Fuhrer whom nobody has ever seen and who probably does not exist, and its totalitarian prohibition of everything that makes life worthwhile. He forms a sexual relationship with a female dissenter, who sees their recreation together as pleasure giving rather than an onerous duty to "be fruitful and multiply," as the sky Fuhrer's domesticated livestock are required to believe. The hierarchy hunts them down and, by threatening the man with his personal concept of hell, persuades him to denounce his partner as a dirty antichrist on whom the threatened torture should be inflicted rather than on himself. He is converted, and finally realizes that he loves the sky Fuhrer.

1984 was not a prediction of a nightmare future under totalitarian communism. It was a description of a nightmare present under totalitarian Anglican Christianity. Orwell made that clear when he originally titled his book 1949. It was his publisher who forced him to change the name to 1984 in order to disguise his description of present-day England as a prophecy of a possible future. Nonetheless, Orwell did, unintentionally, write the most accurate prophecy of the America of George W. Bush and his theofascist Gestapo that could have been foreseen even in Orwell's worst nightmare.

Consider: Orwell's novel was centered around a Party that preached love and practised hate, lauded ignorance as a virtue, criminalized "thoughtcrime," and declared even the sharing of joy forbidden except between a male husband and a female wife, in bed with the lights out, and performed solely for the purpose of procreation. There is indeed a philosophy that enforces such insanity, but it is not communism. It is George Bushism. As for Big Brother, in whose name the Party's every atrocity was committed, whom nobody had ever seen and who Orwell was convinced did not exist, whose putative Enemy was really his mirror image, how anyone could fail to recognize that as Anglicanism's and Bushism's imaginary playmate is incomprehensible.

Handbook of Hypnotic Suggestions and Metaphors
D. Corydon Hammand
W. W. Norton
500 Fifth Ave, NY 10110
ISBN 039370095X, $70.00 602 pp.

Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy: Basic to Advanced Techniques for the Professional
Calvin Banyan & Gerald Kein
Abbot Publishing House
2567 County Road 10, St Paul, MN 55112
ISBN 0971229007, $31.95 219 pp.

The New Hypnotherapy Handbook: Hypnosis and Mind/Body Healing
Kevin Hogan
Network 3000 Publishing
3432 Denmark Ave # 108, Eagan, MN 55123
ISBN 0970932103, $39.95 400 pp.

All medical hypnotists are self-deluded, but that does not mean that some of them are not simultaneously lying. The most impressive claims of crippling habits and dysfunctions cured by hypnosis were made by psychiatrist Milton Erickson. While it would be nice to believe that Dr Erickson merely interpreted actual achievements less than critically, the many precedents of believers in various superstitions lying to further what they perceive as a greater truth (the Vatican's ongoing endorsement of the Shroud of Turin forgery comes to mind) raises the near certainty that Erickson did likewise. Yet the authors of two of these books (Hammond and Hogan) see Erickson's imaginative confabulations as solid evidence of hypnotism's reality and usefulness. Since Erickson has zero credibility, it follows that authors who offer him as a role model likewise have questionable credibility. And all three view age regression as something other than mindless obedience to what amounts to an instruction to fantasize.

Since Kevin Hogan endorses Erickson, his discussion of such delusions and hoaxes as past-life regression and other "recovered memory" delusions such as alien abductions raises the obvious objection, "Consider the source." For an informed evaluation of such superstitious nonsense, see Peter Reveen's, Hypnotism Then and Now, listed on Amazon's catalogue under my name as Reveen's editor and collaborator. Similarly, Mr Hammond has clearly never asked himself, "Since Erickson's published accounts of his cases involve impossible-to-believe coincidences and improbabilities, could it be significant that nobody else has ever claimed such results?"

Robert Baker wrote, in They Call it Hypnosis, "Hypnosis does not exist, has never existed in the past, and will not exist in the future." Forty years of touring with household-name concert hypnotists who also practised hypnotherapy has left not the slightest doubt in my mind that Baker is right. Either the authors of this pseudoscience have never read Baker's definitive debunking, or they are living proof that there are none so blind as those who will not see. Or could they have the same, "If it makes us money, what does it matter if it is disinformative" depraved indifference to reality as the prostitutes who run network television?

I wrote in The Disinformation Cycle, "If hypnotism existed, somebody would have proven it by now. Hypnotism has never been demonstrated to exist, and almost certainly does not exist." But the best definition of hypnotism is that of Dr Thomas Szasz, "two people lying to each other, each pretending to believe his own and his partner's lies."

To the authors of these three books, and all other believers in hypnotism as something more than heightened suggestibility: Start living in the real world.

The Country of the Blind
H. G. Wells
1860920020 $3.95

A nontheist stumbles into a country so infested with godworship, that his claim to have a nonexistent sense called "reason," enabling him to see that their beliefs are falsifiable fairy tales, causes the inhabitants to assume that he is insane. When he falls for a female godworshipper, his need to belong prompts him to yield to their demand that he be surgically cured by having the organ responsible for his delusion, an organ that they do not have that he calls his "brain," amputated. At the last minute he realizes that no woman or society is worth a lifetime of brainless conformity, and flees.

Unlike 1984, the real meaning of The Country of the Blind was widely recognized from the start. Martin Gardner (From the Wandering Jew to William Buckley Jr.) described it as being about "true believers in a fixed ideology, whether political or religious, who are blind to knowledge and reason." But like 1984, The Country of the Blind is also an accurate forecast of the totalitarian fascist theocracy of George W. Bush, in which the absence of a necessary human attribute, not blindness but a functioning human brain, is considered the ultimate virtue.

The Full Facts of Cold Reading, third edition
Ian Rowland
102 Eardley Rd, London SW16 6BJ, England,
No ISBN, approx $50.00, 238 pp., spiral bound

The title of this book is sufficiently promising for me to draw it to the attention of persons who do not read the magic and skeptical journals in which it has been mentioned. I have not read it, as I have been unable to obtain a copy. Apparently the term "review copy" is foreign to the author's thought patterns, and that raises questions about his judgment on other issues. On the upside, Skeptic editor Michael Shermer, whose judgment is surely beyond reproach, has mentioned it favorably. It has also attracted favorable comments from other giants in the fields of entertainment and skepticism:

James Randi: "I think it will become THE reference volume."

Teller: "A superb book."

Martin Gardner: "A marvelous treatise on cold reading."

Further comments and full reviews can be found at the author's website.

Gilgamesh the King
Robert Silverberg
Arbor House
235 East 45th Street, NY 10017
ISBN 0877955999 $16.95 320 pp.

Is a historical novel appealing to humanists as a class, as opposed to individuals who happen to be humanists? The answer may be Yes, when the narrator is the hero of the oldest surviving literary epic, and his ruminations about the gods of ancient Sumer constitute a useful delineation of a period of history when goddesses had become subservient to male gods but had not yet been totally suppressed.

Gilgamesh the King is categorized as science fiction. In fact all of its fantasy elements constitute the conditioned beliefs of the narrator, who more than once raises the possibility that the true explanation of events he interprets metaphysically could be coincidence or something equally mundane. Even when he travels to an island I identify from the context as Bahrain, to seek immortality from Ziusudra, whose ark later evolved into Noah's ark, he learns that the alleged world-covering flood was a localized thunderstorm, the "ark" was a fairy-tale elaboration, and Ziusudra's immortality was likewise mere myth.

This book will appeal to lovers of science fiction (which it is not), lovers of historical fiction, and persons who like to see ancient myths demythologized into the possible historical events from which the myth evolved. I loved it.

William Harwood

Henry's Bookshelf

Passport to Yesterday, A Novel in Eleven Stories
Yuri Druzhnikov
Peter Owen, London
distributed in U. S. by Dufour Editions
PO Box 7, Chester Springs, PA 19425;
ISBN 0720612187 $34.95 204 pp.

Oleg Nemets' situation resembles that of the situation of the new Russia, his homeland. Oleg's unexplained loss of his father in World War II is the experience everything centers on; as similarly, Russia has been abruptly cut off from its historical and ideological pasts. Both Oleg and Russia find themselves in a new world with little from the past to guide them. Oleg takes to art. He becomes an exceptional violin player who travels the world, living in San Francisco after a while. But his art, no matter how much he puts into it and how successful he is with it, does not bring a complete satisfaction to him. Rather, because of it, he is drawn back to Russia, the source of the sense of loss he cannot overcome. This underlies the main character's situation. But Druzhnikov does not dwell on it in a heavy way. Oleg is a bright, energetic, hopeful character whose attempts to bring past and present together are dealt with in a spirited and often comic way. Dialogue is occasionally zany, characters eccentric, and Oleg's thoughts ad observations clever and witty. Author Druzhnikov is a best-selling Russian author who has gained international notice and is currently a Professor of Russian Literature at the U. of California-Davis.

Playing Underground - A Critical History of the 1960s Off-Off-Broadway Movement
Stephen J. Bottoms
U. of Michigan Press
839 Greene St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3209;
ISBN 047211400X $35.00 401+x pp.

Bottoms gives shape to the marginal field of "basement theaters, cafe theaters, hole-in-the-wall theaters, and theaters thriving on rough edges, raw passion, and a fierce sense of immediacy and 'liveness' of the stage event itself and of the audience" which sprang up in the 1960s along with the experimentation in other parts of the culture as well. A Professor in the Department of Theatre, Film, and Television Studies at the U. of Glascow, Bottoms sees the connection between this "off-off-Broadway" theater of the tumultuous and quixotic 1960s and today's popular entertainment. The raucousness of rock concerts, the brazenness of Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction," the provocative live performances, and rap lyrics all had precursors in the "illegitimate" theater of the 60s. Bottom's engaging work is both historical and critical. He cites the artistic and cultural sources while also bringing in the wider social milieu of the time. General themes and developments share space with activities and individuals connected with particular theaters and troupes. "Playing Underground" is a benchmark work of thorough research which goes into the social and political agendas of this theater scene while at the same time imparting its unconventional, often deliberately provocative and obscene, and in the long run, influential performance style.

John Everson
Delerium Books
PO Box 338, North Webster, IN 46555;
ISBN 1929653654 $50.00 307 pp.

Worn out from his work as a journalist, Joe Kieran moves to the small town of Terrel, a "backward little town near the sea that didn't actually get anything out of the nearby ocean bit view." Just the sort of place he was looking for, he thought; until he learned that "apparently even the view wasn't safe to enjoy." The centerpiece of the view is Terrel Cliff, where several of the quiet town's teens have committed suicide. With his investigative experience, Kieran cannot help but dig into the mystery. What he uncovers in relation to the unexplained suicides, putting himself at risk, is a group of the town's women under the spell of a local fortune-teller. In this tale of fantasy and suspense, Everson weaves intriguing psychodrama with existential fear and dread.

Zydeco Shoes - A Sensory Tour of Cajun Culture
edited by Alexandria Hayes
illustrated by Earl Herbert
Foreword by George Rodrigue
recipes from Mulate's Cajun Restaurant
musical CD by The Lucky Playboys
Pelican Publishing
100 Burmaser St., Gretna, LA 70053-2246 800-843-1724
ISBN 1589802462 $39.95 112 pp.

Music on a CD, recipes, anecdotes, and most of all, Earl Hebert's vibrantly-colored illustrations convey the tone, energy, and distinctiveness of Louisiana's cajun culture. The full-page illustrations in this oversize book make readers feel that they are practically participating in the scenes of dancing, music playing, and socializing. The book and CD are packaged in an eye-catching, brightly colored slipcase. The different parts combine together for a celebration of this widely-known regional culture.

Brigadier General Tyree H. Bell, C.S.A. - Forrest's Fighting Lieutenant
Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes, Jr., with Connie Walton Moretti and James Michael Browne
U. of Tennessee Press
600 Henley St. - Suite 110, Conference Center Building, Knoxville, TN 37902;
ISBN 157233309X $45.00 346+xii pp.

The solid military biography follows Bell's advance in the Confederate Army from captain of a company of Tennessee Volunteers to brigadier general who was regarded as Nathan Forrest's "right arm." Bell's own exceptional military capabilities and leadership have been largely overshadowed by being a part of the exploits of the better-known and more colorful Forrest. But Hughes, author of previous books on lesser-known aspects and figures of the Confederate military, demonstrates these qualities of Bell by detailing activities such a troop placements, probing maneuvers, assaults and defenses, terrain, and the involvement of key officers of the opposing sides in numerous engagements of all sizes Bell was involved in. Bell was active mostly in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi. The biography has a personal touch concerning Bell with the participation of Moretti and Browne, descendants of his. The journeyman military biography not only establishes the place of Bell in the military activities of the Confederacy in an area of its western theater, but is also an account of the conflict in this area.

Gertrude Beals Bourne - Artist in Brahmin Boston
D. Roger Howlett
Foreword by Patricia Hills
Copley Square Press, Boston
distributed by Northeastern U. Press
360 Huntington Ave. - 416CP, Boston, MA 02115
ISBN 0962814318 $40.00 143 pp.

Bourne (1868-1962) was a privileged Bostonian who saw herself basically as an artist. She painted throughout her long life. She painted sights not only of Boston, but also of places she traveled to with her architect husband, Frank Bourne. Her style is impressionistic, notable particularly by its elements of pronounced vertical order. Tree trunks, people, interiors of rooms, and parts of furniture are nearly always ramrod straight, like the line of marines in the middle ground of her painting "Marines Beacon Street Boston" on the cover. Despite this characteristic formal element in many of her paintings, Bourne's favorite subject was flowers. "It is not surprising that the garden pictures would stand out for special praise," says Patricia Hills in her "Foreword"; "[Bourne] and her husband seemed to have shared a delight in gardens," as evidenced by the gardens they created in different residences. Reference is made several times to the major Impressionist painter Manet, who work was considerably influenced by his gardens. Howlett, president of Childs Gallery in Boston, presents the art in the course of a biography of this notable Boston artist who in her day had solo exhibitions and was active in the community, as the founder of the Beacon Hill Garden Club, for instance.

Mixed Climbing
Sean Isaac
Photographs by Andrew Querner
Falcon Guide/Globe Pequot Press
246 Goose Lane, Guilford, CT 06437 800-962-0973
ISBN 0762729635 $15.95 134+vii pp.

Mixed climbing--or M-climbing as it is known to experienced climbers--is the most challenging, most hazardous kind of rock and mountain climbing. It involves climbing over mixed surfaces such as sheer rock face, the undersides of rock outcroppings, or icy patches in any weather conditions. This is a complete manual to this type of climbing by an expert, award-winning climber. Isaac covers equipment, techniques, safety, and exercises for preparation for the incomparable physical demands called for in mixed climbing. Each of these areas includes sharp photographs, including many especially instructive close-ups.

Faith That Dares to Speak
Donald Cozzens
Liturgical Press
Collegeville, MN
ISBN 0814630189 $19.95 138 pp.

Cozzens, a priest who is also a writer, understands that the crisis facing the Catholic Church because of the wide-ranging sexual abuse scandals bears on the "sacramental character of the church; its mission of liberation in the 'way of Jesus'; the role of the laity and particularly the role of women; the future of the ministry; [and] the church's structures." He concentrates on the conscience and work of lay persons in trying to amend the problems that allowed for the abuse. Cozzens does not go much into practical or administrative recommendations for responding to the calls by lay persons for changes in the Catholic Church. He writes about the appropriateness and desirability of the ideas and role lay persons are calling for. Such lay persons appear more than any others to be affected by the scandalous behavior of many priests and concerned about the future of the Catholic Church and the spirituality it professes to embody. The author is a respected and compelling voice for the value of the substantive involvement of lay persons in overcoming the church's troubles.

Francisca Aguirre
BOA Editions
260 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14604;
ISBN 1929918607 $14.95 127 pp.

The 47 poems in both English and Spanish of Aguirre's long poem "Ithaca" can be read individually. They do not comprise a narrative or epic. They're a poem cycle, an inter-connected group of poems holding to the light the many facets of the patient waiting of Penelope, Odysseus's wife waiting at Ithaca for him to return from the Trojan War. Aguirre at times goes outside of the myth to her own experiences. The waiting is filled with moods, memories, imaginings--"You are like an oracle that does not believe in the future," the poet writes in "The Oracle." Another poem, "The Dragon Tree Revisited (1970)," mentions "homeland and exile at the same time." With perspicuity and luminosity, Aguirre paints the folds and extensions of a state that has been described "pregnant waiting."

Sin-A-Rama - Sleaze Sex Paperbacks of the Sixties
edited by Brittany A. Daley et al.
Feral House
PO Box 39910, Los Angeles, CA 90039
ISBN 1932595058 $24.95 287 pp.

The countless lurid, sexually suggestive pictures of the covers of the mass-market paperbacks of the decade of the 1960s are what cannot help but attract the most attention. But there's more to this retrospective than the sensationalistic covers for enthusiasts of popular culture and paperback book collectors. An inside view of the "sleaze paperback" industry of the time is recounted in essays by four writers; one of whom spent some time in jail for peddling pornography. Passages from some of the books illustrate the genre's elliptical, yet unmistakable style for dealing with the sexual subjects and scenes so the books could get by the pornography censorship. The hundreds of paperbacks identified by their covers with author, publisher, and artist in the caption are divided into main categories appealing to readers of different backgrounds and sexual fantasies. "Sick Suburb," "Butch Swish," and "Sin Revue" are some of these. Another feature beyond the pictures is 15 interviews with writers in the field. A listing of the publishers, an index of pseudonyms used by most of the writers working in the genre, and a second index of the authors real names followed by their pseudonyms are found in the back matter. All in all, a copious collection of a vein of book cover art which also has material on the genre as an area of popular culture flourishing in the 1960s and influencing the culture's regard of sexual matter and treatment of it in following decades.

The Martyrs of Karbala - Shi'i Symbols and Rituals in Modern Iran
Kamran Scot Aghaie
U. of Washington Press
PO Box 50096, Seattle, WA 98145-5096
ISBN 0295984481 $60.00 200+xvi pp.
ISBN 0295984554 $24.95

The Shi'i branch of Islam makes up only about 15 percent of the religion. But counting for nearly the entire population of Iran and 60 percent of Iraq's, the Shi'i have a crucial influence on Middle East and world affairs from their numbers in these strategically important countries. A professor of Islamic and Iranian history at the U. of Texas-Austin, Aghaie gives a view of Shi'i culture in Iran that is eye-opening and germane for Western readers. Basically, one sees that for the Shi'i there is no clear, or even worthwhile, distinction between religion and other aspects of society, including most significantly government. Whereas such a distinction is a part of the foundation of the U. S. and other democracies, Shi'i culture was founded with the defeat of the Prophet Mohammad's grandson Hoseyn and the massacre of his family by the caliph Yazidin in the 680AD battle of Karbala. Shi'i religious ceremonies, motives for behavior, social purposes, and community goals grew out of this defeat. A special intensity and commitment, as well as sacrifice, was called for so Islam as expressed by Mohammad and his descendants would not be lost. This branch of Islam faith is distinguished from that reflected in the institutional rule of the caliphs came about throughout most of the Middle East. Aghaie's subject is the relationship between Iranian leaders from the Qajars of the 19th and early 20th century through the Shah of Iran to today's Islamic Republic and the symbols and rituals of Shiism. The Shah of Iran was overturned in a revolution because in an effort to modernize Iran, he sought to minimize the symbols and rituals. The work brings an insight into the Shi'i culture that is timely and germane considering current events in Iran and Iraq and U. S. ambitions to institute democracy in this area.

Boosters, Hustlers, and Speculators - Entrepreneurial Culture and the Rise of Minneapolis and St. Paul, 1849-1883
Jocelyn Wills
Minnesota Historical Society Press
345 Kellogg Blvd. West, St. Paul, MN 55102-1906;
ISBN 0873515102 $34.95 290+xi pp.

The year 1849 was when Minnesota became a state; 1883 was the year the Northern Pacific Railroad celebrated the completion of its link between Minneapolis-St. Paul and the West coast. In between these years, the historically closely tied cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul grew from a "collection of huts and shanties" to a major national and international center of commerce. With the phone system, up-to-date plumbing, and electricity the cities brought in in the latter 1800s, they began to more and more resemble other major American cities. Wills meticulously follows the rapid growth of the two cities by focusing on the activity of the most important individuals in the area of commerce and the economy. She is methodical and complete in describing their outsized activities and the results of these, for the most part passing over their personalities and personal lives. Even the author's notes over 40 pages are worth going through for the facts and comments found in many. Wills is an assistant professor of history at Brooklyn College, CUNY. What her book lacks in color, it more than makes up for in substance and thoroughness. It's the fundamental economic history on Minneapolis and St. Paul in the middle decades of the 19th century.

The Berlin State Theater under the Nazi Regime - A Study of the Administration, Key Productions, and Critical Responses from 1933-1944
Elisabeth Schulz Hostetter
Edwin Mellen Press
415 Ridge St., Lewiston, NY 14092-0450;
ISBN 0773463542 $109.95 215+vi pp.

Hostetter's critique is intended as more than a work of scholarship in this specialized area of a college instructor of theater studies informed by her background in acting in and directing plays. "Through this examination I hope to uncover some of the signs and ramifications of fascism in the arts...." As Goebbels, Nazi Germany's Minister of Propaganda, put it in a speech to a group of theater workers, "We only want to make sure that the great swinging pendulum of changing times does not stop at the doors of the theater...." Control of German drama was a part of the Nazi dictatorship's aim for ironclad control of all areas of German society. This was pursued by the production of new plays overtly proclaiming the party line and for more educated, sophisticated audiences, the reinterpretation of classics. Even plays by Faust and Shakespeare were transmuted to support Nazi cultural values and goals. Hostetter discloses such coopting of the creative process by describing the role of state officials, theater managers, and other administrators and also identifying particular propagandistic elements in play productions, including scripts. Awakened by the book to this artistic and cultural topic ordinarily all but lost in the larger picture of the outrages perpetrated by Nazism, one realizes that there is much more to be said about it--more Nazi plays to be analyzed, more study on the effects of the plays. But no matter where the field would lead, Hostetter's work would be a seminal resource.

Edith Wharton and the Politics of Race
Jennie A. Kassanoff
Cambridge U. Press
40 West 20th St., New York, NY 10011-4211
ISBN 0521830893 $70.00 226+xii pp.

Edith Wharton is not ordinarily associated with racial issues. But using ideas from feminist literary criticism, Kassanoff finds in Wharton's characters, circumstances, and story lines racial concerns of the comfortable white urban society of the early 1900s. Mixed in with Wharton's wry, sometimes jaundiced, picture of the self-satisfied upper-level white society are "a host of early twentieth-century white patrician anxieties [about race]." This anxiety was not aroused by blacks only. It was broader than garden-variety racial prejudice; and vague and protean, as an anxiety would be. Wharton's characters are uneasy about all foreigners, or immigrants, and the growth in the population of the lower classes. They uneasily sensed their own "race suicide" if they could not come up with a means to preserve their own position. Kassanoff explores the various artful ways explicit, subtle, and ambiguous that Wharton recurringly expresses such anxieties in her works. While concentrating on Wharton's writings, the author occasionally makes references to politicians, social scientists, and the like of the period to illuminate Wharton's sources and motives. Kassanoff sees that in the end Wharton was not despairing nor contemptuous of democratic society, whatever changes it might bring; but became convinced in her long artistic jousting with the racial anxieties of her peers "that in democracy's inclusiveness lay the promise of America's future." The author of this enlightening critique of Wharton that has aspects of a cultural study while being mainly a literary critique is an associate professor of English at Barnard College.

Mama, Can Armadillos Swim?
Francine Poppo Rich
illustrations by Thomas H. Bone III and Anthony A. LeTourneau
Blue Marlin Publications
823 Aberdeen Rd., West Bay Shore, NY 11706;
ISBN 0967460263 $17.00 32 pp.

Children are introduced to 12 mammals through how they swim in water; with additional information on the animals in a section following the main text. On left-hand pages are realistic illustrations of the animals swimming or in their natural habitat near water. The right-hand pages have cartoon-like illustrations of the young boy asking the question about the animals while taking a bath and also illustrations of the different animals involved with the boy in the bath. The imaginative work for children ages 3-6 is an entertaining, humorous way for them to learn a little about a number of wild animals.

Observation and Image-Making in Gothic Art
Jean A. Givens
Cambridge U. Press
40 West 20th St., New York, NY 10011-4211
ISBN 0521830311 $80.00 231+xiv pp.

The focus of Givens' study is art in thirteenth- and early fourteenth-century England and France, and to a lesser extent Italy. The question is how artists came to depict animals and plants, including details of these. Givens mainly deconstructs commonsense and even scholarly presumptions about the work, or craft, of the medieval artists. One would assume that with their subjects from the world of nature, artists simply looked at subjects in the wild or samples of these in their studios. But that wasn't the way the medieval images came about. The "informative images [of the medieval artists] may well be diagrammatic or schematic." They may have been done on vellum, canvas, or paper or on wood or stone from images in other works of art or from iconic cultural images (or expectations) with the artist's own conscious or unconscious visual biases or religious, instructive, etc. intentions involved. "Two artists recording the same subject in life or two specimens of the same species are likely to emphasize different features and thus provide some of our best evidence of observational practice." Givens' study is not only a concentrated analysis of medieval art in some European countries, but it also touches on the wider, perennial subjects of creativity, art and society, artistic craftsmanship, the material and psychological sources of art, and the unique accomplishment of a work of art. Givens is an associate professor of art history at the U. of Connecticut.

The World According to Rock
Jerry Wermund
illustrated by Tony Sansevero
Rockon Publishing
210 Hy Road, Buda, TX 78610;
ISBN 0972625518 $16.95 48 pp.

The geologist Wermund introduces readers ages 5-8 to all types of rocks with succinct geological information and Sansevero's illustrations of the types of rock. The rock basalt is "black as a starless night, hard and dense, a winner in the battle of rock against water, wind...freezes into tabular bodies - horizontal, vertical...," with a picture of a young boy and girl walking across such rocks which look like giant stepping stones. Shale is "tiny grains kidnapped off slopes of mountains, plateaus...a collectors' dreamland of stuck-in-the-mud fossils...," with an illustration of a boy holding up a fossil of a small prehistoric animal. Wermund also notes buildings, gravestones, and other familiar objects made from rock. With Wermund's mildly poetic style making the scientific points about rocks enticing and the related straightforward, naturalistic illustrations, this is an effective elementary geology book for young readers.

Smoking Culture - The Archaeology of Tobacco Pipes in Eastern North America
edited by Sean M. Rafferty and Rob Mann
U. of Tennessee Press
Knoxville, TN 37996-4108
ISBN 1572333502 $48.00 324+xx pp.

From the eleven articles by anthropologists and archaeologists connected with universities, one finds that the Indian "peace pipe" familiar from numerous Western movies was but a small aspect of pipes in Native American culture. For example, there was also a "war pipe.". But the place of pipes in pre-Columbian and later Native American culture goes far beyond this as well. ""First, it must be kept in mind that smoking pipes are essentially drug delivery devices and that smoking instills varying degrees of altered consciousness." In "no way utilitarian," pipes are thus distinguished from other aboriginal artifacts; and from this way they are distinguished, they uniquely shed light on dimensions of spirituality, shamanistic practices, tribal social activities, inter-tribal relationships, and the history and movement of tribes. As seen by some of the latter essays, these social and anthropological matters relating to pipes found their way into different ethnic and regional groups of Europeans settling in eastern North America who adopted pipe smoking. Native American pipes were made of stone or wood; had different shapes; and sometimes included effigies of animals. All of these differences concern different purposes and occasions, or tell something about the history of the group respective pipes were related to. Rafferty is an associate professor of anthropology at SUNY-Albany; Mann is an archaeologist in Louisiana. Photographs, maps, and tables go with the text in this fetching subject.

An Annotated Bibliography for Chinese Film Studies
Jim Cheng
Hong Kong U. Press
distributed in U. S. by U. of Washington Press
PO Box 50096, Seattle, WA 98145-5096
ISBN 9622097030 $105.00 404+xii pp.

Since the majority of the 2500 listings are Chinese publications, they are recorded in Chinese characters in the nine named sections, plus a tenth headed "Others" which includes miscellaneous material on film ads, copyrights, posters, and songs, among several other topic areas. Nonetheless, Cheng makes the voluminous bibliography as useful as possible for English readers while remaining faithful to the original Chinese names for the entries. Besides the Chinese characters, the Chinese titles are romanized, i. e., written as they would be spoken in Chinese by Westerners. Also, a closing "note" with nearly every one of the Chinese entries denotes the general contents of the publication. English, European, and other Asian publications make up a small percentage of the listings. The nine main sections are Reference Materials, Film History, Specific Film Genres, Film Reviews, Film Theory and Technique, Interdisciplinary Studies, Screenplays and Scripts, Film Technology, and lastly Film Directors, Producers, Actors, Actresses, Cinematographers, Critics, and Screenplay Writers. With each entry in these all-encompassing categories are "entry number, author, title, publication, ISBN, series title note, and language code." The three indexes of subject, author, and title are also helpful to English-speaking students of Chinese film. This first volume of Cheng's ambitious, timely reference "covers materials--including monographs, conference proceedings, and theses--that relate to film studies in and about mainland China published between 1920-2003." A forthcoming second volume will record materials relating to Hong Kong and Taiwan. Like Indian films, Chinese films are attracting considerable critical and audience interest in the U. S. This reference is an incomparable guide to the history and breadth of Chinese film studies, Chinese film production, and Chinese actors and filmmakers.

De Kooning - An American Master
Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan
ISBN 1400041759 $35.00 732+xvii pp.

De Kooning arrived in America from Holland as a stowaway in 1926. The rest is art history. This voluminous, multi-dimensional biography follows the trajectory of the life of this leading 20th-century artist from impoverished immigrant through Greenwich Village libertine and rising artist to his move to Long Island and his position at the pinnacle of the art world and eventual dementia-afflicted decline in his last years. Relating de Kooning's friendships with other artists, relationships with women, course in the lively, avant-garde New York City art world of mid-century, the development of his artistry, and his lasting influence on modern art, the biography reflects not only all facets of the artist's life, but also the art scene and a good deal of the society of the period. And it offers vignettes of many notable artists, critics, art gallery owners, and such. With regular quotes from de Kooning's writings and other documents, photographs of him at different times of his life and at work, and illustrations of works of art, including a 16-page section of works in color, Stevens and Swan's book imparts an incomparable, memorable picture of de Kooning. The reader comes to comprehend de Kooning as an individual and also the reasons for his unmistakable influence. Both authors are art critics connected with leading periodicals.

Henry Berry

Hodgins' Bookshelf

A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings
Charles Dickens
Penguin Classics
ISBN 0140439056, US $8.00, UK 6.99 Brit. pounds, Can. $12.00 325 pages

This book is in some small part biographical material on Charles Dickens himself. Of his Christmas writings, less than one-third is a restatement of his famed 1843 work whose full original name was, "A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas." - nowadays simply called, "A Christmas Carol".

More specifically, that slender tale occupies 92 pages of the book, against 112 for "The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain" - but the former is better known by far than the latter, despite its 20 more pages.

The volume as a whole is "Edited with an introduction by Michael Slater", who seems to further describe himself as a "distinguished Dickens scholar". Slater and others fill the first 30-odd pages with assorted introductory materials. Then come 264 pages of actual Dickens works, interspersed with a few pages of oldfashioned illustrations; and finally, 24 additional pages of appendices and endnotes.

Dickens, it would seem, hit just the right tone to appeal to the masses of his day with his emphasis on generosity and fellowship - especially at Christmastime, although he was not alone in that aim. He did it so well, in fact, and so consistently over a number of years, that in his time he became a virtual "Father Christmas personified" in both Britain and the United States.

Not, however, that he was able to put out "Carol"-sized Christmas fictions every year during the period in question. In some years his offerings were brief, while in 1851 he published an essay, "What Christmas Is, as We Grow Older" - a topic that was close to his heart, no doubt, but unlikely to charm children.

Eight individual Christmas writings by Dickens are quoted in this book, titled as follows:

"Christmas Festivities"

"The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton"

A Christmas episode from "Master Humphrey's Clock"

"A Christmas Carol"

"The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain"

"A Christmas Tree"

"What Christmas Is, as We Grow Older"

"The Seven Poor Travellers".

Dickens, Slater tells us, had other themes than bonhomie to share with his readers at Christmas, some of these being poverty, the burdens of ill will, and bereavement. Accordingly, he is no stranger to bittersweet thoughts, but in one instance he rather shocked me by describing how a sour old brute of a church sexton/gravedigger assaulted a small boy with his lantern, merely because the poor urchin sang merrily on Christmas Eve.

Such, though, evidently were those times, and to Dickens belongs much credit for injecting at least some civility into society.

These Dickensian writings need not be thought of, by persons of other persuasions, as specifically Christian works. There is no religion or set of values worthy of the name that would not support Dickens's views and attitudes on such questions as those of understanding, kindliness, generosity, and good cheer even in the face of the most dreadful adversities. They are not to be confined to the Christmas season, either.

While, to my slight knowledge, Dickens wrote chiefly of contemporaneous matters, (but not, however, in "A Tale of Two Cities", which in 1859 described conditions as they had been in the 1790s), to us his times were rather quaint. Consider this volume's cover illustration, taken from a hand-coloured engraving - surely an extinct process, today.

The Music of the Spheres: A Novel
Elizabeth Redfern
New York
ISBN 0399147632 USA $24.95, Can.$35.99, 417 pp.

This work is English-based teacher and musician Elizabeth Redfern's first novel. From the lack of other attributions, it appears to be her first book of any sort. It may not however be her first book WRITTEN, but rather her first published; the two don't always coincide.

A bit oddly, this is a story of England, written by an English woman - but no English publisher is mentioned in its front pages. One wonders whether English readers are even aware of its existence?

All in all it is a very ambitious and creditable effort, but it isn't perfect in quite every detail. As one instance, students of modern, heliocentric (sun-centred) astronomy have, since Copernicus in the early 1540s, applied the term "planet" to all the visible, opaque bodies in revolution about the sun. Certainly by the late 18th century, 250 years after Copernicus, astronomers would not have called these "stars". Yet a great deal of this book speaks of a so-called "lost star", actually Ceres, a large asteroid orbiting the sun in the belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Likewise, knowing that the orbits of the known planets are elliptical (a circle being a special case of that shape), no reasonably intelligent mathematician or astronomer would have wasted time, as the character Alexander does in Chapter XLVI (or 46), trying to fit parabolas to data observed for that "lost star". A parabola's legs, after all, diverge forever, never forming a closed orbit around, say, the sun.

The planet for which both French and English scientists feverishly searched eventually proves really to be a body too small (and very difficult to see) to qualify as a full planet. It therefore came to be called a "minor plant" or, nowadays, an asteroid as mentioned above.

Expecting any author of such a wide-ranging tome as this to get everything right in all the many fields tackled may simply be asking too much, despite evidence of Redfern's voluminous research. This particular story just had to be told, very likely - but an easier tale would have been a blessing to the writer especially, as a first effort.

The title, "The Music of the Spheres", derives from a theory of the ancient Ptolemaic or geocentric, pre-Copernician astronomy. Back then, a vast system of transparent spheres was imagined to rotate in a variety of ways about the earth as their centroid; one sphere bore the sun, another the moon, several more bore planets, and as the case might be - thus placing egotistical mankind at the exact centre of the universe.

As these imaginary spheres rotated, they produced imaginary music. It was all bosh, of course, but rather poetic bosh. Thinking of the parallel theories unicorns, centaurs and the like, there was no shortage of imagination in ancient times!

There is some mention of especially harpsichord music in this work. Does that slight content justify use of the name? I doubt it.

London, England is the locus of this story, at a time when many surrounding places that have long since been absorbed into the metropolis were merely outlying villages.

The historical setting is 1795, for Europe a critical time between the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars; a British army has just been beaten out of The Netherlands by hordes of Frenchmen aflame with revolutionary zeal. Britain next tries to support a doomed Royalist French attempt to retake the mainland, whilst a tangle of spies and astronomers among the masses of French refugees, aided by some disaffected English, betrays and plays havoc with that effort.

It's a tale told in the third person, with all the freedom (and potential confusion) of that technique to hop from one person's point of view (POV) to another's. Most often the POV is that of Jonathan, a Home Office counterespionage functionary. Next in order of prominence is his half-brother Alexander, a former sailor and present church organist, mathematician, amateur astronomer, and gentle lover of a teenaged boy. There will also be momentary episodes seen from the POVs of murder victims, at the times of their attacks and deaths.

That freedom to float free of any particular body also take us on a disastrous Royalist French landing upon the now Republican French coast - even while the brothers just mentioned remain hundreds of miles behind, in London. Their fates are however involved, thanks to the spy network operating around them.

In "Mr. Midshipman Hornblower" (1950, Penguin ed. 1956), the renowned naval historical novelist C. S. Forester (not to say film makers who, half a century later, bastardized two of his books for TV) used the same historical material quite differently, as a forum for the development of his fictional youthful Horatio Hornblower character. Apart from all else, one and the same the same French commander's surname seems to be spelled Pouzages by Forester, Puisaye by Redfern.

News from the fighting front took about ten days to cross the Channel, a fact that in the meantime leaves Jonathan's career in tatters through the machinations of his country's enemies, who nullify his counterespionage effectiveness by discrediting him in every way possible.

Further about the series of grisly and at times gratuitous-seeming London murders, time after time after time the victims are redheaded prostitutes. With the likely exception of Jonathan's wife, whom I can't recollect "meeting" at all, not one woman in this story proves "virtuous", although the most prominent whorish example charges no money for her favours (and, quite incidentally, goes unmolested.)

The common factor of red hair is a part of the plot. Don't get fed up with that long sequence, then; the book makes a good read, despite it.

The dust-jacket is worth seeing for itself, but one wonders how much of a book's cost results from such elaborateness? Gold embossing of the title and the author's name just begins its description. It would make a fine display in a "show library", though, if that were your interest.

Rather few grammatical and no spelling errors are apparent to me, in this novel. I say "apparent" because some questions involve little more than personal opinions and usages. In other words, I must split hairs to find fault. (An example is, on page 377, "is ... different ... to". I'd certainly have written "differs from", for I happen to see "to differ from" in the same light as "to diverge from", not as "to contrast to".)

If a novel of this calibre - worth reading for its historical insights as well as other aspects - is no longer available on booksellers' shelves, its author's name should be kept in mind in case she is able to compile another such work in future. Indeed, if the rule of thumb of one book per year applies, she may have three more volumes out by now!

I wish her every success.

Pete Hodgins

Judine's Bookshelf

Speak To My Heart
Stacy Hawkins Adams
Fleming H. Revell
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
ISBN: 0800753702, $11.99, 256 pp.

God talks to us in many ways. He uses thoughts, advice from confidants or strangers and sometimes the weather as his medium to remind us of his presence in our lives. "Be still and know that I am God. Give me your burdens." (pg 16) Oftentimes we hear him, but we refuse to obey.

In "Speak To My Heart," Serena Jaspers ceases all communication with her mother, because of unearthed family secret. God spoke in her thoughts, "Come and I will give you rest." (pg 144) God spoke in the pastor's message, "How many of us can lay down our reasoning and just go with God's flow?" (pg 170) And after her mother surrended to cancer, God spoke as, "Rain pummeled the roof of the limosine." (pg 249) Fortunately, Serena reconciled the differences before it was too late.

Stacy Hawkins Adams lets her words "speak" to the reader's heart. I misplaced the book twice before finishing it, and the story spoke to me in it's absence. If you have trouble with forgiveness, listen to the message in "Speak To My Heart."

Half Chicken, Half Scholar
Brandi Forte
Drama Girl Publishing, LLC
ISBN 0971091110, $20.00 234 pp.

Description: Empowered by the word

How many people can devote the time for a 4-day spiritual retreat? This would include attending self-help workshops, sharing your real-life experiences, and bonding with new friends. Every now and then, it's good to explore what makes us tick. "Somethimes we have to take a look at why a person does what they do." (pg 94)

"Half Chicken, Half Scholar" details a fictional renewal of four women at the Purpose & Empowerment Retreat in Washington, DC. Each day drills down into the women's psyche to find how their reactions to past relationships affect their present lives. Many buried fears, brought to the surface, allowed each woman to open up for forgiveness, acceptance, and understanding. At the end, one woman admitted, "I was so smart, but made 'chicken-head,' bad decisions." (pg 223)

Brandi Forte describes the women's personalities and conversations in great detail. Every woman could identify with at least one character. Brandi writes a message that we are not alone in our trials, with the emphasis of sharing your experiences for healing and to teach someone else. I recommend reading "Half Chicken, Half Scholar" in your spare time, and let the characters empower your life.

More Than Money, True Prosperity: A Wholistic Guide To Having It All
Michael J. Roads
Silverroads Publishing
3029 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115
ISBN: 0972914528, $13.00

Description: A string to wealth

When I jumped at the chance to review Michael Roads new book, I felt like a Road's groupie. I enjoyed how "The Magic Formula" told a story of healing and transformation through the lives of others. Learning from the mistakes of the characters, helped me with my own life choices. I thought the new book would again allow me to mend my old mental scars in a gentle way, without me actually thinking I had to do something about my flaws. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening.

In "More Than Money, True Prosperity" Michael Roads took my index finger, which I usually pointed at someone else, turned my hand around, and pointed my own finger at me. I initally felt uncomfortable reading the first chapter. "Very few people actively realize that your future is built on the foundation of your past, and that while negative emotional reactions are still festering within you the toxins continue to pollute your potential." (pg 9) I had to stop blaming others for any misfortunes in your life, because the negativity only recycled within my own body.

For true wealth, I had to be thankful for all previous life events. "...bitterness is like acid, it destroys its own container first." (pg 101) If I continued to harvest anger or resentment or animosity toward anyone who wronged me, I would only be destroying myself. My thoughts, feelings and words are constantly reshaping my prosperity. "In other words, we create our own diseases, our own pain and suffering, by sheer self-neglect." (pg 165) And, what good is a lot of money in the bank, if I am not able to enjoy it from my poor health?

Thank goodness Michael J. Roads wrote an inspirational book as if he were speaking at a workshop. As a lecturer, yearly traveling to five continents, he has put on paper what I probably would not have heard with his words. Although I read the book in two days, I've continued to peruse his wisdom. Just like a string on your finger "More Than Money, True Prosperity" is a gentle reminder - "If you want the results, it's all up to you!" (pg 220)

Judine Slaughter, Reviewer

Kimberly's Bookshelf

It Feels Like Snow
Nancy Cote
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431
ISBN: 159078054X $15.95 32 pages

Alice swept the last leaves of fall into her sleeping garden. She put down her broom and rubbed her shoulders. She looked at the sky. A shiver ran through her bones. And then it happened her big toe began to throb. "Snow," she told her dog Sweetie. "This means snow."

Now if only Alice could get her friends to listen to her. They all laugh at and ignore the old lady's warning. Sure enough, snow falls. It takes everyone by surprise- everyone but Alice that is. She's stocked up on supplies and ready to see the storm through. She begins to worry about her foolish friends, though. She invites them all over and vows to share what she has with them. Everyone is thankful and never again does any of them laugh at or ignore Alice's weather forecasts. This story is a wonderful example of friendship and generosity.

The Snowflake Sisters
J. Patrick Lewis
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
ISBN: 0689850298 $16.95 32 pages

Said Crystal Snowflake to her twin,

"Look at what a spin I'm in,
Feather-light and falling whoa!"
Sighed her sister, Ivory, "Oh,
Let us snow then, you and I,
While we have wet winds to fly,
While the children come and go-
Tongues inviting us to snow."

And so begins The Snowflake Sisters, a roller coaster ride through a season in the life of two snowflakes. Where will they go? Will they meet the man in the big red suit? What other friends will they meet along the way? This delightful rhyming picture book should be a snow day staple in every child's library!

Marion Dane Bauer
Aladdin Paperbacks
An imprint of Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing Division
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
ISBN: 0689854366 $11.89 32 pages

The winter world is cold.
The trees are bare.
The grass is brown.
Gray clouds crawl across the sky.

Many children love playing in the snow. They love making angels and snowmen and engaging in playful snowball fights. But to many children, the magic of snow remains a mystery. What is it made from? Where does it come from? This book has all of the answers and the simple text of this Level 1 Ready-to-Read, makes it a great pick for any child just beginning to enter the wonderful world of reading.

Kimberly Hutmacher

Magdalena's Bookshelf

The Turning
Tim Winton
ISBN 0330421387, $A 46.00

Tim Winton has a gift for combining accessibility, literary grace, and a strong sense of the common character. His work tends to traverse a bleak terrain, with poorly educated characters facing limited life choices, and yet there is almost always a kind of rough hewn beauty, between the landscape, the intensity of the emotions the characters experience, and the relationships they struggle with. The Turning is a collection of seventeen short stories that follow the lives of the same characters at different critical moments in their lives. The settings, situations, and themes overlap, but the stories are able to stand alone, as evidenced by the individual publication of seven of the stories in well known Australian literary journals. As the title suggest, each story contains a moment of turning a brief epiphany where the dirt and grit of the moment is transformed. The beauty doesn't last, but that doesn't take away from the richness, or the humanity which is revealed in Winton's stunning but taut prose. However poignant they are alone, the stories add up to a greater meaning when put together. For example, in the disturbing story which titles the book, "The Turning," we meet Raelene, mother of two girls, and wife to Max, a violent and angry cray-fisherman. Max is more than an unlikeable character, he's ugly, criminal, and a sharp contrast to Raelene's delicate awakening to the world around her. Like the two born again Christians Raelene meets, we want Raelene to leave him before it's too late. There is only one side to Max in this story he is pure antagonist:

She got up to meet him, went out into the dull day, but he siezed her by the arms and bullocked her back into the annexe. She felt the van slam into her back and head and he pinned her there. Who is it? He hissed, bug-eyed with fury." (155)

We meet Max again in conjunction with his brother Frank Leaper, a football star with a brief season of glory. As with "The Turning," both "Sand," and "Family" present the protagonist's point of view, showing Max as the aggressive and cold hearted bully with a "pit bull leer," burying his brother alive in a sand dune, teasing and belittling him, and refusing any kind of human dialogue. But when Max is attacked by a shark, we see Frank's unconditional love towards his big brother, and despite everything, can feel the same sick weight of caring the way a family shapes, and gets under the skin:

Leaper saw Max's head ease down on the board. His brother's body shook beneath his own and he felt sick with triumph, with anger, from love. The water was thick as sand. Out past Max's head the tower showed through the spray of breaking waves. Swells overtook them. The tank was bleary, unblinking, above the dune. (186-7)

Max doesn't improve as a character, but instead of being portrayed as a monster in isolation, we now see him in the context of his uncaring father, and the mother who deserted her children. The pathos of the Leapers' demise is one that the reader feels strongly, in spite of the horrific nature of Max's anger.

Another character who we see from a number of different angles is Vic Lang, who we first meet in the opening story, "Big World" where he is briefly described as "copper's son" and the school dux who doesn't show up for graduation. He has a much greater role as a bright twelve year old on a camping trip with his chaotic family in "Abbreviation." Vic experiences his first kiss from an older girl with a missing finger (who pulls hard on his ear as she kisses him), as well as the pain of a hook in his leg, and pain and pleasure become permanently linked in his head in a way which colours the rest of his life:

The whole time they worked, through every blast of pain, he thought of Melanie. Her ifnger, her swinging breasts, a puddle of sand on her belly. He didn't give a bugger about the cousins; let them see him writhe and bulbber. He was thinking of her. He was immune; nothing could touch him. (35)

We later see Vic through his wife's eyes in "Damaged Goods," as a man obsessed by a beautiful but disfigured girl he knew as a teenager. Vic's wife narrates and her own obsession with her husband's regret, and unfulfilled longing layer with Vic's so that we feel his sadness and regret along with hers. We see other sides of Vic as he helps his proud single mother with her demeaning house cleaning job in "On Her Knees," sitting by the window with his departed father's shotgun for security in "Long Clear View," or in "Commission" where, at his mother's death-bed request, he meets up with the father he hasn't seen for twenty-seven years:

So many subtle tiny doses over the years that something in me gave out. I was no longer capable fo forgiveness. If Gail, my wife, hadn't come along, I wonder what would have become of me. She has such a capacity to forgive, I doubt I could have reinvented myself by sheer force of will, though that would be my natural tendency. I have stumbled upon a goodlife. But my mother was too stubborn, too loyal, to move on. And now she was dying in that same state, fierce with hopeless love, and I was a breath away from screaming it all back in the old man's face. (226)

Vic ends the book in a kind of sad resignation mingled with the physical pain of Shingles, and revisits that moment by the window where he felt responsibility like a millstone around his neck and fear permeated his bones. The book contains a series of these moments or turnings which create the characters we meet. Even the seemingly unrelated characters are united by their adherance to hopeless love, to a kind of bleak hunger for something missing. They also all share the small, suburban, lower middle class neighbourhood of the fictional Angelus and real White Point, Western Australia. It is both a place to escape from, and one to return to. Put together these stories about the Leapers and the Langs, the stunted James Dean like Boner McPharlin and the girl who temporarily loved him, the sad widower Peter Dyson, Brakey and Agnes: children with missing or deficient parents and parents who were once children with missing or deficient parents, and you get a deeply moving portrayal of ordinary people which is fundamental enough to reveal something true about humanity.

The Turning often makes for painful reading, as we are drawn deeply into the heart of these stunted, unhappy, and sometimes doomed lives, but Winton's prose is transcendent. Taken together, these stories create their own turning, a sense that life somehow, even at its bleakest, goes on. Even at its lowest moments, there is always some element of beauty.

Weeds in the Garden of Words: Further Observations on the Tangled History of the English Language
Kate Burridge
ABC Books
ISBN 0733314104, $24.95

Do you just love words? Are you a mean Scrabble player? Do you feel strongly about right and wrong useage, or just wonder about the origins of some of those expressions teenagers seem to create? Kate Burridge brings heavy duty linguistics expertise, along with her own delight in the etmylogy and semiology of words to her new book, Weeds in the Garden of Words. Garden weeds is a metaphor which shapes and structures the book, which contains chapters on lexical weeks like jargon, slang, euphemism, word origins and meaning shifts, grammatical weeds, sound and spelling weeds, and nasty weeds like the words we use to describe mental illness, overt political correctness, and advertising slogans. Each chapter begins with a quote on the most relevant type of weed from a prominent garden writer - from CW Earle to Vita Sackville West, and there are many parallels drawn between the positive and negative aspects of garden weeds and linguistic weeds. Like a true gardener, Burridge's love for language is never so strict or pompous that it excludes admiration for what is truly beautiful or unique, even if it is as pernicious and destructive as a weedy plant. Like her very entertaining ABC radio show, Soundbank, Burridge brings charm, generosity and tolerance to an area which often attracts pedants. In all instances her goal is to provide interesting linguistic facts, a sense of the variability of language, a feeling for how words develop, and above all, a sense of useage that is, the human side of word progression.

Burridge's writing style is as lighthearted and entertaining as her speaking style, and the book is full of interesting sidebars, examples, anecdotes, ideosyncracies, and curiosities. She draws on her vast experience as a linguist, but also on the many questions and comments she's fielded as ABC Radio's Southbank's presenter. Although the exploration of words goes back to the beginning's of English as a language, Weeds in the Garden of Words is also modern and relevant, dealing with such issues as "hip" or teenage expressions:

Words, phrases and even affixes come in and out of fashion, and like modes of dressing they sometimes attain almost voguish popularity. For some reasons certain ones are taken up by a number of speakers and become buzz words. Suddenly they're everwhere. And like the lengths of hemlines and trouser legs, they're also usually short-lived soon to be replaced by other buzz words. In some areas this generates a kind of semantic treadmill. When we buried the cat's whiskers there was no shortage of replacements. They included far out and ace. When these were no longer 'hip', they were supplanted by cool (this one has made something of a comeback). More recently we have seen cool fall by the wayside, pushed out by wicked. However, I gatehr no self-respecting teenager would be caught dead uttering wicked these days. The 'cool dudes' of the new millennium use the expression phat (or fat) for something that is 'outstanding' or 'first-rate' - I'd probably descrite it as 'the bee's knees'. (42)

Other areas that Burridge takes on include the PC grammar checker's take on the passive:

Green squiggly lines now altert me to grammatical errors, infelicities of style, and all those other horrors of my writing. Of course I can turn it off. But the truth is, as irritating as I find them, it is also stragenly fascinating to see those green squiggly lines appear (all too frequently) underneath parts of my prose...with the right vocabulary, passives can make even the most simple and mundane topics sound complex and profound...(112-114)

Or the way the advertising industry makes use of sex to sell products:

But what about visual ephemism? So much food and drink advertising these days is accompanied by beautiful photography, by gorgeous images of the items being promoted and often, of course, gorgeous images of things whose connection with the products is quite remote.(205)

All in all, this is a fun, thought provoking guide which exposes a number of misconceptions about the etymology of language, and above all, plays the kinds of games with language which will have you thinking about the words you use, and don't use, in a much deeper, more meaningful way. The scholarship is solid, and draws on the long history of English, from Chaucer through Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson, Tolkien, and many more modern writers, speakers, and linguistic historians. Despite the impeccible scholarship, Burridge keeps the pace quick, and the tone informative, and light, so that it never becomes dry or academic. If you love words, and tend to notice the way in which people communicate, you will certainly love this book.

Magdalena Ball

Margaret's Bookshelf

The Magical Ritual Of The Sanctum Regnum
Eliphas Levi
Ibis Press
c/o Nicolas-Hays, Inc.
PO Box 1126, Berwick, ME 03901
0892541067 $16.95

The Magical Ritual Of The Sanctum Regnum by Eliphas Levi (1810-1875) is a classic occult and tarot manual that combines major arcana symbolism along with an extensive description of the ritual of the sanctum regnum, or Kingdom of God. Featuring an introduction by Robert Gilbert that recounts the history of Levi's original manuscript, including its eventual prevalence as a source text for ceremonial magicians, The Magical Ritual of the Sanctum Regnum remains as insightful today for tarot practitioners and lay readers as it did an age ago. A welcome and recommended core staple for tarot magic and occult reference shelves.

Out-Of-Body Exploring
Preston Dennett
Hampton Roads Publishing Company
1125 Stoney Ridge Road, Charlottesville, VA 22902
1571744096 $13.95

An out-of-body experience is a kind of astro projection where the subject seems to leave their physical body and forays into a real of expanded consciousness, viewing their environment with an awareness that is both familiar and strange for extended periods of time. Preston Dennett began his explorations beyond the physical body some twenty years earlier in an attempt to contact his deceased mother. Drawing upon hundreds of out-of-body experiences (OBE) lasting anywhere from a few seconds to several hours, Dennett now shares his experiences and provides an instructive "how to" manual for others to go out-of-body themselves, while maintaining control and an awareness for extended periods of time. Out-Of-Body Exploring: A Beginner's Approach is a unique and enthusiastically recommended addition to personal reading lists and Metaphysical Studies reference collections.

Boneyard Volume Three
Richard Moore
555 8th Ave., Suite 1202, New York, NY 10018
1561634050 $9.95

Boneyard Volume Three is the third graphic novel in Richard Moore's horror spoof. Following the adventures of a fairly ordinary young man who inherits a cemetery filled with supernatural tenants - including a lascivious sea-woman, her Frankenstein-like husband, stone gargoyles who are none too good at surfing, and a beautiful 2,000-year-old vampire named Abbey - Boneyard mixes humor with very practical problems, even for seemingly supernatural beings. The IRS is threatening to foreclose on their home, and to raise sufficient funds, our heroes attempt to create and sell a swimsuit special featuring the lovely beauties at the beach (with an extra dose of SPF 1000 for Abbey). But there are fiends far worse than the taxman at work, culminating in a deadly showdown between Abbey and an even more ancient and powerful entity - the one who made her a vampire and knows the gruesomely horrific details of her painful past, millennia ago. Although a parody of modern horror media, Boneyard is far more than a gag story; it mixes humor and drama to fine blend and is one of the finest independent comics currently being published. Also highly recommended are Boneyard Volumes One and Two.

Margaret Lane

Mayra's Bookshelf

Death of a Dancer
S. H. Baker
Zumaya Publications 512-707-2694
3209 S. IH 35 #1086, Austin TX 78741-6905
ISBN: 1554101263 $13.00 176 pages

After having left New Orleans about a year ago, Marshall's Bayou's Chief of Police Dassas Cormier returns to this city for a short visit with his nephew. Though he loves its lively jazz musicians and hum of streetcars, the place brings back dark haunting memories: not long ago, while still a police officer for the New Orleans Police Department, he had shot an innocent woman by mistake, an event that has left him permanently scarred for life.

However, what was meant to be a pleasant stay soon turns into a nightmare when Cormier learns that his dear friend Cherry Blossom, a sweet and kind dancer who once had quite literally saved his life, was murdered, shot twice in her bedroom.

Cormier makes a pledge: to find her killer and bring him or her to justice.

Although a man already has been arrested, after a short interrogation with him Cormier believes this suspect is innocent of the crime. His investigations soon led him to realize that Cherry's death goes beyond a simple murder. His former partner and best friend Ty Fuller seems to know more than he's willing to admit, an emerald necklace has disappeared, a federal agent is following Cormier, and Josiah Powers, one of the most influential mean in the city, soon to run for major, seems to be connected with the murder. Add to these a touch of illegal operations and a sprinkle of corruption, and you have the perfect ingredients for a mystery that will keep you turning those pages.

Told in the first person, this is a well-written, cozy mystery set in the 1920's that will please any reader of the genre. New Orleans comes alive with the blast of jazz music pouring out of nightclubs, the rustle of myrtle and magnolia trees and the perfume of roses and jasmine. I look forward to reading more of Dassas Cormier adventures.

Strange Valley
Darrell Bain
Twilight Times Books
P.O. Box 3340, Kingsport TN 37664-3340 Fax: (423) 323-0183
ISBN: 1931201234 $15.50, 222 pages

Hell breaks loose in the National Security Agency when a seemingly innocuous clerk at the Census department makes a startling discovery:

Masterville, a little city set at the bottom of a valley in northern Arkansas, seems to have some distinct anomalies which set it apart from the rest of the United States.

As the data indicate, Masterville has almost no crime, higher incomes, and more children in spite of a noticeably low marriage rate. Its residents show a longer life-span. Its schools and hospitals receive no funding from the government. Its streets lack hotels and all sort of franchises like McDonald's or Wal-Mart; all business are private owned by local residents. But the most significant anomaly appears to be that even though the city is situated in the middle of the Bible Belt, most of the population show no religious preference. What's more, these strange records seem to go back to the Civil War.

Are Masterville residents mutants? What is their origin? Are they even aware of their own anomalies? Is some sort of epidemic taking place?

Immediately an investigation is ordered and Daniel Stenning and Shirley Rostervick, NSA field agents, are assigned to the case. Posing as a married couple, they go to Masterville, where a series of twists and turns await them.

Things are brought out of proportion by the President of the United States, a ruthless, paranoid ex-preacher who sees a conspiracy against America under every rock and is obsessed with bringing Christian values into the government, a man portrayed as a radical fundamentalist, pitifully ignorant in the subject of science. A city where residents don't get married and show no religious preference? What will happen to our cherished American values? Logically, Masterville becomes an imminent threat. Whether this scenario is a parody of our present government situation, the reader will have to decide.

Definitely a good story. The first chapter is fascinating and the subsequent ones maintain a high tempo of action and suspense that will keep you curious to the end. The science is believable and intelligently written. This book also deals with issues worth pondering. Darrell Bain is a name I will keep my eye on for future reviews. Five stars.

Mayra Calvani

Nancy's Bookshelf

The Fall of Never
Ronald Damien Malfi
Raw Dog Screaming Press
ISBN 0974503177 $17.95 347 pp.

Hands down, The Fall of Never is one of the most enthralling and nail-biting books I've read in years. It has the extraordinary ability to draw you in deep and makes everything else around you a distant blur. Ronald Damien Malfi has a gift of making a character so real; you can reach out and touch them. Once you start reading, you'll be hooked.

The main character, Kelly, is a strong woman with a past that seems - for the most part - lost and forgotten. For weeks something gnaws away at her body and mind, trying to work itself front and center. Before she knows it, she is thrust into the darkness she has fought so hard to get passed, but what she remembers, could end up saving the life of her younger sister. She returns to the home she left once - rather sent away from - where a haunting presence of someone or something awaits their reunion.

The solid imagery and atmosphere kept me on edge. I felt like I was constantly teetering on the brink of concern and fear of what is coming next. The author has an incredible talent of leading you so far inside the headspace of the character; it's exhausting and surreal at the same time.

You are also drawn into the world of those around Kelly, where each person must experience and work through their own traumas and tragedies. Not only are they fighting for their lives, but also their sanity. Somewhere there is a connection that binds them all together, whether they know it or not. The ending was completely unexpected and at the same time I was torn because I wasn't ready for it to be over. I'd come to care so much about the people; it seemed to strange that all of a sudden they weren't in my life. There is complexity, intelligence, honesty, and an intense build up of suspense that leaves you gasping for air.

The Fall of Never is a masterpiece all on its own, a continuous piecing together of intricate mind puzzles. It raises the bar on how horror should be written and the way that characters should be developed. Expect to hear and see Ronald Damien Malfi's name everywhere in the future. Raw Dogs Screaming Press has become quite a known entity in putting out the best of the best and they've just added another one.

Species Written
Michael McBride
Black Death Books
ISBN 0974768049 $22.00 277 pp.

Species is a rock-solid read with intricate characters, cleverness, and one heck of an absorbing plot. In a rare mix of horror and sci-fi that truly works, this novel has brandished Michael McBride as a winner. Once you read this story, you'll only crave more I promise you. In fact I'll be amazed if you can even put this down.

How frightening is the thought of the end of the world? What if it happened yet you were one of only a handful left to continue with your life, but you're changed things aren't the same anymore and your body is being kept alive for reasons unknown. How could you handle life in a different light where your blood is so foreign, your very essence will only bring destruction to yourself and others if misused? Genetics, the whole human evolution theme, takes on a new meaning the sole chance of survival. What starts, as a nightmare, becomes a raw rush of reality. It can happen in this lifetime and it can happen right in your own backyard.

The author has a good grasp of how to keep the story at an even keel, slowly adding subtle tension, building suspense, and then jolting you into a quick but powerful ride. The concept of this book alone is enough to keep you up at night, wondering just what could happen and what you would do if you were in the character's shoes. Using all of the senses in his writing style, McBride earns his place as a sensational talent and to be taken quite seriously.

Species will cater to fans of horror, fantasy, and science fiction, without falling back on anything old or overdone. All the central characters are well defined and offer intelligence in their dialogue and interactions. Forget what you've read of zombie stories in the past, this is a stylish approach with true meaning and significance.

Michael McBride literally stunned me with his enigmatic talent and kept me hanging on right up until the end. With such an engrossing storyline as this, I thoroughly look forward to reading Species II: The Hive, which is the second volume in the Species trilogy. What are you waiting for, the end of the world?

Nora Weston
Publish America
ISBN 1413710883 $19.95 194 pp.

@hell is a very unique story that while delving the main character further and further into madness, it also delves the reader along with it as well. Nora Weston has written a suspenseful novel that will make you think twice about what you read and who you trust.

For Jake Cottrell, what starts as a harmless answering of an email becomes a tragic and no holds barred decent into hell. When a message claims that something or someone is missing, Jake has no idea that it could mean someone close to him, or that they might be more than missing; they could be dead. What is the true intent of the words on the screen, there are many interpretations of words, should he actually take them seriously? He calls their bluff and responds with humor and let's whoever it is know that he's more than up to the challenge. Soon, he finds out that the person posting back to him doesn't really have a sense of humor at all and they are content to dish out the challenge. Demons in the form of the devil himself, personal addictions, sex as a poison, all the offerings of desire and perfect bodies tear Jake's world apart. He enters a web of deceit and seduction. From which he can't escape.

Enter vixen Rachel with an insatiable appetite for Jake's soul, mind and body, puts him under her spell and feeds off his addictions. Out of her arms, he falls for the girlfriend of the very madman the demon - who is responsible for his deadly spiral into hell. With her life in jeopardy and her soul marked, he has to work against time and sanity to make things right. People disappear, people die, but there is also someone working in the shadows, and their wings offer a small bit of hope.

Intense action, intrigue, erotic elements, and fingernail-biting suspense all make @hell a satisfying and excellent read. Nora Weston knows how to drive the reader on, with a style that is very explosive.

Glenn Woods
High Country Publishers
ISBN 1932158588 $16.95 257 pp.

Essence is a haunting story told by the ghost of a little girl, Luzette. Not only is it refreshing to read the book from such a rare point of view, but also to relive the experiences from a child's standpoint gives it an eerie spark of intelligence. Drawn into the world of the Civil War in Savannah, Georgia it offers realistic atmosphere and depictions of what families went through during that era. It's so compelling I found it hard to put down.

Luzette is the ghost child, who wants to take a moment and share with you part of her life - and death. She offers a unique perspective on how the people around her behaved and acted during such dire times. As a ghost she was able to hear, experience, and be privy to the things that normally went on behind closed doors - away from children's eyes. In an unsettling way, we learn through her eyes just how cruel the world can really be. There are moments of bitter anguish, some subtle humor, and a lot of tension. All she wanted was her mother to find her but that would never happen. The author brings her character to life with a natural hand, and allows her innocent yet poignant voice to be heard.

There were times as I read this when I had goose bumps. Just thinking about the many times where I've felt a cold draft, or my hairs stand on ends, who or what may be there looking at me? How many ghosts are around us, taking in everything in our daily lives but just in different way? Just because we think we're alone, does not make it so.

Glenn Woods has penned a thought-provoking and intensive look into the life of this ghost child Luzette. Not only do you care about her, but you become transfixed with wanting to comfort her, shelter her, and remind her how loved she once was. While her life became a tragedy, she has so much life inside her still and it spills out onto the pages.

Essence will linger in your mind long after you've finished reading the book. I highly recommend listening to this little girl's story, it is inspirational, emotional, and will give you the chills.

Shadowed Remembrances
Joanne M. Kerzmann
Publish America
ISBN 141371904X $17.95 125 pp.

Shadowed Remembrances guides the reader effortlessly through suspense and human emotion, making for an exciting and satisfying read. Joanne M. Kerzmann shares with us a unique writing style with vivid imagery and impressive character development.

Detective Torianna Silverman spends her days analyzing fingerprints for crime scenes. After having suffered from her own childhood trauma and losing her parents, she finds comfort in that line of work. During a visit to her old hometown in Pennsylvania, she faces old ghosts and renews a romance with Nick Keyes - the County Coroner - and someone she once had strong feelings for.

At the same time, a murder investigation is being examined more closely, thanks to an observant housekeeper who refuses to believe her employer's wife, Sherry Wilkins, committed suicide. She hands over some sort of a computer disc to the authorities that may hold the key to the woman's untimely death, while putting her own life at risk. With both Nick and Torianna working on the case, they become a stronger unit and many overlooked pieces of the puzzle start to come together. What is on the disc that could have been so devastating that a woman had to die over it?

The author works the scene changes well with enough tension to keep you turning the pages, and wanting to find out the truth behind all the secrets of the murder. She also blends the character's need for spiritual balance, guidance, and peace beautifully into the story, in a very subtle and refreshing way. There is no preachy undertone, instead it allows the character to strengthen and deal with her haunting past.

Shadowed Remembrances is filled with action, romance, and mystery. From the first chapter it grabbed my attention and didn't let up. It goes by quickly yet stays with you long after you've finished. Joanne Kerzmann is an author to keep your eye on.

Nancy Jackson, Reviewer

Paul's Bookshelf

At the Threshold of Liquid Geology and Other Automatic Tales
Eric W. Bragg
Writer's Advantage / iUniverse
5220 S 16th Street, #200, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 0595240216, $14.95, 234 pages

To quote from the back cover of this book: "This modern collection of surrealist prose-poems was inspired by the improvisational method of automatic writing, popularized by the International Surrealist movement. From one brain to another without any literary rules or standards; the words in these automatic writings are not just words, but rays of subconscious illumination that peel away the various layers of the 'civilized,' western psyche, one by one."

For those who understand what that means, and are interested in such writing, read no further; buy this book. For everyone else, these are not stories in the usual sense. They are collections of strange images where bizarre things happen right next to each other. In just the first story, a thin stream of sugar is dropped into a tiger's eyeball, a frog burps a shiny platinum marble, there is a talking caterpillar, and an umbrella reveals a family sunning themselves on the shore of an island continent formed from green volcanic glass deposited hundreds of thousands of years ago.

This book is very much not for everyone. For those who want to give their brain a workout, this is an excellent choice. For those who want "normal" books with plot and characters and all those English Literature words, this book can be skipped.

Writing Crime New York Style
Joseph L. Giacalone
1663 Liberty Drive, #200, Bloomington, IN 47403
ISBN 1414053517, 166 pages, $13.50

Many books have been written attempting to explain law and police procedure for crime writers; few are written by real cops. This book, written by an 11-year veteran of the NYPD, looks at real police procedures in the Big Apple.

It gives the street addresses, coverage areas and major landmarks for all the precincts in the five boroughs. It describes the various units and other personnel within a precinct, like the Integrity Control Officer, the Anti-Crime Unit, the Borough Task Force, the Emergency Services Unit, the Squad Commander, the Hate Crimes Task Force, and the Organized Crime Control Bureau, among many others. There is now no reason for a writer to put a precinct in the wrong part of the city, or to have a crime investigated by the wrong part of the precinct.

The author then explores what really happens at the scene of a homicide. Rigor mortis is part of practically every murder novel, but is usually done incorrectly. It does not turn a body permanently rigid; after about a day and a half, the body returns to totally flaccid. A reliable way for the medical examiner to determine the time of death is to check the contents of the stomach during the autopsy.

The first patrol officer on the scene will often make or break the case. He or she will establish the crime scene without contaminating it, and detain witnesses and suspects. Everything starts with a clear and accurate description, whether it's of a lost child or a murder suspect.

Other chapters look at police lineups, what the Miranda Warning is all about, courtroom testimony (including how to survive cross-examination), the various types of serial killers, and sex crimes and child abuse cases. There is also a handy glossary of actual police lingo and a list of police acronyms.

This is a very complete book. For writers of crime novels, especially NYPD novels, this book belongs on your reference shelf. For everyone else, read this book and see for yourself just how well, or how badly, TV does the police business. Highly recommended.

Patrons In a Bar
A.J. Burress
America House
P.O. Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705
ISBN 1591290503, 218 pages, $19.95

This is the story of Jake Tidwell, your average fresh-out-of-college type, living near Pittsburgh. Looking for more from life than the usual 9 to 5 job, Jake takes off for a year of traveling around America. He also figures that, as a would-be writer, he should have some experiences worth writing about.

Jake is one of those who likes his liquor and drugs, and has something of a gambling problem. After the obligatory stop in Las Vegas, he ends up in Phoenix to look up some lady friends from back home, known for throwing legendary parties. While he spends nights on their couch, he is forced to get a job. He becomes a supervisor for a group of mall kiosks that encourage people to enter a contest for a free weekend at a hotel in Mexico. Actually, it is little more than a telemarketing scam. After a few months, Jake again gets the urge to hit the open road and heads north toward Portland, Oregon.

Hiking on Mt. Hood, Jake has an epiphany. Sitting down to read Walden by Henry David Thoreau, Jake has the realization that Thoreau wrote the book for Jake, at that moment. If Jake didn't have to get back home for the marriage of Paul, his best friend, the thought of staying in Portland was mighty tempting. The bride-to-bride doesn't like her fiance's friends, including Jake, but the guys are going to celebrate, anyway. Driving to pick up a friend in town, to bring him back to the party, Jake is arrested for DUI. Since the arraignment isn't for several weeks, Jake gets in his car and heads for Baltimore.

He gets a job at a local restaurant, and is able to sleep at a local youth hostel for free, due to a loophole in their system. After the charges are dropped back home, Jake heads for Key West. His fellow employees at a local restaurant are from several different countries. Almost none of them speak English, but they all manage to understand each other. Key West is a place that turns into one big party at night. The cocaine and alcohol flow like water. Jake can hold his own as a partier, but staying up all night, every night, begins to take its toll. Part of the reason for the journey is to sort out his feelings toward Jane, his girlfriend, who is willing to wait for him.

This is much more than just a drunken, drug-filled chronicle of one person's journey around America. Jake sees the best and worst in people, in unexpected places. This story is full of heart and soul and intelligence. It is well worth reading.

Paul Lappen

Pisano's Bookshelf

Dream: A Tale of Wonder, Wisdom and Wishes
Susan V. Bosak
TCP Press
9 Lobraico Lane, Witchurch-Stouffville, Ontario L4A 7X5 Canada
Tel: 1(905) 640-8914 Fax: 1(905) 640-2922
ISBN: 1896232043 $17.95

Hailed by iParenting Media as one of the best new books of the Fall, "Dream" shares the poetic musings of Susan V. Bosak. Each profound yet universal, young yet wise, thought is accompanied by an inspirational, relevant quote by notable persons, including Marie Curie, Martin Luther King Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt, T.S. Eliot and Langston Hughes, to name a few.

This book tells of great ideas made possible, and brings them to live in beautiful illustrations by internationally-acclaimed illustrators in a wide variety of stunning formats. Readers are challenged to find the symbolic, hidden star in each of the illustration spreads, adding an active feature to this coffee-table type picture book.

Included are biographies on each of the illustrators with relevant quotes, explanations of how they brought the text to life and an exploration of the mediums used to create the art.

All in all, an inspiring and unique venture by Susan V. Bosak and TCP Press.

Little Dog Poems
Kristine O'Connell George
Illustrated by June Otani
ISBN 0395822661; $12.00 Ages 4 - 8

Kristine O'Connell George (Recipient of Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry and IRA Promising Poet Awards) introduces Little Dog, a spunky, playful character, and offers a glimpse of his busy day. June Otani (Illustrator of several children's books, including Chibi: A True Story From Japan) works closely with George's text to bring Little Dog and his master to life on the page in delightful, delicate watercolor illustrations.

Little dog welcomes the morning with a cold nose nuzzle better than any alarm clock! Throughout the day, Little Dog attacks vacuums, attends obedience school, barks at cars, chases airplanes and more! Thirty poems later, the reader will have fallen in love with Little Dog and his owner and their perky, quirky ways. Dog owners will recognize their own dogs in Little Dog's reactions to the world around him.

A wonderful collection of short, easy-to-read, free verse poems to be read again and again and again!!

Little Dog and Duncan
Kristine O'Connell George
Illustrated by June Otani
ISBN 061811758X; $12.00 Ages 4 - 8

Little Dog returns in his very own sequel--and this time, he's not the only dog on the block! A big dog named Duncan comes to Little Dog's home for a sleep over. Little Dog's young mistress takes great care to make Duncan feel at home, but makes sure that Little Dog knows he is not forgotten. Even though they are different, Little Dog and Duncan become fast friends. They did roll in grass, dig, trudge through mud together all the fun things a dog likes to do.

Once again, it's a dog's life for author Kristine O'Connell George and illustrator June Otani and what a wonderful life it is! Twenty-seven beautifully illustrated free verse poems capture a little girl and her dog's efforts to make a houseguest welcome. Like Little Dog, you will miss Duncan once he returns home. Let's hope that more adventures lie ahead for Little Dog!

Lynne Marie Pisano

Pogo's Bookshelf

Black Ice
Jaxine Daniels
Zumaya Publications
Burnaby, BC Canada
ISBN 189494271X $14.00 223 pp.

The action is fast. Mason Griswald squares off with his opponent, A J Charbonneau for keeping the puck out of the net and defending the same territory. A. J. and Mason jostle on and off the ice for the same position and the same lady. Jamie McMasters works as a paramedic by trade and part-time trainer on the bench for the Storm. Her brother, Jeff is on the team. Inseparable since childhood, the twins keep each other company in a world where they've learned to battle for each other. Jeff extends his welcome to A J, the incoming French Canadian team mate from New York, who trips over Jamie having a tea party with the neighbor's kids. Team unity isn't only found on the ice when the guys have to play with each other, but players establish camaraderie within their own clan submerged from the prying eyes of greater society. In Lesser Seattle, gossip flies quickly about the town regarding A. J.'s past affairs. Over six feet tall with the reputation of a Playboy, he appears to be the type who keeps lanky Barbie Dolls in both hands. When trouble arrives on long legs, newly established relationships sizzle with interference.

A. J. Carbonneau, the clumsy outsider, doesn't know the rules of the new club. His professional future depends on winning the position of starting goalie, defended by Mason. Opposite in temperament, A. J. finds himself no contestant to the suave coolth of Mason who can charm a woman with his dripping smile and oozing mannerisms. Obsessed by competition, Mason finds every opportunity to antagonize his opponent, encouraging the wagging tongues to talk about the past and destroy A.J.'s reputation. His charms don't come just with roses, but dangle on bracelets.

Caught in the middle between two bruising players, Jamie doesn't know which to believe. Striving to maintain professional distance, she doesn't want to be involved with a hockwey player and hasn't much good luck in personal relationships. Concealing her past, she finds herself vulnerable and insecure as a result of childhood trauma. Happy to be part of the team on the bench, she doesn't want to be part of the action or be the puck on the ice as it gets slapped between players.

Greener than the state tree, A J finds himself at loss, unable to defend himself against Mason's ruthless attacks and chilvarous mannerisms. He, too, has a secret past, one that he's unwilling to reveal for fear that his emotional vulnerabilities will be further exploited in a time when he needs to concentrate chiefly on getting the starting goalie position. Personal and professional lives come into conflict as the players jostle with each other for the center ice to take control of the puck. In hockey, an injury can be more than physical when egos smash into each other.

Slickly written, the reader chases the pace of the players. Jaxine Daniels is a smooth writer with sound knowledge of the professional hockey world with technical insight for paramedic work. Well-researched, the reader finds himself sitting in the hallways of the notorious Harborview Hospital atop Pill Hill and flying with the team to Buffalo and Boston and then Detroit. The game moves fast, full of twists and turns with an occassional visit to an emergency room with injuries that require more than just an ice pack. Suspenseful, Jaxine keeps you on the edge as the players circle each other to ward off their opponent's moves. Practice gets suspended when Lord Stanley and Jamie both go missing. Who wins? Read the book to find out.

Chester Aaron Zumaya
Burnaby CA
ISBN 1554101271 $22.00 181 pp .

A sexual predator prowls the halls at St. Catharine's, a Jesuit college. Suspicions are raised in the colelge newspaper, The Cross and Trumpet, regarding the administrative management and investigation of the affairs. Lead journalist, Eve Gallagher, get roughly woken up out of her boyfriend's bed with the telephone's ringing. Half-awake, she finds herself cutting through a chaotic scene outside Lovelace Hall, where she ought to have been sleeping. Had she been there, maybe things would have been different.

Guilt drives Eve Gallagher onto the story about her brutalized room-mate, Kirby Petrucci: the kid any parent would want for a daughter, the psuedo-sister who blends better in the family living-room without making the curtains flutter.

"Siamo tutt'una," Kirby would growl, like a sultry Silvana Mangano. "The closest translation: I am, you aer me. A little Italian tobacco to put in your pipe and smoke. Don't check the grammar with Miss Alioto. She's from Sicily. She's not Italian." "Two peas in a pod," her mother had marveled aloud of the two of them when Kirby visited Eve in Estrelita Point last summer. "One Pea," Eve insisted. "Kirby doesn't curse so much, Eve." "I curse for the two of us, Momma. I curse, Kirby prays." (p45)

Only the good, die young. Only the good, get ground into the ground. Only the good, turn the cheek to get it slapped and take the knife in the back.

Kirby, unconscious in a hospital room with tubes running in and out to provide life support. Kirby, her carbon copy, the better side of her life, had been viciously attacked. What if she had been there? In the place where she belonged, instead of warming Marc's bed and getting called, Ice Cube. Kirby, Debby and Eve, the three chicks that hung together on the college newspaper in confrontation of male dominated world, of a Catholic controlled college where all the dirt got swept under the ratty carpet and rebellion subdued by Brother Julius in the administrative office. Eve, the wannabe journalist, models herself off a hard-bitten Molly Ivins and pretends to be the next Great Muckracker, if not Maureen Dowd, the winner of the prestigious Arbinger Award, but still not sharp enough to cut the edges of a daily newspaper. Perpetually stuck on herself like gum on a shoe, Eve wears out her heels running around, trying to be superwoman in outspoken rebellion to her conservative Catholic parents. If half the world prays, that's reason enough to swear. Late on the road to maturity, Eve is suddenly confronted with mortality as Kirby struggles on the edge of life. Basic fundamentals of investigative journalism are brushed aside as Eve's emotions fuel her angry rebellion against the college administration for reporting date-rape and emergency calls through the city crisis line.

Struggling through the aftermath of the attack of her room-mate, Eve lives in a surreal world of fantasy and terror, reawakening scenes from a traumatized childhood. Where reality and nightmare mingle, she can't tell, as she struggles to fulfill the image she has projected of herself as a tough, up-and-coming investigative reporter. Death is nothing to fear. A loving God waits on the other side it's only this life and the shadows that haunt this world that fill our lives with terror.

Chestor Aaron is a Professor Emeritus of St. Mary's College in California where he gained insight to social conflicts between students and administration on campus. Although private religious colleges project the image of secure places to park your rebellious teenagers and the academic cleft in the Rock of Ages, eventually the brutal realities of drugs, date-rape and corruption taint the picture. With the priestly scandals on the front pages of American papers for the last years, Americans are taking a hard look at social values and the expense of religious education. Although the church decries premarital sex as a sin, how then do so many priests engage in illicit sexual relationships? The excuses of inadequate training or experience in psychological evaluation of candidates simply can't be accepted from an institution claiming to be nearly two thousand years old. Even in Boccaccio's days, the Catholic Church had a bad reputation for corruption. Why do parents presume that by sending their kids to a religious school, their children are "safe" from the world?

Written through the eyes of Eve Gallagher, the reader experiences the conflicting values of Catholic America and the expectations that the devoted lay invest in their leaders as well as the disillusionment associated with the loss of innocence when scandal breaks in the morning papers. Eve raises disturbing issues in identifying the weaknesses of parochial administrations that believe naively that the bad will just go away or get buried on the third page. Money buys silence and early departure from school can be arranged. Only so much can be ignored, before life is threatened. Personal sin can be confessed in a confessional behind a curtain, but not when it becomes criminal, endangering another life. The values of the church and school systems are scrutinized in respect to value of human life and the price of maintaining secrecy and Christian ethics.

Sometimes, difficult to follow, Aaron portrays contemporary student life as it bustles down the halls just before the doors slam behind the administrators.


Roger's Bookshelf

421 Business Strategy Mistakes and How You Can Avoid Them
Stephen Roulac
Property Press
709 Fifth Avenue, San Rafael, CA 94901
ISBN 1931578095 $29.99 511 pages

Comprehensive, Eye-Opening, Thought-Provoking

Every executive, manager, and supervisor makes mistakes. It's one of the risks and realities of leadership. The secret, someone once said, is not to make the same mistake twice. A deeper secret is not to make the mistake the first time! If you can avoid the mistakes by learning from others, you'll be ahead of the game.

Now, if you only had a mentor who could guide you along your career path a coach who could just point out some mistakes that you could avoid. Enter: Stephen Roulac, a Certified Management Consultant with decades of advisory experience. He doesn't have all the answers, and a lot of his comments are very tight and to-the-point. Not a lot of extra words or explanations in these pages. Yet, in page after page, Roulac delivers warnings about common mistakes in Plans and Goals, Strategy, Values, Mission, Vision, Decisions, Operating Philosophies, Finance and Accounting, Purchasing and Supply Chain, Styles and Priorities, Management Behavior, Individual Style, Competition and Markets, Perspective and Viewpoints, Marketing and Sales, Leadership, and more.

This book will give you a lot to think about, in nugget form. You'll find much more breadth than depth here, with enough of a range of topics that you'll be stimulated to talk with others about their experiences and perspectives.

The final section of the book offers cogent advice on recognizing and avoiding mistakes.

Valuable for new or experienced leaders. Great reference book to have sitting on your shelf.

Building and Preserving Your Wealth
Steven Podnos
Oakhill Press
1647 Cedar Grove Road, Winchester, VA 22603
ISBN 1886939675 $18.95 138 pages

Even more than you wanted to know!

We've all used the expression "everything you ever wanted to know, but were afraid to ask." This information-packed book goes even further.

The author is an MD who specialized in respiratory medicine. He invested successfully over two decades, learning more and more about how to build and manage wealth. Over time, we might say he converted his hobby into a new profession, earning an MBA and earning the well-respected Certified Financial Planning designation.

Employing what might be described as an effective "bedside manner," Dr. Podnos explains a wide range of investment and tax strategies in terms that make sense even to the uninitiated. And, since the book is directed toward people who already have knowledge (subtitle: A Practical Guide to Financial Planning for Affluent Investors), it could be construed to be even more understandable. I approached this book as having minimal knowledge of financial planning and was able to comprehend and appreciate the teachings.

Readers will gain a clear message that each individual will benefit most from a tailored plan, one that meets specific needs and circumstances. With the complexity of available alternatives, the most wise strategy is to engage a professional financial planner who works for you rather than earning compensation from the sale of securities, insurance, or other instruments. The author even tells you, in his numerous resource listings (at the end of each chapter) how to find Certified Financial Planners. The book will educate you enough to know what questions to ask at least to start.

You'll learn about investing, retirement planning, education planning, risk management and asset protection, health and disability planning, life insurance and annuities, charitable planning, estate planning, tax planning, and working with advisors. As you can see, this book is certainly comprehensive. It's a thought-provoking guidebook that has value for investors and potential investors at all levels.

Get a Grip! Overcoming Stress and Thriving in the Workplace
Bob Losyk
John Wiley & Sons
ISBN 0471659495 $19.95 215 pages

Comprehensive Treatment of a Vital Topic

Twenty-five years ago, when "burnout" was just being recognized as a high-stress, hit-the-wall phenomenon, I was there. I went through that experience, and recovered. I still have vivid memories of living a great number of the symptoms that are included in the classic definitions of job burnout. It's not pretty. Everyone in the world of work is advised to learn the warning signs, the avoidance techniques, and the secrets to leading a happy life with stress under control.

Bob Losyk's book will tell you how.

With my intimate knowledge of the field of stress, from living the out-of-control side to managing it well today, I found this book to be the most thorough on the topic. Losyk explains stress, stressors, and symptoms with a breadth and depth that covers everything the reader needs to know. I was pleasantly surprised by the volume of information he managed to squeeze into these pages. Even with anecdotes to illustrate his themes, there are few wasted words in this book. And that's important: people with stress problems have little patience with rambling!

The book is comprehensive, addressing meditation, diet, exercise, time management, and so much more. His "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Stressors" is filled with practical advice. Challenged readers could even start there and be ready for instant progress. Just thumbing through the book and looking at the boxes with assessments, action plans, and capsulized knowledge will be a valuable experience.

The book might have benefited from an index, but the table of contents is detailed enough the help the reader find specific information easily.

With the pressures of work, career, and questions about whether to stay or go, this book offers powerful support for management and non-management workers alike. As lead author of "Impending Crisis: Too Many Jobs, Too Few People," I'm keenly aware of what is happening and what will be happening in the workplace. Losyk's book will be a vital tool (perhaps a life-saver) for a lot of people.

People Smart Leaders
Larry Cole, Ph.D. and Michael Cole, Ph.D.
Oakhill Press
ISBN 1886939616 $22.95 198 pages

Emphasis on the Value of People

Here's another book written by consultants to articulate their perspectives on the work that leaders must do to guide their organizations to success. Describing a systems orientation to leadership of people, the authors encourage the use of data, assessments,

team work value statements, and their software.

Recognizing that many executives concentrate on the technical aspect of management, using metrics that enable them to measure their performance, the authors focus on "making abstract social skills more empirical." I found the text to be similar to other leadership books, but not delivering new knowledge or breakthrough thinking. Chapter 10 (Blueprint for Change) includes an interesting presentation of the process of overcoming resistance and the impact of persistence on achieving change. There were a few other parts of the book that organized thinking in a helpful format, though the authors used a lot of the reader's time quoting other writers in the leadership field. I was hoping for more original work.

Parts of the book seemed repetitive and, while the authors' software may be helpful, it was mentioned enough that I felt like I was being pitched. Interesting, there was no appendix explaining the software and its applicability. There is an index, but not a bibliography of all the books cited in the text.

Rhonda - The Woman in Me
Rhonda D. Hoyman
Pearce Publishers
PO Box 4923, Timonium, MD 21094
ISBN 1883122147 $TBA 308 pages

Deep, page-turning, insightful book

This is not at all the kind of book that I would pick up at a bookstore. I review business books, primarily, though I do read and review other genres from time to time. The book was given to me by the author when I spoke at a professional conference which she attended. I opened the cover on the plane on the way home and couldn't put it down.

This is a fascinating story of the conversion of a transsexual from a male body (Ron) to a female body (Rhonda). Since childhood, Ron had felt like he was a female trapped in a male body. This concept is difficult to understand and accept, but you'll understand much more as you read the exceptionally well-written account of this person's life. You'll learn so much about Rhonda that you will feel like you know her like an old friend by the time you reluctantly close the back cover.

Reading this book opened my eyes, my mind, and my heart to a part of society that was totally foreign to me. The story was presented in a way that is not at all offensive, but offers a thorough explanation of Rhonda's life and her multi-faceted transformation. You'll experience the turmoil, the change process, and the joy Rhonda went through over a period of years. Because of the way she wrote her life story, this is much, much more than just a sex change story. It's a human story, filled with all the challenges, engagements, activities, and dedications of a professional faced with major decisions. You may relate personally to some of the aspects of Rhonda's life, enabling you to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation.

Rhonda's story, while an inspirational model for transsexuals, is also a motivational insight for all of us. As you move through the pages, you will be captivated with the writing style that draws you in as you learn what a friend experienced. It's a life story that may move you to make changes though not as drastic in your life to achieve your dreams.

In my work as a management consultant focused on workforce issues, I found this book to be an eye-opening exposure to an aspect of diversity that had been outside my field of knowledge. I encourage you to read it to gain this appreciation for yourself.

The Baptist Health Care Journey to Excellence
Al Stubblefield
ISBN 0471708909 $24.95 225 pages

Inspiring, Instructive, Energizing

When Gordon Bethune, then President and CEO of Continental Airlines, wrote "From Worst to First" in 1999, executives in all fields were fascinated by his tale of how he turned around a company that many had given up for dead. He told the story and unquestionably his leadership was paramount in Continental's incredible success. Of course, as you might expect from a true leader, he shared the achievement with everyone in the organization.

The tale of the turnaround, the awards, and the ongoing success helped thousands of executives and managers improve their operations.

Now Al Stubblefield steps forward in his role as President and CEO of Baptist Health Care in Pensacola, Florida. When he assumed this leadership position in 1999, he faced major challenges but he and his team were already on the journey to excellence. The picture was bleak when the transformation began in 1995: patient satisfaction was at an all-time low, morale was dangerously low.

The 5,500 employees of this largest healthcare organization in northwest Florida worked together to become recognized by FORTUNE magazine as one of the 100 Best Places to Work, was recognized as an Employer of Choice, and received the Malcolm Baldrige Award in 2004. The story of how this was accomplished rivals the saga of Continental Airlines. The Baptist Health Care achievement ranks as one of the most valuable case studies you'll read.

Stubblefield takes you on their journey, explaining what was done and how it was done. Examples and illustrations illuminate the text, making the path even easier to follow. Applying what you'll learn in these pages will empower you to move your organization, regardless of your field of endeavor, to substantially higher levels of performance.

Read this book now before your competitors do!

Roger Herman

Sharon's Bookshelf

9 Steps for Reversing Or Preventing Cancer And Other Diseases
Shivani Goodman, Ed.D.
The Career Press
3 Tice Road, PO Box 687, Franklin Lakes, NJ 07417
1564147495 $14.99

Breast cancer survivor and self-healing consultant Shivani Goodman presents 9 Steps for Reversing or Preventing Cancer and Other Diseases: Learn to Heal from Within, a compendium of wisdom that emphasizes the power of mind/body healing techniques. Chapters address how toxic attitudes can poison the body, the importance of seeing one's symptoms as feedback, how to practice a daily healing routine including deep relaxation and self-healing breath, using spiritual energy to enhance one's healing, and much more. Especially recommended for its guidelines on ways to consolodate a positive attitude, 9 Steps for Reversing or Preventing Cancer and Other Diseases cannot replace conventional medicine and more mundance approaches to a healthy style such as physical therapy and proper nutrition, but it is a recommended complement to such routines in order to marshall the highest potential of health and wellness within oneself.

Incentives For Change
Lara Delmolino, Ph.D. and Sandra L. Harris, Ph.D.
Woodbine House
6510 Bells Mill Road, Bethesda, MD 20817
1890627607 $17.95 1-800-843-7323

Psychology and autism experts Delmolino and Harris present Incentives For Change: Motivating People With Autism Spectrum Disorders to Learn and Gain Independence, a straightfoward guide for parents and professionals charged with the task of teaching autistic children and adults how to take the best care of themselves that they can. Chapters include how to deliver motivational incentives, making the transition from concrete to abstract reinforcers, cultivating independence and self-management skills, token systems as a useful tool for sustaining interest, and much more. Black-and-white photographs, sample cases, and step-by-step instructions make Incentives for Change an easy-to-grasp instructional for caregivers of all backgrounds. A highly recommended supplementary resource for anyone involved in the care of an autism spectrum individual, especially parents and teachers.

Sharon Stuart

Sherry's Bookshelf

Inner Security & Infinite Wealth: Merging Self Worth and Net Worth
Stuart Zimmerman & Jared Rosen
Selectbooks, Inc.
ISBN: 1590790553 $19.95 192 pages

If you are a reader who likes to skip the introduction and/or the prologue to get right to the meat of the material, I caution you - don't skip anything in this well written unique book. In this age of money hungry attitudes and world-wearied flesh, these two writers offer a new perspective. This book is not an "in-your-face" drill sergeant kind of financial/inspirational strategy book.

What the book does offer is help for those of us discombobulated when it comes to managing money and searching for ways to improve our life. If you are living your life with lackluster money skills and thinking the best you can expect when you leave this earth is a thumbnail obituary, get ready for a new impassioned declaration of what life can be. The book starts out with the definition of 8 treasures. These treasures up the ante for what can be accomplished with the right attitude. The treasures are explained with a playful poking twist on financial terms. Discussed are wills, inheritance, ownership, value, trust, allowance, investment and appreciation. These 8 treasures present an interesting way to build a life excelling foundation. The reader has an opportunity to undergo a positive identity shift by stopping all the self-defacing handicapping ways of dealing with life's struggle.

The book, written by two authors, one considered a visionary and the other an achiever. Their discussions offer a fascinating psychological insight as to how to achieve and enjoy this well-balanced life. The visionary questions the achiever with the outcome being straight shooting observations considered with infinite perception on how you can soul search your way to de-tangle the tangled reality we live in.

The main key of this book is to directly lead you down a path where in the authors' words "inner security is a rich state of being that offers infinite wealth". The visionary and the achiever bring you to a conclusion that all dreams are achievable with non-judgmental expectations coupled with acceptance and value of self. The book tackles money issues by exposing what money really does in the hands of a person understanding the 8 treasures. "When what you do with your money creates love, you are raising money to the highest standard."

The 19.95 price may seem steep but this is not the kind of book you read then dump in the circular basket or next garage sale. This is a book you will keep and read again and again. It will be a book you share and is an excellent present for every graduate and newly wed. Everyone can benefit from reading about realizing dreams and internalizing your truth to enrich life.

New Hope: How Even Smokers Can Avoid Lung Cancer
Noel L. Griese
Anvil Publishers,Inc.
P.O. Box 2694, Tucker, GA 30085-2694
ISBN 0970497539 $12.95 224 pages

It is very easy to pull blinders over your eyes and plug your ears so disturbing life altering facts won't force you to make necessary positive changes. After all, who wants to muster up the initiative for life changes especially when it comes to reading a gloom/doom threadbare of hope book? Well now, there is no excuse because this book, New Hope, is not one of those boring lecturing types of text that spew up cookie cutter information. The author does state his intention with "this book is about preventing the onset of lung cancer". The author does energetically enlighten the reader with facts that every single person, smoker or non, should know.

Right from the beginning, the author starts educating and digging into the disturbing depths of lung cancer with what will happen, what can happen, how it will happen and then adds a high dosage of hope to what a person can do. Some of the topics interestingly explored include immune system enhancers, Qi gong, how heredity can play a part in cancer, herbal supplements, lung cancer and gender, along with the impact of use of light cigarettes, cigars, pipes, marijuana, exotic cigarettes, and herbal cigarettes.

The book is a well organized, concisely written and easy to understand while offering up excellent pertinent information. Much information may be easily accessed in a multitude of tinted boxes providing a wealth of facts quickly. The sheer power of the well-laid out information is crystallizing.

New Hope is right on target for making a smoker break out in a cold sweat. It will nag at you with ballistic speed for you to stop smoking and/or never start smoking. The reader will most certainly be struck by a moment of utter clarity as to what needs to be done for themselves or a loved one. If you are a smoker, there is no doubt you are on a sailboat sailing against the strongest of winds. Smokers will definitely find this eureka book filled with circuit breakers to get them moving in the right direction. This book should bring smoking to a screeching halt.

Chicky Dicky's Animal Pancakes
Jennifer E. Sheehan
37 Naromake Ave., Norwalk, CT 06854
ISBN: 0970095295 $15.95 Ages: 3-8

This is the fourth book in the enchanting Bumples series. This delightful book is centered on the theme of teamwork. On a beautiful Sunday morning, Miss Chicky Dicky enters her kitchen to start preparing a delicious breakfast of pancakes. She is soon joined by the incredible Miss Bumples along with many other eager irresistible characters.

The author weaves into her creative stories the importance of unconditional friendship and the magic of teamwork. The characters are captivating and spirited. The illustrations are charming and will engage any young reader.

The author entices the parent and child to experience another fun filled activity by offering a bonus. Miss Chicky Dicky shares how to make fun and tasty animal shaped pancakes.

It is a great first-read by a newly independent reader or to read aloud with a parent. Recommended.

Sherry Russell

Sullivan's Bookshelf

Fat Man Fed Up: How American Politics Went Bad
Jack W. Germond
Random House
ISBN# 1400061547 $24.95 224 pages/indexed

Though Germond rehashes the past half-century of presidential politics that he's covered, he is acerbic and humorous enough to make the old seem new, and enjoyable, again. This easy read does make several revelations about the other sides of well-known journalists and of politicians, and their spouses, seldom seen by the average person. For exmple, he presents an unflattering portrait of Barbara Bush. And her husband, adds the 'Fat Man' of the book's title, at several points in this volume, was nothing but an 'empty suit.'

Television changed everything in political reporting, states the author. And little of it was for the better. Germond, being a print journalist, hammers the visual media for many of the things gone awry with today's politics. coming in for his sharp criticism is the thirty-second picture-byte, the grandstanding for TV cameras, and the celebrity status given to politicians, to TV news personalities, and, even, to print journalists after being seen on TV. He doesn't shy away from his own TV exposure, either.

Political polls also come under Germond's scrutiny. For the most part, he's not happpy with them. Politicians and advisors tend to overuse opoinion polls. In fact, he considers polls to be insidious. Most people being asked polling questions are ignnorant of the subject matter. But they wouldn't admit it to the pollster So they respond with the first thing that comes to mind. That explains why most polls are inaccurate.

The chapter on 'Gotcha' journalism is quite interesting. For the most part, Germond thinks a lot of it is unfair to politicans. From Clinton's alleged sexual indelicacies to those of Gary Hart's and back to Wilbur Mill's, many a politician's career has been nipped in the bud, stalled, or hampered. Political gaffes or miscalculations such as Jimmie Carter's and the killer rabbitt, Tom Foley's and the question of his sexual orientation, and George McGovern's and his dropping from the ticket vice presidential running mate, Senator Thomas Eagleton, for health reasons, journalists play 'Gotcha' far too often.

The last chapter of the book is a pessimestic look at the future of US. politics. Germond is fed up with it. Too much campaign money, too much blurring of church and state, thanks to fundamentalist religions, and too much decline in the quality of candidates running for the presidency. Worse yet, Germond feels the political system is too far gone to be fixed in any significant way.

"Although there was reason," writes the author about the previous presidential campaign, "to be encouraged by the candidacies of McCain and Bradley in the hope that there might be a market for better candidates, neither made it through the winter. In the end, money and party establishments asserted their authority and we were left with one candidate [George W. Bush] who didn't know anything and another [Albert Gore] who couldn't persuade voters that what he knew mattered."

Germond resides in West Virginia. He has written for the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Star among many newspapers. He's also been seen as a political commentator on the Today Show, Meet the Press, The McLaughlin Group., and other TV venues.

Origins: Fourteen Bilion Years of Cosmic Evolution
Neil deGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith
W. W. Norton and Company
ISBN# 0393059928 $27.95 345 pages/indexed

The universe is the topic of discussion. From the small fraction of a second after the 'Big Bang' down to the present day, the Cosmos and its development is explored in detail. Galaxy formation, particularly that of the Milky Way, is examined next. That's followed by a study of our solar system, which includes the Sun and its nine planets, among them, Earth, Mars, Venus, and Jupitor. Moons orbiting these planets are reviewed, also.

Earth comes in for special attention from its creation at the time of our solar system's founding, about 4.7 billion years ago, to modern times. The biology of Earth, life in its various and evolutionary forms, is coverd as well.

A great number of words in this read are devoted to the question: "Is there life elsewhere in our solar system, galaxy, or universe?" And the authors respond: The likelihood seems strong that there is life out there because of the vast multitudes (read, billions and more) of other solar systems and galaxies. Other life forms, however, may not resemble any living thing that earthlings are familiar with.

Over thirty pages within the book are devoted to color photographs of astronomical objects in space, some taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. To say that the photos are breathtaking would be an understatement. A glossary of space terminology is also included in this volume.

This book was produced to coincide with the PBS series, NOVA, which broadcasted the televised version of the book's contents.

"Yes, the universe had a beginning," write the authors. "Yes, the universe continues to evolve. And, yes, every one of our body's atoms is traceable to the big bang and to the thermonuclear furnaces within high-mass stars. We are not simply in the universe, we are part of it. One might even say that the universe has empowered us, here in our small corner of the cosmos, to figure itself out. And we have only just begun."

An astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson is New York City's Hayden Planetarium Director. He appeared in and helped narrate the televising of "Origins" on NOVA.

Donald Goldsmith, the other author, lives in Berkeley, California, and from there writes about astronomy.

This volume is recommended reading.

Jim Sullivan

Taylor's Bookshelf

Faith That Dares To Speak
Donald Cozzens
The Liturgical Press
St. John's Abbey, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321-7500
0814630189 $19.95 1-800-858-5450

Faith That Dares To Speak is a revolutionary testimony calling for the transformation of the Catholic Church from a feudal format into a new era of accountability and transparency. The dawn of the twenty-first century has seen the Catholic Church beset with scandals, perhaps most reprehensibly sexual abuse scandals involving children, and the Church has repeatedly reacted in a manner consistent with feudal culture - secrecy, denial, and an all-out effort to protect reputation and institutional resources. This feudal response neglects the poison of unethical and even criminal behavior within the Church, and the Church itself is in dire need of transformation; the author focuses upon the voices of lay Catholics in North America calling for needed change. A highly recommended contribution to modern religious and Catholic studies.

The Gospel of Thomas
Ron Miller
SkyLight Paths Publishing
Sunset Farm Offices, Route 4, PO Box 237, Woodstock, VT 05091
1594730474 $14.99

The Gospel of Thomas: A Guidebook for Spiritual Practice is an academic and spiritual commentary upon the Gospel of Thomas, a text discovered in Egypt in 1945 that brings new light to Jesus Christ's teachings, offering insights in following in His footsteps and in effect, becoming His "twin". Sections titled "Practice" drive one to reflect upon how to apply the wisdom and selflessness of Christ's teachings to daily life, while questions entitled "Reflections" urge the reader to consider such tasks as "How can I be a more prayerful person while still being true to my understanding of the spiritual universe?" A vessel for personal and spiritual self-growth as surely as it is an analytical dissection of religious text, The Gospel of Thomas is an excellent guide for anyone seeking to explore what this holy text has to say about belief, life, God's Kingdom and the way of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel According to Disney
Mark I. Pinsky
Westminster John Knox Press
100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202-1396
0664225918 $14.95

Religion journalist Mark Pinsky presents The Gospel According to Disney: Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust, a sober exploration of the role that the animated features of the Walt Disney Country have carried out in the spiritual, emotional, and ethical development of generations of young adults. Discussing ideological themes in thirty-one of the most popular Disney films including "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", "Beauty and the Beast", and "The Lion King", The Gospel According to Disney also reaches beyond the impact of the morality plays on the big screen to such issues as the postive and negative contributions that theme parks have on American culture, why the Southern Baptist Convention chose to boycott Disney in the 1990's and the repercussions of that movement, and much more. An astutely researched and written exploration of the interesection between spirituality and one company's domain of popular entertainment.

The Spirit of a True Believer
Greg Berry
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 East Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
1933148020 $19.95

The Spirit of a True Believer: Lessons From The Life Of Ruth by Greg Berry (speaker, teacher, lecturer, and a member of the board of directors for the Las Cruces Prayer Network) draws directly from the Biblical story of Ruth in its quest to answer the question "How does one recognize a true Christian believer?" A passionate to the point of zealous presentation, stressing the importance of wholly accepting the teachings of Jesus even to the point of "dying to one's self", The Spirit of a True Believer meticulously accounts Christian virtues and the deliverance that comes from turning oneself over to God. Timeless theological themes are presented in a straightforward, no-nonsense narrative style, in this excellent supplement for pastors and Bible study groups, also highly suitable for individual reading and meditation.

Spirited Men
Brian Doyle
Cowley Publications
4 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
1561012580 $14.95

Spirited Men: Story, Soul & Substance is a compendium of essays by Brian Doyle that focus upon a series of creative, influential, geographically and chronologically diverse men.. These are stories of talented, troubled, extraordinary men ranging from Plutarch, William Blake, Robert Louis Stevens, James Joyce, H. Rider Haggard, Jim Kjelgaard, Van Morrison, Paul Desmond, Graham Greene, Paul Kelly, and Bob Boehmer. The one thing each of these unusual men had in common was their pursuit of spirituality and their capability for greatness. Spirited Men is inherently fascinating reading and Brian Doyle is an expert in telling the individual and dramatically different biographical stories that give the reader clues as to how to me a good man, to search for love, and to be capable of spirituality in a complicated world.

When the Road Seems Too Steep
Ronald E. Minor
Paraclete Press
PO Box 1568, Orleans, MA 02653
1557253994 $13.95

Written by a Presbyterian minister, When the Road Seems Too Steep: A Daily Guide To Positive Change is a daily devotional offering a twelve-week tourney toward the teachings of Jesus that promote beneficial changes in one's life. Each day is assigned a holy reading, a verse upon which to focus one's thoughts, a brief insight into the love and holiness of God's word, and questions for discussion. The unconditional love of God and Jesus Christ is a focal point upon which to pursue one's quest to be a better person and open up one's heart and spirit. A deeply heartfelt resource for strengthening one's commitment of spirit and exploring the depths of God's love one day at a time.

Karl Rahner: Spiritual Writings
Philip Endean, editor
Orbis Books
PO Box 308, Maryknoll, NY 10545-0308
1570755531 $16.00

Karl Rahner: Spiritual Writings collects the spiritual writings of Karl Rahner (1904-1984), a Jesuit priest and one of the most well-known Catholic theologians of the twentieth century. Some of his works are presented in English for the first time, skillfully edited by English Jesuit and journal editor Philip Endean. Each topic of Rahner's writings is brief, lasting only a few pages, but the whole blend into a seamless dialogue of the human experience with God, Jesus Christ, and the role of the church. From Rahner's literate and impassioned reply to a letter from one who loved God but was disillusioned with the Church, to his thoughts on the role of Mary in theology, to contemplations upon the inexplicable mysteries of terrible suffering in the modern world and what truly lies beyond death, Karl Rahner: Spiritual Writings is a profound contribution of a truly holy and selfless man to religion and spirituality shelves. Highly recommended.

Dorothy Day: Champion of the Poor
Elaine Murray Stone
Paulist Press
997 MacArthur Boulevard, Mahwah, NJ 07430
0809167190 $9.95

Dorothy Day: Champion of the Poor is the biography of one of the most respected yet controversial laypersons in modern-day Catholic spirituality. Dorothy Day's life, from the transgressions of her wild youth to her conversion and even radical activism, is covered in this narrative account, illustrated with black-and-white artwork. A straightforward and involving presentation of a most remarkable woman, who has just recently been formally entered into the Church's canonization process.

Beginning Again
Mary C. Earle
Morehouse Publishing
PO Box 1321, Harrisburg, PA 17105
0819219657 $12.95 1-800-877-0012

Written by an Episcopal priest and survivor of acute pancreatitis, Beginning Again: Benedictine Wisdom for Living with Illness is a guide for making major changes in one's life to accomodate the requirements of daily living with a serious or chronic condition. Author Mary C. Earle applied St. Benedict's ancient Rule of ordering the life and days of religious communities to apply the structure and stability needed by anyone who must follow strict guidelines for living with illness. From complicated medicinal regimes to the importance of regular exercise and healthy diet to making time in one's life for prayer and submission to God's will, Beginning Again is a profound self-help guide, acutely spiritual, embracing God's love and championing the power of the human spirit.

Mary, Worthy Of All Praise
Father David R. Smith
Conciliar Press
PO Box 76, Ben Lomond, CA 95005-0076
1888212713 $10.95 1-800-967-7377

For Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mary is the Theotokos and Virgin Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ. As such, is behooves the Christian community to consider her place in our individual lives. The Paraklesis service (sun every day during the Virgin's Lent (August 1 to 15) offers the perfect vehicle for honoring Mary. Highly recommended reading, Mary, Worthy Of All Praise: Reflections On The Virgin Mary is a devotional compilation of the Paraklesis which is a supplicatory song (also appropriate for times of illness and distress), a canon of praise, a collection of eight odes of love, as well as a series of poems allied with scripture readings useful in both personal meditation and communal celebration.

Reminders From God
Anne F. Grizzle
Paraclete Press
PO Box 1568, Orleans, MA 02653
1557254028 $15.95

From antiquity to modern times, altars have aided people in remember the works of God. Noah built his altar after the flood as a reminder of God's promise to never again destroy the earth by flood. The Israelites made their altars to help future generations recall God's faithfulness to them. In contemporary times, American Christians have revived the tradition of home altars as a means to express their intensely personal spirituality and worshipful relationship to God. In Reminders of God: Altars For Personal And Family Devotion, author Ann F. Grizzle provides individuals and families with an inspiring guide to initiating this time honored practice within the Christian community. Anne also passes along the lessons she has learned through the creation of her own altars and her years of teaching others about creating serviceable altars to honor God and express appreciation for his blessings.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Play The King's Indian
Joe Gallagher
Everyman Chess
c/o The Globe Pequot Press
PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437
1857443241 $19.95

Play The King's Indian: A Complete Repertoire For Black In This Most Dynamic Of Openings by Joe Gallagher (English Grandmaster and winner of the 2001 British Championship) is the latest in a long list of first-rate Everyman Chess titles devoted to meticulous instruction, strategy, and tactics concerning specific chess techniques. Written by a King's Indian expert, Play The King's Indian carefully dissects the advantages, disadvantages, and theory concerning this popular opening move for Black and how White can defend against it. Diagrams and a wealth of sample games pepper this guide as vivid illustrations to its key points. A superb manual for intermediate to advanced chess players, sure to offer insight and improvements to one's gameplay.

The Clinton Riddle
Todd G. Shields, Jeannie M. Whayne, and Donald R. Kelley, editors
The University of Arkansas Press
McIlroy House, 201 Ozark Avenue, Fayetteville, AR 72701
1557287805 $24.95 1-800-626-0090

Collaboratively edited by Todd G. Shields (Director or Blair Center, Chair of the Political Science Department, and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Arkansas), Jeannine M. Whayne (Chair of the History Department and Professor of History at the University of Arkansas), and Donald R. Kelley (Director of the Fulbright Institute of International Relations and Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Arkansas), The Clinton Riddle: Perspectives On The Forty-Second President is a groundbreaking anthology of contributions that interdisciplinary scholars created specifically for a 2002 gathering to critically evaluate the legacy of the Clinton-Gore administration. Topics discussed include the status of women and minorities, issues concerning President Clinton's character, foreign policy, and the media. The wide diversity of viewpoints combine to offer as much insight as reasonably possible into the "Clinton riddle", in this welcome contribution to modern American history and political science reference shelves.

America's Right Turn
Richard A. Viguerie and David Franke
Bonus Books
875 North Michigan Ave., Suite 1416, Chicago, IL 60611
1566252520 $26.95

America's Right Turn: How Conservaties Used new And Alternative Media To Take Power by political conservative co-authors Richard A. Viguerie and David Franke is an astute evaluation of how conservative political groups in America capitalized upon alternative media - direct mail, talk radio, cable news TV, and the Internet - to spread their message, win elections and earn power. Meticulously accounting and chastizing failures among liberal political elements to seize the advantage of media revolutions, America's Right Turn is meant for liberals and conservatives alike despite the conservative bent of its authors, as it plots out winning strategies for getting one's message across and demonstrates how alternative media will determine the outcomes of future political elections more and more in the years to come. Especially recommended reading for anyone interested in personally becoming involved in political campaigns, whether as a volunteer or a professional occupation.

Pox Americana
John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney, editors
Monthly Review Press
122 West 27th Street, New York, NY 10001
1583671110 $17.00 1-800-670-9499

Expertly co-edited by John Bellamy Foster (Professor of Sociology, University of Oregon-Eugene) and Robert W. McChesney (Professor of Communication, University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign), Pox Americana: Exposing The American Empire collects analyses and essays from leading left-wing authors concerning alleged American imperialism, with particular focus upon American recent war with and current domination of Iraq. Noam Chomsky, Barbara Epstein, and many more learned contributors discuss such matters U.S. imperialism throughout history such as its genocidal campaign against Native Americans, the political economy of imperialism, the modern antiwar movement and what can be done to strengthen it, and much more. A highly sober accounting; though some essays are more fiercely critical of America than others, all document points of evidence toward a dangerous plan of America attempting to force its own way in economic and military matters alike, in candid defiance of other nations' sovereignty.

Paul T. Vogel

Volk's Bookshelf

Zen Parenting
Judith Costello and Jurgen Haver
Robins Lane Press
c/o Gryphon House
PO Box 207, Beltsville, MD 20704-0207
1589040171 $12.95 1-800-638-0928

Zen Parenting: The Art Of Learning What You Already Know is a gentle resource presented in short-story format that encourages readers to more easily apply Zen concepts to practical use in their own lives. Non-judgmental awareness, the power of humor, learning to let go of feeling of inadequacy, how Zen principles can help during troubled times such as divorce or death, and much more fill this gentle guide to learning to accept what is. An excellent supplementary resource for anyone troubled with the complexities and challenges of being responsible for another human being.

Parenting Children with ADHD
Vincent J. Monastra, Ph.D.
American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242
1591471826 $14.95 1-800-368-5777

Professional clinical psychologist Vincent Monastra presents Parenting Children with ADHD: 10 Lessons That Medicine Cannot Teach, a guide drawn from his years of experience evaluating and treating thousands of children and teens with ADHD. Chapters address simple basic problems and guidelines, including the importance of a lesson plan, how to teach children to manage their anger, why nutrition is critical and why yelling rarely solves anything. Written in plain terms, Parenting Children with ADHD is a superb supplementary resource for lay people, and a "must-read" for anyone charged with raising, giving care to or instructing an ADHD youth.

Being Rita Hayworth: Labor, Identity And Hollywood Stardom
Adrienne L. McLean
Rutgers University Press
100 Joyce Kilmer Avenue, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8099
0813533899 $23.95 1-800-446-9323

Being Rita Hayworth: Labor, Identity And Hollywood Stardom by Adrienne L. McLean (Assistant Professor of Film Studies, University of Texas-Dallas) strives to answer the question "Who was Rita Hayworth?" Exploring the creation of this popular movie star's persona, beloved in movies such as "The Lady from Shanghai" (1948) and "Affair in Trinidad" (1952), Being Rita Hayworth takes an especial interest in her appeal to other women of the day who were struggling to navigate the demands of family and work outside the home. Careful research of Hayworth's life frames the chapters, which meticulously pick apart fabricated image and propaganda from what can be verified as truth. An excellent read for anyone with an especial interest in not only Hayworth's career, but the ripple effect her star persona had on the hearts and minds of a female generation.

Carolina Journeys
Tom Fowler
Parkway Publishers, Inc.
PO Box 3678, Boone, NC 28607
1887905863 $14.95

Carolina Journeys: Exploring The Trails Of The Carolinas Both Real & Imagined by Tom Fowler is a travelogue by a skeptical and disaffected tourist who dared to realize his own dreams of exploration. Rather than be a mere sightseer, he opted to search out his own adventures in the Carolinas, from the the legends of Tom Dooley and Hernando de Soto to the Great Indian Trading Path and grand rock carvings that exist along the landscape. Written as inspiration to help the reader discover his or her own unique adventure, Carolina Journeys is a treat for maverick tourists and armchair travelers alike.

The Fine Art of Fundraising
Carolyn Farb
Emmis Books
1700 Madison Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45206
1578601800 $16.99

The Fine Art of Fundraising: Secrets For Successful Volunteers by fundraising visionary Carolyn Farb is a highly practical guide for raising charity funds. From a simple bake sale to a gala charity ball and a wide range of activities in between, The Fine Art of Fundraising presents a practical how-to recipe for success. The author has raised more than $30 million for nonprofits, political groups, arts organizations and more; her experience carries the distilled wisdom of a professional as she explains how to build community interest, what types of events are the best fundraisers, how to earn grants, endowments, and trusts, why making personal contact makes all the difference, how to plan events step-by-step from invitations to clean-up, and much more. An absolute "must-have" for anyone taking up the responsibility of seeing a worthy cause meet its philanthropic goal.

Cowboy Goremay
Robert E. Kinford
Too Lazy For You Livestock & Literary Company
2947 Glendale, #5, Evans, CO 80620
0966089014 $14.00

Cowboy Goremay: From Hoof To Palate is an amazing compilation of more than ninety "ranch tested" recipes originating in the very specialized culinary genre of "cowboy cooking". From Hanging Tree Quiche; Wolf Creek Goulash; Fifth Try Stew; Diamond Back Stir Fry; and Ma's Drunken Chicken; to Rocky Mountain Lamb; Klondike Souffle; Rio Grande Stuffed Steak; Texas Lasagna; and Gravel Road Banana Pie, Cowboy Goremay recipes are all thoroughly "kitchen friendly" with concise lists of ingredients and clear "do-it-yourself" directions that will make any dining occasion a truly memorable and palate pleasing affair with a distinctive western frontier appeal!

Just One Pot
Lindsey Bareham
Sterling Publishing Company
387 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016-8810
1844032841 $29.95 1-800-805-5489

Just One Pot is a cookbook especially for those with very little kitchen space or only one or two burners, just as author, restaurant critic, and award-winning food writer Lindsey Bareham had to deal with. Over 100 delicious recipes emphasize minimum preparation, ingredients that are readily available (at least when in season), imagination, and of course, the ability to be cooked in just one pot. Color photographs illustrate recipes such as Salsa Cruda Tortilla Pizza, Chicken and Shrimp Gumbo, Green Fruit Salad with Avocado Cream, and much more. Just One Pot does not feature professional restaurant techniques, but rather a wide variety of simpler tips, tricks and techniques that any lay person can master to streamline delicious food preparation without excess time investment or cleanup hassle.

Carol Volk

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

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